THIS IS NOT THE ONLY AUTHORITATIVE, SCHOLARLY, IN-DEPTH NEWSLETTER ABOUT MEXICO:

For those of you who may be interested in more specialized kinds of newsletters, to supplement my own deathless prose, I will from time to time (as I become aware of them) report on “the competition”. If any of you know of others you would like to recommend, please feel free to do so.

THE WRITINGS OF JOHN ROSS:

I first became aware of John Ross’ work through his excellent on-the-ground coverage of the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas on New Years’ Day, 1994. His book, “Revolution From The Roots”, was an enormous aid to my understanding of what happened, and why; who the major players were; and what could happen as a result. While a little too worshipful of the Zaps and their cause (a fault, if it was one, that I tend to share), it is nonetheless, even now, required reading for anyone who is interested in the Zapatista movement from the “people’s” point of view.

Since then, I have read Ross’ articles in Harpers, the Sierra Club magazine (an excellent analysis of the Aguas Blancas massacre as stemming from a sweetheart deal between then-Governor Figueroa and a multinational lumber company bent on clearcutting native virgen forest for shipment to Japan), the Latino Link internet site, and others.

Recently, I subscribed to “Mexico Barbaro”, Ross’ private newsletter. This is a publication for serious students of current events in Mexico. It is not entertainment. Rather it is good investigative reporting with a definite point of view and a lot of heart for the Mexican people. “Mexico Barbaro” is distributed by WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE ON THE AMERICAS. $25 USD get you 48 e-mail articles per year. For subscription (postal or email) contact: Weekly News Update on the Americas, 339 Lafayette St., New York, NY 10012, 212-674-9499, fax 212-674-9139, email wnu@igc.apc.org, home page http://home.earthlink.net/~dbwilson/nsnhome.html

A PERSONAL TRAVEL JOURNAL WITH LOTS OF PRACTICAL INFO:

The Felsteds, who live in Austin TX, do a lot of traveling in Mexico. They go by car, by bus, by plane, and cover the whole country. Subtitled “A Newletter of Explorations In An Enchanted Land”, their “Mexican Meanderings” is a must-read for those of you who seek the less-traveled road (with a little bit of the gringo trail now and then). The authors, often print articles contributed by other readers, and usually include reviews of the latest Mex-Travel related books, videos and websites.

To subscribe, send $18 to Southwind Information Services, PO Box 33057, Austin TX 78764. 6 issues per year, by post. Email for questions: mexplore@valise.com

A WHOLLY LOGICAL EXTENSION TO THE MOST IMPORTANT GUIDE TO MEXICO:

The People’s Guide To Mexico, that old standby of useful and uplifting information and commentary for the novice – and veteran – traveller, has for some time been producing a newsletter, the People’s Guide Travel Letter, with news about traveling, living, learning and retiring in Mexico and Central America.

Produced about four times a year for about $15, and available by post, it provides updates for the Guide, and lots of reader feedback based on recent travel and experience.

Unfortunately (desculpe, Carl and Lorena) we are in the middle of moving to new digs, and the old issues are buried somewhere, but you can get more (and more exact) info on ordering, etc., if you email the authors at: mexico@peoplesguide.com

UPDATE OF THE RECENT ELECTION:

As a prognosticator, I am a good carpenter. That’s what I get for sticking my neck out at the drop of a conumdrum. Latest goof was my prediction that Cardenas would get turned down by Zedillo on his request to name the police chief and public prosecutor for MexCity. In fact, Zedillo announced, two days later, that he would name Cardenas’ choice. The announcement followed a private conversation after which the two men emerged with praise for each other’s good will and understanding.

There are two theories being bandied about to explain this show of weltschmertz. One is that Cardenas, in exchange, secretly agreed to modify his heretofore strident opposition to privatization of the nation’s pension funds, particularly the IMSS (social security) fund, and to otherwise mute the more militant wing of his PRD. If true, this would be a disappointing indication that Cardenas is doing business as usual, and that little will change under his aegis.

The other, far more intriguing and hopeful, is that Emiliano Chauyffet, the heretofore powerful (some would say ultimately powerful) minister of the interior, has suffered some significant loss of control over Zedillo, following the announcement that the Hank family (with whom he is intertwined politically) is under investigation concerning the CONASUPO fraud; the death of fellow dynosaur Fidel Valazquez, and the uncertainty that the right wing of the PRI can depend on large squads of labor goons to break up legitimate labor rallies; and the connection of the Army general staff to the northern drug cartels (Cervantes, the secretary of the army, you may recall, used to appear regularly at Zedillo’s elbow, and the current – and to be replaced – MexCity police chief is regular army).

It is possible that, faced with the humiliating losses it suffered in the July 6 elections, and unable to protect many of its most valued members, the right wing of the PRI just cannot maintain the old status quo they have learned to love for so long. I still don’t believe it, but I can’t dismiss it out of hand, in light of recent events…

BACK TO SQUARE ONE: THREE YEARS LATER, ABURTO DECLARED LONE ASSASSIN:

The new Atty General, who used to be the Human Rights Czar (how easily we change our hats and our attitudes), has concluded yet another in the series of investigations, investigations of investigations, and investigations into investigation of investigations into the shooting in 1994 of Luis Donaldo Colosio. His conclusion: it is all much too confusing. It is, in fact, so confusing that there is no way of knowing the truth. Complete with charts to explain how Colosio’s multiple wounds (including one shot in the abdomen: Aburto is shown standing behind Colosio) could have been caused by one shooter (the body rotated: an action belied by the films), the head of the PGR trotted out the most awkward forensic analysis since the Warren Report. Next step: it will be declared that the whole thing never happened at all.

OVERWHELMED BY SUCCESS: LOCAL GRINGO RESIDENTS GO TO THE BEACH WHILE THE CROWDS FILL THE STREETS FOR GUELAGUETZA:

The annual celebration of the dance, charity and cultural richness of the State of Oaxaca has come and gone. The zocalo is once more “ours”. Some of us are still a little twitchy.

No holiday in the past – not Christmas, not Easter, not previous Guelaguetza – has produced crowds of this magnitude. Mostly — as usual — Chilangos from MexCity, but with a liberal dose of French, Italians and Germans, the sheer numbers were terrifying, for small-town provincials like us.

Of course, the music, the dance, the artworks and the craft sellers were marvelous, and the parades were spectacular. Still, it’s scary: has Oaxaca been “over-discovered”? If this is any indication, we’ll be traveling next year, and maybe next Xmas and Easter too.