EL PASO, Texas — It’s well documented that John Ross has made his way into the literary world. A New York City native, Ross destroyed his draft card in 1957 and moved to México, from where he has spent the last 50 years covering Latin American issues. As an American Book Award winner and the winner of the Uptown Sinclair prize, Ross is the author of more than 20 volumes of fiction, non- fiction and poetry books.
His latest book, El Monstruo, brings praise to a city known to many as one of the most tainted in Latin America. It has been selected as “book of the year” by the San Antonio Express News.
On Wednesday, February 24, Ross visited The University of Texas at El Paso to talk about the Mexican Revolution and the social upheaval that explodes every 100 years in Mexico.
“Qué viva la revolución Mexicana!” shouted Ross as he opened with a poem, reading to an audience made up of everyone from students, to the city’s mayor. For the last 200 years, on the tenth year of the century, México has exploded into social upheaval, a fact that raises concern for what lies ahead in 2010.
On January 15, the Wall Street Journal wrote an article headlined, “1810, 1910, 2010,” showing that the concern over the possibility of a revolution this year is extended over a multitude of social classes.
After a brief discussion of the factors leading up to the revolution of 1810 and 1910, Ross spoke about the current objective factors in México City that might lend to the possibility of a 2010 revolution.
“Objectively, I think that the conditions in México City are overripe for a revolution,” said Ross as he began to list the basis for the possibility of a revolution in 2010. Living in México City has allowed him to witness the unemployment lines double and even triple within the last month, making the unemployment rate as deep as it once was in 1910.
Adding to the steep unemployment rate is the millions of homeless farmers who have been forced off their land. “Traditionally, escapers in México came north towards what they called the ‘safety valve.’ But they can’t get across the border now because of the way it has been militarized,” Ross said.
Those who did manage to get across are now faced with both unemployment and a growing fear of not being able to return to the United States if they leave. This dilemma has since caused the flow of money to become reversed, triggering a decline in the amount of remittances coming from the U.S.
“When you turn off the safety valve, you amplify the pressure on the situation,” said Ross.
Furthermore, the increase in unemployment has fueled the number people now employed by the drug industry, the fastest growing industry in México. Ross spoke of the possible alliance that may form between anarchists and narcos, a faction of people wealthy with money and weapons.
Ross spoke about a recent story he came across written on the Internet claiming that armed groups in Mexico have begun to forge an agreement to rise in 2010. “What you read on the Internet may or may not be true, but what could be up ahead is anyone’s guess,” said Ross.
Despite what may lie ahead, it is unlikely that Ross will abandon what has been his home for more than 50 years.
“Their [Mexican citizens] will to fight back keeps me going at 72,” Ross says, “to stop is to die, so we’re going to keep moving.”