Back to Index

MEXICO: Social development and Jose Sarukhan

Josť Sarukhan is a WAIS Fellow. An ecologist trained in Great Britain, he recently spent a year at Stanford. A Professor at the National University of Mexico (UNAM) and a former rector (president) of it, he played an important role in the devastating strike at the University, trying in vain to reason with the strikers. We felt a deep sympathy for him as we grieved over the crisis. Now President Fox has appointed him head of the Commission for Social Development, an important job in view of Fox' determination to raise the living standards of the Mexican people. Presumably Sarukhan will now have no time for teaching.

The eruption of Popocatepetl volcano presented Fox with a major problem, which he handled decisively, meeting first with experts and then with the leaders of the states affected at San Pedro de Cholula, close to the University of the Americas, which got a front-row seat at the fiery show. As an ecologist, Sarukhan should be able to give excellent advice.

It is too early to say how the UNAM situation will evolve. A sign of the times is that the University of Campeche is starting a course on human sexuality, of which the tragedy at the Lobohomo nightclub was a lurid example. The case of Gloria Trevi and two others held in Brazil awaiting extradition to Mexico to face charges of corruption of minor girls has been a major news story in Mexico. It is not clear if this business in any way inspired the Campeche program. Curiously, in another very Catholic country, Chile, the government is carrying out a similar program, but with the apparent aim of ending taboos. The Catholic Church in both countries is treading gently and sadly. It is not clear whether "social development" includes this kind of thing. We trust that Josť Sarukhan has got a job description. We wish him every success in his important task.

Ronald Hilton - 12/19/00