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Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is Managing Director of Intermat, Inc., ( a television company which executive produces programs and consults with industry companies on a variety of issues. Intermat, Inc. is currently involved in approximately thirty hours of television in various stages for a variety of networks. He is one of the Executive Producers of OFF TO WAR, a ten hour series for Discovery Times and for a one hour on international adoptions for Discovery Health. He has consulted a variety of companies, including Ted Turner Documentaries, WETA, Betelgeuse Productions, and Creation Films, Lou Reda Productions as well as many others.
Letter From Mexico City
By Mat Tombers

July 20, 2005

Behind me, soft recorded Classical music plays while I sit having dinner at Griglia, a restaurant within the J.W. Marriot Hotel in the heart of Ocho Polanco, the very European part of Mexico City. It is a grand hotel; my room is about as large as our apartment in New York, a statement about both the hotel room and our apartment.

Ocho Polanco is also widely considered the safest place to be in Mexico City.

Before leaving for Mexico, almost everyone I spoke to warned me to be very, very careful as the city is notorious for its crime. It is reputed to be worse than New York in its very worst days twenty or so years ago.

Sitting here, in the cosseted safety of a luxury hotel, I hardly feel that.

Driving in from the airport, I saw there were different Mexico Cities. One of them is the very third world part that is huddled up next to the international airport. It reminded me of San Pedro Sula in Honduras when I visited it a long time ago when I was a very, very young person.

The streets of Mexico City outside of Ocho Polanco are ripe with third world smells, mixed with a distinctly Latin odor.

The third world gave way in a few miles to a better area and by the time we were in the final miles to the hotel, the better area had been succeeded by a place that reminded me of Paris, when I was there in my twenties. Beautiful buildings, gracious streets and well dressed individuals going about their lives, a world far removed from violence and ugliness.

Yet this morning when I retrieved my newspaper, the very good Miami Herald International edition, one of the major stories was that a local professional soccer coach had been apparently kidnapped as he left the practice field in the outskirts of the city.

Kidnapping apparently has become a bit of a sport here in Mexico City and, according to a couple of people I spoke to today, it is becoming a national one.

A year ago a million people dressed in white and walked the streets of the city to show their solidarity against the violence. Enough, they were saying in their pure white. It was a mix of rich and poor, middle class and those who never be. It was someone from every strata of this city’s society protesting in a visible way that they were tired of being afraid. It seems it is less than six degrees of separation here from knowing someone held for ransom.

This morning’s paper also informed me that Mexico City is no longer the WORST city for pollution on the planet. It is still one of them but not the worst; that horrific belongs to Tokyo, to my surprise.

I spent my day with the staff of Discovery Networks in Latin America. It was a very interesting group of young people; fluent in both languages and eager to succeed. They are experiencing, in their economic Mexico, a reality that reminds me of the 1980’s in the U.S. Young people, DINKS [if you have forgotten the term it means: dual income, no kids], who are exploring a new world of social and economic freedom that is transparently different from that of their parents.

Mexico City is in transition. It is the largest city on the continent, it is a Latin American force, it is one of epicenters of the new Latin America and Latin America is one of, if not the most important wave, that is shaping the American future.

And here, sitting at the bar at the Griglia, eating a wonderful pappardelle, I also saw one of the frightening faces of the future. Crime is so prevalent, so profound and so disgusting, that a leader who promised security would find a following. As I listened to my bartender profess his disgust for the situation, I thought I heard echoes of the voices of men who, in their chagrin at chaos, gave us such men as Hitler and Mussolini.