Postdata: I don’t like the category uncategorized and I am ridding myself of it. This post was there as a draft and was meant to be published in August of 2010.
I always feel rather befuddled by how democracy works in México and Tijuana is a good example of how this democracy works in just about every other corner of the country. If one does a compare and contrast to American democracy and its mechanism you’ll soon find out that representation is where the two forms of democracy differ the most. Though I myself am more familiar with American democracy where representation means the possibility of influencing policy directly at the local level, this is not so in Tijuana. They are more parliamentarian there so when an official gets elected it’s not the person but the party that gets elected. Hence the endless protests, the endless cries for change and the bureaucracy remains rather unmoved by all the cries of the populace because unless the party does something the bureaucracy won’t even bother to turn its massive head around. A good example of this bizarre sort of influencing government is the appeal prominent members of society address the president of the country. They all pool together to buy space in the local newspapers and display a sort of plegaria, that is a plea, for all to see how terrible things are to particular groups or local associations as if the president who governs 32 federal states will read just the Tj based newspaper the very moment he wakes up. Now imagine that happening in San Diego, that is, someone buying space in a newspaper, pleading Obama, to hear them out. It doesn’t happen or if it happens it doesn’t happen anywhere near the rate that it does in México where more often than not, this sort of plea runs on a daily basis. I suppose it works at some level, because it’s a pretty big industry down there.
All this is rather odd in so many ways because it is a system that it is open for all sorts of manipulations not just theoretical but practical as well. The people who elect these parties are also few and scattered. The election of summer 2010 was amongst the lowest in participation and yet the winning party was ecstatic about the results that brought them the win and minced no words in their triumph alleging that their party goleó, (in allusion to the World Soccer Cup) that is, hammered the opposition. Supposedly the people of Tijuana were tired of the old regime. Will things change? Who knows. But judging by the local newspapers things could just of have been as I left them 2 decades ago. As I open the newspapers from Tijuana the headlines still charge the local police of being corrupt, they still decry in aghast how young people are used to cross over people into the USA and how poor government maintenance allows for corrupt officials to turn a blind eye to all sorts of discomforts for the daily citizen. So why is Tijuana thriving? Although Tijuana seems to be suffering a flatline in just about everything that is going on in its daily chores but don’t be fooled by it. The fact of the matter remains that it still is a buzzing city of several millions. Think of it: four Nobel Prize winners were scheduled to come to Tijuana in October 2010, a city in a country plagued by a war on drugs.
The thought appears ever so sly on the horizon: has the black legend that smeared Tijuana for decades, been finally put to rest at last hence giving the illusion of a lull? It almost also seems like a polite slap in the face to Tijuana’s detractors when you hear how other cities in the rest of México, which spared no small amount of disregard for my native city, are practically in flames and in disorder, chaos and total disillusionment with a rather bleak outlook on the future. One wonders how is that possible, why is Tijuana spared, this time, of the turmoil affecting other border cities and other major cities throughout the country? One can only speculate. Be that as it may, Tijuana is poised to host a very important meeting of the minds and the people who embarked on this quest show only what Tijuana is probably an expert if not a master at: tourism. While the ailments that the traditional source of tourism Jeremiah about the lack of tourists, the fact of the matter is that tourism is booming for all intents and purposes. Off course, am not alluding to the traditional sorts of tourism but a rather more specialized sort of tourism. The diversity of visitors to Tijuana is vast with a long tradition one can even begin to fathom. I can now see in my head that infamous postcard that shows a period of time when Mexico found itself in another turmoil, its Revolution. In this infamous postcard you can see American citizens by the border perched everywhere to get a glimpse of the infighting well in the American side of the border. Onlookers that today we like to call gawkers. These gawkers and their turismo negro as it is known in Spanish are pouring money onto the local economy. Want to see the local narcodealer ostentatious lifestyle? It can be arranged. Want to get a first-hand look of migras (pronounced: /me-gra-s/) from the Mexican side of the border? It can be arranged. Want to see how local poor people manage to solve their housing problems, you get the drift. This cash cow has been milked by the local artsy community for the past decade and though unawares of their contribution to the local economy they happily still go about showing the city to anyone showing an interest in Tijuana especially everything from academia to family members who haven’t seen Tijuana in a while. But it doesn’t stop there.
Tijuana has also become a target city for what is known as medical tourism. Heck, my kin that live in Chula Vista, or Chula Juana as it is known in the Mexican community because of the large influx of tijuanenses that live in that city, are frequent visitors to Tijuana because they do their health care business there and they are by far the only ones doing that. There is fleeting tourism as well, remember, Tijuana isn’t known for being the most visited city for nothing and not because of the border, people come from both sides of the country. Money is flowing from everywhere so don’t be fooled, if anyone is making a buck out of this recession, it certainly can be found in Tijuana and all due to its tourism whether old school tourism or new school. Having said that am very much surprised that Tijuana doesn’t have some sort of school specialized in just tourism. Tijuana style tourism. How does it happen? The local people no doubt. Everything from local writer Rafadro’s logo, that back in the day was a minor scandal and now is almost posthip: shameless self promotion to plain old word of mouth which runs rampant in the Mexican community that straddle the borders. Believe it or not this is partly due because the Tijuanenses are somehow infected with good old protestant positivism. They fight with all their might anything that smears the name of Tijuana, point in case a couple of clowns that visited the city in August that bear the artistic name of chicharrines. A rumor had it that they had fled the city because they had been threatened to death. The local chamber of commerce came out the next day that it wasn’t fair to smear the city that way. It is a mental attitude that focuses all its energy in defending the city by all means necessary. Just on the internet there are tons of documents trying to convince everyone and no one that Tijuana isn’t as bad as it seems. It doesn’t want to believe that things are as ugly as they are portrayed. Of lately there is even a video by Americans residing in Tijuana, done by Katherine Sweetman, witnessing how pleasant it is to live in Tijuana not to mention the news that it is cheaper to live in Tijuana during these rough times. This sort of mentality is in contrast with the rest of the population. Most Mexicans are ready for doom and gloom but the tijuanense believes very much in the future and defends this ideal a capa y espada as we in Spanish say, that is with tooth and nail. And now that Tijuana is gaining some sort of acceptance some people are wondering what is going on? They are sensing that the lull that permeates the city, that is, finally no one is pouring diatribe onto the city’s image a change is about. Tijuana is finally becoming bigger than Tijuana.