Last updateFri, 02 Jun 2023 2pm


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Río Santiago: The heavenly river

How a river could be both heavenly and hellish at the same time is hard to imagine, but such is the state of the Santiago River these days.

pg8aThe river flows out of Lake Chapala, makes its way to Guadalajara, where it nearly encircles the city, and then meanders through a string of dams before finally spilling into the Pacific Ocean in Nayarit.

Horrible pollution of the Santiago near Guadalajara by some 600 factories, along with raw sewage from thousands of homes, seems to be responsible for widespread cancer and kidney failure among those who live on the river’s shores and breathe its noxious vapors.  (Initiatives, such as the “shame economics” campaign started by a local university I described in last week’s Reporter, may make some headway in solving the river’s problems but there’s a long way still to go.)

The Santiago River’s “untouchable beauty” is immediately apparent to those few people who have walked its tree-lined shores at the foot of the magnificent canyon that forms the northern boundary of greater Guadalajara. Visually, the rocky river bed, backed by sheer red cliffs 500 meters high, is picture-postcard perfect. But, unfortunately, postcards have no smell.

So what is the city of Guadalajara losing because of this situation?

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