By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
The very plugged-in Mexican Bolsa de Valores (stock exchange) is also vulnerable to a Y2K hit. Even if all its systems are go, the exchange's partners could bring it down. Some Y2K pundits divine that Russia will crumble into dust under the weight of the millennium bug (literally, if a suspect early-warning nuclear-missile system is not disconnected before January 1). Similar problems in Brazil, where Y2K preparedness is lagging, could dampen confidence in Latin American exchanges and shut down investment -- although in a July-dated Y2K report, Merrill Lynch, the Wall Street brokerage, counseled "courageous" speculators that they could clean up in such a panic-driven atmosphere.
Mexico's ports could also be paralyzed. Although Hong Kong was supposedly in compliance since September 1, 1998, computer troubles similar to the Y2K phenomenon shut down the far more sophisticated port for four days last January 1. Other sectors at Y2K risk include the tourist industry, because of the bad rap on Y2K aviation. Not helping is the U.S. State Department, which has issued travel advisories warning of severe Mexican Y2K disruptions. While such disruptions may only translate to foiled reservations, stateside stay-at-home campaigns are not big tourist boosters.
On the other side of the coin, the Y2K hysteria has presented a bonanza for Mexico's cyber world. Mexican subsidiaries of U.S. and Japanese transnationals (Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Compaq) are offering easy-credit Y2K protection systems. By contrast to muted U.S. marketing, the south-of-the-border sales pitch for the millennial fix borders on the macabre. "Don't wait until it's too late!" advertises Data General over a morgue photo depicting the tagged big toe of a cadaver.
Of course, most Mexicans may barely notice Y2K problems, at least at first. Lights and phones go out -- no problem, the impoverished millions don't have 'em anyway. In the remote sierras, desolate deserts and deep outback of Mexico, Y2K is not going to amount to a hill of beans, with one exception. Down in the Lacandon jungle, the rebel chieftain known as Subcomandante Marcos just might have a problem when the laptop he uses to tap out his colorful communiqués suddenly goes kaplooey.
With or without Y2K, John Ross is about to go kaplooey.