July 2003

July 30th, 2003

Rodolfo is a “born promoter”, says Fox

Rodolfo Elizondo Torres, President Vicente Fox’s press secretary for eighteen months, was named Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism on Tuesday, the first significant changes in the president’s administration since his party suffered setbacks in mid-term congressional elections on 6th July.

Elizondo, who is 57 and from the northern state of Durango, replaces former Tourism Secretary Leticia Navarro Ochoa, 49, who resigned from her post after three years citing personal reasons, although she has expressed a keenness to return to the private sector. Navarro’s natural and lively conversational style always impressed me. Her successor is a politician who seems likely to give fresh impetus to the relaxing of gaming laws and dormant casinos in places like Tijuana, Acapulco and Cancún. Legal gambling in Mexico effectively ceased in 1934 under revered President Lázaro Cárdenas.

Elizondo, who is a close aide of President Fox having helped coordinate his presidential campaign, plans to take most of his staff with him. This would be disappointing – though not surprising – and would deepen my conviction that the lack of continuity slows progress and makes the media’s job – my job – of promoting Mexico that little bit harder.

Filed in Uncategorized

July 28th, 2003

Exhibition: Enrique Metinides

Murder, suicide, earthquake, arson, car smashes… steel yourself for a very Mexican view of death and misfortune before heading for the Enrique Metinides retrospective at the Photographers’ Gallery in London. Metinides – now almost 70 – captured all these events for the Mexican tabloid La Prensa, and his pictures appeared in La Nota Roja – or “Bloody News”. (The most notorious tabloid of them all is El Alarma ["the Alarm"], which I squeamishly skimmed through only once at a magazine stall.)

I’m yet to see the exhibition for myself, but read the recent flurry of reviews with interest: Metinides found “humanity in catastrophe”, says Adrian Searle in The Guardian , while in The Observer last Sunday, Sean O’Hagan writes that Metinides “shows us something of what death is like: the randomness, the absurdity even, the awful humour”. Polly Corrigan ponders for The Telegraph: “…in the British media we seldom see images of the dead, even during a war. Not so in Mexico.”

There is a programme of talks and events during the exhibition, the photograper’s first in Europe, which runs until 7th September.

Filed in Exhibitions in the UK

July 23rd, 2003

Red Devils -vs- Las Águilas

In a rare British-Mexican football head-to-head, Manchester United take on Televisa-backed Club America – Mexico’s richest and most successful club side – in Los Angeles on Sunday as part of the English Premiership champions’ US Tour.

Filed in Uncategorized

July 18th, 2003

Guelaguetza 2003

Guelaguetza 2002The streets of Oaxaca will be the place to be next week. The Guelaguetza – also known as Lunes del Cerro (“Mondays of the Hill”) is a wonderful spectacle of music and dance, and one of the most colourful celebrations in the Americas. As always, this year’s festivities take place on consecutive Mondays – 21st and 28th July.
Photo: courtesy Ron Mader

Filed in Guelaguetza, Oaxaca City

Goodbye Celia…

Celia Cruz obituary - The Guardian.

Filed in Uncategorized

July 17th, 2003

‘Queen of Salsa’ dies

The Cuban-born singer and multiple Grammy winner Celia Cruz has died at her home in New Jersey at the age of 78 the BBC reports. The salsa legend’s family had been upset earlier this month after radio stations in Miami falsely reported Cruz’s death following surgery to remove a brain tumor.

Her death comes just three days after Compay Segundo died in Havana at the age of 95, whom Ry Cooder recalls in an interview in today’s edition of The Guardian.

Filed in Uncategorized

July 16th, 2003

Horses fuel beach clean up

Following our coverage last Easter surrounding the national debate on beach cleanliness, the Environmental News Network reports an interesting new beach fashion trend in the Pacific state of Baja California. Beachside entrepreneurs who rent horses for jaunts along Rosarito beach are dressing the animals in ‘nappies’ (diapers, if you prefer) in an effort to cut down on beach pollution.

The horses can usually be hired from in front of the Rosarito Beach Hotel, which dates back to 1926. The article quotes Roberto Machado, who has rented horses on the beach for 23 years, who estimates that one horse produces about 26 kilos (57 pounds) of manure each day. Rather questionably, astute local businesses pay for the ‘sacks’ to have their business name splashed across the horse’s rear.

Filed in Baja California, Beaches

July 15th, 2003

Cuba mourns Buena Vista maestro

People across Cuba and beyond have been paying last respects and celebrating the life of music legend Compay Segundo who died on Monday aged 95. Only last week the composer and guitarist who Ry Cooder described simply as “the last of the best” had joked with Mexican journalists that he hoped to live for many more years – “100 at least” – like his grandmother who lived to the ripe old age of 115.

Filed in Uncategorized

July 12th, 2003

Storm Watch: Claudette dumps rain on Cancun

UPDATED: After flirting with hurricane force, Tropical Storm Claudette battered Cancun with high winds and rain early on Friday. Several streets were flooded, but life quickly returned to normal.

As a precaution, Royal Caribbean had already diverted three cruise ships to the Bahamas, including one moored at Cozumel.

Experts have predicted a busy Atlantic hurricane season, which ends in November.

Filed in Uncategorized

July 9th, 2003

Franciscan missions newest ‘world wonder’

The Mission at Landa de MatamorosOn Thursday, UNESCO announced that the five Franciscan missions of the Sierra Gorda (Querétaro) have been recognised as of “special interest” by the United Nations for their “richly decorated church facades”, and had given them World Heritage Site status.

Built during the last phase of the conversion to Christianity of the interior of Mexico in the mid 18th century, the diminutive settlements which grew around the missions at Jalpan de Serra, Landa de Matamoros, Tilaco, Tancoyol and Conca, have retained their provincial character. The Missions are located some 5 hours drive north from Mexico City.

I witnessed the last stages of a painstaking renovation over the past 12 months and am personally delighted these extraordinarily beautiful buildings will now attract wider attention.

Junipero SerraThe Missions joined 23 other newly inscribed natural and cultural sites on the World Heritage list. They included the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, south-west London – created in 1759 – one year after the tireless Franciscan Friar Junipero Serra left the Sierra on foot bound for California, Arizona and Texas.

Junipero Serra is still a well-known figure in California, for the missions he founded throughout the state two centuries ago – including those of Los Angeles and San Francisco – and his statue stands in the National Statuary Hall of the US Capitol in Washington DC and in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

Mexico now joins Italy, Spain, France, India and China with 23 sites UNESCO feel are deserving of World Heritage status and protection.

Further thumbnail images of the Missions can be viewed here.

Filed in Mexico's World Heritage Sites, Querétaro state