Magazine article The Masthead

Mexico Trip Replaces Preconceptions

Magazine article The Masthead

Mexico Trip Replaces Preconceptions

Article excerpt

* Real life in Mexico bears little resemblance to its view as the laid-back land of manana.

Commerce and commentary thrive amid the beeping madness of Mexico City traffic.

You can buy anything from gum to garden rakes from the swift merchants who walk among the cars and hawk their wares during red lights. You can also find children dressed as devils with red capes and plastic masks of former Mexican president Carlos Salinas. They do tricks on their fathers' shoulders, then beg for money from a captive audience stopped at the intersection.

Meanwhile, government officials who would just as soon disown the former head of their party toil late in gleaming marble-and-glass buildings. In Mexico, say the journalists who work there, getting a return call from a source still at work at 10:30 p.m. is not unusual.

So much for the laid-back image of life in the land of manana.

Those who took NCEW's Mexico City trip June 11-15 probably replaced a few other preconceptions about Mexico with stranger-than-fiction facts. The trip was put together by Jim Boyd, deputy editorial page editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and chair of NCEW's International Affairs Committee. He had logistical help from Michael Zamba, Mexico City correspondent for The Dallas Morning News, who gets credit for lining up some high-level meetings. The trip gave 12 journalists and assorted spouses and relatives a chance to learn:

* Mexico's president Ernesto Zedillo has enough charm, looks, and wit to dispel those rumors about what a politically inexperienced nerd he is.

* Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, the man from whom Carlos Salinas allegedly stole the 1988 presidential election, doesn't ooze the kind of charisma his reputation suggests. The man who was expected to walk away with the governorship of Mexico City is more severe than scintillating - despite expectations to the contrary. …

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