It’s here. The event you’ve all been waiting for. You know; the one that’s supposed to change your mind about the city of Tijuana and maybe — just maybe — Mexico in general.
Last week, while I was in Tijuana for Entijuanaarte, construction workers were busy building a giant “T” and “i” in front of CECUT, Tijuana’s cultural center. The event is seriously a big deal, and so far, the media coverage of it has been shiny and happy. From the Associated Press:
If Tijuana is safe enough for Al Gore, three Nobel laureates and a founder of Twitter, isn’t it safe enough for anyone? The long-denigrated city is hosting a gathering of big names to get that message across.A two-week festival kicked off Thursday to showcase the border city’s economic prowess and cultural riches — and aims to demonstrate that Tijuana is no longer in the grip of warring drug traffickers.
That is exactly the kind of press organizers of Tijuana Innovadora were hoping for. Felicidades or kudos to them for achieving the positive headlines the country so desperately needs these days.
But, I have to admit, I’m a little skeptical of the whole thing. So. Much. Money. It cost millions to put on this event. Couldn’t they have spent at least some of that money on basic necessities of the city? Water pipes need to be replaced. The entire city trash system needs an overhaul. Homeless people are everywhere. Look around.
Even more worrisome is the overall goal of the event, which seems to be to convince business owners to move their operations to Tijuana. I’ve been following the Tijuana Innovadora Twitter feed, and so far, it’s been disturbingly heavy on the proud “we are home to maquiladoras (foreign-owned factories)” Tweets.
Yes, I know the people of Tijuana need jobs. And yes, I know not all maquilas are bad, but the truth of the matter is that most factories set up in Mexico for a reason. They want to pay shit wages, they want to take advantage of weak environmental-law enforcement and they want to put their own products over the quality of life of people.
There’s just something gross about this whole thing. Maybe I’ll jump on the TI bandwagon after seeing things like the Pa’ Bailar Tijuana or maybe the Art, Culture and Digital Commerce discussion will help change my mind. For now, though, I’m keeping a healthy dose of skepticism in my pocket, and I wish the mainstream press would do the same.