Mexican rivalries celebrate Independence Day under tight control

Fighter jets and broad-hatted Mexican cowboys controlled Independence Day celebration in Mexico.

President Felipe Calderon reviewed the troops that marched through Mexico City's enormous Zocalo square, where his supporters and opponents, divided by metal fences and thousands of police, held competing Independence Day events the night before.

"The diversity and plurality that characterize us ... should unite us and not be a reason for animosity and division," Calderon said Sunday.

In keeping with tradition, Calderon launched Independence Day festivities by stepping out on a National Palace balcony at 11 p.m. (0400GMT) Saturday and crying, "Viva Mexico!" Hundreds of Mexicans gathered below in the Zocalo answered with shouts of "Viva!" as well.

Earlier, in another corner of the plaza, thousands of Calderon's detractors led by Sen. Rosario Ibarra held their own "grito," or cry of independence, reflecting lingering conflicts over last year's tight presidential election.

Ibarra is an ally of leftist leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who claims his narrow loss to Calderon in July 2006 was illegitimate.

Despite the tension, the two groups avoided violence.

Pro- and anti-Calderon factions staked out their turf in the Zocalo days ahead of time. The president's office set up metal fencing in front of the National Palace while Lopez Obrador's supporters set up tents on the square's opposite end.

Mexicans arriving for the nighttime celebration went through metal detectors and were received by blaring speakers on opposite sides of the plaza competing for their attention - and making it impossible to hear.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova