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I got you under my skin…

29 December 2009

I was at a party recently with a naturalized Mexican who still likes to show off his IFE card, which led to some discussion of which political party (if any) he planned to join.  One starting with the letter “P” I’m guessing.  Which led to the naturalized Mexican introducing me to a rather conservative fellow as a “pinche petista”.  Not being a Mexican citizen, I’m not a member of any party, and more bemused than anything by PT (the Workers’ Party)

I am not now, nor have I ever been. nor — even if I decided to become a naturalized Mexican citizen — would I be likely to join a wacky party  allegedly founded by Carlos Salinas as a means to split the left, theoretically Maoist and presently allied with the Lopez Obradorista wing of the PRD in the Chamber of Deputies, and his deadly enemy in other places.    At least for today.

My politics, or at least my take on politics has been popping up all over the place lately.

The always perceptive “From Xico” blog riffed off a comment of mine in a post yesterday.  I basically agreed with Esther’s contention that although the Obama Administration is doing a lot of good domestically, it needs to do more, and its Latin American policy is seen by Latin Americans as somewhere between a disappointment and a disaster.  Esther references a recent remark by Carlos Álvarez (the Secretary-General of Mercosur), who was asked by Laura Carlsen about U.S.-Latin American relations.

Carlsen asked if Álvarez expected any change under Obama in Latin American policy. Älvarez was not optimistic. He said, in fact, that he thought Latin America would do best if the US ignored it.

I’m reminded that another Argentine, Ché Guevara, said almost exactly the same thing in 1964.  In an interview for ABC’s “Issues and Answers” program, Che was asked what the United States should do about (or, rather, “for”) Cuba, and Latin America in general.  His response:

Nothing, just leave us alone.

Esther herself is “left-ier” than most gringos, but is more attuned to domestic issues north of the border than I am.  While what happens in the United States is important to me (after all, most of my book sales are in the United States, and I’m a citizen) I write from, and about, Latin America.  I  do tend to view the “old country”, and it’s president, from the perspective here.  Which even among Mexican conservatives is decidedly “left” of that in the United States.

It’s not recent, but a post written in response to some anonymous blogger’s “Six Reasons for not living in Mexico” must have caught his attention.  I didn’t notice it until today (there were three hits on this site yesterday from that one) but the guy wrote a “Response to the Response...” — the first time I’ve ever been accused of this:

With all due respect, your take on the “treatment of humans” in Mexico sounds like something Calderon’s government might cook-up right before the elections in order to fool the masses that their lives are, in fact, great.

… and this (in reference to my contention that a car isn’t a necessity for living comfortably here):

Again, sounds like information from a PAN poster sugar-coating Mexican reality before an election.

If anything, I’ve been warned that my remarks about PAN and the Calderón administration skirt terribly close to the line of interfering in Mexican politics. Nah… I’m not writing in any of the 268 recognized legal languages of this country, nor am I doing anything but looking at what is not well reported outside Mexico, for an overwhelmingly foreign readership. Anyway… PAN? Moi?

I am not now, nor have I ever been, nor would I be a member of a party that was founded by fascists, seeks a clerical state, and — in general — strikes me as a bunch of reactionary weenies.

Jason Dormandy  takes a bankshot off my assumed political stance on “Secret History” while  carving a well-deserved  auxiliary anal orifice out of the backside of the Wall Street Journal’s David Luhnow for his ridiculous contention that the recent “drug war” weariness expressed by Mexicans is somehow the fault of the PRI:

Luhnow’s portrait of Mexico is a land where people turn a blind eye to violence and distrust the government? Is he talking about Mexico or Republicans? Hmmm… back in November, David, you told us Mexicans were fighting back against violence – with violence. Now in one month they are just numb? Society moves at amazing speed in Mexico.

The item I wanted to comment on (beyond his total lack of evidence) was his pinning of supposed distrust on the PRI alone. The behavior of the PAN, particularly the Calderon administration’s militarization of society and sock-puppet-for-the-US stance, has no influence on distrust?

Jason points out that Mexican in general don’t trust politicians (a truism throughout the Americas) and gives one reason he sees as more Mexico-specific than otherwise:

PRI, PAN, and (sorry Richard) PRD? If distrust exists, we’re looking at the product of the poor of any party subject to the whims and lawlessness of the wealthy of any party for whom no rule of law exists. Class, not party, is the dividing factor between ruled and ruler in Mexico.

Nothing to apologize for, Jason.  Of course, party politics tends to be a rich man’s game or is seen as route to wealth and power.  And the poor are hapless bystanders in any political system.  When I was in Mexico City recently, I bought a copy of “Machetearte”.  While relying on Goths and Punketos  to handle distribution probably cuts into potential bourgeois — and even working class — readership, it’s worth picking up for the “other” political movement.  Although the  Zapatistas are better known for rejecting electoral politics, they are hardly alone.  The Machetearte folks reject PRD as too “Centerist” (consigning the PRI to the right, and PAN to the outer limits of neo-fascism) — and there’s the huge number of people (as in any country) who just don’t give a shit one way or another.  But, it’s the political parties that set the rules for governance here, and — as Molly Ivins once said, “ya gotta dance with them that brung ya.”

The PRD is probably more in tune with my druthers, but it doesn’t make them any “purer” than the other organized parties (and I’m including the Zapatistas here).  I think they get a raw deal in the foreign media (and Lopez Obradór was hardly the raving lunatic portrayed in the “mainstream media” both here and north of the border) and had his probable electoral victory in 2006 been affirmed, Mexico’s economic and security situation would have been less dire.   I also have found that even well-informed people assume Mexico, like the U.S., is a two-party state or that the President runs everything.  When writing, I tend to stress the largest of the “other” parties and, right now, with presidency becoming less powerful as the legislature gains power, it’s important to look at the minority parties.  And the PRD is the party that holds the balance of power in the Chamber of Deputies.

Other than that, I agree that PRD rule wouldn’t change the way governance works here all that much.  It would mean a different set of professional politicos  making themselves rich at taxpayer expense. Just that PRD tends to include a lot of people who I think  deserve to steal the money more than some others.  And, besides, are guys I’d rather hang with.  And tend to agree with me.

Not that I’m a voter, or that I think I’ll be one any time in the near future, and have to be content with cranky quasi-Mexican opinions about the United States and cranky quasi-gringo ones about Mexico.  And getting myself talked about.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 29 December 2009 3:45 pm

    Wow, so many issues to discuss and so many thoughts in my head as I read the entire post. I agree with most of what you said and the quote from Jason. Mexico is still divided by class, which is also reinforced by the regional isolation of Southern Mexico.

    As the son of Mexican immigrants and a historian of Mexican history, I am always aware of the limits of respect from my parent’s generation and by friends in Mexico to my opinion on contemporary issues.

    It sounds like we have similar political leanings as most of my friends tend to support the PRD although the majority of friends at the Autonoma in Chihuahua are Panistas.

    But I am who I am and I would have told the “naturalized Mexican” ¡Que vaya a la CHINGADA!

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