Saturday, June 2, 2012

Slick Politics

Malena and I spent the morning cleaning out all of John's stuff from the casita, packing it into bags and boxes for storage. She has a couple of men who work for her, Mariano and some other guy I don't know. Mariano is the guy who sprayed water all over at the cabana I rented last year. Click here to read that story!  Safety&SecurityInMX The men took all the boxes and did the heavy lifting, we had time finally for a long visit.

While working, we chatted mostly in Spanish. I'm amazed at the number of Mexicans who understand English but don't speak it. They've seen hundreds of American movies with subtitles and have quite large vocabularies, without the structure to string all the words together. Malena, for instance mixes he and she, him and her, and so I sometimes have trouble following who she's talking about exactly. Gossip forms a large part of our conversations!

Marco at the podium.

Malena's husband Marco works (voluntarily) for Pancho (Francisco Pedrero), a rich hotel owner who is running for President of the Municipality, like mayor of a city. In Mexico, municipalities are both cities and counties, so the number of people voting is quite large here, probably close to half a million people. Malena invited me to a political party at a house that evening. I imagined hob-nobbing with the elite of San Cristobal, sampling little antojitos served by maids and sipping wine or margaritas. Malena was all dressed up with her hair painfully straightened, makeup, high heeled boots and a cleavage blouse. We got into the VW bug and lurched our way through Friday night traffic to what was essentially a staged political rally. Red shirts with Pancho's slogans and logos printed on them were given away at the door, a mariachi band played outside, then moved inside to play, while a guy on super speakers shouted slogans at deafening levels. The floors were thick with pine needles. In Mayan country this signifies a commitment to tradition and nature, it's also a nod to the indigenous communities. The three candidates for the PRI party were Pancho, and two others running for state offices. The master of ceremonies said wonderful things about the three candidates as they entered the massive warehouse packed with red-shirted supporters. I could not have understood much of the rapid fire Spanish anyway, but amplified to those levels made it impossible. However, Malena's husband got up and gave a nice speech that became more and more animated until the crowd began to listen and then cheer. I was impressed. Marco is a good looking man, but he never struck me as the personality type to stand up in front of a thousand people and speak. However, he knows, if Pancho wins, he'll be given a government job, so I guess his future is really on the line.

Pancho schmoozing
in the crowd, the only
bald head there.
The rally was all about Pancho. He's a medium height man, but very muscular and a bit fat. He's also bald, which is unusual in Mexico. He looks like a forty-something Telly Savalas. He hugged and kissed supporters all the way down the aisle. The electronic speakers were outfitted with pre-recorded clapping which added volume and static to the crowd. The whole thing was so slick it bordered on sleazy.

After an hour of speeches and promises the loudspeakers played Pancho's theme song which had lyrics referring to his hair-do, or hair-don't in his case. People queued up for hot tamales and soda pop. My skeptical nature wondered how many people would have shown up if there hadn't been free shirts and food.


(My apologies for the poor photo quality, all I had with me was a cell phone!)


Closeup of Pancho taken on the
street a few days later