Pubdate: Fri, 16 Feb 2007
Source: Port Hope Evening Guide (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007 Port Hope Evening Guide
Author: Allan Fotheringham


CUERNAVACA, Mexico - Despite the 84 degrees F., despite the delights 
of the swimming pool, there is trouble in paradise.

It's hard to complain from this pleasant town of some one million, at 
5,000 feet high between Mexico City and the lush resort of Acapulco 
on the Pacific shore, once the retreat of all the Hollywood stars.

It's where Hernando Cortes, the Spanish explorer, selected for his 
palace. That's after his fleet of 11 ships crossed the Atlantic, 
following one Christopher Columbus who, as we know, discovered the 
Caribbean islands in 1492.

Cortes, having conquered Cuba, reached the shores of Mexico, then the 
capital of the Western World, with 400 men and 17 horses. It was Nov. 
18, 1519. He was just 24 years of age.

He faced off in Mexico City with the Aztec king, Montezuma, who taken 
hostage was dead within a year. Cortes's forces killed some 15,000 
native Indians in their sweep across the length of Mexico in search 
of that fabled gold, supposedly hidden in the mountains.

His palace here is now a museum, filled with stunning murals - 
revenge is the best dessert - by Mexico's finest artists throughout history.

So much for yesterday's bad guys. Today, we have larger problems, a 
lovely country trapped between two conflicts between supply and 
demand the United States to the north and South America to the south.

One countrysupposedly the most sophisticated realm on the globehas an 
insatiable demand for drugs. Poor nations down south grow the stuff 
and feed their economies on it. Innocent Mexico is the conduit to 
smuggle the junk into the Yankee mouths. Or noses. Wherever it goes.

Last week, in a story that pushed even Anna Nicole Smith off the 
frontpage headlines, eight guys dressed in military uniforms walked 
in brazen daylight into the office of police investigators in 
Acapulco and asked if those inside had any weapons and would they 
hand them over.

Request obliged, they then shot and killed five police and two female 
secretaries. They were seen later, dumping their fake uniforms and 
fleeing, wearing T-shirts and shorts.

In another situation, two women got caught in the crossfire and were 
shot in the legs in their hotel lobby. And then there is the Canadian 
boy who was killed in front of a disco nightclub. (The Mexicans have 
another version).

This was just after newly elected President Felipe Calderon had sent 
7,000 troops into the Acapulco area in an attempt to calm the wars 
between the Sinaloa and Gulf drug cartels, both of which have tried 
to corrupt local police.

The problem, as always, is the porous Mexican-U.S. border, where all 
the cocaine from Colombia makes its way to California and Arizona and 
thence beyond.

The solution? Dubya Bush thought he had it, with a threat to erect an 
electrified fence across his entire southern borderaccompanied (post 
9/11) to put heavily armed patrol boats to guard the American side of 
the Great Lakes from the suspicious Canadians. A goofy idea that 
thankfully was quickly shot down by innocent boaters and fishermen.

The problem, says Gabriel Padilla Maya, is that Americans don't like to work.

Gabriel, a friend of several years, is chief-ofstaff to Mexico's 
Minister of Agriculture, a handsome 36- year-old civil servant who 
has survived the transition from the disappointing reign of president 
Vicente Fox, the former head of Coca-Cola Mexico, who ran out of gas 
in his six-year term.

What Gabriel means is that the reason there are 10 million illegal 
Mexican immigrants in California is that the Californians don't want 
to cut their own lawns, or pick up the garbage, or do the junk jobs 
in hamburger joints for little payfar more than the Mexicans could 
earn at home.

Mexico, for all its charms, has a strange problem. By its 
constitution, each president is allowed only one six year term. Which 
has resulted in there not being a president until now who has not 
been a millionaire on leaving.

Which is why the countryuntil 2000was ruled by one party (somewhat 
like our dear Liberals) for 70 consecutive years, the strangely named 
PRI, as in People's Revolutionary.

New President Calderon, slightly to the Left, was elected very 
narrowly. And now the police are shooting the police. Good luck, amigo.
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MAP posted-by: Elaine