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Yucatan News: Interesting People


News Starting January 31, 2011

Now Open: Chemax La Casa del Medico Tradicional
Access to traditional medicine is now available on the grounds of the local hospital in Chemax. Practitioners work in a traditional Mayan building with lattice walls and a palapa roof. The building is equipped with bathrooms, furniture, and hammocks. We are so pleased to see that conventional medicine, at least in Yucatan, is now realizing not just that there is a place for traditional medicine, but that a partnership between conventional and traditional medicine is important to the overall health of the community. Currently, the Chemax La Casa del Medico Tradicional is available to assist patients with a variety of health issues, including pregnancy and even headaches. 

Meridano By Adoption: Juanes Juanes in Merida
Last weekend, Colombian singer Juanes came to Merida to perform in honor of the city’s new U.N. designation as one of the 100 Cities of Peace in the world. Needless to say, the love between Merida and Juanes flows in both directions and the Mayor had the honor of not only celebrating this new honor for Merida, but also of naming Juanes as an adopted Meridano and an Ambassador of Peace for our city. If you haven’t heard Juanes sing, you can hear Juanes here.

Crew Club Now Available to ExpatsYucatan Lots - beach lots at reasonable prices in the Yucatan Mexico
The City of Progreso has kindly made a meeting space, at the Crew Club, available to foreigners for their exclusive use on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM. This is being done on a trial basis. If we don’t use it, we’ll lose it. There is a pool, but no beverages or food are available for purchase there. However, guests are welcome to bring their own botanas, to have events catered, and to bring their own beverages/mixes (hard or soft). Directions: Driving: enter Progreso, driving North on C78 and turn left on C21. Cross C. 80 and into the driveway/gate just south of the beer store. From the AutoProgreso terminal: Exit the terminal and turn left. Turn left again at C80. Walk 3 blocks and turn left just before you get to the Beer Store. Check our Events page for all you need to know about this Friday’s Yolisto Meetup. It will be the first expat event at the Crew Club. We hope everyone will attend.

UADY Celebrates the Year of the Rabbit
Sunday, The Confucius Institute at UADY celebrated the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit, a year that signifies mercy, diplomacy, peace and elegance. The Confucius Institute at UADY is now 4 years old. It boasts about 100 students, 4 teachers and an academic director. The purpose of the Confucius Institute is to promote the Chinese culture and to teach Mandarin Chinese. Graduates of the Confucius Institute can look forward to a bright future in a variety of international business areas. Each year, there is a celebration and Chinese Expo at the beginning of the new year. In years past, the Confucius Institute has also held classes in Mandarin Chinese that are open to the public. We will certainly pass that information along when we hear about new classes. In the meantime, congratulations to the Confucius Institute for continuing to grow and provide new cultural and academic opportunities at UADY.

Local Facebook Incident Ends in Homecoming
Social networking sounds like such a benign term but, for an increasing number of the world’s families, social networking has become their worst nightmare. In September, a 16 year old girl in Merida met the boy of her dreams on Facebook. He began to woo her through Facebook, but her father took the computer away when he discovered that the boy was supposedly 24 years old. In response, the child trafficker simply deposited money to her cell phone account so they could continue what she believed to be their romantic relationship. Ultimately, he lured her away from home with promises of love and a good job in the U.S. Her journey north began on Dec. 7, when she flew to Mexico City instead of going to school. From there, she was taken to San Luis Potosi, where she was kept in a safe house with other children for 15 days. Then, she was taken across the border, on foot, to a gas station where she was picked up and taken to San Antonio. From San Antonio, she was delivered to a 47 year old pedophile in Nashville, Tennessee. The FBI and the Nashville Police finally rescued her on January 20. The Attorney General of Yucatan, Hector Cabrera Rivero, flew to Nashville to escort the teenager home. The world is very much smaller than it used to be. If there is a lesson to be learned here, it is that children’s activities must be religiously monitored on their computers, on their telephones, and anywhere else that predators might attempt to gain access to them.

Meridano Raúl Alejandro Escajadillo Peña: Who?Aleks Syntek
One of Merida’s own came home to Yucatan to perform in Valladolid this past weekend and it dawned on us that there are more than a few Yucatecos who are quite famous around the world, without people really being aware of where they were born or where they got their start in the music world. Perhaps people know this young man better by his stage name: Aleks Syntek… or by his accomplishments, which include: started performing music by the age of 6, was a popular children’s comedy TV star in the 80s (Chiquilladas), singer, musician, composer, and winner of a few little awards, such as: three Grammy award nominations, three Billboard awards, and two MTV award nominations. Preview this young man’s accomplishments on the Aleks Syntek website.

VW To Open New Plant in Guanajuato
Guanajuato has begun to see its share of the current difficulties in parts of Mexico, but a growing economy can stop that sort of thing in its tracks. This week, VW Mexico announced that it will build a $500 million peso manufacturing plant in Guanajuato. The new plant will provide 700 new jobs. According to cargroup.org, in the automobile manufacturing industry, each direct job has the potential to create up to 10 indirect jobs in the aftermarket. These jobs are in crash repair, mechanical parts, service parts, consumables and accessories, tires, and wear and tear parts – as well as additional jobs created in the local economy. Nothing creates peace like a stable economy and we certainly welcome the news that corporations around the world still feel that investing in Mexico is a wise decision.

Heather Spence: Sounds of the SeaHeather Spence in Yucatan
Heather Spence is just about the most interesting young person we can think of anywhere on the Yucatan Peninsula. She’s the Director of International Research and Outreach for the Comision Nacional de Areas Naturales Protegidas, Mexico. She’s a puppeteer who has also written a wonderful children’s activity book about marine life (in Spanish and English). She is the Director of the Marine and Bioacoustics Programs for Michelle’s Earth Foundation. She plays the cello, viola de gamba and piano. She sings and is a composer. She is also a PhD student in the Diana Reiss Lab at Hunter College (CUNY). What first caught our eye was that she is actually recording the sounds of marine animals off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. Then, we found her Guardians of the Reef program – complete with questions for school children to answer and the lovely activity book and pages she has freely provided on her website. Please visit Heather Spence’s website to find out more about this very special young lady and all that she is doing in her corner of the Yucatan Peninsula.  

GM Corn in Mexico: Not So Fast
When Mexico said it would allow genetically modified corn to be planted in Mexico, Monsanto evidently thought that all of the stops had been pulled out and they would be free to plant as much as they wanted. Mexico’s intention was an initial plot of 2 hectares so that the corn could be monitored to see if it posed a danger to indigenous varieties. Thank goodness for Mexico’s foresight! While many are concerned that genetically modified corn will somehow harm humans, we know that isn’t the real danger. The real danger is that GM corn is healthy and aggressive. It will soon overtake and smother native varieties around the world. When there is only one variety, human beings and food animals will be just one corn disease away from starvation. We hope that Mexico continues to move slowly on this issue, for the sake of people and animals everywhere.

Interesting Gun Numbers: A Bit of Perspective
One of the reasons we moved to Yucatan had to do, in large part, with the fact that gun ownership is not a cultural prescription here. We know that everyone has an opinion on this subject, and we don’t always agree. But it is good to know the facts. This week, we read an article that outlined the fact that applications for private gun ownership have rapidly increased since the current difficulties began. Although there are quite a few guns (well under 50,000) purchased by the military and private security firms every year, there are now about 6,000 requests for private gun ownership per year in Mexico. Of those 6,000 applications, only approximately 200 per year are approved. As of now, Mexico is a nation with a population of approximately 112 million people, with 2.3 million legal guns in private hands. Compare this to the United States, with a population of approximately 310 million people and, according to the FBI, approximately 200 million guns in private hands.


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10 Responses to “Yucatan News: Interesting People”

  1. Just a quick comment about VW’s expanding investments in Mexico: Anyone who buys the panic-mongering that “Mexico is a failed state” (or about to become one) would be hard pressed to explain why solid, practical, deliberate companies like Volkswagen would be investing half a BILLION dollars in a “failed state.”

    There is so much fear in the USA these days. The media sells the fear and the people lap it all up and repeat it. Reality, dear friends, is much different than what is being shown on the network news, the tabloid-style cable news (any of them), or even the popular press.

    Mexico is on firm ground. The USA, with less than 3% of the world’s population, locks up 25% of the entire world’s prisoners. One of today’s news stories is how hard-liners on crime are also hard-liners on budget. And now the budget is biting at the enormous prison populations that have been created out of all proportion to reality. What will hard-liners do? Keep the prison populations high? Or blow the budget?

    And it is all based on irrational fear. As long as you are afraid, you’ll do what they tell you, right? Because “staying safe” is more important than your rights, your intellect, your humanity, your culture or your values…. more important even than reality.

    So, forget the baloney that the media feeds you about Mexico, particularly if it involves Yucatan. A $500 million dollar investment tells you something about reality.

  2. If there were more legal guns in Mexico, it might be safer especially when they are allowed to be carried. Criminals don’t like it if they might get shot. As it is now, they only have to worry about getting hit with a machete if they break in. The police are usually either slow show or no show so it would give us another way to protect ourselves.

  3. Saved, I love your blog! :)

  4. Not to be too picky, but the VW investment was quoted in pesos, not dollars. The investment is just under 42 million dollars… (quite a nice sum) not a half billion!!

  5. Thanks, Jan. Good point! :-)

  6. Jan, You are right about this article. This is one of those cases, I feel, where the decision is explanatory, not necessarily dependent on the amount.

    Who would risk $42 million dollars (on top of other investments in the many millions) on a “failing state”?

    At the same time, the amount is being widely reported as $550 million US: (MaquilaPortal, Jan 31, 2011) (El Universal: “La fábrica, con una inversión de 550 millones de dólares,”) (VW Corporate Public Relations: “building the new plant runs at 550 million USD {400 million euros}. Volkswagen will be creating approximately 700 new jobs”).

    As announced in 2009 and continuing through with their plan to this day, VW is investing $1 BILLION US in Mexican manufacturing complexes. (Reuters, July 14, 2009) The latest step is a substantial part of that continuing $1 billion expansion. Their plant in Puebla is one of the largest they own. Rather than cutting back, they are expanding and expanding, in Puebla and in new plants.

    Still, it really isn’t the money. It really is the decision of such a major global manufacturer to show such massive confidence in Mexico that reveals the lie that “Mexico is a failed(ing) state.” It most certainly is not.

  7. The investment by large companies will only make a difference if the wages they intend to pay are reflective of the work and expertise…not in Mexico because labor is cheap and employment standards low to non-existent… Selling drugs will continue to be “the work of choice”….

  8. Just for clarification – the Mexican wages paid by large companies, especially in the automobile industry, are significantly higher than “minimum wage.” It might also be noted that, for many many years, the vocational schools in Mexico have consistently turned out some of the best technicians in the world. They are greatly valued employees in Mexico, as well as in the international marketplace. Selling drugs has never been “the work of choice” for the Mexican people and that sort of thing falls by the wayside in areas where good employment options are available.

  9. The phrase “selling drugs will …be the work of choice” let alone “continue” is saying that Mexican citizens prefer to be drug dealers over other ways of earning a living.

    Yet, when I look around Merida and Yucatan, i see people involved in every possible endeavor under the sun: auto repair, store clerks, carpenters, stone masons, street sweepers (the old fashioned way – with a broom), lawyers, beauticians, professors, waitresses, bartenders, chefs, taxi drivers, teachers, social workers, archeologists, electricians, glass cutters, tile makers and tile layers, factory workers sewing jeans and many other things…. the list is endless.

    Have all these folks missed the news? Why aren’t they lurking around in the dead of night hawking drugs? Why aren’t they spending their days carting drugs?

    Why are they working in the hot sun 10 hours a day? Working in noisy factories? Why are they not selling drugs?

    “Selling drugs” is not “Mexicans” “work of choice” and never has been. That is a slur upon all the decent, honest, kind, and yes, hard-working Mexicans who continue to be upstanding citizens in spite of the lucrative short-term gain to be had from servicing the drug demand of the United States.

  10. Chris – When I first came to Yucatan, the people were a wonder to me. They were all in school… ALL of em! Its 15-ish years later and its still the same. Watch when the workday is over. The streets and busses are FULL of people with school books of one kind or another. … and this is after working a full day at their JOBs !!! I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere else in the world. I think Yucatan runs on “accomplishment,” rather than on money. Selling drugs would be quick money that has no chance of lasting. Accomplishment, on the other hand, brings quality of life and wealth for a lifetime.

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