Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Don't forget.. You Are Their Guest

Taking part in La Carrera Panamericana is always exciting and life changing in so many ways. I guarantee you can't possibly come home from it not having changed your life in some special way. Part of the whole experience is the welcome you will receive and it last from the second you set foot there until the day you return back across the border. It takes some months before they want to remove their "Piloto" or "Co-Piloto" identification badges off.

Something you almost ever hear about or see is any problems the locals have as you drive through their country for 7 whole days. You will not hear any complaining. You won't see anyone complaining about other nationalities but what you will see is hundreds of thousands of smiles and hand wanting to be shacked. All this seems to erase any concerns you may have about political unrest that may be taking place there and why not... The entire country makes you feel like a national celebrity is sorts. IN fact you will be.

At the same time, keep an open mind to what is happening around you and stay on your toes because as much as you won't usually see or hear about it, even Mexico has it's problems. In 2007 Jon and I were driving around in Lucky the GT350, and we came upon a huge political altercation with hundreds of protesters in what was quickly escalating into a violent street riot of sorts. Jon hung on as I ran through a road off road block lined with angry protesters just to get to where we needed to go. In retrospect, we were extremely fortunate to get out of there un-injured.

This week in Morelia which is one of the most beautiful colonial cities that we stayed at during last years La Carrera Panamericana there was a terrible act of violence and exactly the sort of unexpected event that could be devastating to such an event as La Carrera Panamericana. I have to say, when I heard there would no longer be a race through the famous Mil Cumbres and no stay in Morelia I was broken hearted. But now it seems as if it just may have been an unexpected blessing considering.

So to anyone who is taking part in La Carrera Panamericana... Always stay alert. Stay with the rest of the group and don't stray and most important of all... Keep in mind you are in THEIR country and respect everyone.


Attack in Morelia sends shockwaves through the republic
By Atención staff

Mexico’s traditional independence celebrations were shattered when suspected drug cartel gunmen threw two grenades into a crowd of 18,000 patriotic onlookers in Morelia, the state capital of neighboring Michoacán. Eight spectators were killed and 132 injured.

Just as Michoacán’s governor, Leonel Godoy Rangel, concluded his speech on the evening of September 15, a grenade exploded just 50 meters from the governor’s entourage and another a few blocks from the governor’s mansion. The explosions occurred just as the crowd joined in the cry “Viva México!” and bells rang in celebration of 198 years of Mexican independence from Spanish rule. Hundreds of soldiers and police evacuated the area immediately and paramedics treated the injured. Eyewitnesses described a robust man dressed in black as the instigator.

The traditional military parade held every September 16 was cancelled. Governor Godoy announced on national television that the attack was committed by members of organized crime.

In his traditional Independence Day speech, President Felipe Calderón pledged that the government’s resolve to confront the drug cartels is “firm and unbreakable” and he called for national unity in this “critical hour.” Calderón, who has already sent thousands of soldiers to the state, said the attack demands an immediate response by the armed forces. He also appeared on national TV to ask that Mexicans help in any way possible to combat crime and provide any information they have linked to the attack. The president visited Morelia on September 17 to assess the situation and the aftermath of the attack.

In 2006, President Calderón launched his anti-crime crusade from his hometown of Morelia. Since then the country has witnessed escalating violence, including kidnappings, murders and battles between gangland bosses. Only a few days after tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Mexico City in protest against the wave of violence in Mexico, 24 bodies that had been shot execution-style were discovered outside the capital.

CREDIT: Atención San Miguel Newspaper

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