Mexico – An Investigative Journalism SERIES by Bill Dahl

Mexico Series

The following is a description of a series of articles I have authored as part of an extensive effort investigating the possibilities of retiring in the Jalisco region of Mexico – specifically the Lake Chapala area. There’s a lot more to this proposition than meets the eye. I went beneath the surface to explore this reality.


It should be stated from the outset that I adore Mexico. Particularly Guadalajara in the State of Jalisco. The people, culture, food, art, architecture and landscapes are precious to me. I did not travel to Mexico with this series of articles in mind. The inspirations for these articles found me – my heart and my mind. The motivation for this series was both unexpected and unintentional. Yet, when confronted with these realities, I knew I must write about them. Mexico is not unlike any other country on the planet; it possesses extraordinary positives it is proud to share with the world – and – it has current issues that it would rather not speak about. I encountered both.

About The AuthorBill Dahl is an investigative journalist and photo journalist who recently spent four weeks in the Guadalajara/Chapala region in the state of Jalisco/central Mexico examining the possibilities for retirement, the culture, the socio-economic environment, political considerations, as well as public safety,  health and environmental issues. He holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Washington State University, where he served as a Research Assistant in the Social Research Center. He has also served as Vice President & Chief Operating Officer for an engineering company with expertise in hydrology related matters. His written work is widely published including  – but are not limited to – the subjects of U.S. immigration reform, at-risk youth, racism, international relations, public health, safety, economics and the environment. He has been a contributing columnist to Los Angeles based Hispanic Vista, Immigration Law Weekly (NY, NY), and an Op-Ed for the Los Angeles Times – among many others.


Gabriel Vazquz Sanchez is the General Director of AIROMADES – the Intermunicipal Association for the Protection of the Environment and Sustainable Development of Lake Chapala. He holds a Masters degree in Conservation of Natural and Cultural Heritage and Master’s in Integrated Management of Hydrological Basins. He has been Director of the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve of Guanajuato and of the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve of Querétaro. He is based in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.

Enrique Lira Coronado – The Socio-Environmental Forum of GuadalajaraThey focus on proposals, advocacy and projects for Government entities, Educational institutions, Communities, Humanitarian priorities, Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Trade Unions, Media, Transportation, Alternative Energies, Natural Resources, Parochial and Neighborhood Groups, Art, Culture and Recreation, Ecotourism, Religiosity and Integral Ecological Spirituality. Their efforts seek to collaborate for a better society and environment for all – for this and future generations.


The articles summarized below possess the following  themes:
(More specifics BELOW in a summary of each article and links):
  1. Boomers in the U.S. are facing reality – and moving en mass to Mexico. It’s a MEXODUS! Why? Where are they going in Mexico? What are their primary motivations. I know now. I talked to dozens and dozens and dozens of them during a recent month in central Mexico (Guadalajara and Lake Chapala). What are the myriad of considerations that are inspiring them? What are their Mexiconsiderations? As Trump attempts to keep people out –  the Boomers are headed south – to Mexico. It’s a new norm. Why and what is the nature of this movement?
  1. On the final page of Michael Lewis’s most recent book, The Fifth Risk, he shares a quote that captures its’ essence: “It’s what you fail to imagine that kills you.” I write as it relates to the Lake Chapala fiasco in Mexico – “That may be true. However, when the public health and environmental risks are apparent and require immediate and comprehensive human actions to resolve – and we fail to respond accordingly, that is not a failure of the imagination. It is a failure of the human will.” Such is the case in this specific region Mexico, as it is in so many societies around the globe today…the ongoing avoidance of implementing solutions for well known, apparent, hazardous problems that negatively impact public health and our Earth. What happens when countries ignore the measurable, known and readily apparent maladies that arise due to government inaction regarding a substance required to sustain life – in all its forms –water? This is a case study of just that.
  1. The term “Clean UThe Environment” (hereinafter “CUTE“) has become a phrase used by politicians to denote a concern that may play well at the polls, but rarely turns into measurable improvements for the ecosystem. This theme inhabits the subject matter of this series for this region of Mexico – crafted for a general audience – with a positive bent to encourage the new Mexican President and his administration to act. In regard to Lake Chapala, the necessity is for the Lopez-Obrador administration to move from the political lip-service of CUTE to the CURE (Comprehend the Urgency to Rehabilitate the Ecosystem).
  1. Mexico has a new President (December 1, 2018). This topic is timely and relevant to his promises to the Mexican people…and generations to come.
  1. Water – it’s under siege on this planet. It’s primary source – Lake Chapala –  for Guadalajara – is desperately degraded in Jalisco, Mexico.


Lake Chapala

I encountered and investigated urgent public health and environmental hazards in this region. The current situation demands international attention and immediate, comprehensive intervention. The retirees that comprise the expat community who reside in the area (U.S., Canadians and Europeans) is one of the largest concentrations anywhere today (Lake Chapala area). ALL these articles are written for a general audience – they are not intended for professional publications/journals and the like. This is a series of human interest stories that logically flow with one another – designed to bring international attention and action to halt the current unabated deterioration of the situation and the impacts its hazards have on its residents…particularly the impoverished locals, and the flora and fauna who depend upon a currently unhealthy ecosystem. This series of articles are intended  to inspire vigorous, essential actions by the new Mexican Federal Government. The voices of ecosystems under siege, and the people and species dependent upon them, rarely rise above the rancor that rages above them, in any society. The same is true in Mexico, in the state of Jalisco, in the Lerma-Chapala-Santiago basin. This rancor obfuscates the need for the immediate implementation of the comprehensive actions required to arrest the ongoing deterioration, and begin the long process of its rehabilitation.

Reaching out to local public health and environmental health professionals, I engendered their cooperation and their desire to participate in raising international awareness of the existing hazards. The hope is to garner the attention of the new Mexican President and his administration, whose pre-election platform included a new, national, Mexico strategic environmental clean-up initiative, particularly as it relates to existing sources of polluted drinking water – and other international organizations (NGO advocacy groups etc.)  It is entitled Naturamlo (using newly installed Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) initials as the final four letters of his acronym).

Thus, in cooperation with my public health and environmental colleagues in Guadalajara, MX – I have prepared a series of 10 articles about the various dimensions of this phenomenon.

  1. The first is an introductory/lead-in article entitled MexiconsiderationsBaby Boomers Considering Retirement in Mexico. It details the journey this summer to the area from the perspective of my wife and I – as North American Baby Boomer retirees considering relocation/retirement to Mexico.

  1. The second piece is entitled Mexiconsiderations – Contemplating Retirement in Mexico– It uses a framework from Harvard’s Charles Handy  to provide North American Boomers considering retirement in Mexico with a host of questions to guide their evaluation of this prospect.
  1. The third article in the series is entitled The Mexodus -The New NORMM – NOrth american Retirees Moving to Mexico. The focus of the article is the result of dozens upon dozens of conversations I completed with North American Boomer retirees/about to be retirees I met with in Mexico – who were there exploring the distinct possibility of relocating and retiring there. The article summarizes and explores the 4 primary motivations driving this North American cohort south. Believe me – it is a MEXODUS!
Mexico – The Fifth Risk
  1. The fourth piece in the series is entitled Mexiconsiderations – The Fifth Risk. I use Michael Lewis‘s most recent book, The Fifth Risk, to provide the framework within which I describe the current, pervasive public health and environmental problems that currently inhabit the area – due to “kicking the can down the road” from one Mexican government administration to the next. I rely on scientific studies specific to lake Chapala and commentary from public health officials alarmed at the inaction of the government (Lake Chapala is the largest body of freshwater in Mexico, 2nd largest in Latin America, and serves as the source of drinking water for approximately 6 million people). This area is inhabited by the largest known ex-pat population from North America. It is critically imperiled from a public health and environmental hazards standpoint. Yet, self interest, virulent denial, and militant ignorance reign on the part of this ex-pat community. Their advocacy for action by the new national Mexican administration could be tantamount to the initiation of the comprehensive remedies the Lake Chapala ecosystem currently requires.
NaturAMLO Chapala
  1. The fifth article is entitled NaturAMLO – the Amazing Mexico Leadership Opportunity and the Amelioration Mandate for Lake Chapala’s Oversight. My co-author for this piece is Gabriel Vazquz Sanchezthe General Director of AIPROMADES – the Intermunicipal Association for the Protection of the Environment and Sustainable Development of Lake Chapala. He holds a Masters degree in Conservation of Natural and Cultural Heritage and Master’s in Integrated Management of Hydrological Basins. He has been Director of the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve of Guanajuato and of the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve of Querétaro. He is based in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. I rely upon Jared Diamond‘s book, Collapse – How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, to provide a framework for the content of the article. This piece lays out the strategic importance of immediately beginning a comprehensive rehabilitation of the Lake Chapala basin – for the benefit of all stakeholders – including the nation of Mexico – and providing a “pathway to progress” within the body of the article…. Emphasizing the Lake Chapala basin as the first site requiring the immediate, comprehensive and ongoing resources and collaboration inherent in the new Mexican President’s NaturAMLO initiative.
Lake Chapala
  1. The sixth article is entitled Mexi-CUTE or Mexi-CURE – Lake Chapala is a Sick Puppy It is designed to be a positive, encouraging piece (international affairs) that challenges the new Mexican President to act on the opportunity to move beyond the lip service of CUTE (The term “Clean UThe Environment”) to the CURE (Comprehend the Urgency to Rehabilitate the Ecosystem around Lake Chapala).
KaBOOM – Economy
  1. The next article in the series is entitled KaBOOM – Calculating The Cost of Baby Boomers Retiring in Mexico– In this piece I examine the reality of the MEXODUS (primarily Boomer American retirees) moving south to the Jalisco region in Mexico for their retirement years. I examine this from the U.S. point of view as well as the Mexican point of view. Finally, I examine the question of “what if Mexico fails to act upon the urgent public health and environmental hazards in the Lake Chapala area (the preferred location for North American Boomer retirees). Again, with an eye toward providing inspiration to the new Mexican President and his administration to act on this urgent situation. Being written now. There is a terrible/avoidable cost to ongoing inaction.
      1. The 8th article (out for peer review) is entitled “Corruption In Mexico – An Environmental and Public Health Perspective” – In this piece, I rely upon the Flint, Michigan water quality/public health debacle whereby the Director of Flint’s water resources (Nick Lyon) has been charged with involuntary manslaughter (“where there is a clear, willful and wanton disregard….knowing that someone was going to get sick, someone was going to die” (quote from special prosecutor Todd Flood). I also tie in the work of Dr. Jose Ivan Rodriguez-Sanchez a post-doctoral research fellow at the Rice University Baker Institute for Public Policy. His recent publications; “Understanding the Problems and Obstacles of Corruption in Mexico” and “Measuring Mexico’s Corruption” integrate well into my themes in the study. There must be consequences to reverse the trend propagated by those who choose to exercise willful and wanton disregard of conditions like these – that sicken and cause the death of humans, flora, fauna and the like.


    9. The ninth article is about public safety – reality and considerations – in Jalisco, Mexico. It is entitled Tourism and Public Safety in Mexico: Current Challenges in Jalisco, Mexico.

    Mexico Safety

10. The 10th article in the series is entitled “Lake Chapala – Planned Development – Progress, Perilous, Perplexing or Preposterous?

Lake Chapala Development

I will also be publishing interviews with “Corruption in Mexico” scholars whose recent research and writings are pertinent to the topic of corruption in the nation of Mexico.

Of course, the above series has spawned a steady stream of new perspectives and angles for additional articles on Mexico from readers, reviewers, publishers and scholars. I am pondering those as well. For media inquiries and requests for publication/reprint authorization – contact me at dahl (no space) bill at gmail dot com.


You can find the 1st article in this Series HERE: It is entitled: MEXICONSIDERATIONS – RETIREMENT IN MEXICO FOR NORTH AMERICAN BABY BOOMERS?




Use the links above or use the search feature on this site to go to the other articles in this series. Check back for new articles.


My photography of this region is extensive. The photo albums I prepared can be found on this site. Simply scroll through the posts or use the search feature above – Or – CLICK on the links provided below:


1. The Pelicans of Lake Chapala – Petatan – CLICK HERE
2. The Herons of Lake Chapala – Click HERE.
3. Templo Expiatorio – Guadalajara, MX – Click HERE
4. The Sacred Architecture of Jalisco, MX – Click HERE.
5. Dios de Los Muertos – Mexico – CLICK HERE.
6. Jiquilpan, Mexico – Michoacan – CLICK HERE.
7. The Fare of Ajijic-Chapala CLICK HERE.
8.  The Flowers and Flora of Ajijic-Chapala. Click HERE.
9.  The Artistry of Ajijic-Chapala – Click HERE
10. Lake Chapala – The Other Side. Click HERE.
11. The Artistry of Guadalajara – Zona Centro – Click HERE.
12. The Architecture of Guadalajara – Zona Centro. Click HERE.
13. Lake Chapala – A Walking Tour – Click HERE.
Imagery professionally enlarged and mounted for offices and homes is available. Refreshing new imagery for websites and promotional/marketing material is also available. My contact information is below.

I hope you enjoy this series and share the links to my articles with family, friends, colleagues, organizations, FB Groups,  and other interested parties. There are share buttons beneath each article (as well as this one). I always appreciate feedback from readers and I look forward to hearing from you. You can subscribe to this blog using the feature below.



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