Sunday, June 27, 2010

Como Vuela el Cuervo

Oh, honestly, people...

The University of Kansas had 18 students ready to fine-tune their Spanish skills this summer in Puebla, southeast of Mexico City. Then multiple killings in distant Ciudad Juárez in March prompted the State Department to issue a travel warning for northern Mexico. The university canceled its Puebla program.

Apparently they're not teaching geography in college anymore, because if the idea (and it's a good one) is to keep your students away from the insane violence in Juárez, then it's worth noting that the University of Kansas's main campus in Lawrence is nearly 200 miles closer to Juárez than Puebla is. Concerned administrators should be urging the entire student body to transfer north to the University of Iowa if they want to keep them outside the 1200-mile-radius Ciudad Juárez Kill Zone.

Trust us, we'd be as happy as anyone to see the flow of American exchange students in Queretaro slow to a trickle, but for the record, this guy has the right idea:

“To make an analogy,” said Geoffrey E. Braswell, an associate anthropology professor at the University of California, San Diego, “I would not have considered taking students to Mississippi during the early 1960s or to Chicago during the 1968 Democratic convention, but other parts of the U.S. were of course safe for travel. Mexico is that way.”

Here's a handy tool for measuring the distance between Mexican cities, for all you spatially-challenged university deans out there.


Tio Foncho said...

Oh really? Are you THAT façile? The study program was not canceled because of bad geography, it was canceled because crime is everywhere in Mexico, not just in Ciudad Juarez. Look at this map:

Look at all the overlapping circles around Puebla. What a ridiculous red herring argument you make. Would you like to discuss the 10 students killed in Durango? The students killed in Monterrey?

And while we are on geography, you mentioned that the student's school is closer to Ciudad Jaurez than Puebla. Did you look at the map to notice their school was in the US, not in Mexico? Do you think that might make some difference?

Anonymous said...

Tio Foncho...having lived in Brooklyn since 1978 and watching the changes in crime level and the demographics in ethnicity,and being drawn to Mexico to the point that we are leaving for Oaxaca in two weeks to spend the rest of our lives..I am slightly unmoved by your argument.Life does go on in a turbulent evironment, and in fact, goes on with perhaps a greater creative spirit than normal. If my childrn were of an age to study in Puebla I would send them in an
instant,but alas they are already in the world, and I hope without your fears..

Anonymous said...

wow, according to Uncle Honcho's chart, they are even in the ocean!

Tio Foncho said...

Victor: You are moving to Oaxaca because you decided to and now are making up reasons to rationalize your move. The overall crime rate in Oaxaca is 39 per 1,000 inhabitants, Brooklyn's is 29 per 1,000. And just to tie it all together, the overall crime rate in Puebla is 109 per 1,000. Those statistics come from a Mexican think tank, you can find them on page 4:

By the way, Victor, check out the murder rate in Oaxaca. At 17.8 per 100,000 it is several times greater than Brooklyn. Buena suerte, and watch your back, buey.

Anonymous said...


This is the area of Oaxaca:

- Total 93,952 km2 (36,275.1 sq mi)

This is the area of Brooklyn:

- Land 70.61 sq mi (182.9 km2)

In Oaxaca you have plenty of space to hide :)

sarah said...

I studied in Queretaro for a year in 2002 and I too wished there were a lot less americans flooding in for the summer programs. I still havent managed to reintergrate back into the life in the states very well. 8 years later and Id give anything to be able to live in Mexico or study there again. Even in Puebla. Id be more worried about being run over by car in Puebla than anything else. Im not very good at crossing streets.

Burro Hall said...

Fascinating map, Tio Fonzie - Poor Puebla, massacred by bad graphics! The reason there are so many overlapping circles around Puebla is that the states around Puebla are really small. You'll note there's only one circle around Juarez; Chihuahua's a huge, empty state.

Anyway, when you actually click the data you see that there were 29 drug-related killings in the state of Puebla in a two-and-a-half year period. So, roughly 12 per year, in a state with 5 million people. I can see why you'd want to keep the kids at home.

(Incidentally, that same map lists 16 deaths for the state of Queretaro, where I live, which if you adjust for population means Queretaro is nearly twice as dangerous as Puebla. I'll refer you to the hundreds of previous posts where I marvel at the almost comic level of safety and security here.)

You're right, though, that the school being in the US makes some difference. Lawrence KS has, on average 3 or 4 murders a year, but has a population of only 90,000. So Lawrence is roughly 15 times as deadly as Puebla. That's some difference, alright.

(Not for nothing, but your hometown of Poway, CA isn't exactly a crime-free paradise, is it? Can't recall the last time a convicted sex offended slaughtered a couple of teenage girls in Queretaro, buey.)

Tio Foncho said...

Burro Hall, do I have this correct? You now want to compare only the "drug related murders" in Puebla with all of the murders in Lawrence, KS? That does make sense in your altered state of consciousness? I think there may be an opening for you in the Mexican Ministry of Tourism. They could always use a person with expertise in progaganda and always need somebody with a new, innovative way to hotwire reality.

Here's the link to the Mexican think tank report on criminality in Mexico. Try page 4. Feel free to compare the crime rates from any state in Mexico with Lawrence, KS.

Tio Foncho said...

"The believing mind is externally impervious to evidence. The most that can be accomplished with it is to induce it to substitute one delusion for another. It rejects all overt evidence as wicked..."


Frank Koughan:"Freelance fact-checker for numerous publications."

That's a hoot!

Burro Hall said...

Um, okay. [Downloads report. Pours coffee.] Doop dee doop dee doo... Well, I see here that the combined rate of homicides/ executions in Puebla was 3.6 per 100,000, which is a bit lower than Lawrence's 4.4 for that same year, so that's, y'know, thought-provoking. (But since state-to-city comparisons are sometimes unfair, we could also compare Puebla to the entire state of Kansas. Again, Kansas wins with a murder rate of 4.0. U-S-A!!)

In fact, it looks like 14 Mexican states have a lower murder rate than the US average.

But of course, basing one's decisions on abstract crime statistics rather than direct experience and common sense is exactly the sort of "reasoning" I was mocking in this post. Poway seems like a quiet, peaceful little podunk town, but the murder rate in 2003 was 4.0 - higher than Puebla's. And my little hometown of Swampscott, MA, had a single murder a couple years ago (actually, a murder-suicide) which meant the town's murder rate was more than 7 per 100,000 - substantially higher than Michoacan's according to your think tank. No rational person would ever be afraid to walk around either town (though, speaking purely anecdotally, Powayans do seem a bit intense and easily provoked). But then no rational person would be afraid to visit Puebla, either, despite its 1,209-mile proximity to Ciudad Juarez. I guess pointing that out does make me a shameless shill for Mexican tourism.

You should come visit Queretaro one of these days. I don't have room for all your bodyguards, but there's a nice little hotel on the plaza where we could put them up.

Anonymous said...

Tío Foncho: You keep your nose clean, and you have no problem in México. I've not heard a gunshot in the two years I've lived in Mexico, and have seen very little crime. I lived in rural Idaho before where I had my tires knifed, my car purposely wrecked, and a friend killed by unknown sources. I saw much more there than I have in México. Statistics can be manipulated by anyone to prove a point, but in Central México, the problems are few. It's a peaceful life that I was never able to live in the United States.

Señor Burro: Loved your slug, "Cómo Vuela el Cuervo." Just remeber that "cómo" only has an accent when it is used as an interrogative.

Tio Foncho said...

Nice cherry-picking there, Mr. Professional Fact Checker. Too bad for you that Lawrence, KS had no homicides for the entire year of 2009.

That data comes from the same webpage source. Obviously you overlooked the information that didn't work for you. And why does it matter if some Mexican states had a lower murder rate than the US average? Since the US number is an average, it stands to reason that at least one-half the states are lower than the US average too.

Is logic one of your weak points?

Tio Foncho said...

"Tío Foncho: You keep your nose clean, and you have no problem in México."

Thanks for your cogent advice, Mr. Anonymous. Please give it to the family of Bobby Salcedo, of El Monte.

Burro Hall said...

Er, I was comparing your 2008 Mexican data with Lawrence's 2008 data. Because to do anything else would be what we in the trade call "cherry-picking."

But yeah, an innocent American did get killed in Mexico, so you're right, it's crazy dangerous. No innocent Mexican (or American) would ever get killed in the US, obvs.

Hey, I saw 29 people got shot over the weekend in Chicago...oh, never mind.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Burro, you beat me to it. Was going to post the info. about Chicago.

Anonymous said...

Hey Foncho. The Salcedo killing was tragic, but still located within the Northern Golden Triangle, where much of the violence is situated. Again, a geography lesson would be in order for you. You'd make a great "yellow" journalist, spinning only the stories of death and destruction.

Burro Hall said...

Salcedo should have known better than to come within 650 miles of Puebla. I mean, it's just common sense.

Anonymous said...

Ah xenophobia -- so fun!

Well, at least it means you'll never run into Tio Foncho at the local mercado. That's gotta be a relief.

Tio Foncho said...

So far this year, 135 Poblanos have died trying to get into the US. Why would people leave your paradise, to get into a country you say is worse?

Is Puebla great for Gringos, and Hell for Mexicans?

Burro Hall said...

I'm gonna go way out on a limb here and say that they were coming north in search of better-paying jobs to provide a better life for their families? Though I suppose that if I were an idiot, I'd suggest they were fleeing the hellish drug violence that's killing their fellow poblanos at the rate of one per month.

Tio Foncho said...

Sorry Joy, "xenophobia" is a medical term for a fear of foreigners or strangers. Avoidance of crime or dangerous situations does not have a medical term, as it is considered a normal part of the human condition. But keep working on you vocabulary. Tomorrow we can work on all the variations on "chupaverga", starting with mamón.

Tio Foncho said...

"I'm gonna go way out on a limb here and say that they were coming north in search of better-paying jobs to provide a better life for their families?"

Well then, there you have it. Puebla is a great place for white folks to live, and a shitty place for brown folks to live. I'l bet you really enjoy having those morenos bring you your Pacifico's and fish tacos. Tain't no egalitarian gringos in Mexico. The reason that things are cheaper there, is the same reason why the locals are dying to get out. But, I'm sure you have no moral unquietness about that.

Burro Hall said...

Not really. Even here in Midtown Manhattan waiters and service personnel tend to be worse off economically than I am, but I don't feel a whole lot of guilt ordering food and drinks from them. Should I? I tip well on both sides of the border. Though of course there's absolutely no economic inequality in America, so I really need not bother.

Incidentally, I know attention to detail isn't really your thing, but if you'd bothered to read beyond just the headline, you'd see that the 135 poblanos who you say have "died trying to get into the US" this year seems to include a lot of who have been in the US for some time and have died of, among other things "natural causes" (93 of them), and car accidents (24). The most recent death was of a guy who has lived in NY for three years and drowned swimming in the Farmington River on Father's Day weekend.

Too bad there's not a word for avoidance of dangerous situations, because it would be helpful in explaining to the poblanos what a deadly place the US can be.

Anonymous said...

Frank..did you retrieve el gato gris?
Your response to this little kafuffle has been as usual,perfect. Are we sure this guy doesn't live in Arizona?
Enough already...

Burro Hall said...

Sadly, no. The little fluffball is still on hiatus. We're only 220 miles from Puebla, so of course we fear the worst.

As soon as she returns there'll be a banner headline here, followed by the entire house being wrapped in chicken wire.

Tio Foncho said...

If you really read Spanish, and didn't use Google to translate, you would understand that all 135 died on the way to the US. The incident about the guy in Farmington was not related to the 135. You can tell this because they actually give the breakdown of the 135, and the only drownings were of 5 poor souls who drowned in the Rio Grande.

And if you want to talk about economic inequities, why don't you tell us about all the Americans crawling over the fence into Mexico looking for a better life? They could join the 50% of the Mexican population that lives below the poverty line. You know, the ones who bring you your Pacifico's and fish tacos.

Anonymous said...

Tío Foncho, qué asco de persona es usted. Racista como el italiano Arpaio. Imagínese, un sheriff Siciliano racista. Faltaba más. Y ahora un Foncho racista. Válgame Dios. Es usted demasiado pasional. Su comportamiento es neurótico. Usted seguramente es de los que escriben tantos comentarios tontos sobre México debajo de las noticias de, o Youtube.

Mejor dígale a su país que se ponga a tapar ese maldito orificio en el fondo del océano, ya que está matando miles de delfines, tortugas, peces, aves, y demás animales cuyos cadáveres en el fondo del golfo son imposibles de contar.

Es un error peor que los que cometen los países del tercer mundo, como los llama la gente como usted.

Burro Hall said...


1) "If you really read Spanish, and didn't use Google to translate, you would understand that all 135 died on the way to the US. The incident about the guy in Farmington was not related to the 135. You can tell this because they actually give the breakdown of the 135, and the only drownings were of 5 poor souls who drowned in the Rio Grande."

In English, at least, 93 + 24 + 12 + 5 = 134, though I'll defer to your superior knowledge as to whether or not this is also true in Spanish. I can't find the line where the it says the 135th guy "is not related to the 135," but that's Google Translate for ya. Should I try Babelfish?

2) "why don't you tell us about all the Americans crawling over the fence into Mexico looking for a better life?" -- Well, I guess I'd refer you to the previous 2300 posts here. Do try to keep up, Tito.

You know, Mexico's a funny place. You wouldn't understand this living in your underground bunker in Poway, but while the guys who bring me my Negra Modelos (Pacificos? Please...) and tacos, clean my streets, shine my shoes, and haul away my trash are, indeed just a bunch of morenos, so is my attorney, my physician, my accountant, the governor of my state, my veterinarian, all the soccer players, most of the movie stars, the guy who runs the phone company and even the president himself. I know that probably stuns you. It's like "Planet of the Apes" here!

Anyway, Tito, for all your obsession with crime statistics, you seem oblivious to the most egregious offense of all: being a crashing bore - and a long-winded one at that. Somewhere, a think tank is putting a bunch of overlapping circles around your home, office, and all the internet hotspots in the Greater Poway area. If the University of Kansas has any sense, they'll issue a travel advisory.

Suerte, buey. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

Anonymous said...

Anónimo dijo:

"Mejor dígale a su país que se ponga a tapar ese maldito orificio en el fondo del océano, ya que está matando miles de delfines, tortugas, peces, aves, y demás animales cuyos cadáveres en el fondo del golfo son imposibles de contar." Pues, tengo mejor idea. Vamos a taparle el maldito orificio del Tío Foncho. Si, lo mandamos al Golfo para tapar el hoyo allá.


Anonymous said...

Well at least he didn't link you to a porn site.

For a long time Tio/Fulano posted on my site and I welcomed his input on the local gringo con artists and swindlers- he really did have all the data, and this place(Northern Baja) is crawling with them. And the fact that the CAF (Arellano Felix) basically ran everything in this area. It was very bad here guys, really, it still is.

Then he just changed on me, well I should have had a clue when he said it was a shame Obama won.

Of course, it all went to shit when BS1070 hit the headlines, we are so opposite.

Hope you find your kitty.



Anonymous said...

Blogger Marjorie said...

...For a long time Tio/Fulano posted on my site...Then he just changed on me...

No. Like Marjorie, he's somewhat civil until disagreed with. Posting on many different forums under many different names, they've all ended in bans after he couldn't control his nastiness.

What you'll never get a straight answer to is WHY he is so interested in Mexico corruption. Just a Good Samaritan we're told...


Burro Hall said...

Oh, I don't know...I thought he was kind of a cock right from the start. But I do find his combination of self-righteous certainty and wholesale wrongheadedness to be kind of fascinating. We're thinking of making him Poway Bureau chief.

Anonymous said...

The reason I came here is because someone did a search for on my blog. So I googled the number in and this blog came up.

I don't know who you are anonymous, but I resent you even comparing me to Fulano/Tio Foncho. As far as your critical analysis of a personality trait which you attribute to me, that I am " somewhat civil until disagreed with ", stuff it.

I am somewhat civil until I am attacked, as are most people.

blah, blah, blah.