"Life is tough. So am I"

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Mexican "elected" president: Enrique Peña Nieto

Enrique Peña Nieto, http://www.lajornadajalisco.com.mx/2012/07/04/contra-el-crimen-mayor-uso-de-fuerza-pero-con-inteligencia-pena-nieto/

I guess we all have trouble when speaking in a foreign language, but would you appear in TV speaking a language you are not fluent in? Would you vote for someone who participate in an international conference speaking like this [subtitled video]? I didn't. If I went to Russia, I would speak Spanish, and somebody would translate, am I right? There's no need for a political leader to speak like that.

The thing is, this is not the first time Enrique Peña Nieto [image taken from here] is seen as an ignorant. He presented a book once and when he was asked about 3 books which marked his life, he could only name "the Bible" correctly [and another title with a wrong author]. Here's the video [subtitled]. Would you believe someone wrote a book but couldn't link even one book with its author?... It was an International Book Fair.

There was this other time when someone asked him how much did one kilo tortillas cost, and he answered "he wasn't the lady back home". I could go on, but you get the point.

His smile is kind of "tricksy". When he was governor, some creepy stories happened. Atenco is the main example and he recently took responsability for this police behaviour. The result: 26 women raped by the police, not one policeman in jail. If you want to read the whole story here's a link. [I wrote a long post in Spanish about Atenco. The link is here, just in case.]

Now the state he governed is one of the first when counting murdered women. That is, even compared to Chihuahua and Ciudad Juárez. Women in Mexico get raped and killed by their husband, their boyfriend, a lover and so on. Almost no one goes to jail, not even the ones who confess. [Sorry, I guess that's for another post.]

Enrique Peña Nieto (@EPN in Twitter) is just some political character the TV created and most of the people in Mexico gets information only by TV. He is married to a TV star, too. Someone "made him".

The first video was shot during the 2008 World Future Societys. Would you believe he's written an article for the New York Times (recently, in 2012)? Well, here's the link. Do you believe someone who ordered Atenco's police operation when he says he will govern considering those who do not agree with him? Would you like someone like that to represent you?

Right now [July 5th, 2012], Mexico is counting the votes again. Enrique Peña Nieto and his party (named "PRI") are confident the result is sure enough. Andrés Manuel López Obrador (from the left party) is trying to prove PRI used illegal money to buy votes ["illegal" because political parties receive an amount of money and shouldn't spend more than that, according to mexican laws]. Many in Mexico think he is exagerating and many more have seen videos in YouTube or photos in Twitter showing people trying to but groceries in Soriana [similar to a Wal-Mart] using electronic cards and discussing about how much money PRI gave them. Luckily, I found a subtitled video. And, by the way, I have seen none of these videos on the TV [that's not such a surprise].

The following pictures were taken during #YoSoy132 ["I am 132"] demonstrations. This organization asks for real information and free media. They demonstrated outside Televisa (the principal TV broadcaster in Mexico) chanting: "No somos uno, no somos 100, prensa vendida, cuéntanos bien" ["We are not one, we are not a hundred, paid Press, count us well".] The text below the pictures is my translation of the banners. Please let me know if you have trouble understanding the translation. I'll fix them if it's necessary.

EPN i, http://www.vanguardia.com.mx/tambienenoaxacahubomarchaantipenadelmovimientoyosoy132-1307362.html

"Peña, because we know you, we don't believe you". [Image taken from here.]

EPN ii, http://senderodefecal1.blogspot.com/2012/06/yosoy132-convocan-la-tercera-marcha.html

"#YoSoy132 - Televisa makes you an idiot". The sign on their shirts is EPN's quiff. [Image taken from here.]

EPN iii, http://bioeticacotidiana.blogspot.mx/2012/06/movimiento-yosoy132-se-declara-anti.html

"Theatre must be done by actors, not by politicians - #YoSoy132". [Image taken from here.]

EPN iv, http://www.elpinerodelacuenca.com.mx/epc/index.php/noticias-veracruz
 "The important thing is not to change one's master, but to stop being a dog". [Image taken from here.]

Enrique Peña Nieto is a real shame to me. People in the street (at least in Mexico City) seems pretty sad about him winning the elections. In Mexico there is not a second round. Votes against EPN were divided between another two parties.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mexican casinos


You may have heard of the last terrorist act in Mexico. About six armed men got inside a casino in Monterrey (one of the three Mexico's largest cities) and started shooting. While people ran to the back, they threw gasoline and set it on fire. Are you wondering about emergency exits? Well, they were closed and padlocked, because they didn't wanted bad people to get around security using these doors.

More than 50 people died, counting casino workers and customers. As usual, they died because they inhalated the smoke. Firemen and policemen had to knock a wall down and it was too late for many.

A while ago, Mexican soldiers capture Jorge Hank Rhon, the owner of a famous casino [image taken from here]. They said they were chasing a suspect and he entered Hank Rhon's house, so they went inside and found 88 guns. They charged him with illegal possession of guns but in the end they set him free because soldiers had no warrant to go inside the house.

There's a rumor among journalists saying Hank Rhon's casino is used for money laundering [mmm....] and two of the weapons he had at home had been used in murders. A journalist from "Semanario Zeta" died while having trouble with him and his business. Nobody charged him with any of these, due to a lack of evidence, and also because Mexican police intelligence is almost an oxymoron [it does not exist]. They only find criminals when they somehow catch them while committing the crime.

I would guess the casino was property of a drug cartel (used for money laundering) and the gunmen were from another one. [I'm not the only one guessing the same thing.] Well, everybody knows Monterrey is a city both the "Zetas" and the "Cartel del Golfo" are fighting over.

Did I mention this is the first time Calderón [the president] has described it as "terrorism"?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Efraín Bartolomé and the policemen unlawful raid

Efraín Bartolomé,poeta

This image was taken from a poetry magazine in Spanish called "Círculo de Poesía" [a link is here]. Efraín Bartolomé is a poet living in Mexico City. He's 60 years old. Today's early morning armed men, wearing policemen outfits, broke into his house and threatened him and his wife (56 years old). They broke windows and doors, allegedly looking for guns, without search warrant. When they were gone, both of them found out they had stolen (at least) an external memory drive and a camera.

The local police never arrived, though they were called. Two neighbouring houses were also attacked. The thing is, these armed men could have been criminals with policemen suits and guns, searching in civilian houses... or else they could have been real policemen, searching without warrant and aiming at civilian heads [they did aim at him]. Which one is worse?

This happens on a daily basis in other parts of the country. On the north, on the southeast, on the west... This is the first time I hear this happened in the city. It could be only the first one.

[NOTE: Efraín Bartolomé wrote a text about what happened. I kept a copy. Of course it is in Spanish, but I can translate it if anyone asks. I don't have his language level in English (I keep my feet on the floor), but I'm sure better than google translator. Just let me know] 

[UPDATE August 12th, 2011: Now we know the armed med were in fact policemen. The attorney general apologized. They hadn't returned what they stole. There was no search warrant for those houses, just a document saying they were looking for a drug dealer or hit man.]

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Javier Sicilia

javier sicilia

Javier Sicilia (on the image above) is a journalist, essayist, novelist and poet from Mexico. He contributes to "El Proceso" [a political magazine] and "La Jornada" [a newspaper]. Only a few people knew about him before March 28th, 2011, when his son (Juan Francisco Sicilia) and six other people were murdered [victims of the Mexican war between the government and drug dealers]. Then, he used his talented voice and the media coverage he got, to tell everybody he would not write poetry again, and a decisive sentence: "estamos hasta la madre" [which would be the strongest way to say: "we are tired / sick of it"].

He joined a lot of people and became the spokesman of a movement traveling around Mexico, listening to the war victims: widows, orphans, mothers looking for their disappeared sons and daughters, families demanding justice for their loved ones... It took some time, but finally the president agreed to discuss the war strategy. Sicilia said Calderón (the Mexican president) should apologize for the situation. Calderón almost did [I mean, he said: "I'm sorry for not having done this before"], and then we were all astonished when Sicilia huged him at the end of the meeting [image taken from here].

javier sicilia

Of course he has raised important issues. This situation is getting worse. The government insults the victims saying only a few percentage of them were "innocent", so they gather a group of victims to tell the president their experiences. Sicilia seems to have faith.

Next time he met with congressmen and congresswomen. He wore again his hat and his vest [here some people say it is "Indiana Jones style"] and he ended kissing Beltrones (a congressmen from PRI party). [Image taken from here.]

javier sicilia

By the way, congressmen did apologize for the situation [at least some of them]. No important changes have been implemented (until today). Sicilia explained the hug and the kiss arguing he is no politician, he does not have image consultants and he keeps feeling like the poet he is... Besides, on the Bible it says: "love your enemy" [said on CNN].

[NOTE: Actually I'm an atheist, but this loving way of facing politicians could work out. At least he tries.]

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The "light trail" ["estela de luz"]


Imagine you are at the gates of Chapultepec (the most important park in Mexico City). You look East and you see the picture above... in color. Those are green trees. The road on the center is Reforma [Mexico is really proud of that avenue]. The big building on the left is "la Torre Mayor" [the tallest skyscraper in Mexico City] and the not-so-tall buildings on the right are luxurious hotels and corporate offices.

The two "sticks" in the middle represent a monument which was going to commemorate 100 years since Revolution and 200 years since Independence. [It is actually 100 years since the beginning of Revolution War and 200 years since the beginning of Independence War... we commemorate the beginning of wars, instead of the end of them]. Well, this Commemoration was in 2010. We are now in 2011 and it is not ready. The image above (taken from here) is just a model.

The cost is huge, as usual, more than one billion pesos (well, that is 1,036,000.00 pesos, more or less 88,850.77 USD). It is supposed to be made of steel (two plates, 104 m tall [that is, approximately 341 feet]), covered with quartz. The management has been a mess.

They assure it is going to be finished by 31st December, 2011. Last time I heard about it (on yesterday news) the status was 55% finished, while some congressmen were asking for the project to be halted [because there are some doubts about the cost and about who decided what]. Maybe we'll have to imagine the picture above without the sticks (I mean, the "light trail"). Allow me to show you [thanks, Google Maps].


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tortillas getting more expensive


As you may know, Mexican diet is based on tortillas (image taken from here). One man eats between 3 and 5 tortillas daily. [The specific data must be around the net, somewhere. This number is just what I have seen, with people I know and considering also the number of tortillas I get with my food when going to a restaurant.]

Many traditional dishes contain tortillas. They are supposed to be cheap and nutritious. Construction workers are commonly seen with a lot of food in a plate or bowl and a big pack of tortillas. Each worker takes a tortilla, adds the stew (or whatever the bowl contains), eats it and then prepares the next one. They don't need plates and it contains carbohydrates to provide enough energy to construction workers.

The thing is, in 2000, the cost was $2.50 (Mexican pesos) per kilogram. Today the cost is $13.00 or even $15.00. Well, prices always go up, but what about the minimum wage? In 2000 a worker earned $37.90 a day (one kilogram tortillas would be 6.6% of his wage). Today a worker earns $59.82 a day, so now one kilogram tortillas is 21.7% of his wage.

By the way, I would say on the image the amount of tortillas must be between 1.5 kilograms and 2 kilograms. Just do the math.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Rejected at the university


59,087 people took the test to enter UNAM (the well-known university, whose image was taken from here). Only 6,014 were accepted. This means, only 10% of them [data in Spanish here]. Mexico's demographic window is at risk. A lot of young men and women are not studying and are not employed. They live with their parents, who "sponsor" them, and they are called "Ninis", based on "ni estudian, ni trabajan" [translated as: "do not study and do not work"].

UNAM authorities argue they don't have the means to accept more students. They ask people to look for other carrier options. Well, we have also IPN (where I studied), also public, where they can study engineering, architecture and some other things. But IPN is crowded too. We have UAM, where studies are paid by the state and even food is extremely cheap. The rest (at least in the city) are private universities and you have to choose whether you can afford something good (like Tecnológico de Monterrey), or something not so good (just to have a degree), or better start looking for a job.