Sabor a Canela, the film we screened the first night of our 4th Annual Mexican Independent Film Tour, has a wonderful scene in which pig farmers block the main highway in Chihuahua to strike against the government's policies regarding pork. The travelers ask how long the line of cars will have to wait and the answer is "until at least tomorrow morning." Nearly all the drivers take it in stride. Today in the office we were sharing stories about different attitudes in the U.S. and in Mexico about public spaces and strikes.
We observed that in Mexico people have a different attitude than the U.S. regarding public space. In Mexico, especially in big crowded cities like Mexico City, people feel that the roads are their own. The grand avenue that runs through downtown Mexico City, Paseo de la Reforma, modeled after Paris's Champs Elysees, on Sundays is turned over to the public: for ever-present demonstrations and bike riders. Highways may be blocked by strikers, as in the film, and drivers understand (mostly). Part of this sense of public ownership may come from the Mexican Constitution of 1910, which took ownership of much of Mexico's wealth owned by private (often European and U.S.) companies and gave it to "the people."
If you have lived in Mexico and in the U.S: is your sense of a right to occupy public spaces different in Mexico than in the U.S.?