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Transition in Oaxaca?

29 April 2018

Could you see this happening in one of the US states?

Political parties are making history in Oaxaca after nominating 19 transgender women as candidates (or their substitutes) for mayor in 12 municipalities.

The For Mexico in Front coalition, an alliance of the National Action (PAN), the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and the Citizens’ Movement (MC) parties, registered the largest number of transgender candidates with seven.

Absent from the list is the left-leaning Morena party and its allies in the Together We’ll Make History coalition, the Labor and Social Encounter parties.

“Transgender women will let the voters know that they are a political option,” said electoral institute president Gustavo Meixueiro Nájera.

(Mexico Daily News, 29 April 2018)

Now, before one gets too freaked out … or starts cheering too much… it should be pointed out that Oaxaca has 570 municipalities, so this means these candidates are running in two percent of the races for “mayor”. It might also be noted that “transgender” is a somewhat inaccurate translation several of the candidates are not, by western (or northern) thinking transgender, but are the third gender of the Zapotecs, muxes. Being biologically male, they are recorded as such on their birth certificate, although their role in Zapotec society is more that of the female. It seems to be less “liberalism” than simply finding a work-around for the bureaucrats that Oaxaca makes it relatively simple to change one’s gender on a birth certificate, and muxes often have themselves officially classified as female. In Zapotec society, women have always held the economic and social power, and there are some advantages to a muxe being classified as female.

While it is certainly a good thing that political parties are recognizing that minorities can make for viable candidates it should be noted that election laws in Oaxaca require gender parity for candidates on a party’s slate.

Most of these communities hold elections according to “traditional use and custom”… generally meaning the winner is chosen by consensus after public deliberation, rather than by balloting. It’s very likely that some of these candidates COULD win based on their adherence to one or another of the traditional parties, but then again, Oaxaca… especially rural Oaxaca… has a radical history, and the leftist Morena coalition may sweep these elections. May the best person win.


Coming never? OR “The Producers” and the pols

28 April 2018

With Televisa, TV Azteca, Netflicks, ClaroVision, and even the theater chain Cinemex, having all given a pass to the chance to air “Populismo en América Latina” the  advertising that has been seen in recent days on the sides of Mexico City buses may have been a tad premature.

Assumed to have been financed by Carlos Salinas and Claudio X. Gonzales, allegedly with a 100 million peso budget ($US 5.4 million), the would-be documentary (meant, apparently, to show Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in the “tradition” of Juan Domingo Peron, Hugo Chavez and Lula da Silva … and is that bad?) was entrusted to producer Javier García,  García had a minor acting career, mostly in his filmsn he also produced:  the most recent being “Cazador de narcos”.  If you don’t remember that 2003 release, you’re not alone.  Low budget, even by Mexican standards, cop thrillers would seem to have been more up García’s alley than documentaries.  Spanish director Enelio Farina maybe has a little more experience with the genre… he’s apparently well-known for producing television commercials.

Where did we go right?

Admittedly, Mexfiles knows nothing about the movie biz, but somehow, one doubts smart guys like Salinas and Gonzales would have dropped this much money on what appears to have been a start-up production company (La Division) run by people with this particular “skill set” behind them.  Either the budget is highly inflated  or — with Salinas and Gonzales reflexively seen as the villains behind any anti-AMLO project of any magnitude — the project was never intended to actually be shown.  Both seem reasonable.  An inflated production budget for a dog of a show ( a la “The Producers“) could be profitable not only for the producers themselves, but for anyone looking to make money disappear.  And, assuming the costs were more reasonable, the attempt to create an image of AMLO as an intolerant, wannabe censor and tyrant, would be a relatively inexpensive way to get around pesky election laws about negative advertising and outright slander for the “any neoliberal will do, but above all stop AMLO” political class.

Neither Televisa nor TV Azteca (our two major television networks), neither of which has ever shown any indication of giving AMLO even the benefit of the doubt in their news coverage, having turned the “documentary series” down, one is dubious that, as AMLO claims, it shows the networks have some ethical standards hitherto unknown.  Maybe they do, but maybe the thing is a dog, and the networks aren’t about to turn off even more audience than they have already lost to Clarovision and Netflicks.  Which didn’t want it either.  If Salinas and Gonzales (or whoever the wizards behind the curtain might be) really want to get this into the public, they might take a cue from the Mexican political thriller “Ingobernable” in which the protagonists turn to Tepito’s thriving pirate CD industry to get their message to the public.  But in that story, the plan was to force the mainstream media to report what people have seen.  Here, the plan is to create a news event over what is unseen.  Perhaps because it doesn’t show anything worth seeing?


Regeneracíon, “Salinas pagó 100 mpd por serie de ‘populismo’ y televisoras no la quieren: AMLO” 22 April 2018.

“Javier García”,

El Finanaciero, “Ésta es la productora detrás de la serie ‘Populismo en América Latina”“, 27 April 2018.

Sin Embargo, “Una élite lanzó el “todos contra AMLO”, dicen analistas políticos; tienen sus dudas que funcione“, 26 April 2018.

SDPNoticias, “AMLO presiona para que no se transmita nuestro trabajo: Productores de serie sobre “populismo“, 26 April 2018.

La Division .

Dirs-n-Dops, the Filmmakers Industry, “Enelio Farina

Apples and oranges: LGBT equality here and there

26 April 2018

A study by two political scientists, published today by the London School of Economics,reveals the puzzling finding that Mexico has offered greater legal equality for LGBT people for a longer period of time than the United States. ”  I am not a political scientist, but wonder why the authors find it puzzling.

Photo: José Miguel Rosas, CC BY-SA 2.0

We haven’t had laws against sodomy since 1871, which is not surprising.  U.S. law was largely an heir to the British legal system, while Mexico, in common with other Latin American nations… largely adopted the Civil Code (“Napoleonic Code”) that had been the standard in European nations for decades before Benito Juarez got around to pushing through a standard legal system.  Our Constitution has “prohibits discrimination based on “sexual preferences” [while T]here is no explicit constitutional protection for sexual orientation in the United States.”  Thst, perhaps is surprising, until one realizes that changes to the Mexican Constitution are relatively simple, and the addition of “sexual preference” to the wording of the first article was included (with some controversy) along with several other enumerated classes of non-discrimination to conform with the then standard South African Constitution of 1996 and other then more modern legal thinking.  And, yes, we did have nation-wide recognition of same-gender marriage before the United States… by a few months, anyway.

What is puzzling isn’t that Mexico was more forward in these matters, but that the United States was so retro.  The authors, Caroline Beer – a professor of Political Science at the University of Vermont – and Victor D. Cruz-Aceves – a doctoral candidate in Political Science at Christian-AlbrechtsUniversität zu Kiel (Germany), focus on two areas to account for what puzzles them:  politics and religion.  They seem to be making assumptions about both based on superficial similarities, rather than focusing on the profound differences that separate the two North American national cultures.

Of course the political systems are different.  The United States has had for the last 175 years only two political parties of any significance, both relatively capitalist and centerist.  The “left” in the United States has no comparison to the “left” in a country that went through a major revolution only a century ago, and in which Socialist and Fascist parties have both been major forces over the years, and U.S. style “liberalism” is centerist or center-right in our politics.  Beers and Cruz-Aceves, to their credit, do note that as a “new democracy” (under the assumption that multi-party electoral politics is the definition of democracy) we probably are more proactive in demanding rights, and perhaps are more vocal about it, what they miss is the long history of Mexico’s obsession with “modernity”.

Going back to the first republic, and the fights between the Yorkista and Escosia masonic lodges, Mexican politics has pivoted around a pole of modernity and conservativism.  And, even when conservatives were in power (as during most of Santa Anna’s era), the conservatives were always preoccupied with emulating the Europeans. , while attempting to preserve traditional privileges.  Extending rights to LGBT persons was no threat to the elites, and was “modern” as well.  That we followed European examples in extending basic rights to LGBT persons then, was hardly a radical move.

There were some religious objections, especially from the Church hierarchy, but — as the authors of Religion, the state, and the states explain why Mexico has stronger LGBT rights than the US note, for historical reasons, the “wall of separation” between Church and State is much higher here, and we like it that way. What I thought was a weakness in their comparison though, was an assumption that “Religion” (as a political factor) would have about the same meaning in the two societies. The conservative religion in the United States is Evangelical Protestantism, while in Mexico it is Roman Catholicism. Beers and Cruz-Aceves are absolutely spot-on in noting that, in the United States, religious belief is more likely to be given as a reason for a political posture (although, on the issue of same-gender marriage, it is popping up in the Mexican presidential campaign as well), but that is not entirely due to the just the historic taboos on using religion here to justify policy. Puritans have always been more concerned about the moral standing of the community than the Catholics, for whom private “sins” that don’t affect the community as a whole are generally overlooked (or at least, can be confessed and forgiven). And, in Latin America, we have always had a much more relaxed view of religion, seeing it as a culture, rather than as a personal statement.

Where I think the authors go wrong is in their thesis statement: “Common stereotypes about Mexico’s macho culture might lead us to expect that the legal landscape for gay rights in Mexico would be far less egalitarian than in the United States,” What “macho culture”? This is a culture of extended families, under the watchful eye of matriarchs. Yes, sexism is rampant here, but within the family, women rule. Within extended families, of course there are LGBT members, and the family (and the family matriarch), even if otherwise a conservative Catholic, carves out an exception for Her family. Add too, “compradizo”… “buddy.ship” if you will, or even “bro-mance”. Close, life-long friendships between unrelated persons of the same gender are the rule, not the exception. That these are sometimes sexual is a given, and no one thinks otherwise.

(As an aside, WTF is “macho” anyway? I’ve never seen anything defined that distinguishes this supposedly Mexican trait from sexist assumptions anywhere else on the planet, and … as the word was only used to describe bulls or other male farm animals until the late 1960s, the pseudo-Spanish coinage of Robert McAlmon and Ernest Hemingway back in the 1920s … to reference the attitudes of SPANIARDS, not Mexicans… I wonder if using the word “macho” — even if to say it is a stereotype — doesn’t suggest that the authors’ puzzlement isn’t just that they themselves are biased in their assumptions to begin with).

These notes may seem critical or nit-picky, but my intention is not to denigrate the fine work the pair has done. If anything, it’s the best I’ve ever seen on this particular topic.. not so much the specific question of why LGBT equality was obtained (at least legally) in Mexico sooner than in the United States, but why the Mexican policy can, and does, change with less political and cultural upheaval than that of our larger, supposedly tolerant and pluralistic, northern neighbor.

Dumb and dumber: Trump on NAFTA

24 April 2018

Translated from “Trump pide a México actuar como agente migratorio a cambio de acuerdo sobre el TLCAN“, J. Jesús Esquivel , April 23, 2018, Proceso.

WASHINGTON (AP) – The president of the United States, Donald Trump, has once again called for new conditions for the restructuring of NAFTA, insisting the Mexican government act as a US immigration agent, preventing the entry of undocumented immigrants in his country.

“Mexico, whose immigration laws are very strict, must prevent people from reaching the United States through Mexico. We could make this a condition for the new NAFTA. Our country cannot accept what is happening, we must also have the funds to finance the construction of the wall soon, “Trump wrote Monday morning on his personal Twitter account.

Trump’s conditions come just as what may be the last stage of renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between his government, Canada and Mexico is about to begin.

On Monday the Mexican Foreign Minister, Luis Videgaray, and the Secretary of Economy, Idelfonso Guajardo, will arrive in the US capital to participate in the plenary session that will take place on Tuesday the 24th with their Canadian and US counterparts.

Why would anyone think it wa sthe job of one nation to enforce the administrative procedures of another nation?

Is Mexico expected to determine the reason any citizen or visitor is leaving the country? Maybe this is “doable” in North Korea, but here… nah!

Will the United States reciprocate, and keep its own citizens from traveling?

How does one determine who is leaving the country not to return, and who is going for an extended vacation, or for some other reason?

Does Trump even know what a Free Trade Agreement is?

Derailing the election… by design?

11 April 2018

Under the assumption that this candidate, Jaime Ramírez, El Bronco, will be able to cut into the margin of López Obrador, the group in power preferred to extinguish all legitimacy of the electoral authorities in order to inflict a wound on the opposition leader. For the time being, it has become clear that most of the [Electoral] Tribunal’s ministers are party hacks in power. We knew that [PRI had an edge in the Tribuna], we did not know that they were employees willing to commit any ignominy when so ordered.

Jorge Zapada Patterson in El País.

Qualifying “El Bronco” for the presidential ballot has been, so far, the most desperate (and obvious) attempt to … if not stop the AMLO campaign (or at least cut enough into his eventual vote count to cover any “irregularities” that would give some legitimacy to claims that it was “too close to call” and another candidate is declared the winner (a la 2006), then to blow the system up, delegitimizing the whole idea of contested elections.

Death is no excuse

8 April 2018

Maria Felix would have been 104 today. It’s also the anniversary of her death in 2002. A diva to the end… and beyond.

I was caught in traffic during her final curtain call.. having been exhumed at the behest of distant relatives who figured her death on her 88th birthday … had to have been a plot by her sexagenarian toy-boy to gain control of her estate, the petitioned the local prosecutor to have her dug up for a second autopsy. Of course, her fans all showed up to cheer the hearse leaving the French Cemetery. Rest in Peace? The woman never took a rest… not when she could still milk out a little more drama!

Ask, and you may not receive

7 April 2018

Translated from ¿Tiene razón Trump?, J. Jésus Lema, Reporte Indigo

United States President Donald Trump celebrated yesterday the dilution of the “Viacrucis Migrante” caravan crossing through Mexican territory thanks, according to his Twitter account, to Mexico’s “strong” immigration policy.
Even though the Mexican government officially denied intervening in the movement’s dissolution, similiarity between the two country’s immigration policies are once again at the center of a debate.

Official statistics confirm Trump’s contention that Mexico has a “strong immigration policy”. Deportation rates in Mexico are up 80 percent this past year.

Just in the months of January and February of 2018, according to figures from the National Institute of Migration (INM for its initials in Spanish), the US government deported 32,017 Mexicans. In the same period, the INM detained 20,928 illegal entrants into Mexico, deporting 77 percent (16,278) of them.
During 2017, per IMN statistics, the United States ordered the repatriation of 166,986 Mexicans, while in the same year, Mexico deported 80,353 foreigners, mostly Central Americans, for illegal entry.

What these numbers demonstrate is that the immigration policy the U.S. government pursues against Mexicans who enter their country without documentation, is in practice the same as that pursued by Mexico against migrants who come mainly from the countries of Central America.
In 2017, of the 95,497 migrants who were detained by the Mexican immigration authorities, 84 percent were returned to their countries.

The numbers reveal that the majority of migrants in Mexico are Central Americans looking to find better opportunities. Of the 80,353 migrants who were expelled from the country, 35,133 were from Guatemala, 29,000 from Honduras and 11,542 from El Salvador.

Of the 166,986 Mexicans who were expelled from the United States in 2017, the greatest number were from eight states: 6,059 from Guerrero; 14,937 from Michoacan; 14,722 from Oaxaca; 11,087 from Guanajuato; 9,236 from Veracruz; 8,355 from Puebla; 8,221 from Jalisco; and 7,680 from the State of Mexico.


Compared with high deportation figures from Mexico are comparatively low number of people who remain on national soil, mainly under refugee status.

According to data from the Mexican Commission for Refugee Aid (COMAR for its initials in Spanish), from 2013 to December 2017, the Mexican government has only granted refugee statutes to 23 percent of the 29,552 foreign applicants who have applied for political asylum, mainly Hondurans, Salvadorans and Guatemalans.

COMAR figures show that of the14,596 foreigners who entered illegally into our country and requested refugee status, the Mexican government denied that possibility to a total of 1,650 people. Another 2,233 never completed the bureaucratic procedure, 167 voluntarily gave up their petition, and 7,719 are still waiting for a response.

In sum, of all the applicants for political asylum registered in 2017, a total of 4,475 foreigners completed the administrative process, of which 1,907 were recognized as refugees, and 908 received complementary protection for their safety from the Mexican government. By gender, 5,876 were women, and 8,720 were men.

Central American migrants have fared poorly in their request for asylum. Of those 1,907 persons granted asylum as refugees, 907 were Venezuelans. Only 378 of the 4,272 Hondurans who requested asylum received it, and of the 3,708 Salvadorians, only 525 were given permission to stay.