What's Going On In This Country?

August 21, 2017 Edition
BY: SANTIAGO VERDUGO

Running for tortillas No, people weren’t making mad dashes to stock up on tortillas. 160 women ran almost three miles, carrying up to 22 pounds of tortillas on their backs, as part of an annual celebration of their traditional occupation: the perparation, distribution and sale of handmade tortillas.

Women and girls from the community of Santa María Coapan,either barefoot or in sandals, ran to the city of Tehuacán, Puebla, for the Race of the Tortilla, following the route they walk every day to sell their tortillas door to door. The youngest competitor was three years old, while the oldest was 68.

It was the 25th year for the race, held by the women of Coapan to keep their traditions alive for younger generations. An estimated 70% of the town’s women are employed making tortillas by hand.

Free hugs… from cops 20 municipal police officers in Ensenada, up in Baja California Norte, participated in an initiative to bridge the gap between officers and the people they serve.

Carrying signs that read “Free hugs” officers also surveyed citizens about their perception of the city’s police force. Some 700 people were surveyed, but it was not reported how many hugs were given away. We’re going to assume not many, because how many people want to hug a fat, donut loving cop?  And right now up there, the police are being a problem, robbing people.

According to one police instructor, a hug is a tool that “allows us to break down psychological barriers that exist between the citizens and the police.” You know what else does that? Not being corrupt.

Meanwhile, the sailors are flash mobbing Under a banner that declared, “We are Navy, we are culture, we are music, we are made in Mexico,” the sailors in Veracruz gave one of two flash mob performances recently. The other flash mob was in Boca del Río where the Navy Mariachi band played a medley of Mexican tunes.

The Marine flash mob went off in the city’s historic 1857 Plaza de la Constitución. It started with a lone musician, dressed in a white uniform, passing through the zócalo and playing the opening strains of Cielito Lindo, the iconic Mexican “Ay, ay, ay ay song.”

More and then more musicians began to appear, and gradually bystanders were watching a full-blown orchestra, the Symphonic Band of the Mexican Navy, perform. Man, what do we have to do to get the Navy guys in Cabo to do something cool like that?

Mexicans happy with their health care Satisfaction with medical services offered by the Social Security Institute, IMSS, has reached a record high, according to a recent survey. 83% of users responded that they were satisfied with medical services provided by the health service, which is a 7% increase from the last survey in 2002.

The survey also showed that there was a considerable reduction in the time it takes for a hospital bed to be occupied again after it is vacated. A bed management initiative decreased turnover time from 22 hours to fewer than eight, while appointments with specialists are now confirmed within 30 minutes compared with up to a week previously. A week to get your appointment confirmed, can you imagine? And why does it take eight hours to change the sheets on a bed? Hey, if the customer is 83% happy with that, God bless them.

Modest improvements were also reported in other areas surveyed including cleanliness, emergency services, satisfaction with surgery and the number of unattended patients.

Despite the good news, the IMSS admits that it still needs to improve wait times —  specifically in emergency — increase cleanliness in its facilities (um, yes, please) and reduce the time it takes to complete administrative procedures.

Goodbye horse drawn carriages In an effort to curb animal abuse, Guadalajara is putting an end to its traditional horse drawn carriages. The current fleet of carriages will be replaced with new electric carriages, the first 10 of which will arrive in the next four months. Another 45 will soon join them

The decision to replace the horse drawn carriages followed a year of discussions with local animal rights advocacy groups. Guadalajara’s 55 existing carriages are pulled by 110 horses, all belonging to the carriage owners themselves. The municipal government reached an agreement with them, and none of the animals will be sold. Instead, they will have the option of keeping them or donating them to animal shelters or whoever will give them a good home.

The municipal animal protection office will monitor the condition of the 110 draught animals once they are retired. So what’s cruel about pulling a carriage? Now they stand around a field all day with nothing to do. Horses pull things, that’s what they do. It’s their job description. More activists running amuck. Maybe they own stock in the electric carriage company.

Airfare not included A children’s choir from Tlaxcala that sings in a dialect of the endangered Otomí language has been invited to perform for Pope Francis in Vatican City. But there’s a catch: the invitation didn’t include a plane ticket.

The choir is struggling to raise the money themselves, but so far only has enough to send 10 of the choir’s 26 members.

 Most people in the area are poor farmers, but they are looking for ways to raise money such as holding raffles. The Tlaxcala government has offered the free use of a theater in the state capital for a fundraising concert while the Mexican community in Rome has offered accommodation and food for the choir, if they’re able to get there. Well, those 10 who have their tickets are just going to have to sing louder.

More NFL in Mexico? Mexico hopes to top last year's success with the NFL and is trying to extend its three-year deal to host real league sanctioned games.

In 2016, Oakland and Houston played the first regular-season game in Mexico since 2005. This year, the Raiders will return to Azteca stadium to play Super Bowl champion New England on Nov. 19.

Last year's game generated $45 million for Mexico City's economy, so it’s no surprise the government is hoping to keep the NFL games coming.

But they might need to tame the fans in order to make that happen. During last year’s game, a green laser was shown in the eye of  Texas quarterback Brock Osweiler. Some fans threw paper planes on the field and there were homophobic chants hurled out during kickoffs, similar to the ones heard at soccer games in Mexico.

Phew! Sewage is being flushed into the ocean from Tijuana and as luck would have it, currents are taking it north. And we all know what’s north of TJ.

Up to 40 million gallons of sewage is discharged daily from the Punta Banderas sewage treatment plant in Tijuana and when there are south winds and swells, it washes up on U.S. beaches. Imperial Beach California gets the worst of it, and the mayor there is talking law suit. That ought to get the problem solved in, oh, about two decades.

 “We were told on August 4 by highest level American officials that the Mexican federal government has abandoned its effort to support this issue,” Mayor of Imperial Beach Serge Dedina said. “The U.S. government has to step up and help us stop this toxic waste and toxic sewage from coming across the border.” That’s more likely to happen. Tijuana officials are not going to spend the money to fix the problem when they know they can out wait U.S. Officials.