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MEXICO: Tepito

Hans Fritz Cea gives us this description of Tepito, where Vicente Fox had breakfast with street children: "Whereas Tepito is poor relative to other areas in Mexico City, it is not one of the poorest. The average Tepiteño's income is probably higher or at least the same as median income in Mexico City. Rather than poor, Tepito is well known for being a "rough" neighborhood, being the center of all sorts of illegal activities, from drug trafficking to bootleg sales of electronic equipment. In fact, there was a recent clash between Tepito residents and the police that a friend told me paralyzed the whole city ." Juan Seale adds: "Tepito, the poor district where Vicente Fox had breakfast with street children, is one of the most traditional neighborhoods in Mexico City It is well known for several reasons, the most important probably being the many fighters (boxing) who in the past were raised and trained there and which have made it to world champions, a street market for smuggled and illegal goods which has existed for decades, its violent atmosphere and all kind of vicious people. Some say Cuauhtémoc Blanco, one of the most famous Mexican soccer players of the last years, was also born in Tepito. Although the area is very poor, conditions are not as bad as in other regions. Tepito is not far from the center of the city (not surprisingly if we consider its long history) and counts with running water, paved streets and utilities.Personally, the only time I have been mugged was when I had the brilliant idea of going alone to Tepito, a place I have tried to avoid since then! " Juan sends also an article from the Sunday, December 3 edition of Reforma describing the incredible violence which paralyzed much of Mexico City. Clearly Fox was being very brave risking his life to go into the roughest part of a rough capital. His fearlessness should impress Mexicans. Fox was sending a message that he was going to clean up Tepito and rescue the children from a life of crime. We fervently wish him success. The mafia which controls the area organized the following disturbances to tell him to keep out of their turf. At the same time the defeated political enemies of Fox undoubtedly encouraged the disturbances; the PRD city administration took a rather passive attitude. Seeing TV accounts of these disturbances, one can sympathize with the slogan heard especially in the north: "Do a good deed: kill a chilango!" Being from Guanajuato, Fox is not a chilango. Perhaps he will be forced to kill some chilangos. That would give student strikers and others a pretext to denounce him, an echo of the student demonstrations of 1968. May the best man win, and the best man is Vicente Fox. He and Zedillo, who gracefully stepped into the background, set a splendid example which all Mexican politicians should emulate. Will they?

Ronald Hilton - 12/03/00