What's Going On In This Country?

January 8, 2018 Edition

Newspaper talk We like newspaper talk, we’re newsies. The federal government’s huge spending on advertising in newspapers has been criticized by people who believe the use of the public’s money limits freedom of the media. This clout is capable of suppressing investigative articles, directing front pages and intimidating newsrooms that challenge it. The government’s lavish spending is made with a simple proviso: “I do not pay you to criticize me.”

The director of the magazine Etcétera conceded this practice is not right, but argued that if the government advertising revenue dried up, there would be no media in Mexico at all.  “We are all complicit in this,” Marco Levario said.

However, the president’s office said that its spending did not affect free speech in any way, arguing that the purpose of its advertising is to inform and educate the public about the government’s work and that it is backed legally by the constitution. Well, maybe that’s the problem, it’s legal. But is it right? We could argue that it’s not right that this paper doesn’t get our share, but then we’re passed up because our readers don’t vote.

Only once has a government agency tried to buy us off, and that was Fonatur. We were so naïve back in those days we didn’t get it, we thought they just wanted an ad. Duh. And then when the crisis was over, the pendejos didn’t even pay us! We learned two lessons, one about Mexican journalism and one about Fonatur.

Tough competition for Cabo A new all-inclusive hotel with 900 suites, 10 restaurants and eight bars has opened just south of Cancun. (It has to be all inclusive, because it’s out in the tulles.) It will eventually have 6,000 rooms, a 12,000 seat stadium, a convention center and even a shopping center. Cancun has way more problems with the druggies than we do, and they’re still thriving, so maybe we can expect the same here.

Cruise ship for Mexicans Aww, that’s nice. Right now, all the cruise ships that ply the so-called Mexican Riviera originate in L.A, a bridge too far for many Mexicans. Why should they fly up there and back, only to cruise down here and back?

The Magellan ship will cruise the Mexican Riviera this winter, launching a new brand for the Mexican domestic market: Marítimos Vacacionales. Maritime vacations.

Home ports will be both Acapulco and Manzanillo, and the itinerary will include calls to Manzanillo, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo, plus two days at sea. They’re hoping to attract 12,000 passengers total for the season.

What’s wrong with our stumble bums? The Mexico Tourism Board (MTB) reports that its meetings and events sector grew 6.7 percent from January to October, when compared to the same period last year. The sector took in $25 billion, and they did it all without Los Cabos.

The beautiful and modern convention center built for our city by the federal government in 2002, and deeded over to us, is in shambles. It’s never been used, never marketed, not even maintained. It’s just a wreck sitting on the hill overlooking the toll booth in San Jose. Our city and tourism officials can’t get organized enough to hire a company to bring in events.

The rest of Mexico gets 30 million room nights and 266 events in a year. The meetings sector in Mexico is an increasingly important part of the tourism industry and the country's economy, the MTB said. The meetings and incentive industry generates 1.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, creating nearly a million jobs in Mexico. But nooooo… not here.

Who likes tasteless tortillas? Not even Gringos. Tortilla consumption has fallen 40% over the past 30 years because, claims Rafael Mier, a businessman and corn promoter. Corn promoter? Is that a job description? A career? Well, Rafa is certainly on a mission.

 “They have lost their flavor and texture,” Mier says, and he is determined to bring back consumption of the national culinary icon.

“In Mexico, there is not a single tortilla: there are hundreds of tortillas as there are hundreds of varieties of corn,” he said. However, a trend towards homogenization of the tortilla and the use of inferior corn flours are to blame for their declining quality, he believes.

He says the culprit is low grade corn, preservatives and additives. Well, we have to say, we’ve been amazed at how many bad tortillas there are around here. We’re thinking they’re bought by the carton at Costco. When was the last time you saw a traditional tortillera? A store front where they are made by a half dozen senoras, who feed the hand pressed pastie into clankety, rickety machinery.

Mier says if Mexico is to reverse the declining trend here, “People need to elevate what many see as a humble staple to a product of near sacred significance”. Well, that might be a bit much, but we would like to see improvement in the local tortilla recipes.

A few more pesos here, please! State police are not only woefully underpaid, but many don’t even receive all the benefits required by law.

Officers in 13 of the 32 states are paid less than the national average wage and none of the states pays all the basic benefits in full.

According to one report, the average monthly wage of a state police officer in Mexico is just over $500 USD.

The report also said none of the states pays its police departments the six benefits mandated by law. These include their housing credits, life insurance, a medical plan, a retirement savings fund, financial support for the families of officers who have been killed in the line of duty and scholarships for their children.

Well, now we’re a little more understanding of their extortion tactics on us. Their families are hungry and they’re angry, wouldn’t you be too?