Jeff Smith 6 p.m., Oct. 8
- Community Blog
- Living in El Fin Del Mundo
Red buses vs White buses (A tale of two political parties)
Tijuana is still giddy from the July forth elections.At least the PRI backers sure are. "Happy days are here again!" sing their suppporters. I wouldn't say as much about the PAN people. They lost all five major mayoral spots in the state. Not to mention important district seats. The repercussions are just beginning, since most every politician around here has a plethora of family, friends and funders imbedded in 'do nothing and get paid a lot' jobs. Just like in my good ole USA.
I live in District XIII on the eastside. The PAN candidate there was a woman by the name of Arcelia Galarza Villarino. I don't know too much about her accept that she is a very professional looking woman who was considered one of the PAN's top candidates. She had to be since she was going up against one of the PRI's big guns. His name is Gregorio Barreta Luna. Him I know about. He is a powerful businessman in Tijuana. About a year or so ago, he was kidnapped as he was exiting the Caliente betting parlor in Tijuana's macroplaza. His kidnappers cut off two of his fingers before his randsome was paid and he was released. Suffice it to say, he was running a heavy duty, 'I'm tough on crime' campaign This played right into the greatest worry of your average Tijuanense - security.
The PAN and PRI both pushed the security issue. However, they used different tactics. There are two types of crime in Tijuana. There is the cartel vs cartelviolence which usually just leaves the players dead. When I say players that includes cartel gunmen, drug dealers, cops on the take, corrupt politicians, crooked lawyers and money laundering businessmen. Then there is the crime against the general population. Armed robbery and grand theft auto are the two big crimes that concern working class Tijuanenses.
When the federal government (PAN controlled) cracks down on cartel operations the big dealers restock their operating funds by robbing banks and kidnapping wealthy citizens. The little fish however, resupply themselves by robbing the common folk. Not the well guarded politicians and other wealthy elites. Somebody needs to tell the PAN there are more poor people than rich people in Tijuana. Oh well, too late.
The PAN wasted a lot of money bragging about how they were winning the war against the cartels. The PRI on the other hand, spoke of security for Tijuanenses. This wasn't lost on voters. Barreta, a crime victim himself, was especially effective.
I can't speak for every Tijuanense nor should I try. But many that I know say this; The war ondrugs is a US problem. They are the ones who can't control their kids. If our fellow countrymen want to make a buck off of your inability to parent responsibly then tough cookies on you. You don't believe me.? Just listen to the narcocorridos.
When I purchased my Palatial Wooden Shack(PWS) on the far eastern edge of Tijuana several years back, there was only one bus company serving the barrio I live in and there still is only one. They are the white, nineteen passenger, retired school buses, that I call "ubiquitous jitneys" or "pieces of crap" depending on how bipolar I'm feeling. The company has been pro PAN the whole time I've lived in Lomas del Encinal. As a matter of fact, very pro PAN. During the elections the PRD painted a large campaign banner touting their mayoral candidate (Moreno Berry) right in front of the staging area for the white bus company's far eastern base. It was defaced with pro PAN grafitti within days.
A couple of months after I first moved into my PWS, I exited the Altiplano offramp on the Highway 2000 and came to an immediate halt. On the sloping road, going up the dirt hill that leads to my neighborhood, I saw about twenty of the little buses. Some were the white ones of the local company while others were thered ones of another company that serves parts of Tijuana but not my barrio.
It was apparent what had happened. The red company had tried to start a route into Lomas del Encinal. As the driver was descending from the foothill neighborhood he was blocked off by a couple of white buses. You could tell by how they were positioned on the road. The driver of the blocked red bus then called on his cell phone for back up. There is a red bus company base nearby on the other side of the Highway 2000. His co workers surrounded the white buses that initiated the confrontation. But because all this was occurring on a regular white line bus route, a steady stream of white buses was arriving to slowly encircle the red buses that had encircled the white buses that had cut off the first red bus driver. Get it?
There was a lot of screaming and threatening going on before some uniformed officials showed up and diffused the situation. The incident was on the local evening news. Supposedly, the red buses weren't licensed to run a route in that area. he white buses went back to their monopoly on the area.
The service given by this company was shoddy at best. I overheard passengers daily, grumbling about the quality and conditions provided. This never seemed to faze the drivers. Theyknew it was 'pay my price or walk.' Then one day the red buses were back. Ridership on the white buses plummeted as disgruntled customers showed their displeasure by switching en mass to the red buses.The service provided by the red buses wasn't all that much better than the white buses and the price was exactly the same(eight and a half pesos).But they at least seemed to be trying. The drivers who had the monopoly displayed a much more cavalier attitude toward the paying customers. Once again, this changed when the red lines returned.
For a few happy weeks the residents in our neighborhood had a choice when it came to bus service. Then one day the red buses were gone again. This time I was told that the red buses had been issued a permit but it was for the adjacent barrio of Valle Imperial which borders Lomas de Encinal. I was also informed that politics had to do with it. Tijuana's PAN controlled city government was backing up the PAN supporting white busses against the red buses (known PRI supporters).
If you look at news footage of the bus lines protesting the PAN government outside of Tijuana's City Hall just prior to this month's election. You'll notice the little white buses weren't there. That's because they supported the PAN to the very end. Right over the cliff. Still, I can respect allegiance and I give then their credit.
Once again the white bus company is sending in more buses to alleviate the suffering of riders packed like sardines into the AC-less buses. Once again the drivers are driving their entire routes and not taking gas saving short cuts that leave people on the more isolated stretches of the route standing forever in the blistering Tijuana sun. Once again, passengers are getting more bang for their buck. Have the red buses returned you ask?
No, but guess who just got elected to represent District XIII?The owner of the red buses - Gregorio Barreta Luna. The Mexican people are wonderful and I love their culture but I don't know why they waste their time watching telenovelas when reality in Mexico is so much more entertaining.
COFFEE'S READY, GOTTA GO!!!