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VIRGIN FIELDS REMAINING
Even in Africa, which for a quarter of a century has engrossed the zeal and energy of explorers, there is much yet. to be made known and charted. Not only is there great work to be done in the Libyan Desert and the Central Sahara, but even the country of the Taurigs, in Western Sahara, needs thorough exploration. South of Abyssinia and northwest of Lake Rudolf is almost virgin ground. The most interesting areas are the primeval forests in the basins of the Ubangi and Aruwimi. These regions invite naturalists and ethnologists to reveal to the world their fauna, flora, and ethnology, and especially to correlate information on the pygmies of Du Chaillu, Stanley, and Schweinfürth.
MEXICO OF TODAY
BY SENOR DR. DON JUAN N. NAVARRO, CONSUL-GENERAL OF MEXICO IN NEW YORK CITY
Y object in preparing this paper is to present to the members of the National Geographic Society and to the readers of its journal some well-ascertained facts about the Mexico of today and the many natural and commercial attractions which make it one of the best places in which to invest capital with security and the prom
The new year presents such political complications as insure tremendous changes in eastern Asia during the twentieth century. As rehabilitated China concedes extended spheres of foreign influence, geographical knowledge will grow apace. Gradually the great blanks in Manchuria. Mongolia, Tibet, and Indo-China will be filled on maps of Asia. Like advances may be expected as to Arabia, Sumatra, Borneo, the Malay Peninsula, and especially the Philippine Archipelago. In the lastnamed region the almost untraversed islands of Mindanao, Mindora, and Palawan will soon yield to the energetic and intelligent explorer the long-hidden secrets of nature as to their fauna, flora, and capabilities of service to mankind in general and to the United States in particular.*
*Other papers on the advance in geographical knowledge during the past one hundred
"The Progress of Geography during the Nineteenth Century." By Gilbert H. Grosvenor. Appendix to the Report of the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution for
The Transformation of the Map (18251900)," By Joseph Sohn. Scribner's Magazine, March, 1901.
ise of a speedy and splendid return. Before entering upon my subject I wish to state that my words and opinions are made on my own responsibility, and are in no sense semi-official. In speaking of my own country I can hardly be required to be impartial in my opinions, but in the statement of facts I shall endeavor to give not only my own private
"A Century of Exploration." By Cyrus C. Adams. The World's Work, January, 1901. "The Geographical Conquests of the Nineteenth Century." By Angelo Heilprin. The N. Y Evening Post, January 12, 1901.
"Fields for Future Explorers." By Sir Henry M. Stanley. Windsor Magazine, January, 1901.
"Welche Erdgebiete sind am Schlusse des 19 Jahrhunderts noch unberkannt?" Von H. Singer, Globus, 2 Juni, 1900.
judgment, but the opinions of persons and newspapers who have nothing to expect or fear from Mexico.
Some years ago I knew by sight a tourist who went to Mexico City and staid there exactly a week, not knowing, of course, a single word of Spanish, and on his return home published an article on Mexico, relating all his romantic adventures in the country, among which was an attack by a band of robbers on a stage coach where that remarkable man was traveling. The captain of this band was none other than a blackeyed Señorita, who practiced the dangerous and romantic vocation of highway robbery. All those adventures were very entertaining, and their only fault was not to have any existence except in the fertile imagination of their in
The configuration of the land of Mexico is very peculiar; low near the coasts, it ascends continually and very rapidly. to the interior, until an altitude from 6,000 to 10,000 feet is reached above the sea-level, arriving at what is called the "table land."
Our capital, Mexico City, has an elevation of nearly 7,400 feet-that is to say, it is from 800 to 900 feet higher than the highest peak of Mt. Washington, which has an elevation of 6,500 feet. Although the city is only a little more than 19 degrees north of the Equator, it never experiences a tropical summer. That a light overcoat is needed in the evening at every season of the year is seldom appreciated by foreign travelers, who, under the notion of visiting a tropical country, come provided only with summer clothing, and thus often con
tract diseases consequent upon exposure to the cold air.
Not a single navigable river traverses the whole country. This unfavorable natural condition has necessitated the building of many railroads at an enormous cost over the mountainous soil.
Our constitution is similar to that of the United States in the main points. Mexico is a federal republic, divided into States and Territories; the former ruled by their particular constitutions, and the latter directly governed by the federal authorities. The executive is appointed by popular election every four years, but as the constitution prescribes no limits for reëlection, we all have had the pleasure, and, in our opinion, the good sense, of reëlecting General Diaz for the fifth term, ending on November 30, 1904.
Perhaps some persons will not deem it in accordance with republican ideas to reëlect a man so many times, but we Mexican citizens answer that if it is not in accordance with certain theoretical principles, it is in perfect conformity with that sense called common precisely because it is so rare.
The president of a republic is the attorney, elected by the citizens to administer for a certain period, under prescribed rules established by the constitution, their foreign and interior affairs. If we find a person who performs the duties imposed upon him with remarkable ability and honesty, as we Mexican citizens believe that a man of that kind cannot be very easily found, we renew our power of attorney for another four years, leaving intact the most severe maxims of republicanism.
This custom of changing as little as possible those public officers who for the performance of their duties require a certain amount of technical instruction and experience is very old in Mexico. Even in the times when political parties waged terrible war upon each other, causing frequent changes of administration,
many officers who for their competency and honesty seemed to all to be the right men in the right places were left undisturbed.
If we entertain an elevated opinion of General Diaz we only agree with what the press of every country, from Russia to Spain and from Cape Horn to Washington, declare when they assert that Mexico is one of the most prosperous and best governed countries in the world.
Our constitutional laws differ from those of the United States in denying the right to religious corporations of any denomination to possess or administer or to hold any mortgage upon real estate. In consequence the property of such corporation must be in cash or in shares of railroad, telegraph, manufacturing, mining, or some other kind of enterprise which keeps their money in constant circulation. The object of this legislation was to prevent the stagnation of real estate constantly produced by those corporations having two characteristics-indefinite duration and possession in common-not any of their members being able to dispose of any part of the property, as is the case in mercantile associations.
Another point worthy of mention is the disposition of our fundamental laws relative to marriage. Our legislators considered marriage as the corner-stone of the social edifice, and consequently they did not leave it to the legislatures of the States, but prescribed precise and ineludible rules as to its nature and form of contract.
In short, they considered marriage a civil contract constituted by the indissoluble union of a single man to a single woman, and requiring for its legal validity that it be contracted before a civil magistrate appointed for the purpose. Of course, the laws do not prevent the contracting parties from having recourse to the ministers of their religious creed, and this is the reason why in Mexico all nuptial ceremonies are double-one
of a religious and the other of a civil character.
Some lawyers say "that it is not convenient to hinder or make marriage a little difficult; " but others answer in reply, "that it is better to oblige men and women to practice the known proverb, 'Look before you leap,' or, as we say in Spanish, Antes que te cases, mira lo que haces' (Before you get married, think of what you are doing)." Divorce is absolutely rejected, though legal separation is allowed, with the formalities prescribed by said laws.
The public administration of Mexico is divided into seven departments: Foreign Affairs; the Interior; Justice and Public Education; Improvements, Industry, Commerce and Colonization ; Communications and Public Works; Finance and Public Credit; and War and Navy.
The Department of Foreign Affairs maintains amicable relations with all the countries of both hemispheres. Today Mexico has not a single cause of disagreement with any power or people in the world.
One of the principal objects of the Department of the Interior is to cultivate cordial relations between the Federal and State authorities. There was a time when almost every State governor conscientiously believed it to be his duty to oppose in every way the Federal Executive, and even some of them maintained a large military force, not to keep peace and give public security, but in order to resist by force, if necessary, the orders of the Federal Executive. Those narrow-minded and anarchical ideas are things of the past, and General Diaz, in his last report, relates with patriotic pleasure "that not a single State has any difficulty or displeasure with the Federal authorities or with any of its neighboring States, and that all their governors try to act in perfect accord with the Federal Executive to give an impulse to the continual progress of the
whole country." In other words, they are sufficiently enlightened to avail themselves of the reasonable liberty given by the constitution to administer their internal affairs, and remember that they are only members of that great body called the Mexican Republic, the only sovereign in the true and correct sense of the word.
The board of health is a branch of this department, and the Federal Executive and all the States devote to it special attention. In the City of Mexico a general hospital will be completed very soon, where 22 isolated pavilions have already been finished and where more than 600 patients can be commodiously, hygienically, and scientifically cared for.
The States have followed this example, and many of them have finished or have in actual construction similar institutions based upon the same scientific principles.
The efficacy of the measures taken by the board of health in regard to vaccination and the prevention of smallpox has received the amplest confirmation from experience. In 1898 an epidemic of smallpox broke out in different parts of the country and in the City of Mexico. The total number of deaths was only 78, the great majority being foreigners, who had not taken the precaution of being revaccinated.
We have another institution in excellent condition in the Federal district; that is the police. The whole force is divided in two large sections-the city or urban and the country or rural police.
The greater part of the first consist of footmen, with a small squadron of mounted police, while the second or rural police is exclusively composed of mounted men.
The distribution of the city police is, in the opinion of many natives and foreigners, perfectly organized for public protection. There is always a policeman stationed at the crossing of every
street and avenue, and misdemeanors and crimes can often be prevented and the criminals almost always caught. In general, the policemen are courteous and ready, not only to help when called, but to give any information about streets and public buildings-in a word, to be useful to everybody. The services rendered are entirely gratuitous, and many persons, especially foreigners, who with the best intention have tried to give them a voluntary reward for the recovery of lost goods, can testify that the reward has never been accepted in any form. General Diaz in his last report makes the important observation that well-made statistical tables prove that it is not criminality that has increased, but rather the efficiency of the police.
The rural police, who guard the roads. of the country in general, are formed exclusively by mounted men picked from the best riders of the Republic and are mounted on splendid horses. force, by reason of their efficiency and beautiful appearance, always attract the attention of the spectators.
Places for the correction and punishment of criminals, or penitentiaries, are being built throughout the Republic according to the systems proven best by experience, and are all founded upon the philosophical and truly Christian idea that society, when it takes hold of a criminal, does not intend to wreak vengeance on him, but to prevent him from repeating his offensive acts and to reform and convert him by every possible means into a good and honest citizen, and, at the same time, to deter others from following his example.
Let us now glance briefly over two of the most important foundations of any society, and, more especially, of a Republic-the department of justice and public education.
The Federal and State authorities are continually trying to perfect the administration of justice and to elect able and honest citizens to the judgeships.