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The Unlikely Environmentalists 

International environmentalists claim they stopped a Mexican salt plant that endangered the gray whale. Actually, though, the Mexican government canceled the plant for reasons of its own.

Wednesday, Nov 28 2001

Page 6 of 6

Louis-Dreyfus tracks the attendant knot of photographers with Larry Bird-like peripheral vision, lest one of them lose track of her most attractive profile. Kennedy holds forth to a throng five fans thick. Homero and Betty Aridjis, meanwhile, sip tea and chat amongst themselves. Homero is both of this jet-setting world -- he's a diplomat and internationally renowned poet -- and not of this world: Unlike the others present, he actually had a meaningful role in the cancellation of the Laguna San Ignacio salt project.

This is an ethereal Hollywood moment constructed to accompany a bit of Los Angeles fantasy.

The tale scripted by NRDC President John Adams is fictional. The salt plant's cancellation was a Mexican affair. The less globally romantic but far more accurate version of the tale goes like this: Latin America's most prominent environmentalist, Homero Aridjis, brings a faulty environmental assessment report to the attention of the Mexican press. A sympathetic Cabinet minister declares the document illegal. A half-decade of bureaucratic wrangling ensues, and the plant is ultimately canceled by presidential decree.

This wouldn't be the first time First World people took credit for Third World struggles. And this wouldn't be the first time events of an isolated, local nature were ascribed momentous historical portent.

About The Author

Matt Smith


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