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Full Circle

Day 222: Mexico City

Michael Palin - Full CircleThinly disguised as stand-up comedy it is, in fact, a good old-fashioned attack on US imperialism. Even the word America, he says, has been misappropriated by the USA. 'I am American!' he cries indignantly and the crowd of largely working-class Mexicans applauds. The gist of his message is that the Mexican government, having recently signed a trade agreement with the USA in return for twenty billion dollars-worth of credit, have effectively pawned the nation's pride.

Everything about Super Barrio is deliberate. His outfit is based on those of the masked wrestlers - the Lucha Libre (free fighters) - who are heroes in the barrios of Mexico City. By wearing masks, the downtrodden and oppressed can be transformed. In the wrestling ring an ordinary man can become a god. The impetus for Super Barrio's radical grass-roots movement is directly related to Mexico's geographical position. In September 1985 a massive earthquake, measuring 8.1 on the Richter Scale, killed nearly ten thousand people, most of them in the poorly housed areas around Mexico City. Indignation at the government's lack of efficient and effective relief spawned a number of local self-help groups all determined to raise awareness of the appalling conditions in which so many urban Mexicans live.
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  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 222
  • Country/sea: Mexico
  • Place: Mexico City
  • Book page no: 286

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