Other Discussions on Mexico

Mexican Censorship

The late Wilbur Schramm conducted an important project (in which I participated) out of which came the volume One Day in the World's Press. The front pages of fourteen of the world's leading newspapers of November 2, 1956 were reprinted in translation. The day was chosen because it was marked by the uprising in Hungary and the attack on the Suez Canal. How did the newspapers treat the two events? Even the location of the key articles on the page was considered.

Today, August 28, 1998, a similar exercise could be carried out with regard to TV news. Most Western TV concentrated on the collapse of the Russian economy and its impact on stock exchanges. Instead, Mexican TV, which had been running a series on "The Culture of Crime" in Mexico City, hailed rather halfheartedly the launching of the official "Crusade against Crime and Delinquency." Interior Minister Francisco Labastida Ochoa spoke evasively in unconvincing platitudes. He shares responsibility with the governor of Mexico City, Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, who did not speak; the resignation of three of his ministers suggested that he was even more impotent.

Recent Mexican newscasts have featured pictures of the notorious kidnapper Daniel Arizmendi, finally in police custody. His trademark was that he cut off his victims' ears and sent them to their relatives with demands for ransom. He and the gang-members captured with him seemed like subhuman brutes. He was a former police officer, and demands for a purge of the police clearly caused the official embarrassment.

Mexico City, reportedly the world's most populated, is the prime example of urban disease. Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital, was on an island in a lake, connected to the shore by causeways. It could have developed like a Swiss lakeside town. Instead, the Spaniards drained the lake, whose soggy bed now supports most of Mexico City, with a host of negative consequences. There seems to be no hope of reversing the situation. The crowded city breeds crime.

All the large cities of the world have similar problems. They are unhealthy excrescences The long-term aim of humanity must be to cut them down to size.

Ronald Hilton, 08/28/98