reality check

I’ve been eagerly awaiting some posting from my friend the other Laura, who moved to the Mexico City area a few weeks ago to be with her fiance, who I wrote about here. Well, she’s finally written a few essays, and I sincerely hope you will all trek over here for a moment to read about waste and water in Mexico City. Sitting in my air-conditioned office, with five-gallon jugs of Culligan stacked up in the warehouse and barely a spec of trash to be seen anywhere, I am humbled, and I suspect you will be too.

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4 Responses to reality check

  1. But the question is begged, “Why does one have to be humbled”?

    Civic infrastructure is generally less well developed in Mexico and this is largely due to lower rates of capital investment and revenue maintenance. Many cities lack a chlorinated potable civic water supply but the private market makes ample provision.

    On the subject of trash, some municipalities are privatising their trash disposal arrangements (such as here in the Tampico/Madero/Altamira region) and the disposal regime is something more akin to what one would expect to see in a more developed country.

    The fact that the leftist municipal government of Mexico City cannot or will not make the same private arrangement is indicative of their inefficiency. How the corruption of a government’s mandate to provide public services should make one feel ‘humble’ is something of a mystery to me…

    Incidentally, I see Laura’s Mexican fiancee suffers the same illusion as many Mexicans of my aquaintance here, in that it is ‘easier’ for an American immigrant to Mexico to live an ‘official’ life of working, owning property etc than a Mexican in the US. Perhaps they need enlightenment about this country’s obsession with ‘protecting its sovereignty’.

  2. richmx2 says:

    It really has nothing to do with the “leftist municipal government” but is a long range problem going back years, having to do with the lateness in recognizing the problem of too little space for solid waste disposal, and the huge increase in population, which has led to problems like that in Chamuzel (which is not in DF, but in PRI controlled Estado de Mexico). You may be right that a privatized service is better. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, during his tenure, certainly thought so.

    DF’s “leftist” government has privatized garbage collection, btw. The garbagemen’s union was — and is — under PRI-control, so there was a political reason, but there was also a PRD iniative to open up more financial opportunities to the very poor.

    In the District proper, there are two pickups daily — about the time on the posted signs. There has been an attempt to get people to separate recyclables from organic trash, but so far has been unsuccessful. I have to say, too, that PRD-controlled delegaciones had newer, and better garbage trucks than the PAN-controlled ones.

  3. In response to richmx2:

    ‘Leftist-schmeftist’ – the ‘colour’ of the local government isn’t really my issue here. I identified them (the DF municipalities generally) as being ‘left of centre’ because that’s what my understanding leads me to believe they are.

    The trash problem is, as you correctly identify, at root, one of poor planning and little forethought. Any insouciant curmudgeon like myself may well try and frame that in terms of a left/right political dichotomy but the fact remains that the political colour of the local governments has little bearing on the immediacy of the issue.

    Which leads me to repeat my original comment, “Why does one have to be humbled”?

  4. laurafern says:

    Hi Eddie,

    It’s possible that I incorrectly used the term “humbled.” What I wanted to express was that as middle-class sort of Americans (which most of my readers are, although I think a number reside in Mexico), it’s hard to imagine the world “the other” Laura is currently living in, where running water is a daily struggle and trash is very much in sight and in mind.

    I suppose I wanted to say, I hope this reminds you what you and I take for granted every day.

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