A family visit to Mexico City
My column didn’t appear last Sunday because I was returning from a visit with my late wife’s family in Mexico City, one of the most fascinating and chaotic cities in the world.
It was my first visit to Mexico City in 10 years and I noted several important changes in that urban megalopolis of more than 20 million people.
One change that was immediately apparent was increased security in the city, especially in the Zona Rosa (Pink Zone) tourist area near the American Embassy. Mexico City has had serious problems with street crime and the authorities have responded with a massive police presence. It seemed to me as if there was a policeman, or policewoman, on every street corner. When my traveling companion attempted to take a photo in front of the Embassy, a guard rushed up to block the photo.
More women are being hired as law enforcement officers because they are believed to be more honest than male cops. According to members of my Mexican family, bribes are still fairly common but the situation has been better than it was during my last visit 10 years ago. They still don’t trust the police or the government, however, because they feel the system is rigged to favor the rich and famous. And the government still doesn’t shoot straight (excuse the metaphor) with the voting public about what’s really going on behind the scenes. Stop me if this sounds familiar.
For example, the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto has yet to explain the mass murder of 43 college students in the south central state of Guerrero last fall. Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murrillo said the students “were abducted, killed, burned, and thrown into the San Juan River” in a dispute between rival drug cartels. Although there have been 99 arrests in this case, no one has been convicted, which is what usually happens in high profile cases in Mexico — many arrests, few convictions. President Pena Nieto says “it’s time to move on,” but student and civil rights organizations continue to protest throughout the country, and with good reason.
Another positive trend I noted in Mexico is each generation of my wife’s family is doing better economically than the previous generation. I have a 30-something niece who’s a CPA and CFO of a medium-sized company and another who’s the manager of a home furnishings store. A nephew is a successful car salesman and they all have cars and own their homes or condos. That would have been an impossible dream for their parents 30 or 40 years ago.
It appears to methe Mexican economy is improving and that’s good news for the U.S. because it helps to stem the tide of illegal immigration. In fact, I was pleased to read in USA Today Mexico “has stepped up security on its long-neglected southern border” with Guatemala by increasing patrols and denying border-crossers access “to a train so dangerous it was dubbed ‘La Bestia’ (The Beast) for the way it maimed victims who fell onto the tracks.” So Mexico is finally doing something about its own illegal immigration problem.
One of my Mexican nieces is married to a young law professor, who agreed with me immigrants should respect the Rule of Law and that “illegal” means illegal, not “undocumented” or other euphemisms designed to skirt the law.
I returned from Mexico with renewed hope my Mexican nieces and nephews would have a better life than their parents did. I’m sure my late wife, Consuelo, would join me in that hope for her hard-working family.
Guy W. Farmer has been visiting Mexico for more than 50 years.