The Lottery of Death

By: Daniel Nardini


                                     Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary  The City of Guanajuato was one of the first to join the revolt by the priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla in 1810 against Spanish rule. Guanajuato, one of the richest cities in New Spain (Mexico) because of its silver mines, resented the Spanish colonial authorities from robbing them of their wealth to pay the Spanish Crown. Even many of the wealthy Spanish criollos (Spaniards born and raised in Mexico) resented their wealth going to the Spanish Crown, and were very distrustful of Spanish colonial rule. So when Hidalgo raised his banner of revolt in Dolores on September 16th, 1810, the citizens of Guanajuato joined in. When Hidalgo’s rebel army entered Guanajuato, there was no opposition. However, the Spanish royalist forces in Guanajuato took over a granary where they fought back until the Mexican rebel army forced them to surrender.
                                       When Hidalgo’s forces were defeated by the Spanish royalists just outside of Guadalajara in 1811, the Spanish royalist forces recaptured Guanajuato after bitter resistance on the part of the Guanajuato’s citizens. For this, the Spanish royalist forces instituted a random picking of names of citizens of the city known as the “lottery of death.” Those whose names were picked were taken away, tortured and butchered by the Spanish authorities. This act of cruelty resulted in the deaths of thousands—many whose bodies were left hanging in the streets of Guanajuato. It was a brutal act of revenge on the part of the Spanish royalists, but it did not crush the Mexican rebel revolt.
                                         After the death of Hidalgo, he was succeeded by another rebel priest named Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon. Morelos would go on to score victory after victory against the Spanish royalist forces. One-third of New Spain (Mexico) would fall under Morelos’ control, and had Morelos succeeded in taking the City of New Spain (Mexico City) he would have freed the colony from Spanish colonial rule sooner. Like Hidalgo he failed, and was also captured and executed by the Spanish royalists. No cruelty visited on the country could diminish the fight for independence, and ten years after the brutal reprisals against the citizens of Guanajuato, Mexico became an independent country.

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