Tequila, tacos and tourism often come to mind when people think of Mexico. But the country also boasts the world’s largest pyramid (Quetzalcóatl at Cholula de Rivadiais), the oldest public university in North America (the National Autonomous University of Mexico) and the second largest urban area on earth (Mexico City with an estimated population of 22 to 25 million).
There are many contemporary changes occurring daily, as the country struggles with issues of growth, industrialization, crime and civil rights.
State of the media in Mexico
Two journalists were killed during a 24-hour period in March. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said Jamie Arturo Olvera Bravo, a freelance photographer, was killed in the central state of Michoacán on March 9, and Ramiro Téllez Contreras, a radio reporter, was killed in Nuevo Laredo on March 10.
“With three journalists killed so far this year, Mexico is holding on to its regrettable position as the deadliest country for the press in the Americas,” Reporters Without Borders said.
Olvera was waiting at a bus stop with his 5-year-old son when an assailant shot at close range. The photographer died at the scene; his son was unharmed. Téllez was shot “twice in the neck and once in the left knee outside his home as he was returning from work.”
A month earlier, another journalist was shot five times when two gunmen opened fire on a daily newspaper office in Nuevo Laredo. Jaime Orozco Tey was hit in the chest and spine on Feb. 6.
Following 18 days in a high security prison, a reporter in Chiapas was released on $9,000 bail in February. Angel Mario Ksheratto has been arrested and detained three times in the past four years because of a story he wrote in August 2002.
Stories making the news
Three candidates are campaigning throughout Mexico in hopes of being elected the next president on July 2. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a leftist candidate, is considered the front-runner. Felipe Calderon, a conservative, is running second in the polls, and Roberto Madrazo, representing the Institutional Revolutionary Party, is third. Along with the presidential election, voters will be casting their choices for 628 seats in the National Congress.
The Mexican government is using life-sized inflatable dolls to help curb the growing problem of sexual harassment on the job. Television ads now “feature dolls, dressed as secretaries and maids, who have to put up with leering and groping from male colleagues,” according to BBC News. “Officials say the aim of the campaign is to make clear that women are not sexual objects. President Vicente Fox acknowledged on Wednesday that Mexico has to do more to overcome widespread machismo.”
What may be the largest oil field ever found in the country was announced recently by President Fox. Located 60 miles off the coast of Veracruz, the oil is about six-tenths of a mile below the Gulf of Mexico. At present, Mexico is Latin America’s largest producer of oil at 3.4 million barrels per day. One-third of the country’s total income comes from oil.
The major issues
The country’s economy continues to improve since the devaluation of the peso in 1994. Mexico has tripled its trade with the United States and Canada as a result of NAFTA. In addition, Mexico has established 12 free trade agreements with 40 countries throughout the world. However, “the Fox administration is cognizant of the need to upgrade infrastructure, modernize the tax system and labor laws, and allow private investment in the energy sector but has been unable to win the support of the opposition-led Congress,” according to the CIA World Factbook. “The next government that takes office in December 2006 will confront the same challenges of boosting economic growth, improving Mexico’s international competitiveness, and reducing poverty.”