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Over There - Mainland Mexico - History & Culture
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North America - Mexico Highlighted MEXICO FACTS
Population: Over 100 million
Size: 1,972,554 Sq. Km. (761,603 Sq. Miles)
Capital: Mexico City (Districto Federal)
Currency: Peso (US Dollars widely accepted in tourist areas)
Coastal Regions: Baja California Penninsula, Pacific Coast, Gulf of Mexico & Caribbean Sea


It's not known for sure exactly where the native peoples of Mesoamerica (now known as Mexico & Latin America) came from but around 5000 BC just south of what is now known as Mexico City, a group of seed gatherers figured out how to domesticate maize. With this knowledge came the need for the seed gatherers to remain fixed in one location to await harvest each season. Such was the beginning of the establishment of villages within this region now known as Mexico.

Olmec MaskOver time many of these villages evolved into great cities and a multitude of cultures began to spread throughout this land. Even today, the far scattered ruins of temples and pyramids are testaments to architectural, scientific and artistic achievements of these highly skilled cultures that once existed. Yet all of this advancement and development took place at a time when just across the ocean, Europe was incredibly primitive by comparison.

Cultures such as the Olmec, Aztec, Toltec and Maya explored the terrain, traded goods with each other, waged war upon rivals and generally flourished throughout Mexico up to 1000 years before the arrival of any Spanish explorers.

By the early 1300's the Aztecs (also known as Mexia) were roaming from place to place in search of a prophetic vision. According to legend, the Aztecs were looking for an eagle perched on a nopal cactus grasping a serpent in its beak and were supposed to build themselves a city on that location. It was in 1325 that the Aztecs finally encountered their prophetic vision on an island in the middle of Lake Texcoco and founded the city of Tenochtitlan which we know today as Mexico City.

As the Aztecs developed their main trade center, the city swelled to an estimated 500,000. They spread in all directions ruthlessly conquering and dominating this region of Mexico for several centuries until the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadores in 1519.

Magnificent Aztec WarriorsThe Spanish Conquistadores arrived under the leadership of Hernando Cortes just as the Aztecs were seeking another of their prophetic visions. The Aztecs thought Cortes was the god Quetzalcoatl (Plumed Serpent) of this prophecy because according to the vision, Quetzalcoatl was light complected with a beard. Since Cortes and his men fit this description, they were able to gain easy access to the Aztec's main city of Tenochtitlan and its leaders. Even though Cortes had only a small force of 500 men with him, he had cris-crossed the land around the Aztecs and gathered the support of tens of thousands of Indians who loathed the Aztecs for their years of brutal domination.

The fall of Tenochtitlan in battle to Hernando Cortes in 1521 inaugurated three centuries of Spanish rule. As such, Spain holds the infamous distinction of single handedly wiping out hundreds of years of Indian achievements in this region in order to further its religious cause of converting the natives - considered barbarians - to Christianity. Most of Mexico's historical buildings, grand cathedrals and colonial style cities were constructed during these three centuries of Spanish domination. These Colonial structures were usually either constructed on top of or used materials from raized temples and buildings of the Indians. So in the final analysis, the reign of Spain in Mexico was insignificant politically but had enormous impact socially due to the vast destruction of entire cultures of indiginous people in the area.

With this history borne of suffering conquest, war and subjugation, it goes without saying that rigid societal classes emerged over the course of Spanish rule. It seemed the Spaniards viewed Mexico (or New Spain as it was called) as simply an outpost to be exploited with all profits being shipped back to the Spainish Crown. It was this divisiveness in social culture coupled with indignation over centuries of exploitation that lead the push for Mexican independence.

Independence from Spain was finally achieved in 1821 but throughout the 19th and into the 20th century, political turmoil and unrest kept Mexico in a constant state of instablity.

Around the 1950's, industrial growth and social changes spurred economic growth and development. Mexico's new found prosperity was seen around the globe in 1968 as Mexico City played host to the Summer Olympics. Over the next 20 years, Mexico continued to gain worldwide confidence and recognition as it made the transition from developing nation to an economic world player.

Then incredibily in 1994, three catastrophic events threatened Mexico's hard won stability. A guerilla uprising, a political assasination and a devastating currency devaluation all fueled a loss of world wide confidence and sent the country spiraling into a monetary crisis. The US provided a $20 billion financial aid package for Mexico's crisis but such was Mexico's underlying economic strength, the loan was fully repaid by 1997. The Mexican peso has yet to recover to pre-devaluation levels however so visitors still get an excellent value for every travel dollar spent.

Mexico: A Strategic Look Back & Ahead
8/21/12 - STRATFOR - By George Friedman - A few years ago, I wrote about Mexico possibly becoming a failed state because of the effect of the cartels on the country. Mexico may have come close to that, but it stabilized itself and took a different course instead -- one of impressive economic growth in the face of instability.

Mexican Economics

Discussion of national strategy normally begins with the question of national security. But a discussion of Mexico's strategy must begin with economics. This is because Mexico's neighbor is the United States, whose military power in North America denies Mexico military options that other nations might have. But proximity to the United States does not deny Mexico economic options. Indeed, while the United States overwhelms Mexico from a national security standpoint, it offers possibilities for economic growth.

Mexico is now the world's 14th-largest economy, just above South Korea and just below Australia. Its gross domestic product was $1.16 trillion in 2011. It grew by 3.8 percent in 2011 and 5.5 percent in 2010. Before a major contraction of 6.9 percent in 2009 following the 2008 crisis, Mexico's GDP grew by an average of 3.3 percent in the five years between 2004 and 2008. When looked at in terms of purchasing power parity, a measure of GDP in terms of actual purchasing power, Mexico is the 11th-largest economy in the world, just behind France and Italy. It is also forecast to grow at just below 4 percent again this year, despite slowing global economic trends, thanks in part to rising U.S. consumption.

Total economic size and growth is extremely important to total national power. But Mexico has a single profound economic problem: According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Mexico has the second-highest level of inequality among member nations. More than 50 percent of Mexico's population lives in poverty, and some 14.9 percent of its people live in intense poverty, meaning they have difficulty securing the necessities of life. At the same time, Mexico is home to the richest man in the world, telecommunications mogul Carlos Slim.

Mexico ranked only 62nd in per capita GDP in 2011; China, on the other hand, ranked 91st. No one would dispute that China is a significant national power. Few would dispute that China suffers from social instability. This means that in terms of evaluating Mexico's role in the international system, we must look at the aggregate numbers. Given those numbers, Mexico has entered the ranks of the leading economic powers and is growing more quickly than nations ahead of it. When we look at the distribution of wealth, the internal reality is that, like China, Mexico has deep weaknesses.

The primary strategic problem for Mexico is the potential for internal instability driven by inequality. Northern and central Mexico have the highest human development index, nearly on the European level, while the mountainous, southernmost states are well below that level. Mexican inequality is geographically defined, though even the wealthiest regions have significant pockets of inequality. We must remember that this is not Western-style gradient inequality, but cliff inequality where the poor live utterly different lives from even the middle class.

Mexico is using classic tools for managing this problem. Since poverty imposes limits to domestic consumption, Mexico is an exporter. It exported $349.6 billion in 2011, which means it derives just under 30 percent of its GDP from exports. This is just above the Chinese level and creates a serious vulnerability in Mexico's economy, since it becomes dependent on other countries' appetite for Mexican goods.

This is compounded by the fact that 78.5 percent of Mexico's exports go to the United States. That means that 23.8 percent of Mexico's GDP depends on the appetite of the American markets. On the flip side, 48.8 percent of its imports come from the United States, making it an asymmetric relationship. Although both sides need the exports, Mexico must have them. The United States benefits from them but not on the same order.

Relations With the United States

This leads to Mexico's second strategic problem: its relationship with the United States. When we look back to the early 19th century, it was not clear that the United States would be the dominant power in North America. The United States was a small, poorly integrated country hugging the East Coast. Mexico was much more developed, with a more substantial military and economy. At first glance, Mexico ought to have been the dominant power in North America.

But Mexico had two problems. The first was internal instability caused by the social factors that remain in place, namely Mexico's massive, regionally focused inequality. The second was that the lands north of the Rio Grande line (referred to as Rio Bravo del Norte by the Mexicans) were sparsely settled and difficult to defend. The terrain between the Mexican heartland and the northern territories from Texas to California were difficult to reach from the south. The cost of maintaining a military force able to protect this area was prohibitive.

From the American point of view, Mexico -- and particularly the Mexican presence in Texas -- represented a strategic threat to American interests. The development of the Louisiana Purchase into the breadbasket of the United States depended on the Ohio-Mississippi-Missouri river system, which was navigable and the primary mode of export. Mexico, with its border on the Sabine River separating it from Louisiana, was positioned to cut the Mississippi. The strategic need to secure sea approaches through the Caribbean to the vulnerable Mexican east coast put Mexico in direct conflict with U.S. interests.

The decision by U.S. President Andrew Jackson to send Sam Houston on a covert mission into Texas to foment a rising of American settlers there was based in part on his obsession with New Orleans and the Mississippi River, which Jackson had fought for in 1815. The Texas rising was countered by a Mexican army moving north into Texas. Its problem was that the Mexican army, drawn to a great extent from the poorest elements of Mexican society in that country's south, had to pass through the desert and mountains of the region and suffered from extremely cold and snowy weather. The Mexican soldiers arrived at San Antonio exhausted, and while they defeated the garrison there, they were not able to defeat the force at San Jacinto (near present-day Houston) and were themselves defeated.

The region that separated the heart of Texas from the heart of Mexico was a barrier for military movement that undermined Mexico's ability to hold its northern territory. The geographic weakness of Mexico -- this hostile region coupled with long and difficult-to-defend coastlines and no navy -- extended west to the Pacific. It created a borderland that had two characteristics. It was of little economic value, and it was inherently difficult to police due to the terrain. It separated the two countries, but it became a low-level friction point throughout history, with smuggling and banditry on both sides at various times. It was a perfect border in the sense that it created a buffer, but it was an ongoing problem because it could not be easily controlled.

The defeat in Texas and during the Mexican-American War cost Mexico its northern territories. It created a permanent political issue between the two countries, one that Mexico could not effectively remedy. The defeat in the wars continued to destabilize Mexico. Although the northern territories were not central to Mexico's national interest, their loss created a crisis of confidence in successive regimes that further irritated the core social problem of massive inequality. For the past century and a half, Mexico has lived with an ongoing inferiority complex toward and resentment of the United States.

The war created another reality between the two countries: a borderland that was a unique entity, part of both countries and part of neither country. The borderland's geography had defeated the Mexican army. It now became a frontier that neither side could control. During the ongoing unrest surrounding the Mexican Revolution, it became a refuge for figures such as Pancho Villa, pursued by U.S. Gen. John J. Pershing after Villa raided American towns. It would not be fair to call it a no-man's-land. It was an every-man's-land, with its own rules, frequently violent, never suppressed.

The drug trade has replaced the cattle rustling of the 19th century, but the essential principle remains the same. Cocaine, marijuana and a number of other drugs are being shipped to the United States. All are imported or produced in Mexico at a low cost and then re-exported or exported into the United States. The price in the United States, where the products are illegal and in great demand, is substantially higher than in Mexico. That means that the price differential between drugs in Mexico and drugs in the United States creates an attractive market. This typically happens when one country prohibits a widely desired product readily available in a neighboring country.

This creates a substantial inflow of wealth into Mexico, though the precise size of this inflow is difficult to gauge. The precise amount of cross-border trade is uncertain, but one number frequently used is $40 billion a year. This would mean narcotic sales represent an 11.4 percent addition to total exports. But this underestimates the importance of narcotics, because profit margins would tend to be much higher on drugs than on industrial products. Assuming that the profit margin on legal exports is 10 percent (a very high estimate), legal exports would generate about $35 billion a year in profits. Assuming the margin on drugs is 80 percent, then the profit on them is $32 billion a year, almost matching profits on legal exports.

These numbers are all guesses, of course. The amount of money returned to Mexico as opposed to kept in U.S. or other banks is unknown. The precise amount of the trade is uncertain and profit margins are difficult to calculate. What can be known is that the trade is likely an off-the-books stimulant to the Mexican economy, generated by the price differential created by drug prohibition.

The advantage to Mexico also creates a strategic problem for Mexico. Given the money at stake and that the legal system is unable to suppress or regulate the trade, the borderland has again become -- perhaps now more than ever -- a region of ongoing warfare between groups competing to control the movement of narcotics into the United States. To a great extent, the Mexicans have lost control of this borderland.

From the Mexican point of view, this is a manageable situation. The borderland is distinct from the Mexican heartland. So long as the violence does not overwhelm the heartland, it is tolerable. The inflow of money does not offend the Mexican government. More precisely, the Mexican government has limited resources to suppress the trade and violence, and there are financial benefits to its existence. The Mexican strategy is to try to block the spread of lawlessness into Mexico proper but to accept the lawlessness in a region that historically has been lawless.

The American position is to demand that the Mexicans deploy forces to suppress the trade. But neither side has sufficient force to control the border, and the demand is more one of gestures than significant actions or threats. The Mexicans have already weakened their military by trying to come to grips with the problem, but they are not going to break their military by trying to control a region that broke them in the past. The United States is not going to provide a force sufficient to control the border, since the cost would be staggering. Each will thus live with the violence. The Mexicans argue the problem is that the United States can't suppress demand and is unwilling to destroy incentives by lowering prices through legalization. The Americans say the Mexicans must root out the corruption among Mexican officials and law enforcement. Both have interesting arguments, but neither argument has anything to do with reality. Controlling that terrain is impossible with reasonable effort, and no one is prepared to make an unreasonable effort.

Another aspect is the movement of migrants. For Mexicans, the movement of migrants has been part of their social policy: It shifts the poor out of Mexico and generates remittances. For the United States, this has provided a consistent source of low-cost labor. The borderland has been the uncontrollable venue through which the migrants pass. The Mexicans don't want to stop it, and neither, in the end, do the Americans.

Dueling rhetoric between the United States and Mexico hides the underlying facts. Mexico is now one of the largest economies in the world and a major economic partner with the United States. The inequality in the relationship comes from military inequality. The U.S. military dominates North America, and the Mexicans are in no position to challenge this. The borderland poses problems and some benefits for each, but neither is in a position to control the region regardless of rhetoric.

Mexico still has to deal with its core issue, which is maintaining its internal social stability. It is, however, beginning to develop foreign policy issues beyond the United States. In particular, it is developing an interest in managing Central America, possibly in collaboration with Colombia. Its purpose, ironically, is the control of illegal immigrants and drug smuggling. These are not trivial moves. Were it not for the United States, Mexico would be a great regional power. Given the United States, it must manage that relationship before any other.

Given Mexico's dramatic economic growth and given time, this equation will change. Over time, we expect there will be two significant powers in North America. But in the short run, the traditional strategic problems of Mexico remain: how to deal with the United States, how to contain the northern borderland and how to maintain national unity in the face of potential social unrest.

"Mexico's Strategy is republished with permission of Stratfor."

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A Sampling of the Tours & Excursions of the Yucatan Area!
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 Cozumel Butterfly Sanctuary Tour & PalMar Beach Club
Visit Cozumel's only Butterfly Sanctuary! See multitudes of colors, learn about butterfly habits and the miracle of metamorphosis. Take photos and then stay to enjoy snorkeling and the other ammenities of the Beach Club. Great family fun & excellent value! US $13 Adults /US$8 Kids Educational Family Fun!
 Cozumel Dolphin Royal Swim Program
"Action" and "speed" pretty much describe this popular dolphin program! Get a handshake, a kiss and then you give them one. Feel the strength of your new friends as they push you across the water from the bottom of your feet in the thrilling foot-push. It is "the experience of a lifetime!" US$ 149/Adult / US$ 89 child
 Design Your Very Own Custom Mainland Tour!
Tired of visiting the sights as part of the "herd?" Not seeing an excursion that exactly fits how you'd like to spend your day on the mainland? No problem! COZUMELINSIDER can custom design a mainland excursion just for you and your group! From US$168
 Cancun - Caribbean Carnaval Party Cruise
Enjoy the spirit of the Caribbean's Carnaval (Mardi Gras) year round on this party cruise! US$ 83.00 Adult / US$ 41.50 Kids
 Cancun - Caribbean Funday
Enjoy a day of different activities like snorkeling and kayaking, bicycling, volleyball and football tournaments and more at all inclusive price! US$ 69.00 Adult / US$ 34.50 Kids
 Cancun - Caribbean Funday Basic Excursion
Enjoy a day of different activities like snorkeling and kayaking, bicycling, volleyball and football tournaments and more! US$ 65.00 Adult / US$ 32.50 Kids
 Cancun - Chichen Itza Classic
The amazing classic tour to Chichen-Itza! Fun for the entire family! US$ 89.00 Adult / US$ 60.00 Kids
 Cancun - Chichen Itza Deluxe
An incredible overnight excursion to Chichen-Itza! US$ 119.00 Adult /US$ 84.00 Kids
 Cancun - Chichen Itza Exclusive
Don’t miss Chichen Itza, one of the Seven Wonders of the World! US$114.00 Adult / US$ 68.00 Kids
 Cancun - Chichen Itza Overnight Deluxe
An incredible overnight excursion to Chichen-Itza! US$ 213.00 Adult /US$ 75.50 Kids
 Cancun - Chichen Itza Plus Light & Sound
Ever wondered what Chichen Itza would look like at night? US$ 92.00 Adult / US$ 63.00 Kids
 Cancun - Columbus The Lobster Dinner Cruise - Lobster
Columbus Lobster Dinner Cruise is one of Cancun’s most famous night tours. It is a tranquil trip through the romantic and mild waters of the Nichupte Lagoon on our Spanish Galleon Columbus. US$ 99.00 Adult / US$ 99.00 Kids
 Cancun - Columbus The Lobster Dinner Cruise - Surf n Turf
Columbus Lobster Dinner Cruise is one of Cancun’s most famous night tours. It is a tranquil trip through the romantic and mild waters of the Nichupte Lagoon on our Spanish Galleon Columbus. US$ 99.00 Adult / US$ 99.00 Kids
 Cancun - Columbus The Lobster Dinner Cruise - Vegetarian
Columbus Lobster Dinner Cruise is one of Cancun’s most famous night tours. It is a tranquil trip through the romantic and mild waters of the Nichupte Lagoon on our Spanish Galleon Columbus. US$ 79.00 Adult / US$ 79.00 Kids
 Cancun - Dolphin Royal Swim
This most popular program can be described in two words: "action" and "speed". Get a handshake, a kiss and then you give them one. Feel the strength of your new friends as they push you across the water from the bottom of your feet in the thrilling foot-push. Later, you will be able to swim with the tender manatees and feed them and meet the amazing stingrays and sharks! It is "the experience of a lifetime!" US$ 159.00 Adult / US$ 99.00 Kids
 Cancun - Pirate Assault
Sail off the Caribbean, join the fearless gang of buccaneers and take home your part of the booty! Great family fun for everyone!! US$ 83.00 Adult / US$ 41.50 Kids
 Cancun - Rio Secreto Expedition
Dare to live a fantastic experience in one of the most incredible locations in the Riviera Maya that begins in the moment you arrive at the Natural Reserve. US$ 109.00 Adult / US$ 54.50 Kids
 Cancun - Sian Ka'an Wilderness Adventure
Come to this adventure tour and visit “Sian Ka’an", the beautiful and impressive Biosphere Reserve in Mexico. Sian Ka'an means 'Origin of the Sky' in the Maya language. Cross unspoiled wetlands by boat, watching how the ecosystems and colors change. US$ 159.00 Adult / US$ 111.30 Kids
 Costa Maya - Mahahual Dolphin Swim Adventure
A unique opportunity to swim with dolphins and get to know them better! Experience the joy of a dolphin kiss, hugs and handshake and then marvel at the dolphin’s strength as you are towed through the water with a "belly ride." You will fall in love with their gentleness during this activity created especially for you to bond with dolphins! US$ 109 Adult / US$ 99 Child
 Cozumel Dolphin Swim Adventure
A unique opportunity to swim with dolphins and get to know them better! Experience the joy of a dolphin kiss, hugs and handshake and then marvel at the dolphin’s strength as you are towed through the water with a "belly ride." You will fall in love with their gentleness during this activity created especially for you to bond with dolphins! US$ 119/Adult / US$ 89 child
 Cozumel Playa Mia All Inclusive Day Pass
Enjoy a relaxing "all inclusive" day at this white powder sand beach featuring top notch facilities and tons of activities for kiddos like water cannons, twin water slides as well as a 200 foot long pool and a pirate ship! Here there is an underwater Mayan City, organized games, kayaks, paddle boats, hobie cats and more! US$73 Adult / US$63 Child
 Cozumel Playa Mia Day Pass
Enjoy a relaxing day at this fantastic white powder sand beach featuring top notch facilities and tons of activities for kiddos like water cannons, twin water slides as well as a 200 foot long pool and a pirate ship! Here there is an underwater Mayan City, organized games, kayaks, paddle boats, hobie cats and more! US$ 30 Adult / US$ 25 Child
 Isla Mujeres - Sea Life Discovery Plus
Live one day at the Mexican Caribbean full of adventure and close to dolphins, sea lions and manatees in a program where you will be able to meet and interact with these cute marine mammals. The Sea Life Discovery Plus program includes the same "action" and "speed" with dolphins of the Dolphin Royal Swim; however, activities with other amazing species are also included. Dolphins will give you a handshake, kisses and will pull you with their dorsal tows to give you a speed ride! After that, the dolphins will push your feet to raise you up the water surface, you will feel like flying! You will also meet our manatees and sea lions, you will learn about their diet, you will feed them, stroke them and they will give you a kiss back. Later, you will be able to meet the amazing stingrays and sharks! Our Beach Club is located in a totally natural environment, in the beautiful Isla Mujeres, an island only 40 minutes boat ride from Cancun. Enjoy delicious food, open bar and chill out! * Kids and infants must swim with a paying adult as a companion. US$ 189.00 Adults / US$ 129.00 Kids
 PalMar's SMALL Snorkel Beach Club
Bring your group and spend the day at PalMar's small, private beach facility and enjoy a day of snorkeling at Cozumel's premier beach entry snorkel spot! No crowd here and gates close daily with a maximum of 50 people on site! US $13 Adults /US$8 Kids Includes FREE Beverages!
 Riviera Maya - Chichen Itza Classic
An incredible classic tour to Chichen-Itza! Fun for the entire family! US$ 89.00 Adults / US$ 60.0 Kids
 Riviera Maya - Chichen Itza Deluxe
An incredible daytime excursion to Chichen-Itza! US$ 119.00 Adults / US$ 84.00 Kids
 Riviera Maya - Chichen Itza Exclusive
Don’t miss Chichen Itza, one of the Seven Wonders of the World with food and beverages included! US$ 114.00 Adults / US$ 68.00 Kids
 Riviera Maya - Chichen Itza Overnight Deluxe
An incredible overnight excursion to Chichen-Itza! US$ 213.00 Adults / US$ 75.50 Kids
 Riviera Maya - Chichen Itza Plus Light & Sound
Ever wondered what Chichen Itza would look like at night? It's time for you to immerse in the Mayan heaven full of moonlight, music, special light effects and mysticism. The Light & Sound show hosted by the ancient spirits will captivate your eyes and soul. US$ 92.00 Adults / US$ 63.00 Kids
 Riviera Maya - Rio Secreto Expedition
Dare to live a fantastic experience in one of the most incredible locations in the Riviera Maya! US$ 109.00 Adults / US$ 54.50 Kids
 Riviera Maya - Tulum / Xel-Ha' All Inclusive (Cancun Line)
This is a combination tour visiting the mainland Tulum ruins site followed by a visit to the Xelha, natural water park, located right outside of Playa del Carmen. US$ 159.00 Adults / US$ 79.50 Kids
Cozumel Playa Mia Day Pass
Cozumel Playa Mia Day Pass
I like daisies too!
Cozumel Butterfly Sanctuary Tour & PalMar Beach Club
Fun for the Entire Family!
Cozumel Playa Mia Day Pass

Cancun - Columbus The Lobster Dinner Cruise - Lobster

Cancun - Sian Ka'an Wilderness Adventure
Comfortable  Private Tour Vans
Design Your Very Own Custom Mainland Tour!

Design Your Very Own Custom Mainland Tour!
Close Encounter
Costa Maya - Mahahual Dolphin Swim Adventure

Cozumel Dolphin Swim Adventure


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