In this monthly series, we republish a few of the headlines from our March editions 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 years ago.
Guadalajara still second
Guadalajara remains the second largest city in the nation, according to data released by the government’s office of statistics. The 1967 estimate for the city was 1,138,000 and for the rest of Jalisco, 139,000. In second place is Monterrey with 908,000 inhabitants. Mexico City counts 6,815,000 denizens. The total population of the country is 45,671,000, with 57 percent of them living in urban areas.
Editor’s note: The current population of Mexico is 131,837,998, according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs: Population Division.
An orderly crowd of 20,000, mostly students, gathered March 25 in front of the Libertad Market in a demonstration against North American aggression in North Vietnam. The meeting was organized by the Mexican “Committee for Solidarity with Vietnam.” This was just one of many protests throughout Mexico organized this week. The Guadalajara Student Federation assigned members to keep order and extra police surrounded the U.S. Consulate General, some two miles away from the demonstration, as a precaution.
Bombs hit banks
Another rash of bombs exploded in Guadalajara in the early hours of Monday, March 6, causing considerable damage to four banks and a supermarket, while no physical injuries were reported. Police were ordered to make a careful check of all banks, public buildings and supermarkets. By 2:30 a.m. they had discovered three more bombs, which they were able to deactivate. A communique from an organization calling itself “Union del Pueblo” took credit for the bombs, saying that they were prompted on this occasion by the National Banking Convention scheduled to be held in Guadalajara this weekend. The group said the bombs were a demonstration of its disapproval of government, taxes, industrialists, merchants, bankers and Yankee imperialism.
Zoo planned for Colomos Park
A five-year plan to make the Colomos Park in Guadalajara an all-around amusement center with an open zoo housing 2,000 animals as the prime attraction has been presented to Governor Flavio Romero de Velasco by the president of the Westerm Zoological Society. The project for the 112-hectare park is expected to begin in May of this year. Also planned are a planetarium, amusement park rides and games, rest and play areas, parking and restaurants and even possibly theaters and other attractions.
Editor’s note: Thankfully, this project never materialized.
Salinas in Chapala
Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) presidential candidate Carlos Salinas de Gortari clashed with Jalisco businessmen at a fundraiser in Chapala early this month. Responding to blunt complaints about the PRI’s populist bent and policies, Salinas told the entrepreneurs that his campaign is aimed at the nation’s underprivileged citizens and “toward them I will direct my policies in order to improve the wellbeing of all Mexicans.” The ruling party candidate did not wait for coffee before abruptly leaving the meeting, commenting, “modernization is needed to increase justice in Mexico. There is an excessive concentration of wealth in our country … and the process, which is becoming worse, must be reversed.”
‘Snow’ blocks highway
While snow fell this weekend on Jalisco’s highest mountain peak, the 14,300-foot Nevado de Colima, a very different kind of snowfall landed last Sunday on the Guadalajara-Colima autopista as military officers investigated an abandoned Mitsubishi aircraft. Apparently en route from Colombia, the plane was carrying half a ton of cocaine, valued at US$6 million.
Sunday morning motorists leaving Guadalajara for Ciudad Guzman met head on with an aircraft that made an emergency landing at about 5 a.m. on the highway near Los Pozos, just south of Acatlan de Juarez. Ringed off by soldiers, who were patrolling the highway, the plane was found to be carrying 19 packages of cocaine. The crew abandoned the craft.
Crazed driver terrorizes Ajijic
An apparently intoxicated U.S. citizen went on a rampage through the streets of Ajijic March 1, terrorizing unsuspecting villagers when he drove his pick-up truck across the crowded central plaza. The driver, later identified by police as Bradford Scott Sublett, exited the plaza via the pedestrian stairway and careened the wrong way along Calle Parroquia and Calle Marcos Castellanos, striking a utility pole and several parked vehicles en route. He crashed through a heavy chain blocking vehicle access to the lakefront beach, then raced back through the village to return to the Chapala-Jocotepec highway.
By the time the truck sped onto the Libramiento toward Chapala Haciendas, a variety of police units were in hot pursuit. Startled Sunday drivers were forced to make way as the chase continued to the cloverleaf at the Chapala end of the Libramiento, where in passing Sublett side-swiped an automobile, losing control of the truck and turning it over as it left the tarmac. Chapala police took him into custody. While victims in the incident sustained only minor injuries, the material damages were considerable.
US execs fly home for weekend
Faced with growing criminal activity throughout Mexico, at least eight transnational companies have been flying their top executives out of the country over weekends for the last two years. A foreign executive based in Mexico, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that it was cheaper to fly executives out of Mexico for the weekend than to provide for their security around the clock. While personal security can run as high as US$12,000 a month in Mexico, a round-trip ticket to New York city can cost a company as little as US$140 with a corporate account.
Smoke and go to jail
Smokers could spend up to 36 hours in jail if they light up in public spaces such as bars and restaurants. The Federal Ley Antitabaco (no smoking law) passed February 26 by the Mexican Senate sets fines from 5,000 to 500,000 pesos and possible jail terms for repeat offenders. The law also stipulates that all public establishments, including restaurants, bars and offices must have sealed-off areas for smokers, where second-hand smoke cannot reach non-smokers. Establishments that violate the rules are liable to be closed or have their business licenses revoked, as well as face fines.
Mexico solicits expats’ opinions
If ever you’ve felt the urge to complain to the Mexican government about one bureaucratic hassle or another, but hesitated for fear of being ignored or labeled an “ugly gringo,” now is your opportunity to be heard.
Mexico’s Ministry of Finance (Hacienda) is inviting all U.S. and Canadian citizens living in Mexico to speak out about problems they’ve encountered during the process of moving to the country and after they settled. The online “Survey of U.S. and Canadian Citizens Living in Mexico” is a simple, multiple-choice poll that asks foreigners to rate the difficulty they’ve had contracting everything from telephone service to a business permit.