cover image No Word for Welcome: The Mexican Village Faces the Global Economy

No Word for Welcome: The Mexican Village Faces the Global Economy

Wendy Call. Univ. of Nebraska, $29.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-8032-3510-6

Locals know the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the 120-mile%E2%80%93wide strip of land that connects the Yucatan Peninsula to Oaxaca and Veracruz, as "Mexico's little waist." The region is a hotbed of environmental and economic issues, such as the industrial shrimp farming that threatens to leave behind "the coastal equivalent of a desert." Drawing on research, extensive interviews, and firsthand experiences living there in the early 2000s, Call, a translator of Mexican poetry and fiction, portrays villagers' traditional ways of life in the throes of massive change. (A Wal-Mart has already set up shop.) She cites Huatulco, a former fishing village, as foreshadowing what may lie in store for the isthmus: "more than 51,000 acres of beach, field, and forest became federal government property, controlled by FONATUR, the national tourism development agency." Villagers were expropriated, and two residents who refused to leave their homes wound up murdered. Call is never dry or academic; rather, she writes lively narrative, detailed description, and engaging scenes that render her subjects%E2%80%94a schoolteacher, fishermen, activists%E2%80%94three-dimensional. By relating the lives and concerns of isthmus dwellers and the struggles they face, the author raises awareness of globalization's effects on the village economy. (July)