The year 2017 did not begin well for the Mexican people. The federal government of Mexico, confronting a weakening currency and rising inflation, removed fuel subsidies. The price of gasoline spiked upward by as much as twenty percent. The term gasolinazo (referring to the steep price hike of gasoline) became a part of the jargon for almost everyone in Mexico. On February 4, another price adjustment will be made; most experts suggest that this will add another eight percent to the price of gasoline.
|One of the many demonstrations in Tlapa against the gasolinazo|
Of course, this increase in the price of gasoline meant an almost-immediate increase in the price of transportation. And the fear is that this will lead to an increase in the prices of food and almost any other commercial good that must be transported in the country. People are angered by this change in government policy, and huge demonstrations have resulted. Tlapa has not been an exception. The gasolinazo will affect especially the poorest of the poor.
|Abel Barrera, director of Tlachinollan, addresses the crowd after a march against the gasolinazo|
The president of the country went on national television to justify this price increase. Among other things he said, “What would you have done?” Both pundits and experts were quick to respond. Cut the huge bonuses and extravagant salaries that high-level government officials receive, said some. Reduce the luxury travel that the president and his family are famous for, suggested others. Get rid of the new presidential plane (the most expensive in the world) was another thought expressed. Recover the money embezzled by so many Mexican politicians, opined others.
|Surely Concepcion would like to see some of that embezzled money|
And now there is the “feud” between Mexico and President Trump of the United States in terms of the latter’s desire that Mexico pay for a wall that he plans to build to safeguard the United States against illegal immigration. It’s too early to know just how that will be played out, but it doesn’t bode well for the economy (and people) of Mexico.
|President Trump doesn't have to worry about Concepcion running across the border|
Meanwhile, the daily struggle for life goes on in the mountain. Life will undoubtedly become more difficult this year, but there are many signs of life. The Marist Brothers, who coordinate the Champagnat High School of the Mountain, located in Potoichan, celebrated the 200th anniversary of the founding of their congregation. This school offers quality education and hope to hundreds of indigenous students each year. Congratulations to Brothers Cepillo, Checo, and Guicho for the great job they do coordinating fourteen teachers and 250 students this year.
|Celebrating 200 years of service to the education of the poor by the Marist Brothers|
And in the indigenous villages new authorities were chosen to offer their services during the year of 2017. These authorities receive no pay; they really are “servant leaders.” And accepting to give that service can present a real challenge to some of the authorities. For example, a father I know had to give up his job in another state to come back to offer service for one year in his community of Santa Anita. Now he has no fixed income—but he has two daughters studying in two different universities. Ouch!
|Don Antonio, the xeñá (elder) of Xochitepec, blessing the new authorities|
And next week a brigade of twenty-four dental personnel from Mexico City will come to the mountain for several days to offer free dental care in many impoverished villages. Mission Mexico will help to provide logistical support (transportation) for this project. The people are always appreciative of this hands-on kind of sharing with them.
|Some of the dental personnel who will come to the Mountain next week|
So we will hope for the best, and we continue working to transform life here. The most beautiful part of this effort is that Mission Mexico never works alone; there are always other persons and groups working in solidarity with the poor, and that community nourishes all involved. Thank you to the people in the Diocese of Calgary and elsewhere who support Mission Mexico. Many churches have envelopes in their pews that have “Mission Mexico” typed on them; please consider an offering for the people here. God bless, and have a wonderful weekend.
|Braulio is now a lively and healthy little boy, after medical care in Tlapa|
|Thanks, western Canada, for allowing me to enjoy your cold and snow|
during the Christmas break...yes, it was nice to get back to Mexico hee hee