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Sunday Readings: 7 September 2008

7 September 2008

The pursuit of happiness…

A little snarky, but Manuel Roig-Franzia’s report on Marcelo Ebrard’s campaign to bring a little fun into the lives of poor Mexicans is worth a read (Washington Post, 1 September 2008 — free subscription required):

Yes, the city has profound problems, he says, but he’s asking for everyone to “have some fun” while he embarks on a vast infrastructure rebuilding program, cleans up downtown and expands the sorely overburdened subway system.

“I know I’m infuriating some people who have the money to go to beaches or go somewhere it snows,” Ebrard says one recent afternoon over coffee at his dining room table. “We have a very classist tradition here.”

To Ebrard’s way of thinking, class divisions stifle the city, making it “old-fashioned,” “boring,” “depressing.”

“Do you realize half the young people in this city can’t afford to go to a disco or a club?” he says. “So I make these various symbols. Now people can go to a place where there is ice, and they can lie on the sand here in the city.”

“Let’s do something new,” he says over and over. “Something cool.”

And bringing a little Mexican energy north of the border

Sachi Fujimori meets a traditioal Totanac healer… successfully cleansing the evil spirts around Clifton, New Jersey. (28 August 2008 North Jersey Herald-News):

Juarez, a compact man with dark, silver-flecked curly hair that bounces to his shoulders, belongs to the Totonac Indians, a Mesoamerican indigenous group. He descends from a long line of shamans, born in a mountain village in Mexico’s Puebla state. Like most Latin American shamans, he has a mythic story that explains his origins as a medium. When he was barely a year old, he became gravely ill. His mother consulted several shamans, who helped him recover. They told her they saw eagles in the infant’s spirit, a sign that he, too, someday would become a healer.

Juarez, 41, who has never married and has no children, settled in Clifton 16 years ago, seeking new opportunities and a better life. He hoped to take a break from practicing shamanism, and thought he’d be content working as landscaper. But old friends and acquaintances from Mexico who lived in the area kept calling him for healing services. “I couldn’t escape my destiny, what I am,” he said.

He says he wants a revolution, well you know…

I’m of the opinion that a series of two events (the 1810 Independence War and the 1910 Revolution) is … a series of two.  However, from an unexpected source, the wonkish RGE (Roubini Global Economics) Monitor comes Walter Molano’s musings on the Mexican economy and the NEED for a 2010 revolt:

The Mexican economy is a sea of relative tranquility in a convulsed world. Economic activity grew about 3% y/y in second quarter, exceeding most forecasts. The budget surplus was $8.5 billion during the same period, and Mexico is slowly diversifying its exports away from its North American partner. Mexican industry is booming, despite the downturn north of the border. Higher shipping costs are reducing competitive pressures from Asia, and the problems in Detroit are breathing new life into the Maquila sector. North American automobile manufacturers are moving more of their operations to Mexico in order to avoid higher medical and environmental costs. Therefore, the economy appears sound. However, a closer look at the situation reveals several social impasses that need to be resolved if Mexico is ever going to move up the development ladder. Unfortunately, the only way to overcome these obstacles could be with revolutionary change.

There’s gold in them thar hills… and that’s the problem

Canadian mining giant Goldcorp faces off against Mayans in Guatemala.  Nathan Einbinder in Upside Down World.

Not unlike the original conquistadores, in their fervent scramble for precious metals and disregard for Indigenous peoples, the new mining doctrine in Guatemala is just as much a threat to the Maya campesinos and their perpetual struggle for land and rights. Argued by critics as the next wave of land theft and imperialism, foreign controlled mining activity has increased from practically nothing ten years ago into massive concessions—equaling 10 percent or more of the entire country—giving nearly unlimited exploitative rights to the corporations.

Our expanding universe

Added links this week:

Caracas Chronicles,  which is often wryly anti-Hugo Chavez, but generally steers clear of the most obvious propaganda and absurd claims of “dictatorship”.  There have recently been a series of posts analyzing the opposition party websites.

Mexico Cooks:  Christina has “eaten in 28 of Mexico’s 31 states (plus the Distrito Federal–Mexico City) and continue[s] to be a serious student of Mexico’s cuisines.”  And concocts an elegant, well-presented website:

Papaya!  Cut open to expose its sweet orange flesh, this papaya is ready to eat.  Be sure to let your papaya ripen till the skin is nearly moldy.  The fruit will be at its peak of ripeness.

Los 71 dias que sacudieron a Mexico :  Archival photos and articles on the 40th anniversary of the 1968 massacre put together by El Universal.

I Married An Alien is a very down to earth blog (with links and resources) for bi-national couples. The post that sold me discussed the pros and cons, and the challenges, of raising bi-lingual children. Although written for couples in the United States, it appears to have a lot to recommend it to gringos who are the “alien” in the couple.

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