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Ask the old gringo about Mexico green energy, sexy models, police protection

Marvin West

Plaza of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico
© Renée J. LaPerrière de Gutiérrez
Kiosk in the plaza of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico
© Renée J. LaPerrière de Gutiérrez, 2000

So many exciting questions, so few minutes to answer.

Question: I have read about the millions or billions the U.S. has lost on solar investments that went bankrupt. How is Mexico doing on green energy?

Answer: It is dabbling. This country is a better fit for solar generation and wind farms and might actually reduce the dreaded carbon footprint by a size or two but return on investment may not pay the debt service. Select smart Mexicans (where are you, Carlos?) may promote the concept into greater riches. We can only hope the people will eventually benefit. So it is with many projects, near and far.

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Question: Is there anything good about the drug war?

Answer: It is not my nature to deal lightly with disaster. I could tell you that mortuaries are doing a brisk business but that might be construed as morbid or making fun of the dead. There are almost no smiles in the wreckage.

Well, maybe this one: One gang actually shot a newspaper. A group of gunmen shot a newspaper building in Nuevo Laredo but did not kill it.

There was a five-minute attack on El Mañana. The masonry building was pocked and some cars out front suffered bullet holes. No people were hit or hurt. This was not target practice. The drug business was telling the news business to be less descriptive, no names, no pictures, no headlines.

The drug war is no joke and we now assume there is no solution. We are almost crusted over, a shootout here, bodies dumped there, kidnappings, chain-saw decapitations, illogical brutality beyond belief. We hear the reports and are surprised for a minute. We hurt when it hits close to home. Almost nothing shocks us anymore.

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Question: Did you see that sexy Playboy model at the political debate? Wow!

Answer: I did not. Sarah, my wife of 58 years, does a great job of positioning me to see beautiful sunrises and sunsets, humming birds, mangos on the tree, flowers in bloom. But I did hear the dress was very attractive. This is a breezy time for Mexican politics. So much hot air, so little substance.

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Question: We love your police stories. Any new ones?

Answer: I've been saving these until some special reader asked.

Police in Ciudad Juarez got my attention. They ticketed a six-year-old for reckless driving and driving without a license and proper registration. His miniature gas-powered scooter bumped into a full-grown SUV and caused a minor dent. The adult driver, having never been a boy, screamed to high heavens.

In Nuevo Leon, where the murder rate is higher, prosecutors issued arrest warrants for a pair of chefs who allegedly stole the recipes for grilled asparagus and artichokes from a restaurant where they previously worked.

I am not making this stuff up. These are true stories.

The strong hand of the San Luis Potosi law got a grip on two cyclists because their Harleys backfired and caused a stampede. A festival crowd mistook the noise for gunshots or grenades and panicked. Police charged the bikers with terrorism.

Juan Ramon Munguia and Enrique Treviño Rivera said they were just doing what they always do, warming up their engines before heading home from work. Officers said they deliberately made them go boom to spook people at the plaza.

The potential penalty was five to 20 years in prison. The riders repented and seemed very sincere when they promised to be quieter.

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Question: What do you need that you can't get in Mexico?

Answer: Not much. It is mostly a matter of pesos. Big and tall clothes seem scarce. Certain auto parts are hard to find. I am told size 42D bras are a challenge. All brands of peanut butter are unreasonably priced. A small can of Folgers coffee was 147 pesos at Wal-Mart. I thought it was a misprint. It turned out to be inspiration to switch to a Mexican brand.

Published or Updated on: June 25, 2012 by Marvin West © 2012
Contact Marvin West

Marvin West, mostly retired after just 42 years with Scripps Howard newspapers, is senior partner in an international communications consulting company. This column is from his forthcoming book, “Mexico? What you doing in Mexico?”  West invites reader reaction; his address is

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