Oct 27, 2007

Catemaco wildfires.

I was surprised to not read imagined Mexican newspaper headlines like "US burns Mexicans", or some such nonsense, about the recent deplorable death of 4 illegal border crossers in the wildfires of Southern California.

Usually, the Mexican press blames the US for anything else ranging from the weather to inflation.

What was nice to read though, was the help of Mexican fire fighters legally crossing the border to California to help their US brethen to fight those terrible fires.

Catemaco fortunately is now in the rainy season and too soaked to sponsor any fires. Come the dry season, though, Los Tuxtlas, especially the Sierra Santa Marta, becomes a cinderbox, with 1000's of acres going up in flames each year.

Oct 19, 2007

Catemaco Unemployment

"MEXICO CITY, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Mexico's jobless rate was a slightly lower-than-expected 3.87 percent in September, the government said on Friday, below August's 3.92 percent."

This is a recurrent eyebrow raising news story, especially when considering the US or European unemployment rates way above 6 %.

I have been doing a lot of construction in Catemaco, and have had upward of 20 people working for me at one time. Usually I employ 1 to 4 to keep land clear, do minor remodeling and chores.

My main man, now almost 5 years with me, earns 650 pesos cash weekly, plus lots of bennies, about 800 pesos a week.

Part time workers I hire at 550 pesos a week, no bennies, for a 5 1/2 day work week.

To the Maestro de Albañileria (no clear interpretation - essentially bricklayer and construction foreman) I am now paying 1200 pesos per week. This is the same kid that I started at 450 pesos 5 years ago as an assistant.

The last few weeks I needed about a dozen short term workers to move stuff, chop greens, etc.
I wound up with six. Apparently it is tobacco chopping season which pays the glorious sum of 450 pesos per week (no bennies), slightly above the Mexican minimum wage, but the work lasts for several weeks.

None of these occasional workers have unemployment insurance or are registered at any office that maintains statistics in Mexico.

The Mexican unemployment statistics are based on contributors to the IMSS (social security system), which covers less than 30% of official Mexican workers, and includes mostly larger enterprises, such as Ford de Mexico, and numerous smaller companies who paid insufficient bribes to be taxed.

3.87 % is a lie, try 25 %.

Oct 12, 2007

Los Tuxtlas moving up in the world

With earth shattering speed the Mexican department store chain Coppel, mostly famous for selling shoes, has raised the first commercial elevator in San Andrés Tuxtla, surrounded by 3 floors of merchandise and a 12 car parking garage in place of a former old hotel in the city center.

Even faster was the arrival of the first international fast food chain "Italian Coffee Company", destroying a historic building on the central plaza, and filling mugs with lattes brewed with coffee from anywhere but Los Tuxtlas.

I am looking forward to the arrival of Taco Bell.

Oct 10, 2007

Drive your U boat to Catemaco

As predicted, on an annual basis, the road south from Catemaco towards the Yucatan and Guatemala is today under 6 feet of water near Covarrubias, on the road towards Acayucan / Villahermosa.

Take the "cuota" to bypass Catemaco and catch us next time.

Happy Trails.

Road is open again. Come on down!