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MEXICO: The Bulls and the Pols

Many religious customs which are dying out in Spain are alive in Mexico. So is that very Spanish "sport", bullfighting. Blasco Ibañez novel Sangre y arena expressed the growing distaste for bull fighting among educated Spaniards, but I know of no similar movement in Mexico. The lead story on Mexican TV news yesterday concerned a bullfight marking the centenary (?) of the Mexico City bullring, "the largest in the world". It was enlivened by a bull which jumped over the barricade and threatened the front row of spectators. That didn't save the poor beast.

Second place was given to a more important anniversary, that of the signing in Quéretaro of the 1917 constitution. In the past the ceremony was held in that historic city, but this year President Fox staged it in Mexico City's main auditorium, suggesting a break with tradition. Indeed, he used the occasion to propose rewriting the constitution, carefully pointing out that the state and education who remain laic. He does not want to be accused of being a tool of the Church.

Mexican politics is unique in that it features a peculiar brand of humor which often escapes me. As Subcomandante Marcos approached Mexico City, Televisa sent a well-known comedian to interview him, in the process making Marcos look silly. Another comedian, known for his grotesque way of speaking, tried to do the same with a phone call to Fox, who was at his ranch near Guanajuato. For outsmarted him by suggesting that they change roles, with Fox speaking like the comedian and vice-versa. Both performed splendidly, and the result was a funny show. Mexicans must have loved it, and Fox' popularity must have soared.

Ronald Hilton - 02/06/01