I’m sitting at a booth at a window on the third floor of the Mercado Cuahtémoc, across the street from the cathedral in downtown Juarez. Sunlight filters in through streaked glass and dirty drapes. This morning the temperature was below freezing, and now it’s not. The chips are free and the salsa’s hot. When the waitress brings my posole, I order a beer, a Tecate Light.
It’s just past noon on a Tuesday, still early for lunch, and vacant seats outnumber diners four to one. Somewhere across the big room, booming off the concrete floor, a stereo plays Journey-esque rock en español, competing, at frequent intervals, with the barkers recruiting new arrivals coming up the stairs.
My meal, beer included, costs 80 pesos, less than five dollars at today’s exchange rate of 17 pesos to the dollar.
The devalued peso is a boon to American shoppers in Juarez, but a curse for the El Paso shopkeepers who depend on Mexican customers.
Our local pols and their private sector buddies like to act like they make the sun come up in the morning, but really El Paso is tossed around by things we can’t control. The national defense budget. Immigration, and immigration policy. Labor costs in China.
Chaos theory holds that something as seemingly insignificant as the flap of a butterfly’s wings across the globe can have unpredictable effects on complex systems. Closer to home we barge along like blindfolded drunks.
In words familiar to every Twelve Step alcoholic, we need to recognize the difference between the things we can change and the things that we can’t.