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False prophets … for fun and profit?

22 November 2017

(via El Diario, 22 November 2017):

Crime or not?  Just weird.

Social networks and signs outside Catholic churches are warning of false priests and bishops serving the Diocese of SanJuan Teotihuacán.

“Some people who practice some celebrations and rites of the Catholic Church, are not appointed ministers,” said Rafael Mendoza, a parish priest in Acuexcomac.

Photo: Excelsior

A parishioners named Joaquin Reyes said he heard about these false priests allegedly sacraments on behalf of the Catholic Church.

“We have already heard something, both through social networks and during Mass, and those of us in the community have been warned about these people. We need to be careful and not surprised by these false priests. They say there is even a false bishop working, giving the sacraments without any validity or support from the Church.”

Parishioners have begun to distribute photographs of the false priests to their neighbors and asked them to take precautions, fearing the fake clerics may be part of a criminal gang.

“As a Catholic-Christian community it affects us because we do not know if the documents they carry are false. Above all, there is a risk of, for example, having them officiate masses in private homes that will let them see how people live, so they can rob the house,” added parishioner Angel García Pichardo.

At the same time, the local Catholic community recognizes that these false priests take advantage of people’s haste and desperation to have a service performed.

“They are people who play with the faith of others, because sometimes we Catholics are a little impatient with our priests- We do not like to wait, and want the fast service to marry our daughter baptize our child, have a first communion service, and these false people take advantage of this situation, “said Joaquín.

The Catholic Church warned that the sacraments provided by false priests have no validity, so they urged the population to denounce these people before the authorities.


I wonder if there is any legal change that can be brought for impersonating a priest.  I suppose if they’ve charged for their services, it might be fraud, but a marriage service performed by a cleric has no legal validity anyway, so I assume the “crimes” are theological and out of the hands of the state.  I don’t know if a believer attends a false service in good faith, he or she is expected to have a “do-over” or not.  That is, do you need to make up the masses you missed, hold another funeral for granny, or go back to confession and do your penance again. 


What’s up with NAFTA?

20 November 2017

Apparently, not a lot. Mexican (and Canadian) proposals are being shunted aside, although so far, negotiators have avoided getting bogged down in politics.

EU deja sin respuesta propuestas mexicanas sobre TLCAN (Susana González G., La Jornada, 20 November 2017)… my translation

The United States has not responded, and has been unwilling to respond to counter-proposals presented by Mexico in the fifth round of the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In particular, the United States negotiators have no response to Mexican proposals for a regular review and revision of the treaty every five years, according to Moisés Kalach, coordinator of the Strategic Consultative Council of International Negotiations (CCENI).

“The Mexican team is putting forth proposals and counter- proposals, but the United States is not responding. There are some chapters where apparently there had been progres, but we have not seen any willingness [to discuss the matter] on the part of the American team. That is one of the important things that the Mexican team reports to us, “he said.

On the eve of the conclusion of the fifth round, Kalach said that three chapters could be closed, those related to telecommunications, regulatory improvement and sanitary and phytosanitary measures.

With two outstanding issues – those related to automotive content and the U.S. trade deficit – there is strong disagreement. There is no counter-proposal” on the part of Mexico, because the Mexican automotive industry considers it unacceptable to increase the U.S. content [on automobiles sold in the United States] to 50 percent, so [the negotiators] can only continue to exchange information for analysis.

“As of today there is no possibility of changing or moving the rules of origin in the automotive sector,” he said, nor can the United States proposal to have agricultural products regulated by the seasonal calendar of the United States acceptable. “It simply can not be done,” he remarked.
Matches between Canada and Mexico

He said that for the time being, two more rounds are foreseen for the renegotiation: in December in the United States and in January in Canada, but these rounds will need to be ratified by ministries in all three countries. .
He stressed that the proposal to build in a “setset clause”, which would imply a “sudden death” to the treaty, as was proposed by the United States was rejected by both Mexican and Canadian negotiators.

The chapter relating to energy production has also found agreement between the Mexicans and Canadians, although when it comes to labor issues, the agreement is not on wage levels but on labor standards.

Even so, the businessman said that the process “is flowing relatively well” and attributed it to the fact that negotiations have been at a technical level and, therefore, “has been less politicized”.

The Mexican business sector remains calm, Kalach said, because Donald Trump has been occupied with discussions of domestic tax reform, taking the political pressure off the NAFTA negotiating teams.

Nonetheless, Kalach maintained that there is always the risk of obstructions in the negotiations or that the whole treaty will be scrapped. On the other hand, he points to continued support for NAFTA on the part of businessmen and legislators of that United States, even within Trump’s Republican Party.
While the proposals, he said, have turned out to be much more complex and may perhaps require an intermediate or mini-rounds of talks, it is difficult to determine if the renegotiation will end before March. “It is difficult to speculate”, he said, “the important thing being quality, not speed, even if it was initially believed that a rapid process was possible”.

Kalach explained that if there is no progress on the technical issues, then the heads of the negotiating teams will intervene, bumping up the talks to the ministerial level.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

20 November 2017

Pancho Villa and Pascual Orozco at the Elite Confectionary (211 Mesa Street, El Paso, Texas), in May 1911. The two were still allies at the time in the battle for Juarez. Madero had ordered the two to hold off on attacking Juarez, but the two comandantes had gone ahead anyway, directing the battle from the ice cream store where Madero couldn’t contact them.

The ice-cream store was Villa’s home turf… he neither smoked nor drank, and forbade his troops to drink. Ice cream, however, was something different. He was known to wash down a baseball sized scoop of vanilla covered in chocolate with an extra-large order of strawberry soda.

(source: El Paso Public Library; David Dorado Roma, Ringside Seat To A Revolution (El Paso: Cinco Puentos Press, 2004)

Cuarenta y uno ( y uno más)

19 November 2017

I either knew, or forgot,that yesterday was the anniversary of the “Baile de los cuarenta y uno”… the 41 Dance of 18 November 1901.  This was the raid on a drag ball (about half the men were in women’s clothing), that ended with the men … who were mostly from prominent Mexican City families… were arrested and “sold” as convict laborers for Oaxacan tobacco farms or into labor battalions for the army.

41 is a odd number, and if it was a formal ball (drag or otherwise), someone was missing a dance partner.  The missing person was said to have been Ignacio de la Torre… just coincidentally Porfirio Diaz’ son-in-law, and uncle by marriage to the then Mexico City police chief, Felix Diaz.  While Ignacio’s sexual preferences were well known, he kept a relatively low profile the rest of his life, though he showed a particular interest in a handsome, well-dressed horse trainer he later hired.  A fellow named Emiliano Zapata.  No evidence that Zapata had much in common with de la Torre beyond an interest in horses, but still, Zapata was thin, neat, and a snappy dresser.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Cuarenta y uno, more than a century later, is still Mexico City slang for a gay man.

Is this what it’s said to be?

19 November 2017

This is a 1914 photo of Victoriano Huerta, sitting in the back of a car.  But I’m not sure, as has been claimed, that he’s smoking a joint.

La Raza and race

12 November 2017

Officially, since Independence, Mexico has done everything it can to erase the differences between “race” in favor of creating “la raza” — the people.  But, with ethnic identity movements gaining momentum in recent years, there is more awareness by people of their own “race”… for good or ill.  I tend to think the recent interest in racial identity — as evidenced by the inclusion of “Afrodescendiente” (of African descent) in the latest census — has much to do with U.S. influence.

Given that, historically, the Bourbon “casta” system of racial classification was used to prevent people from rising above their assigned station in life, and such classification was considered inherently unfair… and most people, regardless of what their casta was — as long as they couldn’t claim to be pure European — claimed to be mestizo. And, the Afrodescendientes, as a separate community, were forgotten.  That much of the Afrodesceniente community* has been historically neglected may have as much to do with geographical and cultural isolation as racism, but the new ethnic awareness does have positive results, at least identifying areas where more resources are required.

No one believes that racism has disappeared from Mexico, or anywhere else in the Americas (or on planet Earth). But, “race” being a cultural construct in the first place, how do we write about it, when trying to interpret one culture’s constructs for another culture?

Gods, Gachupines and Gringos was written for a U.S. audience.   The U.S. concept of “race” not being exactly the same as the Mexican (or general “Latin American”) sense of raza has presented something of a conundrum.  U.S. critics have noted that I “brown-wash” the whole question of race in the first edition, in accepting the prevailing theory that Mexicans have largely assimilated into the mestizo majority.

Although mestizo simply means “mixed”, it’s usually understood to mean a person of European and Indigenous American ancestry. It’s not a 50-50 proposition.  Is a person of 90% indigenous and 10 percent European “mestizo”?  I’d argue yes, if the person’s culture was that of the Mexican mainstream, and no if the person’s culture was indigenous .  But, it’s much more complicated than that… depending on what part of Mexico one comes from, people likely to also have some Sub-Saharan African, Arab, or East Asian ancestry as well.

Writing for a U.S. audience, what race a historical figure is matters a little more to me while working on GGGV2.0   While I mention that this or that figure was “Afro-Mexican” or that non-European communities like the Chinese and Koreans have played a significant role in various developments, records aren’t always clear as to how the person in question considered him or herself.  Sometimes it’s a toss-up.  The 19th century novelist Guillermo Preito  was, or wasn’t, Afro-Mexican.  It’s interesting that he was the grandson of Padre Morelos (who was described as mestizo, but was at least partially Afro-Mexican) and… having modeled much of his own writing on the Afro-French novelist, Alexandre Dumas, perhaps his ethnicity (or mixed ethnicity) is of some significance.

This video, from “Masaman” deals with the same problem, from the U.S. side of the border:


*Surprisingly, while the Costa Chica (in Guerrero State) and Oaxacan Afro-Mexico community has below average educational and earning levels for their state, Afro-Mexicans in Veracruz and Tabasco have higher educational and earning levels than average.  (Mexico’s Black Population)

One way ticket, please

8 November 2017

The Metro is still the best way to get around town.  And, yes, there is a station at a cemetery.  (Actually, the family said they were just too poor to rent a hearse).