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Maybe returnees and refugees aren’t such a bad thing for Mexico…

23 February 2017

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Welcome to the police state

23 February 2017

E.J. Montoni, in Arizona Republic:

 

So it turns out that Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos really IS the face of President Trump’s mass deportation efforts:

A working mother of two American children.

According to memos released today by the Trump administration the undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of a crime are a priority, but not THE priority.

One directive reads: “Department personnel have full authority to arrest or apprehend an alien whom an immigration officers has probable cause to believe is in violation of the immigration laws. They also have full authority to initiate removal proceedings against any alien who is subject to removal under any provision of the (Immigration and Nationality Act).”

The young people brought to the country as children who are part of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) may be safe. For now.

But their parents are fair game.

And just about everyone else.

The plan is to hire thousands of new enforcement officers.

And to build new detention centers.

The law allows us to do this. It is up to us, to those we elect, to differentiate between what we CAN do and what we SHOULD do.

The administration could have chosen a humane path, one that would not have transformed a mother like Garcia de Rays into a modern-day Rosa Parks. 

Instead, they chose mass deportation.

They chose goon squads and gulags.

Welcome to the police state.

Tourists, refugees, and deportees…

23 February 2017

There is nothing wrong with this person’s question, and it’s admirable that the person is seeking to improve their Spanish… much as I did, by reading children’s books.

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Still, it raises a question.  The person identifies as a “tourist”, and one can assume either they are not in a position to obtain a library card (perhaps they’ll use the books in the library, which is fine), or… given the source (a facebook page for foreigners residing in Mexico City) they mean they have only a Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM) and not a residency visa of any sort.

While it gives the visitor an extremely generous time limit (allowing them to say in the country up to 180 days) and is a bargain at about 25 US$, as opposed to the $160 US$ a Mexican has to pay to APPLY for a visitor’s visa for the United States),  it isn’t really meant as a residency permit, although we’re well aware that tens of thousands of foreigners who “live” here are staying 18o days at a time, leaving for a day or so, and returning in expectation of another 180 day “temporary” stay.  And so far, if the person overstays their 180 days, ni modo… at most a modest fine.

We’re now facing a situation where efugees who are had passed through Mexico (in less than 180 days, most of them) expecting to leave this country for the one north of us, but are “stuck” here.  As a short term solution, the refugees are being given temporary residency (a different status than that of a visitor), and/or work permits.  AND, our own immigration service has a policy of simply looking the other way if some of these refugees are working off-the-books without a visa allowing for “actividades lucrativa” (i.e. a work permit), on the premise that a refugee earning some income takes some of the burden off the overwhelmed social services (mostly ad hoc) that are available for them.

Add in the additional burden of increased deportation from the United States (never mind the absurd proposal to deport non-Mexicans who have entered the United States though Mexico back to … not their home country… but Mexico) and social services will be overwhelmed.

Not that it’s the fault of the would-be library patron, but I’m wondering how long our generosity will hold out.  Will “border jumpers” (those who take advantage of the FMM to maintain a home here, with a short absence of a few days every year… like most people who take a vacation do) need to establish residency… obtain a “gringo card” (our residency visas really are green)?  For many, it’s an impossiblity, as those who have no particular business in Mexico, other than wanting to live here (usually because it costs less than living in a richer country) have to show some reason for being here… either a job, or enough income not to become a potential burden on the State, or some familial ties to Mexico, or any of the myriad reasons aliens are permitted to live in another country (a well founded fear of persecution at home being one).

I have no real problem with tourists (or those “permanent tourists”) using facilities like the libraries (actually, I encourage it) but what about our health services, or roads, or police protection, or….

Will we become as nasty as our neighbors to the north?  I have seen descriptions by reputable people calling the FMM-holders who stay on (or just never bother to even go through the motions of border jumping) and those that never renew their temporary immigration visas as “illegal aliens”.  While I hate the term, it’s understandable that these people will be seen that way.

I’ve wondered about the impact on US policy, and the reaction in US media should Mexico begin deporting some of these people… mostly elderly and generally nice people who just don’t quite meet the financial requirements (or have fudged the figures on their initial visa request) to “live their dream” of retiring here.  I’d hate to see that, though I suspect the financial fallout other than in a few small sectors of service providers in “gringo ghettos” would be far less than the effects on US agriculture and the service sector should the US begin massive deportations.

What I do expect is that public services  will be demanding more proof of legal residency beyond a telephone bill and foreign passport, and private service providers, like banks (which generally will not open accounts for FMM holders, leading to any number of complaints on the “expat” sites I check)  and rental firms, may follow suit.

I would also not be surprised if the automatic grant of 180 days on FMMs became a thing of the past.

But then, I remember I moved here because Mexico is NOT the United States, and — so far — has not bought into the idea that every stranger is a danger, and is a country of good manners:  fish and visitors may stink after three days (let alone 180), but it’s impolite to say sFo.

Kids say the darnedest things

18 February 2017

It’s always kind of cute, when every year, 300 fifth and sixth graders (ten to twelve year olds in the Mexican system) from around the country are brought to the capital, and — after a tour of the city, get to meet the President, and then head over to the Chamber of Deputies for the annual Parlamento Infantil, in which they role-play as Deputies. Turning the saying that “Children should be seen, and not heard,” some of the kids took full advantage of the opportunity to be heard (and seen) in a way few Mexicans get a chance to do.

Eleven year old Axel Gael Romo wowed the crowd, and perhaps shocked some of his elders, with his demands for an end to corruption.

Mexico is already tired of the corruption, the gas price hikes, of Donald Trump. We are tired and we want a better Mexico:  yes we can, because we can achieve it. So today, if you allow me, I want to invite Mexicans not to give up.  Why can we not be a nation free of corruption, I ask myself. Why not? We need honest government. Down with corruption! The injustice must end! This is not the 19th century, this is not a monarchy. We need to change, NOW!.

Axel Roma for President, 2054!  (Photo: Cuartoscuro)

Axel Roma for President, 2054! (Photo: Cuartoscuro)

The field trip to Los Pinos brought out the best in two other child parliamentarians.  Having been exposed to both the luxurious Los Pinos and having been put up in a high-end hotel, young Ricardo Ibarra Tapia from San Juan del Rio, Queretaro, brought along a visual aid when he took the podium.  A photo of a man living in the streets, he also touched on corruption, and asked why the President was living so large, when others in Mexico lacked even the basics.

The government hoards its  money and we will not tolerate it anymore. I have seen in the street how much poverty there is; Here is a photo to show to my colleagues. He is a man who is living in the street …We have had it with corruption. The Mexican eagle has been chained, and must be set free!

 

Young Ibarra had an excellent suggestion for the “real” legislators.  Put children on a citizen’s  committee in every state to oversee anti-corruption measures.  The boy — who hopes to be a surgeon someday — wielded his rhetorical scalpel still futher when he questioned why the Legislators stayed in luxury hotels: “Meeting in them is a waste of time. It would be useful if [legislators] did what we asked. This would be a better country”.

Of course, the quotable youngster was also asked about Donald Trump, whom he described… as one would expect…as “really bad, and truly loco”. Like everyone else, he noted that Mexico is a major commercial partner of the United States and a wall would create chaos.

In from Jalisco, first-time member of the Parlamento Infantil, Lesly Esquivias, had a slightly different view of the Trump effect… seeing Peña Nieto’s reponse to the possibility of mass deportations from the United States, as showing the Mexican president’s timidity and failure to do his job.

What the president does not want is for all the people who are there come here because it would mean inveting money in feeding people, in using resources. He does not want to fight, he wants an easy life. Well, as President, he has to do his job, not what he wants.

The new constitution for the State of Mexico City lowers the voting age to 16.  With kids like Axel, and Ricardo, and Lesly, I’m wondering if we shouldn’t lower that to… oh… say ten?  Or, maybe better yet, replace the adults in our legislature with people who aren’t there to play… you know… kids. 

 

Sources: EFE (via Sin Embargo), Milenio

When Gringolandia sends their people, they’re not sending their best…

16 February 2017

Via various Mexican media:

13-February 2017 (Mexico City)  Timothy Paul Hitchcock, a US citizen, was arrested by the Investigative Police (PDI) for pedophilia.

capturaUsing forged papers, and calling himself Tim Andrews, Hitchcock was a teacher at the prestigious Westhill Institute Kinder in Lomas de Chapultepec.

After his arrest for molesting the ten-year old son of a U.S. Embassy official, Hitchcock admitted to a 2009  conviction in Florida, also for sexual molestation of a minor.  At the time of his arrest, he was a religious music programmer with a Lakeland Florida country-music station.  Sentenced to ten years, he was given probation, under terms that included mental health treatment.  Considered by the Justice Department to be a “predatorary pedophile who represents a constant danger to society, especially children,” Hitchcock’s data and photograph was included on the  National Sex Offender’s Public Website.

Instead of serving the terms of his probation, Hitchcock fled from a residential center in Georgia for Puebla, where he obtained a falsified Mexican birth certificate, under the name Tim Andrews (he passed himself off as the Mexican-born child of a US couple) and began working for several private schools. 

Alerted to the situation by U.S. Embassy, following a three week investigation, Hitchcock was remanded to the Reclusio Oriente, where he faces a string of charges here, as well as parole violations and other charges in the United States. 

Questions that need to be asked.

Do foreign schools do any vetting at all on their would-be employees? For a short time, I was an administrator with a private ESL service.  Our clients were adults, and I expect — given the low pay and crappy working conditions we had — that our gringo teachers would have papered over some gaps in their resumes, and that our Mexican nationals might be omitting the actual circumstances of their return home, but still I did some checking, and recommended we NOT hire a few (or at least not hire them for classes with any adolescents in them).   However, I would expect schools for children, especially prestigious private academies like Westhills, would have done more in the way of background checks.

Would Mexican authorities have investigated had this not been a upper-class institute, or if the complaint had come from a middle-class or working Mexican family?  Hard to say, but we are seeing more and more cases where the prosecutors are going after wealthy and/or privileged people (like priests) accused of pedophilia.  Among the masses, though, this is still being dealt with largely extrajudicially… the neighbors (or the family and their relations and friends) seeking private justice.

Should the US authorities have kept a better watch on Hitchcock?  Uh… yes.

Is there a certain amount of schadenfreude in posting the story of “bad hombres” who cross the border from the US into Mexico.  You betcha!

Donald Trump, father of Mexican independence?

13 February 2017

I have to say that Lorenzo Meyer has a wicked sense of humor.

(My translation from Shaila Rosagel, “Independizarse de EU no interesa al Gobierno y, por abajo del agua, se somete ante Trump: analistas“(SinEmbargo, 12 February 2017.

 

Mexico City, Feb 12 (SinEmbargo) .- Mexico needs a second independence, but the ruling class is unable to restructure the country’s economy to avoid depending, as it does today, on the United States, say experts consulted By SinEmbargo.

Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Videgaray Caso, negotiates away dignity of Mexico with United States President Donald Trump. Despite the insults and contempt for the Mexican people exibited by the billionaire, the Chancellor says he is seeking to save what can be saved of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the bilateral relationship.

“The new independence would be no longer relying on the trade ties we have with the United States. What has to be developed is an internal market economy, but we have depended mostly on the Free Trade Agreement. We need a restructuring of the Mexican economy, both in industry and agriculture, so we can dispense with an agreement like the one we have with the United States,”said José Antonio Crespo Mendoza, a political scientist at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching (CIDE).

At the end of January, Lorenzo Meyer Cossio, historian and researcher at El Colegio de México (Colmex), told SinEmbargo: “In a few years, we might put a statue to Trump: he is the father of our second Independence.”

Crespo Mendoza also says that the political class governing Mexico today is not looking for that “new independence”, but, on the contrary, seeks to preserve at all costs the status quo with the United States that existed up until Trump’s arrival.

“They are not looking to restructure the Mexican economy, they are seeking to keep trade in NAFTA, as advantageously as possible for Mexico,” he said.

Well, that went well. NOT!

13 February 2017

Several thousand demonstrators turned out at the Angel of Independence today… a relatively small protest by Mexico City standards… for the much bally-hoed, and endlessly promoted “Vibra Mexico” march for “national unity”.  That meant, especially for the joint “México Unido” march, as much trying to prop up what little support remains for the Peña Nieto administration as it did repudiation of Donald Trump’s recent threats against Mexico, and Mexican emigres in the United States.

As it was, even though police managed to divert a counter-march (not pro-Trump, but anti-Peña Nieto) away from the official march, several thousand of the estimated 8 to 11,000 marchers were protesting as much against the Mexican administration as they were against the new guy in the White House.

The Guadalajra Informador (generally pro-government) said there were “hundreds” of marchers, though buried down a few paragraphs it claimed about 6000 people were at the march.  And that included a couple of mariachi bands.  For comparison, somewhere upwards of 10,000 turned out in July 2015 to protest against something that had very little effect on them… gay marriage.  There too, anti-Peña Nieto protesters had swelled the ranks.

In Puebla, the “Vibra Mexico” marchers were confronted by citizens representing “Puebla en Lucha”… who protested not only against the federal administration, but are demanding their former governor be tried for various crimes, and are not happy with their local federal representatives.

The Mexican people are not stupid.  While “Vibra Mexico” was announced (and publicized) as being backed by “70 civic organizations and intellectuals”, it was obvious — especially when the media provided helpful maps of where to assemble and even what clothing to wear — that this was hardly a populist protest.  Looking over the list of “civic organizations” and the lead organizers, there was a plethora of well-known conservative establishment figures.  Only two intellectuals of any note… conservative historian Enrique Krauze ,and UNAM rector Enrique Graue Wiechers… are among the organizers, and several of the “civic organization” leaders mentioned were those who for years have been apologists for the status quo, or have been working with PRI and PAN to push their own agenda… (Like Isabela Miranda de Wallace, demanding tougher anti-crime legislation, or Claudio X. Gonzales, who pushes teacher testing, and other failed US innovations for Mexican schools).  One suspects many of the protesters were there under some duress.

I must say, given the media coverage, I expected a mega-march of some sort… like the ones Televisa pushed during the Fox administration to protest crime in Mexico City (and to claim AMLO was a “do nothing” executive… though AMLO managed to high-jack the 500,000 or so protesters and turn it into a demand for more federal assistance in crime prevention), or the nation-wide protests back during Calderón’s administration for “peace”.  The latter supposedly had a few million people out in the streets.  Who, after all, is opposed to peace?  Shame the whole exercise was designed to show support not for giving peace a chance, but for giving the army a chance to kill a few thousand more people allegedly having ties to the “narco-trade”.

This isn’t to say that people are indifferent to Trump… they aren’t… but what people do north of the border isn’t much we can control, and in a weird way, Trump has opened up a real opportunity for Mexico to make the changes that will “vibra Mexico”… a serious discussion over the trade imbalance with the United States, the corruption in the political establishment, the deterioration of human rights, the need for higher wages, and a government that listens to its people.

 

Sources:

Jornada:  “Varios miles protestan contra Trump en CDMX

Informador: “Comienza marcha ‘Vibra México’ en Guadalajara

Proceso: “Se confrontan opositores al gasolinazo con Vibra México en Puebla

Mexico Daily News: “Anti-Trump marches to be held on Sunday

Background: Excelsior, La Razón, Televisa, Noroeste. riding my bike down to the Angel this afternoon.