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What happens in Vegas… should stay in Vegas

31 October 2021

As long as Mexfiles has been around… and even before that… the Zona Rosa has always been, for lack of a better word, eclectic. With the US Embassy and the stock exchange (Casa de Bolsas) just across calle Genova, and a major metro and metrobus station at the other end of the street, and in-between a mix of apartments, cafes, fine dining, gay bars, a casino or two — not to forget the Korean grocery stores — the Zona (and calle Genova specifically) has always had its uniquely weird Mexico City vibe.

Enter Sandra Cuevas, the recently elected alcaldesa of Cuauhtémoc (the “borough” of Mexico City which includes the Zona Rosa: Alcades or Alcadesas being the locally elected borough president). She has a degree in something called “International Commerce”, runs a foundation (México Bonito… which has a facebook page, mostly photos of Ms. Cuevas, and restaurant recommendations) and was elected alcadesa on the joint “all but Morena” ticket in the last election.

Perhaps it is that background in “International Commerce”, or perhaps just being — like the previous Mexico City administration — focused on “development” (i.e., privatizing public space) and selling the city as a “world-class city” (whatever that means… I think it just means a bunch of boring skyscapers and overpriced luxury apartments with a few “charming” neighborhoods to be picked over by AirBnB investors) but… her plans for “reinvigorating” the Zona Rosa (which has gone somewhat downhill… though I’m not sure whether it’s the Starbucks, or the “Love Store” next door that symbolizes that) look to be overkill, and the kind of “international commerce” better suited to… well, Las Vegas.

As it is, she touts her proposed “Corredor Turístico-Tecnológico” as a knock-off of Las Vegas’ Fremont Street Experience. Ok… there are some casinos in the neighborhood, as well as gangsters, hookers, even the occasional spy (the US Embassy and one of the world’s bigger CIA centers is just down the street) and water shortages, but — based on the Fremont Street Experience website — appears to be a completely different type of “development”: one meant for tourists with money, not a place where local cultures (plural) entertain themselves. Mexico City, and the Zona Rosa in particular, already provides… at a very reasonable cost… plenty of entertainement. If the local sport of tourist watching (extra points for backpackers so engrossed in their google map on their cell phone they miss the hostel right in front of them) isn’t enough, and the bars and casinos aren’t one’s thing, there is usually some sort of musical entertainment… or the colorful processions of Hari Krishnas who occasionally march through, or some protesters on their way down to the Embassy or the Angel (the traditional spot for any, and all, protests to begin their march to the National Palace). While not perhaps ready for designation as a UN World Heritage Site, it is one place where Mexico City best lives up to its reputation as the place where surrealism is our quitodian reality.

Let Las Vegas keep itself “international” and let Mexico City be Mexico City. “Mayor” (or… technically, Jefa de Gobierno), Claudia Sheinbaum — who has the final say, and whose schtick (and Nobel Prize) has been working for sustainable cities — said “No voy a entrar en debate pero aparte de todos los permisos que tendrían que pedir que no son para la Zona Rosa, la Zona Rosa no es Las Vegas, la Ciudad de México es capital cultural de América” [“This isn’t up for debate other than the permits aren’t for the Zona Rosa, which isn’t Las Vegas. Mexico City is the cultural capital of America]. I suppose you can argue that Vegas acts and neon signs are “cultural” in their own way, but c’mon… what happens in Las Vegas should stay in Las Vegas. There’s a place in this world for the interactions of gay kids, business executives, spooks, tourists, bourgois families, indigenous artisans, and… yes… Hari Krishnas.. .to mix and mingle. And what happens in the Zona Rosa should stay in the Zona Rosa.

One Comment leave one →
  1. roberb7 permalink
    4 November 2021 5:18 pm

    I say, good for Claudia Sheinbaum.

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