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Posada LAS AMERICAS iQue Viva La Crisis! BY JOHN ROSS Mexico may be the world’s most crisis-conscious country, perpetually in the throes of economic crisis, social crisis, political and environmental and even nervous crisis. “Welcome to the land of permanent crisis,” cracks Carlos Ramirez, editor of The Weekly Bulletin of the Mexican Crisis, which was founded at the nadir of the 1995 peso collapse crisis. According to Ramirez, 1999 marks the seventeenth year of the Mexican crisis. “Any nation with seven billionaires and seventy million poor people is always in crisis,” Ramirez argues. And La Crisis sells a lot of newspapers. If one were to take the headlines at their word, Mexico is currently in the grips of a law-and-order crisis of monumental dimensions, a banking crisis that threatens to bury the nation’s financial institutions, and an agrarian crisis that could put millions of farmers off their land. President Ernesto Zedillo insists that if the electricity industry is not privatized, Mexico will face an energy crisis. Church leaders decry a crisis in moral values. There seems to be a crisis every day in rebel-riddled Chiapas. Multiplying crises are driving Mexicans into nervous crisis; Neurotics Anonymous’ twenty-four-hour hotline offers relief but is sometimes busy because N.A. is gearing up for what the group anticipates will be increased demand during the impending endof-the-millennium crisis. “I’ve spent my whole life jumping from one crisis to the next,” rues twenty-year-old philosophy student Emiliano Mendoza over coffee in the provincial city of Morelia Michoacan. “I’m really bored with La Crisis.” The end -of -sexenio crisis, which befalls the country at the end of each six-year presidential term, is perhaps the most dreaded of Mexican crises. Mexico is the land of term limits, where no president \(or any twice. Tensions over presidential succession escalates within the power circles of the long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary for seventy years, resulting in uncertainty and even bloodshed. Foreign investment slows to a trickle as Mexican moguls lead the capital flight to safe havens in the United States. \(Mexicans now bank $33 ble and peso devaluations are now almost expected every six years. The past five transitions from one PRI president to the next \(the party has never that Mexico cannot stage a presidential election without an end-of-sexenio crisis. The 1976 transfer of power from Luis Echeverria to Jose Lopez Portillo was frayed by peso devaluation and economic turmoil. In 1982, Lopez Portillo passed the scepter to Miguel de la Madrid amidst collapsing oil prices and a debt crisis that left Mexico unable to meet its foreign obligations. De la Madrid suffered reoccurring oil-price crises in 1984 and 1986, and the stage for the 1988 electoral crisis in which the PRI was forced to resort to fraud to retain the presidency for Carlos Salinas a charade that all but threw Mexico into a constitutional crisis. The 1994 transition of power from Sali nas to Zedillo followed the assassination of PRI first-choice presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio and Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu, the party’s secretary general, and preceded, by three weeks, the collapse of the peso and Mexico’s worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. This past June 15 was a typical crisis-ridden day in the life of the Mexican Republic. A tooth-rattling 6.7-point earthquake sent hundreds into a collective crisis nerviosa on Mexico City streets and toppled half the churches in the very devout state of Puebla. Twenty died. Up in the northern industrial megalopolis of Monterrey, flash floods took twenty more lives. In Guadalajara, the nation’s second city, flames belched from open manholes in a near re-enactment of the 1993 gas explosion that instantly killed 225 residents of the city. Buried in the disaster stories was the Zedillo administration’s triumphal an 22 THE TEXAS OBSERVER AUGUST 20, 1999 ***Of.7.1 .401