Municipal authorities are taking some heat for the alleged discussions of social cleansing in preparation for the Panamerican Games at a recent meeting. The so-called "Plan de Reordenamiento Humano," which sounds like something out of a twisted communist regime or dystopian science fiction novel, has given the opposition parties all the necessary fodder for an absolute field day in the press. Criticism of municipal authorities has run the predictable gamut from outrage at the injustice of such a plan, discussions of its pragmatic absurdity (as it would be pretty tough to actually accomplish such a feat in the historic center without really getting into some human rights hot water), and even a crudely drawn parallel with the Nazis. Ouch. Not a good PR day for the city's current administration.
Meanwhile, the incident has drawn attention to the plight of the city's most vulnerable citizens (and keep in mind that this is only about the city center of Guadalajara proper, and tells us nothing about the conditions that so many of the poorest citizens of the greater metropolitan zone experience in the colonias that surround GDL). Jalisco's DIF office, Mexico's main social services agency, claims that it has recently removed 300 families from the city center (one hopes, to some sort of shelter or subsidized housing) but that 350 remain on the streets. Given that those are families, that's a lot of homeless people for a city this size. And for those of us living in the city, although it's merely anecdotal, the increase in window washers and street venders at many major intersections has been palpable in recent months as Mexico's economy continues to struggle. Ironically, the games themselves must be generating a fair amount of local employment, as the city is absolutely torn to pieces with beautifcation and repaving projects in preparation for the event. Even under the best of circumstances, it would be hard to hide the fact that Mexico's index of inequality continues to be a scandal in the hemisphere--and Jalisco and its capital are no exception. (See "No se escondera a nadie: alcalde" and "Niegan "limpia social" para mejorar imagen durante los Juegos")
Oh, and by the way, a national survey on discrimination just found that in a society that is in general intolerant of such things, Guadalajara is the least tolerant city in the nation with respect to adoption by gay couples. (see details on the survey here)