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

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

1967

US delegation to meet envoy

The upcoming arrival of the Honorable Fulton Freeman, U.S. ambassador to Mexico, for a weekend visit was confirmed Wednesday. The ambassador, his wife and a party of embassy officials will arrive at Guadalajara’s International Airport Saturday, 5:30 p.m. Members and friends of the American Society have been invited to join a delegation to meet the distinguished visitor and his party at the airport.

Fiestas de Octubre visitors

The Fiestas de Octubre parade began brilliantly Sunday, led by blood-tingling skirls from 14 kilted bagpipers from Princeton, New Jersey. Bouquets to Jerry Haggerty and Jaye Sans Muñoz, whose efforts produced the prize-winning American colony float, and to Queen Michelle and her princesses, who rode and smiled like true royalty.

1977

Ku Klux Klan protects border

Arriving at San Isidro, California in a helicopter, David Duke, head of the Ku Klux Klan, announced that he had come “to turn the border into a Maginot Line,” as he and 15 members prepared to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border to keep Mexicans from crossing illegally.

Duke also planned to tour California’s principal cities bearing his message that “if this continues, the United States will sink in a sea of Mexicans who have entered this country illegally,” and proposed that the problem can be solved only by closing the border and then making it a crime to hire undocumented foreigners, who would, of course, be deported.

After checking for breaks in the wire fence along the border, Duke and his gang, wearing their White Power T-shirts, started for the immigration and Naturalization Service building, but were intercepted by a group of egg-throwing non-sympathizers.

1987

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PRI chooses young candidate

Carlos Salinas de Gortari, Mexico’s secretary of Programming and Budget, has been selected as the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate for the 1988 presidential election. This signals the consolidation within the party’s top leadership of a powerful political group that is interested in problem-solving and has little attachment to old-time Mexican politico-style of back-room horse trading.

Salinas, at 39, is the youngest ruling party candidate in 50 years, the first economist and the first non-lawyer in more than 30 years to lead the party into a presidential election. His youth is being touted as an advantage in trying to get out the vote — the Mexican population is a young one and absenteeism has grown to 60 percent in the last two years. His lack of experience in elective office is advertised as an advantage. “Because he’s been around such a short time, he doesn’t have a thousand political debts.” Many experienced PRI politicians are afraid they now will be passed over as Salinas turns to his own generation to form the management corps of his administration.

But Salinas de Gortari’s largest problem may come from labor, which is wary of this formulator of the present government’s current austerity policy. He’s seen as the man responsible for the 40-percent drop in purchasing power of workers’ wages over the past five years, and of not being able to slow inflation, which is roaring toward 150 percent this year.

1997

Railroad service curtailed

The Mexican government has sold the Guadalajara-based Ferrocarril Pacifico-Norte (FPN) railroad and will turn it over to a private consortium not later than next February. Pending the transfer, FPN has shut down its unprofitable passenger service from Guadalajara to Manzanillo. An FPN spokesman said that the company will continue to carry passengers directly to Mexico City, Nogales and Mexicali, but that it has cut out its sleeping-car service to the capital. It will offer only one category costing 86 pesos each way. The train to Mexico City departs 9 p.m. and arrives 9 a.m. Passengers should note that there is no restaurant car on the train.

Guadalajara’s water crisis deepens

The city’s water crisis took a turn for the worse after the inter-municipal water authority (SIAPA) announced 48-hour cuts in water supply to 72 neighborhoods and flirted with the possibility of cutting completely to 34 colonias. Neighborhoods affected were all on the east side of the city where some 500,000 residents were without water.

Lack of rain in the Lake Chapala region has meant that reserves at the city’s three water plants are falling. Residents of some city zones may be forced to be without water altogether and will have to rely on water trucks to fill up their underground tanks, SIAPA officials said.

2007

Pedestrians protest fast lane

About 100 people gathered in front of Plaza del Sol to protest a new traffic experiment that will turn Guadalajara’s Avenida Lopez Mateos into a weekend highway, known as el viaducto. The State Transportation Department plans to close seven intersections on the avenue to cross traffic and pedestrians every weekend. Local traffic must use the lateral lanes. Those needing to make a left turn to cross the street will often face kilometers of detours.

Saturday’s pedestrian protest paralyzed traffic in the central lanes. Some drivers tried to push through the crowd, and a few considered settling the matter with physical violence.

“It’s outrageous and pathetic that I cannot safely cross the streets of my own city,” fumed Elena Jimenez, who owns an apartment near Plaza del Sol. “All we are doing in protest is crossing the street,” said Mariela Santiago, “I guess drivers have to pay attention when there’s a hundred of us. They can’t run us all down.”

The state’s promise to build various new pedestrian bridges didn’t go over well. “I don’t use them anyway because of my knees and hip,” said elderly protester Javier Mendez. “I guess I’ll have to stay on the side of Lopez Mateos where I live. God help me if I want to go downtown or have to cross to catch a bus.”

Taco Bell in Mexico

“It’s like bringing ice to the Arctic,” said Carlos Mosivais, Mexico’s foremost cultural commentator, of the opening of a Taco Bell restaurant in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. But Taco Bell is the American fast food chain that is embracing the nation that inspired its name — if not its food.  In 1992 Taco Bell opened a few locations in Mexico City, but quickly closed them after a disastrous reception. But this time it has no interest in going head-to-head with street corner taquerias where the sheer variety, quality of ingredients, cost and convenience will win out every time. The parent company hopes to appeal to middle-class Mexicans by emphasizing the “American-ness” of the menu. “Taco Bell is something else,” is the catch phrase for its Mexican marketing campaign.

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