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BIG Sunday Readings

25 October 2009

Big  ego

For the second or third time I can remember, there are plans to re-create the Mexican federal police agencies “modeled on the FBI”.  While John Lyons of the Wall Street Journal seems to miss a key point that the 3000 plus police agencies in Mexico range from small town two man forces to federal agencies, and talking about changes in the federal agency by talking about forces with officers who haven’t gone beyond secondary school is like comparing the Barney Fife to Eliot Ness.  Even so, his portrait of the controversial Genaro Garcia Luna, Calderón’s Secretario de Seguridad Pública, provides an interesting look at a guy with a oversized ability to create controversy:

Critics, including some opposition lawmakers, deride him as a wannabe J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI’s first director, and say his efforts are plagued by incompetence and ethical lapses. Like Mr. Hoover, they say, he has used strong-arm tactics against critics, trumping up legal charges against them to compel their silence. In his zeal for boosting the image of the Federal Police, he admitted to staging a kidnap rescue for the benefit of television cameras. During a raucous, eight-hour appearance before congress in September, opposition lawmakers blasted him for failing to keep Mexico’s murder rate from soaring this year.

A rash of scandals among those close to him hasn’t helped Mr. García Luna build credibility. Though he has never been charged with a criminal act or implicated in a corruption scandal, some of his senior aides have. Last year, his top antidrug commander was arrested and charged with helping a cartel. He is in jail awaiting trial. Another officer in Mr. García Luna’s anti-kidnap squad was arrested for allegedly organizing phony police checkpoints to abduct victims on behalf of a kidnapping gang. She is being held for possible trial by Mexico City authorities.

(Mexican Cops Seek Upgrade, Wall Street Journal)

Big man on campus…

Universidad San Sebastián… a private Chilean institution ranking near the bottom of educational surveys in that country (46th out of 47; 48th out of 53 in another) … so it needs to think big as it builds its Santiago campus.

The neighbors couldn’t help but notice the huge head of Pope John Paul II rising out of the sculptor’s workshop next door.

Hidden behind the walls, the pope’s left hand gripped Jesus on the cross while his right extended outward, an imitation of the gesture he had made during his visit to Santiago two decades earlier.



But this was no private religious homage — it was the makings of a 40-foot-tall bronze statue meant to tower over a bohemian neighborhood in this capital city.

The idea of installing the statue in such a public place has sparked outrage, not only over its enormity but also over the lack of transparency in urban planning.

Not even the Catholic Church supports the project.

“The size of this giant statue is proportional to the lack of delicacy of those who, having money, power and influence, feel they own the city,” said Jesuit priest Felipe Berrios.

(Pascale Bonnefoy, Global Post)

Big Problem…

Secret History watched the ALMA Award show and noticed how small the slice of Latino community was at that gala:

… Elegantly dressed stars – all brilliantly groomed for public consumption – dazzled the crowd as they would at any other celebrity gathering. Standard. What was NOT standard, however, is the extreme “whiteness” of the crowd. Hold on, you say, mestizo power fully ruled the evening. Did not Eva Longoria Parker melt fans with all her shiny Cal State Chicano Studies charm? And that is exactly it. What we saw at the ABC hosted awards was the Mestizo and “Spanish” middle and upper class partying the night away. Mestizaje – the mask for ignoring the indigenous presence – reveled in full glory that night. When George Lopez is the darkest man in the room, something has gone awry.

(Jason Dormady, “Same Song (As Anglo TV), Second Verse…”)

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