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Stay tuned, sports fans

6 June 2011

I keep promising to not write about day to day political events, and — sort of like my promise to take more time off to work on a book — seem doomed to break my word.  Ni modo… while I have nothing to say about the arrest of Carlos Hank Rhon, the former Tijuana political boss (who, unlike his father, who famously said, “A politician who is poor is a poor politician” says, “There’s no such thing as dirty money:  mine is always well laundered”) on weapons charges.  Well, I can say that Hank Rhon claims the 88 weapons and 9000 rounds of ammunition were for his protection (he owns a sprawling estate that includes the old Aguas Calientes Racetrack — where Sea Biscuit did some of his best work — a casino complex and housing for his “security personnel”) and there are some serious questions being raised about the legality of the arrest itself:  Hank’s lawyers claim there was no warrant to enter the property, and by having been flown by military personnel to Mexico City, is being held incomunicado, in violation of his human rights.

That, and questions about the timing of the arrest, which some see as meant to discredit the PRI (of which Hank Rhon is a prominent member) ahead of the critical State of Mexico gubenatorial elections, are daily politics, the kind of thing I hope to leave to guys like Aguachile and Ganchoblog.  What interests me isn’t that Hank Rhon has his defenders, but that his defenders are showing up in uniform.

Among the other properties Hank has acquired over the years (he learned his daddy’s lessons well) is Tijuana’s pro soccer team, los Xoloitzcuintles de Calliente.  The various Xoloitzcuintle  “porras” (fan clubs) have been called on to mount protests in the club owner’s defense.

Porras have been a feature of Mexican politics since the 1950s, although, unlike the British soccer hooligans of the 70s, they have been less used as “shock troops” in street demonstrations, as in a cost-effective way for politicans to swell his cheering crowd (in return for tickets and free beer).  However, this clubs (which can get rowdy at futbol games, but rarely — if ever — turn violent) have given their name, “Porra” to other organzied mobs, and increasingly are seen as political gangs — hock troops that break up opposition rallys and demonstrations, although not necessarily recruited from futbol fans.  A huge exception might be in Guadalajara, where fights between various administrative factions at the Autonomous University have turned violent, and various leaders have unleashed porras recruited from the Tecos fans who share common social or political ideologies unrelated to what goes on in the stadium.

What makes the “Xolo” protests notable is that this is a variation on a theme I hadn’t seen before.  The Xolo porras are being told to wear the team colors — red and black — and to protest for what exactly, or against what (in favor of legal niceties, against weapons seizures?) and to what end, no one can quite figure out.

But they’re dogged defenders of whatever it is.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. humberto permalink
    7 June 2011 12:59 am

    The Xolos are red and black.
    Hank used the color red all trough his campaign for mayor and during his tenure, as well as trough his failed campaign for governor. This was to contrast with the blue of the “pan” and I guess to move away from the “tricolor” of the old PRI.

  2. 7 June 2011 1:40 pm

    I will never forget the statement he made in Frontline’s “Murder, Money & Mexico” when describing the great care he paid to all of the animals in his personal zoo. “The people…, well they can take care of themselves.”

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