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Taking a dump (metaphorically, that is)

7 September 2014

As some of you know, I have been commuting between Mexico City and Mazatlán, both to try and get some writing and research done in the Capital, and to build relationships with other writers/editors/publishers to ensure a smooth transition in the future, when I expected I would have to take control of Editorial Wisemaz.  In mid August, the majority owner suddenly decided to leave the business, which took me by complete surprise.  Just working on the transfer of ownership, and handing the most immediate concerns (we have three books in process, and several overdue eBooks to get to press) has kept me in Mazatlán.  Let’s put it this way… if Carlos Slim’s proposal for a 3-day, 11-hour work week was implemented, maybe I’d only be working two and a half jobs right now… none of which involve writing anything of my own, nor giving needed attention to the publishing company’s long-term needs… nor finding any serious time to write the Mexfiles.

While, once the legal transfer is completed (probably this coming week), Editorial Wisemaz will send out a press release. I expect I will be able to devote “SOME” time to things other than scrabbling for money, and dealing with contracts and printers and distributors.  Like doing more than a massive “data dump” or just links on Mex Files.

But, here’s some of the stories and articles I would have written on, had I but world enough and time:

Mexico’s minimum wage… it’s the lowest in Latin America and, like miminum wages in all too many places, not in the least adequate to a maintaining a decent standard of living.  Even the neo-liberal Economist admits this.  As you’d expect, while grudgingly admitting it is much too low, The Christian Science Monitor sees the call for a higher wage as “leftist”.

The Middle Class:  As Inca Kola News pointed out this last month, even those of us in Mexico making signficantly above the minimum wage, aren’t doing all that well in comparison with other Latin American nations.  More on the Evolution of the Middle Class in Latin American from Argentina’s Universidad Nacional de La Plata in English.

The “Reforms“:  But, whether it’s the middle class or the minimum wage worker, no one in Mexico, it seems, is happy  Enrique Peña Nieto’s “reforms”.  Pew Research (much to the consternation of the English-language mainstream media) discovered Peña Nieto is not seen as anything of a reformer, nor is EPN himself seen as an effective leader.  As you would imagine, the voices on the left … Moreno  (AMLO’s party)., columnist Martin Moreno in Sin Embargo and Javiar Sicilia all pile on. Sicilia’s article was translated into English for Mexico Voices.  How much EPN’s seeming failures as a President have to do with lingering questions about his health ¿De qué está enfermo Peña Nieto? (Regeneración) is a question I’m not prepared to answer.  Arturo Bris, writing in the Arizona Republic, argues the Reforms don’t go far enough. 

VAMPIRES!... That’s what Rudofo Acuña calls those who profit from the “illegal immigrants”.  And he doesn’t mean the coyotes, but the multinationals and the “system.  Migration, as you can imagine, has been all over the news, and I’m not sure where to begin.  While there is some good news in that the right-wing CNS was in high dudgeon because “the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Mexican government to allow Mexican Nationals – regardless of immigration status – to ‘exercise their workplace rights’,” and some supposedly fruitful talks (but just talk) between Enrique Peña Nieto and California Governor Jerry Brown, the news from the U.S. border gets weirder and weirder.  Last month it was sending the Texas National Guard to the Border (to go hungry, and get bored, apparently), and the on-going calls to incarcerate minors… which was supposedly “lunatic fringe”… though it now appears that even the allegedly grown-up Obama Administration is looking at “family detention centers”… i.e., concentration camps run for profit.

More posts (and “bookmark dumps”) tomorrow.


3 September 2014

U.S. advertising at it’s most culturally tone-deaf.  Who would ever associate words like spicy and steamy with Sara García ?


As goes Coahuila… or let me not to marriage admit impediments

2 September 2014

When Coahuila passed Mexico’s first “Civil Unions” legislation (allowing for same-gender couples to gain legal recognition for their union, but only in the state of Coahuila) in January 2007,  the bill passed by only a small margin, and — despite official backing by the Bishop of Saltillo — was considered a radical step for a Latin American jurisdiction.  Of course, the Bishop, Raul Vera, was considered something of a radical within the Church and within Mexican public life, but still….

When Federal District Assembly passing the country’s first same-sex marriage bill a few months later, conservatives attempted to profit from an expected backlash (polls at the time showing most Mexican opposed same-sex marriage) and from clerical objections (not every Bishop is as enlightened as Don Raul), in several states, politicians ran on a platform of supporting “one man-one woman” marriage laws.  Those laws are slowly being undone both through federal lawsuits against the states (the Mexican Constitution precludes discrimination not just on the usual race, and gender and religion, but on “affectational preference” as well) and the simple recognition that creating a secondary class of marriage, whether like Coahuila’s “Civil Solidarity Pacts” or Colima’s  “enlace conjugal” (Conjugal ties) was a bureaucratic solution creating its own set of difficulties.  First of all, it means a whole different set of records, and secondly, defining what ones rights and benefits accrue to a couple solely at the state level.   Is a surviving spouse in a Colima “Enlace Conjugal” entitled social security payments, if the late partner was a state employee?  And what if the couple moved to Nayarit when they retired?  With marriages in any part of the republic valid throughout the republic, it is simpler for all concerned  being recognized at the federal level.  And besides, as the conservatives — much to their consternation — have discovered, same-sex marriages didn’t create any social problems and basically, Mexicans still follow Benito Juarez’ advice in respecting the rights of others.

And so, almost without debate, yesterday, the Coahuila State Legislature — by a vote of 19 to 3 —  changed the definition of marriage to “ la unión libre de dos personas sin importar su sexo” (“the union of two persons, without reference to their sex”).  The new marriage law takes effect next Monday. 

El Congreso de Coahuila aprueba por mayoría el matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo, Emeequis (01 September 2014)

Civil Unions bill passed in Coahuila… wow!, Mexfiles (11 January 2007)

Separate but not equal, Mexfiles (7 June 2014)




It’s company policy

2 September 2014

People in the United States are starting to discover that the police “serve and protect”… not citizens, but economic interest. In Cozumel, four local police officers, accompanied by a security guard for “Playa Mia Grand Beach and Water Park” (the name is in English, and so is their website), demanded Daniel Francisco Espinobarros and his family leave the beach on the grounds that it was “private property”. Espinobarros, quite rightly pointing out that besides the resort being closed and the family not using any of the Playa Mia facilities, they were within the “Zofemat” (Zona Federal de Maritima) which cannot be private property, but is open to the public (with a few exceptions like nesting areas for sea turtles).

Even when Espinobarros said he was a local resident, and a taxpayer, he was told to leave… “It’s company policy, and if you have a complaint take it up with the management”. He is…the “management” is the Mexican people, the video of the exchange (just under nine minutes) going viral on facebook, youtube, and other social media, and mentioned in the more traditional forms.

This is something that does happen, apparently more on the Caribbean side than over where I live (although the “all-inclusive” resorts have been blocking beach access, most of Mazatlan’s beach is not only public, but has pbulic access every few blocks) and seems to be more common where there are foreign hotels, and foreign guests.


Sources:  El Informador,  Proceso, Facebook (Araza Patita Espinobarros)

Going green? Or saving green-backs?

1 September 2014

Via Solar Industry Magazine:

Mexico’s existing laws allow energy users to buy power from a private energy generating project or portfolio located on-site or hundreds of miles away, considerably reducing energy expenses. While Mexico’s constitution prohibits the private production and sale of energy, developers have legally side-stepped this by including the energy off-taker in the project. In this way, the energy is produced for self-consumption and not sold to a third party. (Recent reforms to Mexico’s energy laws may streamline this in the near future.)

In Mexico, solar developers are not selling “green,” as they have needed to do in markets of the past; instead, they are selling a better-priced product, an and customers are buying because it benefits their bottom line.

While large wind projects, such as the 250 MW Eurus project in Juchitan, Oaxaca, have been developed under this scheme as far back as 2009, the drastic decrease in the cost of solar power systems over the past few years has created an opportunity in Mexico. As such, a huge boom in power from solar generating facilities is predicted this year. Among other indicators, the world’s first spot market solar energy project was completed in the state of Baja Sur this past year – a 30 MW facility developed and constructed in less than 12 months.

While large wind projects, such as the 250 MW Eurus project in Juchitan, Oaxaca, have been developed under this scheme as far back as 2009, the drastic decrease in the cost of solar power systems over the past few years has created an opportunity in Mexico. As such, a huge boom in power from solar generating facilities is predicted this year. Among other indicators, the world’s first spot market solar energy project was completed in the state of Baja Sur this past year – a 30 MW facility developed and constructed in less than 12 months.

(Complete article here)

The Un-president …

30 August 2014

While the lists of Mexican Presidents generally includes Pedro Lascuráin in 1913, lists generally leave off another short term President, Francisco Carvajal… who’s 28 days in office certainly  was a much longer term than the 45 minutes (or less) served by Lascuráin, who only had the job to give a veneer of “constitutionality” to the U.S. sponsored coup against Francisco I. Madero.  As Foreign Secretary, Lascuráin was only fourth in line of succession to the Presidency, but with  Madero, Vice-President José Pino Suarez and third in line, Attorney General Adolfo Valles Baca  forced to resign at gunpoint, Lascuráin was handed the top job.  He understood, of course, that his job was to appoint Victoriano Huerta to the next job in the Presidential line of succession (Secretary of Governance… “Home Secretary”) and then make a hasty exit.  Which he did.

Hail to the... whatever!

Francisco Carvajal. Hail to the… whatever!

When Huerta had to make his own hasty exit from the Presidency in 1914,  Huerta  — with just the clothes on his back (and 50,000 gold German Marks in his suitcase… and pockets full of negotiable bonds and checks) — fled Mexico City for the coast on the 15th of July, 1914.  With no Vice President or Attorney General, constitutionally, the presidency logically was assumed by foreign minister Francisco Carvajal.  HOWEVER… Huerta was being chased out by the Constitutionalist Army led by Alvaro Obregon.  The whole point of calling themselves “Constitutionalist” was that Huerta’s presidency was illegitimate.  And, if so, then Carvajal was never a legitimate president either.

Which Carvajal more or less agreed with.  He understood that his mandate was basically to hold off the Constitutionalists long enough for Huerta’s henchmen to skedaddle with as much of the national treasury as they could, and then hit the road himself.  Which he did on 13 August.  By which time, besides not much more than downtown Mexico City under the control of his “government” the only half-way respectable authority around was Mexico City’s appointed governor, Eduardo Iturbide… who had no claim on the Presidency in any way, shape or manner.

Irtubide and the few remaining Huertaistas still in town, however, did sign off on a cease fire, dissolving the Federal Army and admitting the previous government(s) were illegitimate.  A rather ad hoc ending to an ad hoc fake government, the Treaty of Teoloyocan — with U.S. and French diplomats looking on —  is also known as the Treaty of the Ford Fender.


They just don’t get it

29 August 2014

Dutch journalist and Mexican resident Jan-Albert Hootsen (who tells me he’s NOT a lefty) on the financial media’s coverage of Latin American politics:

Election logic according to the Financial Times: there’s a recession in Brazil, which now supposedly threatens Dilma’s chances of being re-elected. Not because of the working class, amongst whom she is still popular, but because investors don’t like her. Because, in that weird, extra-dimensional universe which is FT’s editorial offices in London, investors are apparently a magical majority of voters who decide elections, and not the working or middle class.

Typical financial reporter

Typical financial reporter

Ever wonder why media such as FT are so taken aback when folks like Ollanta Humala, Mauricio Funes, Evo Morales or Lula manage to get themselves elected? How it’s possible that economic growth does not automatically translate to winning elections? Why the vast majority of non-investing voters seems to enigmatically have different thoughts on how a country should be led than investors, banks and hedge funds? That they have other concerns than benchmark equity indexes and the yields of soon to mature bonds?

I’m not saying this because I like Dilma, Morales or Maduro, or because I dislike investors. Quite the contrary. But I just don’t understand why a newspaper like FT just doesn’t seem to get that their investor friends (whose interests they represent, which is perfectly respectable) aren’t even close to being a majority of voters anywhere in the world, and that it’s votes that determine the outcome of elections, not what investors think.

This also applies to Enrique Peña Nieto. FT seems to be completely flabbergasted by EPN’s low poll numbers. ‘But… reforms! But… transformative reforms! Historical reforms! REFORMS!’ – Sure, plenty of investors abroad like the idea of being able to establish a foothold in Mexico’s energy sector, but do those foreign investors constitute a majority in Mexico?

Stupid question, right? Well, apparently not stupid enough, because some newspapers seem to be completely in the dark as to how public opinion and elections in democratic countries actually work.


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