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Which political party has the most state governors?

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Feb 162013
 

Mexican governors are elected for single six-year terms; re-election is not permitted by the Mexican Constitution. The terms of governors in different states overlap; for example, seven of the 32 governors began their term of office in 2012.

The PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, Institutional Revolutionary Party) currently holds 19 of the 32 governorships spread throughout Mexico (states colored red on map), except for the northwest and extreme south. On 1 March 2013, PRI will gain another governorship when Aristoteles Sandoval of PRI replaces the current PAN Governor of Jalisco. Although PRI Presidential candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, easily won the Mexican Presidency in 2012, of seven new governors inaugurated in 2012, only three were from PRI.

Ex-President Calderón’s PAN (Partido Acción Nacional, National Action Party) is a distant second with seven governorships (blue on map); six after 1 March 2013. Four of the PAN governorships are in the northwest.

The PRD (Partido de la Revolución Democrática, Party of the Democratic Revolution) is third with four governorships (yellow on map). Three of the PRD governors took office in 2012. PRD has held the important governorship of the Mexico City Federal District since 1988.

State governorships, 2010 and 2013

State governorships, 2010 and 2013

The Governor of Oaxaca (brown on 2013 map) is from the Movimiento Ciudadano (Citizens’ Movement, formerly known as Convergencia or Convergence), which supported López Obrador in the 2006 presidential election. The Governor of Chiapas is from the PVEM (Partido Verde Ecologísta de México; Mexico’s Green Party; green on the 2013 map).

The north-south political divide that we have referred to in some previous posts, including the equivalent map for 2010 shown above, is no longer evident in the current pattern of state governorships.

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The crater lake of Santa María del Oro yields evidence for climate change

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Feb 142013
 

A magnificent crater lake nestles in a centuries-old volcanic crater a short distance east of the town of Santa María del Oro in Nayarit.

The connecting road from Highway 15 first passes through the former mining town of Santa María del Oro and then rises slightly to offer a splendid view of the beautiful slate-blue lake (known locally as “La Laguna”), set in a ring of verdant hills. In recent years, the lake, a good example of a geomorphosite, has become important for tourism with accommodations ranging from RV spaces to a boutique hotel. It takes about an hour and a half to stroll round the track that encircles the crater lake. Other attractions include visiting an abandoned gold mine (which offers a glimpse into the area’s past), birding, mountain biking, swimming or hiring a rowboat or kayak to venture out onto the lake.

Crater Lake, Santa María del Oro. Credit: Tony Burton

Crater Lake, Santa María del Oro. Credit: Tony Burton

This usually quiet lake has proved to be a valuable source of information for geologists and climatologists investigating the history of climate change in this region of Mexico.

The researchers who published their findings in 2010 in the Bulletin of the Mexican Geological Society extracted a sediment core from the deepest part of the lake. The relatively small area of the drainage basin surrounding the lake and the relatively steep slopes of surrounding hills mean that the sediments entering the lake are rarely disturbed after they are deposited. Wind and wave action are limited. The depth of the lake (maximum 65.5 meters) also helps to ensure that sediments remain undisturbed for centuries. This gives perfect conditions for a reliable sediment core.

Santa María del Oro. Credit: Google Earth

Santa María del Oro. Credit: Google Earth

The team analyzed the titanium, calcium and magnetism levels of successive thin slices of the core. By comparing the core with historic records and previous tree ring analyses from the same general area, they were able to accurately date each slice. The titanium levels in each slice allowed the researchers to quantify how much runoff occurred in that year, a proxy indicator of precipitation.

The team identified 21 significant drought events over a period of 700 years. The six most marked droughts occurred in 1365–1384, 1526, 1655-1670, 1818, 1900 and 1930-2000. They found periodicities of 25, 39, 50, 70 and 117 years for drought events, meaning that droughts occurred at fairly regular intervals of about 20-25 years.

The researchers then looked at the possible correlation between periods of drought and two distinct climatological factors: a shift to the south in the position of the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) in summer and the occurrence of El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events. When the ITCZ does not extend as far north as usual during Mexico’s summer rainy season, states such as Nayarit and Jalisco receive less than their normal amount of rainfall. During ENSO events, rainfall is also diminished in central and western Mexico.

Of the 21 droughts identified and studied, 7 proved to be statistically linked to ENSO events, 10 to ITCZ movements, and the remaining 4 events were closely linked to a combination of both.

As the study concludes, titanium analysis of sediments may allow for a more refined record of climate change in the period prior to reliable historic or instrumental records which might improve the understanding of how and why climate change occurred in past

Santa María del Oro is also worth visiting because it is only a short distance away from the edge of the canyon of the River Santiago and the El Cajón hydro-electric power project, one of three major HEP projects located along that river.

Source article:

Susana Sosa-Nájera, Socorro Lozano-Garcí, Priyadarsi D. Roy and Margarita Caballero. Registro de sequías históricas en el occidente de México con base en el análisis elemntal de sedimentos lacustres: El caso del lago de Santa María del Oro. Boletín de la Sociedad Geológica Mexicana, Vol 62, #3, 2010, p 437-451.

Santa María del Oro and surrounding areas are described in chapter 24 of the recently published 4th (Kindle/Kobo) edition of my Western Mexico: A Traveler’s Treasury (Sombrero Books, 2013).

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Ecological footprints, marine conservation and Cancun’s underwater sculpture park

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Feb 112013
 

The Global Ocean Commission, a new, high-level international effort to try to stave off eco-disaster in the world’s oceans, is being launched tomorrow in London, U.K.. Headed by former UK foreign secretary, David Miliband, former South African finance minister Trevor Manuel, and José María Figueres, a former president of Costa Rica, the Commission will promote international efforts to ensure the effective governance of international waters, and agreements governing such activities as deep sea fishing, pirate fishing, sea-floor mining and geo-engineering, all considered to be potential threats to the long-term viability of ocean ecosystems.

Miliband is quoted as saying that “We are living as if there are three or four planets instead of one, and you can’t get away with that.” Actually, the ecological footprint of the USA, as one example, is much closer to ten “global hectares per person” than three or four. (Each global hectare encompasses the average annual productivity of all biologically productive land and ocean areas in the world). The world’s biocapacity—the amount of resources its ecosystems can supply each year—is only equivalent to about 2 global hectares per person, a value that is declining each year as population increases (see Mexico’s ecological footprint compared to that of other countries).

2002 Postage Stamp: reef conservation

2002 Postage Stamp: reef conservation

Mexico is one of the six most biodiverse countries in the world. While it has taken many steps to protect its marine resources, by enacting legistlaiton establishing fishing restrictions and protected areas, much remains to be done. Mexico’s coral reefs are particularly vulnerable. For example, the Cancún Marine Park is one of the most visited stretches of water in the world with over 750,000 visitors each year, placing immense pressure on its resources. We described one unusual conservation effort related to this area in “Artificial reef near Cancún doubles as an underwater art gallery” [Mar 2012] which looked at the work of Artist Jason deCaires Taylor, who created an underwater sculpture park, the Underwater Art Museum (Museo Subaquatico de Arte, MUSA), near Cancún.

The museum, begun in 2009, currently consists of more than 450 permanent life-size sculptures set in the waters surrounding Cancún, Isla Mujeres and Punta Nizuc. Taylor is adding sixty additional underwater sculptures to the park, many of them modeled after local residents. This underwater museum is both attractive and functional, providing new habitat for coral and other marine life, as well as diverting snorkelers and divers away from fragile coral reefs, allowing them more chance to recover from the impacts of overuse.

The cultural geography of Mexico’s carnival celebrations

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Feb 092013
 

Carnival celebrations are underway in many Mexican towns. Carnival (carnaval) is a time for merry-making in the days prior to Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent in the Christian liturgical calendar. (In 2013, Ash Wednesday falls on 13 February.) Carnival originated in Italy and was introduced into Mexico several centuries ago by the Spaniards. Even though the proportion of Mexico’s population that is Catholic has fallen steadily in recent decades – see Religious diversity is increasing in Mexico – the popularity of carnival shows no signs of decline.

Carnival float, Veracruz

Carnival float, Veracruz

According to Wikipedia, more than 220 towns in Mexico celebrate Carnival. Frances Toor, an authority on Mexican folklore, claims that carnival festivities in Mexico City “reached their climax about the middle of the nineteenth century and have died out since the 1910–1920 Revolution.” Very few large cities in Mexico have important carnival celebrations, the most notable exceptions being Veracruz, Mérida and Mazatlán.

Carnival float, Veracruz

Carnival float, Veracruz

By far the most interesting carnival celebrations in Mexico are those held in smaller towns and villages in non-tourist areas. In this regard, the carnival in Huejotzingo, in the state of Puebla, stands out. It is aptly labeled by Toor in “A Treasury of Mexican Folkways”, published in 1947, as “the most elaborate and brilliant of the village carnivals”. Toor describes this carnival in considerable detail, saying that it “dramatizes the capture and death of Agustín Lorenzo, a famous bandit, who with his men used to rob convoys between Mexico City and Vera Cruz and then hide in the near-by gorges or mountains. According to the carnival plot, he ran off with the beautiful young daughter of a rich hacendado, took her to one of his hideouts and was having a wedding celebration when the federal soldiers fell upon them.”

In Toor’s time, about 1000 villagers participated each year, dressed as soldiers in elaborate costumes representing several different battalions. She notes that “In recent years [1940s] some new features have been added to the Huejotzingo carnival. At dawn, all the forces fight against the French, who occupy the plaza, which is besieged and taken. The bride is said to be the beautiful daughter of the French Emperor Maximilian, instead of a rich hacendado”. Today, more than 2000 villagers take part. Most modern descriptions of the carnival in Huejotzingo describe it is an intermixing of three separate plots: the Battle of Puebla (where Mexican forces defeated the French on 5 May 1842), the kidnapping of the mayor’s daughter, and the first Christian marriage in Mexico.

Other places with idiosyncratic carnival celebrations include Huixquilucan (State of México), Calnali (Hidalgo), Tlayacapan (Morelos), Tuxpan de Bolaños (Jalisco), San Juan Chamula and Chenalho (both in Chiapas) and Zaachila (Oaxaca).

This Youtube video clip shows 2012 carnival revelry in Cozumel:

As with almost every aspect of Mexico’s cultural geography, there is no one fixed or rigid “tradition”. Instead, there have been so many significant changes over time that today’s celebrations of carnival across Mexico are characterized as much by their distinctive regional variations as by their similarity.

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The geography of the Huichol Indians: economy, lifestyles and settlements

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Feb 072013
 

In this post we take a closer look at the traditional life and settlement patterns of the Huichol Indians.

The origins of the Huichol are unclear. The Wixárika themselves believe they arrived in the Jalisco-Nayarit area from the Valley of the Mexico, though most anthropologists believe it is more likely that they came originally either from the north or from the Nayarit coast.

Huichol economy and lifestyle

In the Huichol heartland area (shown on the map) the rainy season normally begins in June and lasts until October, a similar timing to most of central and western Mexico. While average temperatures in the area are usually between 15 and 20 degrees Centigrade, there can be sharp frosts in winter.

huichol-villages

The dispersed rural settlement pattern of the Huichol heartland. Credit: Tony Burton / Geo-Mexico; all rights reserved

Huichol family groups rely on the subsistence farming of corn, beans and squash, which are grown together in a small plot or garden (coamil). Tomatoes, chiles and gourds are also produced, Cultivation is often on steep slopes. Land is cleared by slash and burn. A few cattle may be kept, largely because of their value as trade items. Meat is rarely available except on ceremonial occasions. Some fishing is practiced, and wild plants also form part of the typical Huichol diet. Merchants supply other items such as salt, shells, feathers, canned drinks and sandals.

The typical Huichol home is a simple, one-room dwelling, usually rectangular in plan, with a thatched roof. Some homes have a second room for cooking.

The isolation of the Huichol has enabled them to retain almost all of their traditional customs. Anthropologists who have lived among the Huichol affirm that religion for the Huichol is not part of life, it is life.

Three of the most important symbols for the Huichol are deer, corn (maize) and peyote. In some ways, these three items underline the fact that the Huichol culture has undergone a transition from a lifestyle based on hunting and gathering towards one based on sedentary agriculture.

Settlements and districts

During colonial times, the area inhabited by the Huichol Indians was first divided into three and then, later, five administrative districts:

  • Santa Catarina (elevation about 1000 meters above sea level). Santa Catarina is a day’s walk from the nearest airstrip.
  • San Sebastián (elevation 1400 meters).
  • Tuxpan (aka Tuxpan de Bolaños; elevation 1060 meters).
  • San Andrés Cohamiata (elevation 1860 meters). This has the best airstrip and is the main Huichol ceremonial center. While many of the people did not adopt Catholicism, San Andrés has more services, including a medical clinic, and more working opportunities.
  • Guadalupe Ocotán (elevation 1050 meters). More of the Huichol living here accepted Catholicism and are more acculturated. Most children attend school; many people wear “mestizo” clothing.

Each of these districts has its own autonomous government, and there are relatively few formal links between the districts or “communities”. Each community is headed by a governor (Tatohuani), with the office transferred to a new leader every January following an elaborate ceremony. Each community also has a parallel religious government headed by its shamans (maraakames).

The transportation challenges in this region are evident from the number of small airstrips shown on the map and the paucity of road links. Villages only 5 or 10 kilometers away from each other “as the crow flies” may be almost impossible to travel between because of the river canyons and steep slopes. A relief map of this area shows that most settlements are perched on whatever flatter land is available, often on the plateau top.

Given the lack of formal links between districts, and the terrain, it is not surprising that the settlement pattern in the Huichol heartland area is highly dispersed, with a very large number of tiny settlements, mostly kinship settlements where all members belong to the same extended family. There are more than 400 distinct settlements (rancherías or ranchos) in the region and many of the settlements are a considerable distance from their nearest neighbors. This part of Mexico exhibits one of the clearest examples in the country of dispersed rural settlements.

Key questions raised by the dispersed settlement patterns of this area:

  • What does “development” mean in the context of the Huichol Indians?
  • Does this dispersed settlement pattern inhibit the future economic and social development of the Huichol people? If so, how does it do so, and what could be done to overcome the difficulties it causes?
  • Would development be easier if most or all of the small scattered communities were congregated into a smaller number of larger settlements?

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What is the elevation of Mexico’s cities?

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Feb 042013
 

The short answer to “What is the elevation of Mexico’s cities?” is “somewhere between zero and 3000 meters (8200 ft) above sea level!” Mexico’s extraordinarily varied relief provides settlement opportunities at a very wide range of elevations. Many Mexican cities are at or near sea level. This group includes not only coastal resort cities such as Acapulco, Cancún and Puerto Vallarta, but also Tijuana on the northern border and, at the opposite end of the country, Mérida, the inland capital of Yucatán state.

Mexico City, the nation’s capital, has an average elevation of about 2250 meters (7400 ft.), similar to that of nearby Puebla. Toluca, the capital city of the state of México, is almost 400 m higher, while both Huixquilucan and Zinacantepec (also in the state of México) are at an elevation of over 2700 meters. Moving northwards from Mexico City, numerous major cities are at elevations of between 1500 meters and 1850 meters above sea level. The cities nearer the lower end of this range include Saltillo, Oaxaca and Guadalajara, while Aguascalientes, Querétaro, Guanajuato, Morelia and León are all situated at elevations close to 1800 meters.

Frequency plot of city elevations in Mexico. Credit: Geo-Mexico

Frequency plot of city elevations in Mexico. Credit: Geo-Mexico

Are there more cities at some elevations than others? Each dot on the graph above represents one of Mexico’s 170 largest cities and towns, plotted against its average elevation. The two major clusters of cities occur at elevations of close to sea level and at 2250 meters, with another smaller, more spread out cluster between 1500 meters and 2000 meters. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, there are relatively few Mexican cities at elevations of between 100 and 1500 meters (4920 ft.).

  • Q. Can you suggest any reasons for this? [Hint: Look at a relief map of Mexico to see how much land surface there actually is at different elevations].

The graph also shows the division of Mexico’s climate and vegetation zones by elevation first proposed by Alexander von Humbuldt following his visit to Mexico in 1803–1804. The terms tierra caliente, tierra templada, and tierra fría are still widely used by non-specialists today to describe the vertical differentiation of Mexico’s climatic and vegetation zones (see cross-section below).

Altitude zones

Altitude zones. Copyright John Wiley & Sons Inc. 2000.

The tierra caliente (hot land) includes all areas under about 900 m (3000 ft). These areas generally have a mean annual temperature above 25°C (77°F). Their natural vegetation is usually either tropical evergreen or tropical deciduous forest. Farms produce tropical crops such as sugar-cane, cacao and bananas. Tierra templada (temperate land) describes the area between 900 and 1800 m (3000 to 6000 ft) where mean annual temperatures are usually between about 18°C and 25°C (64°F to 77°F). The natural vegetation in these zones is temperate forest, such as oak and pine-oak forest. Farms grow crops such as corn (maize), beans, squash, wheat and coffee. Tierra fria (cold land) is over 1800 m (6000 ft) where mean annual temperatures are in the range 13°–18°C (55°–64°F). At these altitudes pine and pine-fir forests are common. Farm crops include barley and potatoes. On the highest mountain tops, above the tierra fría is tierra helada, frosty land.

Interestingly, the tierra templada appears to have fewer cities than might be expected. Equally, while archaeologists have sometimes argued for the advantages of siting settlements close to the transition zone between climates, where a variety of produce from very distinct climates might be traded, the graph shows no evidence for this.

It would be misleading to read too much into this superficial analysis of the elevations of Mexican settlements. First, we have only considered the 170 largest settlements. Second, an individual settlement may extend over a range of elevation, so using an average figure does not reveal the entire picture. Thirdly, the precise elevations for tierra caliente, templada and fria all depend on the latitude and other local factors. Even so, it might be interesting to extend this analysis at some future time to include far more settlements to see if the patterns identified are still present or if others emerge.

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Cyclists retaking the streets of Guadalajara

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Feb 022013
 

The popularity of cycling is growing rapidly in several Mexico cities. Mexico City has created bike lanes, an Ecobici system for short-distance hires, and holds numerous cycling events and rallies, designed to appeal to the whole family, not just to commuters.

Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city, now has a higher density of car use than Mexico City, according to “Over the Wheel—Mexico“, a documentary made recently for Aljazeera TV by Juan Pablo Rojas. Rojas, a native of the city, is a long-time film maker. He focuses his documentaries “on those sectors of society that are promoting new paradigms of life based on social equality, awareness, development, conservation and sustainability.”

Via RecreActiva in Guadalajara. Photo by supernova.gdl.mx

Via RecreActiva in Guadalajara. Photo by supernova.gdl.mx

Over the Wheel—Mexico” takes a look at the growing cycling culture in Guadalajara, a city of some four million people and almost two million motor vehicles. It looks at the dedicated work of several committed groups of activists, such as GDL en bici [Guadalajara by bike],  who are striving to persuade car owners to change their habits and make the streets safer for alternative, cleaner corms of transport such as bicycles. Among other things, the activists have begun a “bicicleta blanca” movement in which white-painted bicycles are mounted as a memorial wherever a cyclist is killed in a traffic accident.

Can cyclists reclaim the streets of Guadalajara from cars? This 25-minute documentary, which has Spanish language commentary and English subtitles, looks at how a quiet revolution in sustainable urban transport is slowly unfolding in Guadalajara.

Further evidence of the growing popularity of cycling in Guadalajara is provided by the success of the weekly “Via RecreActiva” (see image). Every Sunday, city officials close over 65 km (40 mi) of city streets to motorized vehicles for six hours from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Up to 200,000 people take over the streets. Most are on bicycles, but others are walking, jogging, rollerblading or skateboarding.

Want to read more?

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Jan 312013
 

The remote mountains and plateaus of the north-west corner of Jalisco where it shares borders with the states of Nayarit, Durango and Zacatecas (see map) is home to some 18,000 Huichol Indians, as well as their close cousins, the Cora.

The Huichol heartland (central part of the rectangle on map) is an area of about 4100 square kilometers which straddles the main ridges of the Western Sierra Madre, with elevations of between 1000 and 3000 meters above sea level. There are dozens of dispersed small Huichol rural settlements (ranchos) in the area. We will take a detailed look at their settlements and traditional way of life in a future post.

In this post we focus on the regional setting of the Huichol heartland and the links that now exist between the Huichol and other places in the same general region of Mexico.

huichol-regional-setting

The Huichol refer to all other Mexicans (whatever their ethnic origin) as “mestizo”. The nearest non-Huichol “mestizo” towns are  Mezquitic, Colotlán, Bolaños, Chimaltitán and Villa Guerrero, all in Jalisco, and all about 2-3 days’ walk from most Huichol settlements.

Migration to the tobacco fields

Many Huichol have left their home villages, where economic prospects are limited, in search of employment elsewhere. This kind of migration is often temporary or seasonal. For example, some Huichol undertake seasonal agricultural work, from November to May, on the tobacco plantations of coastal Nayarit. This may guarantee some income but the living conditions are poor, the work is hazardous and pesticide poisoning is all too common. Most of these Huichol return home each summer to plant their corn, beans and squash.

The center of tobacco cultivation is Santiago Ixcuintla, a town which has a very interesting support center for Huichol Indian culture and crafts. Tobacco cultivation, no longer as important as it once was, required as many as 15,000 local plus 27,000 temporary workers. While the businesses involved all have guidelines about how chemical sprays (including including Lannate, Diquat, Paraquat and Parathion) should be applied, these have rarely been effectively enforced. Many of the Huichol live in shanty-like accommodation in the fields, with no ready access to potable water. Some studies have shown that pesticide containers are sometimes used to carry drinking water. There have also been many cases of organophosphate (fertilizer) intoxication from working and living in the tobacco fields.

The tobacco workers often have no place to purchase basic food supplies apart from a store run by the same company they work for. The company holds their wages until the end of the week, and deducts the cost of any items they have bought. This is a virtually identical system to the “tienda de raya” system that was employed by colonial hacienda owners to economically enslave their workers.

Making the pesticide problems for the Huichol even worse is the fact that chemicals including DDT have been used to fumigate parts of Sierra Huichol in order to kill malarial mosquitoes. The Huichol refer to the DDT sprayers as “matagatos” (cat killers). The effects of most of these chemicals are cumulative over time.

Movement to the cities

In the past thirty years, about four thousand Huichols have migrated to cities, primarily Tepic (Nayarit), Guadalajara (Jalisco) and Mexico City. It has also become quite common to see Huichol Indians (usually the menfolk in their distinctive embroidered clothing) in tourist-oriented towns, such as San Blas and Puerto Vallarta. To a large extent, it is these city-wise Huichols who, in search of funds, have drawn attention to their rich culture through their artwork and handicrafts. In addition to embroidered bags and belts, the Huichol make vibrant-colored bead work, yarn crosses and (more recently) yarn paintings, often depicting ancient legends. Income from artwork is very variable, but it is an activity that can include the participation of women. However, trading may depend on middle men who siphon off potential profits, and the Huichol artists now face stiff competition from non-Huichol imitators.

Encroachment by outsiders

As we saw in an earlier post—The sacred geography of Mexico’s Huichol Indians—the Huichol consider themselves the guardians of a large part of western Mexico. Inevitably, traditional Huichol lands have been encroached upon by outsiders for agriculture and ranching. Some non-Huichol ejidos have been established on land that was formerly communal Huichol land. Unfortunatley, the Huichol have had little defence against these pressures.

Mining interests are also threatening some traditional Huichol areas. For example, there is a serious dispute between the Huichol and the First Magestic Silver company over the area the Huichol call Wirikuta (where they gather their sacred peyote on an annual 800-km round-trip pilgrimage). First Majestic Silver has obtained permission from the Mexican government for its proposed La Luz Silver Project, which will extract silver from the Sierra de Catorce, despite this area’s historic significance for the Huichol.

Want to see their artwork?

One of the museums in the city of Zacatecas houses one of the relatively few museum quality displays of Huichol Indian art anywhere in Mexico. The collection was bought by the Zacatecas state government, in order to prevent its sale to the University of Colorado. The 185 embroideries (as well as many other items) were collected by Dr. Mertens, an American doctor who lived in Bolaños and worked for the Bolaños mining company. After the company closed its mines, Mertens continued to live in Bolaños, and to offer medical services to the Huichol, asking only for the occasional embroidery in lieu of payment. Another place to see high quality Huichol art is the small museum in the Basilica de Zapopan in the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area.

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Jan 282013
 

Line 12 of Mexico City’s Metro (subway) system was opened in October 2012. The new line, also known as the Golden Line, extends the city’s metro system into several lower income areas in the south-eastern part of the city, including Tlahuac, Milpa Alta, Xochimilco and Iztapalapa.

– – -> Update: As of 11 March 2014, the elevated (above ground) southern section of this line between Tlahuac and Atlalilco stations has been temporarily closed for repairs. A replacement bus system has been established between those stations. According to a report in the Mexico City daily Reforma (citing a study by ILF Consulting Engineers), the design of tracks in that section has resulted in damage to the wheels of several metro trains. It also resulted in the failure of an electric cable and has caused cracks and fractures in the track supports. The affected section is 14 km (9 mi) long. Authorities are reviewing the possibility of legal action against the line’s builders, a consortium comprised of France’s Alstom and the Mexican companies ICA and Carso. [end of update]

Line 12, the longest line in the network, is 25 km (15.5 miles) long and has 20 stations, including four transfer points. In terms of network connectivity, it adds an important east-west link connecting four lines that serve the southern section of the metro area. Line 12 runs from Mixcoac (Line 7) to Tlahuac in the southeast of Mexico City, intersecting with line 3 at Zapata, line 2 at Ermita and line 8 at Atlalilco.

Mexico-City-Metro-MapOfficials estimate that the line, which has both underground and overground sections, will eliminate 860 buses from the city’s congested streets, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 22,000 metric tons a year. Its construction cost about $1.8 billion and included one overground section perched on specially designed earthquake-resistant steel pillars.

Mexico City metroBetween 400,000 and 450,000 passengers are expected to use Line 12 daily. It is expected to cut the average daily commuting time from those parts of the city it serves by more than an hour a day, from 150 minutes to 78 minutes. The line is only accessible by using the new metropolitan smart transport card “Tarjeta DF”.

The complete network of 12 lines comprising Mexico City’s metro system, used by more than 5 million passengers a day, now has 195 stations and a total length of about 227 km (141 miles).

28 Jan 2013 Update:

Officials of Mexico City’s Metro system (Sistema de Transporte Colectivo, STC) have announced that they are considering extending Line 12 westwards into the Álvaro Obregón district of the city. STC’s Managing Director Joel Ortega Cuevas also said that an analysis is needed of the viability of extending the Metro network to reach several major commuting routes in the State of México (see map below), including Ecatepec-Coacalco-Zumpango; Chalco-Ixtapaluca; Naucalpan-Tlalnepantla-Cuautitlán; Atizapan-Naucalpan and Chimalhuacan-Nezahualcóyotl.

Spatial growth of Mexico City Metropolitan Area (based on Geo-Mexico Fig 22.2; all rights reserved)

Spatial growth of Mexico City Metropolitan Area (based on Geo-Mexico Fig 22.2; all rights reserved)

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The distinctive street pattern of Venta de Bravo, Michoacán

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Jan 262013
 

The small settlement of Venta de Bravo, in the municipality of Contepec in the state of Michoacán, has a very distinctive street pattern. As the image shows, it has a circular “center”, surrounded by a series of concentric circular streets (see image), connected via regularly-spaced radial streets. The regularity of the pattern is not quite perfect. Based on the photo, the imperfections probably result from variations of topography.

Venta de Bravo, Michoacán. Credit: imagenesaereasdemexico.com

Venta de Bravo, Michoacán. Credit: imagenesaereasdemexico.com

The village has about 1300 inhabitants and is at an elevation of 2290 meters above sea level. This is clearly a “planned settlement”, and one almost certainly quite modern in origin. I haven’t ever visited Venta de Bravo and don’t know its history, but would certainly be interested in finding out more if you have any pertinent information or can suggest likely sources.

An online search for Venta de Bravo will turn up numerous articles about the seismically active 45-km-long Venta de Bravo fault, as well as references to the small “Rayón National Park” which is only a few kilometers away in the Sierra of Tlalpujahua and extends as high as 2770 meters above sea level (Cerro del Gallo).