“Best laid plans of mice . . .”  Robert Burns would not have been surprised. Trip to Guanajuato,  State of Guanajuato, Mexico. After Navidad, through Año Nuevo, and beyond. By bus from McAllen, Texas. (Only $106 dollars, RT, for Senior Citizens.) Bus full. Fifteen hour trip. “Tu servidor” (meaning “Your Servant,” that is, myself) and my compañeros, and most passengers masked. 

But, . . still, surprise! surprise!, I got COVID! (“Sooner or later,” as my doctor explained, “everyone will have had it.”) Did it spoil the visit to charming, “pueblo mágico Guanajuato? Para nada! Not at all. Well, I masked more, quarantined, took, gratefully, the mint tea and honey given me by my caring companions. But, before and after the ten days, enjoyed the Mole Poblano; Chile en Nogada; the “Three Kings,”  or their avatars, literally, in drag, on the street, selling Rosca de los Reyes; the Diego Rivera Museum (his home); todo!

Mientras—meanwhile–amid our tourism, political life goes on. On the news stands, Mexican papers tell of the reunion of “Los Tres Amigos,”—President Andrés Manuél López Obrador (AMLO), of Mexico; President Joseph Biden, U.S.; and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada; together for CLAN, the 10th Cumbre de Lideres de América de Norte. It had a “rough start,” with a trade of rather “contentious” views of the history of U.S.-Latin American relations. AMLO: ‘The U.S. has done “nada” for LA since JFK’s Alliance for Progress. (Tamara Keith, WEKU, 10 Jan 23). But Biden countered with, “In the last 15 years the U.S. has invested more in LA than in all other nations combined”. Surprisingly, that tone struck, talks continued peacefully. 

Results for Mexico, surprisingly, may have been fortuitous: “CLAN era un éxito enorme”–a great success– for Mexico and for the region, according to Marcelo Ebrard Casuabón, Mexican Foreign Secretary, former Mayor of Mexico City and likely candidate of AMLO’s party for the presidency in 2024 (Emir Olivares y Néstor Jiménez, La Jornada,12 enero 23.)

Ebrard emphasized the firmness of plans for substitution of imports from Asia; now, 25% of previous imports will be produced in Mexico. Other agreements centered around economic growth, clarifying labor mobility among the three countries, even success, he claims, in “the fight against racism.” In agreement was the Secretary of the Treasury, Rogelio Ramirez de a O, who noted there will be “more control over production of chemicals used for manufacture of fentanol.” He added: the “recent detention” of Ovidio Guzmán (“El Chapo’s” son) shows Mexico’s commitment to security.

Before the inauguration of my trip, events in Mexico included a “dance with democracy”–hundreds of (mostly older) protesters, 13th of November, streaming down the famous central thoroughfare, Paseo de a Reforma. Many wore their pink shirts, urging fellow citizens to reject what they see as President AMLO’s threats on the INE, the National Institute of Elections (Samuel Benson, Desert News, 9 Jan 23).  Mexico City, of course, is the national capital. Most protest occurs there. Guanajuato, historically so important to Independence and the Revolution, is quieter. It is more established as a cultural, rather than political capital. 

Guanajuato is sociologically diverse, anchored by the Universidad de Guanajuato and thefamous Cervantino in October (a month long artistic homage to Miguel Cervantes). One saw in the plazas a large number of Chinese students; they were joined by many other young people (do they all now have tattoos?), “hanging out,” sipping wonderful coffee at the numerous shops, playing guitars or flutes in the streets for change. At the popular San Fernando Plaza, my companions had hamburgers and even Pollo Kentucky; I stuck with Chile en Nogada. 

Sight of a one-legged pigeon, a little girl chasing it, beguiled those at the tables of clients. I bought an ice cream for a young Chinese tourist I met at the Diego Rivera Museum; he was studying engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. (He laughed when I asked him, “so, is it true you are gonna take over the world?”). Later, we strained, striding uphill to La Presa de la Olla, (Dam of the Cooking Pot), its shimmering lake surrounded by turn-of-the (19th) century homes, lovely gardens and well-behaved dogs. We may visit again. You should too. Prepare not to be surprised at your pleasure. 

Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by UT-Rio Grande Valley Professor Emeritus Dr. Gary Joe Mounce. The column appears in The Rio Grande Guardian International News Service with the permission of the author. Dr. Mounce can be reached by email via: [email protected]

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