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Water water… not everywhere

21 March 2018

Laura Carlsen interviews Pedro Moctezuma the co- founder of “Water for All”, a grass roots organization that defends access to water and quality of water in the country, about the regions acute water war in and how this mismanagement affected millions of people in Mexico.


Cambridge Analytica: “We did it in Mexico”.

21 March 2018

Via El País (full original article here):

“We did it in Mexico.”

The words one of the chief executives of Cambridge Analytica, the elections consulting firm at the center of a data manipulation plot to boost the candidacy of Donald Trump in the 2018 United States Presidential campaign, are beinning to cast light on the company’s presence in Latin America’s second-largest country. Although Nix — secretly recorded as part of an investigation by British channel Channel 4 — only mentions Mexico once, the statement and the recent revelations of the company’s stategies raises questions about its operations in Mexico, which is preparing to hold its own presidential elections in July. So far there are many more questions than answers.

Records of Cambridge Analytica in Mexico date back to last year, when the Bloomberg news agency uncoverd a company representative in Mexico offering services in this years national elections. One of the executives of the company argued at that time that Mexican citizens were “indecisive and unmotivated”, which opened up for the company a “great opportunity” to “convince people to vote”.

Bloomberg also reported that another representative of the company had begun a year earlier recruiting data analysts in Mexico, appearing on social networks as a member of a firm that would be “the mastermind behind the Mexican elections.” At the time, according to the US agency, it was reported that the executives of the agency in Mexico were in contact with politicians and people close to the PAN.

In Mexico, the performance of Cambridge Analytica has been marked by discretion and stealth, characteristics of which its key executives boasted in the Channel 4video. On its website, for example, offices are mentioned in New York, Washington, London, Brazil and Malaysia, but none in Mexico. It remains to be seen if the company also used in the Latin American country the methods that caused one of the biggest global scandals of illegal data use.

see also: “Foreign Intrigue… Cambridge Analytica in Mexico?” Mexfiles, 24 January 2018

Mangroves and mines

21 March 2018


First the good news:

Via El Economista comes a rare victory for environmental protection… FONATUR (the tourism development agency) was seeking to turn one of the remaining coastal mangrove forests in Cancun into a “diversifed real estate development… increase in the influx of domestic and foreign tourists, and increase consumption of tourist services in the area of ​​influence”.

That was before 113 children asked the court for an injunction to stop the project, citing irrepreprable damage to their right to grow up in a healthy enviroment.  Pish, said FONATUR:   they were already sold off some lots  (who would buy swampland anyway?) and besides, the decided to ignore their own environmental impact statement for the usual reason … it would create jobs (for plumbers and swampland real estate salesmen?).   And besides, children are to be seen, not heard.

Not quite.  The children were heard… by the Mexican Supreme Court.  They dismissed FONATUR’s argument that there was no way to confirm that the 113 kids actually were residents of Cancun by noting that it was easy enough to check… ask their parents.  The court further ruled that the kids were right… and do have the right to a healthy enviroment.  At least for now.

And, the bad news… via the indespensible for anyone interested in Latin America, especially those who invests money, or lives here, or somehow uses Latin America resources (i.e., everybody), the mining investor site, Inka Kola News (Peru):

First Majestic (AG) ( decides not to tell us about its cyanide spillage…

…at its newly acquired San Dimas mine in Mexico (ex-Primero), so it falls to this pissant blog. According to the Mexican environment people, on March 11th (six freakin’ days ago) First Majestic was trucking cyanide solution out of the mine when the truck ran out of fuel (weird in itself). The truck stopped on a hill and it turns out that one of the taps was either faulty (service dept?) or had been badly closed by the company. The result was the loss of 245l of cyanide solution, which then ran down 245 metres to the local river and proceeded to kill no end of fish when it entered the river.

Another Canadian mining company, winning friends and influencing people in Mexico.

Catarino Garza… an unfinished revolution?

19 March 2018

In September 1891, Catarino E. Garza issued a statement, declaring that the citizens of Mexico were “treated like ‘despicable slaves,’ that the Mexican government was plagued by ‘frightful corruption,’ that freedom of the press had been squashed, and that the Constitution of 1857 had been betrayed.” Garza called on Mexicans to “rise in mass in the name of liberty, the constitution and the public conscience.”

— Wikipedia

Garza was a Mexican citizen, who after failed attempts at shop-keeping and a selling Singer sewing machines , learned printing, and began a career as a newspaper editor on the Texas side of the Rio Bravo/Rio Grande. As a newsman in an era when newspapers were the primary media source, and Spanish-language papers on the US side of the border felt free to openly criticize the Mexican government, Garza had been bitterly attacking Porfiro Diaz for years: ever since Don Porfirio had “unconstitutionally” run for a second term. Diaz had come to the presidency following a coup against the previous government 1876 claiming re-election to the Presidency as his rationale. Then “elected” when the interim president stepped down to make way for him, Diaz “allowed” his minion, Manuel Gonzales, to hold the office for a term… during which the Constitution was changed (at Diaz’ request) to allow the election of Presidents for non-consecutive terms. During that second term (1884-1888), Diaz got the constitution changed once again, to allow for re-election under “special circumstances” … which he managed to find in 1888… which was what Garza particularly railed against in his paper. And earned him more than one attempt on his life by hitmen (including, in one instance, a US customs inspector) and his decision to go into open rebellion.

Despite being a “mutualist” — favoring cooperatives over state or corporate enterprises, Garza had support from wealthy Mexicans living on both sides of the border, when he, and about 50 followers crossed into Mexico in April 1891 to being a guerrila campaign against the Diaz dictatorship. Although the Garzistas had support among the rural populace, his rebels were ruthlessly pursued by the Mexican Army and forced to retreat into Texas in 1892. Although the rebels were able to hang on for another year, mounting raids into Mexico, the rebellion failed, and Garza fled to Panama (then part of Colombia) where, in an abortive uprising against the Colombian government, he was killed in 1895.

Although a footnote to both U.S. and Mexican history, maybe we should be taking a closer look at the life and thoughts of Catarino E. Garza.  While there are a few academic dissertations on Garza and the “Garza War”, very little is available for the common reader.  But that is no reason to ignore his stuggle.   It might be highly relevant to US Mexican relations beyond the historic effect it had in tightening border security back in the 1890s.

After all, the putative next president of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, is a student of Garza.  AMLO recently wrote Catarino Erasmo Garza Rodríguez: ¿Revolucionario o bandido?  (Planeta, 2016… link is to a US “Kindle” version). Although AMLO disengeniously claims he is only bringing to light the story of a Mexican patriot, in  discussing Garza, Lopez Obrador seems to be obliquely signaling his own issues and agenda. Little is said about Garza’s mutualist theories, but as a theory that proposes giving more power to the workers, and curbing that of large scale capital, it might offer a clue as to the economic reforms an AMLO administration might pursue.   That the author justifies Garza’s revolt by pointint to the Diaz regime’s willingness to give foreigners control of natural resouces, it’s tight political control over the media and its dependence on military forces for internal control suggest other possible goals for the putative next administrion.  At the same time, the regime’s cavalier attitude towards democracy and constitutionalism is condemned, as is Diaz’ about-face when it comes to presidential elections.  This, it seems to me, is key:  if this is what the author sees as Garza’s most legitimate issue, one can presume he sees extention of presidential power as something to be eschewed… putting a damper on the campaign to paint AMLO as a wannabe dictator.

Vote for “you know who”…

18 March 2018

ONLY IN MEXICO… or, in this election anyway.

One of the more unusual (and very Mexican) politican ads I’ve ever seen … or non-ads, since we are in the inter-campaign period, and campaigning can’t begin until the first of April, nor can ads mention a specific party or candidate, A “niña bien”… a coddled rich girl who follows convention… rebels. Along with the priest, pleads for a change in the country. Naturally, the “thing” for conventional upper middle class families is to vote the party line. But… perhaps its time for a change, and a vote for “you know who” (presumably not the PAN-PRD-MC candidate):

Just the facts, señores

13 March 2018

#Verificado2018 — a collaborative reporting effort of over 70 media groups and journalists from across Mexico working together to fact-check, verify, and debunk claims and news content related to the upcoming 1 July 2018 national elections.

#Verificado2018 combines the two approaches — with journalists fact checking and debunking content and claims in the run up to the elections, and a large scale election day effort to cover the electoral process in real-time. and on facebook.

The Google Poll?

13 March 2018

Citibank analists make a case that Ricardo Anaya’s campaign is heating up, and AMLO’s is losing ground based on the number or recent google searches.  As Citibank researchers note:

Google search trends better predicted who would win during the last two Mexican Presidential elections than did voter intention polls. More searches for PAN’s Felipe Calderon in 2006 and PRI’s Enrique Pena Nieto in 2012 accurately predicted they would win the presidency even as polls underestimated the candidates’ leads, the analysts said.

While the bankers caution that the rise in the number of people searching out information on Anaya could be looking for more information on the recent allegations of money laundering by the PAN-PRD fusion candidate, one should also remember that “twice is happenstance”.  There was no revolution in 2010, as so many predicted based the coincidence of Mexico’s war of Independence having started in 1810 and its Revolution in 1910.  Nor, with AMLO searches (which might include searches for “AMLO”, “Lopez Obrador”, or “Obrador”) still vastly outnumber the searches for “Anaya”.



(Michelle Davis, Google Searches May Signal Trouble for Mexico Election Favorite, 12 March 2018, Bloomberg Technology)