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

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

1972

Burger Boy ousts taco stand

(From the editor’s column “Potpourri” September 16, 1972)

They have torn down the frail bamboo structure that houses our favorite taco stand and put a shiny plastic Burger Boy in its place. The taco stand, it is true, merely moved around the corner, but that is not the point.

It is the Burger Boy that one sees there now, and the point is: what is the future, not only of Mexico, but of the human race, when good nourishing tacos are so easily thrust aside to make room for Burger Boys?

Let’s think about Mexico first. Mexican tacos (not to be confused with the insipid California and Texas spin-offs) have nourished countless generations through both good times and bad. Benito Juarez was raised on them, and it is not unreasonable to believe that Moctezuma was munching a taco when they brought him the bad news about Cortez, gunpowder and horses. Tacos keep you going when the chips are down. Not only that, there is a rich spicy odor about them, a delectable variety of textures and flavors, a corny goodness that, like home-baked bread, satisfies a vestigial longing in most people for simple nourishment, in spite of the shrill promises of mass-produced food.

Mexicans, we believe, invented the taco, and they have certainly brought it to its highest form, a difficult thing to do with such a simple food. The taco has paid off handsomely, too. It is, we believe, an important factor in the growth of the foreign tourist industry here.

Hordes of North Americans whose taste buds had atrophied on a bland diet of General Foods and Kraft simulated cheese products suddenly discovered that here was a food still unhomogenized, unsynthesized, not deodorized nor sanitized. They found it good and they told their friends. That is why the taco is more important to Mexico than Burger Boy. It brings many vacationing Gringos here—perhaps more—than do the old churches, the native dancers and the Margarita cocktail.

1982

US citizens and exchange controls

Many foreign residents in Mexico seem to be currently bound by the same restrictions and lack of economic freedom as the Mexican citizenry after the federal government nationalized Mexico’s banks and put a lock on how much capital (pesos or foreign exchange) can leave the country.

An inmigrante, inmigrado or tourist who has a bank time deposit in either dollars or pesos will be paid his investment at maturity in Mexican pesos—including all interest earned. But the government, which now controls all the banks, will only sell 500 dollars, thus investors cannot take out the money they brought into Mexico in dollars. Neither can they legally take any large amounts of pesos out of the country.

The government recommends that such investors continue to keep their money invested in Mexico. That’s hardly a “recommendation,” since there is really nothing else investors can do.

1992

Cadets arrested

All of the students at the local police training academy (more than 1,000) have been arrested on suspicion of masterminding a daring midnight raid in which guns from the academy’s arsenal were stolen. Authorities believe that the cadets conspired to aid the seven-member gang of robbers who broke into the complex August 15 and made off with guns from the arms depot, weapons used by cadets for target practice.

The seven men attacked 28-year-old cadet Juan Francisco Navarro and stole his walkie-talkie. When sentries discovered Navarro, they sounded the alarm but the thieves had already begun to make their escape. Police took off after the robbers, who sent their pursuers into confusion by splitting up and running in different directions. Furthermore, as they fled the scene of the crime, the daring gang tossed a few of the stolen weapons into the undergrowth by the side of the road. The police, in hot pursuit, were left wondering whether to keep up the chase or recover the guns. None of the thieves were captured. One of the weapons recovered was an Uzi submachine gun.

2002

Peso weakens,

stocks fall

Continued international economic disintegration and the threat of a strike by Mexico’s petroleum workers’ union made Thursday, September 19, one of the worst days on record for the Mexican Stock Exchange (Bolsa Mexicana de Valores or BMV).

The exchange’s IPC index closed the day down 5.3 percent. The peso also fell to one of its lowest levels in recent years to 10.14 pesos to the U.S. dollar. The mean exchange rate was lower only in January 1999, when the peso reached a record low of 10.69 pesos.

Weekend rains help Lake Chapala

Lake Chapala made its most spectacular recovery of the rainy season on the long weekend celebrating Mexican Independence. From Saturday, September 14 through Monday, September 16, Lake Chapala rose by 12 centimeters to bring the total rainy season recovery to 69 centimeters as of that date, according to the National Water Commission (CNA).

In volume, the three-day increase totals some 95 million cubic meters  (mcm). That brings the lake’s volume to 1,661 mcm—21 percent of its potential total volume.

To put the 2002 recovery in perspective, it is slightly above average for the last 15 years, but still well below the pre-1980s recoveries which averaged about three times the one registered this year.

2012

Letter to the editor

(Sept. 8, 2012 edition)

Dear Sir,

I’m waiting. In fact, I’ve been waiting patiently for a couple of weeks now. Cannot understand the delay as normally, at such news, the press and U.S. State Department are issuing all sorts of notices and warnings. But this time, nothing. Nada.

Within the past 14 days there have been numerous shootings with many dead and injured but we have yet to see a bulletin warning Mexicans, Canadians, Asians and Europeans not to travel to the United States. In Chicago, 19 people shot and 13 dead in a supermarket. In New Jersey, within the past week three people killed and who knows how many injured in drive-by shootings. So far this year 348 people have been killed and eight injured in drive-by shootings in the United States. (Statistics quoted from BBC World.)

The State Department and media are so dedicated and reliable in reporting killings in Mexico and advising people not to travel here. I’m sure they will be just as responsible in reporting to the world about similar problems in the U.S., as it is such a dangerous place to be.

I’m waiting patiently as I know the warnings will surely arrive, just as they do when similar events occur in Mexico.

John Standen, Chula Vista.

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