Welcome to the transition:

Que Milagro (what a miracle).  The “good guys” won.  Uriel, the Governor’s hand-picked –and personally supervised – candidate to be the next governor, lost to Gabino Que, who will assume his office on December 1.

Losing really upset Oaxaca governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz (URO).  Before his boy got clobbered, he was a rising star in the dinosaur wing of the long ruling PRI party, on his way to a possible tenure as next Party chairman.  When he proved incapable of getting out the vote (by whatever means possible), the game changed, and URO has been on a rampage ever since.

Our beloved governor is acting more and more like Charlie Chaplin in “The Great Dictator”.  The goings-on are sometimes hilarious but most often tragic.

[The municipio of Loxicha was invaded and occupied by state police under ex-Governor Diodoro Carrasco about 14 years ago. Tucked away in the southern mountains, it remains occupied through three governors (about 14 years). Gabino will have to decide what to do about returning control to the citizens of this and other territories within the state.]

There have been reports from a great variety of sources published in “Noticias” – whose staff has not forgotten that in a fit of temper URO at one time or another shut down its paper supply, invaded its warehouse, sacked it’s offices and generally acted in a vindictive manner – of URO in his office ranting about getting even with all those “sons of whores” that had betrayed him.  The next day, his second in command left town along with some others.  Indictments are being drawn up against some of his top aides – by the Oaxaca state justice department.

“Sources close to the Governor” have leaked to the press that his intention is to screw things up for Gabino by making as many problems, particularly in the infrastructure, as bad as he possibly can, thus making it impossible for Gabino to govern, and (in his mind) assuring a win for the PRI in the next election; and teaching the voters that they should never cross URO.

Reports of papers being shredded or burned in giant bon-fires abound, but I haven’t yet seen a photo of a burning.  Shredding I can believe.

[Another in our ongoing series of outdoor graffiti. This graffito is made from paper and pasted on a wall near out house.]

Meanwhile, URO has ordered his legislature to put him on trial for all the crimes he committed, or may have committed.  True to form, he was “tried” and found innocent, which under the principal of double jeopardy prevents the next legislature – in which the PRI will not have a majority – from prosecuting him.

Unfortunately for him, crimes committed during a violation of human rights during the 2006 uprising – one of the most serious charges likely to come up after Gabino takes power – may not be tried by the legislature but must be submitted to the justice system.

Rain, rain, stick around:

Oaxaca is a semi-tropical place, and this is the rainy season.  It’s a rare day lately that it doesn’t rain sometime between 3:00 and 7:00 p.m. – at least once.  Often it is a deluge that is here and gone within minutes.  Occasionally, it is a steady drizzle that lasts most of the night.

[Santo Domingo on an overcast day. The weather can change from bright sunshine to rain squalls in a matter of minutes, as the weather comes down on us from the northern hills. The gray patch in the middle left hand side of the picture signals the possibility of impending rain.]

I have a bumbershoot, a large London Fog umbrella that can double as a cane, or a dangerous weapon.  It’s great when it rains, and a pain in the neck to carry around, so I’m constantly betting on whether or not I’ll get caught out before I get back home.  So far this season, I’ve not gotten soaked, but I don’t kid myself: the best way to prevent heavy rain is to take the umbrella.

Still, going out naked – without an umbrella – gives me such a feeling of freedom…

Before we leave the house in the morning, Diana and I conduct these séances: we look to the north, where the weather comes down from the Sierra Juarez mountains on its way to the Pacific.  Are there clouds?  Are they dark? Are they going to pass us by to the east or west?  Any signs of blue sky anywhere?  Is the temperature rising (a sign that it won’t rain until later) or falling (especially with wind, a sign that rain may be imminent).

Yesterday, I had an appointment at the English language library, and I left my brolly at home.  A squall came up just as I was about to leave for home, and it delayed my departure for a few minutes.  Today, I took my bumbershoot and of course it didn’t rain a bit. Being retired folks, we have time to spare for such speculation.  Maybe we should figure out how to start a betting pool…

Lest I be misunderstood, let me state here and now that we rejoice in the rains of summer, knowing as we do that they replenish the reservoirs and turn the countryside all sorts of vibrant shades of green.  We just don’t want to get wet…

[The corner in front of Santo Domingo is, occasionally, graced by various constructs and sculptures. This one is made of wood, and as happens many times bears no announcement as to author, theme, or title. It just showed up one day, and will probably be gone again soon…]

Flying under my radar:

Don’t know how I missed it, but almost all the highly trumpeted “no-frills” startup airlines I reported about not that many years ago seem to have quietly disappeared from the skies of Mexico.

Aerocaribe (which became “Click” when it was bought by Mexicana) is no longer a “regional” airline, and has dropped some of its destinations and routes.

Aerocalifornia, Azteca, Avolar, NovaAir, and Magnicharter are probably gone for good.  Aviacsa has been grounded for failure to pay gate fees.  Their reservations office up the street from the Library is for rent.
Meanwhile, Mexicana is demanding pay cuts from its personnel, who went out on strike last week.

There’s a lot of confusion, the result of the cancellation of some flights, the moratorium on ticket sales, the grounding of three jumbos in the U.S. and Canada by creditors who are no longer confident of Mexicana’s ability and/or willingness to continue making their lease payments.

[Three generations of vendors (the rug store owner is middle-aged) share the corner across the street from Santo Domingo.]

A friend who just arrived from L.A. via MexCity on Mexicana had to make a stop in Tijuana to gas up: nobody in the U.S. will give Mexicana jet fuel on credit. She missed her connecting flight to Oaxaca, but caught the next one: she’s just happy she got here…

Mexicana has filed for chapter 15 “protection”, a form of bankruptcy (and its Mexican equivalent).  If you are booked on Mexicana, you might do well to check the current status of things. For instance, the red eye from Fresno isn’t running anymore, and many international destinations are being serviced only once a day.

Ticket prices for internal flights are increasing…

[Danzon has its roots in Cuba. A slow and stately dance with prescribed steps and moves, it is quite popular in Veracruz and Mexico City. This year, Oaxaca hosted the narional festival.]

Planning ahead:

The Oaxaca Historical Organ Institute has announced its twelfth annual International Organ and Early Music Festival, October 21-27,  featuring internationally known organists, playing some of the restored organs of the area  and holding workshops; field trips to both restored and unrestored instruments; and guided tours of archeological sites.
Each day has several events, and concert tickets can be purchased separately.  If you are interested in local anthropology, archeology, music, or culture, you can get more (and more detailed) information, by clicking http://www.iohio.org.mx/eng/fest2010.htm

Correcting an old mistake:

Thanks to David Adler, writing to the Yahoo group OSAG, for pointing out that “PRI Cacique” is not redundant.  When you live in a place where the same party has been in power for 80 years, it’s easy to forget that the system of “caciazgo” has been in existence since before the Spanish invaded, and that historically caciques have maintained their position by acceding to whoever is in power at the time.  So, for instance, in Oaxaca the nimble cacique may well forsake the PRI, in favor of one or more parties within the incoming coalition.  How’s that going to work with the new administration, which seems to have no center outside Gabino?  Hmmmmm…


**Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s new book on the state of Mexican politics was recently reviewed by Fidel Castro.  To read the English translation, click onhttp://www.granma.cu/ingles/cuba-i/12agosto-33reflex1.html

[Danzon is as much about costume and attitude as about the steps. This guy never lowered his left elbow below the level of his ear.]