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Off the wall…

27 February 2017

matias-romeroMexico’s great 19th century diplomat, Matias Romero (who, as a 20-somethng, had won the support of the Lincoln Administration for the Juarez government through the simple expedient of accompaning shopaholic Mary Lincoln through Washington department stores, and kept a well-stocked bar for his good friend, Ulysses S. Grant) was never able to convince the United States that the river dividing Texas and Mexico had changed course after 1848, and that the hastily arranged Mesilla Treaty (Gadsden Purchase) of 1855 was never properly surveyed, leading to some doubt as where the border actually was. Lincoln, Grant, and Juarez all had more pressing issues than some minor border disputes, and never got around to resolving where exactly the border was in what was then a barely inhabited, and poorly surveyed, region. Perhaps Romero should have plied President McKinley with tequila and we wouldn’t have this problem now.

A small part of Mexican territory was retuned by the Lyndon Johnson Administration, only after international court rulings had definitely ruled that El Chamizal… by then a community within Juarez, was Mexican territory, but it was more a good will gesture, mainly for saving the world from a nuclear holocaust. Mexican President Adolfo López Mateos and the then Ambassador to Cuba — Gilberto Bosques Saldivar (following up on saving a mere 400,000 people from the Nazis) — did as much behind the scenes during the Cuban Missile Crisis by working with the Cubans, as any US and Soviet negotiators did working with each other.  A small price for the US to pay and one that regularized the status of the residents of that small community.

LBJ, for the most part, was a friend to Mexico. The sitting US President… that’s a very different story. There’s obviously no point in Mexican diplomats working with his administration, and … even if a few kilometers (welll, possibly as much as 250 miles) of the border is misplaced, let’s not make it any easier for the U.S. to build a wall. Former Chihuahua governor Patricio Martinez sees an excellent way to screw with the plans.

My translation from “México debe exigir a EU la devolución de 400 km, plantea senador del PRI” (Andrea Becerril, Jornada, 26 February 2017)

At the current juncture, with Donald Trump’s multiple aggressions towards Mexico and his i insistence on building a wall, “it is time for the federal government to demand that the United States comply with the treaties of Guadalupe Hidalgo and La Mesilla, which establish the boundaries between both countries, including the more than 400 kilometers misplaced on the existing border”.

rgv-map-largeThat means, as PRI Senator Patricio Martinez stressed, territorial extentions by the United States, which Porfirio Diaz, though then Ambassador to the United States, Matias Romero, claimed in 1890.

Diaz was unsuccessful, but Mexico should send a new diplomatic note to Washington to rectify the border limits,as defined in the two 19th century treaties. If Trump refuses, Mexico should seek the intervention of the International Court of Justice, in The Hague.

Senator Martinez emphasized that Mexico had already gone before that court setting a precedent when it recalimed El Chamizal from the United States, and forced the neighbor to the north to return territory on the north bank of the Rio Bravo del Norte/Rio Grand River, after channel diversion.

Martinez, the former governor of Chihuahua , asked the new Mexican ambassador to the United States, Gerónimo Gutiérrez during his Senate confirmation hearing, to deal with this issue, and in a subsequent interview, vowed he will continue to press for rectification of the frontier.

He deplored that the Senate has been sluggish in taking action on this matter, after he proposed a joint congressional commision to examine the boundry between Mexico and the United States.

“Since nothing was done in a matter of paramount importance given the crisis in our relationship with the United States, I decided to have the necessary topographical and technical studies done, hired highly qualified international personnel with the most modern equipment and expertise.”

His intention, he said, is to document what has been known since the time of Díaz, that the treaties of Guadalupe Hidalgo and La Mesilla, which set the border between the two countries are not applied, and there are differences and errors in favor of the United States which must be corrected.

Faced with Trump’s decision to build that wall that offends us all, the position of the Mexican government must be firm and demand that the border be revised. If any portion of the proposed wall, or the existing wall is within Mexican territory, it will have to be moved.

donald-trump-wallThe treaties, he remarked, as they were written must be religiously followed, and the Mexican government must make this clear to both the United States and to international tribunals.

It can not be overlooked, he said, that we are a harassed, aggrieved, offended nation with millions of citizens who have the right to live, to work in the United States, and to those who have systematically violated their human rights.

One possible devious idea I had, is let Trump build his stupid wall, and run highways right to the sections that are in Mexican territory, and knock down the wall.

Maybe returnees and refugees aren’t such a bad thing for Mexico…

23 February 2017


Welcome to the police state

23 February 2017

E.J. Montoni, in Arizona Republic:


So it turns out that Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos really IS the face of President Trump’s mass deportation efforts:

A working mother of two American children.

According to memos released today by the Trump administration the undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of a crime are a priority, but not THE priority.

One directive reads: “Department personnel have full authority to arrest or apprehend an alien whom an immigration officers has probable cause to believe is in violation of the immigration laws. They also have full authority to initiate removal proceedings against any alien who is subject to removal under any provision of the (Immigration and Nationality Act).”

The young people brought to the country as children who are part of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) may be safe. For now.

But their parents are fair game.

And just about everyone else.

The plan is to hire thousands of new enforcement officers.

And to build new detention centers.

The law allows us to do this. It is up to us, to those we elect, to differentiate between what we CAN do and what we SHOULD do.

The administration could have chosen a humane path, one that would not have transformed a mother like Garcia de Rays into a modern-day Rosa Parks. 

Instead, they chose mass deportation.

They chose goon squads and gulags.

Welcome to the police state.

Tourists, refugees, and deportees…

23 February 2017

There is nothing wrong with this person’s question, and it’s admirable that the person is seeking to improve their Spanish… much as I did, by reading children’s books.


Still, it raises a question.  The person identifies as a “tourist”, and one can assume either they are not in a position to obtain a library card (perhaps they’ll use the books in the library, which is fine), or… given the source (a facebook page for foreigners residing in Mexico City) they mean they have only a Forma Migratoria Multiple (FMM) and not a residency visa of any sort.

While it gives the visitor an extremely generous time limit (allowing them to say in the country up to 180 days) and is a bargain at about 25 US$, as opposed to the $160 US$ a Mexican has to pay to APPLY for a visitor’s visa for the United States),  it isn’t really meant as a residency permit, although we’re well aware that tens of thousands of foreigners who “live” here are staying 18o days at a time, leaving for a day or so, and returning in expectation of another 180 day “temporary” stay.  And so far, if the person overstays their 180 days, ni modo… at most a modest fine.

We’re now facing a situation where efugees who are had passed through Mexico (in less than 180 days, most of them) expecting to leave this country for the one north of us, but are “stuck” here.  As a short term solution, the refugees are being given temporary residency (a different status than that of a visitor), and/or work permits.  AND, our own immigration service has a policy of simply looking the other way if some of these refugees are working off-the-books without a visa allowing for “actividades lucrativa” (i.e. a work permit), on the premise that a refugee earning some income takes some of the burden off the overwhelmed social services (mostly ad hoc) that are available for them.

Add in the additional burden of increased deportation from the United States (never mind the absurd proposal to deport non-Mexicans who have entered the United States though Mexico back to … not their home country… but Mexico) and social services will be overwhelmed.

Not that it’s the fault of the would-be library patron, but I’m wondering how long our generosity will hold out.  Will “border jumpers” (those who take advantage of the FMM to maintain a home here, with a short absence of a few days every year… like most people who take a vacation do) need to establish residency… obtain a “gringo card” (our residency visas really are green)?  For many, it’s an impossiblity, as those who have no particular business in Mexico, other than wanting to live here (usually because it costs less than living in a richer country) have to show some reason for being here… either a job, or enough income not to become a potential burden on the State, or some familial ties to Mexico, or any of the myriad reasons aliens are permitted to live in another country (a well founded fear of persecution at home being one).

I have no real problem with tourists (or those “permanent tourists”) using facilities like the libraries (actually, I encourage it) but what about our health services, or roads, or police protection, or….

Will we become as nasty as our neighbors to the north?  I have seen descriptions by reputable people calling the FMM-holders who stay on (or just never bother to even go through the motions of border jumping) and those that never renew their temporary immigration visas as “illegal aliens”.  While I hate the term, it’s understandable that these people will be seen that way.

I’ve wondered about the impact on US policy, and the reaction in US media should Mexico begin deporting some of these people… mostly elderly and generally nice people who just don’t quite meet the financial requirements (or have fudged the figures on their initial visa request) to “live their dream” of retiring here.  I’d hate to see that, though I suspect the financial fallout other than in a few small sectors of service providers in “gringo ghettos” would be far less than the effects on US agriculture and the service sector should the US begin massive deportations.

What I do expect is that public services  will be demanding more proof of legal residency beyond a telephone bill and foreign passport, and private service providers, like banks (which generally will not open accounts for FMM holders, leading to any number of complaints on the “expat” sites I check)  and rental firms, may follow suit.

I would also not be surprised if the automatic grant of 180 days on FMMs became a thing of the past.

But then, I remember I moved here because Mexico is NOT the United States, and — so far — has not bought into the idea that every stranger is a danger, and is a country of good manners:  fish and visitors may stink after three days (let alone 180), but it’s impolite to say sFo.

Kids say the darnedest things

18 February 2017

It’s always kind of cute, when every year, 300 fifth and sixth graders (ten to twelve year olds in the Mexican system) from around the country are brought to the capital, and — after a tour of the city, get to meet the President, and then head over to the Chamber of Deputies for the annual Parlamento Infantil, in which they role-play as Deputies. Turning the saying that “Children should be seen, and not heard,” some of the kids took full advantage of the opportunity to be heard (and seen) in a way few Mexicans get a chance to do.

Eleven year old Axel Gael Romo wowed the crowd, and perhaps shocked some of his elders, with his demands for an end to corruption.

Mexico is already tired of the corruption, the gas price hikes, of Donald Trump. We are tired and we want a better Mexico:  yes we can, because we can achieve it. So today, if you allow me, I want to invite Mexicans not to give up.  Why can we not be a nation free of corruption, I ask myself. Why not? We need honest government. Down with corruption! The injustice must end! This is not the 19th century, this is not a monarchy. We need to change, NOW!.

Axel Roma for President, 2054!  (Photo: Cuartoscuro)

Axel Roma for President, 2054! (Photo: Cuartoscuro)

The field trip to Los Pinos brought out the best in two other child parliamentarians.  Having been exposed to both the luxurious Los Pinos and having been put up in a high-end hotel, young Ricardo Ibarra Tapia from San Juan del Rio, Queretaro, brought along a visual aid when he took the podium.  A photo of a man living in the streets, he also touched on corruption, and asked why the President was living so large, when others in Mexico lacked even the basics.

The government hoards its  money and we will not tolerate it anymore. I have seen in the street how much poverty there is; Here is a photo to show to my colleagues. He is a man who is living in the street …We have had it with corruption. The Mexican eagle has been chained, and must be set free!


Young Ibarra had an excellent suggestion for the “real” legislators.  Put children on a citizen’s  committee in every state to oversee anti-corruption measures.  The boy — who hopes to be a surgeon someday — wielded his rhetorical scalpel still futher when he questioned why the Legislators stayed in luxury hotels: “Meeting in them is a waste of time. It would be useful if [legislators] did what we asked. This would be a better country”.

Of course, the quotable youngster was also asked about Donald Trump, whom he described… as one would expect…as “really bad, and truly loco”. Like everyone else, he noted that Mexico is a major commercial partner of the United States and a wall would create chaos.

In from Jalisco, first-time member of the Parlamento Infantil, Lesly Esquivias, had a slightly different view of the Trump effect… seeing Peña Nieto’s reponse to the possibility of mass deportations from the United States, as showing the Mexican president’s timidity and failure to do his job.

What the president does not want is for all the people who are there come here because it would mean inveting money in feeding people, in using resources. He does not want to fight, he wants an easy life. Well, as President, he has to do his job, not what he wants.

The new constitution for the State of Mexico City lowers the voting age to 16.  With kids like Axel, and Ricardo, and Lesly, I’m wondering if we shouldn’t lower that to… oh… say ten?  Or, maybe better yet, replace the adults in our legislature with people who aren’t there to play… you know… kids. 


Sources: EFE (via Sin Embargo), Milenio

When Gringolandia sends their people, they’re not sending their best…

16 February 2017

Via various Mexican media:

13-February 2017 (Mexico City)  Timothy Paul Hitchcock, a US citizen, was arrested by the Investigative Police (PDI) for pedophilia.

capturaUsing forged papers, and calling himself Tim Andrews, Hitchcock was a teacher at the prestigious Westhill Institute Kinder in Lomas de Chapultepec.

After his arrest for molesting the ten-year old son of a U.S. Embassy official, Hitchcock admitted to a 2009  conviction in Florida, also for sexual molestation of a minor.  At the time of his arrest, he was a religious music programmer with a Lakeland Florida country-music station.  Sentenced to ten years, he was given probation, under terms that included mental health treatment.  Considered by the Justice Department to be a “predatorary pedophile who represents a constant danger to society, especially children,” Hitchcock’s data and photograph was included on the  National Sex Offender’s Public Website.

Instead of serving the terms of his probation, Hitchcock fled from a residential center in Georgia for Puebla, where he obtained a falsified Mexican birth certificate, under the name Tim Andrews (he passed himself off as the Mexican-born child of a US couple) and began working for several private schools. 

Alerted to the situation by U.S. Embassy, following a three week investigation, Hitchcock was remanded to the Reclusio Oriente, where he faces a string of charges here, as well as parole violations and other charges in the United States. 

Questions that need to be asked.

Do foreign schools do any vetting at all on their would-be employees? For a short time, I was an administrator with a private ESL service.  Our clients were adults, and I expect — given the low pay and crappy working conditions we had — that our gringo teachers would have papered over some gaps in their resumes, and that our Mexican nationals might be omitting the actual circumstances of their return home, but still I did some checking, and recommended we NOT hire a few (or at least not hire them for classes with any adolescents in them).   However, I would expect schools for children, especially prestigious private academies like Westhills, would have done more in the way of background checks.

Would Mexican authorities have investigated had this not been a upper-class institute, or if the complaint had come from a middle-class or working Mexican family?  Hard to say, but we are seeing more and more cases where the prosecutors are going after wealthy and/or privileged people (like priests) accused of pedophilia.  Among the masses, though, this is still being dealt with largely extrajudicially… the neighbors (or the family and their relations and friends) seeking private justice.

Should the US authorities have kept a better watch on Hitchcock?  Uh… yes.

Is there a certain amount of schadenfreude in posting the story of “bad hombres” who cross the border from the US into Mexico.  You betcha!

Donald Trump, father of Mexican independence?

13 February 2017

I have to say that Lorenzo Meyer has a wicked sense of humor.

(My translation from Shaila Rosagel, “Independizarse de EU no interesa al Gobierno y, por abajo del agua, se somete ante Trump: analistas“(SinEmbargo, 12 February 2017.


Mexico City, Feb 12 (SinEmbargo) .- Mexico needs a second independence, but the ruling class is unable to restructure the country’s economy to avoid depending, as it does today, on the United States, say experts consulted By SinEmbargo.

Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Videgaray Caso, negotiates away dignity of Mexico with United States President Donald Trump. Despite the insults and contempt for the Mexican people exibited by the billionaire, the Chancellor says he is seeking to save what can be saved of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the bilateral relationship.

“The new independence would be no longer relying on the trade ties we have with the United States. What has to be developed is an internal market economy, but we have depended mostly on the Free Trade Agreement. We need a restructuring of the Mexican economy, both in industry and agriculture, so we can dispense with an agreement like the one we have with the United States,”said José Antonio Crespo Mendoza, a political scientist at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching (CIDE).

At the end of January, Lorenzo Meyer Cossio, historian and researcher at El Colegio de México (Colmex), told SinEmbargo: “In a few years, we might put a statue to Trump: he is the father of our second Independence.”

Crespo Mendoza also says that the political class governing Mexico today is not looking for that “new independence”, but, on the contrary, seeks to preserve at all costs the status quo with the United States that existed up until Trump’s arrival.

“They are not looking to restructure the Mexican economy, they are seeking to keep trade in NAFTA, as advantageously as possible for Mexico,” he said.