GUESS WHAT DAY IT IS TODAY?

1. In an act of defiant sovereignty, Mexico today announced that it is establishing a permanent resort community in an as-yet-to-be-disclosed northern area, devoted entirely to addicted US citizens. There, along with swimming pools, exercise equipment and all the other accoutrements of five-star vacation living, clients will have access to all the uppers, downers, and mind twisters they want. A source close to the planning process, who wishes to remain anonymous, said “why should we go to all the trouble of shipping drugs North? Why not just keep them here, and take all the profit for domestic projects?” It was reported that the Arellano Felix family had applied for a license but was rejected.

2. In a joint press communique, the Department of Justice, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the U.S. Customs service announced a new direction in border control. Starting as soon as the necessary funding can be delivered, all illegal immigrants caught attempting to enter the U.S. will be hired by the Border Patrol, given uniforms, and turned loose to catch other new arrivals. This is expected to have several advantages: official illegal immigration figures will drop to near zero; there will be no new unemployed brown skinned drifters without proper credentials hanging around street corners in LA; there will be no need for new prison cells, detention camps, and immigration hearings; deputy sheriffs near the border can slow down, reducing the threat of serious automobile accidents. “It’s a win-win situation”, said Janet Reno. “They get jobs, and we get to look good for a change”.

3. Carlos Salinas de Gortari announced in Dublin that he is leaving for India tomorrow, where he will become a novitiate in Mother Theresa’s charitable order. Appearing before the cameras at a press conference dressed in a loincloth with a red dot on his forehead and Hindu letters drawn in ashes on his chest, he denied that he was doing it merely to avoid being deported to Mexico to face charges. “I wanted to serve the world through the chairmanship of the World Trade Organization, and a seat on Dow Jones, but that didn’t work out. History will show that I am but a humble person, living a life of service”, he said. When asked whether he thought his masculinity would complicate his proposed life in a female order, he replied “don’t worry, I already fixed that”.

– TOURISM IS DEFINITELY PICKING UP IN OAXACA

We just finished the first of our annual crowd-endurance tests: Semana Santa (Easter week). Coming up next: Christmas. Either I am getting less tolerant of the glut of vendors, gawkers, food stands and gewgaw sellers that descend on “my” zocalo during these hectic times, or else there has been a marked increase in attendance. Since the local newspapers appear to favor the latter, I will state it as a fact: it has never been more crowded. All 5,500 hotel rooms, booked. All the tables in the portales, filled. All the business people, smiling.

There is some gouging. For example, one popular, centrally located laundromat DOUBLES its prices for Easter week, and several restaurants have “temporary” menus. Many tourist oriented businesses raise their prices every year at Easter (and often, again at Christmas). Mostly, though, things go on as before, just more crowded.

We are glad for our neighbors who depend on the holidays for that extra boost that makes up for the doldrums of other seasons. We are pleased that so many of our ex neighbors are taking the opportunity to enjoy one of the fine vacation spots on the continent. Nonetheless, we are talking of traveling to further climes next year: the town just isn’t the same for us, when it fills up.

PAN KEEPS SHOOTING ITSELF IN THE FOOT

If the Partido Acción Nacional (PAN) didn’t exist, the PRI might want to invent them. Only last election (1994) the second-best vote getter in the country, and the spoiler in many PRD plans, the PAN and its figurehead Diego Fernando de Ceballos, have spent most of this year making themselves look inept and stupid.

Diego, who many thought a shoo-in for the PAN mayoral candidate for Mexico this summer’s elections, got caught in a tax fiddle on some fancy resort property in Acapulco last fall. He managed to squeeze out of any serious legal problems, but the scandal left him tainted and out of contention for the candidacy: a serious setback for the PAN, because he had an excellent chance to win — providing he could maintain his squeaky-clean 1994 image.

Fuming at his fate, Diego proved unable to leave bad enough alone. While being interviewed on Televisa’s 24 Horas a couple of weeks ago, he “revealed” that President Zedillo owned a condo in the fanciest gated community in Acapulco, and that he had never paid his taxes — an allegation that was quickly disproven. In fact, Zedillo revealed, he did own a very modest condo in a far-from-exclusive neighborhood in Acapulco, and his taxes were paid up to the centavo. As a result, Zedillo is seen as an even more modest self-effacing civil servant, and Diego as a petulant eater of sour grapes.

Meanwhile, in the northern state of Nuevo León, the PAN is establishing itself as an arbiter of public morality. Female cleavage is banned on public billboards, people whose shorts are considered to short are being fined, and “table dancing” is being prohibited in bars frequented by single men and prostitutes. (However you might feel about such activities, having a political party with a Moral Agenda is bound to sit badly with Mexican voters.)

Not content to stop with reinventing morality, the PAN is now forging ahead, in Monterrey and other strongholds, and renaming streets. They are naming them, not for national martyrs, but for PAN founding members and wealthy PAN businessmen. Recently, they attacked Benito Juarez’ memory by characterizing him as just another PRI dictator (which he was, but since when does truth excuse anything?).