Social capital in the other Mexico…

Apologies for not blogging more recently but I was living and studying in Merida, Yucatan for a month. Here’s an op-ed I just wrote for the Washington Post asking why is it that this city in Mexico is doing so well. ¬†Thanks for all the comments I’ve been getting — it would be great to post them here so we can have a conversation.

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11 Responses to Social capital in the other Mexico…

  1. Wini Scheffler says:

    Curious…I read your oped just after I’d come back from my morning walk with a CD player, listening to Manzanero’s Adoro (and others of my favorites…Voy a apagar la luz para pensar en ti, Este Noche vi llover…) I lived in Mexico from l969 to l976. I walked anywhere at night and felt safe. In recent years, I’ve spent a month each in Cuernavaca, Morelia, Oaxaca…the last time in 2005…really just to see if I were still flexible enough to live in a foreign culture, as residents, not tourists, do. Now, I find myself hesitant about traveling there, because of the drug wars. I was interested and pleased that Merida (and I recognized that museum) seems to have escaped. IF ONLY there were a way to reduce the U.S. market for drugs and the U.S. sales of arms…that, more than any military training, financial aid, or advisers, could help defeat the cartels which are destroying community life and democratic institutions in less fortunate areas.
    Anyway, it was a nice piece.

  2. Thank you for the wonderful article you wrote about Merida. And thank you as well to the Washington Post for publishing it. I would like to let you know it has circulated widely amongst the international community of our city. You are a virtual hero here! We take offense with all the negative reporting our beautiful country gets; it is so nice to receive positive press for a change

  3. Jim Wootton says:

    Dear Edie,
    Just wanted to thank you for the illuminating article on beautiful Merida. Our son and his Yucatecan wife met at Brown when he taught there and she pursued her doctorate in Hispanic studies. Just a few years ago they took his nonprofit Brown educational program to Merida (her home town), made it for-profit, and created an international center promoting literacy through the study of the arts (

    As they tried to establish their business, the media became transfixed by the idea that all of Mexico was awash in violence. This has made it quite difficult for the school’s international outreach. Other aspects are doing fine, particularly teaching Spanish to the ex-pats. It wasn’t until yesterday, coincidentally, that I heard a commentator on NPR actually state that the real violence is confined to about three or four states, and then your article appears on our son’s Facebook page. So thank you for your public, perceptive characterization of a wonderful city and fascinating state.
    Jim Wootton

  4. Rainie says:

    Thank you for your article on Merida. I’ve lived here for six years and still feel that Merdia is the safest city in Mexico. Without reservation and with a complete feeling of safety, we walk home from concerts and resturants. I hate how Mexico is painted with a big brush. Isn’t it interesting that the majority of negative reports about Mexico come from people who have not visited the country while the positive reports seem to come from people who got off their behind and came here before writing.

    • Cristina Kassab Gamboa says:

      Thank you Edith for your beautufil articule on Merida, I born there, but, it been 33 years I lived in Miami, I go very often to visit my family and friends, and enjoy every minute that spend there, I already sent the link by email to my friends, and also posted it in my facebook, thank you again from the bottom of my hearth

  5. Pedro Evia says:

    Dear Ms. Wilson,

    My name is Pedro Evia and I am an advisor to the Attorney General (Fiscal General) of Yucatan. I would like to congratulate you on your accurate and honest description of Merida in a recently published piece for the Washington Post.
    The Attorney General, Mr. Hector Cabrera Rivero, has presented at international venues about the work his office has conducted to maintain Merida’s social and political climate. Just last year he gave a presentation on the topic at the annual meeting of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and another for members of the European Union. International publications point out that Merida’s low levels of crime are comparable to those of Sweden and Finland.
    If you are interested, I can share with you a copy of the materials the Attorney General has presented on this topic.

  6. Ricardo Bastarrachea says:

    I was very pleased to read your article that I found as a RT in tweeter yesterday, after that of course I had to share it in my Facebook profile whit my friends(Indeed you where right that we do use a lot social networks in Merida) . As a native from Merida living currently abroad for a year (Guangzhou, China) I am thankful with you for sharing your experiences in Mexico and to show people there are still peaceful places in my country rich in culture and quality of life. I was also surprised by how you captured the essence of my hometown (both our issues and good aspects) and the pride we feel of being Yucatecan. Congratulations for your encouraging article and thank you so much.

  7. Marcel Leon says:

    Great article of yours published by The Washington Post. Read it and loved it.
    Would have to thank you for your lovely portrait of our city, and am glad you enjoyed your stay here.
    Because many socioeconomic issues, The Yucatan Peninsula grew apart from the rest of our country, so we developed a unique culture, which we are proud of, and are happy to show it to the world.

    Like any other society, we have local affairs as you stated, but it doesn’t overshadow the core of our culture and our society.

    As you may have noticed, many US immingrants come to retire to Merida, nice, friendly people, whom enrichen our culture, and who we thank for appreciating it, and restoring beautifully many of the historic downtown houses.

    Congratulations again for a great article that put a smile on our faces. Please come again!.

  8. Guillermo Enrique Perez Pinelo says:

    Antes que nada una disculpa por no saber muy bien el ingles, entiendo lo basico pero como para expresarme me cuesta trabajo, pude haber hecho una traduccion pero esta no se realiza a veces correctamente. Primero mi opinion, le agradezco enormemente sus comentarios sobre las vivencias que tuvo en nuestra ciudad y nuestro estado, en verdad que los yucatecos debemos de sentirnos orgullosos de todavia se puede vivir con tranquilidad en estas tierras, a pesar de lo que sucede en otras partes del pais, particularmente la zona fronteriza. Algo de lo que siempre me ha molestado de USA es que como potencia mundial y lo digo con sinceridad, es que se sienten con el derecho de hablar de situaciones muchas veces que no son tan ciertas como las plantean, para ejemplo veamos noticieros como CNN o Fox New y conductores como Glenn Bleck hablan pestes de nuestro pais, asi como agencias norteamericanas levantando alertas de no viajar a Mexico, todo esto me molesta mucho. Porque en primera, la violencia se focaliza en ciertas zonas del pais y en segunda gran parte de este problema es por nuestra vecindad con USA y cosas que ya sabemos como trafico de armas y consumo de drogas, Mexico ha dado importantes avances pero no puedo decir lo mismo de USA que siento sinceramente no esta realizando el trabajo de la misma manera, espero que la violencia que aqueja principalmente a los estados del norte de Mexico se acabe y la cooperacion se de entre los dos bandos, recuerden que tenemos una relacion simbiotica entre los dos paises lo que pase aqui se impacta en los dos lados de la frontera. saludos.
    P.D. asi como merida tambien existen pueblos y ciudades del sur y centro de mexico con una enorme calidad de vida y seguridad para muestra San Miguel de Allende, Queretaro, Guanajuato, Aguascalientes, Xalapa ,etc……

  9. Garry Potts says:

    Just saw your Op Ed piece and want to thank you for it. I have visited Merida and the Yucatan several times, even studied at an immersion school there, and also fell in love with the place and the people. After meeting the people and making wonderful friends there it is frustrating to deal with many of the attitudes in the U.S. regarding Mexico. I try to explain whenever I can that perceptions in the U.S. are wrong about much of Mexico. Your piece did that job very well. I don’t know that I would ever like to see Merida become as wildly popular for tourists as Cancun, but truly, people in the U.S. have no clue what a treasure lies in the Yucatan!

  10. Madeleine Galvin says:

    Enjoyed your article. I visited Merida over 40 years ago and was enchanted by the city. It is a hidden gem in Mexico. I had my best steak in Merida at a restaurant called La Cave. Two other Americans and I were the only visitors at that time to Chichen Itza. We took the local bus out and after walking through the ruins stopped for refreshments at the only hotel there at that time. I have many fond memories of my trip to this wonderful city.

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