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

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

1968

Leaders praise Olympics

The world was heaping praise on Mexico this week for the outstanding Olympic Games which finished in Mexico City in late October. Nowhere was the praise warmer nor more sincere than within the North American community in Jalisco. The feeling that Mexico had produced an image to be reckoned with everywhere, through her well-organized hosting of the XIX Games was universal. In Guadalajara, Adolph Horn, president of the Guadalajara branch of the American Chamber of Commerce, said, “The Games were a great accomplishment in the management of human affairs, especially for a nation just coming into world prominence. It was really a brilliant performance and set an example that will be difficult for host nations in the future to equal. These games set not only athletic records, but high records in organizational achievement, as well.”

1978

Pemex blast kills 50

A blast killed some 50 people and injured another 36 in the state of Tabasco November 1 after an old Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) natural gas pipeline ruptured. Pemex Director Jorge Diaz Serrano said about 25,000 kilometers of pipeline would be inspected and, where necessary, replaced. Locally, Pemex technicians, speaking off the record, told reporters that in urban areas, including Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey, as well as small industrial centers, much of the pipeline is more than 30 years old, and its safety limit is only 20 years. They claimed that there has been no safety or quality control on gas or oil pipelines. According to Pemex experts studying the broken sections of pipe, it had been laid 18 years ago, the connection radiographed three years ago and the section checked by maintenance crews just three weeks before the explosion.

One report said the blast was ignited when candles were lit in memory of the departed on the Day of the Dead. It wiped out a small settlement of 300 people 80 kilometers from Villahermosa. Dwellings, vehicles and cattle were blown up and then turned to ashes by the flames that continued to burn for 18 hours. More than half the dead were children.

1988

Riot at Atequiza college

More than 100 riot police stormed the grounds of the Escuela Normal Rural (Teacher Training College) in the town of Atequiza, 15 kilometers north of Chapala, ending a ten-day student strike. The students had closed the school, halted traffic on the nearby highway and threatened the school and the town with destruction. During the strike, students had highjacked 28 vehicles, including tank trucks carrying flammable liquids and a tractor trailer with a load of explosives, and sprinkled flammable liquids around the school.

After students began breaking windshields of motorists on the highway who refused to help fund the strike and highjacking Telmex and Bimbo bread trucks, police moved in, arresting 58 students.

1998

Law to nix English flicks

Proposed federal legislation would require at least 15 percent of all screens to show Mexican films by 1999, 20 percent by 2000 and 30 percent by 2001. A further amendment would bar dubbing of foreign movies into Spanish, except for children’s films. A 5-percent tax on all movie tickets would be used to bolster the Mexican film industry.

Tapatios and south-of-the-border film distributors and movie theater owners expressed outrage at the proposal. “We were never taken into account, nor was the moviegoing public,” said Juan Acosta, the Guadalajara coordinator for the nationwide Organization Ramirez chain (known as Cinepolis).

Well known actress and federal congresswoman Maria Rojo, who had an important part in drafting the new legislation, says it is vital to reform the law to benefit and encourage the Mexican film industry. “It has been left unprotected by conditions stipulated in NAFTA,” she noted. NAFTA guidelines “were made hastily in 1992 to let U.S. distributors into Mexico, without anticipating any benefit or protection for Mexicans involved in movie production and distribution,” Rojo added.

pg12Out of two dozen movies offered at Guadalajara theaters this week, not one is of Mexican origin.

2008

Seduced to wear a seat belt

W here fines and legal norms have failed, nubile young men and women (edecanes) armed with leaflets can coax and shame motorists into using their seat belts. That’s why “Sheriff” Vanessa Rivera (clad in micro-mini skirt, fishnet stockings and thigh-high leather boots) and “Sheriff” Israel Rudovsky (wearing what you’d expect a uniformed stripper to wear at a bachelorette party) will be policing different Guadalajara intersections. Helped by a host of other attractive young men and women, the faux sheriffs are handing out symbolic fines and rewards: a green “well-done” paper to drivers using their seat belts; a yellow warning to those who use their own seat belt but drive with passengers who aren’t properly buckled up; and a red ticket to the worst offenders of the lot.

According to state traffic officials, 60 percent of Jalisco drivers don’t wear seat belts in spite of state laws. Traffic police hand out some 250 tickets a day to offenders.

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