Sunday, December 7, 2008

Civic Unrest!!!!!

Today we left Playa Azule for Patzcuaro on Mex 37D. It is a beautiful new Cuota highway that my GPS does not even know about. It rises into the Sierra Madre and then into the high plains and finally into the Colonial town of Patzcuaro.

As we approached the first toll booth we saw unusual activity and dozens of parked cars. Two of the three toll booths were blocked off with parked cars and the open one had many people around it and no “toll taker” in sight. As we approached the booth all the people started talking at once in Spanish. They were all well dressed and smiling so I did not feel at all nervous. I was trying to see someone to take my money but the booth was empty and the demonstrators were holding out a can for money. I dropped ten Pesos into their can and they handed me a sheet of paper and waved us through.

As we drove away Norma started to translate the paper and we discovered it was some sort of a Teachers protest. They call themselves something like “Alliance For A Quality Education” and they had “occupied” the toll booths. The money they collected was going to the Red Cross which (I believe) operates the Ambulance Service here.

The next toll booth was similarly occupied and this time I dropped a more reasonable $100 Pesos into their can. There was a teacher among the demonstrators who spoke to us in English, telling us they were teachers fighting for better education and thanking us for our support. The next booth was also occupied but this time there was no collection and we were just waved through.

There are more Federalies, State Police and army in evidence in Mexico right now than we have ever seen. It is in response to the current drug wars along the USA border but it is hard to go any distance even down here without noticing their presence.  In fact, eight or ten Federalies were staying in the hotel in front of last night’s RV Park and they used the RV Park to park their vehicles in. My point is, if the government wanted to put a quick end to today’s demonstrations, they could have. The Highway patrol usually goes through the toll booths but today they were making u-turns before they got to the booth areas in what was clearly a “don’t ask, don’t tell” manoeuvre so they could tell anyone who asked that they did not see a thing.

I don’t have to tell most of you what would happen in Canada if a massive demonstration interrupted the Government’s cash flow for the better part of a day (at least). Heads would probably not literally roll but they would be bashed.  These Mexican teachers and their supporters turned the day into a huge party and I am sure the Red Cross collected a small fortune. A win – win situation and for the Red Cross, the teachers and us travelers, this was indeed a Good Day!


1 comment:

  1. Not so much of a party as you may think. Please do not support those protesters ....