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Well-chosen words for Sunday

10 April 2011

Scott Hensen (Grits For Breakfast) happened to be talking about the growing problem of corrupt (and corruptible) Border Patrol officers in the United States, but the same holds true for the security (or lack of security) situation here.

You could see this coming a mile away, but now those whose, ill-conceived, feel-good policies created this situation five years ago want credit for trying to clean up a preventable mess of their own making: Further evidence, if it were needed, of the results when demagoguery and policymaking collide.

Adrianne Pines (Quotha), follows up with a rather prescient statement probably not made with Plan Mérida in mind, but nonetheless, applicable:

The most absurd apology for authority and law is that they serve to diminish crime. Aside from the fact that the State is itself the greatest criminal, breaking every written and natural law, stealing in the form of taxes, killing in the form of war and capital punishment, it has come to an absolute standstill in coping with crime. It has failed utterly to destroy or even minimize the horrible scourge of its own creation.

(From “Anarchism and Other Essays”, Emma Goldman, 1910)


Photo of Real de Catorce:

Darcy Tetreault (Upside Down World), in looking at another issue, mining — where foreign capital and a hankering for Latin American commodities also leads to violence, repression and corruption — writes:

Most Canadians would probably be surprised to hear that, in academic and civil society circles, Canadian mining has come to epitomize rapacious capitalism and imperialism. Canadian companies dominate the mining sector in Latin America, with interests in over 12,000 properties. In 2010 alone, at least five social activists were murdered for protesting against Canadian mining activities, including Abarca Roblero, who opposed Blackfire’s operations in the Mexican state of Chiapas.

First Majestic Silver is contributing to this notorious reputation.  It is currently seeking local support and ways to convince government officials to grant permission for mineral extraction in Wirikuta. As part of this effort, company representatives have opened a museum in Real de Catorce and they have hired 15 locals to clean up the entrance to the old Santa Ana mine. Pay is between 70 and 240 dollars a week, a pittance compared to what the company is worth (1.58 billion dollars), but hard to refuse for people living in poverty. This strategy is not new: by offering jobs to some, mining companies can divide the local population and conquer. Another common strategy is to invent subsidiaries with Spanish names – in the case, Minera Real de Bonanza – in an effort to promote a Mexican public image.

Bob Mrotek (Mexico Bob), beginning with reminisces of his Catholic School readers (which featured David and Ann, rather than the public school’s Dick and Jane) looks at Mexican primers:

After the Mexican Revolution the Mexican Constitution was re-written in 1917 to include the provision that elementary education must be compulsory and that all education provided by the government must be free. Furthermore, the education should be designed to develop harmoniously all the faculties of the human being and should foster in each citizen a love of country and a consciousness of international solidarity, in regard to independence and justice. This was all well and good but the students were required to purchase their own books and many of these books were expensive beyond their reach and at the same time of dubious origin and quality. There were a number of important men who realized that access to good books would be a key ingredient in the education of the populace. One of these men was José Vasconcelos Calderón who was a Mexican writer, philosopher and politician. He was one of the most influential and controversial personalities in the development of modern Mexico and he was the driving force behind many efforts to make education accessible to everyone. He created the Secretariat of Public Education (SEP), in 1921 and later directed the National Library of Mexico in 1940. It is ironical that he died in June of 1959, just four months after Mexican President López Mateos created the National Commission of Free Textbooks. One year later in 1960 the free textbooks began flowing to the students. The first of these textbooks were reading primers.

The difference between the David and Ann, Dick and Jane books of the United States and the Mexican book was that the former focused on white, middle class, and idyllic family settings while the later focused on simple things that all children could relate to no matter what their status. If you mention the phrase “Ese oso se asea así” to just about any Mexicano or Mexicana in their 40’s or 50’s I am sure that you will evoke a smile.

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