La Profesora Abstraída

Weblog of Michelle Dion, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, at McMaster University. My blog has moved to Visit my other website.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

On the subject of Wal-Mart in Mexico, you can read this story about the location of Wal-Mart's newest store in the Mexico City area.

You can also take a look at the view from the pyramid of the sun at the archeological site.

And take a look at a picture of the new store. That link discusses the store's history.

And here's a picture of the relative position of the store to the archeological site. It seems to be not too close, though it will be visible from the tops of the pyramids. They did, however, disturb some ruins in the process of developing the site.

On the store's website, they seem to defend their position by posting pictures of even uglier stores in the area.


posted by Michelle @ 2:20 PM, 0 comments

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Have I mentioned the racism and classism prevalent in Mexico?

A couple of weeks ago, I took a trip out to a Sam's Club and Superama in the Santa Fe area of Mexico City. (Superama, by the way, is a funny compound word...super in Mexico means about the same thing in English, and ama de casa means housewife. So Superama is a play on Superhousewife. I doubt it's a Wal-Mart creation; more likely it was a local grocery chain that they bought.)

Both are owned by Wal-Mart. In the states, we don't shop at Wal-Mart, but it's hard to avoid here in Mexico. They own Wal-Mart, Sam's, Superama, Vip's, El Portal or Porton (I forget which), Ahorro, and probably a bunch of other restaurants and stores.

I went to this Sam's and Superama because I knew where they were and how to get there, and because the Superama is very large and has a better selection than the small one near our apartment in the Condesa. They share the same parking lot.

Santa Fe is an area of Mexico City that literally used to be a large garbage dump. Now, it is the home of high rise office buildings and headquarters for major MNC's in Mexico, such as Ford and Coke, and a really large high-end shopping mall, like Lennox in Atlanta. The area does have a few high rise condos, but mainly it's a big business park area with few residents and low density. There is no where to go if you're not in car. It's a lot like the perimeter of parts of Houston. My university is perched on a cliff that overlooks the area.

There is a lot of on-going construction of new high-rises and office buildings throughout the area. These high rise buildings are built largely by hand, hauling loads of cement up in buckets. In much of Mexico City, the workers live on-site while the buildings go up, using bootleg electricity and only minimal plumbing. I've seen it only blocks from our apartment in the Condesa, supposedly the Greenwich Village of Mexico City. The workers live on site usually because they are from the countryside or live in poor areas where the commute would be too difficult. On Saturdays, the workers get paid and get off work early, and head to the local grocery to buy food for lunch and dinner.

That is how I came to witness about 20 male workers in line outside that particular Superama on a Saturday afternoon at about 2pm. I was so confused by the line, I almost stopped to get in line myself. Then, I noticed other people were going into the store through the other doors, and I figured the workers must be waiting in line for some particular service.

Once I had all my groceries, I asked the kid who bagged the groceries and offered to push the cart out to the car why all the men were waiting still in line to enter the store. (As an aside, it is normal for kids between 10 and 14 to work as bag boys/girls at the supermarket here. They do not get paid by the supermarket and only keep the tips given to them by customers. I think it is part of their 'servicio social' for school, which requires all students (high school and college for certain, though these kids are too young for high school) to perform a certain number of hours of community service.

Anyway, I asked the 12ish boy why the men were waiting in line, and he said, quite simply, because they are not allowed int he store except one at a time because they smell bad. You see, according to him, there are lots of people who are "bien educada", which literally means well-mannered but is also Mexican code language for wealthy, who shop at this store and they would be bothered by the smell were all these workers to be allowed in at the same time. It is quite simple really, according to him.

I asked, "Doesn't that seem a little racist to you?" And he said no. It was understandable because those men were not clean and smelled bad. Only 12 and probably from a not-so-wealthy family himself, and he had already assimilated those attitudes.

So much for human rights. Next time, I'm going to get in line with them.

As an aside, my husband has noticed that whenever the workers enter our local Superama in the Condesa, the security guard follows them around. Silly, especially since the punk-rich snotty Mexican teenagers would probably be more likely to swipe a bottle of booze than those workers stealing even a can of beans.

Then, on the way home, I was harassed, again, by the transit police. But that's another story.

posted by Michelle @ 2:44 PM, 4 comments

Thursday, November 04, 2004

From the streets of Mexico City....this flyer for Hermana Paola.

Tarot, cards, hand and "videncia" readings
We return your partner in hours
We show the face of your enemies
We cure ills, spells, "salaciones" and curses
We repel undesirable people
We fix inheritances, judgments, business, and love lives
We cure unknown diseases

Immediate help. Don't be incredulous.

Good and evil do exist. This is not a great problem for me, while others fail, I triumph. Visit me and I will convince you. This visit can change your life.

All for $100 pesos (less than $10 US)
Trabajos Garantizados

Guaranteed Work.

posted by Michelle @ 12:26 PM, 0 comments

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Correction to the Top 10 Halloween costumes for small children (under 10 years old) in Mexico City..... A surprising number of very small children (under 6 years old) were dressed as Chucky. No brides of Chucky, though. Creepy, either way.

Election night in the U.S....

...Scarier than small Mexican children dressed as creepy U.S.-inspired ghouls shoving small plastic pumpkins at your knees yelling "?Me regala por mi calabaza?".....

...I can't even bear to look.

posted by Michelle @ 11:45 PM, 0 comments

Monday, November 01, 2004

Halloween! Halloween! Halloween!

That was the chant of a little boy dressed like dracula on the main plaza of Coyoacan last night. Thanks to WalMart, halloween is moving into Mexico. Costumes and candy are on sale at WalMart and its grocery-store affiliate, Superama. They have nearly replaced traditional Day of the Dead candy and offerings at the large tiendas de autoservicio. Unfortunately, most Mexican families only half understand the idea of Halloween. The kids get dressed up and carry their little plastic pumpkins, but they do it for 3-4 days straight. All weekend. And since most Mexicans don't understand that Halloween for kids is about CANDY, they give the kids coins. So of course, some kids expect coins. And worse yet, the parents that bring their kids to enjoy Halloween in public spaces, don't even bring candy to give other parents' kids. Lucky there were a couple of prepared gringos last night with bags of sour bloody eyeball gumballs to hand out to the kiddos.

Top 10 most popular costumes for Mexican children for Halloween:
1. Babies dressed as pumpkins
2. Wednesday from the Adaams Family
3. Dracula
4. Catarina, the famous Mexican day of the dead figure
5. Harry Potter
6. Mummy
7. Scarecrow
8. Ambiguous devil child
9. Witch
10. No costume, plastic pumkin, give me money

On other fronts, I have managed to revise a paper to submit to a Mexican journal, and have cleared off my desk.

posted by Michelle @ 6:56 PM, 1 comments

Mexico City slideshow

Go to main page:

La Profesora Abstraída

About me:

Name: Michelle Dion
Location: Toronto, ON
View my complete profile
View my website

traducir este pagina

Previous Posts

Global Voices Online - The world is talking. Are you listening?