2010 marks an important year in Mexican history as it prepares to celebrate the 100 years that have passed since its revolution and 200 years of independence.
The interceding years have been marked by both national triumph and turmoil and have seen the introduction of the color television to the world by a Mexican engineer, Mexico host the Olympics, the FIFA world Cup, the glory days of the oil boom, the corruption of its political system and most recently the intense international media glare over the troubles and rise of the drug cartels.
The Mexican government is doing much to downplay the recent turmoil and focus on the positive changes in both the reformation of the state owned oil giant, PEMEX, the restructuring of the tax system, above average global growth in the economy, fairer elections, advancements in social reform as well as, if not as aggressively, the legalization of gay unions in Mexico City amongst other achievements.
This year, the government is spending close to 300 million pesos to promote the modern Mexico that celebrates both its past and future. Among the various undertakings planned are exhibits of pre-Hispanic, Spanish, modern and contemporary Mexican art and events across the globe's major cities.
The Bicentennial and Centennial celebrations will serve as an affirmation of how far Mexico and it's citizenry have come in such a short time, and how far we must still travel.
While the global media focuses disproportionately on isolated, if gruesome acts of narcoterrorism, Mexican's themselves have been mainly focused on rebuilding the economy after the devastating effects of the drop in tourism due to a swine flu pandemic that never materialized and the collapse of the US economy, the world's number one importer of Mexican tourism.
Commentators across the country bemoan the lack of concerted effort that Mexican authorities have made to separate fact from fiction in the face of the escalation of drug related violence. While we are a far way from the violence that engulfed Colombia, the violence is none-the-less real and needs to be addressed so that that Mexico can one day emerge from this dark place. To many an outsider, Colombia, Iraq and Mexico are interchangeable places of violence and terror.
The World Cup presented Mexico with an opportunity to focus on and project a more positive aspect of life and share that image with the world. With the national futbol team's exit, we are faced once again with a seemingly hostile, if not lazy, international media and a federal government that appears ill equipped and ill prepared to confront both the violence and misinformation.
The upcoming celebrations present an opportunity for us to reflect and not only demand but, take action. We have faced greater challenges in the past than those we faced.
The upcoming celebrations provide an opportunity for us to refocus on separating the fact from fiction and should serve as the basis for a new dialogue in both the political and social sphere.
Narcoterrorism took root because of government corruption and inaction. It has flourished due collective pessimistic apathy to corruption and the abject poverty that, for many, represents the only alternative.
We as a nation cannot continue to blame our neighbors to the north for their unbridled consumption of drugs for our troubles – though they should certainly acknowledge their supporting role in our current drama.
Like it or not, this mess is of our making. Yes there appears bias in the global media, but that does not excuse our inaction or passive participation in this bloody mess. And while narcoterrorism may damage our image and tourism-based economy, we stand to lose more from pretending the situation does not exist. Burrowing our heads in the sand is not an option.
The roots to the problem lie close to home, in our backyards and in the narcopolitics that run some states and city halls, where drugs and politics appear intrinsically intertwined.
Perhaps then it will be shape our future by looking to the past. Our independence and revolution both promised to usher in a new era of rights and freedoms heretofore not enjoyed. Sadly, the most enduring change was a shift in power with those on the bottom pushed further down. The rise of the narco in Mexico continues that tradition.
However gruesome, it is hardly too late. The violence has been directed mainly at those within the drug world, as each cartel vies to control greater swaths of Mexico though there have been too many innocent lives lost.
The anniversary year presents each and every Mexican with an opportunity to speak out. An opportunity to reflect, reestablish our voice by participating and exerting the right to control and celebrate a future that is more just and equitable than our past.
When we watch the fireworks this 16 of September we'd do well to remember that these celebrations are held in honor of not just our past but of our future. Our future is in our hands.
Daniel Gomez is a brand strategist at Mijo! Brands in Mexico. Follow Daniel @I_Mijo