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Mexico's military paraded through the streets for independence day, and for the first time, women pilots flew over them

Mexico independence day military parade Zocalo

Late Sunday and throughout Monday, Mexicans celebrated their country's independence day.

Celebrations took place all over the country, including in Mexico City's main plaza, Zocalo Square, where thousands of onlookers watched members of the Mexican military parade past on foot, in vehicles, and in the air.

Below, you can see how Mexico's armed forces invoked past and present to celebrate the 209th anniversary of Mexico's freedom from Spain.

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Independence day celebrations start with the president's "grito de Dolores," or "Cry of Dolores," honoring the speech of a parish priest that helped kick off the war for independence on September 16, 1810.

The words of the priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla became a battle cry for Mexican forces in the war. But what exactly he said in what is now Guanajuato state in 1810 is not known.

This year's independence day was the first overseen by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who was elected in July 2018 and took office in December.

Cinco de Mayo, celebrated on May 5, is sometimes confused for Mexico's independence day. Cinco de Mayo instead marks the Mexican army's defeat of a larger French force at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, during the Franco-Mexican War.

Lopez Obrador gave his first cry of independence as president in the Zocalo on Sunday night, shouting "viva" 20 times, matched by the more than 130,000 people gathered for the event.

Source: Mexico News Daily

The event was not only a first for Lopez Obrador. Two women from Mexico's air force flew in the parade for the first time as well.

Pilot Miriam Martinez Magaña flew a T-6C Texan turboprop aircraft during the celebration, becoming the first woman aircraft commander in a military parade.

Source: El Universal

"It's incredible. I will be in a formation of 20 planes. I believe I have a big responsibility to represent women in my role as a flight commander. Participating in the 20-plane formation is to trust in the other 19 planes around me," Martinez told El Universal.

Source: El Universal

Lt. Karen Vanessa Velazquez Ruiz, the first woman in the Mexican air force to pilot an F-5 Tiger, flew an F-5 as the lead aircraft in the celebration.

Source: El Universal

"My main function is to watch our timing and support the flight commander in maintaining our speed, and that way we’ll fly over the parade at the correct time," Velazquez told El Universal.

Source: El Universal

In all, 50 planes and 22 helicopters flew over in various formations during the parade.

Source: El Universal

Among the troops who paraded through on the ground were members of the National Guard, which was created at the beginning of 2019.

Police patrolled the Zocalo and nearby streets. In addition to the troops on parade, members of the military and national guard dressed in civilian clothes circulated among the thousands of people in attendance.

Source: Mexico News Daily

But the military personnel dressed as civilians reportedly went unnoticed, as they didn't have to arrest or remove anyone.

Source: Mexico News Daily

There were varying reports about the clean-up effort. One noted 30 metric tons of garbage left behind in the Zocalo; another said there were 207 metric tons.

Source: Mexico News Daily

But it took 300 workers using 30 trucks, 11 sweepers, two water trucks, and a crane to clean 82,280 square meters in the Zocalo and surrounding areas, as well as 16 kilometers of nearby streets, most outlets said.

Source: Mexico News Daily

While celebrations in Mexico City went smoothly, this year's festivities were not able to escape the violence that has risen throughout Mexico in recent years.

In Guerrero and Puebla, two states affected by drug- and fuel-theft related violence, respectively, at least 14 municipalities canceled events over security concerns. And a few hours before Lopez Obrador opened celebrations on Sunday, five people were shot dead at a bar in Tabasco, the president's home state.

Source: Mexico News Daily, Reuters