Saturday, September 09, 2006


Nga invited us to her house for dinner tonight. I'd been to that house three times before, when it was the house of other people, and every time I've been there it has rained. Tonight was no exception. The last few days have been rainy and cool with temperatures in the low seventies. This is part of the same system, I guess, that caused mudslides again in the central Mexican state of Puebla, yesterday, burying a highway and killing four travelers.* It's always interesting seeing these same houses filled with new people. Nga's house is in a dip in the mountain above us, and the view from her patio is very nice. Other times I have been to there it has been too cloudy and foggy at that altitude to see the surrounding mountains well, but tonight was an exception to this. Nga's patio is right underneath the giant M shape in the north face of Chipinque--a black monolith backed by the bright desert night. This is what Nga cooked for us: noodles and sticky rice, coconut milk curry, steamed vegetables, grilled shrimp and chicken. At the table, she passed around the rice paper and we rolled our own spring rolls with basil, cilantro, imported cucumbers, lettuce, those noodles, plus the shrimp or chicken depending on the type of food desired. She gave us a short tutorial that really encouraged us (I think I am the only guest with any previous experience doing this--thanks Toune!). She had also made a ginger sauce that was less sweet and more excellent that what I am used to in restaurants. There were seven of us total, and we each ate something like two hundred table-made spring rolls before we were told there was another course. So we kept eating. [Cavin]

Friday, September 08, 2006


I was going to open by verbally dancing around about how it rained all day yesterday (and drizzled off and on today), but now I read that mudslides have killed ten people in Durango.* After John swamped Baja, he broke apart and swirled southeast, causing flooding in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez (still reeling from its last flooding). I guess a remnant of this storm ended up loosening a mountainside in northern central México as well. In other news, don't forget about the multiple governments of México: Bush called* yesterday to congratulate both Calderón for winning, and Fox for governing, a great election here below the Rio! The president-elect is beginning to get his government in place, citing US immigration reform as his cause célèbre.* AMLO, on the other hand, is eagerly awaiting the ratification of his new constitution, I guess, although local Spanish language news sources indicate there are signs of his movement weakening. Is this because of the large annual military parade scheduled through his occupied territory along the capital's Zócalo and down its main street on September sixteenth? Maybe it's just not worth striving for second place: there is already a self-deployed people's government in Oaxaca City.* The APPO, noting long ago the disappearance of any law makers or enforcement in the state capital, went ahead and themselves declared the object of their complaint, governor Ulises Ruiz Ortíz, hereby ousted, and are currently busying themselves by reopening the city to tourists and regulating the state. Local businesses who have pledged to stop paying taxes to protest the unending larger protest no longer know who they are being civilly disobedient to. Now, if the cartels would also take over their nearby state capitals, then México could disintegrate into ten different countries overnight. [Cavin, Monterrey, Country of Leon.]

Thursday, September 07, 2006


In several statements beginning with his victor's speech yesterday, the newest head of Mexican government, Felipe Calderón, stressed the need to unify the politically-divided populous.* He has attempted to schedule talks with opposition protestors and said that he will be taking his time to carefully choose a cabinet representing all interests. Besides concern over the massive protest still vowing to cede from PRD México, Calderón has to deal with the fact that under a system with many parties and many candidates, he has nothing close to a majority of the population supporting him. In grizzlier news: a number of masked gunmen seized the Luz y Sombra strip club in Uruapan, Michoacán last night, fired their weapons into the air, and then proceeded to dump five human heads on he dance floor along with a note explaining the deaths as "divine justice."* These guys seem to be some kind of narcos, but latest reports indicate there has been no identification of the heads, nor has anyone found the remainder--the five bodies. We can really only speculate about the reasons behind the cryptic note. Michoacán has been a hotbed of narco violence of late. Michoacán is also the president-elect's home state, although I don't wish to intimate this brutal display has anything to do with him or his protestors. In our own home town last night, the head of the state investigation agency was killed** outside a museum, bringing the number of ranking law enforcement fatalities to two this year in San Pedro. Me? I am finally back on our own internet service for the first time since late Saturday night, and appreciating every minute of being able to sit in my own office to work, though I want to thank god for the internet loan last night. [Cavin]

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


The last few days have been rough, internetwise. I don't know if it is all of the neighborhood construction work or the tropical storms in every direction, but it has been a real pain getting online. The cable service we use works fine on the TV, but in here on the laptop it is coming and going rapidly, sometimes fading several times a minute. I can tell when it is "working" using the broadband phone: if there is a dial tone, I try to load a webpage. Seconds later the dial tone will be gone, and ten minutes later maybe the page has loaded, and maybe it hasn't. Aye-yi-yi, it's playing hell with my ability to keep in touch, read news, and do the little things I like to daily do. In Sunshine's office, she can sometimes receive a faint unencrypted signal from another source. I dowsed around and found some places in the house where that source seems a little stronger. I think it is coming from the ugly church across the road. My cable is mostly broken but god can still surf web. I don't care: I'll gladly steal what I can get, even from a church. Right now this little civil disobedience is working pretty well, and I am reporting from the stairwell. For the first time in days, I am able to check out the news: flying in the face of public preference for a twist-ending today, the Mexican federal electoral judiciary voted to overturn any contention of voter fraud during the July election, and certify the official count that has Felipe Calderón winning the presidency by a six percent lead over Andrés Manuel Lopéz Obrador. This officially and legally names Calderon president-elect to be sworn into office on December first of this year.* [Cavin]

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


The next page in the ongoing and escalating saga of the Mexican Federal Election will be turned tomorrow: the supposedly neutral federal judiciary in charge of the official decision-making will probably announce its will tomorrow.* They legally have until Wednesday, but this will be their last session to decide what to do about whatever protests have been formally brought forth, and since they have rejected outright most complaints so far, it is generally assumed that they will announce Felipe Calderón as the president-elect one day early. This will probably just raise the pitch of protests on the streets in México City, and fuel the fires of opposition candidate AMLO's contention that México should have an alternate government that he, of course, should run. This can in no way end well at this point. Eventually, federal troops will have to put this movement down in the name of common interest and justifiable peacekeeping, and that will hearken back to many unhealed instances of totalitarian rebuke that have played out in this city throughout México's sordid political history. But in México City, business leaders are struggling under the strangling effect of this protest, holding a complicit city government and AMLO's party, the PRD, responsible for 369 million US dollars in revenue loss over the last two months. If this was 1850, we'd have a scary revolution on our hands, even if the military was backing the protest now; but as it is, in this modern world, this working man's movement has no hope against the tanks and armored legions of any real pressure from the Fed to remove them. And yet they are not responding to any saber-rattling, either. I am afraid that it will get pretty ugly from here till the swearing-in on December first. [Cavin]

Monday, September 04, 2006


During a bolster in momentum after Friday's victory over the powers that be, presidential candidate Andrés Manuel Lopéz Obrador (AMLO) is making big noises about declaring himself the next president and authoring a new constitution for México.* Friday the PRD, ALMO's party, created a calamity on stage at the Informe, or yearly state of the union address, preventing Fox's last chance to address the congress during his six-year presidency. PRD lawmakers sympathetic to ALMO's cause have announced the plan to do the same on December first, preventing Fox's ostensible successor, Felipe Calderón, from being sworn into office. Side note: in the article cited above, the Herald Tribune has transposed AMLO's first two names, probably accidentally, making his initials MALO, which means "bad man" in Spanish. Fox, for his part, after leaving the chaotic scene at the congressional building, hopped a plane to hurricane-devastated Baja California,* where John has weakened into a smallish tropical storm and continues pounding towns with massive amounts of rain. As John hit land and beat a path straight up the single-highway strip of the Baja peninsula Friday, he washed houses away, flooded fifteen towns, and closed all escape routes. There have been no reported fatalities. Emergency supplies are being delivered via helicopter.* Now the violence: since always, and also since the arrest of Tijuana Cartel's Javier Arellano Felix, drug killings have increased, not in border states near Tijuana, but in the south central Mexican state of Michoacán.* Why? Maybe because of power vacuums and supply issues near the Sinaloa Cartel's hometown of Mazatlán, maybe because enforcers are watching what's happening in México City and Oaxaca; I don't really know. I don't think that the current police crackdown* on Guatemalan heroin farmers is going to help matters any, though. At least not in western México. [Cavin]

Sunday, September 03, 2006


Recently a new museum opened in the capital building at the end of Monterrey's impressive Grand Plaza. It is a municipal history museum, and I imagine it's filled with old photos from when Monterrey was a dusty little waypoint surrounded by agricultural fields and livestock pastures. Sunshine attended the lecture-ridden opening night celebration with bigwigs like the Governor. I stayed home because I had just seen the governor the previous night at the MARCO. When Sunshine returned, we decided to order a pizza: it was late and cooking would've been an evil sink of time and energy. Sunshine called Big Slice, always exciting because we never know what language we'll need to use (Gianna is Italian Canadian, maybe, and speaks French, Italian, Greek, German and English; other telephone answerers speak whatever's left), plus giving directions here is difficult even after regularly doing it over the last twenty months. The pizza always shows up in a taxi because while Big Slice delivers, it employs no drivers. This costs an extra two, three bucks on top of the pizza price. That night, when the cabbie rang, I was already compiling small bills and change--cabbies can rarely break a big bill. I noticed that his cab was gliding down the road as he walked up the walk. I thought it was being driven, but it wasn't. Luckily, the faded blue pickup it hit was just as proletarian as the cab, and not one of the prissily maintained SUVs crammed nose to ass up and down the street: one of those things would have gone off in a noisy, flashing, beeping fit the second it was touched. And then there would have been police called even if, as was the case, there was absolutely no damage (except some cabbie pride). [Cavin]