Cry of Dolores

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Grito de Dolores
Dolores hidalgo.jpg
A statue of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla in front of the church in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato
Observed by Mexico
Significance Commemorating the start of the Mexican War of Independence, by repeating the words of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla in the early morning of 16 September 1810
Date 15 September
Frequency Annual

The Cry of Dolores[n 1] (Spanish: Grito de Dolores) is a historical event that happened in Mexico in the early morning of 16 September 1810. Roman Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rang the bell of his church and gave the pronunciamiento (call to arms) that triggered the Mexican War of Independence. This happened in the state of Guanajuato within the small town of Dolores (now Dolores Hidalgo).

Every year on the eve of Independence Day, the President of Mexico re-enacts the Grito from the balcony of the National Palace in Mexico City, while ringing the same bell that Hidalgo rang in 1810.

Historical event[edit]

Image extracted from the book by Vicente Riva Palacio, Julio Zárate (1880) "México a través de los siglos" Tomo III: "La guerra de independencia" (1808 - 1821)

In the 1810s, Mexico was under Spanish control and known as New Spain. The independence movement began to take shape when José Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara went to the small town of Dolores (now known as Dolores Hidalgo) and asked the local Roman Catholic priest, Miguel Hidalgo, to help initiate an effort to free New Spain from Spanish control.

Gutiérrez de Lara went to Washington, D.C. for military support (being the first Mexican to do so). Hidalgo remained in Dolores, waiting for Gutiérrez de Lara to return with military support. However, fearing arrest,[1] Hidalgo told his brother Mauricio to make the sheriff free the pro-independence inmates there. Mauricio and armed men set 80 inmates free in the early morning of 16 September 1810.[2] Around 2:30 a.m., Hidalgo ordered the church bells to be rung and gathered his congregation. Flanked by Allende and Juan Aldama, he addressed the people in front of his church, urging them to revolt. His speech became known as the "Cry of Dolores".

The liberated country adopted Mexico as its official name. Mexico's independence from Spain took a decade of war. Gutiérrez de Lara commanded and led Mexico to victory. Independence was achieved by the Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire on 28 September 1821. However, Hidalgo is credited as being the "father of his country."[3]

Exact words and meaning[edit]

There is no scholarly consensus on the exact words Miguel Hidalgo said at the time. The book The Course of Mexican History says "the exact words of this most famous of all Mexican speeches are not known, or, rather, they are reproduced in almost as many variations as there are historians to reproduce them".[4]

The same book also argues that:

In contrast, William F. Cloud divides the sentiments above between both Hidalgo and the crowd:

Many believe that Hidalgo's Grito condemned the notion of monarchy and criticized the current social order in detail. In fact, his opposition was targeted to Spain and its viceroy in Mexico; not against monarchy in general but against "bad government". The Grito also emphasized loyalty to the Catholic religion, a sentiment with which both Creoles and Peninsulares (native Spaniards) could sympathize. However, the strong anti-Spanish cry of “Death to Gachupines” (Gachupines being a slur given to Peninsulares) would have shocked Mexico’s elites.[1]

National festivities[edit]

The day of 16 September was first celebrated in 1812 in Huichapan, Hidalgo.[6] It was given the status of a national holiday in the Constitution of Apatzingán, ratified by the conventions of 1822 and 1824, and first celebrated nationally in 1825.[7]

The Cry of Dolores has assumed an almost mythical status.[8][9] Since the late 20th century, the event has come to symbolize Mexican independence and to initiate Independence Day ceremonies the following day (16 September). Independence Day in Mexico is a patriotic holiday, marked by parades, concerts, patriotic programs, drum and bugle and marching band competitions, and special programs on the national and local media outlets.[10]

Presidential celebration at Mexico City[edit]

President Felipe Calderón at the National Palace balcony during the bicentennial Grito in 2010.

Every 15 September at around 11 p.m., the President of Mexico stands on the balcony of the National Palace in Mexico City and rings the same bell that Hidalgo rang in 1810, which was moved to the National Palace. The President then recites a shout of patriotism (a Grito Mexicano) based upon the "Grito de Dolores", with the names of the important heroes of the Mexican War of Independence who were there on that historic day. The Grito ends with the threefold shout of ¡Viva México!

This is the version often recited by the President of Mexico:

¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron patria!
¡Viva Hidalgo!
¡Viva Morelos!
¡Viva Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez!
¡Viva Allende!
¡Viva Aldama y Matamoros!
¡Viva la Independencia Nacional!
¡Viva México! ¡Viva México! ¡Viva México!
Long live the heroes who gave us our homeland!
Long live Hidalgo!
Long live Morelos!
Long live Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez!
Long live Allende!
Long live Aldama and Matamoros!
Long live the nation's independence!
Long Live Mexico! Long Live Mexico! Long Live Mexico!

Beneath the balcony of the National Palace, there is a large crowd in the Plaza de la Constitución (also called the Zócalo), to hear the recitation. The event draws up to half a million spectators from all over Mexico and tourists worldwide. After the President recites each line beginning with "¡Viva(n)!", the crowd responds by repeating, "¡Viva(n)!"

After the recitation, the President rings the bell one last time, and waves the Flag of Mexico to the applause of the crowd.

This is followed by the playing of the Mexican national anthem by a military band from the Mexican Armed Forces. The crowd sings along. The ceremonies conclude with a spectacular fireworks display at the Zocalo grounds.

On the morning of 16 September, or Independence Day, the national military parade in honor of the holiday starts in the Zócalo and its outskirts, passes the Hidalgo Memorial and ends on the Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City’s main boulevard, passing "El Ángel de la Independencia" memorial column and other places along the way.

Recent exceptions[edit]

The Grito is not always re-enacted at the National Palace; some years it is performed in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, where it originally happened. This is especially common in the final year of a President's term.

President Felipe Calderón made an exception by re-enacting the Grito in Dolores Hidalgo as part of the bicentennial celebrations on 16 September 2010, even though he had already done so the night before from the National Palace balcony to launch the celebrations.[11][12] As a result, in 2012, Calderón's final year as President, he did not go to Dolores Hidalgo but gave the Grito from the National Palace balcony instead. He became the third President to break the traditional practice.

Many Presidents add their "personal touch" to the Grito and this can be controversial. President Vicente Fox frequently took liberties with it, adding and removing items, addressing Mexicans in both genders, and in 2001 wishing long life to "our agreements".[13]

During the Presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto, the Grito became an occasion for political protest against him and his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). On 15 September 2016, a month after the president appeared to be humiliated by U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump, thousands of citizens marched, yelled, and carried signs. They tried to enter the Zócalo during the Grito, but were blocked by a wall of soldiers.[14] News outlets within Mexico failed to acknowledge the protest. The event was well-attended but opponents charge that the PRI brought acarreados (poor people or hand-picked party members) as a fake show of support.[15]

Celebrations by governors and municipal presidents[edit]

Municipal president giving the "grito" of "¡Viva México!" at the commencement of Independence Day festivities at 11 pm 16 Sept 2008 in Ixmiquilpan, Hidalgo.

Similar celebrations to the Presidential one occur in cities and towns throughout Mexico, and in Mexican embassies and consulates worldwide on 15 or 16 September. The chief executive, ambassador, or consul rings a bell and recites the traditional words, including the names of independence heroes and local patriots, and ending with the threefold shout of Viva Mexico! The bell rings a second time, the Mexican flag is waved, and everyone sings the National Anthem, followed by fireworks. There are also celebrations in schools throughout Mexico, and in these cases whenever the bell ringing is reenacted the school or university head utters the traditional words.


  1. ^ Literal translations such as "shout of pains", often done by software, should be avoided, as they lack the context that Dolores here is a place name.


  1. ^ a b Kirkwood, Burton (2000). History of Mexico. Westport, CT, USA: Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated. ISBN 978-0-313-30351-7.
  2. ^ Sosa, Francisco (1985) (in Spanish). Biografias de Mexicanos Distinguidos-Miguel Hidalgo. 472. Mexico City: Editorial Porrúa SA. pp. 288-292. ISBN 968-452-050-6.
  3. ^ Virginia Guedea, "Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla" in Encyclopedia of Mexico, Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn 1997, p. 640.
  4. ^ a b Meyer. Michael, et al (1979): The Course of Mexican History, page 276, New York, New York USA Oxford University Press ISBN 978-0-19-502413-5.
  5. ^ William F. Cloud (1896). Church and State or Mexican Politics from Cortez to Diaz. Kansas City, Mo: Peck & Clark, Printers. 
  6. ^ "En Huichapan, Hidalgo, se dio el primer «Grito de Independencia» hace casi 200 años" (in Spanish). La Jornada. 2010-09-16. Archived from the original on 2015-11-28. 
  7. ^ Emmanuel Carballo (September 2009). "El grito de Dolores de 1812 a 1968" (in Spanish). University of México. Retrieved 2017-09-15. 
  8. ^ Hamill, Hugh M. (1966). The Hidalgo Revolt: Prelude to Mexican Independence. University of Florida Press. ISBN 0-8130-2528-1. 
  9. ^ Knight, Alan (2002). Mexico: The Colonial Era. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-89196-5. 
  10. ^ Saint-Louis, Miya. "How to Celebrate Mexico's Independence Day: Grito de Dolores". Inside-Out Media. Retrieved 15 September 2016. 
  11. ^ "Mexico Celebrates Its Bicentennial - Photo Gallery - LIFE". Retrieved 8 April 2011. 
  12. ^ "Calderón revive grito original en magnos festejos por bicentenario de México" (in Spanish). Retrieved 8 April 2011. 
  13. ^ Fernando Serrano Migallón (April 2008). "El Grito: símbolo, fiesta, mito e identidad" (PDF) (in Spanish). Retrieved 2012-04-25. 
  14. ^ James Fredrick (2016-09-16). "'Resign now' thousands of Mexicans tell president Peña Nieto at Independence Day protest". London Telegraph. Retrieved 2017-09-15. 
  15. ^ "En el Zócalo, miles de acarreados para la ovación; afuera, miles de indignados exigen renuncia de EPN" (in Spanish). 2016-09-15. Retrieved 2017-01-23. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Fernández Tejedo, Isabel; Nava Nava, Carmen (2001). "Images of Independence in the Nineteenth Century: The Grito de Dolores, History and Myth". In William H. Beezly and David E. Lorey. ¡Viva Mexico! ¡Viva la independencia!: Celebrations of September 16. Silhouettes: studies in history and culture series. Margarita González Aredondo and Elena Murray de Parodi (Spanish-English trans.). Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources. pp. 1–42. ISBN 0-8420-2914-1. OCLC 248568379. 
  • Sr. Antonio Barajas Becerra, "Entrada de los Insurgentes a la Villa de San Miguel El Grande, la tarde del Domingo, 16 de Septiembre de 1801."
  • Antonio Barajas Beccera, 1969, Generalisimo don Ignacio de Allende y Unzaga, 2a edicion, p. 108 ("a las cinco de la manana del domingo 16 de Septiembre, 1810").
  • Gloria Cisneros Lenoir, Miguel Guzman Peredo, 1985, Miguel Hidalgo y la Ruta de la Independencia, Bertelsmann de Mexico, p. 87.

External links[edit]