CYBERNEWS:

Opening soon, at 412 Cinco de Mayo: a cybercafe! Located in the same building as Cafe Geko and the Welte Institute. When it opens, I will be there. Stay tuned.

WATCH OUT FOR NARCORELIGION:

Those Catholics, they’ll take money from anyone! Last week it was revealed (and why on Earth anyone was surprised is beyond me) that Mexican drug lords have made large contributions to their local church and its charities — and that the episcopate not only accepted their dirty money, but encouraged them to give it. The Interior Ministry immediately called for an investigation of the Church for money laundering and corruption. Incredible!

So far, not one voice has been raised in the media to ask if there is any connection between the concern interior minister Chauyffet has shown for the moral turpitude of the Church, and the pronouncements of Mexican archbishop Noroberto Rivera calling for an end to official corruption as a prerequisite for true democracy in Mexico and demanding an end to the harasment of priests engaged in peaceful support of native indian causes.

MEXICO CITY CRIME STORIES:

A week ago, Mayor Oscar Espinosa Villereal revealed that lawlessness in Mexico City had gotten so bad by the time he was appointed to his office three years ago, that advisors told him he should attempt to make a deal with the crime bosses for control of the city. He called crime the Capital’s number one problem, and predicted that it will be the most intractable of Cuauhtemoc Cardenas’ challenges when he assumes the mayorality on December 5.

The next day, opposition legislators called for the resignation of Zedillo-appointed police chief, general Enrique Salgado. Two years ago, when Selgado took office, crime was at an alltime high. After firing 128 officials and replacing them with army aides, the crime rate has gone up, most notably violent crimes.

Adding to the problem are the “sweeps” being conducted by army units in “high crime” (read, poor) neighborhoods. Like the “search and destroy” missions being carried out to “pacify” villages in the Chiapas and Guerrero countryside, they have netted more innocent victims than criminals. The result has been institution of armed civil milita and demands that the police and the army stay out. There have been lynchings reported, as neighbors, no longer willing to stand idly by while corrupt judges set perpetrators free, are taking matters into their own hands.

Reporters have taken to going out armed with video cameras, and shooting police officers in friendly conversation with armed robbers, sometimes moments after a robbery has occurred. As a reward for exposing this corruption, some reporters have been kidnapped and tortured by police.

A READER WANTS TO KNOW ABOUT THE DOWNSIDE OF OAXACA:

“I’d like to hear about the downside of living in Oaxaca. I’ve been there and it’s a beautiful city and my first impression was that it must be very pleasant to live there. But I’m sure that like anywhere else, there are things that get to you and make life difficult, unpleasant or scary. What are those things in Oaxaca and how do you handle them? Do you have to deal >a lot with the local authorities for residency permits, taxes,banking, etc.? and is it a pleasant experience? Have you ever had to pay a bribe to get something done and how do you do it discreetly?”

My worst fear is getting sick. Compared to that, all the other stuff you mentioned is trivial.

While many of the folks I know have gotten wonderful care, the horror stories one hears are very disquieting. Let me give you some examples: I went to an internist for an infection. I told him I was allergic to penicillin. He prescribed a drug which turned out to be a penicillin derivative. Fortunately, I am in the habit of double checking.

A friend who had suffered a series of incompetent providers finally became quite expert at using the Mayo Clinic diagnostic book to figure out for herself what was wrong. After a series of exotic and dangerous infections (some folks are less resistant than others), she recently put her house up for sale and moved back to the States.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are plenty enough incompetent practitioners back “there”, and enough competent ones here, but:

A friend is taking a class in Neurology at he local medical school. Between teacher absences and unexplained cancelations, a quarter of the classes never happen. At any given time, only about half the students are in attendance, and tardiness is the rule. Many professors sell grades, and even more sell the answers to the quizzes. Being a doctor is a “gentleman’s” game, and few are interested in studying.

In a place where dengue, malaria, and some bizarre mutations of tb, pneumonia and other tropical infections are contractable, it is easy to get a little nervous. On the other hand, it appears that good diet, reasonable precautions and some knowledge of how to use the self-help manuals (available in the English Language Circulating Library) go a long way toward guarding against bad luck.

As to bribes, remember that cops don’t get paid enough to feed their family, and must collect bribes to live. Even so, I have never been extorted in Oaxaca (in fact, I once had a bribe offer refused), although I got hit twice on one trip through MexCity. Pay a bribe with a loaded handshake, or by tucking the bill into the cop’s shirt pocket. Never come on condescending, and never grovel. It’s just business.

btw, the Migracion folks in Oaxaca are, as far as I can tell, scrupulously honest (if a bit disorganized and aloof).