Monthly Archives: June 2010

The Bicentennial Page

June 30, 2010

The Bicentennial Page

Today I did not write a new entry for this blog. Instead I used my time to gather the 13 Bicentennial articles together  into one comprehensive narrative. Now  you can find all the information in one place and in chronollogical order. Click on the “Bicentennial”  catagory,  located right under the WRITING FROM MERIDA heading.

I’m sorry the pictures and text are not perfectly aligned but the technical aspects of blogging are still challenging to me. However… the information is all there and I hope it’s somehow useful to you!

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Santa Elena – Onward and Upward!

June 30, 2010

Santa Elena – Onward and Upward!

Don Felix, Santa Elena’s shaman

On Monday, I drove a group of  Santa Elena Sustainable Economic Development Project supporters straight through Tropical Storm Alex! Navigating the torrential rain was a nightmare but our spirits lifted immediately once we arrived in the town.

In the midst of heavy deluge and flooding, the residents of Santa Elena were optomistic and happy. They have a dynamic new mayor with great plans for their town. They are also beginning to truly believe their talent is going to help them improve their income and enable them to continue living in their community.

Besides the opportunity to meet the new mayor, Mr. Wilberth Che Leon and his team; Beth, Nancy, Theresa, Valerie and I were honored to judge the handcraft contest. The fifty women who participated in a fabric painting course that had been sponsored by the State government were displaying what they had made.

Underneath the makeshift, tin roofed “classroom” it looked like a garden in bloom with brightly colored flowers! How difficult it was to choose … but eventually we managed to narrow down to the three winners. We were very careful to point out that all the pieces were exceptional and that each woman should be very proud of her skill.

Next Wednesday, Rosa, Elizabeth and Abel will be coming to Merida with Valerie and we’ll go shopping for the materials they need in order to create an inventory for the next winter season’s visitors to the town. The precious pesos  we require to buy fabric, thread, buttons and so on have been donated by extremely generous private donors. We are very grateful to them for coming to the project’s aid when the grant we hoped for did not materialize.

After our shopping expedition we will take our three Santa Elena friends to lunch at Las Vigas. If you’d like to join us and meet Rosa, Elizabeth and Abel, come by the restaurant about 1 pm.

We are so heartened to see how much the project is progressing. Click on this link and enjoy the photographs taken by Beth Knepp. They show much more than more of my words ever could.

santa elena powerpoint



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Bicentennial XII

 June 29, 2010

Bicentennial XII

This is the last in a twelve part series on Mexico’s Bicentennial. We have looked at the history of the country from the beginning of the Independence movement, the years of the Hapsburg monarchy through the Revolution 100 years later to the Agrarian Reform and the long 75 year reign of the PRI. In 2000, Vicente Fox, a member of the PAN was elected president

Vicente Fox’s presidency ended in disappointment and the election of a new PAN (Partido de Acción Nacional) President in 2006 was tarnished with accusations of election fraud. Whether the current political situation is a natural consequence of many years of enforced PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional) party rule has not been determined. One thing is certain though; Mexicans in general and Yucatecans in particular, are much more involved in the election process. There has been an increase in political awareness and the hope is for a continuation of the democratic process.

In October 2006 US President George W Bush signed legislation to build 1,125 km of fencing along the US-Mexico border. Mexico condemned plans for the barrier, which was intended to curb illegal immigration.

Again, the trial against former president Luis Echeveria was suspended – probably forever this time…

Heavy rains flooded the state of Tabasco in October. Some 500,000 were left homeless in one of the country’s worst natural disasters.

 Drug-related killings continued to soar. Murders linked to organized crime leapt to almost 1,400 in first five months of 2007. Hundreds of thousands joined marches throughout Mexico to protest against continuing wave of violence.

Faced with drop in Mexican oil production, the government passed series of energy reforms. The package included controversial plans to allow private investment in state oil giant Pemex.

 Already in the first decade of the new millennium, hurricanes have done much damage in the Yucatan peninsula. On Sept. 23, 2002, Hurricane Isadora was particularly destructive to Merida. In 2005, Emily, Katrina, and Wilma veered north and Yucatan was spared but Cancun was not so lucky. The destruction from Wilma was extensive and so the 50,000 tourists who were in the area were bused to Merida. The city’s authorities, business sector and private citizens did a heroic job of looking after the unexpected throng and within three days, everyone was on their way back home.

Yet in the face of the continued struggle, the Mexican people always find something to renew their energy and optimism… such as the designation of the Mayan archaeological site, Chichen Itza, as one of the seven new wonders of the world.

Since the mid 1970s, Mexico has experienced a succession of serious economic and social challenges, but because of tourism and the constant influx of capital, Yucatan has not suffered as greatly as have other parts of the republic. More than 2.5 million visitors come to the Yucatan peninsula every year. With Chichen Itza’s new fame, this is expected to increase. Investment in the region has grown in every sector of the economy, and improved infrastructure has enriched the quality of life for the inhabitants.

During the past twenty years, and especially during the last ten, Yucatan has experienced a large influx of new residents from abroad. The international press is full of unflattering portrayals of the country and truthfully, many issues are unresolved. But this has not deterred the influx. One wonders why…

I believe there is something very special and about this country. Despite the political and social ills, the population is basically generous and happy. Mexicans have the ability to fully enjoy life… Most who come here, even once can feel it and are lured back time and again. This explosive joy is the true milagro mexicano – the magical Mexican miracle.


Images: All are from Google Images


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