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Frida and Diego’s future uncertain on Mexico’s 500-peso bills

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Will Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera remain on the 500-peso bill? Photo: Bloomberg


A new 500-peso bill — one of the country’s largest in circulation — is coming Monday. Bank officials won’t say if the images of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera will remain in the design.

The Bank of Mexico will make the announcement at 1:15 p.m. on Aug. 27.

Made of cotton paper, the current 500-peso bill contains a portrait of Rivera on one side and one of Kahlo — whose celebrity has surged since the 1990s — on the other.

The denomination was introduced into the economy in 1994 with the image of 19-century general and politician Ignacio Zaragoza, hero of the Battle of Puebla. The 20-century artists have graced the bills since 2010, when 500 pesos was about 50 U.S. dollars. Today, its value is closer to 26 bucks.

The main motif is a portrait of the famed muralist, complemented by a vignette composed by his easel work titled “Desnudo con Alcatraces” (“Nude with Calla Lilies”), three paint brushes and a palette, representing the instruments he used when creating his works of art.

On the back the main image is Kahlo’s self-portrait, accompanied by one of her works, the 1949 painting “El Abrazo del Amor del Universo, la Tierra (México), Yo, Diego y el Señor Xólotl” (“The Love Embrace of the Universe, the Earth (Mexico), Myself, Diego and Señor Xólotl”), the latter name referring to an Aztec god.

When the pair’s portraits were first introduced to the bank note,  historian Alejandro Rosas Robles said the Nobel Prize-winning writer Octavio Paz would have been more worthy of the honor because his work speaks more generally to Mexico. Art critic Raquel Tibol dismissed the move as an “error” because the artists were not directly involved in Mexico’s revolution of 1910.

The nation’s colorful currency depicts former president Benito Juárez on 20-peso bank notes; pre-Hispanic ruler Texcoco Nezahualcóyotl on 100 pesos; nun, scholar and acclaimed writer Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz on 200 pesos; and priest and independence hero Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla on 1,000 pesos.

Source: El Sol de México

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