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Bones of independence heroes exhumed in Mexico

May 31, 2010 |  4:46 pm

Bicenntenial felipe calderon remains

Amid military pomp and circumstance on a bright afternoon, Mexico exhumed the remains of 12 heroes from its War of Independence in an effort to identify the bones and prepare them for long-term preservation. On Sunday, the remains were pulled in glass caskets from a crypt at the base of the Angel of Independence monument on the stately Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City. Onlookers and military and government figures, including President Felipe Calderon, watched a somber but celebratory ceremony, perhaps the most significant public event so far during this seemingly low-key bicentennial year in Mexico.

The bones of history-book figures such as Miguel Hidalgo were carried to the national history museum at Chapultepec Castle, where they will be examined by specialists from the government's history and anthropology institute, and then moved to the National Palace in the historic center of Mexico City. The remains were first buried in the Metropolitan Cathedral and then moved to the Angel of Independence monument in 1925, according to the daily newspaper Milenio.

The event wasn't without hints of Mexico's contemporary state of strife. Onlookers mostly cheered and tossed flowers, but some Calderon foes took the opportunity to shout epithets characterizing him as an illegitimate president and accusing him of "selling out the homeland," the daily La Jornada reported. The paper also cites historians who cast doubt on the authenticity of the bones.

-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City

Photo: President Felipe Calderon at the Angel of Independence monument. Credit: AFP/Getty Images