Skip to content

Hugo, Felipe and el blogosphero

30 May 2007

Some of my best resources are the folks who “get it wrong”… or, rather, just don’t “get it”. Not so much that I enjoy playing the pedantic know-it-all (though I do), as they make my work a lot easier, alerting me to trends and issues I would otherwise miss.


I’m not talking about right-wing cranks like the Minutemen and, though I check them out regularly for the latest in anti-immigration “spin” (which is dangerous, since it is so avidly regurgitated by “respectable” sources – folks who are looking for a rationale for their feelings, and just assume a site that appears scholarly (like VDARE) is something other than what it is (I don’t even link to them anymore, since it’s such a hassle to put up a “hate group” warning every time).


What I’m talking about are otherwise legitimate sites that are focused on something else, and try to fit a Mexican event into it, but miss the connection.


Bloggings by Boz is an excellent resource for mainstream U.S.-based reporting from and about Latin America in general. I recommend it, though I disagree with Boz’ conclusions about various things, especially in regard to the Venezuelan administration.


Mark in Mexico, which I also regularly read, is sometimes useful. It has done some decent reporting on Oaxaca, but has — whether out of unconscious ideological bias, or simply to cover up obvious facts — been completely wrong on a few occasions, but it is sometimes useful for knowing what to look for in the news from Oaxaca.

I don’t list it as a Mexican or Mexico-based website because it focuses on the U.S. Republican Party , and only incidentally on where it is physically located (much as I consider myself a Mexican website, though physically, I’m 150 Km north of Ojinaga, Chihuahua).


Mark gets more than a little “snarky” about the APPO and the leftist opposition to Oaxaca’s despised governor, Ulises Ruiz and his henchmen. Mark apparently runs some kind of English tutorial service in that city, and sells trinkets, so I suppose he has a better right to carp than those of us outside the community. And the opposition aren’t saints, but neither is the Republican Party. But what caught my attention was his post on APPO defense lawyers making the claim that they are not being protected from death threats.

Boz, in a post on press freedoms (or lack thereof) in Venezuela, also mentions the threats posed by gangsters to the Mexican press, specifically the problems at Cambio Sonora and Tabasco Hoy!. Both papers have shuttered their doors because of intimidation by gangsters, but Boz quotes from the Washington Post:



President Felipe Calderón has called the intimidation of journalists “an unacceptable situation,” promised to protect journalists and discussed possible legislation to achieve that goal.



I don’t know if the two read each other’s sites. They have different goals and audiences, so there’s no reason they should. But I sense a theme here. A commentator on Boz’ site asked “Where is Calderon and his new emphasis on law enforcement in all of this?” and of course I left my own “snarky” response before I’d taken a look at Mark’s site. I said “You’re assuming the Calderón administration wants to protect a free press. Given his Porfirian tendencies, and willingness to use “una mano dura” towards dissenters AND criminals, I don’t see him lifting a finger to protect regional papers, which are among his harshest critics.”


In regard to the Oaxacan lawyers, I’d make the same comment.


I think the foreign press is misreading Calderón’s use of the Army in police matters as a reform. The Mexican media, and Mexican observers don’t see it as progressive, but as a dangerous threat to democracy and civil society. We’re buying the excuse that a military solution to a civil problem (a gang war) is somehow necessary, overlooking the use of equally ham-handed response to dissent.


Qui bono?


I have said more than once (at least twice) that Calderón’s administration resembles Porfirio Diaz’s more than most administrations do. While other administrations have used the army to put down dissent (notably Diaz Ordaz and Echeverria) and others have courted foreign investors (Carlos Salinas et. passum), they haven’t been coordinated like this in at least the last 100 years.


Not to say that Calderón has a free hand – congress, the Supreme Court, the Human Rights commission and the independent media (not to mention the free and lively blogosphero) all limit the president’s power. But, having even less legitimacy than Don Porfirio (who at least was a modernizer and nationalist), I think we’re looking at the wrong Latin American country if we want to see a closet dictator. Hugo Chavez was undoubtedly elected, and his programs, like them or not, are what the Venezuelan voters want. Felipe Calderón may or may have not have been elected, and much of his goals are NOT those wanted by the Mexicans.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. monoboi permalink
    1 June 2007 7:33 pm

    Try reading Narco News reports on Oaxaca written by folks living in Oaxaca for most accurate and honest information. Forget the fascist, Mark in Mexico. It’s difficult to understand exactly why he lives in Oaxaca in the first place, (other than to exploit artists here, reselling their art for exorbitant prices on the internet) as he constantly whines about nearly everything in this amazing place.

  2. José Manuel Enriquez permalink
    8 June 2007 6:26 pm

    I’m a Mexican living in Puebla, México, and I know people from all socioeconomic levels. Although most people agree that it is not the army’s job to carry out police matters, pretty much eveveryone I know down here will agree that it was, for the time being, the best alternative to fight the drug cartels. As part of the state reform that Mexico’s congress is about to discuss soon, is a proposal to train and modernize the country’s police forces, which right now are not only not trained and paid properly, but in many cases are actively working to protect the drug lords. Most of us who live down here, as the most recent polls have shown, agree with Calderón’s actions. Our government had been too weak in dealing with drug trade for too long, and now it was a matter of national secutiry to decrease the power of such drug traffickers. What was the other option?… do abosolutely nothing and let those gangs get more powerful each day.
    The last thing any of us wants to see, is an escalation in public disorder, in which the civil rights of many ciytizens who live in our cities are greatly violated with randmod acts of violence, such as burning of tires, burning and devastating destruction of buildinds, etc.
    What do you mean by his goals NOT being those wanted by us, the mexicans? I am all for a more competitive country, with a bigger and better infrastructure, which intensifies trade with other countries in order to minimize its dependance on the US Economy. I have family and friends who actually voted for AMLO, and and good number of them are now quite happy that their candidate lost.


  1. Plan Mexico… or Plan Roger Noreiga? « The Mex Files

Leave a reply, but please stick to the topic

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: