Last updateFri, 17 Jul 2015 4pm

Looking Back: A review of June news from the last 50 years

In this second in a monthly series of LOOKING BACK, the Reporter is publishing some headlines taken from its June editions 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 years ago.


New faces at Posada Ajijic
Nancy and Peter Spenser join Jane and Sherm Harris at the Posdada Ajijic. Since the Harris’ have owned it over the past year and a half, the Posada has changed from a drab, defunct inn into one of beautiful gardens and swimming pool, comfortable rooms, good service in the bar and dining room and gay music for dancing in the delightful Quinto Patio. All this area and a great many tourists from the States and Mexico have found it a happy place due, of course, to the personalities, knowledge and efforts of the Harris.

Am School graduation
Crowds of friends and parents will fill the Degollado Theater Saturday, May 19 to witness graduation exercises of the American School, a moving colorful ceremony of combined Stateside and Mexican customs that annually leaves few dry eyes in the audience and among the graduates.

US Consul gives advice
U.S. Consul General Joseph J. Montilor laid out four major points for Americans living in Mexico when he addressed the women of the Salvation Army Auxiliary at their meeting at the Hilton Hotel. Persuing what he names as his favorite theme, the American image in Mexico, he stressed: 1) respect for the people of our adopted country; 2) interest in Mexico’s problems; 3) learning the language; 4) showing allegiance, not criticism to the United States.  “Our assistance to any nation is not charity. Our aim is to raise living standards to keep out the inroads of Communism,” he said.

Tourists take note
The false police lieutenant is again intimidating tourists in Guadalajara. Within the last six weeks at least a dozen tourists have been approached and about half paid “fianzas” (bonds) of 300 to 600 pesos directly to the “teniente.”  Through devious sources, the self-styled lieutenant gathers details on aged or handicapped American tourists. Armed with a few facts, a knowledge of Mexican law and a fair command of English, he accosts his victims (frequently on weekends) in the professional manner of a plain-clothes policeman. He tells them that they have passed a counterfeit bill or money order or are not carrying their tourist cards with them and must be jailed pending an inquiry. After this he agrees to accept a a bond upon their commitment to appear the next day for a hearing.

Am Legion urges VA Post here
Two resolutions urging the establishment of a Veterans Administration Office within Mexico, and the creation of a strong affirmative action program for veterans applying to United States medical schools were adopted by the 57 American Legion delegates who gathered last week at the Hotel Plaza del Sol for their 55th annual Department of Mexico convention.

Mex-Am Institute seeks new role
A new spirit is stirring at the Instituto Mexicano-Norteamericano in Guadalajara. Originally founded by the U.S. Information Service 25 years ago as a cultural arm of the U.S. government, the Institute this year became an independent agency free to seek its own role in Guadalajara. Director Don Murray envisions the entity as a totally bicultural community center. A proximately 1,900 Mexicans are enrolled in English classes and the institute also offers six-week intensive Spanish courses. Photography, art and guitar classes are also to be offered. Every ten weeks some 200 Washington State University students attend courses in anthropology pre-Colombian art and history, handicrafts, art and cross-cultural relations. Also this week 160 students from Utah with Ideal Study Tours are being hosted by the institute.

Tourists exempted
Foreign tourists visiting Mexico are now exempt from paying the currently applied 15-percent luxury tax on first-rate restaurants, bars and night clubs, according to a proclamation this week by Tourism Secretary Julio Hirschfeld Almanda. Hoteliers, restaurateurs and night club owners throughout Jalisco are petitioning government agencies to clarify just how this exemption will be applied and controlled. Reaction of many Mexican citizens in interviews with this newspaper was one of consternation at what they termed discrimination.

Don’t drink while peddling
Cyclists this week were urged to obey the following safety rules by the Jalisco Hygiene and Safety Association: Don’t pedal while drunk; cycle in file and within 50 centimeters of the road’s edge; don’t ride zigzagueando in front of moving vehicles.

New drain ends flood danger
Guadalajara will be protected from flooding for at least 40 years through the state’s 500-million -peso investment in an extensive drainage system, public works engineer Abel Villa Gonzalez told Mayor Juan Delgado Navarro this week. With the completion of two intermediate systems to the west and east, Guadalajara will have an additional 56 kilometers in pipes to permit the rapid drain-off of water.

Mexico safe despite warning
According to recent foreign visitors, “Ciudad Amable” is still an appropriate term for Guadalajara. Despite a travel advisory passed by the lower house of the U.S. Congress, but not by the Senate, concerning the state of Jalisco and various negative news reports about the danger of living here, tourists are still finding the city and the rest of the country a friendly and safe place to visit. Of 100 foreign visitors surveyed by the Visitor and Convention Bureau at the city’s airport, all agreed that Guadalajara is a friendly city. Complaints were focused on air pollution and confusing traffic patterns. None of the polled visitors felt unsafe here.

Caro Quintero killed two US citizens
U.S. legislators have withdrawn measures to issue a travel advisory for Jalisco as drug trafficker Rafel Caro Quintero was charged with ordering the killing U.S. citizens John Walker and Alberto Radelat. The pair happened into La Langosta Restaurant on Avenida Mariano Otero in the midst of a secret meeting between Quintero and associates. They were denied service, but thought to be DEA spies and taken into the kitchen were they were tortured and killed. Their bodies were found buried in the Primavera forest June 18.  U.S. Senator Joe Biden Jr., who had tagged a Mexican travel advisory to a State Department spending bill, rescinded that amendment after reports of the initiation of criminal charges in the Walker-Radelat murder case convinced him and other U.S. legislators that Mexican authorities are now seriously pursuing all leads concerning both that case and that of murdered DEA agent Enrique Camarena.

Tajo players
Guadalajara’s newly formed theatrical group Tajo Players met recently to discuss progress being made in construction of the Chicken Coop Theater at San Jose del Tajo Trailer Park and to make committee appointments. Larry Greccov, founder of the group, was named director of construction and drama and Jeanne Chaussee was elected executive director of activities. A discussion of the Tajo Players financial position reveled that an additional 250,000 pesos is necessary for structural improvement to the theater building and for minimum equipment required for the theater’s October opening. Fundraising activities are being planned.

Chapala ‘conserved at all costs’
This was the news issuing from the lips of government officials this week as both state and federal officials gave their verbal support for the conservation of Mexico’s largest inland body of water. Officials of the Secretariat of Agriculture and Hydraulic Resources announced plans to bring water to the growing metropolitan area from nearby Verde and Calderon rivers, rather than increase extractions from Lake Chapala. “It should be made very clear,” said Jalisco Governor Enrique Alvarez del Castillo, “that not one liter more of water will be extracted from Lake Chapala than has been extracted regularly over the past 30 years.”

Art scene ruffled
While tourists and foreign residents may be delighting in Guadalajara’s rich cultural diversity, a whopping full-scale artistic pitched battle between 150 leading Tapatio performers, writers and directors and Governor Enrique Alvarez del Castillo, promises to change the presentation of culture in the state capital. In a signed letter of protest these artists have opened a far-reaching debate examining a staid and unimaginative official fine arts policy, condemning the appointment of non-artistic directors and criticizing the excessive growth of an arts bureaucracy that has flourished at the expense of artistic programs and events.

Museum workers strip
Male employees at Guadalajara’s Regional Museum shucked their shirts June 13 to protest the lack of uniforms. The “semi-nude-in” imitated the 3,500 Mexican miners in Pachuca, Hidalgo who grabbed headlines by staging a totally nude demonstration May 25, to demand proper protective clothing.

Traffic chief hits at corruption
More than 200 Jalisco Traffic Department officers have been fired or jailed since the beginning of the current presidential administration, according to Paulino Oliva Ramirez, chief of the department. Taking the hard line popular among police officials since the recent reinforcement of President de la Madrid’s “moral renovation” campaign, Oliva declared that corruption among local transit police “will not be tolerated.”

Mexico regains control of peso?
Major indications that the government has lost control of peso exchange rates surfaced this week as the central Banco de Mexico announced that banking institutions can begin to trade pesos at the free market rate of 302.50 to the dollar. At press time there was considerable confusion among bankers here concerning just what that Banco de Mexico decision means. Analysts say it is clear that pressures to devalue the peso have increased to such a degree that the effective control of the peso-dollar exchange rates is now being determined by major international money markets and the republic’s black market and not by Mexico.

Jalisco toll road collapses
Two people were seriously injured when a bridge collapsed on the Zapotlanejo-Lagos de Moreno toll highway near the town of San Juan de los Lagos May 24. The bridge was part of a toll road opened by President Carlos Salinas de Gortari in 1994.  Following the accident, an accusing finger was pointed at the Alfa-Omega construction company, builders and operators of the toll road.

Pan takes Guanajuato
The Partido Accion Nacional  (PAN) candiate for governor of the state of Guanajuato, Vicente Fox Quezada, swept to a decisive victory in last Sunday’s election. Fox was credited with 58 percent of the vote against 32.8 percent against his PRI rival.

Strikes knock downtown out
Downtown Guadalajara experienced pure mayhem for the first six days of June as bus drivers, traffic police and taxi drivers blockaded streets surrounding the Government Palace to press their demands for more money or better working conditions. The consecutive protests left many observers wondering if their timing was coincidental or orchestrated to embarrass the new administration.

Internet now in Jalisco
Jalisco residents can now hop on the information superhighway with a little help from the Universidad de Guadalajara Computer Center. Although Mexico has been slow to join this global network, many businesses are making up for lost time.

Casinos in Chapala, Vallarta?
As soon as the federal government gives the word, casinos may be set up in places like Chapala, Puerto Vallarta and Lagos de Moreno, predicted Jalisco Tourism Secretary Pablo Gerber Stump last week. Casinos were outlawed in Mexico during the left-wing presidency of Lazaro Cardenas del Rio (1934-1940).

Loose livestock on Chapala hwy
Of all the roads leading into Guadalajara, the highway to Chapala is the most dangerous,  according to federal highway police. Forty percent of the accidents near Guadalajara take place on this highway and ten percent are caused by loose livestock.

Medicare in Mexico not likely
United States Medicare coverage is not likely to become available any time soon in Mexico, a U.S. Embassy official told last week’s American Legion Department of Mexico convention in Guadalajara. Reimbursement of medical expenses for veterans with service-connected disabilities now goes directly to the veteran or the health-care provider. V.A. hospitals and clinics now ship medications, prosthetic devices and medical equipment such as wheelchairs directly to the veteran.

Salinas hangs by a thread
As Mexican citizens clamor for exiled former President Carlos Salinas de Gortari to face justice in Mexico, look-alike Salinas moneybag dolls with the words se busca (wanted) printed on them are selling briskly at street corner and glorietas. The federal Attorney General’s Office recently confirmed that it was investigating the financial dealings of Salinas de Gortari.

Chapala mayor accuses Robles
Chapala Mayor Jose Guadalupe Padilla Castañeda has accused the municipality’s former mayor, Raul Robles Puga, of the illegal sale of public land and the diversion of city funds.

Tapatio bobsleders seek glory
Mexican bobsledder Roberto Tames, 40, has led somewhat of a Quixotic existence for the past 21 years, pioneering bobsledding and winter sports in Guadalajara, a city where it only snowed once in the last century.  He has participated in three Winter Olympics and is training hard to qualify for another. His exploits convinced city officials to build a 70-meter long push start track in Parque Colomos, where Tames and his crew train five days a week.

Politician against assisted dying
Jalisco Health Secretary Alfonso Petersen recently launched a vigorous attack on a bill giving some legal right to assisted dying that will be discussed in the federal chamber of deputies. He stressed there were plenty of alternatives to euthanasia.

Birth defects rise in Chapala
Heavy metal contamination in the Lerma-Chapala Basin is causing an alarming rise in the incidence of birth defects among infants born in the lakeshore area, according to federal legislators, who this week issued a scathing appraisal of federal agencies responsible for natural resource management in the five-state region. Data collected by Universidad de Guadalajara scientists attributed 220 cases of congenital deformities registered in the lakeshore town of Jamay to the severe level of heavy metal pollutants plaguing the Lerma-Chapala system.

Colunga readies Intl projects
While visitors to Guadalajara continue to enjoy his memorable bronzes in the plaza in front of the Cabañas Cultural Institute, the sculptor Alejandro Colunga is busy making 50 new pieces that have been commissioned by the Nassau County Museum of Art on Long Island in New York.  Colunga estimates the New York project will take him five years. He is working concurrently on nine large sculptures on the theme of Santeria that are destined for Havana, Cuba.

Scandal surrounds First Lady’s children from prior marriage
Mexico’s hottest scandal is the sudden wealth of First Lady Marta Sahagun de Fox’s children from her first marriage. In a book by Argentine writer Olga Wornat, “Damned Chronicles from Devastated Mexico,” parts of which have been excerpted by investigative magazine Proceso, the author alleges influence peddling by the Sahagun offspring.

Mexican currency on a roll
The peso strengthened to its best level against the dollar for 22 months June 22 as it closed the day at 10.76 to the dollar, its strongest level since August 15, 2003.