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“Three times is enemy action!”

27 April 2017

“Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action!”  Or so said one of the great all-time super-villains, Aurich Goldfinger.  While by no means is Andres Manuel López Obrador a saint, nor does he head a party of saints (they, are, after all, politicians), despite what has been written and said about him over the last several years, about the only thing he has in common with super-villains is having to put up with unimaginative attempts to discredit him and his movement.  This latest bribery scandal just goes to show that the third time isn’t a charm, it’s just… well, obvious.

I don’t expect you to talk, Mr. Lopez Obrador. I expect you to die!

Back in 2004, during AMLO’s tenure as head of the Mexico City government, videos surfaced showing René Bejarano, AMLO’s former personal secretary — and at the time, a member of the Federal District administration — receiving bags of cash ($45,000 US).  Weirdly enough, the videos were broadcast on a clown show… although, in a bit of honest political theater you don’t find often anywhere, the clown was Victor Trujillo, aka “Brozo the scary clown”, our version of Rush Limbaugh or Bill O’Reilly, and his morning show a regular part of political discourse at the time.  And that particular morning, Bejarano was Brozo’s on-air guest.  The videos came from Frederico Dörring, a local conservative politician (PAN), and the bribes were traced back to Carlos Ahumada, a businessman and soccer team owner. Ahumada eventually fled to Cuba, but was extradited when Bejarano was fired, and sent to prison.  Ahumada, was also imprisoned, eventually fessing up that the who thing, was … as AMLO had been saying… a “plot”,  that traced back to Carlos Salinas, the “godfather” of the PRI.

Then, once again using Ahumada as the money source, Carlos Imaz, a founding member of the PRD (and husband of the Federal District’s Secretary for the Environment, and PRD stalwart, Claudia Sheinbaum) was “coincidentally” videotaped receiving $350,000 pesos.  This time, it turned out the money was earmarked not for AMLO, but for his more conservative rival for party leadership, Rosario Robles.  Although party founder, Cuauhtemoc Cardenas called upon both Imaz and Robles to resign from the party, Imaz hung tough, and it was Robles (who would go on to be part of the Peña Nieto cabinet as a PRI activist) who left.

As it is, AMLO and Imaz (along with Sheinbaum) eventually left the PRD… or the PRD left them… to form Morena, now the second or third largest party in the country, and seen by many as an alternative to the big money, dirty politics associated with people like Salinas’ PRI and Dörring‘s PAN.  And the increasing irrelevance of PRD, which drifted towards the center, and had a series of unrelated scandals of its won.

Ahumada, after his release from prison, of course wrote a book (or, was listed as the author of one) about his time as a video-auteur, but has, it seems, retired from that line of business.  Not so Carlos Salinas (at least according to AMLO).  Or, at least the PRI, for which AMLO and Morena has become an increasingly real threat, especially with fresh mega-scandals involving former PRI governors appearing weekly.  And, with PAN embroiled in both internal disputes and some juicy scandals involving money laundering (and only one of its former governors … so far… ending up in the slammer) and PRD’s leadership running around like headless chickens… the polling that shows AMLO as the probable winner of the presidency in 2018, as well as the surprising possibility of a Morena governor in the State of Mexico… it was time for a new, improved video-scandal to surface.

What better timing then when the PRI really needs to deflect attention from its own woes and when the Morena candidate has been hitting the PRI candidate in the State of Mexico than right now?  So, after weeks of announcing the coming attraction of “proof” that AMLO was just as corrupt as his opponents,  by Enrique Ochoa Reza (the PRI party chair!), we finally got to see the season III of the “sorta bribing of AMLO”… starring a former local PAN politician running as a Morena candidate for a municipal presidency in Veracruz State named Eva Cadena as the bribee, and …. a mystery woman to be revealed later… as the briber.  With much slicker production values (including scary theme music!).

AMLO, in response to the “coming attractions” speeches by Ochoa, had said he’d resign if there was proof he’d taken a bribe.  Alas, no one can show Cadena had any intention of passing the money on to AMLO, nor that he had any knowledge of the funds.  Cadena has withdrawn from her own race, and claims the video is doctored… and that she was duped by taking a cash donations which she later returned.   She also claims her acquaintance with AMLO is slight… that of a local politician appearing at a campaign event with the popular national leader.

Naturally, as soon as the “Enemy Action III” debuted, “shocked, shocked and appalled!” PRI politicans… joined by PAN… began calling for an investigation of Morena’s funding.  Which, to the surprise of the two main parties, was enthusiastically applauded by… MORENA.

Although not know as a film critic, AMLO saw the plot line as … well, one he’d seen before.  A plot… the only update in the series being a new surprise villain, Veracruz’ former governor, Javier Duarte, and his successor, Miguel Ángel Yunes.  That Duarte was legendary for his corruption and has become the star attraction in PRI stable of corrupt governors makes him all too predictable as the surprise baddy.  And, AMLO’s probably right. 

 

The few, the proud, the cuddly

21 April 2017

Maybe Marine training isn’t so bad in Mexico. The Mexican Navy has set up a breeding and training center for Belgian Malinois in the Valle de Bravo, to develop recruits in the war on smuggling. But, these Marines look more ready for snuggling:

Number two with only some bullets

21 April 2017

Mexico is the second largest military power … in Latin America. Which is rather misleading, given that by its population (122.7 million), it has one of the smaller militaries in the world — 270,000 on active duty, and 76,000 reservists. The 2016 defense budget was 7 thousand million (US 7 billion) dollars.

Although only number two, Mexico’s forces are dwarfed by those of Brazil. One and half million, out of its 200 million citizens, are on military duty. Brazil not only has more active duty forces than Mexico, but a huge number of reservists: 330,000 active duty personnel, and 1,200,000 reservists. And when it comes to the defense budget, Mexico’s is peanuts. 32 thousand million in 2016 for defense.

Of course, both Canada and the United States put the Latin American militaries to shame when it comes to manpower and spending. Canada, despite it’s relatively small population (35.1 million) manages to put almost as many people into uniform as does Brazil. But its military spending is relatively frugal, only double that of Mexico for defense in 2016.

The United States (321.4 million population), with its 2.5 million men and women at arms, outspends the rest of the hemisphere all by itself, it’s 2016 defense budget coming in at 581 thousand million dollars. That we know of.

Publimetro, “Ejército Mexicano, el segundo más poderoso de América Latina
Global Fire Power

20 April 2017

From Todd Gastelum…

Oprime uno para español… or, ” O wad some Power the giftie gie us”

20 April 2017

I feel kinda weird translating this into English, given the topic, but its one I have seldom seen openly discussed by Mexicans themselves.

Rodolfo Higareda, in today’s La Razón:

With the dollar going through the roof and Donald Trump infesting our social networks, Mexicans have opted to travel within the country. In fact, it has always been like this: 85% of the tourism we have is Mexican.
That is why it is extremely annoying to stroll through our resorts and see that 8 out of 10 commercials are in English: Restaurant menus and nightclub drink promotions, ads for water parks and coupons for discounts at the shoe stores, as well as the posted rates for auto rental and even the marquee on a Mexico City newstand — “Visit Mexico” — are in the other language.

It is shameful, humiliating, and discriminatory. It is also short-sighted, considering that most tourists only speak Spanish. This is nothing more than the reflection of a trauma, an inferiority complex deeply rooted in our society.
In my father, and grandfather’s time, when the whiff of Porfirismo still could be detected, anything French had status. Publicists and merchants of the time decided tto call clothing store “botiques”; panaderias became “pâtisseries”; and a cocinaro became a “chef”. And, if you were going on vacation, it showed elegance and glamour to call it a “tour”.

With the decline of French influence over our land, and the rise of North American influence, we reached ridiculous levels not seen in any any other corner of the planet, nor even Puerto Rico! To the degree that, if one walks today through Cancún or Los Cabos, it seems like you’re in a foreign protectorate; the prices, even in pharmacies, are in dollars.

The Secretariat of Tourism and Profeco MUST intervene now, without delay or excuses. I have heard absurd explanations from tourist service providers claiming that English-language advertising benefits them financially, that otherwise they would lose customers. That is more false than a 3 peso bill.
In other countries where foreign tourism is important, like Spain, one never sees an advertisment putting another language in place of their own. This is true in any country which receives foreign tourists… not in France, not in the United States.

Being friendly with English speakers is good, and taking care of foreign tourism is good, too. This is not up for discussion. But we are in Mexico and the Mexicans and their language should go first.
Time to shake off the old complexes! Let’s impose severe fines on those who see us as second-rate tourists. Well we can start with a call to the advertising iand tourism industries, explaining to them its in their own best interest to change their approach, the “hook” being that the sector they really want to reach are the clients to explain that they have to change their approach, and appeal to the by far largest sector of their clients. Us.

My town… love it or leave it, but it’s NOT Berlin

18 April 2017

To compare this reality to a city like Berlin, where most people have pensions, a good standard of living, quality state-run healthcare, and decent wages is the height of egregiousness. It makes you wonder exactly how tone-deaf the writers of pieces like this can be. Have they ever dared venture outside the Roma-Condesa bubble? How much do they even know about Mexico City? Why have so many of these articles been popping up in recent years? Is it just cluelessness that drives them, or is it part of some local government branding strategy …?

No, Mexico City is not “The New Berlin”: A response to Vice

Tamara Velasquez, “No, Mexico City is not “The New Berlin”: A response to Vice” (Medium.com, 18 April 2017)

Mexico, siempre fiel? Sex and religion.

15 April 2017

John Paul II may have thought Mexico was the most Catholic of Catholc countries, though I’ve always said that Mexico is Catholic, the same way France is — we pay no attention to the Bishops, especially when it comes to sex.

So, perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise to me that the Encuesta Nacional de Creencias y Prácticas Religiosas found that while our Bishops are opposing inclusion of sex education in the public school curriculum, the support among practicing Catholics is even higher than among those with no religion.  83.5 percent of Catholics approve of sex education compared to only 73.7 percent of those who claim no religion.  Among other Christians, the approval rating is still over 60%.

Despite constant preaching on the dangers of “gender ideology” (whatever that is… it still makes no sense to me that there’s something controvesial about that gender expectations are largely cultural rather than biological) you still find Catholics (by at least 10 percent) more approving of teaching such information over the unchurched (76 to 66 percent) and other Christian sects (about 53 percent)*

Only on the question of legal abortion do Catholics come close to following the hierarchy.  While only 44.3 percent of non-religious people support for complete legalization of abortion, only one-third (33.2 percent) of Catholics hold a similar position.  Other Christians show even less support.

Surprisingly, given that separation of Church and State here in 1859 (about fifty years earlier than France, by the way) is credited with having opened Mexico to Protestanism, about a quarter of non-Catholic Christians would like religious leaders to take an active role in politics.  Among Catholics the figure is 20.5 percent, while the non-religious are not that much below Catholics, at 19.5 percent.

 

* The poll was only meant to cover Christian beliefs, so those of minority faiths (Jews, Budhists, Muslims) would have been recorded as “non-religious”.  Non-Catholic Christians were divided between “Bible Groups” and “Evangelicals”… the former including traditional (“mainstream”) Protestants (like Methodists and Presbyterians), Orthodox Christians, and Mormons.

 

(Jornada, 13 April 2017)