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God and man here and there: looking at Chile

20 May 2018

A strongly worded editorial in today’s Jornada takes the same tack I have when it comes to discussing the clerical purge in Chile:  that the pedophilia scandal has as much to do with the Church getting into bed with Agustin PInochet as it did with Francisco Karadema trying to get young seminarians into his bed.

It was not the only in Chile where violating minors and disorderly conduct by the religious became widespread and frequent practices: since the 90s of the last century, when notably in Ireland and the United States, documented cases of pedophilia, with abundant and irrefutable evidence that the Catholic flock almost everywhere was shaken by the evidence that a large number of clerics, often protected by their hierarchical superiors, were more concerned with the body than with the souls of their parishioners. Little by little, people who at some point in their lives were linked to seminaries, orphanages, parishes, hospitals or Catholic social service centers dared to ventilate situations that had remained hidden for decades.

The case of the Chilean Church, however, threatens a crisis of unique proportions despite the secrecy with which the so-called Holy See investigators examine the accusations of pedophilia and various abuses that weigh heavily on the Chilean clergy. In committing their crimes, the ecclesiastics of that country counted on the impunity that guaranteed them by the government of the dictator Augusto Pinochet: their support for the regime given in return for the favor of extending Catholic confessional education in the schools through high school, an old aspiration of the Church in the local educational environment. It is likely that the certainty of impunity impunity contributed to stimulating the commission of sexual crimes to such an extent that it reached into the cclesial structure of the Andean nation.

Although the acts attributed to the accused Chilean priests are condemnable by themselves, the fact that they were committed with the support (tacit or explicit) of a bloodthirsty regime that proclaimed itself a Catholic at all costs, makes them all the more disgraceful and repudiable.

It is difficult to foresee how far the commitment assumed by the Bishop of Rome in the sense of purging the Church of Chile — and by extension the Church in general — from the corruption in one of the most conservative societies in Latin America will reach. And whether it will staunch the rapid disenchantment of the faithful (in 2016 only 45 percent of Chileans declared themselves Catholic, compared to 74 percent who claimed to be Catholics in 1995). But whatever the result of the papal intervention, it will be difficult for the institution to recover the prestige it reached for the times when many of its ministers violated the elementary rights of children, while blessing the abuses and crimes of a de facto president who claimed that human rights were an invention of Marxists .

In election news here, the latest scandal has been a “hail Mary” attempt to smear the leading candidate as anti-Catholic… specifically anti-Virgin of Guadalupe.  The two events — the ecclesiastical purge in Chile, and the admittedly pathetic political stunt here — are part of a pattern I’ve noticed ever since the leadership of the Catholic Church passed from Popes focused on the East-West divide (the European theater in WWII, and the Cold War) to one from the global south.  The Cold Warrior, John-Paul II, never really understood our part of the planet, and appeared to take for granted that we would remain “most faithful” no matter what. While when it came to Mexico, he was undoubtedly bamboozed by the odious Marcial Maciel, it also has to be said that John-Paul’s attitude towards Latin America (and by extension, Africa and Asia as well) as colonialist.  Just as the Church was emerging (better late than never) from its dominance by the old colonial powers… turning to liberation theology on one hand, and the more traditional role of the Church in Latin America as a counterweight to the State… John-Paul sought to turn the clock back, promoting to the hierarchy not just those who were co-opted by state power (like the former Cardinal of Mexico City, Norberto Rivera), but those whose allegiance is to the European reactionaries, like the Opus Dei bishops we find throughout Latin America.  Not that I think Opus Dei is more prone to pedophilia than any other order within the Church, only that they are a late import meant to bring “us” back into line, just as the Latin American church was finding its own way.

And, so… the fliers claiming Morena (and AMLO in person) is anti-clerical and opposing the will of the Virgin of Guadalupe.  What is more interesting than those behind the fliers is the futility of the effort.  The declining number of faithful (Mexico, much more Catholic than Chile, has always been more “liberal” as well, but even here, the number of faithful has been rapidly declining over the last few decades) are much less likely to simply accept “on faith” what they are told by clerical leaders owing their allegiance only secondarily to Rome, but first to the powers-that-be.  It isn’t only in Mexico City (only starting to recover from Norberto Rivera’s reign) that committed Catholics are turning away from what Rome says, and looking to the traditions of leaders like Bartolome de las Casas, the 16th century defender of the indigenous, or Raul Vera, the liberationist Bishop of Saltillo, or Padre Solinde, the human rights activist.

Perhaps what it all means, if anything, is just that Rome is finally decolonizing.  Purging the Bishops in Chile one hopes clears the field for a hierarchy more attuned to Chilean concerns (and not those of the neo-liberal elites) as much as the failed attempt to call the faithful in a political campaign means that the Mexicans expect more from the Church than just saying no to any attempt to change the system to one more in our own interest.


We have nothing to fear but fear itself?

16 May 2018

I’ve recently heard from a few foreign residents who are panicky over the prospects of a change in government… and not the usual panic over everything types either. One long term resident (like 25 years or so) was asking me if I thought she should start looking for property in Florida should the left win. While I can see “border jumpers” and the like being concerned that Mexico might retaliate against US anti-immigration policy by cracking down on people using “loopholes*” to stay here (something that might happen no matter who controls the incoming government), what accounts for the fear?

Yes, I expect AMLO to win the presidency in July.  I can understand the fears of those who expect a violent reaction from the right (and scenarios a la Dallas 1963) although I wonder if the fears are not more of those who, as outsiders, are looking at this from the outside.  That is, people depending on foreign information sources, which tend to parrot the “lens” of the source culture.  In a British publication, I recently saw AMLO compared to Jeremy Corbin, and in US media, I’ve seen him compared to either Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders (or both, simultanously)… along with the usual comparisons to Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, and Lula da Silva.  The latter are easiest to understand… the “all Latin Americans are the same” meme that has colored thinking in the English-language media forever.  Mexico is not Venezuela, nor Cuba, nor Brazil.  We have not had a military officer in the Presidency since World War II, and… despite a history of foreign hegemony in the economy, our nationalist revolution was a century ago, and, if anything, the Soviets borrowed from us, not the other way around.  And Lula did pretty well by Brazil.  So, what accounts for the fear of a social worker/union organizer/bible-reader in Los Pinos?

* “J”, in a comment below, asked what “loopholes” were meant. While a foreign visitor is, in the usual course of things, given a stay up to 180 days when entering, there is no guarantee they will be allowed to stay that long, or will even be admitted into the country. Several people (quite a few I know) assume they will always be admitted for 180 days, and take advantage of that by living here full time but leaving the country for a day or two to go shopping north of the border. I would not at all be surprised to see a change in immigration policy that scrutinized these “border jumpers” more closely. Most of those hurt by such a change would be those who are living here as retirees, on incomes that don’t meet the threshold for a “retiree visa” (not it’s official name, but one criteria for issuing a termporary residency permit is to have sufficient income… a multiple of the Mexican salario minimo (I believe it’s 150 x the salario) in monthly income.

There are also those “border jumpers” who are working under the table… English teachers and resort workers for the most part… who might be affected were the IMN (Mexican immigration service) to crack down.

Maximiliano: Don’t go breaking my heart…

5 May 2018

Joshue Ramirez, Queretaro historian and photo collector, originally published this (in Spanish) on his facebook page.  Translated by permssion:

Following the execution of Maximilian von Hapsburg and Generals Miramón and Tomás Mejía, their hearts and other organs were placed in glass jars.

The embalming process, carried out in the Ex-convent of the Capuchines, was overseen by Inspector Rivadeneyra and Dr. Samuel Basch [Maximilian’s personal physician].

Dr. Bach said that Maximilian was shot at close range; all the bullets went through the body, so none were found during the autopsy. The three wounds in the chest were absolutely deadly. The first had pierced his heart, the second had pierced his chest bone and cut though major blood vessels, and a third went through a lung.

“It is said that Vice Admiral Teggetthoff was given some objects belonging to the Archduke, among them a tray and some silver candlesticks, which had been given to Maximilian in 1834, when he was still a child. It was also said that other person effects were destroyed at the request of Teggetthoff himself, including the clothing worn by the prince when he was shot. Teggetthoff was assured that the archduke’s heart and other entrails would remain in Mexico. ”

Maximiliano’s heart was placed in a sterilized glass jar filled with [180 proof]  alcohol to be delivered to Basch. Mejia’s heart was also deposited in a bottle of alcohol but in the home of Dr. Licea (see: 10154015608441268), perhaps in expectation of the general’s widow paying for it.  Miramón’s was taken by his widow, Concha [Concepción Lombardo de Miramón], who intended to take it with her to Europe.

Rivadeneira gave a report of that operation to General Mariano Escobedo and handed over the corpse of Maximilian to Miguel Palacios, who mounted a strong watch inside and outside the Capuchin temple.

Dr. Vicente Licea’s manuscript notes record that on June 19, 1867, he briefed Inspector Rivadeneyda in the Capuchin church … detailing the bullets received by the Archduke, and noting that the sixth and last … the so-called “coup de grace”, had been immediately below the left nipple, piercing the heart.   This great center of circulation, and the main vessels being broken, it was no longer possible to proceed with injections to preserve it intact.

Dr. Licea injected the body with zinc chloride, replacing the eyes with enamel buttons, taken from his instrument box. They were not entirely match … Maximilian[‘s eyes], because it was absolutely impossible to fulfill the need for accuracy under the conditions …. by virtue of such impossibility, he agreed with Dr. Basch, who would conveniently change his eyes, with ones he promised to  acquire in [Prague],before forwarding the corpse to Vienna.

Licea’s manuscript continues:

Wash and cleaned repeated times with the corresponding liquids the heart and all the viscera all, by necessity in alcohol [bi-clorurado] for the reasons that they have been exposed.

The corpse was exposed for three months.  During that time… [i]t rained abundantly and the humidity had free access to the body through a break that a soldier made in the glass top of the box, for satisfy awkward curiosity. This happened after the corpse was placed in its provisional coffin on June 28, 1867 until September when the governor of Queretaro ordered that a glass case from a niche in the  Ex-convent of Santa Clara replace that on the coffin.  [Between the time the glass was broken and September]… “the corpse … during its stay in Querétaro, was without the slightest alterations, and without dismaying bad smells” … observed Governor Cervantes, Deputies Dr. Hilarión Frías y Soto and the citizen entrusted with the custody of the aforementioned corpse.

“Many employees of the government of the state of Querétaro, and a multitude of private individuals, among them the photographer Francisco Aubert, who wanted to take a photograph of the corpse, requested that the box be opened and the glass removed.”

Finish the manuscript.

I think I have fulfilled my duty, and I must repeat to all of my compatriots all, and especially to my distinguished companions, these words.
Dr. Vicente Licea.

Following Dr. Licea’s report, he wrote to Mr. Romero y Ortiz  on July 25, 1867 about the sale of some garments and the organs of Archduke Maximilian.

“Mrs. Inés Salm Salm (Agnes zu Salm-Salm) entered into agreements with Dr. Licea; that later they tried to sell him to Tegetthoff, but he said he would not give “a peso”.

M.N. Roy in Mexico

1 May 2018

When it comes to Google, capitalism (almost) conquers all. Try just a simple search for M.N. Roy, one of the most important “expats” ever to live in Mexico City, and you’ll have to dig down to get past all the links related to the exclusive hipster club named for the guy, who had once lived in the building where a different sort of Mexican and expat hangs out today (after paying a heft cover charge).Roy’s many visitors may have been the hipsters and avant-garde of his time, and he was, by all accounts, a good host, exclusivity… let alone making a profit… was hardly something on his agenda. Roy had fled his native India, one step ahead of a British firing squad, for daring to the King-Emperor and trying to free India from the tender mercies of the British Raj, though the simple expedient of recognizing that the enemy of his enemy was his friend… in short, plotting with the Germans during the First World War to arm the Indians and drive out the Brits. When that didn’t work out, he contacted the Japanese and Chinese to no avail. Fleeing to the United States, where he met and married Evelyn Trent, he began to see anti-colonialism from a more internationalist point of view, and to see Imperialism of the British variety as simply another form of Capitalism.

Initially an Anarchist, he and Evelyn were involved in organizing strikes in California, the better to undermine the war effort, seen as a war to preserve Capitalism and Imperialism, rather than the “War to End All Wars”. Naturally, the U.S: government disagreed, and the Roys fled to Mexico City. Where M.N. Roy and a few select friends would found the Socialist Workers’ Party, the forerunner of the Mexican Communist Party, in 1917.

From V. 1 of “In Freedom’s Quest: a Study of the Life and Works of M.N. Roy (1887-1954)” by Sibnarayan Ray.

Roy’s initial motivation in getting involved in Mexican politics was to promote anti-Americanism so that this would divert the resources of the U.S. from the allied battlefronts in Europe. He soon found that the anarcho-syndicalists were not very interested in supporting Mexican nationalism against the U.S. He now turned to the socialists and other radicals to organize a broad-based movement which would oppose the U.S. and support the Carranza government on the understanding that the latter would try to make effective the radical principles of the Queretaro constitution. Ignazio Santibanez had already introduced him to the executive of his small Socialist party; he now proposed to it the holding of a socialist conference in Mexico. With what was left over from the funds provided by the Germans shortly after his arrival in Mexico he not only offered to bear the entire costs of the conference but also bought the Socialist party a printing press so that its organ, Lucha de los clases, could be converted into a regular weekly of eight pages.

Mugshot from 1931

Through Don Manuel, the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Roy then met again Carranza, and persuaded him to support his efforts and to agree to “a programme of legislation for the protection of labour, particularly against exploitation by foreign imperialist capital”76 He also won over Plutarco Elias Calles, a popular socialist leader in Sonora, who later in 1924 would himself be elected President of the Republic:17 Meantime he had met General Alvarado to whom he had an introduction from Dr. Jordan of Stanford. Alvarado was planning to bring out a daily, El Herald° de Mexico, which would have an English section with Roy’s friend Charlie Phillips as editor of this section. Roy planned with Phillips to use this section for the expression of socialist views, and his articles on American imperialism in Latin America were first serialised here before they were brought out in the form of a book under the title El Camino.

Roy now drafted a manifesto for the projected socialist conference to which delegates were invited from the different States of the Republic, and from a number of Latin American countries. The conference met in Mexico city from August 25 to September 4, 1919, and adopted a constitution according to which the reorganized party was to be called El Partido Socialista Regional Mexican°. Besides Roy and Evelyn the leading figures of the conference were Santibanez, Don Manuel, Francisco Cervantes Lopez, Plutarco Calles, Juan Baptista Flores, Jose Garcia and his brother Roberto, and two American radicals, Charles Phillips and Irwin Granich. The last two organized a demonstration of local industrial workers in support of the reconstituted Socialist party, and managed with the assistance of their friend, John Reed, who had returned to New York after six months in the Soviet Union, to get a message to the conference purportedly sent by the newly founded Third International but actually composed by Reed in New York.” The conference elected an organizing committee with Roy, al companero Indio (the Indian comrade), as General Secretary and Jose Garcia as his assistant. The committee was charged with the re-organization of the Mexican Socialist party, and with making preparations for a Regional Socialist International for Latin America.

The proceedings of the conference, however, did not altogether go without opposition. Roy wanted the re-constituted party to he broad-based; he and his Mexican colleagues were particularly keen to draw into it Luis Morones, who had already founded in 1918 the Confederation Regional Obrera Mexicana (CROM), a federation of labour unions. Morones at this stage was known to be backing General Obregon against Carranza.” Roy’s plan was to draw him away from Obregon and his supporters in the U.S. and to secure his collaboration in the proposed anti-American front This was, however, strongly opposed by Lynn Gale, an American radical, who had escaped from New York to Mexico in 1918, and who ran a journal called Gale’s Magazine.’ For various reasons Roy and Gale had taken a strong dislike to each other — according to Roy, Gale was a neophyte to Indian spiritualism and theosophy who had pressed on him to secure a subsidy from the Mexican government for his (Gale’s) pacifist propaganda, a demand which Roy had flatly refused; while according to Gale, Roy was an Indian nationalist whose conversion to socialism was altogether superficial” — and the conference helped to bring this into the open. Roy had the support of the majority in the conference, and since Gale persisted in his opposition he was expelled from the reconstituted party. Later Gale started a Communist party of his own, founded a periodical El Comunista, and even tried to send an emissary, Keikichi Ishimoto, to the Congress of the Communist International, but his efforts met with no success.” His group was not recognized by the Comintern.

After the conference Roy’s first task was to organize branches of the Socialist party in the various states of the republic. In this he was assisted by Calles with whom he travelled north to Sonora (which was the home base of both CaIles and Obregon), stopping on the way in the silver mining states of Aguascalientes and Durango. The trip, however, proved to be short, as Calles became Minister of Labour in the Carranza government, and Roy returned to the capital city where he soon thereafter met Michael Borodin, one of the top Bolsheviks from the Soviet Union, who had recently arrived in Mexico under the assumed name of Brantwein.”

Borodin (whose original name was Mikhail Markovich Gruzenberg) was Roy’s senior in age only by a few years. He was born into a Jewish rabbinical family in Yanovichi near Vitebsk in Byelorussia in 1884, and had joined the Bolsheviks in 1903. To avoid arrest he had escaped to the United States where before the Russian revolution he had been running with his wife a progressive preparatory school in Chicago. After the revolution he was entrusted by Lenin to organize communist activities in the U.S. and Latin America. In 1919 he was sent to the U.S. with Tsarist Crown jewels worth about a million rubbles to provide with part of its sale proceeds financial support to the Soviet Trade Delegation in Washington, and with the balance to underwrite revolutionary work in the new world. On the way, however, he was forced by circumstances to leave the jewels with an Austrian migrant in Haiti, and after eluding the American police who were hot on his heels he eventually managed to reach Mexico in September without any money or any local contacts.”

Once there Borodin soon found out about the newly reconstructed Socialist party from the English section of El Heraldo, contacted its editor Charles Phillips, and through him got in touch with the new General Secretary of the party. Roy took a strong liking to Borodin — besides being a revolutionary of exceptional intellectual sophistication and wide experience Borodin also possessed a striking physical appearance (he was, according to one description, “a man with shaggy black hair brushed back from his forehead, a Napoleonic beard, deep-set eyes, and a face like a mask”)” — and they soon became very close friends. Borodin stayed with the Roys at their house in CoIonia Roma and was introduced by them to Carranza. During the next two months while the Roys provided Borodin with hospitality and with funds to help out his stranded wife in Chicago and the Soviet Trade Delegation in Washington. Borodin explained to the Roys the intricacies of Marxism and succeeded in converting them fully to the communist faith.” He broke down Roy’s resistance to the philosophy of materialism, introduced him to the dialectics of class struggle, made him realise that political freedom had little significance without the content of economic liberation and social justice, and strengthened his newly developing conviction that the struggle for freedom to he successful had to be international and not confined within national or geographical boundaries.

After a great deal of discussion it was decided that they should try to form a Communist party out of the reconstituted Socialist party of Mexico. Roy then called an extraordinary conference of the Socialist party to which he submitted for approval the Manifesto of the Fint World Congress of the Communist International. With support from Don Manuel he succeeded in winning majority agreement, and the Socialist party renamed itself as El Partido Comunista de Mexico. The plan was that the party would subsequently sponsor the Latin American Bureau of the Comintern whose main immediate task would be to organize resistance to American imperialism.” Borodin who, in the meantime, had been provided with facilities by Carranza to contact the West-European Bureau of the Comintern through the Mexican legation in Holland, immediately sent Lenin his report of the conference.. He was instructed to bring Roy with him as a delegate to the next world congress of the Comintern which was scheduled for July 1920.


It was not altogether easy for Roy to decide to leave Mexico to which he had developed a strong attachment, but Borodin persuaded him to accept Lenin’s invitation with the argument that revolutionary movements, whether in Mexico or in India, were parts of a global struggle which constituted the programme of the Communist International. Besides, with the Comintern backing his efforts he would be able to work more effectively for a revolution in India. Jose Allen now took over as General Secretary of the new Communist Party.

Roy moved to the Soviet Union in 1920, returning to India in 1930 to take part in the independence struggle, and — although also recognized as the founder of the Indian Communist Party — developing a post-Marxist philosophy of his own, Radical Humanism after the Second World War and India’s independence.

(A two-part post on Roy in Mexico… part of a long series of posts at Sreenivasarao’s blogs (part 4 and part 5)

May Day

1 May 2018

Workers of the world… today is your day.

Diego Rivera (1933)

Anaya uber AMLO?? Not so fast…

1 May 2018

Efrén Flores, writing for SinEmbargo, spoke to several political gurus who conclude the “hail mary” attempt to stop AMLO by convincing PRI to throw their (considerable) political might beyond Ricardo Anaya is likely not to succeed. Possible, but not probable.

Loosely (and quickly) translated from  “Un pacto por el voto útil podría ya no servir a Meade o a Anaya: algunos creen que iría con AMLO” (SinEmbargo, 30 April 2018):


The National Action (PAN) and Institutional Revolutionary (PRI) parties could join forces to defeat presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), but political scientists interviewed by SinEmbargo throw cold water on the idea, noting that it would not necessarily produce a victory for a fusion ticket.

The academics interviewed by SinEmbargo explained that the corporate vote (those votes controlled by the party “machine”) by themselves would not would not, on their own, be enough to prevent an unwanted candidate from achieving victory, unless it was a “closed” election (one in which voters had already made up their mind between a limited number of choices).

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the candidate of the Juntos Haremos Historia coalition “, has until now led in the polls, his closest oppenent being Ricardo Anaya Cortés, of the tri-party “Por México Al Frente” coalition (PAN-PRD-MC).

Two months remaining before the election, López Obrador has a 20 point advantage in the polls. In the last several days, some PAN members of the Por Mexico al Frente have raised the idea of a coaltion with the “Todos Por México” coaltion (PRI, PVEM and Panal), whose candidate José Antonio Meade Kuribreña.

Speculation about a link between Ricardo Anaya and Jose Antonio Meade also comes from comments made at an event organized by Citibanamex last Friday. In a video that emerged from the closed-door forum, Anaya Cortés said he is “absolutely open” to adding anyone to his campaign that would help defeat López Obrador. Pressed by interviewer Leonardo Curzio Gutiérrez, he did not rule out working with the PRI and President Enrique Peña Nieto.

A simple look at the mathematics behind the idea shows the appeal for promoters of a “never López Obrador” movement, particularly for inveestors who think the leftist former Mexico City mayor’s positions would damage the economy. López Obrador has 46.6 percent support in the most recent Bloomberg Electoral Barometer. Anaya and Meade have a combined 46.5 percent (although it should be noted that the Barometer has not been updated since 20 April).

Today, Anaya said he was willing to receive support from all the citizens – party activists or not – willing to “join forces” and defeat López Obrador. Despite having met with President Enrique Peña Nieto, the candidate from Queretero said it was not”a matter of [formal] agreements” with the president, nor “with the leaders, nor with the candidates” of other parties, but a call to society to support him.

However, Jorge Castañeda, one of Anaya’s main advisors, had already approached the Meade camp, which has failed to show much progress in the polls:

“I do not want to rule out anything, the numbers are what they are and I think we can find new approaches and affinities in the searches,” said the former Foreign Minister in an interview with Reforma‘s René Delgado.

However, like candidate Anaya, Castañeda has denied official negotiations are in progress:

“When there is a greater enemy”, it is not unreasonable to think of an alliance between the PRI and the PAN, explained Dr. José Fernández Santillán, a political analyst at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM, for its initials in Spanish). However, he said that an alliance would not be enough to beat López Obrador because “it is not just the sum of votes”. They would also need to “unmask López Obrador (or put an end to the myth that he is unbeatable)”.

Dr. Jose Antonio Crespo, research professor at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching (CIDE for its initials in Spanish), agreed with Dr. Fernandez that, given the confrontation between these two parties, any agreement, even a tacit one, would be “difficult”.

The specialist in Political Sociology predicted that if it occurs, it would be “ineffective”, since PRI New Alliance Party (PANAL) voters have “more ideological identification with López Obrador” than with PAN. Those grassroots PRIs and PANAL voters (mostly teachers) “have the same ideological matrix as López Obrador, which is harks back to the PRI prior to the neoliberalism of the sixties or seventies.”

For Professor Felipe de la O Lopez, a specialist in Demoscopy and Public Opinion of the Faculty of Political and Social Sciences (FCPyS for its initials in Spanish) of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Anaya’s strategy is to position itself as the second most viable candidate, Jose Antonio Meade Kuribreña is also trying to do.

In that sense, he commented that it is logical to consider what would be called the “useful vote” although it would not translated into an “effective vote” for Anaya. De la O pointed out that what Anaya seeks to promote is the idea of a “broad front” that would attact undecided voters from the PRI; and those for whom he would be the best choice among the remaining candidates. .

“The idea of the useful vote responds to the need to attract some of the voters and some of the political leaders, of each of those parties, to position themselves in the face of the election,” the analyst explained. Voters who see that their first option has no chance of victory, will choose the “second least bad” and there, he said, enters the possibility of Anaya to win votes.

In their assessment, Fernández, Crespo, de la O, as well as FCPyS’s political analyst Dr. Carlos Luis Sánchez y Sánchez, see difficulties in any PRI and PAN union. While not impossible, Sánchez y Sánchez says that it “does not mean that the candidates, as they usually do, call on their party faithful to vote for the agreed upon candidate, but on grassroots voters to cast their ballots for a candidate, regardless of what the party leaders are telling them. As Crespo noted, this has been both Lopez Obrador and Anaya’s strategy. Mead is also trying to sell himself as a “useful vote” for PAN (technically the candidate is a PAN party member, although the candidate for the PRI-led coaliton) Crespo.

However, according to Sánchez y Sánchez, “the useful vote is only decisive when the election is closed”. And about the corporate vote – for example, the PRI – he mentioned that “yes it could end up supporting Anaya”, although as the other analysts explained, there is always the possibility that in ballot booth, even the the machine voters could decide to go with AMLO. They pointed to the 2006 election, when despite an agreement between Felipe Calderón Hinojosa the PAN candidate and PANAL leader Elba Esther Gordillo, many PANAL voters cast their ballots for Lopez Obrador (then running as the PRD candidate).


Although Ricardo Anaya Cortés has denied that there is a possibility of an formal agreement between the PAN and the PRI, and PRI leaders, like the former Governor of Coahuila, Rubén Moreira Valdés- dismiss the idea of closing ranks with PAN, in the public imagination there is a coalition between the two, dubbed “PRIAN”.

According to Fernández Santillán, “PRIAN” was created by Carlos Salinas de Gortari when the PRI no longer had the votes to carry though certain constitutional changes. PAN’s Diego Fernández de Cevallos, Luis H. Álvarez and Carlos Castillo Peraza “were the ones who negotiated this link and this support,” he recalled.

The result was a pragmatic coalition program that lasted through the administrations of Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon, Vicente Fox Quesada and Felipe Calderón Hinojosa. With Peña Nieto, however, there was the “Pact for Mexico” in 2012, “which was a parliamentary agreement in lieu of forming a coalition government.”.

But, as Crespo from CIDE points out, the current problem is “a confrontation [between PAN and PRI]that we had not seen … since 1988. I mean dating before the election, which makes it difficult to have these agreements. Agreements that we assume existed in other elections are very difficult now and that hurts both parties”.

The disagreements between the two political institutes, coincided Fernandez and Crespo, “only benefit AMLO.” And as Fernandez said, the option of a useful vote will be an option if Anaya “changes his attitude towards the PRI and the President of the Republic, whom he promised to put in jail. That was awkward. “

Despite the difficulties, the ITESM analyst recalled that about 30% of Lopez Obrador supporters have said they might change their vote.” This is consistent with the most recent survey by Consulta Mitofsky, which indicates that 42.2 percent of the votes in favor of AMLO, up to April 2018, were “volatile.”

In addition,

“Of the 75 percent of those polled who declare a preference, 19 percent of the total number of citizens say they can still change their preference in the campaign. That is the element that allows us to affirm that there is no sure result and that group which candidates and parties are targeting”.

This amounts to 16 million voters who have yet to make a selection. But two months until the presidential election, it is very difficult for Anaya to harvest them all. For Anaya to win, the 32 percent of the PAN’s volatile votes would also need to remain with him.

For the moment, AMLO’s hard vote (18.7 million votes according to Mitofsky) exceeds that of his opponents Anaya (13.5 million) and Meade (12.1 million). In two months, the experts say anything can happen, but that for Anaya to win would require a pact with the opposition that would lock in the “corporate vote”, and for him to capture the so-called “useful vote”. There are no guarantees that he can achieve it, but it confirms that PRIAN is more than a figment of the imagination.

It’s good (I guess) to be king

30 April 2018

Palace intrigue!

The brainchild of a 19th century French adventurer, Orélie-Antoine de Tounens, who — according to which version you want to believe was either paternally trying to protect the rights of the native Mapuche people, or just another bourgeois Frenchman with monarchist ambitions — made himself King of Aracunía and Patagonia in 1860.  In what is now southern Chile and Argentina, where the Mapuche were being driven to near extinction (shades of what was happening on the US prairies at about the same time), Monsieur de Tounens convinced at least some Mapuche leaders to declare him king, in the desperate hope of receiving at least some European support in their struggle.  Naturally, the Chilean army put the kibosh on the whole venture, locking Oréline-Antoine up in an insane asylum before deporting him back to France.  But not before King Antoine I had at least issued a few coins (referring to the “kingdom” as  “Nouvelle France“)

While the coins lead Mexfiles to wonder whether this wasn’t, like the much better know intervention in Mexico, another attempt to create a client state in the Americas, it was, at best, a minor footnote in the weird history of a weird part of the world.  However, the “Kingdom” still exists… among bored Europeans with pretentions of nobility, and among some of the Mapuche people, for whom the “Kingdom” provides a sort of shadow government, or at least some way of keeping their cause alive.  Or at least an appearance now again in the European press.

King Antoine died broke, and the crown  … never really recognized by any state… passed through various Frenchmen (and one Frenchwoman) eventually being settled on Antoine III, aka Jacques Antoine Bernard.  Bernard had inherited the title from his mother in 1916, but never had anything to do with the Mapuches… he was too busy editing right-wing newspapers and, during the Second World War, collaborating with the Nazis.  His single act as king was the abdicate in 1951 in favor of the highest bidder, French PR executive, Philippe Boiry.  Boiry used his title as “king” to file a lawsuit against French passport officials, and win the right to have his passport identify him as “Prince Philippe” of Aracunía and Patagonia.  And, at least get a few minor royals from defunct monarchies to show up at his second wedding… guaranteeing at least someone from the gossip magazines would pay attention.

Fred and Stan… two kings (or maybe jokers)

What good this did the Mapuches is something only they can answer, but the House of Aracunía and Patagonia is again in the (minor) news.  The regency council (which now actually includes a couple Mapuches) elected among their own (French eccentrics) the Duke of San Pedro de Hueyusco, better known as Jean-Michel Parasiliti di Para, a social worker.  With his death in 2014, things fell apart.  The regency council was split, the majority electing Frederick Lutz as King Frederick the First, while the members of the Order of the Southern Star revolted against what they saw as a hasty decision, and selected the son of one of their own, Stanislas Parvulesco, to reign as King Estanislaso I.

King Fred would seem to have the upper hand:  he, at least, issues a few coins (though whether it benefits the Mapuches themselves is debatable).  But at least with some palace intrigue, you’ve heard of the Mapuches.  Though maybe European gossip mags aren’t the best venue for airing their plight.


Matt Moffet, “Una batalla de príncipes por un reino que no existe” La Nación (Argentina), 15 July 2015,

Hugo Passarelo, “El reino sin tierras de la Patagonia tiene dos monarcas,” RFI Español, 30 April 2018

The Kingdom of Aracunia and Patagonia,

The Mapuche Nation – El Pueblo Mapuche.

Wikipedia… they have all kinds of oddball stuff.