Saturday, July 14, 2007

LA PRENSA (the press)

My way of life in mexico seems to be so tightly meshed with the media, the press. Being a journalist in mexico is a different ballgame than in australia. In 2006, Mexico had the highest number of press killings after Iraq ... 2nd highest ranked press killer in the world! Since the year 2000, almost 40 journalists or reporters have been killed or 'disappeared'. A lot of this has to do with the problem of drug cartels throughout the country, with journalists getting caught in the cross fire. Severed heads have been hung outside newspaper offices and grenades left in press rooms.

I was really lucky to spend a number of weeks helping out the Mexican rep for the global network, Reporters Without Borders. Every week, or a few times a week, new incidinces of death threats, dead reporters or other suspicious events would come to light.

When Hugo Chavez in Venezuela closed Radio Caracas Television, a very old and established private TV station, about a month ago - it was HUGE in the press here. Features, front pagers etc. There were massive protests from all walks of society in Venezuela.
I was really against what Chavez was doing - the arbitrary nature of him shutting down this TV station was very shocking, and then he started spouting off at other media groups in venezuela, threatening them. Sure, RCTV is a private conglomerate, maybe its like Channel 9 is australia. Chavez hated it as it criticised his government.
But he went too far when he made a low dig at Reporters Without Borders and said that the organisation was supporting 'global economic imperialism', just because RSF had expressed concern over press freedom in venezuela. Keep your pants on Hugo! More and more, he seems like an outdated lost demagogue in my eyes. Seriously, get with it man.

Another funny thing about the press is that I was part of a report done by my friend on the Channel 11 news the other night, about the death penalty. He recorded me saying things about australia's and singapore's stance on the death penalty. The funny thing is that he also took footage for his 'file tape' on my comments on John Howard. I believe I said at some point that Howard was the puppy dog of George Bush. Holy cow, if that airs in the next few months when federico reports on the aussie election.... ASIO wont be happy!

And added to all this, I'm dating a journalist. Bloody hell, call me Lois Lane.

Innovative policies in Mexico City

This is a photo of Marcelo Ebrard, governor of the Federal District of Mexico City (he governs as many people as John Howard does), showing off the city government's new policy to reduce arms possession.

If you own a weapon in Mexico City, and you turn it into the authorities, they give you in exchange: an XBox player, a desktop computer or cash.

Cool, hey? This is Ebrard with the 1000th weapon that has been handed in.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

........And back to the Rat Race

30 mins to move 500 metres in a jam packed microbus, the speakers of the vehicle blaring with the blunt sound of a tuba and the repetition of a singer wailing for his lost woman.
Surrounded by men on all sides whose mothers never taught them not to stare at strangers. Whities with green eyes. Yes, get over it hombres. Just get over it.

How I am supposed to know that that place leads me to another microbus which leads me to the back of beyond? Could you please give me more directions that 'yeah, that one, over there?'.

Please dont push, let people get off the metro first before others get on. A man falls flat on his back on the metro platform as people clamber to get out. This hardly stops the pace as the streams of bodies keep climbing on.
I'm running late. man this city is stuffed up.

That's a morning.

But in other good news Mexico smashed Paraguay 6-0 in the quarter finals of the Copa America on Sunday night.

The Much-Anticipated Wedding in Acapulco

I have just come back from a wedding of luxury in Acapuclo, mexico's emerald pacific resort. It was the much anticipated wedding of Julio's best friend Eduardo. Julio was the 'Padrino' of alcohol.. that is to say, as the best man for the wedding he had to foot the bill for all the grog. They share the financial pain for all manner of extended family and friends here!

Acapulco has attracted a name of over-development, trash etc... but really it continues to be dazzlingly beautiful. The sort of place that has always been popular, and always will be. And avoids being the scummy gringo land that Cancun is.
As I sat under the stars on the beautiful bay of Acapulco, I was reminded a bit of Sydney - two gorgeous pieces of headland and a stunning harbour. Acapulco was the first of all mexican resorts, populated by Cary Grant, Errol Flynn, John Wayne and even JFK (we stayed where they stayed!). Now the foreigners seem to flock to Cancun or Los Cabos up north, while Acapulco still shines brightly.

Sure, there is tackiness and resort style cursive font written on every concreted surface, and Hooters and fast food overload... but all of this seems to be overcome by the stunning mountains that surround the bay, the dramatic views and the laid back people.

Beach weddings in Mexico have a lovely style to them - all the men wear light elegant white shirts and the women hold hand fans to their faces during the proceedings.

Endings, New beginnings and rebeginnings

Semester finished at the end of June with planeloads of exchange students going home to France, Canada and the USA.. tearful airport goodbyes, farewell parties and all of a sudden there was no uni, no exchange.
Now there is me, life in mexico, living 'like a mexican'. New friends, boyfriend, new internship, teaching english and scaling the city from top to bottom to give classes.
Early mornings and appointments and rushing to and forth and computer fatigue and LIFE... after what was in reality a 6 month holiday!

The short story of what I am up to:
I recently moved out of the wonderful community that was Atardecer en La Condesa, the restaurant and home that I lived in for 6 months, and I am currently living in the apartment of my friend Federico... but I will be moving back in with Mari, Jesus and everyone at the end of the summer!

I have started an internship at the Miguel Agustìn Pro Juarez Human Rights Centre ('Center Prodh', a really respected human rights NGO here. The internship is great - I am working in the international relations area, on international law stuff, preparing documents for international NGOs on the human rights situation in mexico. I decided to take this internship over Amnesty International Mexico... long story, but I decided that although Amnesty has the 'name', the office here was not able to offer me the knowledge and experience I was looking for at the moment. And Center Prodh is the only mexican Human Rights org with UN consultative status.
Anyway, sorry if this is all a bit short-handed, readers, but it comes on the back of many such explanatory emails. Just thought I better put an update here, for those of you who are wracking your brains trying to figure out what the hell I am doing!

Anyway, here are two good photos :
One of Jessie's last days at Atardecer, gathered around with the clan.

Goofing around with the latest gang of ragamuffins I have found myself with:
Julio, me, (behind)
Katleen and Carlos (in front)