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World’s favorite protest song

16 July 2014

The 18th century Veracruz ditty about forced conscription into an anti-piracy naval militia is still a favorite in Mexico… Cuba… Argentina… Colombia… Africa… Australia… Europe…


Stop, you’re killing us…

16 July 2014

Via Salon and Regeneración:

In the years after NAFTA, the pattern of food exchanges between Mexico and the United States changed significantly, as did the diet of Mexicans. American exports of sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, snack food, dairy products, and breakfast cereals to Mexico increased dramatically. In 1994, the United States exported about 50,000 metric tons of sugar and other sweeteners to Mexico; by 2007, this had climbed to almost 950,000 metric tons, a nineteen-fold increase. U.S. exports of corn and soybeans, the foundation of industrial processed food for both American and Mexican producers, also increased significantly. In this same period, exports of livestock and other meat products more than tripled. In the decade after NAFTA passed, sales of processed food in Mexico increased by 5 to 10 percent annually.

mcduglasU.S. foreign direct investment in Mexico also spiked after NAFTA. In just five years, from 1994 to 1998, U.S. direct investment in the Mexican food and beverage industries almost quadrupled, from $2.3 billion to $8.8 billion. Between 2002 and 2007, U.S. foreign direct investment in Mexican beverage companies increased by 35 percent to almost $6 billion. In 2012, grains, oils, and meat— products associated with obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related diseases— accounted for 75 percent of the U.S. agricultural exports to Mexico.


How corporate America exports disease to the rest of the world



Pasale, pasale

15 July 2014

Meetings this week between the Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations and the Vatican Secretary of State… while partially meant to set ground rules for a papal visit (officially, Francis is only a foreign head of state, but with even the left falling all over themselves to show they are not anti-clerical any more, these things get complicated), as well as to attend a conference on dealing with the refugee crisis.  The Vatican Secretary, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, released a letter from the Pope, calling for more action by the governments involved (and pointedly referring to recent events in the United States, condemning “racist attitudes” towards refugees) and for “development” in the Central American republics.

PAN Senator Gabriela Cuevas Barrón, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, joined with Senator Adriana Dávila Fernández (who chairs a special committee on Human Trafficking) have called for some minor changes in immigration law here.  This would not be anything spectular, but would  allow temporary visitor visas to be issued for “Humanitarian visitors”… including unescorted minors… elminating the rationale now used by police and other officials to harrass and/or detain migrants who are not seeking asylum in Mexico. 

In that “Humanitarian visits” are being considered, I am troubled by articles like “Is Mexico Doing Enough to Secure Its Southern Border?” posted on  The sense is that U.S. funds meant to “protect” the southern Mexican border (with Guatemala and Belize) are not being used to prevent refugees from entering Mexico en route to the United States.  While it is a difficult border to cross (the author, Ted Hesson, leads with a story about a boy’s “five-hour hike across rough terrain and through sweltering heat to avoid Mexican border checkpoints,” crossing from Guatemala into Mexico), the funds were to prevent narcotics and arms smugglers, not child refugees.   Although, when you come down to it, the U.S. is expecting Mexico to militarize their border with friendly countries (as the United States itself has done on the Mexican border) to prevent passage into the country of both things they want, but pretend they don’t (like narcotics) or have themselves caused, but won’t take responsiblity for (like preventing political and economic reforms in Central America) … or are in denial about:  like the spiraling violence in those countries.

While there are some minor problems caused by these “humanitarian visitors” (the accident last week when one of the “la Bestía” trains tipped over), most of the trouble has been from those who prey ON the refugees.  Between the Pope telling Catholics (and presumably that includes more than a few cops and local authorities) to stop acting like assholes, and simply providing a legal right of transit to the refugees, the solution is being shifted to the people who caused the problem in the first place… who have the financial, moral, and political obligations to resolve it.

To the palace!

15 July 2014

I’ve been invited to the Palace this evening.  Not the Palacio de Hierro (the famous department store), but the real deal… the Palacio Nacional … for a lecture on the Second Empire (Maximilian and Carlota’s “Phantom Crown”)… which makes it perfect to put up this rare photo by court photographer François Aubert… who stuck around after Max’s execution (15 May 1867) for at least a month, when he photographed the Zocalo, dolled up for the celebration of Benito Juarez’ formal return to the Capital.

The “Statue of Victory” in the foreground was a temporary installation.  Its provenance… and eventual fate… is something I don’t know anything about.  I do know the Zocalo looked a lot better back then… when it had trees. 



Whatever it takes: the Bishops on the refugee crisis

14 July 2014

An important aspect of the Declaration is the joint commitment to eradicate the structural causes who provoke the irregular migration of underage children, creating programs of social and economic development in the communities of origin…

Photo:  Dr. Juanita Sunberg, U of British Columbia

Photo: Dr. Juanita Sunberg, U of British Columbia

John Donaghy of Santa Rosa de Copán has posted an unofficial translation of the “Joint Delcaration of the Bishops of the United States, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras on the Crisis of Child Migrants”.

The Bishops’ quote Pope Francis… “Inequality is the root of social ills.”… and ask the Virgin of Guadalupe for her intercession. Certainly, the refugees can use all the help they can get, but one certainly hopes that those of us here on Earth also respond to the Bishops’ “call upon business owners, especially Catholics, to investing [in] and contribut[ing] to the promotion of justice and equity…. but again, this depends on the governments, which are (and have been) have been remiss in putting foreign investment before the needs of their own peoples.

And, Your Excellencies… might you ask the Virgin (and the people) if they might not least consider tossing out the CIA, the School of the Americas, somehow convincing U.S. consumers not to buy narcotics (along with stolen timber and overusing fossil fuels), stopping arms exports, paying a fair price for agricultural commodities, and getting the Canadians to live up to their obligations in the mining industry … things that would be a miracle, but may require more than prayer, I’m afraid.

An honest politician… sort of

8 July 2014


The voters in San Blas (Nayarit) appear to appreciate moderate leadership in municipal government.

Hilario Rodriguez Villanueva, former municipal president of San Blas (PAN… the conservative party) has been re-elected  in today’s state elections.

During the campaign Rodriquez admitted to robbed the municipal treasury.  But, he added “I didn’t steal very much”.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Rodriquez (running as an independent) has received 40% of the vote, beating second place finisher, Candy Yessica Blancas (PRI-Green-PANAL) by at least five percentage points.

Volverá a gobernar San Blas alcalde que robó “poquito” (Milenio)

Candidato que dijo que “robaba poquito” gana las elecciones de San Blas, Nayarit (SPD Noticias)

Gana de nuevo exalcalde de San Blas, Nayarit, que admitió haber robado “poquito” (Crónica de Hoy)
¡Ahora sí! ¡México premia la honestidad! (el Deforma)

The refugees as political pawns?

7 July 2014

Sombrero tip to Laura Carlsen:

Obama’s Immigration Independence Day (Major Garrett, National Journal, 3 July 2014).  National Journal is a conservative publication of some weight, covering the “inside baseball” of Washington politcs.  An interesting read on the political calculus going into decisions that not only affect the refugees now crossing into the United States, and undocumented residents in the U.S., but how the U.S. is going to work (or ignore) with the Central American nations to resolve the issues that led to this crisis.


Obama has aligned himself with congressional Republicans, even though they acknowledge it only rhetorically. Obama will soon ask Congress for more power to deport the unaccompanied minors, rankling Democrats like Sen. Robert Menendez, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. Menendez was displeased when briefed last week on Obama’s enforcement plans. House Republicans may prove receptive to the money and the deportation authority when it comes time to write a continuing resolution.

Either way, Obama’s now struck his own path on the larger issue of comprehensive immigration reform and unaccompanied minors on the border, pleasing no one completely in the process.


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