PRI WON GOVERNORSHIP THE OLD FASHIONED WAY:

They stole it. At least, so the opposition claims, and with some justification. It seems that in the midst of the vote count, the election computer experienced a 40-minute “crash” of mysterious origin. This is highly reminiscent of the 1988 presidential election, when a similar computer outage robbed Cardenas of victory and put the now reviled Salinas in power for what turned out to be the biggest grab-session in Mexican history.

This appears to be reflected in the vote. Oaxaca has always been solidly PRI at the state level. The inroads that the PRD made in this election are said to stem as much from the failure of the party faithful (faithful to Diodoro) to get out and twist arms, as the social unrest and the ascendancy of the PRD. The final official count had Murat winning by 90,000 votes, a margin of about 11% (the amount of PAN voters). Since the election commission threw out about 28,000 votes, mostly PRD, and with the margin so small, the computer down-time issue is a significant one. While PRD party head Lopez Obrador was yelling “foul”, the commission issued a statement denying that the event even happened, thus guaranteeing that this issue will not go away.

To show how arcane and byzantine the politics of the PRI are, the leak is reported to have come not from the PRD observers, but from PRI forces friendly to the present governor, Diodoro Carrasco (who opposed the nomination of Murat, the “winner”). Even that pillar of PRI reactionism, Juan Ruiz Healey, who in his column Al Fondo in The News rabidly rants against the opposition, has attacked Murat’s victory. It is quite likely that this loyalty to Diodoro (and his sponsors in the national PRI) goes deep, suggesting a real schizm in the Oaxaca party.

It is my personal opinion (being skeptical of coincidences) that Murat was chosen by the national party heavies because he is from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, where steps are being taken to build a trans-istmo freight line from Coetzalcocos in Veracruz state to Salina Cruz, Oaxaca. This super-right-of-way for container railway cars and toll road for motor freight is being built as an alternative to the Panama Canal at a cost of billions, and is expected to wreak mass destruction of the Istmo’s ecosystem, starting with hundreds of thousands of acres of rain forest. This mega-destructo project may be the last hurrah for the always hungry pockets of the PRI apparatchiks, a really large skim-fest before the whole business collapses, so there is little possibility that any quarter will be given to the indigenous peoples who live in the area.

Murat is the man for the job, an Istmeno with a reputation for being far more interested in his national patrons than his local constituents. A Collosio lookalike (hardly anyone who isn’t runs these days), he probably expects to be president one day. But first he will have to sell the vast majority of his fellow Istmenos down the river…

CICELY WINTER PERFORMS AT THE MACEDONIO ALCALA THEATER:

Cicely Winter, concert pianist, teacher, student for the last year and more at the University of Indiana, wife of Monte Alban authority and Zaachila reconstructionist Marc Winter, gave a packed audience in Oaxaca’s restored Porfiriata era opera house what was arguably the finest instrumental performance in the city’s history, on the 7th of this month.

A benefit for the Frente Comun contra SIDA, Oaxaca’s AIDS office, the concert was a financial and artistic success at 50 pesos a ticket. An overwhelmingly Mexican audience was treated to a program of Debussy, Ravel, Beethoven and Chopin. Cicely’s playing, while always good, really has improved incredibly in the last couple of years. It was without a doubt the best five and a half dollar concert anyone could remember.

FAMOUS AUTHOR BREAKS HIS SHACKLES:

Time to announce upcoming plans and publishing schedule. Diana and I are taking an extended vacation, starting in September. Having come into a small windfall, we are heading out for three months in Europe. We will be visiting in Italy, Greece and Turkey, with a brief stop in London on the way. Our friends Dan and Deb will be joining us for a couple of weeks in November.

As you may recall, subscribers to this Newsletter are entitled to 20 issues each year. This is issue #16, so there are 4 left to produce. September 1 makes 17, and December 15 is 18, so that leaves two to do. For those of you whose subscriptions run out during the time we are away, I will send out notices when we get back, and will start your “year” from the date you post your renewal check. For those of you who just subscribed, I beg your patience and understanding.

We are not taking a computer with us, both because of technical problems (our laptop developed a fractured screen matrix, and opening and closing it makes it flakey), and not wanting to have to spend time protecting it. We will be answering our email, from cybercafes along the way, using a traveling disk with Eudora Lite on it, but I’m unlikely to be spending time sitting at a five-to-ten dollar an hour computer to compose articles and newsletters.

Instead, here is my plan: I will go back to the old notebook-and-pencil method, taking notes and writing down impressions. Sometime before the first of the year, I will send out two extra editions covering the trip.

My web articles will be “banked” before I leave (have you forgotten I do those, now that you are a subscriber?), so this will be the first time in over four years that I will be free of the obligation to report on Oaxaca and Mexico for more than a couple of weeks at a time.

If any of you have favorite hotels, restaurants, activities or sites in any or all three of our destination countries, pass them along. Likewise people to look up, etc. I promise I will follow through if feasible, and let you know how it went. We are BUDGET travellers.

NEWS FROM THE BEACH:

In Zipolite, according to friends who live there, there is a little less law and a little more lawlessness. However, according to my sources, the danger level for tourists has increased only very slightly, requiring a bit more caution. Robberies and assaults seem to head the list, but it is generally agreed that hanging in groups at night is a good preventitive.

The Posada Brisa Marina, Daniel Weiner’s new-this-year hotel on Zipolite, has raised its rates from 80 to 120 pesos a night. Still a bargain… For those who are offended at such outrageous prices, there is another, newer (cruder, too) hotel right next door.

In Puerto, rumor has it that Derek and Pamela, who have been running a language acacemy for the last couple of years, have split up. He has gone back to California, and the newspaper they started, “El Sol de la Costa”, has changed hands. Current owner / editor Warren Sharpe has increased the size (and the number of ads), and is printing all articles in both Spanish and English.