Sorry, LA Times, You’re Out of Line

December 22, 2014

Last week a friend shared a link on Facebook to a story about Mazatlán. She expressed how ugly and mean spirited the article was, and I headed right over to the LA Times to read it. I’ll just wait here for a minute while you go check it out – don’t worry it won’t take long.

So now you’re back. What did you think? I was blown away by the pointlessness of the article. It seemed as though the only point was to try to make Mazatlán look bad without doing any basic research. A number of folks from Mazatlán wrote the author directly and also posted comments to the article. You can read those here. I wrote the author (México Bureau Chief Tracy Wilkinson) and also left a comment. Some wrote letters to the editor.

As far as I know she only replied to one email she received, and it wasn’t mine.

SO, just in case you or someone you know read the article and thinks Mazatlán is squalid and scary, here’s a short rebuttal to Tracy’s article.

THE BAND – Yes, bands do play in vacant lots here. Seldom does anyone “explain” what they’re doing there, either, but I wonder why Tracy didn’t ask them. I’m sure they would have told her! People here love music, love banda, and as one of the commenters to the story said:

“I would like to tell that on that time were four young local bands playing together, it was because they love the music, nobody got pay, nobody pay to be there, wasn’t a party, they did just for fun. I didn’t been there because I work out of Mazatlan, but cousin and friends been there playing. It was a lovely experiment of four big bands playing for the same, LOVE OF MUSIC. “

Here in Mazatlán we are used to music anytime and anyplace. We have a lot of civic events and there is music at every one. For example, at the recent Pacifico Marathon, there were twenty-four bands all along the race route. Twenty-four!

CHAPO GUZMAN – Giving all credit to the US for apprehending Chapo, the author submits he was living in the city. If she had read any of the articles giving a blow-by-blow of his last days of freedom, she would know he had been hiding out in Culiacan and barely managed to escape to Mazatlán, where he was apprehended a day or two later. That hardly counts as “living” here.

DENIAL – The author says “denial is contagious” and is practiced by Mayor Felton and the expats here. Well I would say that those of us who live here and especially the Mayor know exactly what is right or wrong with Mazatlán right now. It’s not perfect, and yes, there is violence, but it is not any kind of crime hotbed. At all. I’m surprised that she didn’t contact some of us bloggers or any of the many media that are active here in Mazatlán. If you need some links next time I suggest Tracy start with my @Maz page, above.

TOURISM – The author states that “Recently, here as in much of México, tourism began suffering. Fewer visit Mazatlán, a city of 400,000; fewer cruise ships dock at its port.” This is just so wrong! There had been a reduction in tourism and cruise ships a few years ago but we have been having two or three cruise ships a week and hotel occupancy is at almost 100%. There is a new road and a fabulous bridge linking Durango and Mazatlán (from 6 hours to 2 1/2) and every week I am reading about more flights, too. The city is doing great. I wish she’d check out the beautiful new palm trees along the malecon and sit in the Plazuela Machado when there are cruise ships in town.

After thinking about how far off she was in this article I started thinking about things I should tell her if she ever comes back to Mazatlán. So here goes, Tracey… on your next trip to Mazatlán don’t be surprised if:

– there might be a small tienda on every street. Within two blocks of my house there are two tiendas, a tortilleria, a small puesto selling comida economica, a man who rents tables and chairs and a copy store/cyber cafe. This is not unusual.

– there might be a band playing anytime, day or night. One of our neighbors often has parties with a banda that START at 5 am! (I think it’s actually that the after-party takes place at their house) The 20 piece band stands in the street and plays their heart out. The whole neighborhood gathers to watch and dance.

– all of a sudden on a non-holiday night there are fifteen minutes of fabulous fireworks directly overhead. It’s just one of your neighbor’s birthdays I bet!

– there might be a car parked sideways and the street closed off for a party. Don’t blow a gasket, just go on around! One street over from me has had parties with kiddie bouncy-rooms several times in the last year. It’s just fun!

– with no warning you are in the middle of a parade. Every day is a Saint’s day and lots of them need a parade. And if you’re around on Nov. 20 (Revolution Day), December 12 (Virgin of Guadalupe), or during the voting for Carnaval Queen you with surely be witness to one! But occasionally there will be a half dozen guys with drums and a trumpet tooting along and asking for donations along the route. Why? No idea. But it is fun.

– a pulmonía goes by loudly playing Corrido de Mazatlán. We love that song, it makes us happy, everyone here loves it. It is the most innocent, sweet song that really expresses what we love about the city. Here’s a link to the lyrics and a video of the author, Jose Alfredo Jiminez singing it. I hope you enjoy it, I had to play it twice while I was writing this.


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More about Nancy

I'm Nancy, a US expat living in San Antonio Tlayacapan, Jalisco after 11 years in Mazatlán, México.

    1. I read so many articles about San Miguel, in many newspapers and magazines. In most instances I wonder if they ever really came here or phoned people for information. I know that is frequently done as I used to be a “source” for the Washington Post.

      That might be the key to the misinformation and lack of knowledge in the LA Times. You should write to the Publisher and the Travel Editor about the inaccurate comments. They DO pay attention to that.

      Glad you posted about it Nancy.

    1. Dear Tracy —

      When I was last in Los Angeles, I encountered a strange phenomenon. Gangs of boys were meeting in garages — of suburban houses. If you can believe it?!!!! And they were playing music. Loud music.

      No one was around except the boys. I assumed that everyone else had been shot by narco terrorists or policemen. As a reporter, I probably should have just talked to the boys, but I was afraid that the same assassins who had obviously killed everyone else in the neighborhood might be lurking in the shadows.

      I am surprised that anyone still visits Los Angeles. Don’t they know the horrors that await them?

      P.S. Nancy — I loved the song.


    1. What hogwash the uninformed promote! I’m so glad folks like you are ready at the front to set them straight. Music and bright colors and smiles are standard in Mazatlan and Mexico in general and those are good things. I guess those of us who know know. The rest don’t matter… Merry Christmas y Feliz Ano Nuevo!

    1. Playing music outdoors is a whole different experience than playing indoors. You can spread out. The sound doesn’t bounce off the walls. Of course these guys want an outdoor place to play. Sounds like a perfect excuse for a party!

    1. Great Nancy. Of course good journalism is rare now, and journo writers are often paid so badly that no research is done and no knowledge held. So writing is going to be like this. Serves us right for no longer being prepared to pay for proper journos. We got what we caused.
      Perhaps disseminate this text more widely? A different LA paper maybe?

    1. Aqui la vida se pasa sin llorar…aqui somos felices.
      Todos ponemos granitos de arena por mejor nuestra ciudad, todos somos amigos o conocidos, somos solidarios y sobre todo somos Mazatlecos orgullosos de nuestro puerto.
      Quiza deberias preguntar a la comunidad americana y canadiense el por que escogieron venir a vivir aqui?
      You are very welcome to come, perhaps you might end up staying too !
      Feliz navidad a todos
      Warm regards and sunny 2015 to all of you

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