Saturday, May 22, 2004

Sending $$ Back Hom

Edward Sifuentes reports that Latino workers in the US send over $30 billion back each year to their home countries. I talked to hundreds of people in Guadalajara that received their support from spouses, fathers, etc. who went north to work for an extended period of time. It does not surprise me that this constitutes one percent of Mexico's gross product or even fifteen percent in the case of El Salvador. We had large numbers of Salvadoran workers in the Salinas/Monterey area when I lived there. Almost a third of the financial transmittals come from California, home to about 8 million immigrants. I think that our trade policy needs to recognize the market for labor as much as it does the market for other products.

Data is from a report by the Inter-American Development Bank.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Endless Possibilities

Amy Langfield wonders about the practicality of addressing all of the possible disasters that might possibly happen to people in the context of 9-11. This is the dilemma that faces emergency managers everywhere - how to deal with the endless possibilities of bad things that might one day happen. Some people live their lives in constant fear of a dreaded future while the majority share the sunlight each day knowing that it could be their last, but also understanding that it is definitely the first of the rest of their life and while taking adequate precautions is prudent, living in fear is not.

Guadalajara in the Eighties

In the eighties, when I lived in Guadalajara, it was regularly refered to as a drug capital - a midway point between Colombia and the US where deals were made and money flowed. DEQ agent Enrique Camarena was killed there in 1985. His son now works for the San Diego District Attorney's Office. I spent months working in the poorest areas of the metropolis, irregular settlements that had grown out into the traditional ejido areas surrounding the city. Professors from the University of Guadalajara would warn me about going into these areas alone, at night, or whenever I could to survey these areas. What I found were wonderful people seeking a livelihood. Hundreds or thousands of them had lived in the US and returned. Typically, the goal of the younger generation was to go north for a number of years and work in the US until they could save enough money to establish a business and a home back in Guadalajara. Frequently, that was not the way it worked out.

In Seattle, in Los Angeles, and elsewhere, I would run across young mexican males, alone or in groups that seemed alienated. They had not realized the American dream, even the one that the had sought and found themselves despised, distrusted, and looked down upon. They would turn at times to alternative means of income which only worsened the stereotype. On the other hand, many who came north, especially if they had any kind of support group became hard-working laborers, often doing jobs that others were becoming more loathe to do. I made a friend, who working as a janitor was living in fear of a former drug lord boss. He had been an informant for DEA and was living in fear of reprisal. Anyway, what I meant to say was that I did not find Guadalajara to be such a place, but rather a city with a beautiful culture, wonderful architecture, and special people.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

BMV - a model of capitalism??

Alejandro Riquelme suggests that Mexico's stock exchange could serve as a model for development of the new Bagdad market.

Monday, February 02, 2004


Jon, in his "Mexico blog", reinforces a number of stereotypes about the Mexican people. Problem is, as Jon states, he tends to hang out with white, liberal northeastern Americans. Alas, Jon is not so different from the vast majority of gringos that spend time living in Mexico. They live in semi-isolation from the natives, in less than native circumstances and think they are experts in understanding the Mexican psyche. I lived there for almost a year and personally was able to dispel personally most of the myths that Jon and others perpetuate.

Jon states, "Everyone practices the same religion, everyone observes the same holidays and traditions, everyone eats the same food, everyone drinks the same things, everyone listens to the same music, etc. And because of this cultural uniformity, they can seem quite provincial when they interact with people who are different from them." I think estadounidenses can be quite provincial, at least as much - if not more than the urban Mexicano. They certainly don't all practice the same religion, although most are Catholic - and even the catolicos don't all practice equally. They especially don't listen to the same music, unless you consider it the same just because it is all in spanish - that's not even really the case. And they don't all eat the same food, unless you call pozole the same as tacos just because they're both mexican.

I lived in an entirely Mexican community - Los Tabachines in Zapopan on the outskirts of the Guadalajara metro area and spent over 10 hours of every day walking through all kinds of areas, especially the asentimientos irregulares, while also attending classes at the U de G at los Belenes. I shopped mostly at the tianguis with an occasional trip to El Gigante. I spent a week in Hotel Frances near the cathedral and investigating the downtown area, while spending hours talking to people on the streets. I had close association with ancianos that rode with Pancho Villa to homeless children wandering nameless streets. They were all my friends. I learned the trials of those who crossed the border illegally so they could provide for their families and sought to understand their yearnings and inner desires. I wandered the gullies of Arroyo Hondo and the high rises of middle class Zapopan. I visited the Basilica to understand the need for reconciliation and walked the dusty streets of Comayagua, Honduras at an earlier time hand in hand with young children in the simplest of holy week processions. These are passionate people who befriend their neighbor in the grandest fashion.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Mexico-Arizona Commission

Governor Janet Napolitano has been meeting with Gobernador Bours of Sonora to increase cross border cooperation on issues like the Canamex corridor and development of the port of Guaymas. Relations are supported by the Arizona-Mexico Commission.

Latinos in the U.S. are sending home over $30 billion a year to families in Latin America. My experience in Jalisco indicated that large numbers of Tapatios had family members temporarily in the U.S. that were supporting their families. now has a Spanish language search.

I visited the Guadalajara Zoo back in 1988 with my neighbors. It overlooks a huge canyon. Now they have this spot on the web.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

eGov in Zapopan

The city of Zapopan, a large suburb of Guadalajara where I lived for a time is moving up the scale of eGov maturity. It is beginning to offer an array of interactive services online, including the payment of taxes, using Visa, Mastercard or your Bancomer account. Oh, you don't have a Bancomer account?

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Responding to the Threat of War

Mexico's government, in response to the potential threat of war with Iraq, voiced the following statement, "I reiterate that the United States for us is not only a neighbor and trade partner, but also a friend, which means that in these times of danger and approaching war, that we will be with them: in territory, in aid from our resources, and with respect to our sovereignty, but also in fighting against terrorism." [Santiago Creel Miranda] Mexico has called upon 18,000 members of its Army and Navy to provide additional security to its critical infrastructure. The country has also committed to reinforce security on both its northern and southern borders. The instructions from President Vicente Fox to his troops sounds a lot like Tom Ridge, "I do not want to alarm you, right now there is no information regarding any specific threat." Be aware.