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Amnesty and drugs… just say maybe

12 January 2018

Andres Manuel López Obrador’s proposal to give amnesty to narcotics trafficers is, as you would expect, controversial. An estimated 400,000 Mexicans are, to one degree or another, involved in the industry… everything from smugglers to farmers and sharecopping marijuana growers to money counters to lookouts. Obviously, they can’t all be jailed, nor perhaps,do they need to be… although opponents of the proposal (in other words, every presidential candidate who is not AMLO) will focus on more villainous types, the hit-men and “drug lords”… who have more sympathy than one might expect.

Parametría has just released a survey of attitudes towards amnesty, and the narcotics industry, that offer several surprises. Opinion is nearly split on whether an amnesty would lessen or increment violence…30 percent of those polled taking one of those two positions. But another 30% say it would make no difference one way or the other, the rest undecided. Depending on how you chose to read those figures, 60% are not opposed to amnesty, or are.

Given the results to other questions on the survey, one suspects people would favor amnesty: 84% believe that it is not wrong to sell or produce drugs, 73% think that drug trafficking is a necessary evil and half or more than half of respondents said that drug trafficking generates jobs, and at the very least contributes to the communities in which traffickers live.

57 percent of those polled would tolerate the drug industry (legal or otherwise) if there was an end to violence, while only 23 percent support a violent continuation of the “war on drugs”.

 

Animal Politica

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Salvador Borrego Escalante (1915 -2018)

10 January 2018

It’s said the good die young.  Salvador Borrego was 102 years old when he died Monday.

Interviewed in 2011, Borrego was especially proud of being the first  Holocaust denier… and being the author of the best selling Holocaust denialist/Nazi apology revisionist history of all time:  Derrota Mundial.  First published in 1953, 11 editions and 48 printings later,   Borrego’s claim is that Nazi  Germany was defeated not by the Allies,but by a “judeo-masonic conspiracy”.  In his second edition (with a forward by the disgraced José Vasconcellos) in 1954 he first advanced the theory that Jews inflated the number of Nazi victims in order to receive a massive indemnity based on the number of victims.

While also wrote a glowing biography of Hitler (Pintor, Soldado, Fuehrer), and an  apologia for the Waffen SS,  Borrego’s favorite enemy was the United States.  His one book in English (Puzzling Neighbors) blames Mexican Masons, in cahoots with US Masons for all ails Mexico.  Jews, masons, capitalists, marxists … to Borrego, they were all part of the same conspiracy, the same forces that kept Mexico from being great again.

Borrego was not alone when he began his career in the late 1930s.  The failed Cristero Rebellion, led by traditionalist Catholics, had left embittered Cristeros who were unwilling to lay down their arms into joining forces with the openly pro-Nazi “Gold Shirts” in joining Saturnino Cedillo’s doomed attempt at one last shot of overthrowing the Revolutionary State by armed uprising in 1938.  Unable to win militarily, the Fascists turned to politics and the media. In politics, the hard-core joined the new Synarchist movement, or the Catholic PAN party (which did, eventually, become a bigger tent conservative and Capitalist party, presently the second largest in the Republic).  In the media, young fascists like Borrego found a home in the pages of the rabidly anti-American Excelsior. 

However, between the Cardenas Administration’s anti-fascism and Cardenas and his more conservative successor, Manuel Avillo Camacho both looking for better relations with the United States, Fascists and Fascist-friendly media were pressured (especially after Mexico entered the “War Against Nazi-fascism” in May 1942) to force out columnists like Borrego.  While he still had something of a career, working for over 35 publications as an editor or reporter, mostly for the El Sol chain (he would later write a biography of the chain’s founder, José García Valseca), Borrega would never be the type of journalist who is invited to Los Pinos, or appears on television talk shows.  His 40 or so books, self-published or under the imprint of the Catholic publisher, Editorial Jus, on Fascism, anti-masonry, anti-liberation theology, and… in his later years, anti-feminism, anti-lgbt rights… occupied the rest of his life, with occasional appearances to rightist groups (including, much to the embarrassment of its national leadership, at a PAN youth conference organized by neo-Nazis).

For most Mexicans, it was a surprise in recent years to learn he was still alive.  Unfortunately he was.  Neo-nazis of the usual variety found in Latin America were the intended readers of Borrego’s badly printed, cheap ouvre.  They may be a danger to some of us on the streets, but the real danger to all of us comes from those who tolerated Borrego, even if they claimed to have found his traditionalist Catholicism and ultra-nationalism extreme, still have influence in public life.

Never say anything bad about the dead.  He’s dead.  Good.

HELL NO, I’m not going to provide links to Borrego’s works!

AMLO and the PRI

9 January 2018

Translated from “AMLO-PRIÍSTA” (La Cabaza de Villa, 8 January 2018) with the permission of author Pedro Salmerón.

 

“The director of the National Indian Institute has became a bit of a mythical figure in the region. Everyone knows that he can only be found in his office between seven and eight in the morning. After that, he’s out supervising field projects. I had the opportunity to observe his working method. He was sitting in his office in the middle of a crowd presenting him with written complaints. The director is 26 years old and acts as if there was no time to lose. The complaints were resolved with the greatest attention and the greatest possible respect. Efficiently, in a word “.

AMLO, ca. 1980

So wrote Polish anthropologist Irena Majchrzak in 1988 about her experience in Tabasco in 1979-1980, when Andrés Manuel López Obrador was a newly emerging regional leader of a nascent opposition movement that Majchrzak was apparently not aware of. The anthropologist talked about his work when there was not particular reason to make him look good, or praise the young bureaucrat. It is a disinterested and moving portrait.

The enemies of Andrés Manuel, who often resort to gross exaggerations, or simply repeat the cliché that he “was with PRI” ignore what type of PRI-ista the 23 year old was. Fresh out of the University, he joined the 1976 electoral campaign of the poet Carlos Pellicer [then running as an “external candidate for the Senate] , and from 1977 to 1982 served as regional director of the INI [National Indigenous Institute, for its initials in Spanish], working in the manner the Polish writer described. To simply say that AMLO was “with the PRI” also omits to mention that during this era (1946-1988) many of the best Mexicans, from scientists, artists and intellectuals to honest politicians (there were some), were PRI or worked for the PRI.

AMLO’s enemies also omit the reason he broke with the PRI, after serving as the Tabasco, state party president (1982-1983) at the beginning of the governorship of his former professor, Enrique González Pedrero. When a documented attempt to democratize the PRI was blocked by the “machine”, González Pedrero relocated him to a less political position, “officio mayor” [basically civil service director] in which AMLO served exactly one day (August 15 to 16, 1983) before sending a resignation letter outlining his principles.

He focused on self-searching and finishing outstanding tasks, only nominally a PRI member until he joined with Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas in 1987-1988.

That is history. You can look it up: Héctor Alejandro Quintanar, “Las raíces del movimiento regeneración nacional”, Ítaca, 2017. Originally masters’ thesis, FCPyS-UNAM.

 

The Russians are coming… ho-hum

7 January 2018

Coming from the country that has never been exactly subtle when it comes to trying to “influence” elections here, this is rich. Regeneración, 6 January 2018 (my translation)

Once again accusations are being leveled against Russia, said to be attempting to influence yet another foreign election.

This time the accusations come from General H.R. McMaster, White House National Security Adviser , who claims that Moscow will intervene in this year’s Mexican elections, but does not give any details to support his statement.

In mid-December, Aristegui Noticias reported that McMaster said the United States had “perceived” that Russia would seek to intervene in the Mexican elections.

The counselor said that the objective of this alleged intervention is to “polarize societies and cause a crisis of confidence,” adding that this “can be seen already in the campaigns in Mexico,” but did not provide any details.
“With Russia we are increasingly concerned about these sophisticated campaigns of subversion, disinformation and propaganda. Theyn have the cyber tools to do it,” McMaster said at a Jamestown Foundation conference.

Along with these US accusations, some political commentators in Mexico also suggested that “Russian hackers” could influence the results of elections here. For some reason, RT (the Russian news service) responded that similar accusations have been raised over other elections, wth claims that “Russian hackers were responsible for the victory of Donald Trump in 2016,; that they also caused Brexit that same year; they started the independence movement in Catalonia; they intervened in the Netherlands; they influenced the elections in Germany and France … ”

REGENERACIÓN noted at the time that types of statements, despite not being based on evidence, have become a kind of wildcard that political actors use to evade responsibility for electoral results not matching their expectations.

On the other hand, the media expert Jenaro Villamil, has said the real “ghost” that various politicians call “Russian influence” is “the failure of a generation of politicians who after the 2008-2009 financial crisis either could not, or did not want to read the messages sent by Greeks and Spaniards caught by the collapase, or by the denizens of the suburban London and Paris who know themselves excluded from the “European utopia”.

It might e worth noting that the Jamestown Foundation was set up to provide a sinecure for Soviet Bloc defectors, and to pitch their various memoirs to major publishers. It has close ties to both the CIA and to known Russophobes in the foreign policy “establishment”.

That said, and accepting that Russians might have actually sent out various tweets and facebook messages during various recent political campaigns, one has to ask… so what? I don’t see that there’s any evidence that Russian hackers had any real influence on any elections elsewhere. And, while Mexico’s recent administrations have bent over backwards to support US policy, Russian relations are … so far… a non-issue here. The US is somewhat concerned about one of our presidential candidates (and we know which one that is) who has more to worry about US intervention than a few tweets and posts from Moscow. And, as it is, given the candidate’s overwhelming led in the polls right now, Russian interference with the other candidates would be counterproductive

But, as an excuse for the probable outcome of the election… blaming the Ruskies is a natural for those US politicians who want to ask “who lost Mexico” (which was never theirs to lose in the first place, natch).

Raw deal

6 January 2018

Via EFE:

Washington, January 5 (EFE) .- The US Department of State today approved the sale of an arms package valued at 98.4 million dollars to strengthen its security by supporting a “strategic partner”.

The package, which must still be approved by the United States Congress, includes the sale of 6 Harpoon Block II surface missiles, 23 Block II Rolling Airframe tactical missiles, and 6 lightweight torpedoes.

“The proposed sale will strengthen our foreign policy, as well as the national security of the United States, by supporting a strategic partner,” the State Department said in a statement today.

The State Department release said that Mexico could use this weaponry to fight against drug trafficking organizations by strengthening the capacity of its Navy.

According to the latest official data released by the United States government, in 2016, Congress approved the sale of weapons to Mexico worth 686.08 million dollars. That same year, Washington granted its neighbor of the south 100 million dollars of aid to fight against drug trafficking.

I’m not sure buying missiles manufactured by the only country that is a potential military threat to Mexico is all that good an idea. The missiles mentioned are for taking out enemy warships, and there’s only one navy (on either of the Mexican seacoasts) that’s in any position to attack here.

Oh… but we can use it for “drug trafficking”, which I guess means blowing up our own ships bound for eager consumers of some of our products which will just go by sea if the great wall of Trump ever goes up… or are we expected to start a war with some third country, blowing a merchant ship from, say Colombia, out of the water? Predator drones, capable of targeting gun dealers in Arizona and New Mexico might be more useful to us right now

What I really question is that last paragraph. Gee, we’re given 100 million bucks to buy close to 700 million bucks in new hardware (installation and maintenance not included). What a deal… NOT!

“And bad mistakes ‒ I’ve made a few”

5 January 2018

With no time for losing… the PRI will keep fighting… to ridiculous ends.

Local PRI candidate for Benito Juarez delegate(CDMX), Esteban Ruiz, like  other political candidates, revels in celebrity endorsements. Like…uh…Freddy Mercury, who being both dead and British, really isn’t likely to be all that much help to the PRI.

Neither is Michael Jackson.

Raising Hell outside the Cathedral (Oaxaca)

3 January 2018

Father Miguel Ángel Morelos García died last week in San Francisco Telixtlahuaca on the 43rd anniversary of his ordination. Nothing particularly newsworthy, but this is Oaxaca, where anything can set off a protest… even the death of a elderly country pastor.

Since January 2004, when José Luis Chávez Botello became Archbishop, 39 priests have died.  Considering that they were elderly men, that shouldn’t surprise anyone, but… the old priests were overwhelmingly clerics in indigenous communities, while not necessarily “liberation theologians”, out of tune with Chávez Botello’s intended return to a more traditional clergy.   With conservative bishops having controlled the diocese since 1999 (Chávez Botello, one of Pope John-Paul II’s “traditionalist” appointments has made it his mission to wipe out the influence of Liberationist bishop Bartolomé Carrasco Briseño,who had died in 1999.  Carrasco’s replacement,the  extremely conservative Hector Gonzales Martinez, later transferred to Durango, never had the time or inclination to remove the liberationists from their pulpits or to recruit replacement priests more to his taste). While the liberationist priests were able to hold on, they were getting older.  And, in stepped Chávez Botello… who not only has been systematically removing priests who offend his theological sensibilities, but those who dare speak of the flagrant pedophilia scandals that have particularly plagued indigenous communities. The most egregious and public of which was when the dean of the Cathedral was caught in flagrante delecto molesting an altar boy. But the scandal that gives the dissidents some leverage is the Bishop’s refusal to  comply with Vatican requests for information about Fr. Gerardo Silvestre Hernández.  Silvestre was imprisoned for  raping a nine-year old, and he is suspected in  over 100 other cases of child abuse (mostly of indigenous children).  Chávez Botello is said to have known about the abuse, but continued to simply transfer Silvestre from one parish to another.

When parish priests began openly calling for Chávez Botello to retire and even petitioning the Vatican for his removal, the Bishop has responded by transferring  dissident priests to remote parishes.  That some of the dissidents, like the late Fr. Morelos García were already serving… and long serving at that… in those remote parishes meant tearing away traditional community leaders (and men who had integrated themselves into their local community… sometimes on the quiet also having families of their own, accepted by their communities).

Fr. Morelos García, one of those priests who had called for the Bishop’s removal, and had been a long time supporter of various social movements in Oaxaca,  was said to have died of a broken heart when he heard he would be transferred  from his home and replaced by the Bishop’s choice for the pastorate, Fr. Leonel García.

Fr. García may be perfectly fine priest… but the parishioners of San Francisco Telixtlahuaca are not about to accept him with open arms.  Well… one hopes without arms at all, as they’ve occupied the local church properties.  While they held an impressive funeral for their late pastor (with six priests and a band), they’ve also taken to picketing the cathedral in Oaxaca City, demanding not just a new pastor more to their liking, but the immediate removal of the Bishop.

It’s a Oaxacan thing.

Pedro Matías, “Católicos de Oaxaca exigen destitución de arzobispo de Antequera por encubrir pederastas“, Proceso 3 January 2018

Oaxaca archbishop accused of cover-up“, Mexico News Daily, 27 January 2016

Stan Gotlieb, “Hard Times Ahead for Liberation Theologists“, Real Oaxaca, Volume 8, No. 20: December 15, 2003