Notes from Mexico Trip- Johnny Monsarrat Mexico Trip

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17TH, 1999 – CHIAPAS (CONT.)

There has been a great influx of Indians to San Cristobal because of job opportunities: restaurants and hotels for the tourists. Maids: more Indians than coletos. Secretaries: coletos only, or Indians with schooling.

I ask, what if the biotech center was doing something like cloning, which may be unethical? My guide says that the people just want jobs, they'd be likely to put up with unethical behavior. Many of them might not really understand it. They might think it's strange.

They do have abortion in Chiapas, and they have abortion bombers just like in the USA. Perhaps the abortion bombers would attack the new biotech laboratory. Usually, crazies here in Mexico use bombs. Chiapas does have one University, but its departments are spread throughout the state. Tuxtla has the Medicine department & architecture. San Cristobal has the law & social sciences.

Where around San Cristobal could this big biotech laboratory be built? Maybe 12 big buildings. He says, how about between Huixtan and San Cristobal? It's near the brand new airport, and near the military base (for protection), but not too far from San Cristobal, where all the workers would live. Also, the land is a little flat there.

Most Indians want to leave their village and get a job. Usually people live with their parents -- building a house is no problem, but getting land is a big problem. Usually if an Indian has the opportunity to go outside the village and get a job, he goes.

I've made up a character, "Juanita", who grew up in the villages, but goes to University, and becomes a biologist. What kind of person might Juanita be? Well, if they have land -- if they're traders -- then they might be able to afford it. But if they're selling handcrafts, it would be impossible. Possibly Juanita leaves at 16 and goes to the city to get a job as a waitress or maid. She would be a very, very smart person. Competitive. Perhaps Juanita's sister is jealous.

The family would be grateful for the money Juanita sends home. The family would not resent being given money like this. Probably the parents would come to live with Juanita in the city. Juanita would be studying at the same time she's working (at 16 years old). Why doesn't the sister leave, too? Maybe she's afraid to go out.

Why would someone NOT leave the village? Well, possibly if they have much social power, they'd want to stay in the village, the social being more important than money. For example, those women in Zincantan (one named Pasquale) doing embroidery have a social life in the town. They know many tour guides and have been in cultural magazines, so they have social importance.

Three months ago, Pasquale's family (P) got in trouble with another family (Q). Some tour guide (TG) wanted to marry a girl (G) from family Q. TG told the government that P would give him 1000 pesos to take G away, out of the city, so that P could get "social status", because G was a rival. This was a lie, but P got in trouble anyway, and P's brother went to jail for that. P called a friend in government, who sent a lawyer from Tuxtla.

These Indian families also fight over tour guides, because if you make friends with a tour guide, he will bring tourists right to your home and you make money. Sometimes they will bribe the guides with a gift like brandy or soft drinks. Once my tour guide was being "seduced" by a family, and he went to one of the town festivals. They were angry, saying "Why didn't you tell us you were coming to the festival? We would have made you a good meal and taken special care of you?" Loyalty is very important.

The Zapatistas would try to shut down a new biotech lab, because it would not be acceptable, it would change the culture. But mixed-race people would like the lab, "We can get jobs". Coletos don't have an Indian culture to be destroyed, so they don't care. The Zapatistas would do something violent to the lab, like try to blow it up or take it over. Usually in Mexico conflicts are open, not hidden. So violence, not espionage.

The Mexican FBI is "PGR" : Procuraduria General de la Republica" They investigate drugs, etc. Also military police, that "RCM" guy I saw, is in the army. Also La Policia Municipal, the town's police.

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