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Ask an old gringo about knife sharpening, a new college, Trump and things to like about Mexico

A few insights into living in a small town in Mexico.

Marvin West

MexConnect magazine readers ask good questions. They deserve at least interesting answers. 

Question: What is an afilador de cuchillo?

Answer: I saw one not long ago. There was a new whistle in the neighborhood. Curiosity caused me to go to the gate and see what was causing the sound.

afilador de cuchillo
afilador de cuchillo

It was anafilador, a knife sharpener, working the street with a plastic pan flute to gain attention, a portable grinding wheel and two or three files and some sandpaper in his hip pocket.

For a few pesos, he would sharpen your machetes. He worked more like a blacksmith than an artist. Suggestion: Take expensive kitchen knives elsewhere for a fine cutting edge.

Question: What happened to the Arkansas State University extension campus that was going to be built in Queretaro?

Answer: Arkansas State says keep in mind that this project is in Mexico, that there have been a few delays, but if all goes well, the new school will be open for students in the fall of 2016.

 According to Edmundo Ortiz, General Director, there have been several setbacks, including design flaws and land development. If you are into mathematics, the cost has gone up a little, from an estimated $50 million to $75 million. Tim Hudson,Chancellor, remains positive, saying the 250-acre campus will create “globally competitive opportunities” for students and faculty.

After the 2012 announcement of this very original idea, not much has happened. There was a ground breaking ceremony and several adjustments in plans, including blueprints,and hassles over building permits that had something to do with the desert landscape. Ortiz noted that money is still flowing from investors, including Ricardo Gonzalez, a Mexican racing driver.“Ricardo is very passionate about the project,” Ortiz said.                                                           

Question: Did Donald Trump stir up a storm a Mexico?

Answer: Two of my three best Mexican barometers had never heard of Sir Donald, didn’t know what he had said and didn’t care after a brief summary.


There was one classic comment: “To hell with him.”


Trump, warming up for a U.S. presidential campaign, wants a bigger and better border wall to thwart the flow of illegals from Mexico.
“They are bringing drugs. They are bringing crime. They’re rapists,” Trump said about Mexican immigrants, adding, “Some, I assume, are good people.”


Several polite Americans and some Mexicans were miffed.

Alas, there is a backlash movement to verify Trump’s credibility. Atop the list is Francisco Sanchez, 42, the illegal Mexican immigrant who shot a woman he didn’t even know on a San Francisco pier. Sanchez, a convicted felon, come-back champ, had been deported five times.


Drugs? What drugs? More than 150 pounds of heroin from Mexico, worth at least $50 million, were seized by authorities in New York City.

Criminals? Not so many. Baltazar Camacho, 30, an illegal immigrant convicted of heading a major cocaine distribution network in Tennessee, was sentenced to 470 months in a federal prison. That means almost 40 years of government-funded food and lodging.


Where do you suppose El Chapo is when you need him?
                                                           
Question: Ever heard of Robles Gonzalez?

Answer: Bingo! Robles is my example of how to gain wealth without working too hard.


He was incarcerated for drug and theft charges in New Orleans. He didn’t debate that he had committed crimes. He admitted that he was another Mexican gone bad. But he claimed to be legal in location because his father had become a naturalized U.S. citizen.


Nobody believed him. He was deported. He spent three years arguing his case long distance. He was finally allowed to re-enter the United States for a court hearing. He won.

For his inconvenience, the U.S. government awarded him $350,000 plus legal fees and telephone costs. 

                                                           
Question: Can it be that the little village of Jocotepec has a new hospital?

Answer: Good news! And close to home. In a time of tight budgets, here’s how it happened. Jocotepec elected the right leader, Juan Francisco O’Shea Cuevas. His brother, Gabriel,just happened to be in the presidential cabinet as national commissioner of Seguro Popular public health insurance.


When Gabriel came to visit Juan, it was obvious that Joco needed an infusion of State and Federal funds – 117,327,032 pesos to be precise. This created construction jobs for locals, hospital staff jobs and considerable goodwill for select politicians.

The hospital offers no-cost services to those enrolled in the public health plan. Inside the hospital are 18 beds -- and a spacious waiting area.
                                                                       
Question: What do you like best about Mexico this time of year?

Answer: Mangos. Several varieties are ripe and almost free. Northern friends say they are two for $3.  I also like the rainy season. Lightning shows over Lake Chapala are much better than evening TV.

 

 

Published or Updated on: July 25, 2015 by Marvin West © 2015
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 westwest6@netzero.com.
 

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