MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – From May 17 to June 1, the Zocalo of Mexico City received more than 2.5 million people who enjoyed the cultural, culinary, and literary diversity of 87 nations that gathered at the Culture and Friendship Fair 2014. The Hellenic Community of Mexico organized the event, on behalf of The Greek Embassy, represented by the Hon. Polyxeni Stefanidou, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Hellenic Republic in Mexico. At her behest, I served as General Coordinator.
Mexico City’s Mayor, Dr. Miguel Angel Mancera, reported on February that the Fair would take place in the Plaza de la Constitution, better known as the Zocalo, the heart of Mexico City, and no longer on Reforma Avenue as it has been in previous years.
“Since 2008 there are more and more nations taking part, and we have much more enthusiastic participation,” he said. “We are pleased that in 2013 we had 82 countries active in all events. Now we have confirmed 87.”
Mancera noted that the Fair “went very well,” acknowledged the support of the various embassies ,and instructed the Secretary of Tourism, Miguel Marques Torruco, to promote the Fair.
“He has the task of giving strength to the promotion, so that people inside the country know of this fair; so that all who visit Mexico City can go to the Zocalo, and learn about other places of the world,” Mancera said.
The Zocalo, along with the surrounding streets, is almost rectangular and occupies a surface area of ??approximately 46,800 m2 (195 m X 240 m). It was named in honor of the Cadiz Constitution, enacted in 1812. It is located in the area known as First Square History Center of the City, in the Township of Cuauhtemoc. Its location was chosen by the conquerors to be built on what was previously the political and religious center of Mexico-Tenochtitlan, capital of the Mexicas Civilization.
And so, the Zocalo registered the highest number of visitors in past occasions in Reforma Avenue. Staff attending the module of the organizing committee estimated that on average, forty thousand people visited the expo on weekdays. Saturdays and Sundays, the figure reached ninety thousand. The coordinator of International Affairs of the Government of Mexico City, Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, agreed that this year’s number of visitors exceeded those of previous years.
Each year, this being the sixth, the Government of the Federal District of Mexico City invites various embassies of the countries represented in Mexico to participate in the fair. The government offers free stands to various countries. The goal is to show Mexican citizens an overview of what each country offers the tourists when they visit the countries through their cultural and culinary participation.
Among the countries represented besides Greece were: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Czechoslovakia, Ecuador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Ivory Coast, Japan, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
The Inaugural Parade on May 17th consisted of contingents representing 48 of the 87 countries, involving almost 1000 people accompanied by music, dancing and/or traditional sports, and flags of their respective nations.
Mancera, members of his Cabinet, and the authorities of the Federal District, as well as other ambassadors who were in the bleachers of the Presidium, could not do without the presence of Ambassador Stephanidou, who was praised for her excellent organization, and the large Greek contingent’s participation.
As the Greek contingent passed in front of the Presidium (some participants were dressed with regional costumes, others wore uniforms with shirts designed exclusively for this event by the Greek Community), it had the opportunity to dance “Zorba the Greek” for four minutes to the music of Theodorakis; personalities who were reveling in this amazing display applauded enthusiastically and strongly encouraged the Greek Parade.
Moreover, this year the Greeks had the largest stand of all, located opposite the National Palace, in the section of European Union countries. There, visitors could find cultural and tourist information about Greece. The Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO), in an effort to support the dissemination and promotion of tourism of our country, sent us (on request) a generous amount of material for the show; the video “Visit Greece.” Brochures of Athens, Thessaloniki, Gourmet, Touring, Culture, and maps of Greece, which were distributed to the visitors who were most interested in traveling to our country. Also, there was data collected from countless people and students interested in taking classes of the Greek language, dance classes, and more information about social and cultural activities organized by the community, some hand in hand with the Greek Embassy. Distributed as a gift, were books titled Greek Tourism Posters, which were given to the different personalities of the Fair’s Organizing Committee, also sent by GNTO.
Different countries had the opportunity to participate with other cultural activities such as conferences and exhibition workshops for all audiences; so, Stefanidou expounded ‘’Tourism in Greece, ’in the Historic Secretary of Finance Building, the old Archbishop’s Palace, next to the National Palace, near the Zocalo.
There were various mass media covering the Greek participation at the fair, giving radio and television interviews; there was also a Greek journalist present.
Once again, Greece has been heard; its name has resounded in the ruins of the Mexicas’ land …. We will continue talking about Greece in Mexico for a long time to come …VivaMexico! VivaGrecia! Zito to Mexico! Zito i Ellada!