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The Russians Are Coming!… with the Global South?

1 October 2022

With the Russian invasion (or… as they say, “Special Miliary Operation”) in Ukraine having sucked much of the international media coverage into a “neo-Cold War” narrative… the “Democratic West” and the “Authoritatian (old Communist) East” in a battle for the hearts and minds of the rest of us (what used to be called the “Third World”), what made Vladimir Putin’s remarks on annexing large chunks of eastern Ukraine relevant to a site focused on Mexico was the remarks he made in annoucing the annexation.

Mexfiles does not speak Russian, nor does it seem Mexico has a dog in the hunt in the European war, not directly anyway. Mexico has proposed a peace plan (dismissed by one Ukrainian commentator… said to be an advisor to the Ukrainian president) as a Russian plot of some kind (the Mexican proposal being a five year halt to hostilities, while a settlement is hammered out under the auspices of the United Nations, the Papacy, and the Prime Minister of India) …but other than that, and like most of the world, hit by a shortage of fertilizers and the economic fallout of the absurd spending by global northern nations on propping up the Ukrainian government, it hasn’t had much to say… other than leave us alone.

Most of the world’s nations … even those like Mexico that cannot escape their ties to those “Democratic Western” countries (by geography in Mexico’s case)… see no benefit in a “western victory” nor in continuation of that fratricidal slaughter in eastern Europe. The assumption (one shared by Mexfiles) is that the conflict is less a “Democratic” v “Authoritarian” visions than a fight for control over resources.

And this is where Putin’s comments regarding its “special military operation” (and it’s expansion) are of relevance.

Not knowing Russian, and our sources largely controlled by what’s presented by “mainstream media”… it is necessary to go to the alternative sources to find discussions of what it is the Russians are actually saying, or rather, how they would like their activities to be understood. What exactly Alexander Mercouris’ ideology is, exactly, I haven’t a clue… I take it he’s some sort of reactionary (at one point more or less praising Ronald Reagan’s economic policies) and — while not explicitly pro-Russian — he tneds to highlight Russian military successes, and dismisses the occasional Ukrainian ones. But… in discussing Putin’s speech… is not so much, as other “western” commentators are, focused on veiled (and not so veiled) threats to continue the fight, and escalate the conflict, as to his “outreach” to the global south, and what seems to be recasting Russia as less an alternative to ties with the US and NATO powers (as the old “bipolar” USA or USSR geopolitical struggle was cast) but as a fellow post-colonial state demanding its rights to control of its own resources and culture in a multi-polar framework.

In other words, Putin… if he’s to be taken at his word… sees Russia less as heir to the European colonialist heritage, than as a victim of neo-colonialism, and with the right to defend what he considers its own cultural heritage (alas, including homophobia and religious intolerance) and resources from exploitation (of resources) often justified by imposing western value systems.

Mexico has been rather quick to adopt “western” cultural values, or at least has never had much of a problem with them (and, yes… we are aware that its not perfect… classism, racism, homophobia, etc. are rampant here, like everywhere else, including the “liberal” nations of Europe and Norther(er) America), but control over resources, and an independent policy? That’s the very thing Latin America nations, and the Africans, and the Asians… the former colonial (and… for Latin America… neo-colonial, though that “neo” has been going on for the last two centuries) and more international cooperation focues on the needs of the citizens is something the global south responds to.

Doubt Putin’s sincerity if you like. Question Mercouris’ bona fides while you’re at it. But consider what’s going on in the world. Colombia seems to have turned it’s back on its rightist and pro-NATO recent past; Mexico is clawing back control of its energy production sector, and even nationalized its lithium, Guatemala (though right wing) is experiencing massive resistance to gold mining; and more and more, the Latin American nations are turning away from the US controlled Organization of American States in preference to their own “club”… CELAC… to discuss regional issues. Likewise, not exactly by choice but as a result of the “special military operation”, an the sanctions that followed, the Russians are more focused on their near neighors as “partners” than as places to be ideologically controlled… when Communist China, theocratic Iran, whatever Khazakistan is, etc. Likewise, the African Union … despite huge disparities in political and social systems and histories, are figuring out how to cooperate where the can, and let each other pursue their own cultural and political destinies.

So… perhaps here in Mexico, and elsewhere in Latin America, Africa, Asia, Oceana… you know, the 85% of the world with no real stake or say in the outcome of what happens in Slavic lands… will be seeing a world where geography is not destiny… not completely (Mexico is going to be next to the United States which, like it or not, will always be its major trading partner) but less important than what resources a nation has, and how they (not one, or two, ideological “camps”) demand they be managed.

And… will the “global south” be an adequate term, if the largest northern land mass is one of us?

(I haven’t had to edit youtube videos in a long time, and think I did it right… at any rate Mercouris can be pendantic (who is Mexfiles to talk?) and wasn’t going to discuss the military operations he devotes most of his usual hour or so of his podcasts. It’s still a bit over 20 minutes, and youtube videos are limited (or at least I don’t know how to make extended videos) to 15 minutes, so the first should be about 12 minues and some, the second a bit under 10 minutes. And… I hope… I split it right)


We don’t need no stinkin’ permit

28 September 2022

YIKES!

I kinda wonder what kind of meat they put in the tacos at this un-licensed restaurant.

If it wasn’t enough the place was supposed to be closed for not having the right permits, but that the city inspector sent someone over to check on reports that it was still operating, and the owner took… a rather extreme threat to slice through the “red tape”, but that the owner’s son is the alcaldiá (borough mayor) and a simple “oops, sorry” video the guy put out later probably won’t cut it.

Just hanky-panky at the banky?

24 September 2022

The executive board of the Interamerican Development Bank (what’s that?) have united in a call to dismiss their president… for, according to media reports (here and here from the conservative Infobae site… as well as AP, EFE and others) an undisclosed romantic relationship with a subordinate.

As if. The bank… set up in 1959 under the auspices of the United States… is another of those financial institutions — like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund — that may have been designed to “develop” nations, but generally end up racking up huge public debts, that are then repaid through “restructing” the economy… i.e., debt bondage and being held hostage to global northern business interests.

That’s slightly (only slightly) unfair… while the United States, a basket of European nations, and Canada provide most of the funds, the borrowing nations hold the majority of shares, and … by tradition, the bank’s president is always from one of the borrowing nations.

However, in 2019, under the leadership of the then US president (figure it out) pushed thru a “Latin”… of sorts. Mauricio Claver-Carone, a recent “Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Director of Western Hemisphere Affairs” on the National Security Council, until 2019, when he moved up to “Deputy Assistant to the President”.

As Wikipedia notes, “In this role, Claver-Carone is credited for creating the U.S. government’s maximum-pressure campaign against the Maduro regime in Venezuela and for conceptualizing the “América Crece” economic growth strategy and frameworks.” The latter is “… a framework for supporting economic development in Latin America and the Caribbean by catalyzing private sector investment in energy and other infrastructure projects.”… in other words, assisting US companies in penetrating the Latin American energy markets.

Apparently, this was nothing new… Claver-Carone’s first career was pushing “Democracy” for Cuba, from his home base in… you guessed it… Miami. And, by the way, “democracy” in this context means “capitalism”.

Nothing against Capitalism (well… a lot, but bankers gotta bank) and very little interest in the guy’s private affairs (descibed in media reports only as “salacious”), but it certainly sounds, given his whining that his “constitutional rights” to due process are being violated, and even the (sitting) US President’s call for his resignation, indicates he hasn’t exactly won friends and whatever he’s trying to influence in the way of “development” (his big signature project was getting Latin governments to borrow money to BUY COVID-19 vaccines… as opposed to every country’s call for open patents or reducted prices) … at market rates.

In other words… the same old same old US policy at a time when the global south is exploring new possibilities (hey, China has wazoos of cash, and some pretty nifty technology too), rejecting the “debt trap” and… just… not… liking the guy… he should go.

A policy change to ruminate over

23 September 2022

It’s perhaps an oversight, but the federal program that buys essential food products (like corn and beans) from small producers at a subsidezed price, does not include “beverages”… one of which probably IS an essential food item.

And… so… PRI Deputy Refugio Camarena, a sponsor of a bill that would include certain “essential” beverages, brought a guest with her… a small producer named Lola. Talk about milking the publicity for all its worth…

The rich get richer, the poor get poorer: but in-between…

21 September 2022

According to Credit Suisse, the world’s “one percenters” increased their control of the planet’s wealth from 43.9% in 2019, to 45.6 % in 2021. At the same time, the poorest 40% lost even more ground, from controlling 1.8% to… well… nothing: NEGATIVE 0.2%

Mexico is no exception, or… is a slight exception. Yes, the rich are getting richer and there are more millionaires (in dollar value) than ever before (258,000 of them), but they control less of the national wealth, their percentage of control falling from 42 % in 2000 to “merely” 30% now.

That the middle class is gaining ground (or at least a slightly less obscenely small portion of the national weath) probably is a good thing, although Mexico ranks #2 in wealth inequality in Latin America (behind Brazil).

What it all means, can’t say… the pandemic upset the whole system (the super-rich saw their wealth accumulate last year by something like 21 % !!!!!) and supposedly, the middle class (or the Mexican middle class) has a bit more in their pockets… though with inflation a peso just doesn’t go as far as it did.

Dora Villanueva, “Baja de 42 a 30% la riqueza nacional en poden de los más acaudalados“, Jornada 21 Sept 2022.

Whatever it is… I’m against it!

17 September 2022

Or… don’t give peace a chance.

In the series of “VIVA!” at the grito, AMLO gave a shoutout to “universal brotherhood”… something proposed in foreign policy (to be presented to the United Nations General Assembly this week). Specifically, a halt to the Russian invasion (ok, “special military operation”… a military/legal term two steps below a declarion of war and one below a “anti-terrorist campaign”) in Ukraine, while the conflicting claims of the two sides (not Ukraine, but it’s NATO/Western financiers) and Russia are worked up, under the auspices of the UN (the Secretary General, Antonio Guterrez), Pope Francis, and Indian Prime Minister, Narenda Modi, broker an agreement.

Yes, it’s more than a bit idealistic, and perhaps naive, to expect anything to come out of such a proposal (with the old post WWII powers still having veto power and permanent seats in the Security Council, no way those countries — with their massive financial dependence on wars and military investments — will sign off), and it would be perfectly understandable for Ukraine to object to one or more of the proposed negotiators (India has tradionally been the big dog in the non-aligned nations movement, but it has had better relations with the old Soviet Union, and still has with Russia, to possibly be acceptable to the Ukrainians. OK, maybe Mexico’s next president, or some ofther global southern worthy), but to dismiss it out of hand…

It was a good faith offer, and for Mykhailo Podoliak, a “special advisor” to Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenski, to “tweet” that the plan is “Russian” (uh… no, it’s Mexican, from a country with enough oil, fertilizer and grain to weather the sanctions, and a modest arms industry, most foreign purchases being from NATO nations), and… more insultingly, the AMLO’s good faith suggestion is for his own political benefit.

What benefit? Reluctance to “get along” with the NATO/Western powers has been a constant irritation for Ukraine’s #1 financial backers… the big country on their northern border that’s invaded them before, and holds financial sway over Mexico’s ability to manouver in any direction in foreign policy. The United States has been “negotiating” (i.e., trying to twist the arms, or at least dampen support) for this government over less any number of issues affecting the two countries… electrical power, lithium, oil exports, not to mention its apparent unwillingness to even consider (or let mention) of Mexico’s open support for Julian Assange and free speech that contradicts the western narratives.

My suspicion is that the Ukrainian and NATO politicans are the ones who are using this war (or invasion, or “special military operation”) for political gain.

Ok, Myhailo… do you have a counter-proposal? Otherwise, STFU.

(Sin Embargo)

Rituals of life and death

16 September 2022

With most of the world’s (or at least the global north’s) media obsessed with the rituals surrounding the not unforseeing death of a nonagenarian European monarch, Mexfiles would like to present another ritual… pompous to be sure, and a bit absurd like all rituals tend to be… but one that celebrates not the power and weath of an imperialist state… but the modest aspirations of a Republic. AND… more importanly… one specifically calling for the death of the very things that underpin the “legitimacy” of monarchs.

One thing notable, and something I don’t think has been done before is that besides the usual “Vivas!” … for Liberty, Equality, Justice, Democracy, Soverignty, Universal Brotherhood, and Peace (Universal Brotherhood not being one generally acknowledged in all Republics… especially those with imperial ambitions of their own) there were the “MUERAS!” … Death to the evils of our society: Death to corruption! Death to racism! Death to classism!

Death to the very foundations of monarchy, and imperialism!

Trans-sister

10 September 2022

Although this monument in Orizaba, Veracruz bears the name “Catarina de Erauso”, it is actually a monument to Antonio de Erauso… the first legally recognized transgender.

Born afout 1585, Catarina Erauso was a recalcatrant child, packed off to a convent at the age of four, where she proved too much for the kindy “day care” nuns to handle, who sent her off to the Convent of San Sebastian, known for his high standards and disciplined mode of life. Which did not appeal at all to Catarina, especially once she reached puberty and … uh…. acted out her teenage rebellion, starting fist fight with the other nuns, eventually breaking a habit (so to speak), robbing the convent treasury, and going over the wall.

Hitting the road as “Francisco de Loyala” she surfaced in 1602 when she beat up a boy for insulting her, and served a month in prison, again under the name of Francisco. Sometime around 1605 she emigrated to the Americas, next popping up in Peru in 1612, where she joined the army as Francisco in its war against the Mapuche people of Chile, serving until 1617, earning the rank of Lieutenant. It’s said that at some point she had met with ther brother, then an aide to the Viceroy, earning the rank of Lieutenant. It’s said that at some point she had met with ther brother, then an aide to the Viceroy, who did not recognize her, nor was she disposed to give away her forner identity.

Either before, or during, her military career, she’d become a professional gambler, whcih led to at least two murder warrants in Lima. She fled to Cusco, and… likely to be hanged… thowing the dice (so to speak), she threw herself on the mercy of the local bishop, pleading she was a repentant nun and a virgin who didn’t deserve to be hanged.

The Bishop could believe she was a nun, and had what passed for credible testimony that she was a virgin, but was a bit dubious about the repentent part. Not comfortable with the idea of turning a nun over to be hanged, but not wanting to have a nun of such dubious reputation on his hands either, he had her shipped back to the motherland, where the sensational story of the nun turned soldier had already reached the court of Felipe IV.

Felipe might have been as ridiculously formal and reactionary as any of his inbred Hapsburg relations, but he did have the saving grace of a sense of irony, and seemed to find joy in the less conventional of his loyal subjects. Famously, when he commissioned Diego Velaquez’ to portray the royal daughers, he specifically wanted his favorite jester, the dwarf Maria Babaso, included (she’ standing on the far right) mostly just to annoy the Queen, who Felipe richly rewarded for Maria’s practical jokes on his humorless spouse.

Whether out of that sense of irony, or a genuine tolerance for human differences (we’d like to think the latter), Felipe came to a suprisingly modern conclusion. The former Caterina Erauso was a member of the Erauso family (which included some aristocratic pretentions and priviliges), BUT as a SON… Antonio Erauso. In fact, Felipe was so charmed by the adventures of “Franciso de Loyala” … which were soon written up by an anonyous author as “The Lieutenant Nun”… that he sent (at his expense) now famous Antonio to Rome to meet with Pope Urban VIII, who also decreed that the person he met was Antonio Erauso. And you can’t get more official that that.

Antonio returned to the Americas… to New Spain, in 1630, living a somewhat less adventurous, but also less public, life, spending the next 20 years as a mule driver (a good job in colonial Mexico) on the Vercruz to Mexico City route. He’s buried in Cotlaxtla, having died in 1650 on the trail.

Cock and bull news

9 September 2022

Or… maybe dead cocks and dead bulls.

An opinion piece in yesterday’s Jornada (“Hoy, los toros… ¿Mañana qué?“) questioned whether the courts have a right to intervene in 25 year old regulations on Mexico City’s bullfights on the argument that bullfights violates “·human rights” under the recent Mexico City constitution.

While the author, Javier Jiménez Gutiérrez, is using the legal case to question whether or not judges are “legislating from the bench” it raises another somewhat overlooked constitutiona.l issue. Mexico City’s constitution includes rights for animals, to live as nature intended (not quite the right wording, but close enough). Certainly, a bull in the ring is not going to live as long as one put out to stud, and I suppose there are some environmental concers with disposing of dead bulls and all that bullshit you can smell around the ring in Noche Buena, but then, what’s the nature of fighhting bulls? And given that cattle are raised for slaughter in the first place (and, I’d argue, bullfighting is environmentally sound… fighting bulls needing to be raised in open prairie, preserving the environment that would otherwise be used for feedlots) can the judge “legislate from the bench” as to what is, or isn’t a “natural” life for an animal?

I don’t know.

And cocks… practicioners of Santaria sacrifice animals (mostly chickens) during their rituals, something not many of us are particularly fond of (nor bullfighting, for that matter), but whether they have the right to do so has also come up… leading to a demonstration and a march on the Mexico City Congress over alleged restrictions on their religious rights… something also constitutionally protected (as presumably so are the sacrificial chickens).

Como México, no hay dos… even in courtrooms and the halls of Congress!

It requires explanation

6 September 2022

The American taco is a kind of weirdly concocted tostada, folded in half, with a space in the middle for ingredients that are nothing like a Mexican taco, like lettuce and grated cheese.

According to “Taste Atlas”, the “American” taco is one of the 50 worst foods on the planet. Proceso explains the strange north of the border concoction for Mexicans in this week’s issue:

Los tacos estadunidenses son de las peores comidas del mundo, según Taste Atlas


And who is responsible?

1 September 2022

Via Report Indigo:

Mexican Secretary of Security and Citizen Protection, Rosa Icela Rodríguez, speaking during the gave aexplained that the spiral of violence generated in Mexico, is due two things: wolld-wide demand for drugs, and illegal arms trafficking.

She asked an answered three questions: While deploring the death toll and violence in her country, she added, “Do we manufacture weapons ourselves?, no; Do we consume synthetic drugs? No; Do we provide the dead? Unfortunately, yes”.

Signs and wonders

2 August 2022

Spotted in some of the more popular “expat” neighborhoods, both in Mexico City, and elsehwhere.

Is there anywhere on the planet that migrants are universally welcomed? While usually it’s less-privilidged economic migrants who bear the brunt of this sort of rejection, the bourgie “expats”seem shocked that they are seem for what the term “expat” really is… a nice way of saying “economic migrant with more money”.

Where I lived before (Texas) it wasn’t uncommon to hear or see unkindness towards migrants by those who saw outsiders as a threat to the status quo. Why is anyone shocked that there are people here with the same kind of attitude, seeing migrants from foreign cultures as a unwanted intervention in their lives?

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