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Mexico: From Montezuma to the Fall of the PRI, Second Edition / Edition 2

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The Day After Roswell. Kennedy Jr. Alexander Hamilton Great Lives. Item Added: Mexico. View Wishlist. Our Awards Booktopia's Charities. The wounded Spaniards were forced to treat their injuries with the body fat of a dead Indian, the only ointment they could find. But eventually the Tlaxcalans capitulated—hampered perhaps by their tradition of trying to capture their enemies for sacrifice, rather than slaughtering them. It also provided allies; its people were sworn enemies of the Aztecs and were delighted to join up with the Spaniards.

For a few centuries Tlaxcala did well out of its co-conquest. On behalf of the crown, loyal Tlaxcalans helped conquer territory and build settlements from Central America as far north as Albuquerque, New Mexico. That all changed with independence. And the anti-conquest fervour drew further strength from the revolution of that eventually gave rise to PRI rule. Your correspondent, conquistador-style, took a day trip on horseback to find traces of the legendary wall on the border of Tlaxcala that kept the Aztec marauders at bay.

There is no sign of it. Above it looms a striking volcano, called La Malinche.

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Legend has it that when the locals saw Malintzin bathing in a pool, she looked so voluptuous that they named it after her. Visit Cholula today and it is the ancient pre-hispanic pyramid, buried beneath a church, that draws history buffs, not the conquistador. It is spectacular. From there he had his first awe-inspiring sight of what is now Mexico City. Many of his panicked followers fell into the surrounding lake, drowning under the weight of their armour and turning the water red with blood.

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The event has passed down in history as la noche triste the sad night , because it is the moment when the Spaniards came closest to defeat. The sign, however, erected in , takes the Aztec view and calls it la noche victoriosa.

The dilemma is more than historical. Some Mexicans are making efforts to reconcile the country to its history. She shows what a strong woman can do with history. And she gave birth to the first mestizo. For now, though, the national dilemma lingers. Both are naked. Beneath their feet is a dead, faceless Indian.

A few streets away, at the site where the conquistador first met Moctezuma, another mural offers a gentler version of the story. Upstairs, a mural depicts Spanish, Indian and mestizo doctors and nurses working side by side. Join them. Subscribe to The Economist today. Media Audio edition Economist Films Podcasts.


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