For All Nails #216: My Home Town
From the Statist
28 March 1975
Maniac for Sale
WHAT do you do when your most salable commodity kills fifty thousand people?
If you're the city of Guadalajara, you repackage it and keep on selling.
Ever since Vincent Mercator made himself dictator of the United States of
Mexico in 1950, the merchants of his hometown of Guadalajara have been cashing
in on the association. From the logo of the Guadalajara Chicken Ixtlán
restaurant to the name of the Mercator Arms hotel to the twice-lifesize
equestrian statue at the center of the Plaza de Mercator, the Mexican strongman
So it was with understandable anxiety that Guadalajara's business community
heard --- from Mercator's own vitavised lips --- that their native son had just
committed the most notorious atrocity since the Global War. Dan Archer,
manager of a popular Guadalajara nightclub called Colonel M's, recalls, "Funny
thing is, it didn't occur to me till the next day that my place was named after
him. I thought about changing the name, but it didn't seem to be hurting
business, so in the end I decided to keep it."
Throughout Mexico, expressions of regret for the loss of life in the Bali
attack have been tempered with satisfaction at the blow struck against Kramer
Associates. Perhaps this explains the continued popularity of a man regarded
by the rest of the world as a monster. For Guadalajara's Mercator-based
tourist industry, the Bali attack has not brought an end to business, only a
slight change in the product being sold.
Ramón Monteiro has worked as a tour guide in Guadalajara for over ten years.
His most popular tour by far has always been the one he calls "Mercator's
Guadalajara," in which he takes his visitors to see the house where Mercator
was raised, the schools he attended, and the army barracks he lived and worked
in when he commanded the Guadalajara garrison in 1949. Before the Bali attack,
most of Señor Monteiro's clients were fellow Mexicans satisfying their
curiosity about their country's leader. Now, at least half the people taking
the Mercator tour are foreigners, especially North Americans. "It's the same
tour," Señor Monteiro explains, "with the same spiel. The only difference is
that I pitch my voice lower to sound more solemn."
Señor Monteiro's tourists aren't the only foreigners who've been drawn to
Guadalajara by curiosity about Mercator. Shortly after the Bali attack, a team
of German investigators accompanied officials from the Justice Department here
to search for clues on Mercator's possible whereabouts. In the last three
months, Guadalajara has also seen investigators from the CNA's Confederation
Bureau of Investigation, as well as the United Kingdom's National Security
Bureau, hoping to somehow pick up Mercator's trail here.
But government investigators are only part of the story. Guadalajara is
proving a Mecca for people from all walks of life who are hoping to find out
more about Vincent Mercator. Joan Kahn is the author of several bestselling
histories of Mexico. Miss Kahn has come to Guadalajara from her home in New
York City to research her current project, a biography of Mercator. "What I'm
basically hoping to do here," she says, "is sift through all the stories about
Mercator that have sprung up since he came to power. By winnowing away the
inevitable apocrypha, I can try to get a more accurate picture of Mercator's
For Mexico, Mercator's fall from power and disappearance have meant the end of
a long era in the country's often turbulent history. For Guadalajara, though,
it simply means business as usual.