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Looking Back: A review of August news from last 50 years

In this monthly series, we republish a few of the headlines from our August editions 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 years ago.

1966

A consul’s remonstration

At a simple but impressive ceremony, the new U.S. Consulate General building in Guadalajara was dedicated by U.S. Ambassador Fulton Freeman, who was joined by the governor of Jalisco, representatives of the states of Colima, Zacatecas and Aguascalientes and civil and military and business representatives from both the United States and Mexico.  The ambassador gave a straight-from-the-shoulder address, where he decried the lack of detailed accurate statistical information on the Guadalajara area that he said is keeping it from occupying the place in the nation’s industrial development that it should have. 

Barranca Mirador planned

Guadalajara has begun work on an extensive “mirador” or viewing point on the edge of the famous Barranca de Oblatos, on the northeast edge of the city. The 7,000-square meter area under development is located near Huentitan el Alto and will be reached by continuing the construction of the Calzada Independencia. Fifteen galleries and a parking lot, plus a plantation of 2,000 pines, will cover the area which looks out on the majestic barranca, a deep canyon reminiscent of the Grand Canyon.

1976

Cactus curtain

During a trip to Baja California, outgoing Mexican President Luis Echeverria berated 76 U.S. senators who sent a letter to U.S. President Gerald Ford expressing concern about the leftward drift of Mexican politics. He said that U.S. legislators must not confuse the Mexican community’s efforts to achieve a more equitable distribution of wealth with other political systems where liberty is denied the people. There will be no “cactus curtain” separating Mexico from its powerful northern neighbor, Echeverria declared.  He also touched on the issue of undocumented Mexican workers in the United States, saying, “It is our problem and it is we who, through investments and the creation of new job opportunities, must resolve it.” 

1986

Students in city shootout

A routine traffic violation erupted into a midday shootout between local police and the Student Federation of Guadalajara (FEG) in Guadalajara. The altercation began when a Transito agent pulled over a car driven by FEG students, who were part of a caravan, for running a red light. When the driver told the policeman that his car was part of a group escorting FEG President Tonatiuh Bravo Padilla, the cop replied, “So what,” and the melee began. Back up police were called in and at the end of the shootout, 16 FEG members were arrested and several firearms, including an Uzi machine gun, were confiscated. The following day, 14 FEG members were released due to “lack of evidence.” One was seriously wounded when a bullet struck him in the back of the head. Bravo Padilla held an unprecedented three-and-a-half hour meeting that same day with the state governor, and according to Mexico City daily, Uno Mas Uno, the governor promised to punish police responsible for starting the incident.  (Editor’s note: Bravo Padilla today is the rector of the Universidad de Guadalajara.)

1996

Traditional mariachi roots

A new book, “El Origen del Mariachi Coculense” written by “El Informador” reporter and professor Efrain de la Cruz, gives key evidence that Mexico’s emblematic mariachi bands have pre-Hispanic roots, originating in the area of Cocula, Jalisco. De la Cruz, who had researched the history of mariachi for some 35 years, hoped his book will effectively debunk a number of long-held misconceptions on the subject. Chiefly among these is the widely sustained notion that the term mariachi is derived from the French word marriage.  A document included in the book is a song of words of praise to the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, brought in 1835 to Cocula by Friar Bolana. It was played by a group of musicians from the Cocula ranch that is called Mariashe.  The last phrase of the song, originally composed in 1695, is “Te cantarohua Maria ce son,” which is pronounced “maria-she-son.”  De la Cruz concludes: “Mariachi is a term of Coca origin, arising from the Nahuatl. It is synonymous with gusto, song or joy, with deep religious and autochthonous roots.”

2006

Post-election unrest

Political turmoil spawned by the close results of Mexico’s July 2 presidential election rocked on this week following an August 5 ruling by the federal electoral tribunal for a partial ballot recount. The federal electoral tribunal ordered a new tally of more than three million ballots from ballot boxes at 11,839 polling stations in 26 states. The decision brought no satisfaction to Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) and the thousands of hard-core supporters of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) coalition, who have locked down the heart of Mexico City with a two-week long protest movement, vowing to hold their ground on a demand for a full recount. A slim 244,000 vote margin separates AMLO from the presumed winner, National Action Party candidate Filipe Calderon. Tourists, both national and foreign are avoiding the capital, which is stuck in gridlock as thousands of campers were spread out across the Zocalo and over an eight-kilometer stretch of the usually busy thoroughfares Avenida Juarez and Paseo de la Reforma. Spokesmen for the hotel industry reported massive cancelations and a loss of some $US12 million per day.

Fishermen rescued

Three fishermen from the Nayarit village of San Blas were rescued this week near the coast of Australia after drifting for nine months in the Pacific Ocean.  The men were left to the mercy of the winds in November 2005 after their small boat ran out of gas. They said they survived by eating raw fish and birds.  The men said they never gave up hope of being rescued, because boats would often pass by. They were picked up by a Taiwanese trawler near the Marshall Islands. The men’s families called the news “a miracle from God,” and said their constant prayer had kept the men safe.

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