Mexico's charros are a breed apart
May 4, 1997
Web posted at: 5:35 p.m. EDT (2135 GMT)
From Correspondent Chris Kline
MEXICO CITY (CNN) -- The charros, Mexico's tough cowboys and
rodeo showmen, have long symbolized the ideal of the
national character. Brave, self-reliant and proud, they are
as Mexicans best like to see themselves.
Charros figure in Mexico's national anthem and each year hold
a place of honor in the country's Independence Day parade.
They were once warriors and have not forgotten their martial
"Being a charro means all of our ancestors took part in the
wars of independence, in the fight for Mexico's liberty and
the revolution," says one Mexican cowboy. "It expresses our
identity, our freedom, our love for the world."
(1,012/25 sec. QuickTime movie)
The charro is above all a horseman, heir to a centuries-old
equestrian tradition. It was the Spanish conquistadors that
introduced Mexico's natives to horses and cattle. The
collision of the two peoples created the cowboy culture.
The contemporary Mexican rodeo, the charreada, grew from the
informal contests the cowboys held among themselves to show
off ranching skills like bronco riding and roping. They
describe their sport as living history, an art form drawn
from the demands of a working life.
The charreada has its danger, but the charros shrug off the
risks and the broken bones.
"If you like it the danger doesn't matter, and if something
happens, that's the game," a charro says.
Charros are passionate about their vocation -- often handed
down as a family tradition from generation to generation --
and they say there is also beauty to be seen.
Sometimes the need to simplify things draws men to become
charros -- to escape the complications of modern life or to
find an inner place among horses and tough company.
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