The Staging of the Fatalidad lastimosa or the Creole Nation's Unviability
Late in the afternoon of June 8, 1692 a violent uprising took place in Mexico City and underscored the frailty of colonial domination. The uprising, mostly by urban Indians and poor castas (Mestizos, blacks, and mulattoes), raised the worst possible fears within elite colonial circles as the rioters attacked, vandalized and set fire to the institutional centers of political control (the City Hall, jail, local archives, and the Viceroy's private quarters). Though riots and rebellions were rather common in New Spain, the events of 1692 were felt and articulated as catastrophic by colonial elite and several narratives were produced in the attempt to make sense out of them and to restore moral –if not social—order. Despite the fact that recent scholarship has produced a new approximation to the riot’s social composition, the fundamental question of what did the elite see in these events that made them so utterly uneasy has not been properly addressed yet. In this essay I follow the historical account of the disturbances produced by Carlos Sigüenza y Góngora in a letter to his Spanish friend, the admiral Andrés de Pez. Combining discourse and textual analisis, I compare the document with other accounts of the riots, explore its rich figurative language, scrutinize its many allusion to past historical events and sources, and use an approach inspired by contemporary trauma theory in order to tease out what he found startling about the riots.