Unfortunately, Mexican food, with all the variety and flavor, is also the source of most*’ of the tourista, the intestinal upsets, that half or more North Americans experience while in Mexico or soon after returning home. Many of the food-borne diseases are passed from the food handler to the consumer simply because the food handlers, cooks and servers have failed to wash their hands after using the toilet. Food poisoning is only one of the several diseases spread for lack of elementary food protection.
Mexico has numerous first-class hotels, most of the best of which are part of the Camino Real chain. The chain is a co-venture of a leading Mexican bank and Westin Hotels (headquartered in Seattle). A number of Holiday Inns in Mexico are privately owned and franchised.
Mexico’s largest hotel chain, El Presidente, is government-owned and -operated. Presi-dente’s president reports to a board headed by the Minister of Tourism. In 1982 El Presidente owned or managed twenty-six hotels. A principal purpose of the chain is to develop tourism in less developed destinations, such places as Oaxaca, Ixtapa and Loreto, and to maintain employment by keeping failing hotels open. Defunct hotels are taken over by El Presidente and, in areas where the government wishes to develop tourism, new El Presidente hotels are funded and their operation subsidized.
Like similar government-operated hotels in Jamaica, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela, the Presidente chain loses large sums of money each year. A large reason for the losses comes when that dreaded disease, bureaucratitis, sets in. When government bureaucracies take over, efficiency departs. Trying to reach some of El Presidente officials is like placing a call to the moon. Gone to lunch. In conference. Left early. Back next week.
In the past the two carriers of Mexico, Aeromexico and Mexicana, presented a comparison of government versus private ownership. Aeromexico, the government-owned line, never failed to show a large operating deficit. Mexicana Airlines was privately owned and profitable. As things happen in Mexico, the government forced Mexicana into an excessively costly labor contract, and when the airline lost money, took it over.