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Looking Back: A review of May news from the last 50 years


Reporter makes the Congressional Record

From Editor Bob Thurston’s Potpourri column:  The REPORTER finally made it into the U.S. Congressional Record. Between a poem by a Vietnam serviceman and an appropriations bill is the Potpourri column of April 22, 1967, in which our friend, Paco, told us how proud Mexicans were that their president slept with hardly any guard at all at the Punta del Este conference while our president was guarded by battleships, soldiers and protectors in confusion. Senator Smathers of Florida introduced the REPORTER to the Record.

It made us feel very good, glancing through the May 2 issue of the Record (186 pages of six-point type) that we were quoted in the same issue as the National Geographic Society, Walter Lippmann, Betty Furness, the New York Times, a farmer in North Dakota who isn’t getting enough money for his products … and even a long, informal article on the history of Mexico’s Cinco de Mayo celebration.

The Congressional Record lacks pictures and a good editor, but there’s truly something for everyone, and what other publication gives you such a deluge of information for free?


US prisoners evacuated

When rioting broke out at the Jalisco State Penitentiary Wednesday, April 26, caught in the pandemonium, fire and murder were 20 U.S. citizens, serving sentences or waiting to be released, most of them accused of violating Mexico’s narcotics laws. Though incarcerated in the state penitentiary here, these prisoners had been accused of federal crimes. 

According to prison officials, guards, army personnel and both Mexican and American inmates, the lives of U.S. prisoners were repeatedly threatened during the uprising. The U.S Consulate General in Guadalajara negotiated an evacuation for all but three detainees, who decided to stay. They were taken to a holding jail at the Guadalajara Federal Judicial Police headquarters located at Hospital and Calzada Independencia. Consul General Mathias J. Ortwien made a personal call to Jalisco Governor Flavio Romero de Velasco to help facilitate the negotiation.

Rioting was finally controlled after the arrival of 200 Mexican soldiers. A search uncovered hundreds of weapons, including pistols, knives, swords, hatchets, scythes, clubs and Molotov cocktails. By the weekend order had been restored.

Nine of the U.S. prisoners escaped from the federal holding jail the following week and two were still at large at press time. Of the other seven, two were apprehended just outside the federal police headquarters because they were injured in the escape, two at the outskirts of town on a bus headed to Zacatecas, two in a taxi headed for Colima and one in Tlajomulco de Zuñiga.


Illegal workers return

Although Mexico City’s traditional Labor Day parade passed without serious incidents, government authorities throughout the nation are bracing themselves for a massive influx of workers who have been living illegally in the United States and will be sent home by the May 5 implementation of the U.S. Simpson-Rodino immigration law. John Roney, director of the U.S. Information Service in Guadalajara, said the new law will not be fully implemented until May 1988 and there will be no massive deportations of undocumented aliens.

pg6aCFE service better?

The regional head for the government-owned Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), Edmundo Gutierrez Vera, claims the monopoly has a 99.9 percent efficiency level. Many of his customers disagree. The opinion among many consumers is that while power cut-offs have decreased in number, they still occur at regular intervals, especially during the rainy season. The CFE says the reason for most power outages during the wet months are damaged electrical cables caused by falling trees.  Consumer advocates say that waste and corruption are still rampant with many employees showing up to collect their paychecks, while doing little else.


Vet gives Reagan Purple Heart

Ismael Villaseñor Franco, born in Tlaquepaque, is a Vietnam veteran and former U.S. Marine. He was wounded three times. In 1981, when President Ronald Reagan was shot, Franco sent him a letter and impulsively enclosed one of his Purple Heart medals.

“I felt devastated, because ever since he ran for office I felt he was the right man for the job.”

Reagan was so touched that he wrote Franco April 16, 1981: “I have no words to thank you or tell you how honored I am that you would send me one of the Purple Hearts you earned in the service of our country. Please know that I am deeply grateful for your most magnanimous gift and shall treasure it always. I shall try to be deserving of it.”  He was also telephoned and invited to visit the White House, but the flustered Franco turned down the chance of a lifetime. “I was overwhelmed by the invitation and I was stunned for a minute and said no, but thank you.”

US rights worker expelled

Expatriates thinking of getting involved in political controversies south of the border beware:  You may be kicked out of the country.

That’s what happened to George Ann Potter, a member of the Boston-based Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC). Potter was the fifth human rights worker to be expelled from Mexico in the past two weeks. She was given just 72 hours to leave the country. April 20, immigration officials deported four members of the Paris-based International Human Rights Federation. All five individuals were deported because they did not have “authorization for the activities they were undertaking,” according to a statement issued by the Mexican Interior Secretariat (Gobernacion). Potter told the Associated Press she was forced to leave Mexico because she violated her tourist visa by meeting with local workers in Oaxaca.

UUSC Deputy Director Jeff Seifert said that while Mexican law bars foreigners from political activity, there is nothing that prevents them from meeting with local dissidents and human rights workers, according to one Mexican human rights group.


Chapala mayor backs Disneyland-style park

With high expectations for pulling off what would be the biggest tourism development coup in local history, Chapala Mayor Gerardo Degollado is lending his full support to private investors who are looking at the area for the construction of a sprawling amusement park and vacation retreat.

If the project pans out, the multi-million-dollar park would be built on 400 hectares in the area known as Mesa del Ocote, a stretch of rugged, untouched terrain situated in the mountain range that separates Ajijic and Ixtlahuacan de los Membrillos. The primary investors standing behind the project are involved in a chain of ten leisure park complexes that will be located around the globe. One in Colombia is almost finished. Mexico and Dubai were mentioned as the next countries to be targeted.

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