What’s Going On In This Country?

October 16, 2017 Edition
BY: SANTIAGO VERDUGO

It’s better than nothing With tens of thousands of homes damaged by recent earthquakes throughout Mexico, authorities are turning to some unusual methods to provide temporary housing for people.

More than 70,000 homes were damaged across Oaxaca and Chiapas in the 8.2-magnitude earthquake that hit last month, and almost 40,000 of them were left uninhabitable. So they’re building yurts (kind of like teepees), which have anti-seismic properties. The shelter’s frame is built from 100 pieces of PVC tubing held together by waxed cord and steel wire, while tarps and fabric are used to cover it. The total cost of all the materials comes to $356 USD.

And in Morelos, there’s a new project to build temporary housing out of plastic water bottles. Each bottle becomes an “eco-brick” after it is filled with garbage or compressed rubble, giving the structures strength and stability.

Sacks filled with sand or rubble are used for the structure’s foundation, while alternate layers of adobe and bottles are used for the home itself. The bottles are either tied together with raffia fiber or joined using cement mixed with gravel or, given its current availability, rubble. Each dwelling will use an estimated 2,100 bottles and take a team of 10 volunteers between three and five days to build.

Then there’s bamboo houses. Some types of bamboo grow so rapidly that if you make a mark on a wall, and sit and stare at the bamboo, you can actually see it grow. That’s certainly sustainable.

Post quake tourism fears The tourism industry is worried of the more lasting effects of the Mexico City earthquake will be a reversal in the upward trend in tourist numbers seen over the last four years. Short-term cancelations reached nearly 80% as visitors changed their plans to travel to the states affected by the tremor. These cancellations will have a negative impact on the December vacation period, the last high season of the year for the industry. The best-case scenario for industry leaders is that the figures will remain the same as last year, when Mexico welcomed 35 million international travelers who generated revenues of US $19.7 billion.

President Enrique Peña Nieto made a call to Mexicans to visit the tourism destinations affected by the 7.1-magnitude earthquake to aid in reactivating their economies.

That’s not water… It was raining fish in southern parts of Tamaulipas state recently. Small fish were seen falling with rain in various parts of the city of Tampico.

The phenomenon is rare but not completely out of the ordinary, according to state officials, who explained that the fish are sucked up off the surface of water by tornados, or waterspouts. After they are swept up into a storm cloud they return to Earth with rain.

It’s not only small fish that can be drawn up by the waterspouts. It has also been known to rain shrimp and even frogs in some locations. But not cats and dogs. That’s a fairy tale.

Like a (really big) virgin A statue of the Virgin Mary proposed for a hilltop in Guadalupe, Zacatecas, would be the tallest in the world, and is hoped to provide an economic boost to the low-income neighborhood.

The 154-foot-high statue would be erected on San Simón hill, drawing tourists to an area where the homes are little more than makeshift huts made of sheet metal or cardboard.

The mayor of Guadalupe says the statue is not a religious project, but an economic one. The area is expected to become a tourist corridor, with the statue at its center as the main attraction. The project also entails the construction of chapels and funeral homes.

The estimated cost for the project is $4.3 million USD. But it’s higher than the famous statue of Christ in Rio de Janeiro.

The dolphin cavalry is here! Four trained dolphins have been delivered to the Gulf of California, and they’re possibly the last hope for saving the endangered vaquita porpoise.

Andrea, Fathom, Katrina and Splash arrived yesterday in San Felipe, in the northern part of Baja, where they’ll spend the next month helping a team of specialists locate vaquitas so they can be captured.

A team of scientists and veterinarians plans to transport the captured vaquitas to the new Vaquita Care Center, located in San Felipe, with the hope that they will fall in love, have babies, and reverse the decline in their numbers. It was estimated in November that only 30 remained. They keep getting caught as by catch  in gill nets, even though the fishermen have been paid not to fish. They sneak out anyway.

The four bottlenose dolphins were trained by the United States Navy in San Francisco where they successfully located harbor porpoises.

Don’t get any ideas about putting me to work. Cats don’t swim. We write columns.  Which is pretty tricky considering I don’t even have fingers.

Ja ja ja That’s ha ha ha in Spanish. A prominent Mexican politician and a lawyer proposed a legal claim that would invalidate the treaty with which Mexico sold half its territory to the United States back in 1848.

Former Mexico City mayor and three-time presidential candidate Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas and lawyer Guillermo Hamdan argue that the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo fails several tests of validity.

The treaty gave the U.S. what is now California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and Utah and parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma.

In the agreement, there is an admission that the U.S. army invaded Mexico. Signing an agreement in that context renders it null, is the claim.

Hamdan conceded it would be impossible for Mexico to recover the lost territory should the legal claim be upheld, but suggested instead the U.S. should pay compensation for the use of the land over the last 168 years. No amount was stated.

It may be noted that Mexico lost the war, but still the U.S. paid Mexico $25 million. And the check was promptly cashed.

We may be on the move Some Mexican want the northern part of Mexico to break off from the southern part. The new name would be the Republic of Northern México.

Proponents say the main reasons for creating a new country from nine of Mexico’s 32 states are the educational lag and poverty of the south, centralism exerted from México City, and the major contribution to Mexico’s Gross Domestic Product by the northern states.

The new republic would consist of Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sonora, Sinaloa, Chihuahua, Durango, Coahuila, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas.