Regreso al Futuro

Around Mexico City there are a number of old glass and steel buildings, put up in the 50’s and 60’s. The most famous being the iconic Torre Latinoamericana, a major landmark in the city, which was finished in 1956. The metalwork looks weather beaten and scratched, the glass is stained and dull with age. But it has a presence, as do the other steel and glass buildings. It has a feeling of solidity, having survived several massive earthquakes relatively unscathed. It harks back to an age gone by. To an forthcoming new era of prosperity and stability. It has stood and seen the comings and goings of numerous presidents, Rivera and (nearly!) Kahlo and many other makers and shakers. The building in my photo is, I suspect, much more recent. Or has had a good facelift.

I’ve read a few books, old books, telling of life in Mexico City in that decade. My favourite, despite its literary shortcomings, was a book called Mexican Jumping Bean, by Pepe Romero, probably published in the 50’s or soon after. It painted an enchanting picture of a lively art scene, life, inspired citizens going about their daily business. The 1960’s brought the Olympics and the 70’s and 80’s the World Cup, twice. Golden times indeed.

Of course, the past is always golden. The student massacre of ’68 is still spoke of in hushed and sorrowful terms, but it was so long ago. The economic crisis brought about by the December Mistake in the mid 90’s hurt, but it’s just so not ‘now’, when there is a current economic crisis to worry about. The fact that the effective dictatorship of the PRI party, lasting 70 years from Revolution till the end of the century, stifled democracy in the country is just so very yesterday. Perhaps it was, as it has been referred to, the ‘perfect dictatorship’.

It seems to me that Mexicans want those golden years back. I don’t blame them. The days gone by are always golden when compared to the troubles of the present, no matter how trifling the problems of the present are. Not that Mexico’s current problems are trifling, but still. Every student, friend and stranger I ask, tells me that the PRI will win the next election, probably with the present governor of the State of Mexico, Peña Nieto, as president. I am reasonably surprised at how much support they are getting. People who voted PAN (centre-right) and PRD (left) at the last election seem to have abandoned those parties en masse. It would mark quite a comeback for PRI after their complete implosion and capitulation in the 2006 presidential election. But enough. I’m waffling.

7 thoughts on “Regreso al Futuro

  1. I think the PRI will win next time too. The level of ignorance in this country is astounding. It will be a cool day in Hell when I vote for those boys. The only bright spot I can think of is that they may have learned a lesson over the past decade. I hope so. Also they have some new blood. Hope it´s not too tainted.

    Democracy, of course, is only as good as the educational level of the people. We lack that element, an educated people.

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    1. I was going to comment on how some people in the former Soviet states remember the golden age of Communism and want that back, or how some on Afghanistan want the Taliban back, seemingly forgetting that the activity they are doing whilst saying that would mean a death sentence under the Taliban.

      The examples would have had a point, but are perhaps a little too extreme to be fair. Well…far too extreme.

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  2. Apparently the Torre Latinoamericana has some fairly whiz-bang anti-earthquake technology, which was among the first of its era. It rests on pilings which are driven 33 meters into the subsoil below, and has been repeatedly proven a survivor through big earthquakes. It’s one of my favorite modern buildings in DF, and I like to think of it as Mexico’s Empire State Building.

    It remained the tallest building in Mexico City from the completion of its construction in 1956 until the Torre Mayor opened in 2004.

    Though it does look a little timeworn, it’s still a fabulous landmark. And it’s a great place to see a nice view of the city, especially pleasant in the summer with the cool breeze up there.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, Ma
    Where we have only a couple of buildings that are taller, including pinnacle.

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  3. Dude if the PRI wins the Presidency I’m so leaving Mexico. It would defeat all my hopes. Felipe Zapata echoes Carlos Salinas (the last all-mighty PRI president) when he says that “Democracy, of course, is only as good as the educational level of the people. We lack that element, an educated people”. Not necessarily so. India has been a democracy for a long time, its population is less educated than Mexico’s, and they are developing quickly (albeit they started out much poorer than Mexico). Alright take Brazil then, it’s also a less educated country than Mexico. Yet they’ve had very good governments (Cardoso and Lula).

    It doesn’t make sense to say that we can’t have a decent democracy once we are all educated, because the quality of education depends on the quality of government -which a function of democratic institutions.

    By the way Gary, it’s people everywhere who reminisce the past with nostalgia. Brits are nostalgic of the past, they think their country has gone wrong (check the recent article in The Economist).

    Cheers,

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    1. I think the word ‘educated’ is wrong, but you do need the population to be informed. With the television and newspaper coverage they are subjected to, I’m not sure the word informed applies to a majority of the Mexican population. However, I am tempted to say the same is the case in both the US and UK. Maybe to a lesser degree, and maybe to a lesser percentage of the population, but still….

      Brits tend to moan and whinge no end. Just ask any Australian. We’re not happy unless we’re ruling the world, and are thoroughly bitter to see anyone else occupying such a role. Myself excluded. I really don’t give a toss. I just know that the NHS is a treasure that not enough people in the UK fully appreciate.

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  4. Sorry – I meant to say that “It doesn’t make sense to say that we can’t have a decent democracy UNTIL we are all educated”, not ONCE.

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