YOUR CORRESPONDENT’S RESOLUTIONS FOR THE COMING YEAR: *MAKE FEWER PREDICTIONS.

In the last year I predicted the Peso would dive to 12 by the new year. In fact, it has held steady at less than 8. To be sure, everyone is saying that this is artificially high, and that the economy and the level of debt do not justify such a high level of exchange. Nonetheless, it is where it is… I also predicted an all-out effort by the Army to destroy the EZLN, but the warfare continues to be “low level”, and aimed mostly at containment of EZLN influence in Chiapas by terrorizing peripheral centers of discontent… Then there was the EPR, which I described as an invention of the government to be used as an excuse for a new wave of repression. It now seems more likely that only some of the incidents blamed on the EPR were actually acts of provocation by PRI stalwarts…

*MAKE MORE PREDICTIONS. I completely missed the militarization of the law enforcement infrastructure. In the last year, the Mexico City police were militarized, and the military was just handed the anti-drug establishment last week. I noted that General Cervantes, the head soldier, was appearing a lot with nuestro Ernesto, but didn’t catch the implication. The army is on the march and — I PREDICT — will continue to take over functions which until now have been reserved for civilians… The US government has been quietly designating several hazardous waste burial sites along the Mexican border in Texas, New Mexico and California. The Mexican government has formally protested such plans, which they say have been unilateral decisions which adversely affect Mexican interests.

I PREDICT that the US will buy off the Mexicans by pouring lots of skimable funds into pretend cross-border cleanup and monitoring strategies, and the US citizens in those areas will be left to carry on the fight alone… I can’t leave the Peso alone. I PREDICT that before the end of January, the pressures for further devaluation will reach critical mass. Although the drop will not be as dramatic as in 1995, we will see a 9 peso dollar by the end of March. Diana predicts it will hold steady at eight, so there…

*WRITE MORE HUMAN INTEREST STORIES AND LESS POLITICAL STUFF. Mexican politics are hard to decipher, and furthermore don’t touch my life much. We gringos are really isolated from what affects our Mexican neighbors, with our dollar accounts and atm cards, and our tourist and temporary residency visas. I find writing about the wonders of day-to-day living more rewarding, less depressing, and more “true” than chronicaling the convoluted ins and outs of an oligarchy continuously on the cusp of revolt. That is not to say I will ignore significant occurrances in the political life of Mexico, however.

*NOT GIVE IN TO MENACING REACTIONS TO WHAT I WRITE. Recently, I was quoted in a frontpage article in the local newspaper El Imparcial. The article was titled “Internet being used to put down Oaxaca and discourage tourism”. While I was not named, the quotes used to “prove” the argument were taken from my first newsletter, in which I talked about the armed conflicts going on along the coastal highway in the area of the Oaxaca – Guerrero border, and in the Mixteca Alta near Tlaxiaco. Since this article had only been posted for a few months in the spring of 1996 as a “sample” newsletter, someone was going out of their way to supply this archived information to the reporter in question. I take this as a warning that I should stop publishing such things. This was not the first such warning nor the last. Recently one of my gringo readers with a PRI relative in a northern state, told me that many influential Mexicans would view such writing as irresponsible. Even though true. They would call it an “unwarranted interference with the well being of the Mexican people”. So they still shoot the messenger in Mexico. Well, nobody lives forever…

*IMPROVE MY SPANISH, LOSE SOME WEIGHT, EXERCISE MORE AND SPEND MORE TIME AT HOME WITH DIANA. This is actually a renewal of last year’s resolutions: the ones I didn’t get around to…

LA JORNADA’S ANNUAL LAMPOON ISSUE SCORES MANY DIRECT HITS:

On the Saturday between Xmas and Year’s End, La Jornada publishes a “false front” issue. Among this year’s barbs:

*Antonio Lozano Gracia (the guy who was unable to get to first base in the Colosio assassination) declared that he will soon reveal the secret connections between the Kennedy assassinations and the death of Nicole Simpson. He further declared that he is well on the way to resolving the execution of Archbishop Posada in the Guadalajara airport, having realized that Posada was a victim of mistaken identity. They were really after Manuel Muñoz Rocha (one of Lozano’s chief critics).

*Announcing a special Presidential Package Tour: Mexico – Canada – Cuba – Dublin – Almoloya prison. Includes airfare and sea passage. All hotels 5-star quality. Hunger strike, daily buffet and a special session with a team of government investigators in your own living room. Does not include sales taxes, income taxes, prison tea, jail fees or insurance. All this for only $6,589,999 usd. Two or more passports required.

*In sports, the Maya Baseball League has gone Zapatista. In true anti-NAFTA spirit, they have armed themselves with bats made of Canadian wood.

*The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced that henceforth, Mexico will recognize double citizenship with Zimbabwe.

*In yet another in a continuing series of revelations, investigators have uncovered the bones of Sor Juana (Mexico’s most beloved poet, and a Catholic Sister) in the garden of Margarita Lopez Portillo.

*A picture of a very old peasant man holding himself up with a walkinng stick and doffing his hat is captioned “Living in Error: how can he claim to have any rights?”

MORE FROM FRANCISCO TOLEDO AND FRIENDS:

Remember the plan to “commercially develop” Monte Alban? Well, Toledo and his organization are now getting an audience on the national level, and they have a new ally. The curator of another important site outside Oaxaca has added his problems to the discussion. Citing encroaching living areas as extreme hazards to the integrity of the ancient city of San Jose Magote, which represents 20 years of work by U of Michigan antiquarians, the director of the site is calling for a general set of rules to govern not only the development of the immediate environs of a restoration project, but more general urban planning which will protect sites from being overrun.

The fireworks are going off all around us, and it is 1997. HAPPY NEW YEAR!