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Xochimilco holds the last of the pre-Hispanic waterways which once made up a vast network of canals within the valley of Mexico, now Mexico City. There, amongst the canals, are also the last of the chinampas, sculpted islands where crops are grown. The network of canals are now only a little over 100 miles long. At the time of the Spanish conquest, the network covered thousands of miles, allowing the farmers to bring their crops for trade to the far reaches of the lake, to the colorful markets adorned with flowers and the colorful feathers of tropical birds. Smoke from burning herbs rose among the stacks of peppers and corn.
It was here, floating along the canals in a flat bottomed boat casually poled along by a young boatsman, where we introduced our two youths, Jake Anderson of Brooklyn, NY and Guyci Partida of Mexico City to the gentleman Pedro Moctezuma, a water rights expert and descendant of Aztec emperor Montezuma. The use of water in Mexico, he said, has not changed since the time of the conquest. The land as well, which belongs to the indigenous communities in the southern part of the country where we also traveled, is being sold out from under the communities. Foreign mining interests are being given the mineral and water rights which are eroding the land below the feet of the people who inhabit the area.
It was Jake Anderson's first time out of the United States. He found the experience, as did we all, very enlightening. The food was amazing. On the first day we had on-camera discussions with two professors, Martha Ortega Soto and Tadeo Liceaga Carrasco of the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Unidad Iztapalapa. Their discussions were mostly about the history of uranium mining in Mexico and how it relates to the Treaty of Tlatelolco, more commonly known as the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean. They also talked about the differences in the education system between Mexico and the United States of America.
OPANAL is the governing body which enforces the treaty of Tlatelolco, and at the Plaza of Three Cultures overlooking the site of the last stand of Aztec emperor Cuauhtemoc and his fighters, we met with the secretary general of OPANAL Ambassador Macedo de Soares. This lovely man was very generous with his time and spoke with Jake and Guyci for two hours as we strolled around the plaza.
When discussing the recent Treaty on the Prohibition on Nuclear Weapons that the United Nations adopted in 2017, Ambassador Soares said, “The nuclear weapons possessors are really very angry about this new treaty, and why are they so angry? Because you now have a rule of law, and for them that's not very comfortable. The other two weapons of mass destruction, biological weapons, chemical weapons, are stigmatized by the countries of the world and they see the same thing will happen to nuclear weapons. And if you think that your power, not security but your power, comes from nuclear weapons, then this is going to make you uncomfortable.”
Jake Anderson, being a freshman in university, needed to head back to New York, so we took Guyci to Tijuana to meet with professor Joshua Torres Sandoval. The two of them primarily discussed what it means for a country to share a border with a nuclear superpower, and how there are 68 nations in the world, many who are historically peaceful, who do so. This subject of course raises the question of what would happen in a city such as Tijuana, if neighboring San Diego, a high profile military target, were attacked.
Now, we are deciding when to return to southern Mexico to follow up with the communities we met there, and to build this picture of the nuclear weapons industry so we can bring it to you in our film A Hand Through The Smoke.