Sunday, January 31, 2010
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Forgive me those who reflexively blame everything on the corruption of the government: federal, state, municipal, or all of them together. For the fight there two people responsible: Salvador Cabañas and JJ. And the criminal negligence of an owner who allowed armed people to walk around without shame or bother in his Bar Bar.[Break]Without a pistol being involved, surely Cabañas or JJ would be recovering from a broken nose, the result of a bar fight, like those in Barcelona, London, Miami, or Mexico City.The difference, the unfortunate part, one of them brought a pistol. Detecting it there, confiscating it there, wasn't the responsibility of the government, nor of the closing time.Two emboldened parties. An irresponsible owner. A bar fight. With a pistol.
Friday, January 29, 2010
As we (very subtly, toward the end of the post) alluded to yesterday, the lack of information in the public domain, and the consequent belief that the real truth is always the darker story hidden by the powerful, is one of the most unfortunate features of Mexican politics. It breeds mistrust and encourages (as well as cedes space to) conspiracy theorists. But this move from the PGR is all the more dangerous because it seems so unlikely to be overturned by future governments. Vicente Fox's creation of the IFAI, which probably stands as his most significant accomplishment, came during a unique backlash against the prerogatives of authoritarianism. I can't see a Peña Nieto, Creel, or AMLO administration wanting to hand back to the public whatever control over information it wins via the Supreme Court.
When the PRI was the singular party, the party of the state, alliances made a lot of sense, but then they were very common. Before 1986, nobody really believed it was possible to win a governorship from the Revolutionary regime. Later, everyone wanted to win it, but only for their side. Today, the argument is that it is to break local fiefdoms, which push personalities with relatively weak parties, but that together can put up a fight. But the same argument offers the conclusion: if the personality that is pushed has its own force, it will build a new fiefdom. If not, it will have in the best of cases a fruitless government.That's about the best argument I've seen against the alliances. I think a lot depends on whether this is a one-off thing, or a regular feature of the Mexican political landscape. If it's a temporary tactic to defeat the PRI of Ulises Ruiz and Mario Marín, and then everything goes back to normal in six years, I don't really see it as such a cancer. (As to how the alliances would govern in the event of their victory, I've not read a whole lot about that, but I think the obligations of government would hasten the split in a lot of cases.) But if the two also-rans ganging up on the local leader is to be a standard feature of Mexican elections, I think Schettino's warning is worth heeding. If you believe Gustavo Madero, the latter is the case.
The key line of separation in political projects in Mexico, I repeat, is between revolutionary nationalism, in whichever of the different versions that you like, and a diluted liberalism, which also has different presentations. One can find between the PRI both of these tendencies, but it's hard to find them both in the other parties. In consequence, the one who defines the competition is the PRI, depending on the candidate, and political group, from one of the two outlooks, pushed in each entity.
You can argue that in state elections this ideological fracture is a minor issue, and that the local dynamic is much more relevant. It is for the voters, without a doubt, but not for the parties, which have to construct a national platform. It's not worth much to win a race with an alliance that dilutes the political and ideological offering, without winning anything in return in terms of local structure or clear actions of government.
The alliances against the PRI could have been a great tool to destroy the authoritarian regime, but they weren't used then. Today they make no sense. If what they want is to beat the PRI, the correct path is to deepen the ideological fracture that separates that party, and indeed, the entire country.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
"In the media, like on the television we see the faces of the people when the assistance is handed out, they are not faces of necessity, but of insatiable abusers," commented the legislator on his entertainment program "Happy" on the Digital Radio Group, of the magnate Simón Valanci.Words fail me. Evidently, Gómez León was unhappy because one of the deputies' paychecks was reduced in order to help pay for the assistance to Haiti.
Quoted by a newspaper with state circulation, Gómez León also that "because they're all black and they look so much like, we should have marked them with indelible ink so that the aid isn't doubled up; the ink would have to be white because what the Federal Electoral Institute uses wouldn't show up because they are so black."
At the same time, notwithstanding the supposed independence and objectivity of the central bank, one can't help but wonder whether the arrival of to Banxico Agustín Carstens, who was consistently too optimistic in his projections while serving as finance secretary, is part of the reason for the adjustment.
[I]n the almost 38 months of Calderón's term, federal authorities have seized $380 million, 280 million Mexican pesos, 470 airplanes, and 25,000 vehicles used by organized crime groups, but [the official] didn't provide figures from previous terms.Without having any basis of comparison, it's hard to draw concrete conclusions, but that's certainly not as high a sum as would be possible from a really determined attack on money-laundering; since Calderón arrived in office, Mexican traffickers have earned (and presumably laundered) some $40 billion, and you can hardly sneeze in many Mexican towns without hitting a handful of businesses with a relationship with organized crime. Of course, the division between dirty and legitimate businesses is vague, and a determined attack on dirty money would also anger the law-abiding business class, which is probably why under Calderón, his money-laundering policy has been more a flurry of talk at the beginning of his term backed up by little sustained action.
More than half of the American funds were recovered in a single operation: that of March 2007 in a house in Las Lomas de Chapultepec, the property of Chinese-Mexican Zhenli Ye Gon, where the Federal Police found $205 million.
According to the last report available from the PGR, between September 2008 and July 2009, only $2.9 million and 4 million pesos through judicial processes...
The fact that the official can provide no figures from other administrations is inexcusable, and something that happens far too often in Mexico.
I also think it's worth noting that, whatever other flaws they may have, Mexican news outlets do not repeat the mistake in their coverage of the United States. They cover some beats more heavily than others (immigration especially), but for the most part, the big-time Mexican papers cover the US on its own terms. Take this story yesterday from El Universal about the State of the Union and Obama's spending freeze. Other than the language, it's not a whole lot different from what you might see in an American paper. There's rarely if ever a moment where the situation is reversed in American coverage of Mexico.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Yeah, that's pretty bizarre. I wondered yesterday if the "stink of authoritarianism" was an unreflective aside upon which reporters were unfairly harping, but it would seem the opposite is the case. Has she always been this off the wall, or only since the election?
Once more I repeat: politicians must be judged on what they do and not what they say. One thing is a speech and another very different is action. Talking is cheap, especially when one bets on the population's short memory. Here we have, for example, Beatriz Paredes's speech at the fifteen-hundredth seminar on political reform in Mexico.
The national president of the PRI said that "her party won't permit the approval of the independent candidacies, because it believes that behind them there are powerful special interests and ultra-right groups". She went on: "That's why the debate over independent candidacies has to be conducted not based on the democratic ideal of a civil society amply participatory and with high citizen density, but rather from the unusual fact of hyperactivity from ultra-right groups that perhaps think that the confusion that dominates on some issues could carry them to political power. In the PRI we say: They shall not pass".What is Paredes talking about? What are the hyperactive ultra-right groups? Where are they? What do they want? While the priísta provides no more information, her discourse lingers in the typical rhetorical scare tactics: watch out because here comes the bogeyman.
The PRI president's talking with such worry about special interest is striking, when it's her party that rounds up and protects many of them...I'm sorry, but if there is one party that has protected special interests in Mexico, it's the PRI.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
We are worried about the [PAN's] tendency to operate public policy through the parties instead of advancing professionalization, careers in civil service, and a neutral public administration.
Monday, January 25, 2010
I think the right way to interpret the news that most Americans think the stimulus money has been wasted rather than helping them is pretty obvious. Most people don’t know a lot of macroeconomic theory, most people don’t pay a lot of attention to politics, and most people recognize that the unemployment rate is ridiculously high. Ergo, they’ve decided the money was wasted.
Joe Klein has a good piece laying out the truth but I also think it’s a textbook example of how not to talk about gaps in the public’s knowledge of policy disputes. Calling the country “too dumb to thrive” or wondering if we’ve become “a nation of dodos” is way too harsh. It also opens the door for basic observations about public ignorance to be caricatured as elites sneering at the common man.
The fact of the matter, however, is that most people don’t know much about most things. I know a lot about US politics and policy debates and the NBA. I know less about the NFL, indie rock, various TV shows, etc. I know very little about contemporary literary fiction or soccer or plumbing or automobile repair or legitimate theater or chemistry or firearms or fashion or any number of other topics that lots of people seem extremely well-informed about. The simple fact of the matter is that there’s only so much time in the day and everyone can only know about so many things. I write about politics and policy debates for a living so I’d really better know a lot about it. Plenty of people who don’t deal with these issues professionally find them interesting, which is great. But plenty of other people don’t find them interesting and consequently they don’t know much about it. That’s not the same as them being “dodos.”
Now seems a good time to plug Yann Kerevel's lengthy meditation on Mexican institutional reform from December.
Update: An official with América says that the incident stemmed from a robbery at the bar, not an argument. He also said that Cabañas is conscious.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
It's a crazy right. They say things that are from another planet.
Friday, January 22, 2010
I don't imagine this is going anywhere, but what a horrible, short-sighted, Orwellian scheme. Just as arresting NWA would have done nothing to halt the crack boom, this is a mindless idea that is a distraction from the very pressing problem of organized crime in Mexico. Of course, free speech must be restricted in extreme cases, but this isn't one of them. Furthermore, what would the benefit be here? Would Chapo et al be any less powerful if this law were somehow wildly "successful" and no one wrote songs about narcos anymore? Organized crime derives its power from bribes and bullets, not from music.
The proposed legislation would mean sentences of up to three years for people performing or producing songs or films that glamorise criminals.
"Society sees drug ballads as nice, pleasant, inconsequential and harmless – but they are the opposite," Oscar Martin Arce, a National Action party MP, told the Associated Press.
The ballads – known as narcocorridos – often describe drug trafficking and violence and are popular among some norteño bands.
More here and here on the silly habit of jailing musicians connected to drug traffic.
Update: This isn't Castañeda's fault (I imagine), but can we retire the whole, "What's Spanish for..." as the default headline for articles about Latin America? Tired. Very tired.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Update: García Luna's declarations are all over the front pages of the dailies. No mention, so far as I can tell, about the discrepancy. It occurs to me that the explanation may well be the adverb "regularly", as in "regularly use". I never saw it in quotes, though it appeared several times in the article. Perhaps García Luna did not mean "regularly", but rather "sporadically". If that's the case, the fault lies with the newspapers.
Drug trafficking is different from other crimes because, among other reasons, those who work in it obtain stratospheric profits. which gives them the resources to buy sophisticated and powerful arms, diverse vehicles (submarines and planes included), the capacity to corrupt officials at every level of the hierarchy, and strong incentives to continue recruiting operators and gunmen. Through significantly minar the cartels' funds, the task of confronting them becomes a lot more effective, and the social costs, less (as is the case with criminal bands engaged in other common crimes). The idea behind the eventual legalization of drugs is precisely to eliminate a extremely high profitability derived from the black market, which is a product in turn of the prohibition beginning in 1908. But while this is going on, legalization should be viewed as the way to subtract a portion of the capos' funds. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that this be achieved by trying to seal off the northern border to stop the cash flow that comes from the United States to Mexico. A greater effort to impede money laundering and confiscate the fortunes of the capos could strike greater blows and impose lesser social costs.Crespo's explanation of how legalization would be an improvement is perfectly reasoned; it wouldn't make crime go away, and he might have added that it could cause a near-term spike in certain crimes. Regardless, a generation after legalization, it's unlikely that the remaining criminals would have been able to replace all the lost drug-trafficking income. With less cash, they'd be less of a threat.
Is it a crime to sing, play, or tell jokes to criminals? No, the crime, in that case, would be to not report where a criminal lives...The point is well-taken, but unless I'm mistaken, it's not a crime to not report where a suspected criminal lives, either. Arresting Ramón Ayala, then, is little more than harassment, and poorly aimed harassment at that. Alemán equates Ayala and other musicians to bankers who open accounts for narcos, but in fact the latter, whose relationship to the criminal is vital to the criminal's operation rather than periodically helpful for entertainment purposes, is far worse.
Why doesn't the PGR arrest and investigate the priest who baptized the son of the drug trafficker where the Cadetes de Linares played? Why doesn't it investigate the school where the children of drug traffickers study? Why not the owner of the bank that manages million-dollar accounts in poverty-stricken towns in Chihuahua or Sinaloa? Why not the owner of a luxury truck agency, which are purchased by the hundreds in regions that have a strong influence of drug trafficking. Perhaps we should invert the question, "Who is free of drug trafficking?"
[A] generalized tax on consumption and income at lower rates, but absolutely everyone pays, which would widen the taxable base, but also would allow for the creation of an exempted basket of basic staples like food and medicine.In any event, a day later, the PRI faction in the Chamber of Deputies distanced itself from Beltrones' proposal to a certain degree.
I look forward to reading some more expert opinions on this, but increasing revenue by lowering taxes is something that provokes no small amount of skepticism. "Everyone must pay" sounds good, and tax evasion in Mexico is said to be rampant so it's a worthy goal, but if it was so easy, it would have happened already.
*That's a headline that hasn't fit very often over the past three years.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
In the country of flagrant contradictions, both things exist: the Interior Department recognized that essentially the government seeks to brake the IFAI [Mexico's information-access agency], while the president advocates for transparency and calls for state governments "to assume without limitation the standards of transparency and accountability that in this case the OECD is promoting". And of course, what flooded the media during those days was the virtuous declaration of the president, while the strategies designed to impede the transparency organ are consolidated were an issue for this newspaper [El Universal] and few more.This criticism seems basically fair. Calderón, at different spots during his term, has shown an admirable ability to diagnose what Mexico's foremost problems are. His capacity and willingness to correct said problems have been far less impressive. As Leo Zuckermann mentioned a few months ago (and as he tangentially alluded to in December), the result is confusion.
Nevertheless, the contradiction serves to demonstrate one of the preferred forms of this term: the use of forceful and thunderous speeches, which intend to substitute with words the inaction of the government in the foremost issues of public administration.
A pair of twenty-something sisters, great-granddaughters of revolutionary leaders, will join the festivities of the bicentennial of Independence and the centennial of the Mexican Revolution with a totally nude pictorial in the adult magazine Playboy Mexico, a source for the publication informed.Because nothing says "hot" like famous old politicians who've been dead for the better part of a century! I wonder if either one will be donning a replica of Carranza's beard.
Fernanda and Isabel Calles Carranza "will show off their beauty in a beautiful pictorial...to kick off the festivities in 2010", Playboy Mexico said in a press release.
Evidently, descendents of Carranza and Calles married, which makes the sisters great-granddaughters of both men simultaneously.
Do you consider the PAN-PRD alliance for local elections this year congruent?
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
An aggressive Mexican army general and Tijuana’s top cop have been named “Men of the Year” by the Baja California news weekly Zeta.
The hard-hitting Spanish-language publication typically skewers public safety officials for failing to rein in drug cartels, but editors said Gen. Alfonso Duarte Mujica and Tijuana Secretary of Public Security Julian Leyzaola last year put up a strong fight.
Mujica, 56, spearheads the Mexican government’s offensive in Baja California from the Morelos army base overlooking Tijuana. Leyzaola, 49, heads Tijuana's 2,100-member police department.
“The offensive of these two men against organized crime generated confidence in the community and gained credibility for the institutions in one of the most difficult years in terms of security,” said the article in the magazine’s most recent issue.
The most interesting things is that while President Calderón seems to be betting on the image of his government --coming from the PAN-- as one that is fighting to broaden democracy through citizen candidacies, legislative reelection, popular initiatives, and other similar measures, proposals that identify it as a party of opening and at the vanguard of the democratic agenda, his party has carved itself out as thes standard-bearer of the most conservative issues, such as its opposition to abortion choice and gay marriage.
Which of these two faces will be the one that voters identify as they head to the voting booths? Those who have worked on compaign know that this is not a minor question because during an electoral race it becomes complicated to offer one, not to mention two or more, ideas to the voters, a task that becomes almost impossible when the ideas are so different.
What do they think in Los Pinos of this situation, will they be comfortable with the campaign that has placed them on the side of the Church? Will they feel that this is the issue by which they want to be identified as a political force? Or on the contrary, will it have a different vision, with a desire to impulse and move forward on a reform agenda that could do something to make a difference in the rules of Mexicans politics.
We will see in the next few weeks which of these visions prevails and marks the identify of the PAN.
Also, Reuters has this:
(H/T) Oddly enough, this has gotten no press here. Instead, the first story on the Excélsior website is the bankruptcy of Japan Airlines. Color me confused.
América Móvil, the telecommunications company controlled by the billionaire Carlos Slim Helú, on Wednesday started a $21 billion offer for the Mexican telephone companies Telmex and Telmex Internacional.
Mr. Slim already controls all three companies. Now, he wants to integrate them to create a provider with fixed-line telephone, mobile and Internet services across Latin America to better compete against growing rivals.
Why a trade agreement between these two rivals? To start, the possibility of completing the Doha round of the WTO is increasingly distant. It's necessary, then, to look for regional or bilateral agreements. Brazil has discovered that [economic] opening increases exports and that Mercosur has too many limitations to grow. Mexico, meanwhile, needs to diversify its markets, particularly after the crisis demonstrated the fragility of depending only the US, and Brazil is the largest economy in Latin America.I'd be interested to see a deeper economic analysis of this, but politically speaking, the broader macroeconomic benefits of Mexico diversifying its export markets make for a stronger argument than the benefits for the poorer Mexicans. The latter sounds strikingly like the promises from Nafta, which, to put it mildly, brought unfavorable results for the rural poor.
Brazil is an enormous country with 192 million inhabitants and a GDP of $1.6 billion (IMF, 2008), bigger even than that of Canada. It has had an average growth of 5 percent in recent years. Although it continues with a very closed economy (its foreign trade accouts for 24 percent of the GDP compared to 56 in Mexico), in recent years it has begun to open up. Brazil now imports $170 billion a year, but Mexico only has 2 percent of that market.
Despite what could be believed, Mexico is very competitive in industrial goods. Brazil, which doesn't suffer from the fragmentation of its land nor the judicial uncertainty of Mexico's rural areas, has its greatest advantage in its agricultural sector. An opening with Brazil would permit the price of food in Mexico to be lowered and thus benefit the poorest Mexicans.
Lula's enthusiasm is an unexpected opportunity that we must take advantage of, above all if Mexicans really want to diversify our foreign trade. We cannot just keep offering pronouncements on the issue. The best tactic to achieve it at this time is a free trade agreement with Brazil.
Monday, January 18, 2010
That sounds like a logical piece of foresight, but one can't help but wonder: if several thousand army troops were incapable of limiting the violence in Juárez, what can we expect one thousand to do if Tijuana's underworld is determined to fight it out for the scraps of Teo's organization? That lack of clarity is another reason why the government should offer some more details and conclusions of the operation in Juárez: why it went wrong, whether or not this was because of the army's complicity or incompetence, whether we can expect it to be any better in Juárez with the Federal Police, and whether the army flooding another city or region can be expected to yield better results in terms of security (the seemingly inevitable spike in abuses that the presence of the army implies being, for now, a separate question).
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Who benefits from the changes at the Secretariat of Education? Eight months after assuming his post, the secretary, Alonso Lujambio Irazábal, argues that now is the moment to enrich the deliberation of his team with regard to the reforms that are already on the way and decided to fire two high-ranking officials. It's clear that any cabinet secretary wants to work with people he trusts, nobody could question that. Nevertheless, it turns out that the two dismissed officials have something in common: they are not well regarded by the National Educational Worker Syndicate...It could be that Secretary Alonso Lujambio, who has requested that the PAN include his name as an active member of the party, doesn't manage to win the PAN's presidential candidacy in 2012, but if things continue as they have he will certainly land the candidacy of PANAL [the political party controlled by Gordillo].
Friday, January 15, 2010
With all the importance that individual biographies have, they are insufficient for understanding the transformation of the PAN. To go a little deeper, the first great game-changer was the demonstration in November of 1988, in which they conceded to Carlos Salinas de Gortari the possibility of legitimizing himself with results. Later would come the methods of Diego Fernández de Cevallos or the alliance of Fox and Felipe Calderón with Elba Esther Gordillo, a teacher who, to be sure, also presented herself as a social democrat in the decade of the 1990s.These and many other personal stories constitute the collective evolution. There is empirical information that demonstrates it. Another finding from the latest book of Alejandro Moreno, The electoral decision (Porrúa, 2009), is that the panista victories at the ballot box caused notable increases in the activists and sympathizers of the PAN. Those who identify themselves as "panistas," he writes "are newly minted."The figures confirm that, beginning with the 1990s, the PAN confronted the most intense siege of its history. The organization and its leaders lived the attack of the buffalos and the sycophants trained at massaging egos, offering to do "whatever you need sir/madam" and solving all the problems because a good servant of the "system" is PhD jack-of-all-trades. Moreno found in his surveys that a high percentage of those who became disillusioned with the PRI, when it lost strength, chose the PAN as their principal destination. It's paradoxical that the panistas, who so criticized the PRD for being an offshoot of the PRI, ended up being the chosen nest of the majority of priísta exiles.One of the great dramas of the human condition is handling power or the anxieties of achieving it. To take it to a more relevant realm, a Mexicanized version of the Faustian myth would be the dilemma that the longtime and newly arrived panistas face: will they continue being a pirate copy of the worst of the PRI's habits and customs or will they in their heroic and prosaic past the inspiration to redefine their identity.
The blows to the secular state also come from the verbal rebellions of the Catholic prelates, like Norberto Rivera, when he states: "You have to obey the law of God before the law of the men". (1.10.10) And who defines the supreme law of God? Just the Catholics? Because for Jews, Protestants, Buddhists, Muslims, or Hindus, many laws of God are different from those postulated by the Vatican. Should we also stick to the law prohibiting the consumption of pigs, as Judaism orders, and practice mandatory circumcision? Or avoid all alcohol and use the burka, according to the demands of Muslim fundamentalists, or not eat beef as the Hindus do, or not kill even an insect, one of the maxims of the Jains? Well everyone should follow their own convictions, but in a secular state the laws can't be formed from such beliefs. This is a fundamental of modernity, to which it would seem many are opposed.
The crime we wave that we are living in Mexico at the beginning of 2010 should encourage the government to think very hard about how to strengthen its strategy of searching for greater peace and tranquility for Mexico, as all Mexicans demand and, in large part, its action of open and decided combat of organized crime and drug trafficking has all the support of Congress, as well as the majority of or even all Mexicans.
But a strategy that has no movement, the only thing that it generates is that results that we have until today continue: violence and murder in the first month, which are very striking. We would invite the government to meet with urgency, with the end result of revising its strategy.
I think that this meeting could also serve to examine some truly scary issues, such as permitting a drug trafficker to remodel a jail. It seems that in such a moment the government stops existing.
The only thing missing was for Arturo Sarukhán to physically move Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa to one side with the palm of his hand. Although essentially did just that: he addressed the consuls as though he were the head of the Secretariat of Foreign Relations. They tells that in his urgency to sell Mexico as a safe and stable nation, he scolded representatives from diverse cities in the US. Some labeled it humiliating, others said they simply felt attacked by the Mexican ambassador in Washington. They assure that this isn't the first time. Sarukhán tends to act as though Espinosa didn't exist.Sarukhán was last seen around here making declarations that, on second thought, were probably more appropriate coming from the foreign secretary. When Sarukhán was named the Ambassador to Washington, it was something of a surprise, because he had had a long foreign-policy résumé and had played a huge role in the Calderón campaign; everyone had assumed that the post would be his logical reward. But although he took a "lesser" role, he remains the foreign policy heavyweight in Calderón's cabinet, which you could argue is akin to literally centering the administration's foreign policy in Washington. That's probably putting too fine a point on it (after all, Sarukhán doesn't pop up a lot on questions that have nothing to do with US-Mexico relations), but the image presented by the status quo is not ideal, to say the least.
That discrepancy aside, the article doesn't tell us how many of the above were eventually convicted or let back out on the street without charges. Most estimates show that the latter result is far more common, which makes such a big number as 67,000 far less significant. Also, it should be noted that 64,000 of those arrested were narcomenudistas, or low-level dealers, rather than big players.
Tourist Package "Visit the best sites"
12:00 p.m.-Target practice in Colonias Durangueña, San Antonio, Fidel Velazquez, Tierra y Libertad, or any other part of the city. You can do this wherever you want, no problem.
2:00 p.m.-Participation in a kidnapping scene on Raúl López Sánchez, in front of Liverpool Galerías [a local mall], 100 percent real.
3:00 p.m.-Recreational activity: "Look for the dead body in a blanket", the winner will receive a free meal at the restaurant Cielito Lindo (gunfight included).
4:00 p.m.-Instructional activity: "Rip out the cash machine", location to be determined, includes work tools, pick-up with driver wearing a ski-mask, and instruction.
With the purchase of "Visit the best sites" you will also receive:
*A brick with a bullet lodged in it (one per family, subject to availability)
*A certificate for having corrupted a local authority signed by the governor
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Change of strategy in the Operation Chihuahua. Starting today, Mexican army troops will leave the urban area of the city and their place will be occupied by around 2,000 Federal Police. In addition, Federal Police helicopters and unmanned airplanes will keep watch over the city.Hard to guess if this will have any impact at all, but I guess as long as Juárez remains such a disaster zone, the government can't just sit on its hands. But it might just be that, in the short term at least, the forces driving the violence in Juárez are immune to any government action short of a total lockdown of the city.
Considered the most violent city in the world, with 191 homicides per 100,000 residents, the federal government decided to change strategy and take the Mexican army out of the urban area.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
I'd be interested to see a sociological study on why people keep joining gangs in Juárez. Let's say that 4 percent of the Juárez are members of or regularly do illegal business with criminal gangs, and that 90 percent of the murdered come from that population. That means that we are talking about 2,500 dead from a population of about 60,000. Which means that if you run around with gangs for three years, you have a better than 10 percent chance of being killed. And those odds are only on their way up thus far in 2010.
PRD Senate boss Carlos Navarrete says that this year will indeed be fiscal and political reforms, though surely he's not talking about passing the programs proposed by the Calderón administration. The mere fact that Navarrete, the leader of the staunchest opposition party, is promising it seems a good sign that something will pass, but the question, of course, is what that something will look like.
The NFL should retire Warner's lucky No. 13 jersey after the 38-year-old legend completed 29 of 33 passes for 379 yards and five touchdowns during the Arizona Cardinals' 51-45 victory in one of the league's greatest games. (Emphasis mine)It was a great contest, in a video game sort of way, and Warner was fantastic, but let's not go overboard.
Plus, Noah Millman on Avatar:
On the other hand, people have compared the movie to Star Wars: Cameron has created a whole new world, using wholly new technology, that will change forever the way movies are made and the way we perceive our own world.Millman is paraphrasing others' reaction, not offering his own. Even so, does anyone actually believe it will change the way we perceive the world? It's a movie, not cocaine.
As long as we're on reactions to Avatar, this bit from Christopher Hitchens was funny:
It is reported that in his declining days last month, Yamaguchi was visited in the hospital by the celebrated movie director James Cameron; a still small voice advises me that any script arising from this encounter is liable to stink very strongly indeed.
Monday, January 11, 2010
Interestingly, there is greater hostility toward lesbian couples than homosexual male couples, at least in terms of child-rearing: 33 percent said that an all-female couple should be able to adopt a child, compared to 58 percent who went the other way, while the corresponding figures for men were 23 and 68 percent. (Then again, maybe that's not so interesting, and is typical of such polling; I've never seen the two findings compared before.)
Digging a little deeper, the salient variable here is age: the young were more open to rights for same-sex couples across the word. For instance, 53 percent of people aged 18 to 29 said that gay couples should have the same rights as heterosexual pairs, and 40 percent said that they should be allowed to marry, which is seven and eight points above the norm, respectively. The corresponding figures for people 50 and up were 35 percent for equal rights and 22 percent for marriage.
It's interesting that there is not a corresponding slant for educational level; on virtually every issue, people with a primary school education or less were the least likely to support gay rights. But the Mexicans with a university degree weren't the most likely to support gay rights on any single issue, and in some cases, the minority of Mexicans with a college degree lies beneath both those with just a high school and those with only a middle school education. On marriage, for instance, college-education Mexicans are six points below the national average.
Mexico's lack of attention to science has long been a favorite subject of mine. The OECD suggestion seems like a decent idea, but I'm not convinced that this is necessarily the solution, or at least not the whole solution. It could be just the boost the kick in the scientific pants that Mexico needs, but the government has lots of empty-shell cabinet agencies, and there's nothing to assure that this one will be an effective agent for greater promotion of science, rather than an effective leech of tax dollars. Beyond a new science agency, what's needed is a broad-based government commitment to promoting science and giving Mexico's science stars the chance to apply their talents at home. Whether or not a divided SEP is a better avenue to that remains to be seen.
Our politicians must be small, if a small adjustment in the price if gasoline serves as an obstacle to political reform. Small in vision, in ambition, and understanding, without a doubt.This episode reminds me of the gas tax dustup between Obama and Clinton during their primary battle, during which the president came off looking responsible and presidential, despite taking on the harder position to explain to a cash-strapped electorate. It'd be nice to see someone follow his lead.
I won't repeat the arguments that I expressed in the financial section, I will remind you that growth in demand of gasoline in Mexico is one of the highest in the world (because of the relative cheapness of cars) and already 300,000 of the 750,000 barrels of gas that we consume daily are imported. Maintaining the price of gas low is absurd, and it has been for a while. The government is merely correcting a mistaken policy, but its adversaries perceive in this rise a small victory, commensurate to the adversaries themselves, and they don't hesitate to fight for it, whatever the cost.
For the record, with the hikes regular unleaded gas costs about $2.50 a gallon here. Also, here's the financial section piece that Schettino referred to.
Also, corporate titan Moisés Saba died along with five others in a helicopter crash, which may or may not have been weather-related, in the state of Mexico.
It remains freezing (by Mexico standards, anyway) today, and a new cold front is forecast for later this week. Travel safely everyone.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
[I]t doesn't matter how many capos and killers are killed or arrested nor how many shipments of cocaine are captured, the situation will only get worse. The fallen narcos will be replaced by others, younger, more powerful, better armed, more numerous, who will maintain in operation an industry that has extended across the world for decades without the blows against it amounting to any significant wound.[Break]Is there, then, no solution? Are we condemned to live, sooner rather than later, with narco-states like that which President Felipe Calderón wanted to prevent. There is. It consists of decriminalizing the consumption of drugs through an agreement of consumer and producer countries...
Saturday, January 9, 2010
"Having spoken about it publicly at times in the past ... has done a great deal of damage to our countrymen and our allies in the United States," he said.
Sarukhan said a general amnesty that would automatically legalize undocumented migrants "cannot be the solution," because "the radical conservative wing in the United States would immediately mobilize to torpedo it."
Friday, January 8, 2010
Anyway, here's a highlight:
I'm not sure how true that is, since much of the violence in Juárez is attributed to Chapo's aggressive entry into the city, and the stories about big-time musicians playing for Chapo are legion. But it is interesting, in any event.
Officials insist there is no going back to the old practice in which Mexican governments turned a blind eye to drug gangs provided they acted discreetly. If Sinaloa has been hit less hard, it is because it operates differently. It has stuck to a “transactional” rather than “territorial” method, says one official. Other gangs, such as La Familia and the Zetas, a particularly violent outfit of former soldiers, began to control cities and diversify into extortion and kidnapping. When the government deploys troops to reclaim the streets, it is these gangs whom they run into.
Sinaloa, by contrast, has stuck to drugs and money laundering and is smarter and more sophisticated. It prefers anonymity to the ostentation of others (Mr Beltrán was undone by inviting a famous accordionist to play at a Christmas party). It eschews jobless teenagers, its rivals’ rank and file, in favour of graduates, infiltration and intelligence. Although all the gangs have penetrated local governments, only Sinaloa and the Beltráns have been discovered to have bribed senior officials. Officials complain that Sinaloa operatives receive warning of pending raids. Sceptics wonder whether success against other gangs comes from tip-offs from Sinaloa.
The article also includes an early nominee for the Monumental Understatement of the Year:
Some residents of Ciudad Juárez are growing restive over the government’s failure to stem the violence.That sounds like something you would read about a moderately unruly city council meeting in suburban Charlotte, not a place where the murder rate is around 200 per 100,000 inhabitants.
But as has been the case over the course of Calderón's term in the presidency and Beltrones's in the Senate, the bad blood is subsiding quickly, with Beltrones calling the president a trustworthy negotiator on television yesterday. If only Pacquiao and Mayweather could learn from their capacity to kiss and make up.