Guatemala noisily celebrates its 190th birthday

Celebrating their nation’s 190th Independence Day, Guatemalans streamed into streets and central squares across the country on Thursday, Sept. 15, to enjoy parades, music, food and fireworks.

Communities large and small marked the occasion with torch-bearing runners, drumbeats of school bands, concerts and speeches. Food vendors served a mouth-watering variety of dishes as locals and tourists alike joined the annual celebration.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent congratulatory remarks to the people of Guatemala:

“On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Guatemala on the 190th anniversary of your independence this September 15.

“As Guatemalans the world over celebrate this special day and honor the heroes of Guatemala’s independence, we stand with you in celebration. Americans have long enjoyed the beauty of Guatemala – from the ancient ruins of Tikal to the stunning volcanoes that surround Lake Atitlán – as well as the warmth and hospitality of the Guatemalan people. Your rich culture, diversity of languages, and traditions steeped in history are a special part of our region.

“During my visit last June for the Central American security conference, President Colom and I renewed our commitment to building strong democratic institutions, promoting the rule of law, and expanding economic growth and opportunity to our nations’ citizens.

“On this historic day, I send best wishes to all Guatemalans – in Guatemala, the United States, and around the globe. We look forward to deepening the ties between our two countries as we work to build a safer, more prosperous and democratic future for our peoples.”

Also celebrating their independence along with Guatemala were Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. On Sept. 15, 1821, representatives from all those regions formally accepted a plan drafted by Mexican Gen. Agustín de Iturbide that declared them free from the crumbling Kingdom of Spain. Mexico celebrates its break from “la madre patria” on Sept. 16.

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