In Las Brisas Colonial we live within a democracy. Scheduled meetings, the occasional campaign speech and a show of hands voting are procedural – unlike Mexican politics beyond the perimeter of our Hood, we expats have an equal vote – makes no difference what nationality, if you own a place in the Hood you have a vote. It is more than a privilege here, it is a requirement. If a resident does not attend a community meeting they are fined. They are serious about this.
The meetings are quite an insight to Mexican organization and politics – or lack thereof.
Most of those serving as officers in this little morality play work without pay. It is pretty apparent that their jobs are of the thankless variety.
The sound system is marginal and backless two dollar plastic stools leave an impression on my skinny butt; hard cement seating around the courtyard perimeter is an option; equally uncomfortable.
During a good turnout like we had this past Sunday morning the total vote body count might be 200 with an additional 20 to 30 unbridled children running about. Generally Mexican parents do not expend much energy making behavior demands on their ninos.
The gringos tend to group together – an island of white faces in a sea of brown.
The scene is pretty chaotic, lacking in procedure and planning. Voices get raised occasionally. Mexicans seem to not take criticism well – not at all well. These fledging politicians do not have the hard shells seen on nearly all NOB politicians. Clearly they are more Latin lover than Latin Lucha Libre wrestlers. That suits us just fine.
The meetings always start and end late. Yesterday’s marathon meeting had an 8 AM call and ran three and a half hours –church be hanged. At the onset it was announced there would be 10 issues to cover. Upon hearing the list I leaned in close to Anita, “Ten minutes an issue minimum – meeting the length of a feature film. Oh boy!” This one would be epic, Ben Hur proportion [a 224 minute movie].
There was a lot of discussion, venting, about recent crime in our little Hood. Some seem to feel we have an extraordinary amount of burglaries and thefts. The ladrones are bold entering in bedrooms of sleeping people to steal their iPhones, jewelry and laptops. In some cases these are daytime attempted robbery with physical threats and even physical abuse.
The other day an ATM machine, which was very new to the neighborhood, was stolen – the entire unit was loaded into a van – the machine was freshly filled with a large sum of crisp new pesos – ‘According to the report the company that owned it had put 300,000 pesos into it prior to the theft.’ That is about 20,000 usd. Not a small caper.
It was further reported that a [thought to be] foreigner witnessed the heist and managed to get a photo of the get-away van. The robbers turned around, hunted down the photographer taking his camera and badly beating him. ‘Word is someone took a picture of the truck they used as they were driving away with the ATM but they saw the flash go off, they returned, found the person that took it, took the camera, his stuff and beat the crap out of him….’
A number of people got up to speak their complaint about the lack of police support. Voices and intensity were raised. Here it got interesting:
There were several police officials at the head table. As the complaints boiled over grim faces awash on the police side. In a manner of minutes there were more than a dozen to as many as two-dozen uniformed police sporting their semi-automatic rifles, visible in all directions. Where did these guys come from?
It was pretty obvious someone had got on a phone and called in support; successfully creating quite an intimidating scene. it should be noted when the police were called about the ATM machine around 2 AM they showed up around noon to address the issue. But, here they were in rapid fashion guns drawn.
While it is generally understood that there are in fact no police to call upon within the Hood, there certainly seemed to be no lack of law enforcement personnel at that moment. If there was one there were three in groups all around us, inside the meeting area and beyond its fenced perimeter in the streets.
Here I am thinking perhaps our little community meeting was about to become a riot venue.
Eventually things seemed to lower in heat, flared tempers began to cool and as quick as all those gun toting hombres appeared they were gone. Rest assured their little demonstration got the message across to this writer.
We are of the opinion that there is easily as much crime at our U.S. home base of Las Vegas. We all are taking measures to better secure our property. The Calypso Couple has had no loss of possessions or otherwise robbery problems. We operate carefully, proceeding everywhere with caution. We will have to consider our safety attending those meetings – perhaps the one-hundred peso fine (about $7 usd) is money well spent? Stay Tuned!