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.