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17 September 2019

A tip of the sombrero to Peter Melvoin for passing this along (from APF):


An AMLO glossary


Mexico City (AFP) – President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is reshaping the language of politics in Mexico with his colorful, folksy take on Spanish. Here is a glossary of key terms to understand the man known as “AMLO” and his opponents.


Short for Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, from his initials; used by both detractors and followers. See also: Peje.


Used of a lazy person who finds creative ways to live off the efforts of others; frequently applied by Lopez Obrador to opposition politicians or business executives. Cuban in origin.


A Lopez Obrador supporter; used by detractors.

Cuarta Transformacion (Fourth Transformation)

Lopez Obrador calls his government the “Fourth Transformation” of Mexico, putting his presidency on a par with what he considers the three other moments that changed the country’s history:

1) The war for independence from Spain (1810-1821).

2) The Reform (mid-19th century), a liberal overhaul of the country’s institutions.

3) The Mexican Revolution (1910-1920), which overthrew dictator Porfirio Diaz.


An adjective to describe a wealthy, snobbish person. Last in widespread use during the Mexican Revolution, Lopez Obrador has revived the word as an insult for opponents.


Overly luxurious, swanky or expensive.


Lopez Obrador’s morning news conference, held every weekday at 7:00 am; from a word meaning “morning sex.”

Me canso ganso

A comical rhyme popularized by a 1940s film, this roughly translates as: “Or I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.” Lopez Obrador frequently follows up his promises with this phrase.


A kick-back payment or bribe.


A nickname for Lopez Obrador; from “pez lagarto” or “pejelagarto,” a freshwater fish widespread in his home state, Tabasco. See also: AMLO.


Someone who mindlessly follows Lopez Obrador; used by opponents.


Used by Lopez Obrador to describe an ignorant wealthy person; coined from the name of a 1970s television character played by comedian Luis de Alba.


A pejorative version of the diminutive “senorito,” or “little mister;” used by Lopez Obrador to refer to opponents he perceives as aristocrats.

Signs and wonders… the grito

16 September 2019

Back when there was a Soviet Union, foreign observers — having little else to go on… used to try to impose meaning on why stood where on the reviewing stand at the annual Moscow May Day parade… and, bizarrely, intelligence analysts took seriously every detail, for who was standing closest to the Premier to which officials were wearing hats (and what kind of hat they might be wearing).

In Mexico, while politicians play close to the vest, and aren’t always as transparent as one might like, but it is a bit easier to get a feel for who is in, who is out, what is on the president’s mind.  But, still… even in the “4th Transformation” era of “transparency” Mexico watchers (let alone intelligence analysts) could do worse than interpreting where and what is done by the leadership overseeing Mexico’s great patriotic display for a sense of what might be in the offing.

The annual independence day grito is, of course, a ceremonial commemoration of Miguel Hidalgo y Costalla’S “Grito de Dolores” the night of 15.16 September 1810.  The custom of ringing the bell and leading a shoutout to an independent Mexico was introduced by Emperor Maximiliano, who was just bright enough to know that whatever it was Hidalgo actually said had something to do with the perfidious French (Napoléon having installed his brother on the Spanish throne) and something about death to bad government… which Max was just smart enough to avoid bringing back into style.  Even after the perfidious French and the bad government of Maxiliano (and Max himself) were dead and gone, the custom lived on, developing not just as a ritual exercise with strict protocols (although, being Mexico, once the short ceremony is completed, it turns into a giant block party) but as a rough guide to the administration’s ambitions.

The whole ritual takes under ten minutes, mostly out of sight of the public… an honor guard in dress uniform marches through the hallways of the National Palace, presents the flag to the waiting President, who is dressed in his sash of office, salutes, and the President steps out on the center balcony of the palace, to ring the bell hanging a above the balcony, waves the flag and starts a ritual shout and response … ending with three “Viva México!”

The President then wave to the crowd, normally surrounded by … spouse, children, cronies, party hacks, campaign contributors, the presumed heir-presumptive … to receive the public’s adulation.  I said, “normally”.  AMLO was accompanied on the balcony only by  (not premera dama, merely wife) Doña Beatriz. Is this a sign that AMLO intends to “rule” without input from advisers, or that he is not beholden to the usual collection of cronies and hacks?  Or, maybe he’s just cheap?  In the past, the President usually hosted a big dinner party for the balcony guests … who sometimes appeared with their drinks still in their hands… but with a austerity budget meant to squeeze out of the government every centavo, the dinner party went by the wayside this year.

And, does it mean that the administration is pro-feminist that AMLO began the grito by reversing the gender order when starting the grito?  The Spanish language, having gender, uses the male plural for mixed gender plural possessives.  Until the Fox Administration, addressing the citizens, presidents said “Mexicanos”.  Fox began saying “Mexicanos y Mexicanas…” but tonight, AMLO address the gathered throng, “Mexicanas y Mexicanos”… promoting women?

As a sop to women’s history, the last few years, along with shout-outs for the two fighting Padres, Hidalgo and Morelos, and the soldier Ignacio Allende, there is usually Josefa Domingez mentioned in there., though other than having sponsored the reading club that was the cover for the planned 1810 uprising (which didn’t go as planned anyway), didn’t play all that dramatic a role in the independence movement.  AMLO added one for Leonora Viicaro.. the propagandist, gun-runner, spy and contributor to the “Sentiments of the Nation”, the Mexican version of the Declaration of Independence.  Oh.. and a generic Viva! for the “”fathers and mothers” of independence, and for the “unknown heroes”.

There were no gritos for any specific programs, or policies, as in past years… for highway construction, or, as one might have expected, for something like the “4th Transformation” or “republican austerity” (both shorthand for cutting the budget overhead, and a more, theoretically egalitarian state), although there were specific shoutouts for the indigenous community and for “our culture”… as well as more generic human values: liberty, justice,  democracy, national sovereignty, and universal peace.

It’s the last two… national sovereignty and universal peace… that may indicate policy.  After bending over for the Trump Administration on immigration through Mexico, both in curtailing migrants coming across the southern border, and in not fighting all that hard against the “Stay in Mexico” policy the US Administration has tried to justify as a bureaucratic necessity to control the influx of asylum seekers, getting a crowd of 100 plus thousand citizens shouting “VIVA!” for the country defending it’s own interests and right is no small thing.  Perhaps a warning?

Nor is it — as the nation seeks to undo 12 years of fratricide on behalf of the U.S. “war on (some) drugs” and continuing pressure to join some Quixotic crusade to overthrow the elected government of Venezuela and to support various imperialist adventures — simply a cliche to ask for, and receive, a hearty viva for universal peace.






Giving back to the community

5 September 2019

And you though people like Warren Buffet were generous?  Hell, he’s only giving away half his money, and taking a tax deduction as well.  But….

Retired transportation executive Joaquin Guzmán Loera, former CEO of Sinaloa Cartel, has offered to donate 14 billion US dollars to the Mexican government for use in indigenous communities.  The colorful Mexican entrepreneur, known for his ruthless management style, is reported less than pleased with his new accommodations in the United States following his forced early retirement.

Appealing to President Andres Manuel López Obrador  through his attorneys,  the 65 year old former billionaire made the offer with only two conditions:  that the grant be managed by the Mexican government, and that none of the funds are offered to the United States government,and that he be permitted to return to Mexico for his retirement.

Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard is said to be aware of the offer, but has been negotiating with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over disposition of the generous offer.


Source: Reporte Indigo

(Less tongue in cheek, this is what restorative justice should look like.  Chapo was always more a symbol of the fake US “war on drugs” and a convenient villain for the US that covered their failure to do a damn thing about their more than avid consumption of the Chapo’s products.  The damage done was to Mexico, and 14 billion dollars won’t restore the damages done to Mexicans and Mexico “thanks” to US demands that this country “do something”, but it will go a long way in assisting rural communities in transitioning to another way of making a decent living besides selling opium poppies and marijuana). 

Mexico Politics: The Old Opposition Is Defeated; Where is the New? — Mexico Voices

5 September 2019

Sinembargo: Alejandro Páez Varela*One of the most thankless tasks of these times must be to form an opposition. We have lived through periods in which the opponents of the current regime were persecuted, even with the armed forces; Or, in more recent times, they were crushed with all the tricks of the State, among them giving…

via Mexico Politics: The Old Opposition Is Defeated; Where is the New? — Mexico Voices

El Metro at 50

5 September 2019

Today is the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Mexico City Metro.  Now with 12 lines (and looking to add one or two more) one of the busiest public transit systems in the world.  I always remember meeting a Norwegian tour group standing gape-mouthed at the entry to the Bellas Artes station, incredulous that the trains carried, every day, more people than lived in their entire country.  The station with the fewest users (Deportivo 18 de Marzo) “only” handies 618,350 commuters a year (a bit less than Oslo).  Our busiest… Pantitlan, which includes the bus terminals for several suburbs, sees 42 million people a year pass through.

Thankfully, very few guys like the one who ran through Chabacano station a few years ago.  Hopefully, he won’t be back:

( have no idea how they found so many white people in Mexico City for that scene).



Is it too much to ask that the U.S. Ambassador be… uh… diplomatic?

2 September 2019

After two tries, given their enthusiasm for that US supported bloodbath known as the “War on Drugs” and foisting war-zone State Department hacks on Mexico, the Obama administration, in its closing days, finally sent an Ambassador to Mexico who ,… miracle of miracles… actually knew something about Mexico and Latin America, and — more to the point — was diplomatic in her relations with both the elites and the ordinary people.  But, being a professional, with the lunatics at the State Department under the Trump Administration, there was no way Roberta Jacobson would have stayed on.  So… while Trump was busy finding new and exciting ways to annoy Mexico, his administration sorta, kinda overlooked a Mexico, at a time when the country’s political and economic leadership is changing, and drawing away from asking, when the United States says “jump”, how high?

Christopher Landau’s “qualifications” for being Ambassador to Mexico seems to rest mostly on having written an undergraduate thesis on US-Venezuelan relations in the 1940s.  Oh, and being a Republican Party partisan, speaking Spanish (his father was a US Ambassador to Paraguay) and being a corporate shark who practiced before the Supreme Court arguing against worker rights, etc.

In other words, a corporate tool.  And… it appears… kinda thin skinned and clueless.  I don’t know what’s more appalling in his latest public foray… his complete misunderstanding of Frida Kahlo (hardly the”iconic” figure for all Mexicans… sure, she’s well know and the tourists and expats love her work, though by no means the only Mexican artist, nor the favorite of most Mexican art connoisseurs… and, for that matter, a rather minor figure in Mexican feminist history).  And, I suppose it’s to be expected that the United States Ambassador to a country in which tourism is one of the major industries, would say nice things about a tourist site.  Like, wondering why she was a Commie?


And then he whines that he’s not taken as seriously as he’d like?  What a tool!

My translation from Reporte Indigo (Embajador de EU en México cuestiona el “comunismo” de Frida Kahlo).

Through his Twitter account, Landau said he admired the free and bohemian spirit of the painter.

However, he added he could not understand Frida Kahlo’s  passion for Marxism / Leninism / Stalinism, even wondering whether she had known the horrors of those ideologies.  His tweet read:

In Frida Kahlo’s house. I admire his free and bohemian spirit, and he has rightly become the icon of Mexico in the whole world. What I do not understand is her obvious passion for Marxism / Leninism / Stalinism. Don’t  you know about the horrors committed in the name of that ideology?

Additionally, Christopher Landau asked the Mexican tweeters for to help him because he had so few followers, nothing the US Ambassador to Greece has many more, although Greece has a smaller population than Mexico.

“Dear Mexican tweeting friends: this is a hit! Greece has a population of 10 mm, while Mexico of 130 mm. But the US ambassador to Greece, @USAmbPyatt, has almost 150 thousand followers, and I barely 40 thousand. How are we going to change it? Mexico has to be # 1! #reto, ”he added.

I hope he feels better, the number of those who follow Landau’s tweets (twits?) he now has more than 70 thousand followers.

Accurate scholarship can/ Unearth the whole offence

1 September 2019

80 years ago today… perhaps it should be pointed out (this being a Mexican history site) that in Mexico, the fight against Fascism began back in 1935 when Mexico was the only nation in the League of Nations to condemn the Italian annexation of Ethiopia, followed by its open support for the Spanish Republic at a time when the so-called western democracies either dithered or supported Franco and the Fascists.

September 1, 1939

W. H. Auden – 1907-1973

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism’s face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
“I will be true to the wife,
I’ll concentrate more on my work,”
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.