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Sunday readings: spare change

8 November 2009

Burro Hall commemorates an important date in the history of tourism:

November 8, 1519: Aztec ruler Moctezuma II welcomes a large Spanish package tour organized by Hernan Cortés and a local representative, Doña Malinche, to his lakeside hotel in Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City).

Hector Tobar (Los Angeles Times) on the transformation on another, more benign, conquest…

I first met Ben Reed, a veteran Idaho radio DJ, while reporting a story for The Times nine years ago. Ben is not someone you easily forget. He’s a former Mormon missionary and fluent Spanish speaker who used to be a conservative talk show host. Among Spanish radio listeners in southern Idaho he’s known by his on-air persona as “El Chupacabras,” or the goat vampire.

Reed once was a devout Reagan Republican. Then his corner of southern Idaho filled up with Spanish-speaking people. He fell in love with his new neighbors. They were emotional people who always seemed ready to hug him. He became addicted to their music and their food. And he fell hard for Deyanira too.

All of this has led him to put on “the moccasins of the immigrant,” Ben told me. Now nothing looks quite as simple as it used to. Love and empathy will do that, which is why some people think love and empathy are as dangerous to America as the swine flu.

“I’ve been radicalized by this whole experience,” Ben told me.

Ben, now 39, met Deyanira when she was an exchange student at Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg.

Before their scheduled wedding in 2007, she returned to Mexico to see her family. At LAX, she was told that returning for her wedding without having obtained a “fiance visa” constituted fraud. She was deported and her tourist visa revoked. Ben tried for a year to get her papers sorted out. Then he moved to Mexico.

“He gave up everything to be with me,” Deyanira, 34, told me over the phone from Queretaro, Mexico.

Ben and Deyanira were married in December in the picturesque town of San Miguel de Allende. These days, like Nicole Hernandez and others, Ben is an American living with a Mexican spouse in immigration exile.

He says he’s never been happier…

British tax expert, Richard Murphy (taxresearch.org.uk) carps about one American nation’s reluctance to turn over a new leaf when it comes to money laundering:

I have been reading more of the evidence submitted to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing on Business Formation and Financial Crime.

That of the American Bar Association is shocking. They say…

a) We want law enforcement but not if it costs anything or might work

b) We want an exclusive crave out for ourselves that provides competitive advantage

c) We wish that competitive advantage to be based on turning a blind eye to criminality.

Yes: I know about client confidentiality. But crime is always a crime and whilst lawyers must be able to defend their clients it is an unfortunate fact that lawyers have also been found,time and again, to be assisting tax abuse in the US.

Although some might say that getting a quasi-semi-sorta-public health reform bill through the United States House of Representatives was the biggest change in the Americas this week, and others might note the bad-faith “negotiations” in Honduras that seem to solidify a governmental change, and still others noted Haiti’s cabinet changes… yet another place in the Americas also experienced a radical political upheaval — every single member of the Falklands Islands assembly was defeated for reelection:

Not one of the old council survived the cull. Through the ballot box, people said they were fed up with the men and women who decided almost everything, from parochial domestic issues, through the multi-million pound budget and administration, to foreign relations. As a result, the Islands are now facing one of their most interesting political periods for many years.

The election results show that the old days of councillors assuming adequate consultation meant no more than occasional public meetings in drafty halls are over. Now, the electorate expects their leaders to be good communicators who are up to speed with the latest technology and transparent in their work. Even in the Falklands, the information revolution has changed the way people think. They expect to be informed, consulted, kept in the picture and listened to.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 9 November 2009 2:54 pm

    Ben Reed’s story is far from unique…sadly. The U.S. State Dept. REFUSED me and my (then) fiancée a fiancée visa after I jumped through all of Homeland Security’s hoops and got their approval to apply to the State Dept.

    They said that we were committing “Visa Fraud”, so they refused the visa. We too ended up getting married in México, Mazatlán in our case. FYI, this decision is unappealable, so I guess we are now convicted criminals, as far as the U.S. State Dept. is concerned.

    But the biggest eye-opener for me, a U.S. citizen, was the absolute “cattle drive” conditions and the indifference of the consular employees at the Ciudad Juárez U.S. Consulate General (the only place in México where any sort of resident visas are issued). Totally unbelievable that the U.S. government could treat people this way.

    I’m certainly glad that I live in México and now have Mexican citizenship!

  2. marc seegers permalink
    24 December 2009 7:40 pm

    I hope some day deyanira gets a price for all the works she does for childeren and i hope some day the live becomes better in mexico greetings from holland

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