A FUNNY THING happened on the way into what’s normally the stuffiest month of the year: It rained. Repeatedly. Cooling things off.
Usually, May is the final and worst month of our seven-month, bone-dry season. That “worst” is a relative matter because the weather here is about perfect all the time. What you read about Cuernavaca — that “eternal spring” business — forget that. That’s what should be said about our mountaintop.
Oh, it will rain in the dry season, but it’s really rare, and it usually is just a one-day deal. However, the first week and more of May has seen almost daily rain. I hesitate to label it an early onset of the rainy season, as so many are doing. I think it’s a fluke, and a look at a satellite map seems to confirm that. A front the Gringos sent is very slowly moving through Mexico.
No matter. It’s been really nice the last week or so. Alas, the grass has started to sprout and needs a good trim. I dropped the Craftsman mower off at a shop yesterday for a tune-up and, with luck, Abel the Deadpan Yardman will come this weekend to put all in order.
In the meantime, we’re sleeping at night without the fan.
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LONG TIME GONE
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it would be like to visit the United States, something I have not done in almost a decade.
No two abutting nations in the world are more different than the United States and Mexico. This was startling, and quite disturbing, when I arrived at the dawn of the 21st Century. But it’s become normal now, and I imagine a return visit above the Rio Bravo would be weird at this point.
From what I read online, things have really changed up north.
I follow a Yahoo forum that caters to Gringos in my area, and it seems that most of them are going “back home” to visit on a regular basis. Nothing wrong with this, but I view them as vacationers here, not residents.
I have no plans to ever return to the United States, surely not to live but not to visit either. It would probably give me a headache. Everyone would be speaking English (except in those Sanctuary Cities), paying for stuff with greenbacks sporting pictures of George Washington and Alex Hamilton instead of pesos with pictures of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Damn communists.
The streets would be smooth, confounding my old Honda, and red-clay roof tiles would be a rarity, found only on rich-folks houses. And hard-shell tacos. What sort of person eats hard-shell tacos?
No, I better stay home. It’s cheaper, and the weather is better. Medical care is nicer, and the government generally leaves you in peace.
I’VE VOTED IN every Mexican presidential election since I became a citizen in 2005. The first election after that was in 2006. The presidential elections happen every six years, so I’ve only voted in two so far.
Another is coming this summer.
In 2006, things were pretty clear-cut. There were three major parties: PAN (National Action Party, right-wing), PRD (Party of the Democratic Revolution, left-wing) and the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party, self-serving).
The PRI came into existence in 1929 and rigged elections to keep its presidents in power till the system failed in 2000 and the loudmouth Vicente Fox (PAN) was elected. Following him in 2006 was Felipe Calderón (PAN) and in 2012 we got Enrique Peña Nieto (PRI again). I voted for both Calderón and Peña Nieto.
So I’m batting 1,000.
I’m thinking Mexicans, after electing two PAN presidents and not seeing manna falling from heaven, decided to give PRI another chance, a chance most have regretted. I saw a poll recently in which about 65 percent of all Mexicans said they would never, ever vote for a PRI candidate again, and I cannot blame them.
During this back and forth between PRI and PAN has been the phenomenon of a nincompoop named Andrés Manuel López Obrador who goes by the initials AMLO. He almost won in 2006 and again in 2012 as the candidate of the PRD.
In 2006, AMLO lost by just 0.58 percent of the vote. He’s not a good loser, so he caused lots of demonstrations, especially in Mexico City, for a fair spell after the election. He roamed the nation, calling himself the “legitimate president.”
The bozo ran again in 2012 as the candidate of a political coalition headed by the PRD. After losing again, he and the PRD parted ways, and two years later he formed his own party, the National Regeneration Movement which goes by the initials MORENA, a flagrantly racist come-on.
Morena or its masculine form, Moreno, is Spanish for brown-skinned person, and since 90 percent of Mexicans are brown-skinned people, the none-too-subtle message here is “We are your party!” Forget the issues, vote your skin color.
Yes, American thinking has moved over the Rio Bravo. Just freaking great. Ironically, AMLO is not moreno. He’s just another of those old white guys.
Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard. — H.L. Mencken
After Mexicans voted twice for the PAN and not seeing manna fall from heaven, and then returning to the Devil They Knew, and seeing general corruption get even worse than normal, and that’s saying something, they’re ready for a change.
MORENA is that change, and AMLO currently leads in the polls. Unfortunately, the Mexican system does not require a majority of the votes to be president. You just have to get more votes than any other guy. You can become president with, say, 35 percent of the vote, with 65 percent wishing you’d take a hike.
There are no runoffs of the two top candidates. This is dumb, of course.
AMLO has opposed most every national reform of recent years. Education, Energy, Law. He doesn’t like gas stations from other countries here. He’s one with troublesome teacher unions. He’s a man of “the people,” if you know what I mean.
To quote H.L. Mencken: Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.
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Campaigns to get people registered to vote and to inspire them to vote because it’s their civic responsibility … Lord, what a lousy idea.
We’re seeing a lot of that here.
People who must be pushed to vote should not vote because they lack information and are easily manipulated. Not only should people not be encouraged to vote, the right to vote should be restricted in a number of ways. Universal suffrage is an insufferable notion.
By the way, we have voter-ID cards. No card, no vote. And absolutely no one thinks that getting one is an outrageous imposition.
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I just wanna license to steal job!
Over the past few years in Mexico, a disturbing trend has emerged. Coalitions of political parties. Back in the olden days, if someone was, say, a PAN candidate you could, with some degree of certainty, know that person was a conservative. If someone was a candidate of the Workers Party (read communist), you could pretty much be assured the person was a nincompoop.
Now, however, there are coalitions of parties that put up a single candidate, and the coalition can include both the conservative PAN and the left-wing PRD, even the commie Workers Party (PT). This is ridiculous.
I read a news story recently of a woman candidate who has been on the ticket of all the major parties and most of the fringe parties as well. She is now a candidate for MORENA, of course. What does she believe in? Getting a political post, and nothing more. It can be a cash cow. (See note at bottom.)
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We will vote for our next president on July 1. AMLO likely will be ahead in the polls. My vote will go to whomever is No. 2. Alas, there are five candidates on the ballot, and AMLO only has to win more than any one of the others.
With two candidates, he would lose. Five presents a problem. Three of the five are affiliated with major parties. Two are independents. This race is the first time that independents have been allowed to run.
If AMLO loses again, he might become Mexico’s Hillary, touring the nation and world to weep, moan, groan and say it’s just not fair. He’ll blame his loss on deplorable, uneducated peons (Mexican rednecks) who should have known better, and women who couldn’t stand up to their husbands.
With luck, my perfect batting average in elections here will continue.
Let us pray so.
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(Note 1: AMLO is the candidate of a coalition known as the “Together We Will Make History.” It includes MORENA, the Workers Party, i.e. communists, and something called the Social Encounter Party. Ricardo Anaya, currently No. 2 in the polling, is the candidate of a coalition known as the “Front for Mexico,” which includes the right-wing PAN, the left-wing PRD and a party called the Citizen Movement. José Antonio Meade is the candidate of a coalition called “Everyone for Mexico.” It is made up of the PRI, the Greens, which is a right-wing party in Mexico (Go figger!) and a fringe party called the New Alliance. All of this is pure nuts.)
(Note 2: Candidates in Mexico are legally restricted to three months of campaigning. It started this month. Contrast that to the United States where people can kick off campaigns, officially or not, years in advance. I prefer our system.)
OUR HUGE, beautiful plaza hasn’t changed that much in decades, but we’re seeing some major alterations now.
The cobblestone street circling the plaza, plus a street spoke shooting off thataway, are being totally torn up. There will be a narrowing of the streets, widening of the sidewalks, a bike path and improved drainage.
Drainage improvements may be the best of all.
Currently, the five-month rainy season creates deep lakes in parts of the street circling the plaza, lakes that wash up onto the sidewalks and sometimes into businesses, a massive problem.
The work started weeks ago, and will take months because lots of the work is done by hand. Right now, two sides of the plaza street are torn up, and all traffic has been rerouted to the other two streets. One imagines that when the two streets being renovated are completed, the two other streets will follow suit, and traffic will be routed over the renovated sides.
I’m real smart that way.
The work started as soon as the Day of the Dead hoopla ended in early November, and the tourist mobs went home.
Ever since I moved here and, one supposes, for years before, mayors came and went, and little changed. However, the last election, a couple of years ago, put a fellow into the mayor’s office, a guy named Báez, and there’s been ongoing change ever since, and it’s all been good change.
Other important downtown streets, previously potholed obstacle courses, are either being renovated or have been renovated. A sports center was recently opened. It has a soccer field, two tennis courts, a running track, a gym, and a municipal auditorium.
I voted for this guy Báez, and I’d do it again. He ran as the candidate of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, but was supported by the communist party too. They call themselves the Workers Party, but their scarlet flag with a yellow star tells you who they really are.
You never know with whom you’ll end up in bed.
Báez also initiated a humongous Christmas display on the plaza last year, life-sized artificial elephants, giraffes, burros, etc., and that drew lots of tourists here, which was the point. But it’s fun.
I’ve seen the plans for the plaza via video animation, and we’re going to be spectacular. Of course, if you’re planning to move here, be aware that you’ll freeze your butt off in winter. Go to San Miguel instead.
WHEN I SWITCHED WordPress themes almost a month ago, some things were lost in the transition. One was the Legal Mexican logo that you may see now to the right, depending on where you’re reading this.
It’s been reinstated because I take pride in being a Legal Mexican. The term is even part of my primary email address, which is visible on the “Felipe” page. You’ll find a link in the header. Say hi.
I believe the term is disturbing to the political left because of its proximity to “illegal alien,” which is usually associated with Mexicans in the United States who have not bothered with the inconvenient detail of obeying the law.
Yes, the Legal Mexican is a hot-button term, which is why I use it.
There are two Yahoo forums that focus on our neck of the Mexican woods. On my bookmarks, I have them labeled Commie Forum and Capitalist Forum. Given the sort of Gringos and Canucks who move to Mexico, you can likely guess which forum is the most lively. Hint: It ain’t the Capitalist Forum.
I’m a member of both, but I’ve been banned a time or two from the Commie Forum, not because of any trouble I’ve caused but because of my politics, which are obvious on the Moon though I never mention politics on the forum.
You might wonder: Why even bother with them? Because I occasionally see some useful information there.
The forum focuses on helping old people and orphans, the occasional movie schedule and announcements of hikes through forests. I do not help old people and orphans. I don’t go to local movies (exception: Coco, which I wrote about here), and I don’t hike through forests.
Nor do I attend their monthly cocktail parties at a restaurant downtown. I don’t drink. I don’t need to polish my English. And I don’t want to lament Hillary’s (or Bernie’s) loss in last year’s election. I rejoice in it.
My posts on that forum are very rare. I’m mostly a lurker. When I do write something, it stays in limbo for a day while, I imagine, it’s examined for any hint of “wrong thinking.” Sometimes I get published, sometimes not.
(In contrast, when I post something on the Capitalist Forum, it is immediately visible to one and all across the globe.)
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Bad Mexican habit
A few days ago, I ventured a post on the Commie side, and it never appeared. I think I know why, and it had nothing to do with the topic.
I signed off with the term “the Legal Mexican.” Oh, dear!
The post I left should have been of interest. It wasn’t about feeding old people and orphans, movie schedules, or hiking in forests. It was about a bad Mexican habit. Of course, the post might have been rejected due to its negative aspect about us Mexicans who are all absolutely lovely people.
Here’s what I pointed out: Mexicans often hide prices on things they’re trying to sell. This habit is completely counterproductive as countless marketing studies have pointed out above the Rio Bravo. But it applies equally here.
I was responding to a forum post by a Mexican woman advertising a house for sale. She, of course, mentioned no price, which is one of the first things anyone would want to know. Email her, she said instead.
A for-sale ad with no price is silly.
Why do Mexicans do this? Because there is no set price. A Mexican wants to get a look at you or at least get a feel for you, particularly a feel for your economic status. The better off you seem, the higher the price you’ll be quoted.
(This is often misunderstood as the Gringo Effect, but it applies equally to well-off Mexicans. It does, however, usually apply to Gringos due to their being perceived as universally wealthy and foolish with money.*)
This practice means things are not sold as quickly as they might have been had a price been attached to the initial advertisement. When there is no visible price, a percentage of potential buyers move immediately to other matters.
Listen up, paisanos! No price = reduced buyer pool.
It’s part of the Alice-in-Wonderland aspect of living in Mexico, which I mentioned in the previous post about Magic Dirt.
On further thought, maybe my entry’s disappearance did have to do with the topic, not the signature line of Legal Mexican. Or both.
Only the Goddess knows.
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* If you’d quit colossally overpaying for everything and stop leaving massive tips, maybe Mexicans would stop seeing you as easy pickings. By the way, don’t ever buy a house that’s priced in dollars. I mean, really!