Friday, July 21, 2006

General Street Stuff

Juarez St downtown is a great place to get ripped off and/or score a cheap electronic thing. It is the market of ripped software, video games, and all kinds of stuff made in China that Americans didn't buy enough of. If you ever wonder what happens to stuff that Wal Mart can't get rid of - this is where it goes. To the streets! I like it down here. I usually never buy anything, but it's interesting to wander around for a little while on Juarez or in the surrounding area. It's not as groomed as some of the other neighborhoods, but it's downtown and while there's a movement on to "rejuvenate" the downtown core, it's not progressing at a "canary wharf" (London) pace. It seems that's what all the big cities are doing now- kicking out the rent control scum and glitzing up the downtown cores. One could also call it "sterilizing" but one man's hovel is another man's loft I guess. I do like espresso coffee though so I'm guilty of complacency. I'll never forget last Christmas when I came down here to buy gifts and saw a woman selling tequila shooters and raw oysters on the half shell from a rusted shopping cart over a windy, dusty metro grate. So as you can read, it's not gonna be Times Square tomorrow.

tiangis in Juarez ave.

"networking appliance wholesale reseller requires FT personnel"

Torre Latino in the Bkgrnd. Frustrated looking dude in the fore.

Where would the world be without tarps? The tarp has saved us all. Someone should get a Nobel Prize for that- I'm serious.

Look at this picture: Can you see something wrong? I took it in the middle of the Zocalo.

Let's move in a little closer...

Uh huh. This room cleaner emerged nonchalantly and started cleaning the OUTSIDE of the window in her uniform and runners with no ropes or nothing!

And you thought your job sucked. Scary stuff. I wanted to run over and scream, "it's not worth it!" but maybe it was. Now I know that people are full of it when they say, "Mexicans take jobs Americans won't do!" I think it reads more like, " I'm too afraid to do or unskilled to do without dying!" This experience confirmed for me a suspicion I've always had about the claptrap surrounding the construction of the Chrysler Building and the Empire State building in NYC among other big things... I used to believe that romantic story the tour guides tell about how Mohawk first nations people were shipped in to do the dangerous work cause they "Had no fear of heights..." Sure sure... ok. Is it the same "fearlessness of dynamite in caves" that Chinese immigrants had while they were making the railroads? I'd dig deeper into this ironic joke, but the whole idea is so obviously racist, sexist etc. that I have trouble writing it. But I think you get what I mean. Why do I have to always be so bleak? It's not entirely my fault. She stepped onto the ledge. The world presented itself to me and I filled in the blanks. How can you look on the bright side of that? There is no bright side of that.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

New Pres blah blah wealth divide blah blah

Well, it looks like barring some kind of revelation about vote tampering Philipe Calderon will keep PAN in the president's chair for another 6 years. Vote tampering is no stranger to Mexico. There is considerable proof that elections have been tampered with in the past; especially during the 75 year tenure of the PRI party. We gave directions to an observer on election day so it's good to know that there are some people looking out for the uh, "fairness" of it all. At any rate it's going to make the whole issue ugly now that the closest opponent Manuel Obrador is fuming mad about the results and demanding a re-count. A friend of mine works in the Elections Department and I didn't see any new sports cars parked outside his building so that's a good sign, but the reality of having such a close vote is that no matter what happens, people are going to feel cheated.

What i think it means is that Mexico will continue along the same way it has for the last little while barring any economic meltdown in the US. Foreign investment will continue to come in and Mexico will continue to top the charts with Brazil as one of Latin America's top "growing economies". I think little can be done in the long term about crime as Calderon seems to favor a gloves off approach with more police and "special units" which are notoriously corruptible and probably will be underfunded. The PAN party did not win many seats in the senate which will make for a lot of governmental gum-flapping I'm sure. What really happened was that the middle class (which many people seem to think is growing and often refer to it as "Mexico's Growing Middle Class" but I've heard from others that it's actually shrinking) and the rich voted for Calderon and many poor people especially in the south and in Mexico City voted for Obrador. The elections mirror the wealth divide, have brought the anger and disillusionment of Mexico's poor into relief and even possibly polarized many to stand behind the flags of the PRD. Perhaps they will be able to cash in on it in 2012. Until then it seems to be Business As Usual with a capital B - and I'm not talking about the platinum Men At Work album. ...hmmm, and in case you wanted more information that you could've gotten just by watching the news, uh, Italy won the World Cup-bye.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Mexico will know soon.

Mexico had an election yesterday and the tension has been building as they continue to count the votes in the close race between Andre Manuel Lopez Obrador and Philipe Calderon. People are pretty nervous on both sides of the coin as each candidate has fairly different ideas on how to solve Mexico's problems and which direction to steer the country in for the next 6 years. Obrador is seen as a left-leaning guy, an ex-activist and, being reared in a poor neighborhood in Tabasco, in touch with Mexico's large poor population. He pledges he will take "big money" to task while spending lots of cash on government projects. Philipe Calderon seems to echo the feelings of much of Mexico's Business community and rich and middle classes. He's pledged to "crack down" on crime and violence all the time increasing jobs and economy through more NAFTA, free enterprise and incentives to Business. I think both will have a hard time living up to these promises, but Calderon has the advantage of running under the banner of the current Government, PAN. Many who work outside of big multinational companies are not happy with the results from the last 6 years of the Fox Government, but even those who wouldn't side with him seem happier seeing a government tried and tested in office than a left-wing hothead who may muddle up the already hot-potato issue of US-Mexico relations. Obrador is considered by many to be a man of the people. He's often shown shaking hands with farmers in jeans and casual attire and has promised an end to violence mainly through fighting against poverty. He's apparently promised hefty wage and Tax reform both of which will have a hard time implementing, but are sorely needed. His party is very popular in Mexico City. Mainly people are worried that his kind of policies will scare away foreign investment, which it just may do to some degree. Mainly the ideologies at play here seem to me to be the people who feel business as usual is good business against those who are tired of seeing vast quantities of money in an apparently well-performing economy passing, uncontested to those who need it the least ie: the rich.

I've read that as a foreigner in Mexico it's actually illegal for me to become too involved in Mexican politics. I'm not sure about the trueness of this as it seems there's no end to the foreign interests vying for a slice of the Mexican pie and pundits who scramble down on expense accounts to cover, study, analyze, and even coerce it. Lets just say my meager 2 cent's is about all it's worth. I'm practically paraphrasing and anyone who wants the real goods can go to their website of choice and read paid-for articles about the same and more... As for me? I hope Obrador wins. I hope foreign interests won't pack up and take all their money with them and I hope Mexico will find itself a better off place because of it. If Calderon wins? Well I for one don't expect things will change too much. He seems to feel his government is doing a great job right now. He'd do well though to keep his eye on that huge crowd in the Zocalo and pay attention to how big and angry it grows.