Photo I shot at Mexico City.
Reality can and will surpass fiction.
One would think of the Virgin of Guadalupe or the so-called Aztec Calendar, but reality can and will surpass fiction — a Greek goddess in a French Avenue is indeed one of the most cherished and easily identified symbol of the Mexican people. This statue ironically represents the surrealism of Mexico.
The statue was put at the top of a tall column to celebrate in 1910 the 100 aniversary of the Independence of Mexico. Built by then President Porfirio Diaz — considered to be one of the longest serving dictators not only in Mexican history but in all of Latin America. The column crowned with its golden statue is located at the most iconic streets of all of Mexico, Paseo de la Reforma.
Paseo de la Reforma was built by Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico, which under the French Empire’s auspice and patronage he ruled the Second Mexican Empire. It is somewhat of a copy of Champs Elysee and it is said to be a gift the Emperor gave to his wife, Carlotta. The avenue had (and still has) wide streets, rotundas, small gardens, statues, trees — all of which you would find in modern-day cities but back in mid-19th century Mexico City.
The irony goes further, as the name of this avenue was forcibly put by left-winged liberal president Benito Juarez, who not only killed Emperor Maximilian but toppled the Second Mexican Empire and sieged the Catholic Church through his Laws of Reform. The word Reform became linked to his liberal anti-Catholic ideals. So, as a coup de grace, the famous avenue was named Paseo de la Reforma or Reform Avenue.
On top of that, the original statue was destroyed during the 1957 earthquake. Earthquakes are very common in Mexico City, and a new one was built and the tall column reinforced. So far, it has survived the 1985 and 2017 earthquakes.
Finally, the Greek goddess of Victory is known today as an angel, because of its wings. So we have a Greek goddess who became an angel, at a French avenue with an anti-French name, built by a dictator to honor independence — and this is the symbol of Mexico City and one of the most recognized in all of Mexico. I guess the irony of Mexican history speaks itself.
If you would like to read and know more about the intricate history of Mexico you may enjoy reading my novel, Till Stars Shut Their Eyes.