In this monthly series, we republish a few of the headlines from our March editions 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 years ago.
Art fair a success
Some 400 art aficionados gathered at the Posada Ajijic Easter art fair to view 275 drawings, paintings, sculptures, combines, photographs and wall hangings presented by 51 lakeside artists.
“The broad range of styles, techniques and materials used provided the record-breaking audience with an extraordinary variety of artistic experiences,” said Allyn Hunt, organizer of the event. “And the response this year was exceptional. We were fortunate enough to have two bus-loads of tourists travel out from Guadalajara and one party came all the way from Mexico City to see the exhibit.”
Corruption war continues
Corruption in high places hit the headlines again this month as yet another reputation was on the block and the country seemed to reel slightly at the realization that President Jose Lopez Portillo was perfectly sincere when he said, in essence, “get them and get them all.”
Current Secretary of Public Education Eugenio Mendez Docurro, who was Secretary of Communications under the previous presidential administration, is accused, along with four underlings, of embezzling 19 million pesos and trying to steal several million more.
Chapala jail break
Twenty-one inmates of Chapala’s crowded municipal jail staged Jalisco’s eighth mass jail escape this year April 1. The men escaped through Banamex, located next door to the prison. Jail wardens apparently were not aware of the mass bust out until several hours afterwards, according to Chapala sources. Using an angle bracket of a bunk bed, the prisoners made a 45-centimeter hole in the north wall of the jail between 2 and 4 p.m. During the commotion of family visiting hours on Good Friday afternoon, inmates drilled a hole through the wall, under cover of a blaring tape deck. There was a single guard on duty on the roof instead of the usual three. At press time only four of the inmates had been recaptured.
30,000 protest against U.S.
Burning a U.S. flag and an effigy of Uncle Sam, more than 30,000 University of Guadalajara students and workers staged a protest Friday, April 15 outside the city’s U.S. Consulate. The protest was in response to U.S. foreign policy toward Central America and recent U.S. Senate criticism over Mexico’s anti-narcotics efforts.
“The principal cause of U.S. drug problems are 25 million north-of-the-border addicts and not Mexico,” said Tonatiuh Bravo Padilla, president of the Guadalajara Students Federation.
‘UFO’ startles Tapatios
Sunday, March 26, Guadalajara residents rushed into the streets and gaped at the sky. In Plaza del Sol, downtown at Calle 50 and in Tlaquepaque it was the same story: red lights were dancing in the sky. And they didn’t go away. As viewers gathered, traffic got tied up, minor auto accidents occurred and police, bomberos and soldiers were mobilized. Observers focused binoculars and video cameras on the sky and two helicopters were airborne, trying to identify the mysterious objects.
The spectacle lasted more than two hours and then disappeared in the direction of the Primavera Forest. The next day, a 30-year old man explained he had flown a black plastic kite with four batter-powered lights on it, much as he had done other years when there was enough wind. But this year the rechargeable batteries lasted for two hours – four times longer than normal. Appropriately, the figure of Darth Vader adorned the kite.
Foreigners expelled from Chiapas
Applying provisions of the Mexican Constitution with increasing severity, the Interior Ministry expelled 12 foreigners, including three U.S. citizens, from tension-ridden Chiapas, April 12. The foreigners were accused of collaborating with a rebellious pro-Zapatista town council in the municipality of Ocosingo in an attempt to set up an “autonomous municipality.”
Miguel Covian Perez, judicial director of the Interior Ministry, declared that he had no wish to persecute anyone for their political views, not even foreigners who may sympathize with a given ideological faction in Mexico. But beliefs are one thing — actions another.
The 12 foreigners were arrested when they were in the act of stirring up local people to defy the authorities in the performance of their duties. Said Mexican Foreign Minister Rosario Green: “It seems to me that they come to Mexico to carry out experiments that would probably be absolutely forbidden in their countries.”
Canadian Brenda Martin found Guilty
Canadian Brenda Martin was found guilty of knowingly taking part in money laundering in the Tri-West multi-million dollar worldwide Ponzi scheme masterminded by Alyn Richard Waage in Puerto Vallarta. She was sentenced to five years in jail and fined 35,850 pesos. Rather than appealing the ruling, which would require she remain in prison in Mexico until the process concluded, Martin signed a diplomatic document appealing for her transfer to jail in Canada, where she will serve the remainder of her sentence.
U.S. citizen Rebecca Roth, sentenced to nine years for her role in the affair as a part-time manager of Waage’s household affairs, remains incarcerated in Puente Grande. She maintains her innocence. “I have to appeal,” she told the Guadalajara Reporter. “Otherwise, I’ll never get a chance to prove my innocence.”
(Editor’s note: After four years in prison on apparently trumped up charges, Roth was released March 28, 2010 by a federal tribunal that ruled her fundamental rights had been violated from the start of the judicial process.)
Fugitive marine nabbed
A three-month manhunt came to an end April 17 in the hills of Tacambaro, Michoacan, when Mexican police arrested fugitive U.S. marine Corporal Cesar Armando Laurean Ramirez, accused of murdering a pregnant colleague, Maria Lauterbach, in North Carolina. Laurean fled to Mexico in January. The North Carolina attorney general’s office had announced they would not seek the death penalty in this case in order to facilitate extradition from Mexico.