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Tijuana Celebrates Bicentennial Under Heavy Guard

Grito Bicentenario en Tijuana, México

Tijuana Mayor Jorge Ramos delivers the bicentennial "grito" on September 15, 2010 in Tijuana, México. Video by Nathan Gibbs.

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Frequent cries of “VIVA MEXICO!” are in the air in Tijuana today. Mexicans are celebrating the 200th anniversary of their country’s declaration of independence.

Thousands gathered in downtown Tijuana and at a park to enjoy traditional food, music and dances.

Despite the revelry, reminders of the city's recent struggles with the violence of drug cartels were nearby as heavily armed soldiers and police officers watched over the crowd.

As part of the tradition, the country's leaders recite the battle cry spoken by Miguel Hidalgo that sparked the Mexican Revolution.

Tijuana Mayor Jorge Ramos stepped onto the balcony of the city's old city hall in downtown, recited the words and then rang a bell. That was followed by the Mexican national anthem and a fireworks show.

Unlike other cities that are struggling to contain the surge in drug cartel violence, Tijuana did not cancel its long-planned bicentennial celebration.

Down the border in Juarez, a virtual celebration was held to avoid having a large crowd that could be a target for the drug cartels. The city's mayor recited the call to arms over television and fireworks shows were spread around the city so residents would not have to leave their homes.

Long-time Tijuana resident Henry Eisenberg is glad the traditional festivities continued.

“I feel great," said Eisenberg, who was born in Mexico City from parents who emigrated from Europe. "It’s good to celebrate 200 years of independence of Mexico."

Bi-centennial celebrations were also held at several locations in San Diego County.

Today is a holiday in Tijuana and many places will also be closed on Friday, creating a long holiday weekend.

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