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

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

1968

Officials arrest pot violators at Lakeside

State and local police arrested 22 young U.S. citizens in San Nicolas Ibarra and the Chapala area early this month, charging them with possession of marijuana. One half ton of the product was found in San Nicolas, most of it in packages and apparently ready for export.

Also, in a field near San Nicolas, it was charged that the detained people had been growing a large contraband crop. Twelve of the group were picked up in San Nicolas and the others in Chapala.  Eleven men and 11 women, all between the ages of 18 and 30, natives of states, from all around the United States were brought to Guadalajara along with four children between the ages of 18 months and eight years, belonging to some of the married couples detained. The children remained in the jail with the parents until U.S. consular officials could find places for them in private homes.

After review of the cases by Jalisco courts, the majority of the detained were released without charge and deported to the United States. Some of them had been picked up after the raid in a general round-up of those suspected of being “hippie” marijuana users. Those formally charged and held for trial are Clifford Ostrover, 20, and his wife, Susy Ostrover, 18, both of New York City; Alfred Law Adams, 23, of Silverton, Oregon; Richard Mail, a University of California student; and Paul Penn, 30, from El Paso, Texas.

1978

Chapala man dies protecting women

Instant friendship between a U.S. couple and a Mexican couple who met while dining in a Chapala restaurant ended in the death of Chapala resident Clarence C. Healy, from injuries inflicted by federal employee Jose Hernandez Avila.

Healy and his wife invited Hernandez and his female companion to their home for drinks after dinner. Some hours later, Hernandez began to physically abuse the woman who accompanied him. Ejected into the garden by the others, he managed to force his way back into the house and started to assault both women, whereupon Healy went to their defense. Healy was hit on his temple by a table thrown at him in the scuffle. The police arrived and Healy went with them on foot to file a complaint with town authorities and then proceeded to the Red Cross. He was referred to the private Clinica Belen, where he later died. Hernandez was placed in police custody until an autopsy on Healy could be performed in Guadalajara.

pg101988

Local censors expunge nude print

Censors ink recently invoked the fury of 50 local artists after Guadalajara Spanish-language daily El Occidental expurgated a print of a nude bathing scene. The original painting, “Las Bañistas” (The Female Bathers), by Olga Costa, was, at the time, up for public view at a local gallery – without the censor’s amendments. Furthermore, the censor’s arrogance displayed a grotesque historical ignorance, since a women bather was given a bikini. Las Bañistas was painted in 1936, but the bikini is a postwar beach phenomenon.

Since censorship pressures appear to be mounting within the Republic, local artists say that the desecration of Costa’s work represents a serious threat to artistic freedom in Mexico. This is not the first time El Occidental has censored art in this way. Religious groups and unidentified government officials recently tried to ban two Mexico City theater productions and the conservative Catholic organization, Pro-Vida, recently forced Mexico City’s Modern Art Museum to remove “irreligious paintings.”

In a still unpublished letter to El Occidental Managing Director Julio del Rio Reynaga, 50 local artists and author Carlos Monsivais wrote: “To cover over a nude painting is, in the best of cases, involuntary humor, and, at worst, censorship which typified the Porfiriato.”

1998

Roundup of street people is rights abuse

Guadalajara is no stranger to conflict, but when Mayer Francisco Ramirez Acuña ordered police to round up certain types of street people and move them away from busy intersections, everyone and his dog seemed to pitch in with an opinion. The local media quoted the mayor saying that windshield washers, vendors, clowns, children and anyone else working the streets without a license had to go.

But Police Chief Enrique Ceron Mejia said that the windshield washers were the only target.

Influential community figures lined up for or against the operation. Rogelio Padilla, director of MAMA, the private Movement in Support of Abandoned Minors, called the sweeps “fascist.” Ramirez said the operation was a response to public complaints of verbal and physical attacks on motorists, including the breaking of car windows and lights, for not giving tips.

2008

Greenpeace prize rankles state

How safe are you swimming at Jalisco’s beaches? Not at all if you care to heed two publicity stunts staged in Guadalajara in early July by Greenpeace. On separate days, activists festooned the city’s “Arches” with a giant ribbon awarding the state the first prize for having the nation’s dirtiest beaches, and then presented Jalisco Governor Emilio Gonzalez and the state government with a symbolic “Caño de Oro” (Golden Sewer) prize at the entrance to the Palacio de Gobierno.

Greenpeace says four of Puerto Vallarta’s beaches – Boca de Tomatlan, Quimexto, Mismaloya and Playa del Cuale – were among the nation’s most polluted last year.

Juan Carlos Olivares Galvez, the head of Jalisco’s sanitary regulation department, believes Greenpeace’s accusations tell only a small part of the story. “This year only two beaches have registered values higher than the World Health Organization’s parameters,” he said.  “We see no reason for alarm or worry. Only Playa de Tomatlan should continue posting signs to avoid people being surprised by water inadequate for their use.”

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