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How many?

28 November 2022

Whether the demonstation yesterday should be considered a march in support of reforms in the electoral system, a celebration of four years of the “Transformation” or a response to last week’s “march of the fifis”… sold as supporting the status quo (or, more specifically, rejecting proposed changes to the electoral system as “dictatorial”), but better remembered for those marchers who called those supporting the government “indios con patas rajadas” (Indians in ragged pants)… or all of the above… it certainly brought out the people.

By no means only “indians in ragged pants” (though many proudly proclaimed themselves as such), unions, social organizations, politicians on the left, academics, women’s groups, students, workers, etc., etc. etc. came by the…

Thousands… according to Reforma this morning.

Hundreds of thousands… according to the Associated Press.

1.2 Million .. according to the Mexico City government

From the Mexican “mainstream” (read not-pro-AMLO) news stations:

Frida, 12Abril 2009 – 18 Noviembre 2022. D.E.P.

16 November 2022

Rafel Ojeda Durán… the Mexican Secretary of the Navy…personally broke the news of the passing of one of Mexico’s greatest heroines: Frida the rescue dag.

The Labrador Retriever. spent her entire life with the navy, born and died in service, spending her last years in the care of Subgrupo de Control Canina. Having begun her career at 8 months, Frida is credited with finding 12 living persons and recovering 44 bodies, during her active service, on resue missions in Haiti, Ecuador, as well as in Mexico… most notably, after the 19 September 2017 earthquake in Mexico City, when she became an icon … with plush toys, murals, and later a statue erected in her honor.

Good doggie!

The 19th century version of the Ché tee-shirt

11 November 2022

Today being… besides the 104th anniversary of the end of”War to end all wars” (were it that it was), it is also the 205th anniversary of the end of Francisco Xavier Mina, before a firing squad in Pénjamo, Guanajuato.

In 1808, when Mina was 19, eh’d begun a career as a guerilla fighter in his native Navarre, fighting Napoleon’s occupaton forces in Spain. Mina’s force — at least according to apocryphal sources — were the first “guerilla” fighters, or the first to be referred to as such — the term meant as something of an insult… “little soldiers”, ie. amateurs, which they were, being recruited mostly from Mina’s fellow students.

However, they were, like other irrugulars in Spain, effective in eventually forcing out the French (although the English professional army had quite a bit to do with that, too) and restoring Ferdinand VII to the throne. Which was supposed to be a liberation, during Ferdinand’s absence, the junta claiming to be the legitimate Spanish government having pushed through a liberal constitution with a parliament that included colonial representation, like that of “New Spain’s” Fray Serviendo y Mier.

Mina had been a POW of the French at the end of the occupation, but upon release, and Ferdinand’s first act as the new constitutional monarch having been to stage a coup, making himself absolute monarch (it’s good to be king, in his way of thinking) Mina took his crew to Mexico, expanding what had started as liberation for his one coutnry into the anti-clonialist movement of his time.

With the Mexican independence movement not receiving the same sort of foreign support other American anti-colonialist revolts had (the French, Spanish, and Prussians in the United States; the English and Spanish in Haiti; the Haitians and English in Gran Colombia, etc.) Mina was as close to a foeigner fighting for the broader goal of self-dermination of the oppressed colonials as you were going to find in that movement.

And… being young, handsome… and dead… and tee-shirts not invented yet… cheap woodcuts and lithographs of Mina were popular accessories for students and radicals in early 19th century Mexico.

So much for the old “When the US sneezes, Mexico catches pneumona

29 October 2022

Reworked from Enrique Galvan Ochoa’s “Dinero” column of 27 October (2022):

Nationaly and internationaly, the outlook for economic growth is bleak: the pandemic, inflation, high interest rates, war in Ukraine, oil market disorder. In the political field there is a tough struggle between political parties and factions going into the 2024 presidential elction. Clashes in Congress over issues such as militarization and the excessives cost of elections and the [National Elections Commission]. Any of these factors could be a valid justification for the Mexican economy to stagnate or fall into recession. However, the latest Inegi [National Institute for Economic and Geografical Infaormation] report reveals that it grew spectacularly (and unexpectedly) 4.7 percent at an annual rate. In addition, it’s inflation rate has dropped, from 8.7% in September, to 8.5 % today. Compared with OECD countries, it scores well between Turkey’s fearsome 83.5 percent and Japan’s 3. The United States is 8.2. The icing on the cake is the exchange rate: on the northern border, the street value to the dollar fell to 19.35 pesos [from it’s more usual 20.something to the dollar]. The opposite of, in the calculations of the [present administration’s opponents], should have been the worst crisis this country has faced .

What is the reason for the spectacular economic growth reported by the Inegi? In my opinion there are six reasons:

  1. Politics has not contaminated the recovery. Politicians are falling to pieces – over the “Gacamoya leaks” (hacked military documents leaked to the media), “jaguars” (a state governor’s audio recordings of her predecessor from an opposition party presumably exhibiting his corrupt practives), corcholatas (literally “can-openers”, figuatively, the presumptive candidates for the ruling party), party switchers – but there is no negative effect on the real economy.
  2. 2) Employement has more than recovered from pre-pandemic levels. IMSS [Mexican Social Security] reports more than 21 million Mexicans with benefits who go out every day to earn their chops.
  3. 3) Despite high inflation, with gasoline reaching 6.50 dollars a barrel in the United States, our countrymen have not forgotten their roots and have not stopped sending dollars, and this year they will again exceed the record of one trillion (1, pesos (about 5 billion US dollars).
  4. 4) Public investment in infrastructure, especially in the south-southeast of the Republic.
  5. 5) The millions of dollars that arrive at the northern border through nearshoring, the warehouses are exhausted, the recently arrived companies cannot find a place to settle; The United States and Mexico agreed to open a third port of entry in Tijuana, because those in San Ysidro and Otay are saturated.
  6. 6) the government pension program. Note that growth is not based on exports, but on domestic consumption as well. Money that was previously stolen is reaching families. With a pinch of generosity, credit should go to the Secretary of the Treasury, Rogelio Ramírez de la O; Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, for the good tone with which he conducts the relationship with the White House; and former Secretary of Economy Tatiana Clouthier, who prevented open confrontation between the public and private sectors at the beginning of the present administration.

End times for “digital nomads”?

19 October 2022

While it’s only one post, I wonder:

Not to make a big deal of it, but given that Mexico City (and similar “exotic” locales) have been attracting “digital nomads”, creating social conflict in some areas, no one seems to have thought though the long-term viability of the “industry”. That is, of outsourcing to people with no real ties to a place, who may or may not be moving from one place to another, when there are local people can do the same work, offer the same skills sets, and likely to stay where they are.

The garden and the jungle

17 October 2022

Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. spoke at the opening of the European Diplomatic Academy in which he metahorically described Europe as a garden in the midst of a jungle… the latter of which must be “tamed” by the gardener. That “jungle” being the non-European (or non-western) world, if you don’t hear the echoes of colonialism and racism in that, Ben Norton (in his usual high dudgeon) at Multipolarista is willing to set you straiight at great length. The first five or ten minutes should be enough to get his point across, but… Borrell’s metaphor — bone-headed and culturally tone-deaf as it was — fails in another way, showing an even more abysmal (perhaps intentional) misunderstanding of the other.

What sort of garden is Borrell cultivating, anyway? A side effect of the latest tribal war in eastern Europe seems to be to grease the skids on Europe’s decline as a manufacturing and financial center. Perhaps, after 500 years of dominance (starting with the European search for access to the manufacuring centers of India and China… those “jungles” of today), it’s time to re-brand Europe as some bucolic, ornamental, and … while of no utilitarian value… place to take the sights, taking time to smell the flowers. Though… given many of us have a taste for the esthestic appeal of less artifically ordered nature… Europe’s appeal might be limited.

Surely, Borrell meant something more than that… perhaps the European style vegetable garden, with its neat and segregated rows of … ironically, generally vegetables introduced to Europe from our “jungle” countries. Especially in Europe, divided as it sometimes is, into the tomato (from Mexico) and potato (from Peru) cultures (and, in the east, the sunflower… also from Mexico, nations), never realizing that in the “jungles” (an highlands, and forests) of the Americas, such crops depended not on cultivation in disrete rows, but in a more ecologically sound self-contained system… the famous “three sisters” of north america, the integrated plant and animal harvests of the Amazon (don’t forget… when Franciso de Orellana sailed down the Amazon… undoubtedly sewing “garden variety” European diseases along the way… the Amazon was relatively populated, with cities and communities depending on a less labor intensive agricultural system).

That is, of course, to use the “garden” metaphor literally, but figuratively, the European garden has been fertilzed by we “jungle people” since the late 1400s. The spices and manufactured goods of Asia and Africa, the gold looted by the Conquistadors, the crops… and, even the fertilizer to grow those crops (guano) which led to a spectacular population growth in 19th century Europe, fueling their manufacturing economy and providing the cannon fodder for their expansionist armies.

That is to say, the European garden would not exist without exploiting the jungle… in a literal or metaphorical sense. For Borrell to say that it is Europe’s job to prune back, or “tame” the jungle, assumes we jungle dwellers cannot manage our own resources … as if the literal gold of the 16th and 17th centuries, guano… the “white gold” of the 19th century, petroleum, the 20th century’s “black gold” and today’s lithium .. the return of “white gold” were ever theirs to put to use, our job merely to supply them.

Asia seem to be recovering its former role as the planet’s manufacturing centers, while Africa and Latin America have … in the jungle to jungle trade… demanded more equitable terms, something more than a garden. And, where there is trade, there is also a growing awareness of the destruction that came with the European gardeners… as Henry David Thoreau put it, “In wildness is the preservation of the world”… our water, our air, our food dependent on the jungles of the world (quite literally with the Amazon, though it applies to the Canadian and Siberian forests as well) are more important to us than the products turned out by the Europeans.

Perhaps, Europe will be “just” an ornamental garden. Certainly, there were huge innovations and discoveries we owe to them… so, thank you, but African nations can produce their own vaccines, Mexico and Bolivia and build their own lithium batteries, we know how to build cars and solar plants and manage our finances. Let us then, even in the jungles, cultivate our own gardens.

Columbus: “race” and “raza”

10 October 2022

Colonial societies did diverge from their mother countries — but in a more complex and radical manner than imagined within the narrow field of vision once traditional to colonial history. The biggest difference was the unprecedented mixing of radically divergent poeples — Africans, Europeans, and Indians [… and Asians] — under circumstances stressful for all. The colonial intermingling of peoples — and of microbes, plants, and animals from different continents — was unparalled in speed and volume in global history. Everyone had to adapt to a dramatic new world wroght by those codmbinations. In their adaptions to, and borrowings from, one another, they created truly exceptional societies (which is not to say that they were either better or worse than European societies, just new and different).

Alan Taylor, American Colonies (Penguin, 2002)

Of course, Colombus did not “discover” the Americans. Obviously there had been Europeans had crossing the Atlantic … the Viking settlement in Newfoundland, being the best known… and evidence, or rather defended proposals, that African and various Asian sailors had made trips to the “New World” before 1492. And, by inference, there is no reason to assume Americans had not made trips to Eurasia or Africa at some point.

But, none of these earlier contacts had the impact that Colombus’ voyages did. Even if we accept the theories that African or Asian cultures “influenced” one or another American society (which seem to imply just a variation on the theme that American native culture required the “old world” to create their own pyramids, mathematics, governance, etc.), none really had the impact of Colombus… what’s been dubbed the “Colombian exchange”, that mixing of microbes, plants, animals, and peoples that Taylor mentions. The world changed, for better or worse, and we are its heirs.

Previous interchanges, if they happened, were small scale, at most affecting a small community, if they had any impact beyond some trade (and maybe slaughter) in local communities. But, Colombus came just as his own world had also changed, and the change he set us, would change the entire planet.

Aragon’s power was waning at the time. Formerly holding territories as far east as Athens, the Ottomans had pushed them back to southern Italy and the western Mediterrean. Being, as they were, the gateway to western Europe for the Asian and African trade, and having been cut off to access to the “Silk Road” and sea routes through what was now Ottoman controlled territory, and by the Venetians and Genose, Aragon was desperate for a new route to Asia. Allied with Castille though the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella, but having cut their ties to Africa with the Moors driven out of Granada by January of 1492, searching for a new sea route to Asia was a necessity. Portugal was already establishing posts along the African coast, and the possiblity of a route to the west was an intiguing option.

“Spain”… or rather Castille and Aragon… had a few small outposts on the African Mediterrean, and had one western outpost, the Canaries. The other European nations had not yet gotten into the offshore expanionist game, the closest being the English in Ireland. Which, as Taylor would posit, made all the difference. The English looked to REPLACE the Irish with their own peoples, pauperzing, enslaving, or outright massacering the natives, whereas, with the native Canarian peoples — following the initial slaughter and enslavements — having been isolated from the rest of the world for milenia, died en masse. Something seen by the rulers as a disaster, never intending to colonize the islands with their own peoples, but rather… as with the Moors and Jews of Iberia… to remake them (whether they liked it or not) in their own Christian image.

A fool, a monster, or…?

Columbus himself, about whom we know very little (and much of it based on the say-so of American writer, Washington Irving, whose 1828 biography of Columbus, largely defined the myth of the brave Italian explorer, that until relatively recently was accepted as “gospel truth) but his recent reputation is that of a monstrous, greedy, psycopath best forgetten… or a figure to be deplored for having (all on his own?) ruined an equally mythical earthly paradise though his own bumbling and incompetence.

“Knowing Better” in his 2017 video (In Defense of Columbus: An Exaggerated Evil “debunking” some of the more common counter-myths, and in his 2020 Acknowledging the Past | Columbus in Context gives a fairly accessable overview of Columbus as a historical figure. What we blame him for is being a late medieval figure, imposing the political and economic system he knew… serfdom for the “natives” ruled by the conquerors. And, for being a few hundred years early in understanding infectious diseases or even the existence of microbes.

And… being in the pay of the Spanish crown…

As mentioned before, there were logical reasons “Spain” was sponsored Columbus’ voyages. ·Although he died still believing he had reached Asia, it was evident, even by 1510 that wherever the Spanish were, there was more and more land to be absorbed. And, at a time when nation-states were still in their infancy, the prevailing concept of a nation… a “race” … being that of a single people, with a common ideology (in their day, religion) under a single ruler.

One can’t say the Spanish experience (hoping to turn what remained of the native Canarians into standard issue Spanish peasants) or that of the English (kill all the Irish you can, and replace them with English peasants) would in any way be acceptable today, or where they do, call up unpleasant reminders of the one united as “Ein reich, Ein volk, Ein Fûhrer!”

The Cosmic Race

What we commemorate on 12 October is less the date that a European skipper happened to land in the Caribbean in 1492, than something on the calendar we can point to and say, with some certainty, that THIS was the beginning of who we are today. It’s not a celebration, but an acknowledgement that the change happened. But how the change happened, and what the effects were and are is something that requires more than just a day to remember (with disgust, regret, or pride) a single person.

One of the many charges against Columbus is that he took slaves… something Europeans had been doing to Africans (or, more specifically, Moors) in Iberia for centuries, while Moors took European slaves. But with the massive deaths from disease and over-work of the native population (as in the Canaries), “importing” sub-Saharan Africans was seen (alas, by Las Casas) as a reasonable alternative to bolster the work force. And this is what got me thinking about this.

I’d recently had an exchange with a Canadian woman working in her country’s immigration resettlement office, who claimed to have a degree in Latin American history, who adamantly claimed slaves in Spain… based on their “race”… were always enslaved, and enslaved for life, whereas those in English colonial and post-colonial society were emancipated. Considering that with the exception of Cuba, slavery ended in all the Spanish colonial and post-colonial possessions long before it disappeared in the English ones, I couldn’t take her too seriously, although it did remind me of Taylor’s book (quoted at the beginning) about the different paths different colonial powers took following Columbus, and blamed on Colombus for imposing on the Americas.

While true that Isabella and later Spanish rules (and even that rascally Pope Alexander VI… an Argonese no less) condemned indigenous slavery (at least for those who accepted the tenants of the “one true faith”) and Paul III’s “Sublemis Deus” (1537) held that even “pagans” had a right to their freedom,.. all widely ignored despite occasional moves by both the state and the Inquisition to prevent taking indignous people as slaves, African slavery was another matter.

However, and it doesn’t make it right, but the Spanish were not the ones capturing and “importing” the slaves. First the Portugese, and later the English had the exclusive rights to capture and sell human beings in Spanish colonies. And, in Spanish (as well as later French) colonial systems, the Catholic Church accepted that slaves — being human — had “free will”, and as such, could — and did — choose their own partners, who likely as not were free persons (for the simple reason that male slaves outnumbered female slaves) whose children were not slaves. And, especially in Mexico, where free labor was much more available, slave-holding was not particularly profitable, and except in export industries (mining and a few cash crops like tobacco), it was more efficient and cost-effictive to depend on rotas of “encomienda” workers, or “reparimientos” (forced labor by indigenous communities as a form of taxation).

Not to say that slavery, or forced labor was “better” or even less harsh in Spanish, as opposed to English, colonial possessions, only that slave and free were not always exclusive categories. People being people, the “color line” of the English blurred over the generations, moreso when Asian and poor Spaniard workers were added in.

Unlike the English who … especially after discovering the delights of the 18th century’s version of cocaine (i.e. sugar) found a rationale for importing slaves on a massive scale into the Caribbean (after disposing of the inconvenient native peoples) which would only be semi-emancipated about the same time as the new Latin American nations were abolishing the practice (and, it might be noted slavery continued in British Honduras, today’s Belize, into the 1850s, and the United States until 1865).

Even with emancipation though, racial segregation persisted. While endless discussions have focused on Spain’s “casta” system, it needs to be noted this only came about in the 1740s, under the influence of the “enlightment” Borbon dynasty… at a time when the Europeans were obsessed with classifying the natural world. My sense has always been that the “Casta paintings” of the era were souveneirs purchased by wealthy Spaniards to send back to friends or relations at home to show the “exotica” of the Americas. For one thing, nearly all surviving examples are from Spanish collections, and oil paintings were not something likely to be purchased by middle or working class people. Nor, does it appear, the “criollos” (allegedly of “pure” European descent, though through payment of a fee, or out of pure ignorance by those doing the classifications… generally the parish priest … who was, or wasn’t any particular casta was a matter of conjecture) were unlikely to see anything “exotic” or strange about mixed-“race” families.

Partly due to differences in religous ideology (the Catholic “free will” of the French, Spanish and Portuguese and the Calvinist “predestination” more associated with the English and Dutch), partly to economic necessity, and partially out of naive attempts to classify humanity like sub-species of birds or lichens, racial heirachies became normalized in the Americas. Although, here in Mexico, the “founding fathers” like Morelos would call for the abolition of the “casta” system in favor of classifying all people in Mexico as simple Mexicans (or, for him, “Americans”) and in the 20th century, José Vasconcellos, in his “Raza Cosmica” propsed considering the people’s of the Americas as a mix of all, and its own “race”… those heirachies exist and cause incalulable harm.

At least in the English-speaking world, where “race” is a discrete category, racism is more obvious when it appears. In Mexico, as in other parts of Latin America, not so much. The 60 years of “offical” castas never went away, and its obvious that a güero holds a higher position than a moreno oscuro in the workplace (and, too ofen, with family affections) while those on the peripheries of the raza cosmica… the indigenous, east Asian, and Afro-Mexicans… are even more excluded. It’s not something easily overcome, and something Mexico and Latin America has yet to come to grips with although the most recent Presidential grito received a resounding return on his call for “Death to Racism”.

And that… Muere al racismo! … would go a long way to correcting the errors and accidents that made the Americas and the world what it became as a result of what happened on the 12th of October in 1492.

Are we the baddies?

9 October 2022

“According to the irrational power of the world, the market that razes existence is not to blame; it is the jungle and those who live in it that are to blame. Bank accounts have become unlimited; the money saved by the most powerful people on Earth could not even be spent over the course of centuries. The empty existence produced by the artificiality of competition is filled with noise and drugs. The addiction to money and to possessions has another face: the drug addiction of people who lose the competition in the artificial race that humanity has become. The sickness of loneliness is not cured by [dousing] the forests with glyphosate; the forest is not to blame. To blame is your society educated by endless consumption, by the stupid confusion between consumption and happiness that allows the pockets of the powerful to fill with money.”

Colombian President Gustavo Petro, on the “west’s” obsession with drugs and money.

Anti-imperialism, 19th century style

9 October 2022

From the 1842 Mexican newspaper “El Siglo Diez y Nueve”….ç

[…] regarding freedom and slavery outside of Mexico, as is shamefully practiced in some countries, which gratuitously present themselves as the emporium of enlightenment and justice, when with a criminal pretext that is ridiculous, based on skin color, they perpetually tie the hands of our fellow men in perpetuity, and they put on their necks an iron yoke…

Gee, I wonder who they were referring to?

Limited, but still (5 October 1813)

5 October 2022

While we usually date the abolition of slavery in Mexico to 1829 (when even the carve-out for Tejas’ slave-owning Anglo population was abolished), the insurgents during the Independence struggle of 1810-20 were liberating slaves in the territory they held. Informally, until… having formed a provisional government in Chilpancingo, Morelos … as acting president… decreed all slaves in the regions they controlled free.

““Because slavery and everything that smacks of it must be removed from America, I command that the Provincial Mayors and other magistrates ensure that as many slaves as are left are released, and that the Natives who form Towns and Republics hold free elections, presided over by the Parish [communal or sub-regional administration] and Territorial Judge who will not coerce them to a certain person”; points out this part of the decree.”

Honest Politics: “My job is to be a whore and I have the right to be a whore.”

5 October 2022

Deputy… or Delegate (one friend recently objected to my translation of “Diputado” as “Deputy” though “Delegate” would also work…”Congressional Representative” is just too much to type) María García Clemente, came to politics as a “community organizer”…. her community being the “T” in the movement for civil rights and accepance for the LGBTQ+ community. As with other “Ts”, her work on behalf of a marginalized group brought her to the attention of the Morena party, which owes much of its strength to coalition building between various and sometimes disperate interest sectors, from organized labor, to “good government” liberals, to indigenous and Afro-Mexican communities, to rank-and-file soldiers and civil servants, to women’s and LGBTQ+ communities.

The Mexican Chamber of Deputies (or Delegates) has 500 members. 300 elected, as in the United States House of Representives from districts, and 200 appointed by their parties under a proportional representation formula… while a complex formula is used to insure gender parity, representation for minor parties, the upshot is that factional leaders with a party (especially one that holds a majority and has the most seats to offer) is able to bring less recognized, or under-heard voices to the national debate.

Not that there’s another ostenively “really out of the box” about Ms. García… she is, as she says, a business adminstrator. But… another deputy… Cecelia Márquez, has a problem with the nature of Ms. García’s particular business.

Leaving an iPad on Garciá’s chair open to a video showing her at her job, got the iPad thrown back at Marquéz, who after exchanging words (specifically, referring to García as a whore) stormed out of the Chamber.

García, for her part, pointed out that being a porn actress and prostitute is no different from any other profession that might be practiced by her fellow legislators. Lawyers continue to practice law, investors continue to invest, farmer to farm… so why should she be treated any differently?

Specifically, in regard to the iPad display and questions about her day job, she said, ” “It’s pornography! I produce porn, they pay me to do it. It is that I have always dedicated myself to this, the other deputies are business administrators and have companies. Patricia Armendáriz (Morena) why don’t you resign from the board of directors of your companies? The lawyers in the PAN are still in their offices. But if they can work in their jobs and professions, I’m sorry, my job is to be a whore and I have the right to be a whore.”

Furthermore, when it comes to that, she stated that sex workers deserve to be included in the Federal Labor Law. “Our job is to suck dicks and share our bodies sexually with whoever pays us. We do not have labor rights, we carry out unrecognized sex work”…. though not during legislative sessions, obviously: “When have you seen me get naked in the Chamber, suck someone’s dick in the room or in a committee? The Congress Channel does not go to my bed.”

I must say, she’s got a point… and while it’s been said that prostitution is the “oldest profession”, it’s not all that different than politics.

Jornada, “Diputada trans defiende derecho a ejercer su profesión de trabajo sexual” (5 October 2022)

The Russians Are Coming!… with the Global South?

1 October 2022

With the Russian invasion (or… as they say, “Special Miliary Operation”) in Ukraine having sucked much of the international media coverage into a “neo-Cold War” narrative… the “Democratic West” and the “Authoritatian (old Communist) East” in a battle for the hearts and minds of the rest of us (what used to be called the “Third World”), what made Vladimir Putin’s remarks on annexing large chunks of eastern Ukraine relevant to a site focused on Mexico was the remarks he made in annoucing the annexation.

Mexfiles does not speak Russian, nor does it seem Mexico has a dog in the hunt in the European war, not directly anyway. Mexico has proposed a peace plan (dismissed by one Ukrainian commentator… said to be an advisor to the Ukrainian president) as a Russian plot of some kind (the Mexican proposal being a five year halt to hostilities, while a settlement is hammered out under the auspices of the United Nations, the Papacy, and the Prime Minister of India) …but other than that, and like most of the world, hit by a shortage of fertilizers and the economic fallout of the absurd spending by global northern nations on propping up the Ukrainian government, it hasn’t had much to say… other than leave us alone.

Most of the world’s nations … even those like Mexico that cannot escape their ties to those “Democratic Western” countries (by geography in Mexico’s case)… see no benefit in a “western victory” nor in continuation of that fratricidal slaughter in eastern Europe. The assumption (one shared by Mexfiles) is that the conflict is less a “Democratic” v “Authoritarian” visions than a fight for control over resources.

And this is where Putin’s comments regarding its “special military operation” (and it’s expansion) are of relevance.

Not knowing Russian, and our sources largely controlled by what’s presented by “mainstream media”… it is necessary to go to the alternative sources to find discussions of what it is the Russians are actually saying, or rather, how they would like their activities to be understood. What exactly Alexander Mercouris’ ideology is, exactly, I haven’t a clue… I take it he’s some sort of reactionary (at one point more or less praising Ronald Reagan’s economic policies) and — while not explicitly pro-Russian — he tneds to highlight Russian military successes, and dismisses the occasional Ukrainian ones. But… in discussing Putin’s speech… is not so much, as other “western” commentators are, focused on veiled (and not so veiled) threats to continue the fight, and escalate the conflict, as to his “outreach” to the global south, and what seems to be recasting Russia as less an alternative to ties with the US and NATO powers (as the old “bipolar” USA or USSR geopolitical struggle was cast) but as a fellow post-colonial state demanding its rights to control of its own resources and culture in a multi-polar framework.

In other words, Putin… if he’s to be taken at his word… sees Russia less as heir to the European colonialist heritage, than as a victim of neo-colonialism, and with the right to defend what he considers its own cultural heritage (alas, including homophobia and religious intolerance) and resources from exploitation (of resources) often justified by imposing western value systems.

Mexico has been rather quick to adopt “western” cultural values, or at least has never had much of a problem with them (and, yes… we are aware that its not perfect… classism, racism, homophobia, etc. are rampant here, like everywhere else, including the “liberal” nations of Europe and Norther(er) America), but control over resources, and an independent policy? That’s the very thing Latin America nations, and the Africans, and the Asians… the former colonial (and… for Latin America… neo-colonial, though that “neo” has been going on for the last two centuries) and more international cooperation focues on the needs of the citizens is something the global south responds to.

Doubt Putin’s sincerity if you like. Question Mercouris’ bona fides while you’re at it. But consider what’s going on in the world. Colombia seems to have turned it’s back on its rightist and pro-NATO recent past; Mexico is clawing back control of its energy production sector, and even nationalized its lithium, Guatemala (though right wing) is experiencing massive resistance to gold mining; and more and more, the Latin American nations are turning away from the US controlled Organization of American States in preference to their own “club”… CELAC… to discuss regional issues. Likewise, not exactly by choice but as a result of the “special military operation”, an the sanctions that followed, the Russians are more focused on their near neighors as “partners” than as places to be ideologically controlled… when Communist China, theocratic Iran, whatever Khazakistan is, etc. Likewise, the African Union … despite huge disparities in political and social systems and histories, are figuring out how to cooperate where the can, and let each other pursue their own cultural and political destinies.

So… perhaps here in Mexico, and elsewhere in Latin America, Africa, Asia, Oceana… you know, the 85% of the world with no real stake or say in the outcome of what happens in Slavic lands… will be seeing a world where geography is not destiny… not completely (Mexico is going to be next to the United States which, like it or not, will always be its major trading partner) but less important than what resources a nation has, and how they (not one, or two, ideological “camps”) demand they be managed.

And… will the “global south” be an adequate term, if the largest northern land mass is one of us?

(I haven’t had to edit youtube videos in a long time, and think I did it right… at any rate Mercouris can be pendantic (who is Mexfiles to talk?) and wasn’t going to discuss the military operations he devotes most of his usual hour or so of his podcasts. It’s still a bit over 20 minutes, and youtube videos are limited (or at least I don’t know how to make extended videos) to 15 minutes, so the first should be about 12 minues and some, the second a bit under 10 minutes. And… I hope… I split it right)

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