On 12 September 1997, the Mexican government paid special tribute to the soldiers of the San Patricio Battalion who were tortured and hanged at the San Jacinto Plaza, San Ángel, in 1847.
Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo presided at the ceremonies marking the sesquicentennial of that tragic event and declared: “One hundred and fifty years ago, here in San Ángel, … members of the St. Patricks Battalion were executed for following their consciences. They were martyred for adhering to the highest ideals, and today we honor their memory. In the name of the people of Mexico, I salute today the people of Ireland and express my eternal gratitude.” The president concluded, saying: “While we honor the memory of the Irish who gave their lives for Mexico and for human dignity, we also honor our own commitment to cherish their ideals, and to always defend the values for which they occupy a place of honor in our history.” Irish Ambassador to Mexico Sean 0′Huighinn emphasized the bonds of friendship that the “San Patricios” have forged between the two countries, and which continue to grow and prosper. He noted that Ireland and Mexico shared a common history of struggle to preserve their cultural identities and political liberties, often threatened by powerful and aggressive neighbors. He also paid tribute to the humanitarian insights of the San Patricios who, “despite the confusion and animosities of war, were able to discern the admirable qualities of the Mexican people, unclouded by preconceived notions of racial prejudice.” In this context, he quoted the leader of the San Patricios, John O’Reilly (also written Riley) who wrote: “Do not be deceived by the prejudice of a nation at war with Mexico, because you will not find in all the world a people more friendly and hospitable than the Mexicans.”
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Published by “Voices of Mexico” magazine, April-June, 2000.
The magazine is sponsored by the National University (UNAM).
Copyright © Jaime Fogarty September 2005
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