Notes from Mexico Trip- Johnny Monsarrat Mexico Trip

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 18TH, 1999 – CHIAPAS (CONT.)

Other illegal things: -- human exploitation. Many hotels don't pay their workers enough. -- drugs -- prostitutes -- piratas -- exploitiation in the marketplace. One year ago, the Indians would take the bus into town to go to the marketplace. But they were not allowed into the marketplace. So mixed women would wait in the bus station, and force the Indians to sell their live animals cheap.

They are like wolves, inspecting pigs. "How much for your chicken?" 50 pesos. "You crazy? 20 pesos" They fight. "You crazy!" The Indians let the "ladies" take the pigs or chickens because the Indians are naive and don't know anything about the town. That practice has stopped nowadays and Indians go directly to the market.

We go to a 2nd coffeehouse, and Alfonso pays. He also pays for his cigarettes even though I volunteered to pay. Alfonso is strange, but I've decided that he's cool. He's been very outgoing and has given me little "stage plays" showing me how various scenarios would play out, without my having to prompt him. Phew. I've just made 73 pages of notes in 160 minutes.

One of my books says the Mayans are warlike. No. He says the Indians are not warlike today. The royal Mayans are long gone. They collapsed before the Spanish arrived. Today they are only farmers.

Do the Indians kill missionaries? Yes, but not today. Corruption at all levels, because Mexican government never pays their employees well. 50-60 pesos a day is not enough to survive, so he has to make his "mordidas", or "bites", which basically means bribes.

Tell me about bribes. Well, let's say you drive through a red light. The police stops you.

driver: "I didn't see it."

police: "Yes, but infraction. Must go to office and must pay a fine."

driver: "Don't do that. We can fix the trouble between us."

Alfonso says that whenever he sees a policeman come, he puts a bank note folded in a green folder. So when the policeman asks for his ID, Alfonso gives this to him.

police: "This photograph isn't very good. Do you have a more recent photograph?" (In other words, pay me more!)

Alfonso: No, man.

police: OK, I go away

The police watch very carefully for you to do something wrong. Even the federal police on the road will do this. If you brake and one of your brake lights doesn't come on, the police will come up behind you and stop you.

police: "What happened with your light? You know it is dangerous!"

driver: "I don't know what happened. They worked well when I started my trip." driver: "Come on man, give me a break. Come on man, I buy your cigarettes." And then the driver offers the policeman more money than the cigarettes are really worth.

police: "I don't smoke tobacco. I smoke vicios". So basically, the cigarettes are worth more so he wants more money.

Vicios is basically "pot", or any tetrrible vice. It's vicios when you drink a lot, or use some kind of drug. "I have the vicios for this", means an addiction. Sometimes when you offer a bribe to a policeman, he says police: Hey! Are you trying to corrupt me? I will take you to jail." (this of course is just a tactic to get more money from you.)

,p>driver: No! Be friendly, I will give you some more.

Alfonso says "It's funny, but the Mexican people allow this bribery."

Rich people at the high level receive corruption. If a Mexican wants to start a tobacco factory, the government says "No, we don't want any more tobacco factories." So the rich person says, "OK, I give you money."

It's no longer seen today, but graffiti used to say "La solucion somos todos. La corrupcion somos todos." This is funny because 12 years ago, President Brutijo had a government slogan "the solution to our problems is everyone", so the joke goes "the corruption is everyone". The graffiti today is usually "Viva Marcos" or "Viva EZLN" "nosotros los pobres no tenemos que perder solo las cadenas" means "we poor people have nothing to lose, only the chains".

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