Saturday, September 30, 2006

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Oaxaca -- Naval helicopters signal end to protests?

(UPDATE: Sunday --The Secretaria de Gobernacion announced that the military will dislodge the protesters Wednesday, if talks are unsuccessful. They're playing hardball, and -- like I said -- I expect the Governor will be forced to resign). Sara from Oaxaca has the "woman in the street" (or, rather, woman staying at home) report in the "Comments" section. Helicopters Flying Over Oaxacan Encampments Navy flyovers of teachers union and APPO lead to "maximum alert". Warings that protesters may be forcibly dislodged tonight. Jorge Octavio Ochoa (translation by "St. Jacques" and myself) Oaxaca City, Oaxaca (Saturday 30 September 2006)
At 4:30, 4:50 and 5:00 p.m., two Navy helicopters flew through the airspace over the center of Oaxaca City, apparently doing reconnaisance. [Sunday's Jornada confirms that the navy is transporting PFP -- national police paramilitary units -- with flights from Salias Cruz and Baja de Hualtalco] From La Ley radio, the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (APPO) called for a total alert. At the same time they asked their members to show prudence and calm. "It is not the deciding moment for us. What the PFP [Federal Preventive Police] and Ulises [Oaxacan Governor Ulises Ruiz] want is to provoke a stampede." With this in mind, the APPO called for strengthened vigilence, reiterating that the operation is designed to spread panic. Furthermore, the station claimed Federal forces would seek to dislodge protesters, beginning at 8:00 p.m., and that the attacks would come from two flanks: one on the highway that goes in the direction of Mexico City and another on the encampments erected in the center of the Oaxacan city. Flavio Sosa, one of the directors of APPO, called on all the group's members to mobilize and carry out a march around the Zocalo capital plaza [in the center of Oaxaca City]. In a telephone conversation, Omar Flavio Sosa, asked the governmental representative, Francisco Yañez Centeno: Is this the governmental response?" The government functionary responded that the flights are only for reconnaisance or vigilance. Even so, Flavio Sosa expressed his doubts: "I don't believe it. Fox will have blood on his hands if they undertake these these operations." The Navy helicopters, one of them with the call letters AMMLT-200, also crossed the airspace where the broadcast antennas of La Ley radio are found, which is the only one which continues transmitting APPO's statements, after Radio Oro went off the air yesterday due to supposed technical difficulties. From the kiosk of this city, the directorate of APPO began lighting bonfires to signal the maximum alert.
Something is going on... Jornada reports that APPO claimed shots were fired at their encampments last night. But, as far as anyone knows, the Feds and APPO will be negotiating a settlement this week. Given Ulises' actions last week -- where it looks as if his guards fired on the protesters (and may have been the people behind the attacks on Ricardo Rocha) -- the flyovers and the shots may not be connected. Ulises MAY be trying to provoke an excuse for a crackdown before the Feds -- who are fed up, basically -- remove him from office and put in ... who knows, stay tuned. I'm betting, as an outside chance, Demetrio Soldi, the PRD ex-senator who ran for Mexico City Jefe de Gobernacion as a PANista. will be the interim governor. It makes sense: the opposition to Ulises is from all non-PRI parties (and even from some within the larger "PRI family", like Elba Esther)
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No, they aren't headed for the border...

Oaxaca schoolteachers march on Mexico City. Photo taken near the Mixteca community of Petlacingo Oaxaca by AP photographer Joel Merino. While the PRI is still making some claims that Federal troops are needed (to fire on more civilians?), the Federal Government seems to have finally stepped in, announcing they will hold talks with the APPO and the Teachers on October 4.
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Unconfirmed report on Minutemen helocoper crash...

I picked this up on "freerepublic.com":
Texas Minutemen / Minuteman Project Operation Sovereignty border watch helicopter crashed in the early evening of the 29th while patrolling north of Laredo - south of Eagle Pass - west of Carrizo Springs. Reason for crash unknown, condition of the pilot believed to be ok... no further info available.
There's nothing on any of the wire services yet, nor on the Texas Minuteman site. If true, and nobody was seriously injured... thaen all well and good. Helocopters ain't cheap. Hopefully, they crashed on somebody's land, who isn't going to be real pleased, and will be contacting a lawyer about the nuisance. If anybody -- even if just the minutemen folks -- were injured or killed, it's going to create a real stink. Did this divert the National Guard, or the Border Patrol, or the Local Sheriff's deputies being payed under "Operation Linebacker" (the $10 million the State threw this way to pay deputy sheriffs to work overtime backing up the backups to the Border Patrol... I know a lot of Deputies. They're tired of 80 hour weeks!) from whatever it is they normally do? Are we taxpayers supposed to pay for the damages the Minutemen caused? Wanna bet we're gonna hear some nonsense about the Zetas shooting them down? Oh the humanity!!!!

Friday, September 29, 2006

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OK, maybe a terrorist did cross the border...

Why did I have to find out about this from a CANADIAN source?
The Bush Administration prefers to paint the War on Terror in stark terms of good and evil, but the reality is not all terror suspects are considered equal. That much was clear on the same day that the nation solemnly recalled the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, when a federal magistrate recommended freeing a man being held on immigration charges who is also awaiting retrial in Venezuela for the bombing of a Cuban airliner 30 years ago that resulted in the death of all aboard, including the Cuban national fencing team.

Cuban militant Luis Posada Carriles has been fighting for his release since May 17, 2005, when Department of Homeland Security officials arrested him in Miami for entering the country without having a visa or passing through passport control at the border. But in a move that may come back to haunt the U.S. government Posada, despite his suspected terrorist past, was held on immigration violations, not terror-related charges...

He claims he came in through Mexico by car and then took a bus to Miami. But it is widely believed that a friend may have smuggled him into Miami by boat.

The only other terrorist incident at the Mexican border, BTW, was a stupid gringo from Minnesota trying to enter Mexico with some vague idea of joining a Somali jihad.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

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Not good... Oaxaca update...Reporter beaten, one shot... and desperate housewives take control

Dane Schiller, of the San-Antonio Express-News reports from Mexico City:

MEXICO CITY — Tension spiked in the state capital of Oaxaca after masked men armed with clubs searched a luxury hotel room by room, looking for the governor, who was rumored to be there but wasn't.

The state government insisted those who carried out the attack were members of a group of striking teachers and their supporters who have controlled the city's center for months.

...

Activists and police had their biggest clash in months Sunday when hundreds of people marched on the Camino Real hotel, a stone compound built as a convent in 1576.

They surrounded the hotel, and about 40 people entered and searched restaurants, guest rooms and other areas.

The Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca, known as APPO, said on its Web site that one member was shot outside the hotel by police or security agents who fired more than 60 rounds.

...

The group searching for Ruiz on Sunday instead found a nationally prominent radio and TV personality, Ricardo Rocha, who had interviewed two congressmen in his room.

While the intruders, who identified themselves as APPO members, threatened to break down the door, the congressmen hid in the bathroom and used their cellular phones to call for help, said Daniel Robles, a producer who works with Rocha.

The congressmen later escaped out a side door, but Rocha was clubbed, temporarily detained and had some of his equipment and video recordings confiscated.

Daniel Dehesa Mora, a Oaxacan and federal congressman with the leftist Democratic Revolution Party, said the men who entered the Camino Real were disguised state police officers trying to make activists look dangerous.

"You could tell from their military-style haircuts and the tone of their voices," he said. "Also, everyone there knows who is who."

APPO has a "mobile brigade" that patrols the city to ensure government officials can't conduct official business. Members have entered offices and detained people.

The organization operates its own security force and has erected more than 100 barricades throughout the city to control who comes and goes after dark.

NO, it is not ok to beat up reporters, even if they are in the same hotel as shitheads like Ulises Ruiz! I'm appalled that the usual left-wing English-language sources (like Narco News) have yet to comment on this. Even (as U.S. newspapers always call him) "ex-communist Mexico City Mayor" Alejandro Encinas was quick to defend Rocha and was appalled by what happened. Encinas, ironically, was attending a luncheon to honor "Freedom of the Press" when he was informed of the doings in Oaxaca. Ciro Gomez Leveya interviewed Rocha yesterday for Radio Foruma (Real Player video here). And... I am more than a little suspicious that Congressman Dehensa Mora is right. This sounds like Oaxaca... where the previous governor tried to pass off a faked assasination attempt (and got himself actually shot in the process -- the dolt!) as a "extremist plot" to overthrow the state government. The "extremists" tend to be more like these desperate housewives turned TV news anchors and media moguls... Soldatas de la revolucion mediatico? Moms? (Google Videos don't always work, for some reason: if not, here's the link.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

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Light My Fire!

The "missionary" season(summer) is ending and my own "virtual" hunting season has begun. The Christian neighbors to the north have been planting their 'seeds' all summer long throughout Mexican cities and rural villages. The focus of most of their energies has been on the poor and uneducated indigenous villagers, young orphans, alcoholics, troubled teens, and the aged. Now I'm about to turn my focus on the Evangelicals and their management teams. "I have no problems with Jesus Christ; it's his fan club that disturbs me." (unknown author) Too many well-meaning Christians are piling into their vans to do "good works" south of the border in the Lord's name. They claim to be rescuing souls so that they can enter heaven. The missionaries begin their mission by passing out candy and leaflets to unsuspecting villagers. Before they know it, the children and parents are invited to attend get-to-know-you parties which are sponsored by the missionaries. More candy and small toys are given to the kids, teens get to see Bible movies, and the group sings along to Christian music. Before you can light a candle, their new "friends" are building them an orphanage and a playground. "What the heck, you're so nice, we'll build a little meeting hall for your alcoholics to hold meetings in, too. " "Gee, you're such good people, we'll build you a simple church and we'll help you pray for answers to all your problems. If you'd like to go to heaven, someday, we can teach you how to be "saved", otherwise, the devil owns your soul." Simple as 1-2-3. "Onward Christian Soldiers" They are soldiers, indeed. They are armed combatants who use Christ as a "front" for a diabolical goal. Christ, orphanages, food kitchens, toys, used clothing, and Bibles are there for window dressing. They will dress Christ up as a rock star or as Santa Claus in order to enlist these Mexican peasants into their army. They want numbers.... BABY! Like TV ratings or "hits" on a blog, it's all about numbers. It's all about world domination! These missionaries are working Africa, India, China and the Phillipines as well as Mexico to 'spread God's word' and make conversions. According to the http://www.crusadewatch.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=337&Itemid=27 there are presently 395 foreign mission agencies in Mexico ...., # of service agencies... 205, # of major missionary institutions... 1,500, # of minor missionary institutions ... 5,000. These numbers are not insignificant! Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya's first elected Prime Minister (1963-1964) and President (1964-1978) said: "When the missionaries arrived, the Africans had the land and the missionaries had the Bible. They taught us to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible." Evangelical missionary work is a "glorified" pyramid scheme that keeps on giving! Their real goal isn't to "save souls", it's to build their army. The real "mission" is to put up high numbers in order to influence governments for their own self-interests. The end-game is world domination. It's a lobbying movement to end all lobbying movements. The Catholic Church did it in Mexico centuries ago and now the Evangelicals, the Mormons, the Muslims etc, are back (in Mexico) to increase their own flocks.... full steam ahead. Evangelism is unethical. It is dishonest and arrogant to impose ones beliefs on another culture by the use of trickery and deception. Whether they come with guitars, or candy, on skateboards or in caravans.... they bring trouble. Every man, woman or child, peasant or scholar has the right to his/her own spiritual beliefs and practices. "Most of the true Christian denominations are not involved in missions and evangelism. They strongly argue that missions is the corrupted and evil expression of true Christianity." Crusade Watch "Religion is sort of like a lift in your shoes. If it makes you feel better, fine. Just don't ask me to wear your shoes. " [George Carlin] "In the fuss over the human loss and its political implications, what was largely overlooked is the extraordinary vanity and presumption that underlie the zeal of missionaries. They make it their goal and active business to disrupt the most fundamental ideals and values of the people on whom they inflict themselves. The measure of missionary success is how much dissatisfaction they can create among the often-poverty-stricken people they encounter. Missionaries only fail when their victims are holywaterproof. Missionaries are frank imperialists. But because they operate in the spiritual realm, they continue to enjoy a fuzzy kind of permission to conduct a kind of business that is largely impossible in other less ethereal spheres of life." New York Press~Nov. 22, 2005

Amen, brothers and sisters!

Monday, September 25, 2006

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The Dog begs...

I'd never heard of "Celebrity Stink", or Scott Gwin, but couldn't help but pass on this update on a barking good tale of gringos gone bad.

"Dog The Bounty Hunter" is frantic to avoid becoming the kind of person he's known for catching. Usually he's the one dragging people to justice but now the Mexican government wants him, his son Leland and another of their associates extradited on charges of illegal activity. The big Dog is prepared to do whatever he has to do to keep it from happening, even apologizing... According to a report from the AP, Dog is willing to forfeit the bail paid in Mexico, apologize for everything except capturing Luster (which ironically is why he's in trouble in the first place), and even make a generous charitable contribution . What's he trying to do, give them grounds for a bribery charge too? ... If there were ever a time for someone in Mexico to want to make a name for themselves as a bounty hunter, this could be their chance. I hear Univision is looking to expand into reality TV. I imagine the guy who brings Dog to justice in Mexico might land a TV show of his own.

That'd be ruuufffff!

I'm coming for YOU... pinche gringo!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

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¡Por la libertad!

By Richard Gonzales Fort Worth Star-Telegram Carmen Puertos drank, smoked and laughed for most of her 92 years. When she chuckled, her open mouth revealed few remaining teeth; she never bothered with dentures. Her earlier photos show a pretty woman with thick brown hair. Time turned it gray and caused her legs to hurt when she walked. But it never took her pride, spunk or freedom. She cared for her grandchildren -- including me -- while her children worked in Chicago factories. She taught her family, in Spanish, not to be cowed by the big, blustering American city. After all, she was a chilanga -- a native of Mexico City who had lived in the capital during the days of dictator Porfirio Diaz and revolutionaries Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa. Perhaps the rebellious airs in the days of the Adelitas and soldaderas, or female warriors of the revolution, filled her with an independent spirit. One night when she was 14, she stayed out late to attend a neighborhood fiesta. Fearing the wrath of her father, she ran away to a convent where her older sister was studying to become a nun. Her father forced her to return to his comfortable, maid-tended house, where she could have lived out her years. But Mexico was a macho country with macho men. (Her father was 30 when he married his 14-year-old wife, with whom he would have 14 children.) She wanted to live in the world beyond Don Puertos's reach. So she ran away again at 19 with the help of an older brother. This time she fled to Nuevo Laredo with a female friend to care for her aunt. She worked as a laundress at the Hamilton Hotel in Laredo. When she heard that a family was going to Waukegan, Ill., to open a restaurant, she went along. She proudly told her children that she was never undocumented -- "No era mojada." She walked across the bridge spanning the Rio Grande with papers for which she paid $8. It would be nice to say that life in the United States was pleasant and bountiful for her. In truth, life in the Depression was hard for her and millions of others scrambling for food and work. She married another Mexican immigrant, Juan Reyes, bore him four children and followed the jobs to Chicago, Lyons, Kan., and back to Chicago. In Kansas, she joined other Mexican women to form a mutual aid society that raised money through jamaicas, or fairs, for the election of Mexican President Lazaro Cardenas. During Mexican Independence Day celebrations, she sewed Mexican dresses for her daughters and herself, splashing red, white and green in their skirts, blouses and hair. She played old Mexican songs and taught them to dance traditional steps that she recalled from fiestas. When Kansas commemorated the 400th anniversary of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado's exploration for gold, Carmen Reyes and other Mexican women pooled their money to bring Mexican matadors and bulls to demonstrate the corrida (although the bullfighters would go through the sweeps and turns in their suit of light and crimson capes without the fatal sword plunge). The Kansas townfolk easily accepted the Mexican garb, dances, customs and Spanish. Perhaps the small number of Mexican immigrants, their hard work and neighborliness calmed any fears that they might have harbored of the children of Coronado. There was no bitter history of the Alamo and the Mexican War; instead, they shared a memory of a conquistador traveling with his soldiers and priests in search of wealth. In Chicago, there would be more disappointment and heartache for Carmen as a daughter followed in her footsteps and ran away. Despite their advanced age, Carmen and Juan Reyes adopted the runaway daughter's five children. In later years, Carmen and Juan wanted to live closer to family. And so when she died Aug. 6, 1996, it was in Garland. When I asked my grandmother why she had come to the United States, she answered: Por la libertad -- for the liberty. She wanted the liberties to smoke, drink, marry the man she loved and live in a country where a runaway girl could find a home. Carmen Puertos de Reyes taught her children to cherish their golden freedom.
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¡PENDEJO!

I know this really has nothing to do with Mexico, but it's outrageous... No dogs, bottles or Spanish-speakers allowed! I don't know how much good it does to talk to pendejos like Dr. Ken Cherry, but you can always call or write him at: 2105 Park Plaza Dr Springfield TN 37172-3937 Phone: 615-384-2558 The City of Springfield's email address is here. Somehow, if that isn't sufficient, print off the photo below, paste it on a BLUE candle (why blue, I don't know, but that's what my local cuaradaro recommends) and light it at sunset every day for nine days, earnestly reading the attached prayer. Who knows... stranger things have worked.

Friday, September 22, 2006

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WITCH WAY DID THEY GO -- a real MeX-FILE

Monterrey, Mexico (18 Sept 06) - A policeman from Santa Catarina claimed having seen two witches while on a routine patrol near a graveyard several months ago. He only made this information known today. Gerardo Garza Carbajal explained his experience with the supernatural very near the Panteon Municipal, a few meters from the road to Villa Garcia. "It was nighttime, I stayed behind to stand guard on my own and suddenly someone started pelting me with stones. Then I saw two people with wings and wrinked faces." "I was so scared that I got into my squad car. I could hear them laughing in an ugly way, flying a short distance. I thought they were witches--I saw them very close," said the officer, who has a long service record with the local police. Garza Carbajal said that he immediately requested backup, and in a matter of minutes was surrounded by several municipal police cars even some from the Ministerial Police. "The witches flew off, but the police officers who came to my aid saw what I saw. They can attest to the fact that I didn't imagine anything. What I saw was real. I'd never been so scared before," said the officer. He added that he was subsequently taken to a medical center, since his blood pressure dropped excessively. He soon recovered from the powerful shock. Witnesses to this event stated that they do not know for sure if two witches were involved, but are indeed certain that they have no explanation for this phenomenon. (translation © 2006, S. Corrales, IHU. Special thanks to Marco Reynoso, Fundacion Cosmos) I found this on one of the weirder... and more interesting websites around, Inexplicata-The Journal of Hispanic Ufology
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Viernes: blogiando de Los Gatos...

Everyone from Woody Guthrie (whose wrote it, along with California high school teacher Martin Hoffman), to Joan Baez to Bruce Springsteen to the Byrds to Dolly Parton has sung this... but for some odd reason, there isn't a free internet copy available. Can't figure that one out. Woody's attitude towards copyrights was: "This song is Copyrighted in U.S... for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we wanted to do." Plane Wreck At Los Gatos (Deportee)
The crops are all in and the peaches are rott'ning, The oranges piled in their creosote dumps; They're flying 'em back to the Mexican border To pay all their money to wade back again Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita, Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria; You won't have your names when you ride the big airplane, All they will call you will be "deportees" My father's own father, he waded that river, They took all the money he made in his life; My brothers and sisters come working the fruit trees, And they rode the truck till they took down and died. Some of us are illegal, and some are not wanted, Our work contract's out and we have to move on; Six hundred miles to that Mexican border, They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers, like thieves. We died in your hills, we died in your deserts, We died in your valleys and died on your plains. We died 'neath your trees and we died in your bushes, Both sides of the river, we died just the same. The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon, A fireball of lightning, and shook all our hills, Who are all these friends, all scattered like dry leaves? The radio says, "They are just deportees" Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards? Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit? To fall like dry leaves to rot on my topsoil And be called by no name except "deportees"? Words by Woody Guthrie and Music by Martin Hoffman © 1961 (renewed) by TRO-Ludlow Music, Inc.
The agreement of 1947 (between Mexico and the U.S)... contained a novel provision which established amnesty through deportation, agreeing to limit deportations to one per year per farm worker. Under its terms, undocumented Mexicans who were sent back across the border could return to the U.S. as temporary contract labourers; during the life of their contracts, they could not be again deported. In practice, employers often called Border Patrol stations ( la migra) to report their own undocumented employees, who were returned, momentarily, to border cities in Mexico, where they signed labour contracts with the same employers who had denounced them. This process became known as "drying out wetbacks" or "storm and drag immigration." "Drying out" provided a deportation-proof source of cheap seasonal labour... The 28 men who died in Los Gatos were victims of this bizarre system.
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What's Mexico Hiding?

By Irma Sandoval and John M. Ackerman September 22, 2006 (Los Angeles Times ©2006) MEXICO now has two presidents-elect. One officially recognized by the electoral authorities — Felipe Calderon — and the other proclaimed the "legitimate president" by millions of followers — Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. There is one way to settle this crisis. As in the aftermath of Bush vs. Gore in the 2000 U.S. presidential election, a group of Mexico's newspapers should be allowed to conduct their own canvass of the ballots. Unfortunately, the Federal Electoral Institute, which organizes the presidential elections, has announced that it will not open up the ballots to public scrutiny. The institute appears bent on repeating the government's performance after the 1988 presidential election, in which the computers "malfunctioned." It is widely believed that massive fraud allowed Carlos Salinas de Gortari, the candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, to mysteriously overcome the early lead of the leftist candidate, Cuauhtemoc Cardenas. To cover its tracks, the government then quickly burned the evidence. Mexico's freedom of information act, enacted in 2002, is one of the best in the world. It gives full priority to transparency, stating that everything should be made public except when disclosure might harm economic stability or national security. But even this "reserved" information must be made available after 12 years have passed. Mexican law does keep confidential personal information, including names, photographs and sexual orientations of particular individuals. But, of course, secret ballots don't contain any of this material. Although the institute is required by law to destroy the ballots eventually, there is no need to do so immediately. And it would be illegal to carry it out prematurely for the purpose of avoiding the freedom-of-information requests. To his credit, Calderon has asked the institute to "preserve the ballots for as long as possible" in the interest of ensuring the "certainty" of the electoral results. This is a positive step, but it does not get to the heart of the issue. Preserving the ballots will do no good if no one is allowed to examine them. Even worse, Calderon's National Action Party voted Tuesday against forming a special congressional commission to keep watch over the ballots, placing doubt on PAN's commitment to transparency. Calderon and his party should explicitly state that the ballots should be opened to public scrutiny and take measures to ensure this takes place. There is a larger issue. If the Federal Electoral Institute is permitted to hide and prematurely destroy the ballots, this would open the door to widespread flouting of the access-to-information law by other government agencies. The institute has argued that the ballots are not "documents" but only the "material expression of electoral preferences" and therefore not subject to the information law. Such ad hoc re-categorizations for the purpose of avoiding disclosure are punishable by law, and allowing it here would set a dangerous precedent in this fledgling democracy. Mexico's Federal Institute of Access to Public Information, which has the mandate to promote compliance by all government agencies to the access-to-information law, also has maintained a worrisome silence on this crucial issue. It is high time for a public pronouncement by its commissioners backing up the information law. Such a statement also would help dispel concerns about the personal ties and any conflict of interest between the chief commissioner and Calderon IN GENERAL, the electoral authorities have needlessly encouraged suspicions about Calderon's victory. The Federal Electoral Tribunal, which certifies the election results, announced that Calderon won. But it failed to disclose details of its partial recount, which showed widespread irregularities in the computation of the votes. And even though it condemned illegal campaign advertisements and the intervention of President Vicente Fox, it failed to assess their overall impact. In an election decided by only 230,000 votes out of 41 million cast, even small discrepancies could have made a big difference. The Florida ballots from the 2000 U.S. presidential elections were not destroyed. They are available for public viewing and research for generations to come. Recently, Ohio delayed the destruction of its presidential ballots from 2004 to allow further study of irregularities. Mexicans deserve no less. They have a right to know what actually happened on election day. We are at a crucial moment in Mexico's transition to democracy. After 70 years of electoral fraud under the PRI, Fox's PAN government must ensure absolute integrity in the process through which he passes power to Calderon, his PAN successor. Burning the ballots would set back Mexican democracy 20 years. Full access to the ballots — and then a full recount, if it's deemed warranted — by reputable civil society organizations in the manner of Bush vs. Gore would restore credibility to Mexico's damaged electoral institutions. IRMA SANDOVAL and JOHN M. ACKERMAN are professors at the Institute for Social Research and the Institute for Legal Research, respectively, at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. They advised Proceso magazine, whose request for access to the ballots was rejected this month.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

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MAR-EEEE-AAAAAA-CHE!!!!!! (in the concert hall)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

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ALIEN INVASION, remittances to Mexico, etc. Oh my!

The Perfect Swarm...
Yes, in former California Governor Pete Wilson's immortal words, "They just keep coming." Over the last decade, the U.S. State Department estimates that the number of Americans living in Mexico has soared from 200,000 to 1 million (or one-quarter of all U.S. expatriates). Remittances from the United States to Mexico have risen dramatically from $9 billion to $14.5 billion in just two years. Though initially interpreted as representing a huge spike in illegal workers (who send parts of their salaries across the border to family), it turns out to be mainly money sent by Americans to themselves in order to finance Mexican homes and retirements.

Although some of them are certainly naturalized U.S. citizens returning to towns and villages of their birth after lifetimes of toil al otro lado, the director-general of FONATUR, the official agency for tourism development in Mexico, recently characterized the typical investors in that country's real estate as American "baby boomers who have paid off in good part their initial mortgage and are coming into inheritance money."

Indeed, according to the Wall Street Journal, "The land rush is occurring at the beginning of a demographic tidal wave. With more than 70 million American baby boomers expected to retire in the next two decades… some experts predict a vast migration to warmer -- and cheaper -- climates. Often such buyers purchase a property 10 to 15 years before retirement, use it as a vacation home, and then eventually move there for most of the year. Developers increasingly are taking advantage of the trend, building gated communities, condominiums, and golf courses"

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Sit Them In a Corner

The word of the day is "stupid". Normally, I don't spend my time running down the U.S. of A. (though I definitely could if I wanted to) .Only some of the people who inhabit it deserve that attention. Remember when there was a movement to teach Americans to get on board with other countries of the world by learning the metric system? It seemed pretty innocuous, but citizens resisted it with all their might. Now, a Texas principal has learned just how fiercely some of his student's parents would fight back when his school participated in some minor celebrations for 16th of September (Mexican Independence Day). The "The Facts.com (Brazoria, Co., Texas) has reported about a flag controversy that has escalated into demands for Principal Sam Williams to be demoted. The flap is around teachers having the kids hold a Mexican flag in their hands while 6 parents read the Mexican Pledge of Allegiance aloud. The students were asked to stand (out of respect) as the pledge was read. Approximately 65% of the school's students are Mexican American.... the principal of 18 yrs is black (if that makes any difference). “We have stated in our mission statement that we are a campus that is a beacon of hope for a culturally diverse population,” Williams said. I guess that doesn't go over too well in parts of Texas! Apparently, teaching students about cultural diversity is un-American in these parts. Parents were outraged because they felt that the brief "lesson" subverted the U.S. 's present stand against illegal immigrants. I kid you not! That's what I would really call a big s-t-r-e-t-c-h. I guess the climate has to be just right before teachers can give their students a lesson in diversity. Example: It's acceptable to teach about Holland and tulips and wooden shoes, about England and Shakespeare or tea and crumpets, about Japan and Pearl Harbor, kimonos and the Cherry Blossom festival or China about the Great Wall and the Wu people who live along the Yangtze River. Since Mexico is out of favor with our present-day politicos, parents want to vent their rage when someone teaches their children that Mexico is a neighboring country deserving of their children's respect.... not to mention a country that justifiably has its place in Texas's own history. Our nation says that we as a people need to prepare ourselves for a global economy... yet some segments of our population resist even the tiniest sharing of a celebration belonging to a neighbor. Our students go into the workforce and the globalization period with such ignorance and with such a skewed view of the world they live in. When my daughter was in high school (1986), I looked through her history book. It had chapters on the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, WWI and WWII. I asked her if she had ever been taught about the Vietnam Conflict (War). She said that her teacher told the class that it was too "new" and too "controversial". It had ended ( for the U.S.) in 1975. I guess the "timing" wasn't quite right, yet. George W. was the product of a similar education... wasn't he? If we can't deal with "controversy" in the classroom, is it any wonder we can't rationally deal with it in the halls of the 'mentally challenged' Congress? Oh, let's just line up the lame-brained 'parent protesters' in a neat row and put decorate their pointy heads with dunce caps and call it a 'day'.

Monday, September 18, 2006

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Color Me With Hope....

When I used to travel across Mexico by train, I would have the opportunity to see quite a few areas of immense poverty that you don't often see by car or bus. While Mexico's middle class has grown by leaps and bounds, there are many poor who have been left behind. Often, they are struggling families who left their rural homes to seek better jobs in the larger cities. They took huge risks because they were generally unskilled and poor to begin with. Numbers of these families end up "surviving" in the squalid slums like the one from Tijuana pictured (below) or Mexico City on the (above):

After viewing slums in Tijuana, Mexico City, Juarez, Chihuahua etc, I came up with a theory. My theory is that "the color of poverty is brownish/grey". It's particulary true of the huge slums on the outskirts of Mexico City where the dirt from the roads and the barren land blows over and through the "houses". There is no distiction between the land and the sky where the horizon completely blends the two with the brownish/grey polluted air. The monotony of the colorlessness seems endless and reflects the hopelessness of the families who must exist there. The residents of the slums are robbed of the delicious 'gift' of color in a country which cherishes color in their every day lives.

Is it any wonder that Mexicans would bring bright colors into their homes if given the chance? When families have the opportunity to express themselves, it's often done with brilliant shades rather than with soft pastels. Regional cooking is done with a variety of vegetables, fruits and spices which satisfy your eye and palette. Spices, which are unique to Mexico, give your tongue an extra "tingle". Hot, Hot, Hot! ... can be as hot as their colors!

Mexicans and art are synonymous. Expression through art can be seen everywhere in Mexico! Not just in their famous murals or cathedrals. They wear it in their indigenous clothing, they use it in decorating their homes (inside and out). Eye-candy exits even in simple Mayan huts (decorative bowls, and bright hammocks), hair-dos (bright ribbons) and belts in Chiapas. It's as if colors and designs lift/feed their spirits.

Items from colorful serapes and handpainted tiles for the patios, kitchen walls, or decorative stairways are plentiful in Mexican homes. The styles and patterns are different thoughout the regions, but there's something for everyone.

How much is too much? If you've ever visited the fishing town of Tlacotalpan, you'll find out that that there's no limit! This unforgettable town, which is situated along the Rio Papaloapan, is filled with houses, shops and government buildings painted in deep blues, bright yellows, and cool greens along with spicy hot reds. Every color that Diego Rivera ever used has been applied to the buildings in Tlacotalpan.

This is the beauty and artistry that is absent from the lives of the unfortunate families who dwell in the misery of the "left behind" Mexico. So close, but so out of reach.

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Self-appointed bouncers

"The Circus is Back in Town," Victor Landa, San Antonio Express-News Sept. 18, 2006
The Minutemen are back at the border. This time, they picked Laredo, and reports indicate that most Laredo residents would rather they go home. ... ...why are the Minutemen — who, by the way, have proven they need more than a one-minute warning to defend our border because it takes time to pack an SUV and organize a press conference — wasting their time in Laredo? I'm convinced the answer is Hispanic Heritage Month. For four weeks, we'll be celebrating Latinos from the Carolinas to California; the noise will be deafening, the news coverage will be intense, the attention will be hard to ignore. The last thing they want is for foreign Latinos to get the wrong idea. So the Minutemen have gone again to the southern border, along with the Guard and the threat of a two-layered fence. We're having a party, and they are our self-appointed bouncers. Maybe what these people should do is use their enthusiasm in a truly creative way. Maybe they should line their lawn chairs along all the exits of airports that handle international flights. Imagine if this citizen patrol were to stop and question anyone they felt might be a threat to our country. After all, isn't that how the terrorists got in?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

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Rain on the parade...

Photos José Antonio López (Top) and Francisco Olvera (Bottom) Jornada
It looks as if Tlaloc, the rain god, is an AMLO supporter:
The Mexico City Herald's coverage was pathetic, missing what was a good story.

There was concern that there might be a confrontation if the two gritos ended up in the same Zocalo.

In Doloros Hidalgo, the 8000 or so spectators included 3500 were police and security personnel. The town was clamped down, and even residents had to show IDs to enter the area. Fox came and went by heliocopter. AND IT RAINED gatos y perros.

In DF, where Alejandro Encinas did the bell-ringing (from City Hall, not the National Palace), assisted by old lefty, human rights fighter and all round rabble rouser (and, now Senadora) Rosario Ibarra de Piedra, all-round intellectual Carlos Monsiváis and... as a sop to the Administration, Secretary of Gobernacion, Carlos Abascal Carranza.

In Doloros Hidalgo, the grito was "¡Viva nuestra Independencia! ¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron patria y libertad! ¡Viva Hidalgo! ¡Viva Morelos! ¡Viva Allende! ¡Viva Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez! ¡Viva Leona Vicario! ¡Viva nuestra democracia! ¡Vivan nuestras instituciones! ¡Viva la unidad de las y los mexicanos! ¡Viva México!''

In Mexico City, the people gave ¡Vivas! for Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, José María Morelos y Pavón, Ignacio Allende, Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez, Vicente Guerrero, an extra loud, enthuastic viva for Benito Juárez (the tea-leaf readers are figuring that one out -- BJ managed to maintain the Presidency, while a fraudulently elected foreign-dominated adminstration tried running the country for a while) and popular sovereignty.

As an extra bonus, the people razzed Abascal, joining in the new cheer, "Get lost, asshole!" (¡FUERA! ¡CULITO!). It didn't rain on that party.

Jornada has a good "compare/contrast" on the two gritos.

Seems Mexico City aint't big enough for two gritos... or presidents?

From ¡Para justicia y libertad!

Delegates at the National Democratic Convention (CND) have formally declared Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) as Mexico's "legitimate president" which he is formally set to take office on November 20 at 3 p.m. at Constitution Square in Mexico City.

The delegates at CND also authorize López Obrador to appoint members to his cabinet, he is also authorized to select where the new capital in will be set up in Mexico and right to act as Mexico's official and legitimate president. The new government will observe the framework of a democratic republic, whereby the President of Mexico is both head of state and head of government. As President of the new government, he has the right to collect taxes.

Aerial view of the National Democratic Convention. Photoby Alfredo Dominguez, Jornada

Meanwhile, in Oaxaca...

There was, for the first time, no OFFICAL celebration. The governor doesn't dare show his face... instead, José Cruz Luna, presidente municipal of Zaachila, gave a grito on behalf of the APPO from their headquarters. There were the traditional celebratory dance music and pyrotechnics afterwords, but -- for some reason -- people in Oaxaca tend to leave when there are explosives in the neighborhood these days.

The People celebrating Independence Day by declaring Independence?

HOLY SHIT!!!!

Friday, September 15, 2006

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Cats and Dog (Friday Night blogging)

IN what passes for tradition in the Blogosphero, you're supposed to put up a cat picture on Friday nights. So... being Friday, here's "Illegal Alien Mexican Cats" Now, going to the Dog. Duane Lee Chapman (the kind of name that if it's not on a country music singer, is on either a serial killer or the guy whose family is covered in your local paper's county police report). Dog the Bounty Hunter. Duane Lee is in a heap o' trouble. He's a bailbondsman, and famous for bringing bail jumpers to justice. In a "man bites dog" story, the Dog was arrested in Hawaii by U.S. Marshalls on Thursday morning ... on a Mexican warrent charging him with very, very serious crimes. Seems our boy... the famous bail jumper stopper ... jumped bail. Although something of a pariah among "respectable" bailbondsmen "Dog" has his admirers. They seem to overlook the obvious, things you can find, say, in Wikipedia:
Chapman ... joined a motorcycle gang, the Devil's Disciples, that reportedly had a distaste for blacks... According to Chapman, another gang member, Donny Kirkandall, murdered pimp and drug dealer named Jerry Lee Oliver a crime for which Chapman was found in complicity by a Texas judge. Chapman has reportedly been arrested at least 32 times In 1977, Chapman was sentenced to five years of hard labor on murder charges, he served just 18 months before being paroled in 1979. Before his sentencing, Chapman had married, and fathered at least one child. His wife Lafonda filed for divorce while he was in prison on the murder charges. Because Chapman owed money for child support, the judge in charge of handling the child support case asked Chapman to catch a fugitive for $200. This is considered the beginning of his bounty-huting career.
That last sentence doesn't sound like anything that would stand up even under the laxest possible intrepretation of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct. "Dog", out of prison, moved to Hawaii and set up shop as a bailbondsman... how, with his prison record, is never quite clear. Somehow. He's a master showman. When Andrew Luster, heir to the Max Factor cosmetics fortune and serial rapist, ended up in Puerto Vallerta, the Mexican police knew he was there. PV has its share of shady gringos. Intespersed amongst the retirees, the old queens, tthe eurotrash and the gay vacationers are the retired marijuana dealers, ponzi schemers keeping a low profile, the occasional mobster on the wrong side of a family disagreement. Not nice people, but not any particular concern to the Mexicans. Andrew Luster though. A serial rapist, already convicted in California, and facing a 124 year prison term? Mexican prosecutors had already prepared extradition papers and were waiting for the FBI to come in and quietly pick the guy up in June 2003 when ... and if this seems a tad "convenient", you're not alone in thinking so, but newspapers reported that a couple spotted Luster, called the FBI... and the DOG. The Dog showed up -- with a TV crew in tow -- in time to get into a barroom brawl with the fugitive heir. Mexican cops threw the whole lot of them into jail. Where someone paid "bajo fianza" to spring the Dog from the pound. Luster somehow also was out of jail -- presumably as a courtesy to the FBI, allowing the G-men to put Luster on a plane and fly him back to the U.S. without going through an extradition hearing. That would not make for great drama. Or tacky television. DOG kidnapped Luster, put him on a private plane and ... the rest, they say, is history. Lest we forget, DOG is a bailbondsman. Somehow he managed to get bajo finanza for this very serious charge... and promptly fled the country. Sort of like... oh... Andrew Luster? Dog milked that "capture" for everything it was worth. He's a master showman who manages to appeal both to his white trash roots and to the sophisticated. In Mexican terms, he's a naco -- rich white trash, with excreable taste in jewelry and a ridiculous haircut that was a joke even when it was semi-fashionable 15 years ago. But, then, American culture since WWII has been defined by a lot of poor boys who never passed through the middle class. Though those boys had talent -- Warhol, Liberace, Elvis. Dog had...? Good publicitiy, basically. Somehow the biker and his big-boobed foul-mouthed wife became de rigor television viewing in the U.S. While no one with any taste or culture would want to BE THOSE people -- there's a weird fascination with the Chapman family (maybe due to the fact than we're lucky none of us know anyone remotely like them). For people who DO know people like them, there's the satisfaction of seeing themselves as the "good" people against the bad guys. The bad guys, more often than not, are darker skinned than Duane's fan club. I don't think that's quite coincidental, as the amazing posts from The JAWA Report article on his arrest indicate. I'll leave their names off to protect the moronic:
Fuck Mexico!! How dare those assholes take our number one well known american hero and imprision him aftrer all the crimes they committ here.. Screw Mexico..Let's go to war and blow em like we did in Iraq!!
I guess two wrongs make a right, or something like that. As to getting blown in Iraq, ok... but what does that have to do with Mexico.
he is not a criminal and he did not break any laws, because mexico has no laws, just revenge for taking out a rich man, who was pooling tons of money into mexico. i agree with military action, take the illegal mexicans out of our country or the people will one way or another.
Uh... kidnapping gets you 30 to 50 years in Mexico. Murderers only get 20. Duane was a very, very bad boy. And, the one I love...
What is wrong with this sick world is it not bad enough we have so many mexicans taking our jobs and and their spanish on every recording and instruction mannuel we have ever gotten! Dog and Beth are good family people Bush step your sorry but in on this one.They have gotten so many bad people off the streets and helped many that would be nowhere without Dog And Beth's and the whole Chapman family, I will be praying for them all, we can't let them get away with this!!!!!!!!
"Instruction mannuel"... wasn't he the translator I used to work with when I was a technical writer?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

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Protecting America

We're rough mountainous terrain down here in the Chihuahua Desert. Some people say it looks like Afghanistan. West of the Pecos, we have mountains, drugs are a big part of our rural economy, and there's some well-armed crazies back in the hills, too. But all similarities end there. Rick Perry (and even Kinky Friedman, who is a smart guy and should know better) might be saying something different, but the National Guard is NOT here to look for some enemy. There is no enemy. There is only us. The 1200 or so Texas Guardsmen, and the units from Illinois and elsewhere are nice enough guys... young kids to me. Their job is to answer the telephones and do the filing (and man some observation stations) for the Border Patrol.. They are not looking for "terrorists", we are not at war with Mexico, nor with its citizens, (even the drug dealers just get turned over to Judge Edwards and his one-room Federal Courthouse in Alpine). And they are not at war with American citizens. Take young guys, a hot night along the Rio Grande/Bravo del Norte, nothing much to do but ride around and drink beer... add in never getting any time off after returning from a war zone, and give them weapons... What do you think is going to happen?
Three Texas National guardsmen were in custody Tuesday, accused of firing guns in an Eagle Pass neighborhood, officials told News 4 WOAI. The three men were down on the U.S./Mexico border to help in the fight against illegal immigration, officials said. The guardsmen face felony charges of deadly conduct for a shooting spree last week, investigators said. The guardsmen were drinking and driving, and taking turns shooting a gun out of the window, authorities said.
People here remember the last time we had military "assistance" with border security.

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On Mexican Time....

One of the things that I've grown to appreciate is being on the recieving end of being on "Mexican" time. I've never heard of it described in positive terms before.... so this may be a first. Many people complain about slow services or of how Mexican friends or businessmen tend to arrive late, but there's a flip side that I find wonderful. There's a reason why this clock has a smile on it's face. It lives in Mexico. Nobody takes it too seriously. People in Mexico don't yell at their clocks or throw them on the floor because nobody friggin' cares about the minute hand or least of all... the seconds hand.

When traveling through Mexico, I don't feel rushed. You can take as much time as you wish to eat in a restaurant, sit and read the newspaper at the table if you want. People take the time to talk with you if you want a conversation. If it starts raining, no matter, just take it inside.

One sunny afternoon, my hubby and I took a leisurely drive down the coast from Merida to Ciudad del Carmen. We spent the night in Campeche and headed back out around noon. A short distance away, we came to the small town of Lerna where I spotted a restaurant on the beach that looked inviting. It had the typical palapa top and it sat on the edge of the Gulf with a "killer" view.

Service was sloooow, but we weren't in any hurry. There were lots of tables, but only a few other customers. As I looked out at the water, I spotted HIM. He was Hemmingway, he was Picasso, he was to be my next photograph! He was my bald headed, dark skinned, large bellied, subject. I approached him like a school girl getting an autograph from a rock star.

"Would you mind if I take a picture of you?" He did not disappoint. Somehow, my limited Spanish rolled off my tongue and he was mine and I was his. It didn't matter that he was about 70 or that he was clad in a pair of warn swimming trunks.... I was captivated by his presence.

Instead of an easel or a writing journal, my subject had a sharp knife and a fish in his hands. His hands were as strong as his eyes and his smile as broad as his shoulders. After taking a few photos of him, I asked him if I could watch him clean one of his fish. He not only let me watch, but he also put a fish in my hands and taught me how to clean one, too. Then, he showed me how to draw more fish up to us by throwing the guts over the railing into the water. He taught me the names of fish that swam up to eat the innards.

Before my lessons were done, he pulled a fish out his bucket that he called a toro fish. It had two small horns atop its head. He sat the fish on top of the rail and placed his cigarette between the horns and declared it an ashtray! After a good laugh, I went back to my husband and ordered lunch.

When the plates came, there were generous portions of food on them. Halfway through our meal, our waitress brought out an entire platter of assorted cooked fish. When I told her that we hadn't order it, she smiled and pointed to her papa. It was a platter filled with all the fish we had cleaned together. Oh, God, there was enough food for an army! What to do, what to do.

Screw getting to Ciudad del Carmen... this was gonna be a long afternoon. 'Picasso' came over to our table and we invited him to sit with us. He shared his stories of being a fisherman and of owning this restaurant, which supported his big family. It seems that he was a French/Mexican whose family came from Merida many generations ago. His stories were filled with his contageous humor.

When he was duly comfortable with us, he walked over to a box which was attached to a wooden post in the restaurant. He handed me a leather bound notebook which was filled with his hand-written poems. I listened as he read aloud from some of them. The joy and the enthusiasm that came from him will stay with me always.

I hadn't gone to a restaurant that day. I had inadvertantly gone to the theater by-the-bay and I was sitting in the audience watching a one-man show. Even the family members in the kitchen were enjoying the action. You couldn't have put a price on it.

Time didn't exactly stand still. The sun did begin to set over the water. But no one seemed to care.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

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Twist and shout!

Mexicans love their Independence Day -- so much so that they make it a two day holiday. Padre Hidalgo rang the church bell either late the 15th or early the 16th of September 1810. He called the people to church to hear a rather ill-thought out impromptu sermon on... among other things, Napoleon Bonaparte, the evils of atheism and the perfidity of the Spanish. What, exactly he blathered on about wasn't all that important. The Padre had a boffo finish: "Kill the Spanish! Viva Mexico!" At which point the locals did kill the Spanish. And then were killed by them... and ... killed the Spanish... who killed the Mexicans... who killed each other... who, ten years later, ended up with a pro-Spanish Mexicans rebelling against pro-Mexican Spaniards to join with pro-Mexican Mexicans. Quite the sermon! Silly Maximiliano de Absurdo... er, de HAPSBURGO... who had some strange ideas of how to get people to take him seriously (he took himself seriously),rounded up the royal court, hauled them out to Delores Hidalgo, recreated an edifying version of the Padre's patriotic "grito" and then bored everyone with an interminably dull lecture on the need for Mexican patriotism and good relations with Spain. Ok, Max, can we go to bed now? OK, good idea, bad execution. Porfirio Diaz, realizing that "Hey, it's Mexico's birthday... well, it's my birthday too!" had a better formula. Like Max, he wasn't out to kill the Spanish, and -- for all his faults -- was a real Mexican. If you're going to keep people up all night -- HAVE A PARTY! If you have to give a speech (and Porfirio did), get it out of the way. Porfirio learned from the Padre - the speech itself is unimportant. Just have a good closing. And no need to invent one: that VIVA MEXICO works is a sure crowd pleaser. SO... every 15 September since then, at 11 p.m., the President (and State Governor, and Municipal President and Alcalde) goes out on the local government palace balcony, rings a bell in honor of the Padre's churchbell, gives a (generally upbeat, "ain't I great") speech and starts the grito... Viva this, Viva Mexico! Viva that, VIVA MEXICO, viva the other thing, ¡VIVA MEXICO! The best gritoistas can really string it out. You start Viva-ing along for mom, tacos and Manzana "Lift", and before you know it, you're shouting for the long life of... Pemex, the "Corridor al Pacifico" rail-toll road project and the Algamatated Sheet Metal Workers Union Local #345 (or the Mexican equivalent thereof). And, of course, vivaing Mexico. ... or, as Vicente Fox (a master gritoista) puts it... VEEEEE- VAAAAAAAAA MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE - HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE- COUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU! AND then, PARTY TIME. Slaughtering Spaniards being passe, the worst any foreigner can expect is to be silly-stringed by passing patriots. Consuming mass quantities of patriotic national products -- Coronoa, Dos Eqqis, Modelo... If you can't fight em, join em... which is why you need the whole next day off as well. What could be better than a national party? TWO NATIONAL PARTIES, of course. The "virtual president", Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, never one to let a chance for a theatrical performance slip through his fingers, will be giving a counter-grito on the Zocalo the same time as President Fox. This will be ... interesting. May the grittiest gritoist win. ¡VIVA MEXICO! (twice).

Monday, September 11, 2006

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Over My Dead Bank Account!

The Congressional House of Representatives wants to send them back. The Republican Kool-Aid drinkers want them all thrown in jail. But that’s not what Corporate America wants.There’s gold in them thar pockets, and we aims to scoop it out. Protesters march in front of City Hall wrapped in American flags and carrying their “This is America, English only” signs. Minute Men, garbed in army fatigues and carrying their rifles and binoculars, cruise the dirt roads along the Arizona border. The conservative talk show hosts decry “sure they’re human beings, but they’re illleeegal! We’re a country that believes in the Rule of Law!” Meanwhile, Corporate America is going about what it does best; making money off of them. The following article inspired this post: BusinessWeek online JULY 18, 2005 “Embracing Illegals” By Brian Grow, with Adrienne Carter and Roger O. Crockett in Chicago and Geri Smith in Mexico City Picture this. Four or five years ago a couple crosses the US/Mexico border illegally. They had little money, no jobs, and lacked basic documents such as Social Security numbers. Guided by friends and family, the couple soon discovered how to navigate the increasingly above-ground world of illegal residency. First they went to the local Mexican consulate, where each signed up for an identification card known as a matrícula consular, for which more than half the applicants are undocumented immigrants. Scores of financial institutions now accept the matrícula for bank accounts, credit cards, and car loans Next, they applied to the Internal Revenue Service for individual tax identification numbers (ITINS), allowing them to pay taxes like any U.S. citizen -- and thereby to eventually get a home mortgage. The IRS does not care whether you are a citizen or not so long as they can get your tax dollars. Banks, insurers, mortgage lenders, credit-card outfits, phone carriers, utility companies, car dealerships, furniture stores, and anybody looking to make a buck have decided that a market of 11 million or so potential customers is simply too big to ignore. It may be against the law for this couple to be in the U.S. or for an employer to hire them, but there's nothing illegal about selling to them. Yet all the while, farms, hotels, restaurants, small manufacturers, and other employers have continued to hire the undocumented with little regard to the federal laws intended to stop them. Among the first to embrace illegals have been financial companies, eager to tap into the billions in so-called mattress money -- the cash kept at home by illegals and others without bank accounts. Wells Fargo Bank and several other nationwide banks got the OK from the U.S. Treasury in 2001 to accept the matrícula. Since then hundreds of thousands of matrícula bank accounts have been opened. What's more, 84% of illegals are 18-to-44-year-olds, in their prime spending years, vs. 60% of legal residents With hundreds of thousands of illegal alien households earning enough to qualify for $95,000 mortgages, according to the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, ITIN and conventional mortgages taken out by illegals could be worth as much as $60 billion over the next five years. Now, in all major US cities where the immigrant population is predominant you will see ads for ITIN Loans. For some strange reason you don’t see them in the suburbs. All this knits the U.S. and Mexico closer together; the nation and population distinctions are melting and blending. An economic flame is forging a new 21st century reality. Now they work, set up small businesses, buy cars and houses, go to movies, restaurants, watch soccer on cable TV. And it’s all in Spanish! Furthermore, the Mexican immigrant is sending back to Mexico some 18 billion dollars to keep the pump primed. The old Pat Buchanan, Tom Tancredo, Ann Colter, and Michel Malkin tag team are lying on their backs crying foul in this economic lucha libre. Cry me a river! On Saturday, Sept 9th, there was a demonstration against illegal immigration in front of the Houston City Hall. About 40 protesters showed up.The Houston Chronicle notes. “Illegal immigration called threat to U.S.“ By ANITA HASSAN Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle However, President of Texans for Immigration Reform, Louise Whiteford, who also attended the rally against illegal immigration, said those who come to the country illegally may be confused about what they are getting themselves into. "The people that are coming over here think they are coming over for the American dream," said Whiteford, 76. "But they are just going to become a part of the cheap-labor core.” It appears, and I am careful about this, that older white folks just don’t get it. Or they are as racially and mentally challenged as those little white poodles they carry with them. The problem for critics of illegal immigration is that corporate efforts to sell to the undocumented weaves them ever more tightly into the fabric of American life. This pragmatic relationship may be anathema to immigration critics. But day by day, the undocumented in the U.S. are finding it ever easier to save and invest their hard-earned dollars.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

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Vincente Fox does Sinatra...

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The Boob on the Tube...

The only documented terrorism arrest at the Texas border involved a U.S. citizen crossing at El Paso in 2004. Wyoming college student Mark Robert Walker was accused of trying to go to Somalia to help overthrow the Somali government. Walker pleaded guilty last year and was sentenced to two years in federal prison. (AP, September 09, 2006) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mh4NIz6GEUo Oh well, it is an election year in Texas, the weirdest state in the Union. (REPUBLISHED POST)
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"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses"... now serving #12

Check out the visa bulletin on the Web site of the U.S. State Department, and you will see the problem immigrants face. The government offers 140,000 employment-based visas a year, with 5,000 set aside for unskilled workers, and most have been allotted years in advance. The State Department has a quaint term for the unavailability of visas — they are "oversubscribed." Two Mexicans received visas as unskilled laborers last year, according to the New York Times. And so it goes. Anti-immigrant forces tell the workers to step "to the back of the line." But if you are Mexican or Guatemalan or Colombian, the line for legal residency is not merely long; it is nonexistent. "There is no line to step to the back of," Marshall Fitz, an official with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said. "The biggest misconception is that the reason people come here illegally is because they would rather do that than do it legally. The vast majority does so because they have no legal channel to come here. That is the reality." (San Antonio Express-News)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

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Poetry and protest...

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore-- And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over-- like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

photo: Reforma.com

The protests -- and the photo (these protests were in Cuernavaca, and forced President-elect Calderón to cancel a visit to his hometown) made me think about what the people are really protesting -- not the particular candidate, but the whole system that they see as rigged. Mexico has done fairly well in the last century, and the poor should not be poor... but are. What AMLO and the election meant to these people was a chance to change a rigged system... to get their shot at a decent life... if not a Lexus, at least a used Vocho.

There's the theory that what causes people to rebel is not inequality, but the perception of inequality... the frustration of seeing a wealth and a decent standard of living denied... there are academics who've written on this, and you can look up "think tank" position papers on it... or you can read poetry.

Wouldn't you know it. There is a Mexican connection.

Langston Hughes was born in Lawrence Kansas in 1902. His family was middle-class, educated and distinguished. A grandfather had fought with John Brown. On the other side, his grandparents were pioneer settlers in Okahoma. His father had a law degree. But, the family had a problem -- or America had a problem. The Hughes were African-American. James N. Hughes could not reconcile himself to his own "dream deferred." Unable to practice law, he left his family behind to take up a new life running a factory in Toluca.

In Mexico, Hughes Sr. was just another gringo. He was prosperous, and -- by the standards of Toluca -- wealthy. When 16-year old Langston graduated from High School, his father sent for him. Langston always claimed he wrote his first poem ("A Negro Speaks of the River") on Kansas City to Mexico City train. Though he would travel widely the rest of his life, Mexico ... and later Harlem, would remain his true home.

James was a proud, difficult man. To his Mexican workers, we was a codo pinche gringo, but they accepted his son. Langston, like so many gay adolescents, wasn't comfortable with his father, nor his father with him. Like so many footloose gringos since, he found a job teaching English. And, he learned to write. Langston spent more time with the workers, one of the people, than with his gringo father -- like most writers, more an observer than a participant, but he managed to acquire fluent Spanish that stood him well in his future life.

James had turned his back on Jim Crow America, and even if he did not quite understand his son, he did not want Langston to go back to a race obsessed country. James was a wealthy man -- he offered to pay Langston's education, provided he study something practical, and out of the United States. But, Langston was already a poet. And his mother wanted him back. James finally agreed to pay for Langston to attend Colombia University, since he and his mother could live in Harlem -- a respectable "Negro" neighborhood in the segregated U.S. of his day.-- if he studied Engineering.

Langston never finished his degree. He soon tired of a "respectable" academic job, as a secretary to Carter Woodson, the father of African-American history, but found he made more money (and for a young gay man, had a better time) working as a waiter and busboy... and then as a cabin boy on merchant ships.

Good-looking, bilingual, witty and intellegent, Langston got by until 1925, when he was "discovered" by Vachel Lindsay. Lindsay was white, but his poetry mixed jazz riffs and evangelical religious themes (he was the rap star of the Great Gatsby era) which made him the expert on who was -- and who wasn't -- an authentic Negro voice. Langston was in.

Like other artists, he had to put up with patrons. Someone launched the bright idea of sending him on a speaking tour around the rural South -- which during the Jim Crow 1920s, was not exactly the safest place for an African-American intellectual. With some rueful humor, he noted the absurdity of segregation. In places that wouldn't serve "negros", they would serve him if he was a Mexican. In Texas, where there was segregated facilities for Mexicans... he was tempted to claim to be Cuban -- just to see what would happen.

Though he could laugh at segreation and racism, like his father, he never reconciled himself to it. Unlike his father, he never saw wealth or respectabilty as a way of immunizing himself from it. He continually returned to Mexico, sharing an apartment (now gone, near Plaza Garibaldi) in the 1930s with Henri Cartier Bresson, who documented the lives of la Capital's poor. Hughes wrote respecfully of the city's poor, and of Mexican rural life for a number of publications. Like other minority writers of the time, he joined the Communist Party, but other than writing for "The Masses," he was too much an artist to have much to do with the Party. In the 1950s, he returnrf to Mexico to avoid political persecution for his former Communist association.

By the mid-1960s, Hughes' writings were more or less relegated to junior high school anthologies. Already dying of cancer, he gave up writing his weekly newspaper column in 1965, and died in 1967. Despite admirers like James Baldwin (himself African-American and gay), Hughes was seen as passe, a figure from the "Harlem Renaissance" and insuficiently militant for the time. He wasn't "black enough". Nor should he have been. As his Mexican writing shows, it wasn't "race" or place that he noticed -- it was the people, their folk ways and spirt of survival, their dreams and their dreams deferred.

Photos, Henri Cartier Bresson,

Mexico City, 1934

Friday, September 08, 2006

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Damage Control....in Full Swing

The people have voted, the votes have been counted and some re-counted, TRIFE has declared the winner(Calderon). The loser (Obrador) ain't movin', and therein lies the problem. There is no doubt that Mexico's Presidential election was fraught with irregularities. If Calderon is to enact his policies, he must cut into AMLO's substantial support. It's an ugly business. We've been listening to the pundits preditions, of AMLO's refusal to accept the new government, leading Mexico into a bloody civil war. Obrador has been labeled a "dangerous messianic mad-man" by some critics. From the Taipei Times: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/world/archives/2006/08/24/2003324614
"What we Mexicans want is stability, order and harmony," Fox said. Society rejects extremist solutions, and messianic or apocalyptic visions that belong to the political culture of the past.
Opponents have frequently used the term "messianic" to describe Lopez Obrador, citing his devotion and the leftist's belief in his own personal sense of mission. It's another case of trash talk/demonize your opponent/attack his or her character. We witnessed these tactics in the U.S. when our administration felt threatened by John Kerry and Max Cleland. When Cindy Sheehan, mother of a dead American soldier (in Iraq), began a movement to end the war in Iraq, Pres. Bush's associates began what Frank Rich (New York Times) called the "Swift Boating of Cindy Sheehan". She was called a crackpot (Fred Barnes) and a whack job. For an added punch, she was accused of being a secret agent of Michael Moore. When Rep. John Murtha addressed the Congress and called for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, he was accused of being a "coward" by House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Rep. J.D. Hayworth and Majority Leader Roy Blunt. None of these three yahoos had had any military service. Murtha (ironically) spent 37 yrs. in the service and had been awarded 2 Purple Hearts, 1 Bronze Star with a combat "V", and a Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. There is no shame! Those in power in Mexico.... or about to be in power, seem to be ready, willing and able to follow suit in the case of Obrador. No means to neutralize him will be overlooked. The following is exerpted from the Nation article: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060918/ross (John Ross)
The president-elect (Calderon) will no doubt seek to split AMLO's forces, offering members of López Obrador's Congressional delegation minor Cabinet posts and canonazos ("cannonades" of pesos) to neutralize the coalition's strength in the new legislature, where it is now the second-largest political force. Calderón cannot pass proposed constitutional changes such as the promised privatization of the national petroleum monopoly PEMEX without a two-thirds majority in both houses. Calderón is also expected to pump windfall profits from $70-a-barrel oil into social programs to undercut López Obrador's deep support among the underclass, an obligatory strophe for unpopular Mexican presidents. As was the case with Carlos Salinas after the long-ruling (seventy-one years) PRI party stole the presidency for him back in 1988 from López Obrador's onetime mentor and now archrival, Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, Calderón will have more support outside Mexico than inside. Both George Bush and US Ambassador Tony Garza were quick to congratulate Calderón following the July 2 balloting. Now that the TRIFE has confirmed his "victory," Washington and European Union members--like Spain's prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero--are eager to get in on the ground floor of the PEMEX fire sale and will seek to legitimize Calderón's presidency beyond Mexico's borders. But within the boundaries of this distant neighbor nation, diminishing AMLO's immense popularity and isolating him from his political base may not be all that simple. Whenever challenged by the Fox administration, López Obrador has been able to mobilize millions. Following the disputed July 2 election he has organized the largest political demonstrations in the history of the republic. Calderón's only option may be mano dura, the "hard hand." Fox's attorney general, Carlos Abascal, has already warned that should López Obrador form a parallel government, he could be tried for usurpation of powers, a crime that carries a hefty prison sentence. López Obrador's Party of the Democratic Revolution is being threatened with the loss of its electoral registration for preventing Fox from delivering his State of the Union address. But in the past, such threats have succeeded only in boosting AMLO's numbers.

Indeed, López Obrador's commitment to resisting the Calderón presidency could well come down to eliminating his physical presence altogether. Such a development has ample historical precedent in Mexican power politics. In 1994 PRI presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio was gunned down after he turned against his predecessor, Salinas. Agrarian martyr Emiliano Zapata met a similar fate in 1919 when he proved too troublesome for the Carranza government. One of López Obrador's role models, Francisco Madero, was assassinated soon after the stolen 1910 election that triggered the Mexican revolution and eventually installed him as Mexico's first democratically elected president.

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Many Mexicos... beyond Calderón v AMLO...

"This idea that there is a country split between two ideological positions is a deceptive fabrication of the political actors and the candidates.
Alberto Saracho, director of the non-governmental Idea Foundation
The way Mexicans voted in July and several opinion polls show that political preferences are not clearly split along socioeconomic, political, ethnic, age, regional or party lines.
...
According to the official vote tally, Calderón took the votes of just 20.8 percent of the 71.3 million voters registered in this country of 106 million, while abstention amounted to 41.5 percent.
Meanwhile, López Obrador of the "For the Good of All" coalition made up of his Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) and the small Convergencia and Trabajo parties, won the votes of 20 percent of registered voters. The leftist candidate earned more than 50 percent of the vote in three of the country's 32 states, while Calderón did so in just two states.
And each of the two candidates was defeated by Roberto Madrazo of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) -- which ruled Mexico from 1929 to 2000 -- in several states.
...
"It is intellectually dishonest to maintain, as political leaders are doing in city squares or in private, that the country is politically divided between right and left or rich and poor, when reality shows otherwise," political scientist Rossana Fuentes, at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico, told IPS.
The simplification of the confrontation to two positions or candidates "disregards the pluralism that defines any society, and distances civil society from the political system," said Fuentes.
In a nationwide survey of 2,100 people carried out by the daily Reforma just before the elections, 29 percent of low-income respondents said they would vote for López Obrador and 22 percent for Calderón. The breakdown, meanwhile, was 30 percent for each candidate among the lower-middle income respondents; 29 percent for each candidate among the upper-middle income respondents; and 25 percent for López Obrador and 47 percent for Calderón among the upper income respondents.
...
With regard to ideological orientation, 54 percent of those who defined themselves as left-of-centre said they would vote for López Obrador and 14 percent for Calderón, while 36 percent of those who identified with the right said they would vote for Calderón and 21 percent for López Obrador. The two candidates had the support of equal portions -- 29 percent -- of respondents who see themselves as in the centre of the spectrum.
(Full article, MEXICO: The Myth of a Country Divided Between Left and Right by Diego Cevallos, September 8 2006, InterPress News Service.