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Behold, I show you a mystery — in three parts…

12 December 2004


Today is the official unoffical start of the Christmas holiday. Mexicans work hard… when they’re working… but if they are masters of stretching out the holiday whenever possible. So, Christmas isn’t just the 12 days between December 25 and January 6, it’s from Guadelupe to Tres Reyes. And, today is Guadelupe Day.basilica_ext.jpg

On a relatively quiet day, this was taken by a Japanese tourist. Today ther Basillica is visited by an estimated 100,000 pilgrims per HOUR. The Church relies on chubby boy scouts to keep ’em moving…
I don’t know how many out-of-towners we get, but they seem to be coming from everywhere. I was just outside the airport yesterday, indulging in a lunch at el Porton (a higher priced version of VIPS, which is a Mexican version of Denny’s) just watching the pilgrims going by… buses, villages camped in semi-trailers (yeah, probably illegal, but you want to stop people on a mission from God?), farm trucks, bicycles — cross-country cycling is a popular sport and it seems every cycling club in the country is on the road — motorcycles (a relatively expensive investment here. Mexican bikers are generally well-heeled people to begin with, and this isn’t quite the Sturgis group anyway. Not likely the Hell’s Angels are going to join the ride), and… just walking down the road. I was amazed by the number of guys (and some women) with all their camping equipment on their backs, some with their luggage tags still hanging from the frames, I saw leaving the airport. One indication Mexico is becoming wealthier… the NEW Basillica parking lot is already at 90% capacity. Of course all these people need to eat and sleep (one of the best-kept open secrets for budget tourists is the giant hostel run by monks around the corner from the Basilica, if you don’t mind sharing a dorm room with a couple of Guatamalan villages)… and a sizable number of them do their Christmas shopping and take in the sites.

For a lot of people, the pilgrimage is a reason for a trip to the big city. People take in the sites, hang out, do the normal tourist things… well… most tourist thing. Though you’ll see a few college students from north of the border, this isn’t the same crowd that flocks to Spring Break every year. But then again, the appearance of a virgin in Cancún would be a miracle!

As the politicos spin

Everybody is blaming everybody else for
the lynching. Of course. The Feds blame the local cops (who, apparently, warned the feds two weeks before the event that their “undercover” operation was making the neighbors very, very nervous). Their latest rationale is that they weren’t looking for drug dealers… they were looking for … TERRORISTS. Of course. Well, a couple misguided youths who set off a small bomb a couple of years ago and blew up a trashcan that broke a bank’s windows had some relatives that live down that way… so – of course – the feds stormed San Juan Ixtayopan, kicking in doors and dragging people off to the carcel. They had videos after all. And who is the first guy to go on trial? The guy who was barricaded in his house with a TV reporter the whole time. Of course!Fox has to blame … oh, somebody. He’s fired the fed police chief, and our local police chief for good measure. No real surprise there, though handing the guy his pink slip during a press conference at least made it look like something’s being done.The newest twist is the old “use and customs” defense. This goes back to Cortés – local communities had the right to their own “uses and customs” as long as they practiced the Catholic religion and didn’t challenge the King of Spain. The King is long gone, and we haven’t had a state religion since 1859. But, to make peace with the Zapatistas, “use and customs” was put back in the Constitution a few years ago. Alas, “uses and customs” aren’t always nice little things like colorful native ceremonies, but also things like chasing born-agains out of your village, and voting for the PRI and… beating the crap out of coppers with video cameras outside your local school. That’ll need some rethinking.

The “use and customs” of the Salinas family continue to make the news.

“Family Values”… you mean like the Corleone family … or the Bush family?The most honest – or rather, least sleazy – of the Salinas brothers ended up a corpse earlier this week. With a bag over his head, a couple of bruises and… dumped in front of a couple security cameras (filming crimes is the new national trend). Enrique Salinas was only the bagman for his brothers, Raul the drug-dealer, and Carlos the unelected President (thanks to some shady state votes along the Gulf of Mexico, and computer problems in 1988, Carlos Salinas – the father of NAFTA and friend of Ronald Reagan, and not Cuauhtémoc Cardenas – the leftwing nationalist who actually put together a credible opposition to the PRI – became president, signed the NAFTA treaty and left office with the federal treasury for a nice retirement in the Europe’s money-laundering capital, Ireland, which conveniently had no extradition treaty with Mexico). The Salinas family values rank right up there with …. Oh, a well-known Connecticut family that claims to be Texans involved in politics north of the border. Except, as far as is known, the Salinas’s had no ties to Adolph Hitler. My suspicion is they offed Enrique for not living up to the family code. Or that he was about to spill the beans on where the loot was hidden (Enrique – like so many Mexicans – emigrated. In his case, to France, where, this poor struggling Mexican immigrant managed to get by in a modest chateau. Where he received a friendly visit from the surête – just a courtesy call. It seems le judge had a few questions about the family finances, and Enrique suddenly became home sick). It’ll be interesting to see who they pin this one on. Nice family.

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