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“When things are tough, the wins are richer…”

28 February 2015

Esther Klein Buddenhagen (From Xico) writes on “Mexico’s Night at the Oscars”:


indexThose of you who watched the Oscars last Sunday probably saw Alejandro González Iñárritu give his very short speech. In case you didn’t, or in case you forgot, González Iñárritu won the award for best director and his film for best film…

He said, “I want to dedicate this award to my fellow Mexicans, to those who live in Mexico, and I pray that we can find and build the government that we deserve.” 

He also said, “I just pray that they [immigrants in the US] might be treated with the same dignity and respect as those who arrived before and built this incredible nation of immigrants.”

Quite a lot of people in Gringolandia as in Mexico noticed and commented.

From Xico quotes Jorge Ramos writing in Reforma:

“We Mexicans are good at partying. Our fiestas are inversely proportional to our squabbles. The more problems there are, the more we enjoy partying. In Labyrinth of Solitude, Octavio Paz wrote:

‘It is significant that a country as sad as ours has so many and such lively fiestas. For us, the fiesta is an explosion, an outburst … There is nothing more lively than a Mexican fiesta.’

“But, also, our fiestas are a form of protest. We take advantage of them to complain and let off steam. Once again Paz:

“In the swirl of the fiesta, we explode. More than opening up, we tear ourselves open.”

“Iñárritu’s speech in accepting one of the Oscars channeled the anger and frustration felt by many Mexicans on both sides of the border…”

Así somos los negros

28 February 2015

Salvadorian student Andy Amaya really hadn’t intended to produce a film about the Afro-Mexicans of Oaxaca and Guerrero.  However, while researching the least known of the three major root-cultures of Latin America, his interviewees requested he film their talks on identity and blackness.

No more cookies for you!

27 February 2015

indexOur poor Senators.  What a sacrifice… for the good of the country in a difficult time, they’re taking a pay cut… a whole 7 dollars a month (from 117,600 pesos down to 117,500 pesos).  I hope none have to resign for economic reasons, or because they’re going to limit the amount of free snacks and cookies passed out at meetings.  Wanna bet PRI hogs the cookies, and only will share them with PAN, sometimes?




They knew! More details on the Ayotzinapa “disappearances”

26 February 2015

Milenio — a generally pro-government newpaper — has unearthed military records that indicate the Army was aware of the events in Iguala the night of 26 September, but either failed to act, or… though negligence or design, released students to be taken by the police and gangsters.

Meant to justify the 27th Battalion’s claims that it was not involved, the photos obtained by Milenio show 25 students from the Ayotzinapa normal school in a hospital waiting room, one with bullet wounds to his face.

What is left unexplained… is why the 27th Battalion then failed to either round up the other students themselves (they were supposedly in Iguala to act as police and peacekeepers), or to rescue them from what the government claims is their murder and later cremation. 

Milenio did the Army, and the Army did itself, no favors in releasing the photos, making the official stor(ies) even less credible, or at the very least, questioning the veracity and competence of the military command… and the rationale for using the military as a police force.




Just what we need… armed gringos

26 February 2015

Via Aristigui Noticias:

The ban on foreign agents carrying weapons in Mexico is about to disappear.

President Enrique Peña Nieto sent an initiative to the Senate that would reform the Federal Law on Firearms and Explosives and allow customs officials, bodyguards and immigration agents from foreign countries to carry firearms.

The proposal would allow foreign agents to carry weapons within national territory, and  high-level visitors to enter the country with their own security people.  

No one is naive enough to think there aren’t foreign agents (mostly from the U.S.) operating in Mexico (think D.E.A., F.B.I., C.I.A.) and that at times these agents are armed now, but given both the number and provenance of firearms used against the Mexican government (and unassuming citizens) and the very real interest of the United States in preventing any real social or political change in this country outside the interests of the United States, how wise it is to openly acknowledge the “right” of foreign agents to port arms is not something I would the Senate to ignore.

The truth shall piss you off…

26 February 2015

It used to be said of Mexico’s relations with the Vatican that “The State is blind and the Church is deaf,” meaning that as long as the two power centers in the country didn’t openly confront each other, they were basically free to pretend the other didn’t exist.  Times have changed.  Starting with Vatican II, when the Church accepted its responsibility to take a activist role in social policy, and with the Mexican State’s  tolerance (or acquiescence) to the power of the Roman Catholic Church going back to constitutional changes in the 1990s, even the PRI … formerly a stalwart anti-clerical party, has become keenly attuned to whatever emanates from Rome.

Or at least when it fits their own agenda.

With Francis… not just a Pope, but an ARGENTINE… having dissed the Mexican government with his warning to an Argentine anti-drug addiction group about the dangers of “Mexicanization” in his own country (meaning, one supposes, making narcotics dealers unofficial partners in governance), the PRI — which everyone in Mexico believes to have made narcotics dealers unofficial partners in governance … along with PAN and the PRD — has been rather put out.

Seeing the widespread perception of the Mexican government being in cahoots with narcos (newly minted cardinal Alberto Suárez Inda basically said, “everybody in Europe, including the Pope, sees it that way”), the administration forgot to just close its eyes, and complained that the Church was too loud.  Calling in the Papal Nuncio the Foreign Secretary sent off the dreaded diplomatic “stiffly worded note” to His Holiness. 

Who, in essence, said, “yeah, right, whatever”.


26 February 2015

I never knew there was a name for this particular sub-group. African-Americans have been emigrating to Mexico as long as Mexico existed, before U.S. emancipation mostly because slavery did not exist in Mexico (it was the first country to abolish the peculiar institution), and afterwards, because the racial climate in the United States made African-Americans feel their economic and social prospects were better south of the border.

With a few isolated exceptions, most Afro-Mexicans were assimilated into the general population, although more recent “afro-descendientes”… mostly from the Caribbean or Central America… maintain their racial identity.  Another small group are African-Americans who like previous generations of African-Americans, saw Mexico as a place where “race” mattered less, but who wish to maintain their U.S. identity.

Angela Kocherga reported on Blaxicans for KVIA (El Paso):

“The people in Mexico have the biggest hearts I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Jimmy Young, 65, a Vietnam veteran. He discovered Juarez when he was a teenager stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso.

“I said, ‘Oh, yeah, when I get out of the military, that’s where I’m going to be,'” Young recalled.

He made the decision to move to Mexico 49 years ago.

“I consider myself a ‘Blaxican.’ I’m into the culture. I’m into people. I read Spanish. I write Spanish,” Young said.

He met and married his wife in Mexico, and became part of a large extended family – like other African-Americans who migrated south.

“Many had families in Mexico, were married to Mexican women, and essentially, they had embraced Mexico,” said Howard Campbell, an anthropologist at the University of Texas.

Campbell has spent decades researching the migration trend. Some of his findings will appear in a paper “Escaping Identity” that will be published by the Royal Anthropological Institute this summer.

“There were certainly a lot of people who moved to Mexico just because it was cheaper,” he said. “But the main impetus: They moved to Juarez because they loved Mexico; they loved Mexican culture.”

And many chose to live on the border because they could straddle two worlds.


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