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Fate of Mexico City

     Whatever the merits of the Spanish colonial administration of Mexico, it permitted, even encouraged, a great urban tragedy: the filling of Lake Texcoco, where Mexico City now sinks. Before it had been a lake which might have been developed like the beautiful Swiss lakes. I have not seen a detailed study of this real estate development, but the fact that the government built the drainage canal is proof that the government connived in this speculation.
     Possibly the largest city on earth, it is slowly sinking, while the inadequate water supply, which comes from a distance, cannot be distributed properly because of broken pipes. Buildings threaten collapse. The crime-plagued city is becoming uninhabitable.
     Serious Mexicans are deeply concerned. There is a Green Party, advised by an engineer, Elvia Alva Roja, but it has little clout. At the Center for Latin American Studies at Cambridge University in England, Gloria Valek Valdés describes the capital as a city without a future. Or rather, a horrible one.
     It is now in status the equivalent of the other Mexican states, but the federal government still controls much of the budget. The mayor, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, has blamed President Ernesto Cedillo for preventing his increasing the city's debt to improve the water and sewage systems, but in fact, who would provide the credit for what would be a temporary soluion?
     The city has been a magnet for poor people from throughout central Mexico, but their lot is not improved, and they fall easy prey to rabble-rousers. People in the north of Mexico scorn Mexico City, people in the south hate it. The worst problem is that the city may collapse in chaos, which would spread to the rest of the country. The implications for the United States are enormous.

Ronald Hilton - 08/03/99