MEXICO’S LEGISLATORS GIVE THEMSELVES A BIG FAT MAY DAY PRESENT –OR DID THEY?:

On Monday, the national newspaper La Jornada reported that the House of Deputies were about to hand themselves a bonus of 250,000 pesos each, effective when the term ends in August. Since all deputies have to run for reelection, the electorate is bound to regard such a move as a “even if I lose, I win” move.

On Tuesday, the major parties’ leadership denied any such move was afoot. However, when pressed, the PAN leader said he didn’t care to predict the future.

On Wednesday, La Jornada retaliated with a report that the deputies had “compromised” on a mere 90,000 peso present to themselves.

Today, being Labor Day, there are no national newspapers being published, so the whole affair is still up in the air.

One is tempted to compare this to similar actions in the U.S. congress, when they have rewarded themselves with handsome raises while the economy slipped, the unemployment rate rose, and more and more citizens fell through the ever widening holes in the social safety net.

MEANWHILE, THE MARCH GOES ON:

The Labor Day parade today took about an hour and a half to wend its way past our front door, and it was going on down the next street over, as well. Traditionally terminating in the zocalo, this year the marchers were forced to disperse short of their goal.

There was no demonstration because the zocalo and the streets surrounding it were blocked by food booths and gewgaw sellers, whose temporary shelters were erected to maximally block access. The excuse was created yesterday, when the Dia del Niño (Day of the Child) celebration was moved from a park further away from the center. The booths, erected to augment yesterday’s celebrations, were allowed to remain in place today.

ANOTHER BLACK EYE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN MEXICO:

Human Rights Watch America has released yet another report, detailing the increasing incidences of systematic violations of individual rights by the federal and state authorities, the army, and paramilitary groups. Oaxaca was one of the states cited as containing the most abuse. In a typical reaction, Oaxaca governor Diódoro Altamirano Carrasco warned that he would not play games with anyone who says bad things about his governance.

ZEDILLO’S WIFE PUT IN THE SLOT OVER CORRUPTION IN THE DIF:

The Department of Family Assistance (DIF) is headed by Nalda Patricia Velasco de Zedillo. The Mexican Toy Industry has petitioned her to end the corrupt practices of her department when purchasing toys for distribution at Christmas (and reselling the leftovers when the season ends). Noting a long history of kickbacks, cronyism, noncompetitive bidding and so on, they have requested the reform-minded President’s presumably reform-minded spouse to start with her own department. So far, there has been no official response, partially because the request was reported in the press as being a personal accusation of corruption against her. This the toy industry folks immediately denied. Many find it interesting that accusations of corruption against high government officials are so easily believed by the public…

QUERRETARO SYMPHONY WOWS ‘EM IN OCOTLAN:

Every year, the Qerretaro Symphony, arguably the best orchestra in Mexico, comes to Oaxaca for a Spring Festival. This year, among other venues, the orchestra performed in the church in Ocotlan de Morelos, a regional market town about 30 minutes south of Oaxaca city. Sponsored by internationally known artist and home town boy made good, Rodolfo Morales, the gig played to a packed house. The second act Eroica was flawless, the acoustics were marvelous, and the hall — a recently restored 16th century church (restoration courtesy of the same Rodolfo) a jewel box. The perfection of the evening was marred only by the late (over one hour) start, and the lights of the Oaxaca Cultural TV camera crew. The performance was free.