Politics and public responsibility have a cycle that goes beyond the temporariness of the electoral calendar. The midterm and gubernatorial elections conclude on July 5th, but not the work that the parties, legislators, and authorities must carry out for the good of the country. It's understandable that passions and party rhetoric emerge in the zeal to win the vote or to improve the position of political forces; but there must be some sense to the limits. The elections are important, but the responsibilities are even more so. July 5th means a lot, but what comes after means far more. Criminal justice can't align itself to calendars, nor can it discriminate based on the political situation of the accused, its strength and only protection is the strict legality in the actions of the authorities. For the sake of justice, acknowledging that [the Michoacán arrests played out] as such is urgent.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
When Benjamín Arellano Félix was arrested in Puebla, accompanied by only two bodyguards, he was asked why he was relatively unprotected. The leader explained something that was known, but on many occasions is not believed: from the moment that these capos become public figures, they leave a good part of the daily operation of their organizations in the hands of others. They continue charging their fee and they can take control for certain types of decisions, but they neither manage nor have a very deep knowledge of the details of the operation.
Where does the myth of Mexico's affinity for Latin America in the realm of foreign policy come from? Mexico has differed from the majority of the Latin American governments over the course of the last half century. A common argument is that the Mexican closeness doesn't reflect the relationship with the government but rather with the "peoples". Proof of this was the popularity Mexican icons like Cantinflas, Jorge Negrete, and El Chavo del Ocho in all of Latin America. In reality in makes more sense to put forward the true dilemma that Mexico faces today: on one hand, Mexico has its heart in Latin America, but on the other, it has its wallet and its head in the North.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
The rupture [between the moderate and extreme branches of the left] turned out to be inopportune because both sides needed each other to traverse the July election, but the level of confrontation, which grew with time, ended up further lowering the probable votes in favor of the PRD.An AMLO with one foot in the Party of the Aztec Sun and another in the Workers Party and Convergencia intensified the division and the internal war. The spat between Amalia García and Ricardo Monreal and the negative reaction of Ortega toward using López Obrador as a figure of support for perredista candidates in Mexico City demonstrates unequivocally that the truce between both groups, for electoral reasons, didn't work and that every political fief is willing to sacrifice the other, even if if sinks the party in the election on July 5th.Now more than ever, in the midst of a deep economic crisis, the position of a modern left is seen as a viable alternative for Mexico.The problem is that the left that we have is more bound to its priísta past and the absence of a project common to its distinct factions, than to the fundamental objective of constructing a more developed and more just Mexico. As such, the Mexican left races toward collective suicide, without anyone able to stop it.
Lastly, I hope and think that Ruslan Chagaev will score a convincing decision win against Nikolai Valuev, and in the process send Valuev out to pasture. At least for a little while, until the WBA anoints him super mandatory challenger emeritus, and forces us to gaze in his direction once more.
*It's been a great year for fights, so I shouldn't be complaining, but what can I say, boxing fans are a whiny bunch.
Mr. Uribe said recently that he is conflicted about a reelection bid; while acknowledging that it might weaken democracy, he said he is worried about preserving his "democratic security" policy. But at least one worthy successor is available: Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos recently resigned and said he would run for president if Mr. Uribe did not. If he remains in office, Mr. Uribe would run the risk of undermining his own successes; some of his strongest supporters could turn against him, and the good relations he has enjoyed with the United States could come under strain. Better that the president choose to step down and give his country a last great gift, by strengthening the political system he has fought so hard to save.
Second, the government is saying that La Familia had been planning an "electoral assault" in various cities in Michoacán (including Morelia, Uruapan, Lázaro Cárdenas, and Apatzingán, which I believe are the four biggest in the state). Evidently, the group had been funneling money into various candidates' campaigns, and after the elections they would presumably have controlled a good portion of the state's legislators. It's only natural that the federal government would be playing up this angle, but supposing there's even a hair of truth to it, all the more reason for not waiting a day longer to execute the arrests.
Serious human rights violations committed by members of the military and police included unlawful killings, excessive use of force, torture and arbitrary detention. Several journalists were killed. Human rights defenders faced threats, fabricated criminal charges and unfair judicial proceedings. People protesting against economic development projects faced harassment. The Supreme Court rejected a constitutional challenge to Mexico City’s law decriminalizing abortion. Reforms to the criminal justice system were initiated. Violence against women remained widespread.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Throughout his tenure, Shannon combined a sense of professionalism with a professed interest in not only encouraging democratic institutions throughout the region but also in promoting its economic development. From early on, Shannon rejected the confrontational and demagogic approach toward Latin American issues that all too often had been taken by his predecessors during the Reich-Noriega period, and he instead maintained a rational and non-ideological style of diplomacy. While U.S.-Latin America relations became increasingly tense during the past eight years, Shannon was uniquely able to reach out to a wide swath of leftist democratic hemispheric leaders by emphasizing areas of mutual interest when conflict seemed inevitable.
The typical American pronunciation of my last name (Cork-wren) is one that Mexicans have a hard time wrapping their lips around, so I often introduce myself to Mexicans slightly differently (cor-cor-RAN). If I stick to the traditional iteration, I usually get blank looks or even good-natured admonishments to "speak clearly". It's kind of fun to see Mexicans struggle with my version of it (it usually comes out sounding vaguely like a sneeze), and I don't mind the subsequent teasing. However, any Mexican who jumped on a mass media soapbox to criticize me for pronouncing my last name as it was taught to me would be acting like an idiot. Carping over inconsequential irritations is one of the joys of life, but it is best done in the company of a few close friends, not before the eyes of millions.
Those of us who enjoy National Review's group blog, The Corner, were certain that the moment President Obama nominated a Hispanic justice for the Supreme Court, Cornerite Mark Krikorian would have something interesting to say. Yesterday, Krikorian wrote:
So, are we supposed to use the Spanish pronunciation, so-toe-my-OR, or the natural English pronunciation, SO-tuh-my-er, like Niedermeyer? The president pronounced it both ways, first in Spanish, then after several uses, lapsing into English. Though in the best "Pockiston" tradition, he also rolled his r's in Puerto Rico.
The "Pockiston" reference is to Obama's (correct) pronunciation of Pakistan, which apparently annoyed some people. Anyway, longtime Krikorian observers knew that there was no way he would let the issue rest there. Today, he has followed up with another post on the same topic. Tellingly titled 'It Sticks in My Craw', the post goes on to say:
Deferring to people's own pronunciation of their names should obviously be our first inclination, but there ought to be limits. Putting the emphasis on the final syllable of Sotomayor is unnatural in English (which is why the president stopped doing it after the first time at his press conference), unlike my correspondent's simple preference for a monophthong over a diphthong, and insisting on an unnatural pronunciation is something we shouldn't be giving in to.
This may seem like carping, but it's not. Part of our success in assimilation has been to leave whole areas of culture up to the individual, so that newcomers have whatever cuisine or religion or so on they want, limiting the demand for conformity to a smaller field than most other places would. But one of the areas where conformity is appropriate is how your new countrymen say your name, since that's not something the rest of us can just ignore, unlike what church you go to or what you eat for lunch. And there are basically two options — the newcomer adapts to us, or we adapt to him. And multiculturalism means there's a lot more of the latter going on than there should be.
Notice how this post's main intent is to completely contradict Krikorian's first sentence, which I have italicized. Apparently we are operating within very narrow limits. More generally, while everyone is allowed to focus on whatever issues they please, it is always worth paying attention to what things really bother people, what things "stick in their craw." As for what has made America a beacon of assimilation, I would offer up the thought that this pleasant reality is more the consequence of a relative dearth of people who think like Krikorian does. That, as opposed to disputes over pronunciation, is worth paying attention to.
Two further comments on the Michoacán arrests: first, the suspicion that it was electorally motivated was inevitable, and if there is evidence that the case was rushed to have an impact on the campaigns, then by all means people should slam Calderón and his team. But, knowing what we know now, the suggestion that the government should have waited until after the elections to execute the arrests is
Second, it's rather silly that Leonel Godoy is indignantly asking for answers from Calderón. Shouldn't it be the other way around?
We have to give credit to Barcelona, but they were a bit lucky to be here because Chelsea did not deserve to lose and no-one has mentioned that.I think I used some variation of that argument every year I lost in the playoffs in youth basketball.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
H/T Latin Americanist.
It has been an open secret that for decades many populations have been governed by drug traffickers. La Familia as an alternative government, "paternalistic", defiant of the institutions, collector of "taxes". Yesterday's blow is interpreted as a determination to retake ungovernable territories. But it can also be read politically: a Carlos Salinas against "La Quina", an Ernesto Zedillo against Raúl Salinas. The spectacular actions are always accompanied by controversy. That's why since yesterday the question was asked: the investigations couldn't wait six weeks more until after the elections? The blow, some say, seems "electoral". There are two PAN mayoralties that were left headless; but six are from the PRI and another two from the PRD and the team of [Governor] Leonel Godoy was basically dismantled. The governor wasn't warned of what was coming...but the panista in Morelos Marco Antonio Adame was. Does that mean that Godoy is next? Does that explain the lack of trust? There are questions and loose ends. There is material to last a while.The El Universal editorial included this passage:
Until now the actions against officials linked to organized crime had been limited to sporadic apprehensions owing to leaks from foreign or military intelligence agencies. Cases like that f the ex-governor of Quintana Roo, Mario Villanueva, were rare and were never accompanied by the dismantling of the political apparatus from which the implicated operated. This time seems to be different.
If the accusations against a total of 28 state and municipal authorities of the PRI, of the PAN, and of the PRD are confirmed, we will have incontrovertible proof that the cartels have penetrated whole groups of local political elites in the country, not only some officials in one party or another.
Vázquez's other ideas --an initiative to shore up the water infrastructure so as to eliminate waste, as well as plans to develop alternative energy sources-- are solid (if unspectacular), evidence of a social consciousness in the PAN. If Vázquez manages to accomplish a lot in those areas, you could see her trying to carve out a compassionate conservative niche for a presidential run in 2012.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
We are so accustomed to discrimination that we don't have the intellectual antibodies to detect it when it is happening. If we are placed in a situation of superiority we tolerate it, we promote it, and we reproduce it without objection. It's telling that, in the case mentioned, we can identify with roles of the señoras Montijo or Castellanos --or at least with the naughty stuffed parrot-- so that the grotesque behavior imposed upon the mocked individual is defended with the most disingenuous of reasons.Not even the critical judge from the program, Rafael Inclán, had the intellectual tools to transmit the reasons for his instinctive discomfort.[Break]Meanwhile, it wouldn't be a bad idea for the broadcasters to carry out a revision of their ethics codes and to also name a defender of their audiences, with the explicit purposes of making their business compatible with the freedom of expression and the right to not be discriminated. Let's hope that before doing so, the Constitution doesn't end up coming down on them in the form of a costly judicial lawsuit.
Just a few days from the meeting of the National Security Council, in a strong tone with any runaround, Gómez Mont clearly affirmed that "purifying the police doesn't address only the corrupt [cop], also the coward. But that goes toward the end result of those who make up these forces having the right to personal honor and security. That's the reconstruction that we are carrying out".The stuff about para-police groups was interesting in that I've not heard much comment on that at all, but it was discussed as though it were a significant challenge. Which it may well be.
How are you confronting groups that work on the margin of the institutions, para-police groups...? What is to be done about them?
It's very simple, the difference between organized crime and the institutions. The difference lies in that the state can offer their agents a life project, honor for the agents and security for their families.
When they opt for the clandestine route to confront this supposed risk, the possibility that these types of groups tomorrow start to operate in the same way as organized crime only increases. That is not nor will it be the solution and it's a fact. And I mean that the genesis of the security problem in Mexico was when from the seat of power they wanted this type of undercover operations. The deinstitutionalization of the state's security forces was the primordial responsibility of those who operated the state. That path has no future and that path is a source of risk, and we are investigating if it exists. He who is hailed as a hero today will be a villain tomorrow. Simply because he's acting on the edge of the law.
Because if you can't continue the service carried out with honor and with security and tranquility for your family, you simply are headed for the paranoid path of secrecy.
Do you have the social base of drug trafficking measured?
The social base does exist, linked to criminal organizations, it's a function of precariousness, with development the incentives disappear. But nobody should question: first comes security as the preeminent goal as a budget so that the other goals can be reached. He who wants to achieve a security solution with just social or economic policies is playing the role of the naïf or useful idiot.
In regard to the Mexican army in the streets, what is the plan for ending the deployment? Or will they continue in this role despite the possibility that in the long term the image of the military is damaged?
In some zones where the institutional weakening has been grave, the army has had a more significant role. But the logic is that the institutions of public security function and the army will continue to have a more discreet role in this task as the institutions of administration and criminal justice and criminal prevention grow stronger. Congress, after a conscientious debate, has continued creating tools for this purpose.
One last point: Gómez Mont is often mentioned as a potential PAN presidential candidate. If that's to be, he could stand to speak more directly. Much of this interview was Kerry-esque, almost obfuscatory. It didn't seem like it was willfully so, but rather a product of his speaking style.
Further update: It wound up being ten mayors, a judge, and seventeen state officials wearing handcuffs by the end of the day.
...the declaration of Secretary Kessel is surprising, as it says that in a pair of years production will recover, and we will return to 3 million bpd in 2015. According to the secretary, this is going to happen thanks to Chicontepec. The truth, I don't think that's going to happen, for reasons that we've already covered in this column in regard to that mythical field that has been used as an excuse before the debacle of the oil reform. Chicontepec is never going to replace Cantarell, simply because it requires 200 times more wells to do so, and because it would require that Mexico construct five times more wells than it has in its entire history. That's not going to happen, especially if the news reported in these pages yesterday by Noé Cruz Serrano is correct: Pemex is going to have to postpone investments in that field because of cash flow problems.
Denying reality is silliness. There's no other label for it.
What might César Nava have done from his office connected to that of the president to fall from his pedestal? What strings might he have moved to have fallen from grace in Los Pinos? Could it be that he took advantage of his situation as a lawyer to stick his hands in some judicial seat, or some issue before the Court, some firing at CNDH, some topic before the electoral tribunal? Was he the one who leaked information that put Genaro García Luna in the spotlight, questioning his money and his collaborators?So does this mean that the speculation that Vázquez Mota left the Secretariat of Education because she wasn't up to the task of confronting Elba Esther was off base?
He did something when he was Calderón personal secretary so that upon leaving he had to execute a political magic act: he spread that version that he was the favorite, the one designated by the president to coordinate the PAN caucus in next Chamber of Deputies.
False. Nava didn't exit the presidential circle on good terms and he won't be the one heading the incoming PAN legislators. It will be Josefina Vázquez Mota.
In terms of the sheer volume, it's clear that the PRD's fade from relevancy has not had a huge impact; it still enjoys the coverage of a co-equal party.
Do you think the PAN has the right to mock everyone? If you all call yourselves panistas, do you think everyone from the PAN is good? Because I'm here to tell you that they are corrupt sons of bitches who abuse all the unprotected single women.
Monday, May 25, 2009
These actions contravene international law and principles of disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation. In addition, they exacerbate tensions on the Korean Peninsula and put at risk the stability of the region.
To find a parallel of this caliber in the history of Mexico's political elites we have to go back to the '20s, when the Sonora Group, headed by Álvaro Obregón and Plutarco Elías Calles, turned its back on Venustiano Carranza.I suspect one year from now, the Salinas-De la Madrid affair will be a distant memory with little lingering significance. Even if I'm wrong, and it fundamentally changes the way the PRI operates and how Mexico deals with its ex-presidents, it's unlikely to fundamentally change the course of Mexico for close to a century and lead to the assassination of a president, which was of course the outcome of the Carranza-Sonora split.
And here's the second:
Thanks to the Aristegui-De la Madrid interview it was uncovered who is really in control of the country: Carlos Salinas Gortari.I know that his adversaries like to see him as ten feet tall, and I don't doubt that Salinas weilds enormous influence in certain PRI circles, but he runs the country? Really, all this episode showed is that Salinas and his clique exercise power over Miguel de la Madrid's sons.
The list of the government's pending problems is very long: a fiscal reform that truly provides the state the funds with which to do its job well. Penal reform, communication between the federal government and the states on important topics like health, the state system of medical attention, labor reform, the modernization of the electricity supply and the distribution of potable water for the entire nation, the railroad and highway network, the federal mail service, combating corruption in the three levels of government, the formation of efficient and honest police agencies through the country, the creation of enough well paying jobs for the nation's inhabitants, the substantial improvement in the quality of education at every level, access for the population to technological advances like the internet, combating poverty, et cetera, et cetera.Quite a list, even if you don't think state collapse is a likely consequence of the failure to take on these problems.
At this point it's more than obvious that we are a country in which the governments of the past --of the last 500 years, so that no party feels targeted-- haven't done their job. They never made the changes that were needed and they allowed everything to accumulate until it reached crisis level. We stand before a scenario of the collapse of the country, because the basic problems haven't been resolved. The majority of the problems require political will and money. From that perspective, the first reform that must be carried out is the fiscal reform, so that we have sufficient funds to carry out other reforms. Nevertheless, no one takes the bull by the horns. Not even the parties that are campaigning. Everything is rhetorical propaganda: the problem of the health system is solved with the government giving you money to buy medicine and insecurity is done away with by combating poverty. And the money? Where are the funds for this going to come from? There's no answer.
Also, a delegation of Mexican pols was in Bogotá this weekend, which led to César Duarte saying that Mexico should learn from Colombia's security successes (basically, tools for attacking criminal financial networks and cleaning up the police). Chihuahua's governor was also in town, which led to the collaborative agreements between the state and Colombia.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Just last week the first issue of the new Newsweek appeared. Jon Meacham, the editor of the magazine, promised a few months ago that the redesign would turn Newsweek into a magazine with with lower circulation planned for a public more interested in analysis than information; a public willing to pay more and, maybe, subscribe with greater loyalty. To achieve it, Meacham would have had to offer an authentically innovative and aggressive project. Unfortunately, now that I have the first issue in my hands, all I see (as a reader for years) is a confused magazine. The equilibrium between image and text has been lost. In contrast to a magazine with the depth and beauty of Foreign Policy, Meacham and his team seem to have confused depth with boredom. The design of the opinion pages, for example, seem like a disaster to me. With a multicolor backdrop that is neither encouraging nor illustrative, the texts from the Newsweek analysts remind me of a paid insert. Even the interview with Barack Obama --evidently a piece of resistance from Meacham-- is designed with too much air and a dryness that is frightening. Ultimately, sadly, this new Newsweek seems like one more step toward the grave rather than a deep breath after the pain.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Teachers are frequently recognized for their dedication and efforts in an activity as hard as teaching. I too wish to recognize teachers with dedication in this country, from preschool education to postgraduate. Contempt, on the other hand, [I have] for the hundreds of thousands that pretend to be [teachers] and that blamelessly destroy the lives of children and teens, day after day.Many people, in particular in the academy and in the media, the educational problems are concentrated in one teacher, Elba Esther. It would be great if that were the case, because it would only be a question of removing her, something that a million and a half professors surely would have been able to accomplish, supported by the four presidents who have governed this country while the teacher governs her union. Seeing the sectional leaders is enough to raise doubts that Elba Esther is the problem...
The excuse from those who defend with vehemence the Revolutionary regime, the builder of these grotesques, is that the governments of "change" have not done anything to resolve the educational crisis. First, they have done something: today we know what is going on, and we never did before. The first [internationally comparative] exam in which Mexico participated, in 2000, couldn't be published by the OECD by rule of the Mexican government, the last of the PRI. But beyond knowing this, and taking some timid measures in the right direction, like the Alliance for the Quality of Education, it's hard for me to imagine what a government could do, from whichever party you like, to confront these groups in power like the unions mentioned (as is the case with the oligopolistic businessmen) without having a clear majority. Whether it is through votes (which hasn't happened since 1997) or through stable political alliances (something that we've never seen in Mexico).
Friday, May 22, 2009
I understand that the Treasury Secretary offers an optimistic vision of the economy so as not to deepen economic fears. Nevertheless, I think Carstens has abused optimism to the detriment of reality. He has consistently erred in his forecasts and with it has lost the credibility that a serious Treasury Secretary needs. Taking into account the past performance of Carstens, can we really believe that the Mexican economy will contract by only 5.5 percent in 2009?This goes to something I posted about the other day. I still think it's premature to say he has lost all credibility and therefore can't be taken seriously, but it does seem as though his prognostications have been consistently more off-base than those of other nations.
Also, Ricardo Monreal's brother is being investigated for connections to the 14.5 tons of marijuana found in his warehouse. Ricardo, formerly a governor of the state and presently a senator with the PT, has essentially dismissed the whole affair a political smear campaign. He has also asked to have his senatorial exemption from prosecution removed so that he himself may be investigated, although the PGR says that Ricardo is not a target.
Update: Imagen's question of the day reads, "After having learned about the video of the jailbreak in Cieneguillas, do you think, a) the governor of the state is involved. b) just the prison system." What a silly premise; unless the question refers to another video that I've not seen (which I suppose is possible) you can't really tell anything from the video other than what we already knew: a bunch of inmates broke out. It's like asking after a Cavs video if Lebron get paid by check or direct deposit. For the record, 43 percent say they now think the governor was involved.
Also, the state's secretary of public security has resigned.
"I have a public, open, honest life, and...well what can you do about brothers, you don't choose them...God sends them."
He said that it's been more than five years since he's heard anything about his brother Sergio. "All I know from him is through magazines or newspapers," he said.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
As a friend succinctly puts it, "When that big asteroid finally heads toward Earth, who's the person you'd most want to be in charge?" I suspect Cheney would score at or near the top.The belief Bush's failures did not derive from faulty policies but were merely a matter of an insufficiently articulate defense of said policies suggests that Republicans are still a long way from climbing out of their present hole. And upon what does he base his suspicion that most of the nation secretly wants Cheney in charge when the going gets tough? The US has a pretty imposing set of problems right now, and no one wants Cheney running things. And rightfully so; we've been paying attention that last eight years.Conservatives can only speculate about the state of affairs had we seen more of this type of detailed, sober defense during President Bush's tenure.
The post's title is also great: "Cheney: Adult". It reminds of Jay Bilas' foremost compliment of any basketball player; "He's a man."
Elisa de Anda is 27. She's a lawyer and speaks with the conviction of the young; of those that think that Mexico can change. She wants to contribute her grain of sand to the construction of a better democracy. For such a purpose, she registered as a candidate for federal deputy in District 23 in the capital. But Elisa doesn't belong to any party because she's part of the group of youngsters who want to generate change independent from the parties that she considers a part of the problem, not the solution.
Because she is an independent candidate, the IFE refused to register Elisa for the election on July 5th. The problem is that, as in many electoral realms in Mexico, the law mandates, inside of the parties, everything; outside of them, nothing. It's logical. The parties are the ones that have legislated these restrictions that benefit them.
The concept of a “loyal opposition” is a difficult one to straddle. On the one hand, it is vital for Americans to be exposed to contrasting takes on the best way to advance American interests. Opposition forces the current leadership to defend and articulate their preferred course of action. On the other hand, opposition based on the principles of Joe the Plumber is simply not an opposition that can be taken seriously. Let’s hope the GOP can form a viable counterweight so that more foreign-policy opinions and valuable debates become a reality. Peanut-gallery snarkery will serve no one.
V. A remake of the extremely awesome '80s hit about alien visitors. (It was kind of like Alf as a parable about fascism.) If you were not a fan of Firefly or Stargate SG-1, then you'll want to be introduced to star Morena Baccarin, who might well be in contention for the coveted title of "hottest woman on TV," even after exposing her space-lizard face. Can't wait for the blog posts likening her character to Sarah Palin.
To "drive off the bad vibes", so that nothing negative obstructs the deputies in their job, so that they have "clarity of mind" and "everything comes out well", a faith healer carried "a cleaning" with resin and herb incense in the main room of the local Congress.
Legislators from the National Action Party, Institutional Party of the Revolution, and the Party of the Democratic Revolution, and Democratic Unity of Coahuila were surprised, then amused, and later unsettled because nobody knew if someone had sent her or if what she was doing was good or bad, or if someone with a grudge had sent her.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
One more thing about Ebrard's Reuter's interview: why is the reaction to his declaration of ambition so much stronger this time around than in July, or in May, when he said basically the same thing?
As to who is primarily responsible for the violence? Who knows. Zacatecas has gotten a lot more dangerous under García, but, as the second linked article points out, most of the public security officials in her administration are holdovers from her predecessor, Monreal.
The candidates are the absent figures from the campaign. The PAN has based, until now, its campaign on the support of the president; the PRI has a generic message about provocations and its inexhaustible patience. And the conglomerate of parties that supports López Obrador keeps financing the ninth year of his eternal presidential campaign. But of the candidates for deputy and what they could do to make peoples' lives better, almost nothing is said. I mean, their names aren't even mentioned. Later we are amazed at the barest of awareness that people have of the Legislative Branch and its members. They are trivial that they don't matter even in their parties' campaigns.This fits pretty well with the broad historical picture of Mexico painted by Enrique Krauze in Mexico: Biography of Power (as well as many others in many other books): Mexico's path has been determined not by the collective voice of the many, but by the will of the powerful individual. Consequently, even after 12 years of divided government, Mexico's legislature remains an anonymous body of forgettable figures, rather than an equal player in a modern democracy. A quick example: how many of today's presidential hopefuls built their profile in the Senate or in the Chamber of Deputies? Ebrard? No. Creel? No. Peña Nieto? No. Paredes? No. El Peje? No. Gómez Mont? No. Vázquez? No. Beltrones? More than the rest, but, truthfully, no.
This is a deeply ingrained trend, which is unfortunate, because it contributes to government dysfunction at every level.
Vicente Fox, for whom, he tells us, his whole family voted with great hope, disappointed him as president, although he also defends his role in the escape from Puente Grande by Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, whom he avoids mentioning by name.Later:
On the cover [of a magazine called Alarde Policaco in 1989, right after Félix's arrest] you can see a wrong-minded optimism: "Drug trafficking is now totally exterminated after the capture of the cocaine czar, Miguel Angel Félix Gallardo, who now finds himself behind bars and hanging out with other capos".Didn't quite work out that way.
Monday, May 18, 2009
MartinContrast that to the typical Mayweather argument:
There's no debate here as far as I'm concerned. Floyd was great at 130, peaking with his masterful performance over Corrales. He hasn't put on that level a performance against that level a fighter (borderline hall of famer) since. That about says it all. At 135, he went 1-1 (in my eyes) against Castillo. At 40 and 47 he fought no one of note (I could care less that Baldomir was the "lineal champ"). Corrales and Castillo aside, how many of Floyd's victims went on to score a significant win post-Floyd? No one from 140 to 154. Why? They were all past it, or never that good to begin with. Contrast that with Pac's resume starting with the first Barrera fight, and it's no contest.
Since 2003, Floyd Mayweather Jr. had 10 fights against whom? Only two of his opponents were famous, De La Hoya and Hatton. Zab Judah and Arturo Gatti are not in the same league as Barrera, Morales and Marquez. The remaining five fighters are Sosa, N’dou, Bruseles, Corley and Mitchell. Who are they? If I may also add, there were only five TKOs, four unanimous decisions and one split decision against De La Hoya, who by the way took a bad beating from Pacquaio.
Manny Pacquaio meanwhile fought 16 times. He beat convincingly the second most famous fighter of all time next to Ali, Oscar De La Hoya. He prevailed over greats Barerra and Morales twice (he also lost once to Morales) and also beat another potential great, Juan Manuel Marquez. Also, let's not forget the May 2nd bout against Ricky Hatton that elevated Pacquaio to the next level. Pacquaio has had four KOs, seven TKOs and five Unanimous decisions.
Mayweather won major titles in five different weight classes.
1. Dismantled the late great Diego “Chico” Corrales. Diego ruled the lower weight classes at that time. Diego was the bigger man!
2. Destroyed a newly renovated champ in Gatti, after Gatti learned to box from McGirt! Gatti was champ and the bigger MAN! Floyd moved up and you know the rest.
3.Zab Judah was the undisputed welterweight champ. Floyd gave him a BOXING CLINIC!
4. Baldomir. The man who beat the undisputed-champ Judah. Floyd made him look silly!
5. Beat a much BIGGER and YOUNGER and HUNGRIER De La Hoya. KO’d a younger, fully confident Hatton. Floyd already damaged Hatton's confidence as a fighter. Pacquiao simply finished the LEFTOVERS!
ALL THIS ADDS UP TO FLOYD STILL AT NO. 1.
I feel that prime 147 pound Mayweather Jr. beats a prime 147 pound Ray Robinson. Same goes for Ray Leonard. Prime Roberto Duran at 135 pounds, Mayweather Jr. boxes circles around him.
Not surprisingly, the tone is more upbeat than recent news would seem to warrant, and the forecast more certain coming from Calderón's mouth than from those of independent analysts. It's surely not easy for a leader having to walk the fine line between instilling much-needed confidence in the economy and willfully ignoring reality, and I didn't see anything factually suspect in the snippets of Calderón's remarks given, but you wonder at what point people are going to stop believing Calderón when his comments seem to be so directly at odds with the economic climate. I'm not suggesting we're anywhere near that point just yet, but if the third quarter of 2009 looks a lot like the first (which is to say, if the recovery doesn't start until 2010), is Calderón going to be singing the same song?
Although the violence let loose by drug traffickers cannot be denied, the suggestion that Mexico is part of an “axis of upheaval,” as Niall Ferguson claims, or is “wracked by a criminal-capitalist insurgency,” as Sam Quinones (“State of War” March/April 2009) argues, is clearly off the mark.
If one considers Ferguson’s criteria for inclusion in an “axis of upheaval”—political and social turmoil coupled with economic calamity—it is difficult to see how Mexico could possibly be included. We have solid political institutions, no ethnic fissures, a vigorous civil society, and the 12th-largest economy in the world. The so-called “economic calamities” we face are the same ones menacing all countries as a result of the global financial crisis. Mexico is better positioned today than most to confront this crisis, and any talk of empires, in decline or otherwise, has little bearing on my country.
There has indeed been a substantial increase in violence connected to drug syndicates, the focus of Quinones’s article. Although I do not minimize the seriousness of the threat posed by drug-trafficking organizations and the violence they have unleashed in response to President Felipe Calderón’s decision to roll them back, the notion that this violence can be described as a “raging insurgency” is more than simple hyperbole; it is a simplistic mischaracterization.
In short, it is important to beware of one-size-fits-all labels like the ones Ferguson employs here, as well as analyses that both overstate and oversimplify the current situation such as the one Quinones presents.
Ambassador to the United States
Embassy of MexicoWashington, D.C.
Sam Quinones replies:
I agree with Ambassador Sarukhan that there is no need for hysteria or hyperbole with regard to the recent drug violence in Mexico, a country that I love and lived in for many years. Things are bad enough and don’t need exaggeration.
I chose my words with great care. I felt I saw signs of insurgency in what the cartels are attempting. I’m referring to their brazen challenge to authority best evidenced by their use of narcomantas (“drug banners”) to broadcast messages to their rivals and the public, their attacks on reporters and television studios, warning messages left on bodies, the murder of many police officers, attempts to buy or assassinate mayors, orders to police chiefs to resign or face the death of their officers, and so on.
However, I chose the phrase “criminal-capitalist” to modify the insurgency idea because I don’t believe the cartels have a political goal. They are, above all, businessmen. Their one interest, it seems to me, is not toppling the state but being left alone to make their profits through smuggling illegal drugs into the United States.
At the top of the list is Argentina's Tenaris, followed by Cemex. Other Mexican entries in the top twenty include Grupo Alfa, América Móvil, Bimbo, and Telmex. Among the oil giants, Petrobras comes in at number 10, Pvdsa at 15, and Pemex not at all. Other high-profile Mexican firms like Televisa, Grupo Modelo, Elektra, and Femsa made the list as well.
The methodology makes this list much more relevant than that of a similar list by Poder. América Economía focuses on the significance of a company's employees, sales and investment in its overseas affiliates, its geographic extension, shareholder confidence, liquidity, and size. Poder based its list more heavily on size, which explains the high rankings of floundering behemoths like Pemex.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Saturday, May 16, 2009
We must be very clear on this point, because it is fundamental for any serious attempt to recover this country: corruption has turned into a way of life in which we all participate. That's why it has been impossible to confront it. The appropriation of public goods for personal benefit, from the secret presidential partida [a slush fund Salinas is accused of robbing] to the frenaleros [the red towel guys who informally control parking in Mexico's urban areas], is exactly the same; the use of public funds for political projects, whether it is the second story of the Periférico or cooperation with a corporatized union, is exactly the same; taking advantage of the legislative privilege, of the power of the microphone, abusing the ticket window, they are all forms of corruption that we have built over decades.For many, the corruption in our country is inherited from the colonial era, because then you could find some behaviors similar to those of the present day. But that's incorrect: a few centuries ago, many behaviors that today must be considered corruption were not considered as such, and they existed not only in the Spanish empire, but in practically the whole world. No. Corruption in this country exceeds by a great deal what one can find in European countries, but also in Latin American nations. It's something we have made ourselves, and it seems to me that we can associate it clearly with the Revolutionary regime. The starting point was Villa's government in Chihuahua.One can find other values that guided the regime during the 20th century, but honesty was not one of them. Worse still, corruption, understood as the use of public resources for private benefit, was an inseparable part of the regime. It was indispensable to guaranteeing the recovery of the economy after the Revolution, has Haber, Razo, and Maurer have demonstrated; it was fundamental to allowing the construction and functioning of a corporate regime that required privileges handed out to each one of the groups that sustained it. It was the "Mexican dream": that the Revolution provides you with justice.
Friday, May 15, 2009
The Chinese minister, Chen Zhu, said that despite the recent uneasiness stemming from China's forced quarantine of dozens of healthy Mexicans, the two nations "maintain their friendship and their traditional relationship as strategic partners".
In a simulation here of a raid on a marijuana field, several Explorers were instructed on how to quiet an obstreperous lookout.
“Put him on his face and put a knee in his back,” a Border Patrol agent explained. “I guarantee that he’ll shut up.”
Cathy Noriego, also 16, said she was attracted by the guns. The group uses compressed-air guns — known as airsoft guns, which fire tiny plastic pellets — in the training exercises, and sometimes they shoot real guns on a closed range.
“I like shooting them,” Cathy said. “I like the sound they make. It gets me excited.”
“My uncle was a sheriff’s deputy,” said Alexandra Sanchez, 17, who joined the Explorers when she was 13. Alexandra’s police uniform was baggy on her lithe frame, her airsoft gun slung carefully to the side. She wants to be a coroner.
“I like the idea of having law enforcement work with medicine,” she said. “This is a great program for me.”
And then she was off to another bus hijacking.