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

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

1968

License plate pickup

The Guadalajara traffic department has turned over to the Citizens Services office of the U.S. Consulate General dozens of automobile license plates, most of them Texas and California cars which were parked in areas where the meters had expired. If you’re missing such a plate, go to the Consulate, give them your plate number and you can have it back. They’ll only hold them for a limited time.

Movies back in Chapala

Expats no longer need to travel to Guadalajara to see U.S. films, now that the Chapala movie theater has been refurbished with new seats and the latest in sound and wide-screen equipment. They are showing new U.S. films (double features) Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday for three pesos.

1978

Price controls lifted

Mexico’s new Secretary of Commerce Jorge de la Vega Dominguez has announced that price controls will be lifted on 100 items January 31 in what looks to be a final effort to get production moving and lure investment and expansion funds out of the pockets of businessmen, where it has remained securely buttoned down, in spite of a hail of threats, insults, and even cries of “treason” from the rest of the country during most of 1977. It was no surprise that the news brought forth cries of pain voiced mainly by labor leaders who said they may be obliged to take “urgent measures” (read “strikes”).

Business and industrial leaders rejected the idea that prices will now shoot up immediately. “Freeing prices on these items will cause some goods to be more expensive, but we believe that estimates of 15 percent inflation for this year will not be affected,” said an economic advisor for the Confederation of the National Chambers of Commerce.

The list of 100 items runs from auto parts to razors to various foods and household items as well as women’s and children’s clothes and most required school supplies.

1988

Will economics shatter PRI?

While the present economic landscape of Mexico may look to many as if the lord of misrule has broken out of his cage, actually everything is under control. That’s the “official” government doctrine concerning the new crises now taking place within Mexico’s ongoing economic plight. Government moves — sharply devaluing the peso November 18 and hiking prices on government-provided goods and services December 15 — have hurled the country’s economy into a new tailspin just when it appeared to be stabilizing. These measures have also undermined the campaign of the ruling party’s presidential candidate, former Programing and Budget Secretary Carlos Salinas de Gortari.

The presidential standard-bearer for the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) has had a hard time keeping up with recent moves of the man who hand-picked him, President Miguel de la Madrid. One PRI senator reportedly said, “If the elections were held at this moment, the PRI would surely lose.” Salinas de Gortari’s job of defending the administration’s policies and at the same time convincing the electorate that he will do better puts him in a position that prompts voters to question his credibility.  The day before the devaluation, he pledged his government’s all-out support for Mexican farmers. The next day the administration boosted prices for gasoline by 85 percent, for electricity by 84 percent and fertilizers by 79.2 percent. One Lake Chapala hog farmer said, “Our family is going out of business right now. Feed for hogs make it impossible. We’re selling everything and that’s the end of it.”

1998

Indignation at Chiapas massacre

The bloody massacre, in which 45 Tzotzil Indians were murdered December 22 by a paramilitary group in Chiapas, has prompted worldwide protests of the Mexican government and its ineffectual efforts to pacify the region. Most of the victims were sympathizers of the Zapatista National Liberation Army, which has fought since January 1994 to secure rights for the state’s destitute Indian population.

In the worst outbreak of violence since the Zapatista uprising, a group of armed men went on a five-hour killing spree in Acteal, a small community in the Chiapas highlands. The unarmed victims included 20 women, some of them pregnant, and 14 children. Ruling party members and government officials were involved in the massacre, according to the Attorney’ General’s Office.

The Zapatista rebels in Chiapas have blamed President Ernesto Zedillo for the bloodshed, saying the federal government has paid lip service to the peace accords signed last year while arming paramilitary forces.

2008

Chapala workers go north

The town of Barrrhead, Alberta and Chapala have voted in favor of establishing a formal twinning agreement, said Chapala Mayor Gerardo Degollado, as he welcomed John Bennett, president of modular home manufacturing enterprise BarrCana, to review details of up to 200 job opportunities the company is prepared to offer to workers from the Chapala area. The company aims to hire carpenters, cabinetmakers, welders, electricians, plumbers, flooring layers and cleaners. Bennett said he is especially keen to employ women, noting that they tend to be highly conscientious about carrying out their jobs.  The pay scale would range from 14 to 30 Canadian dollars per hour.

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