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#243 :: Mexican Miniature Tableau

October 8, 2004

The tiny tableaux of artisans in Mexico speak in brightly-painted clay, a pithy, sharp medium for statements on religion, politics, mortality. Skeletons for the Día de los Muertos are the best-known, but most pungent and engaging are the political-cartoon dioramas.

The PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional) has dominated Mexican politics for decades, sort of the political answer to the joke about where the 800-pound gorilla sits – anywhere it wants to. Vicente Fox ended PRI’s 75-year stranglehold on Mexico in July, 2000. This little anti-PRI piece was a gift from a friend about 12 years ago when the party was still in power. The way I read it, the priest in the confessional is you, taking confession from the party (at left) and the opposition party of the moment (its avatar missing a limb here since they’re made from clay and shit happens) at the right. The serpent at your feet might be politics, might be Satan, who knows. It’s faded and dusty, and I can still barely make out this bit of advice/protest, inscribed in roller-ball ink on the tiny paper banners: Vota por el partido que diga a tu conciencia, y ya si gana el PRI, no es culpa tuya. Vote for the party that speaks to your conscience, and then if PRI wins, it’s not your fault.

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