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Contempt of… or for… Congress?

13 December 2013
Photo: El Diario de Coaahuila

Photo: El Diario de Coaahuila

Mexicans, like any other humans, of course have an appreciation for the aesthetic appeal of the human nude, but this is a culture where it’s not so much a matter of “clothes make the man” (though it would be silly to say that a guy in a suit and tie won’t get better service at your local license branch than the guy in shorts and a tee-shirt) but that to dress is a sign of respect.

To undress in public … except maybe on the beach (where even there, it is somewhat considered a private act — next time you’re at a Mexican beach, notice how many even well-knit young Mexicans will wear a shirt when they go in the water), or when a futbol player pulls off his shirt in exultation of an unlikely GOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLL! it is also a sign of contempt to go naked (or underdressed) in public.

If you’ve ever had the dubious pleasure of stumbling into a brawl in Mexico, the first sign that things are serious is that one of the combatants takes off his shirt. While not destroying a good shirt in a stupid bar-fight (or explaining to your mom how you got those bloodstains) may be a factor, it is a signal to one’s rival that the shirtless person will face him … without armor as it were… not only “I bear contempt for you”, but I “bare my contempt to you… and the world”. Similarly, while the “naked farmer” protests were making the point that they’d lost their shirts (and everything else!) due to what they consider misguided government policies, they were also exhibiting their contempt for the politicians that created those policies. It wasn’t for nothing that many of them were wearing nothing but a picture of Carlos Salinas’ face to cover their genitals (figuratively… excuse the language… “skull-fucking” the father of NAFTA).

Antonio García Conejo is a PRD Deputy (lower house representative) from the very traditionalist (and traditionally “communalist”… if not Socialist) state of Michoacán, forever associated with its former Governor, and the father of nationalizion, Lazaro Cardenas.    García, in stripping down down to his underwear and socks in the well of the Chamber of Deputies,  was — in a very real sense — not only signalling that the coming brawl is going to be serious, but that he (and the people he represents) have the utmost contempt for his legislative colleagues.

“Energy Reforms” passed with support from PRI, PAN and their small allied parties (the not so “green” Greens, and the New Alliance)  … over objections by PRD, and the smaller leftist parties (for once putting aside their differences).  To the left, and to perhaps a majority of Mexicans, this is seen as selling out national interests to private concerns in the United States…  something celebrated  by Forbes today:

… the law includes measures to open the oil and gas industry to private and foreign investment, through cash, profit-sharing and production contracts. What is new, however, and is the result of the hard political bargaining that has taken place between the governing PRI and the PAN in recent weeks, is the legal entity of the “license”. Although the legislation still explicitly prohibits the use of concessions in the hydrocarbons sector, the license will act in a very similar way, with the idea that it will be applied to unconventional projects (primarily shale). This item made its way into the legislation thanks to the PAN insisting that the government adopt a more liberal approach to oil reform to secure PAN support in the aftermath of the deeply divisive fiscal reform process.

But, to Deputy García the reform bill is treason and those who have supported it deserve his contempt (my translation):

It’s beyond belief that Deputies from PAN and PRI come into this room to violate the mandate conferred upon them. That is called treason. Here in this very chamber, they took an oath to protect and defend the Political Constitution of the Mexican United States.

Comrades, they stripped the Nation of its goods: privatizing Telefonos de Mexico, to what benefit? They robbed the nation privatizing the railroads. Where is the benefit?”

Dutch Journalist Jan-Albert Hootsen, who spoke with Deputy García earlier today, quoted him as saying “I stripped down, because no one was listening to me. And if they violate [in the sense of rape] Mexico, why should I act according to their rules?”

The gloves are off … along with the shirts and pants… and the fight is on.

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