Category Archives: opinion

3 reasons that make Mexico’s “No” to Trump’s wall an irony.

After much delay the Mexican government has officially spoken about Donald Trump’s proposal of Mexico paying for the wall at the border. Luis Videgaray, one of the strongest and loyal men of the Mexican president, has declared that not “one peso” will be spent on the wall using Mexican people’s money.

Videgaray is the Secretary of Finance in Mexico, all things money goes through him. And there resides the irony of his words – his office and himself have been involved in major corruption controversies. After all, he handles public finances – making Videgaray the man with which Trump will have to face inevitably (If the Donald secures the US presidency, of course).

3 major corruption scandals that make Videgaray’s “no” to Trump’s wall an irony.
Bear in mind the word major, since more allegations abound.

1.

Dubious Mexican presidential campaign money.

As Enrique Peña Nieto’s strong man during the campaign of 2012, he helped secured big-time donors in order to make a dent on then favorite leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. As pressure mounted from special interest groups and the media, Videgaray made cash began to flow. The way he did it is still a polemic debate from Mexican opposition.

Videgaray secured impressive donations from Soriana market store chain (our equivalent of Wal-Mart). It was documented at the time how Videgaray’s party PRI distributed Soriana gift cards with petty cash in exchange for votes. Their campaign also received money from abroad who had interests in not letting Obrador turning Mexico in the next Venezuela. So most of the money he raised was illegal by Mexican electoral law.

2.

Lavish mansions, dirty deeds.

A contractor with shady links to the President of Mexico, and especially Videgaray allegedly bribed them with vast lands and mansions that would make the late Queen of France look modest. Videgaray has his own luxurious mansion at Malinalco small town, while the President and his curvaceous wife have their colossal mansion in the upscale western Mexico City side.

The Mexican First Lady has already explained on national television that they pay with their own money their brand-new house, even when their children (the ones who called poor Mexican people disgusting) go for safari at Africa and do shopping sprees in Beverly Hills. The opposition thinks Videgaray did a good job covering whatever muddy deeds they have done with those contractors.

3.

Controversial energy deals and taxes.

Videgaray has pushed every year for heavy taxes upon an already burdensome Mexican people. He says results will be seen on the long run, but on the short run he has been surrounded with shifty characters involved with corruption in Pemex (the state and only oil company) and other Energy sectors. Many ask where are the taxes he so vehemently rooted for are going. Utility bills are more expensive than ever in Mexico, but it seems that money is going to some pockets – but whose?

Mexican leaders soft spot is not nationalism (we’ve been invaded since 1521) or people’s dissent (hey, they let Texas go after all). All that Mexican government officials and White Mexican elites are money. As simplistic as it sounds it is what has brought misery to Mexico for centuries.

Now that Donald Trump is threatening the status quo not only in America but also in Mexico, Mexican leaders might think it is more troubling to give money for Trump’s wall than to keep purchasing mansions, silence of obscure deals, and political campaigns. If you summed it up, the wall would be a cheaper way out of a spat with Trump than what their mansions cost.

Opposition leaders calculate 10% of public finances in Mexico’s government goes to documented corruption – stealing or bribery. But Videgaray insists he will not pay a single peso from Mexico’s public finances. You see the irony, or at least the moral hypocrisy?

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5 Reasons why George Lopez was wrong in using violent imagery against Trump

George Lopez just recently uploaded a gory image via his twitter account portraying El Chapo drug lord holding a beheaded Donald Trump. And he’s not the only Mexican in the US making this kind of allegory of drug war terrorism – Univision and Telemundo are doing so too through telenovelas (Mexican soap operas). One thing is portrayal through news outlets but enabling it is wrong. The world is appalled with drug war-related violence, Mexicans should repudiate it too and there are reasons why.

1. Violence generates violence.

As cliché as it sounds, it holds true in Mexico. For years, since the drug war broke in 2003 in Nuevo Laredo, rival groups have used the web to their fear-imposing advantage. Cartels attack each other through videos and imagery of their deeds, while using it as a recruitment tool.

2. Open wounds.

Contrary to the life George Lopez have lived, the bulk of Mexicans in Mexico had to bear for years the traumatic burden of war. Entire cities taken over either by a drug cartel or Mexican army – or both. Lives disrupted forever. Thousands displaced because of massive deaths, kidnappings, and psychological harassment. The war still rages in Mexico and I wonder if sending meme-like images from a cozy celebrity home will make anyone an anti-Donald Trump activist.

3. Bad image

One thing Mexicans and other nations agree is disavowing from violence carried out by small factions or a government. We feel we are not violent, thus spreading this imagery that propagates a wrong idea of who we are. It’s like saying all Americans are KKK members, which is not true. If a Mexican enables this type of images born out of a drug war, then it could seem that he identifies with that violent culture. Does George Lopez buy into this drug cartel terrorism propaganda? I know most Mexicans in Mexico don’t.

4. Insulting to real activists.

Cheap images born out of drug violence undermines honest work made by many activists that fight for the rights of Mexicans or racism against minorities in the US. People have given their life, literally – hence insulting their legacy and their work to bring prosperity to war-thorn Mexico. Many groups in Southern Mexico have rose in arms against bloody drug cartels, meaning people are against this culture of violence. Not repudiating violence in Mexico makes you part of that violence.

5. Not art.

I know art, I am an artist. Actually there is amazing counter-government artwork and street art in Mexico. Propagating hate imagery that was created by violent Mexicans to murder and provoke fear to other Mexicans is supporting it. It’s the same mimic principle done by ISIS terror cells within the US and Europe. So, please – Mexican or not Mexican, don’t do it.

I have suffered from the war in Mexico, people I know have too. It is no laughing matter as it is for George Lopez. I feel personally offended by it, especially coming from a person that could do so much for our people via other fronts — but not with cheap shots. Whatever issues against Donald Trump could be said, it can be said in a vast myriad ways. Especially when the drug war and illegal immigration is the fault of corrupt Mexican government, not Donald Trump.

Remember, remember, the 5th of November

Photo I shot at Mexico City.

Remember, remember, the 5th of November.

There is a crisis with police worldwide. It’s not just a one-nation phenomenon.

Civilians are having trouble with police — aggressive, authoritarian, corrupt, insensitive, and racist. Yours truly too. It is not an issue of complying or not anymore. It is not an issue of criminal activity anymore. It is about undermining democracy and freedom (if any).

For those of us who have had issues with police for NO reason is frustrating for other police or authorities to understand. Especially here in Mexico, where laws are only a list of good will.

This ends up ultimately with world governments, they inability to see the issue. We ended up in a police state world, where the Internet, free speech, or even carrying a camera at a demonstration is far worse offense than rape, kidnapping, or mass murder.

Criminals all around the world are getting a nice treatment — warlorlds, drug pins, and mass shooters. We the people have become the scapegoats for the blunt inefficiency of police. Their frustrations vent on us.

We should remind the police (the bad apples that is) that we are the more. That they work for us. That they serve and protect us, not themselves. The moment we begin to do this reminding to police corporations around the world, the moment democracy has failed — though we need to do something to mend it.

Unless you don’t believe in democracy, the police should be held accountable for their actions — the good and the bad. Good actions should be rewarded, yes. Bad actions from police should have the most severe repercusions.

If you’re interested in how a system becomes rotten check out my novel Till Stars Shut Their Eyes, and see how Yacanes and Atotoztli defended their love in Ancient Mexico against the actions of the High Ruler’s police.

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Mexico once faced immigration issues. Before Donald Trump, there was Xolotl.

By Miguel Omaña.

800 years before Donald Trump highlighted immigration issues Mexico faced the very same challenges. What solution did the ancient indigenous found? You’d surprised.

In the years 1200’s massive contingents of people migrated from the northern lands which in modern days consist of northern Mexico and Southwestern United States. Back in the day people didn’t migrate northbound but to the south, specifically to the colossal Valley of Mexico and its surrounding valleys.

After the fall of Tula (Tollan Xicocotitlan), the Toltec capital, entire nations of northern and western native nations moved towards to what today is Mexico City and its surrounding states. Most pushed by a phenomenon we now call Climate Change. By the time the migrants arrived to the fertile lands and huge lake areas the Chichimec Domain* was already established ruled by mighty Xolotl.

Every day people kept pouring in.

Xolotl saw the influx of migrants as a major issue in his government. It was a do or break moment for the Huey Tlatoani (High Ruler). There was no time to waste, every day people kept pouring in. Contrary to what the United States is experiencing today, entire nations were moving into his realm — America’s illegal immigration issue according to Donald Trump seems to be primarily with Mexicans. But Xolotl had to deal with multiple nations moving altogether to a rather small place in comparison to the open northern range.

What solution did Xolotl thought about? His 800 year old answer may surprise you.

The all-powerful Xolotl decided to not only welcome all of the huge groups of weary and tired migrants (hmh, hmh, well before the Statue of Liberty ever existed), but under several non-negotiable conditions. Each native nation that arrived accepted his unmoving terms. What were Xolotl’s terms?
We may call them the Xolotl laws.

  • Each immigrant group or nation would receive their own piece of land, and that land would be decided only by Xolotl himself on the basis of availability and land size.
  • Each immigrant group or nation had to supply with men to the Chichimec Domain army should it be needed.
    There had to be no quarrels between groups of immigrants for land or power, all of it derived from the Chichimec capital Tenayuca.
  • But the most important decree Xolotl gave to each and every person who arrived to his nation was… that all had to abide to assimilation into Toltec culture, language, and way of life.

The last and most important precept was the pivotal policy of his rule and of his descendants. There was a genuine need to have immigrants comply to the customs and laws of the land. But I have to stress, these immigrants had nothing asked but to comply to Xolotl’s decrees. Visas, long waiting times, entry permits — those were not part of Xolotl’s true open-arms immigrant nation. Each Chichimec ruler continued this legacy of letting people in as long as they abide to the laws, language, and Toltec traditions of the land.

An open-door policy may be dismissed by any candidate.

America’s immigration issues of today has many differences, mainly an ongoing war in Mexico (hint, hint! War’s not only raging in Syria or Ukraine). This has made the region volatile with the ongoing turf wars, which spills into the USA as what Trump refers as crimes and raping. Americans are afraid of ISIS combatants, and yet they have far more bloodier massacres next door. So an open-door policy may be dismissed by any candidate, while a wall seems a more comforting one.

Are we in for a simplistic solution?

What’s better in the long run, might ask Xolotl? What ideas might a powerful Xolotl give to the powerful Trump? After all, both share the same can-do attitude stemmed from their omnipresent power. At least Xolotl saw an opportunity out of immigrants, maybe thinking as a modern-day businessman. A good businessman can turn into benefit every situation. Is it really that the age of American creativity over? The same nation that once invented the planes, the car, harnessed nuclear energy, and went to the Moon (and even Pluto) can’t come with an out-of-the-box solution for illegal immigration? Or are we in for a simplistic solution? It can’t just be either amnesty or booting everyone out — right?

What is to be a father?

By Miguel Omaña.

Now that the whole Father’s Day upheaval has settled down we can really ponder with clarity of mind what a father is. Not that we are not able of talking about it days before or during our day (me being also a father), I’ve found things become more real and steady after such celebrations, very much like New Year’s.

So what is to be a father?

Perhaps the answer I’ve come up with may be so simplistic and perhaps bland. Still, after my mind has gone over it several times and based on personal experiences (good and bad) this is what I consider it to be. A father is one that’s there, no matter what.

Pretty broad definition, huh? Well, I thought so at first. But you see, when you think of it, we’re all sure what a mother is — one that brings into life her child, feeds him/her, and the such. This applies to adopting moms, or even gay couples — you gotta grant me there’s a mommy figure. Nowadays many moms work or earn money, so that 1950’s idea of mommy at home and daddy at work is not only undoable but preposterous for many out there.

We need good fathers in a time where society has grieved and suffered too much.

But the concept of what is a father can be sketchy at best. In an era of high divorce rates and destroyed families, we better come up with a good idea of what a father should be. We need this, in a society that’s seeing too much grief and pain because of a bad family environment — a problem not only endemic to inner city communities but also to suburban areas.
There are dads that go the extra mile, and those that don’t. Don’t mind the latter.

A father is one that’s there, no matter what. This means that someone (anyone) that stays along their kids, her partner’s needs, and present in family issues is a father. I may be criticized for being to lose on such an important figure of a family, but believe me — for a man to do that is way too much in these days were fathers are prone to split away and never look back. There are dads that go the extra mile, and that’s worthy of note. But… and here’s the ugly but… many dads don’t tend fully commit to a family they formed in the first place, to a partner they chose to begin with, in a life they knew they were getting into.

The just ones pay as sinners.

Here we have a saying that says “Justos pagan por pecadores” roughly translated as “the just ones pay as sinners”. These means just because fathers in general have a bad rap it doesn’t mean all dads are spineless weasels that don’t care about their family well-being. Newsflash, there are good dads out there, more that you can imagine. And still, the bad apples may outweight what we good dads may be trying.

Dad, start from the little details. No biggie.

Being there for your family doesn’t only mean physically but also in state of mind. One that is worried about how your little girl is doing in Math, or when the new movie your wife wanted to see comes out. Details, people! Such details count in a life of a family. Yes, there are also bills to pay, errors to mend, and bad habits to control. But what if we start from details only to build up to the bigger issues?

Common ground on what a father should be.

I’m not religious, I’m not left or right winged, but I have found based on personal experiences there is a common ground on what a father should be. Don’t worry what a father should not be, focus on what a dad can do to make a better life for their kids and wife/partner.

How can a pompous LeBron James be a role model to society?

Please explain to me… how can an egotist still be considered a role model after not delivering his own boastful expectations of himself?

Looking up to someone who doesn’t walk the talk.

Let’s face it, whether we’re talking about a political officeholder, a scientist, or a basketball player, one who doesn’t walk the talk is (or should) not be taken seriously. That’s how incumbent politicians are defeated in elections and researchers deprived of grants. But what to do with public figures like LeBron James who may be more of a role model to kids and society? He sure lost the NBA Championship to Golden State Warriors.

One thing is individualism, and another hollow vainglory.

A boastful, self-centered man (forget his a well-paid athlete, if you can) who considers himself the best in the world (literally) yet constantly failing to achieve his only goal in his line of work. People may come up with tons of stats data about how he’s good (and as his fans say, his teams are not). But no one can explain why groundless individualistic narcissism can be admired over and over. Don’t get me wrong, one thing is the individualistic effort to overcome obstacles — into which for good or ill Western culture has fostered — and another having a hollow vainglory.

One day we will forget what victory or advancement was.

A self-declared historian of basketball, LeBron James has called himself the best in the world while blaming his teammates (or fate) after each loss. Last time I checked, that’s not role model material. Sorry, but there are far better examples of people who have excelled through adversities and still managed to retain a healthy dose of sober composure. It is dangerous for a society to lookup to people like him, or else one day it will be a norm to boast about oneself while not showing it. We will become the “I’m the best but you don’t know it yet” people instead of the “I will work hard to become the best” kind of thing. With faux heroes omnipresent in our daily lives that one day we will become so fake, that advancement and victory will be blurred to mere boastful words.

Let’s just hope real role models don’t become extinct.

So much role models, inside and out of the NBA, and we tend to pick the worst of them all. We as a society need to remember what it takes to be a winner, a victor, an achiever — and if not, there are still very good examples nowadays. Let’s just hope those role models don’t become extinct by the sea of vanity.

Mexico’s most dangerous elections to be held in a few hours.

In a couple of hours Mexico will have the most dangerous elections in the worst political climate ever. A complicated situation that has been amounting for the last 500-plus years. Midterm elections are tomorrow morning in a nation disenchanted by democracy, the worst approval for a president, omnipresent state-sponsored racism, followed by massacres and protests.

The fail state environment is undeniable thanks to social media.

It is the toughest moment of Mexico and yet the government and electoral body are playing it 20th century style, unwilling to recognize people are more knowledgeable thanks to social media and the internet. The monolithic Televisa, ever-present TV network was once responsible for the cover-ups of much of the governments wrongdoings. Most notably the 1968 student massacre, the 1970’s “dirty war” against communist rebels, the 1980’s economic debacle, the 1990’s political assassinations, and the 2000’s drug war. But now, in the 2010’s the fail state environment is undeniable thanks to social media, internet, and foreign media coming into the country by cable or internet. Televisa and the government are still operating as in the 1970’s, having major headlines of troubles in Venezuela, riots in the United States, and the Middle East, but oddly in our facebook and twitter accounts Mexicans are sharing and commenting on news generated by citizens itself.

Democracy is undermined in Mexico.

The key is information. For so long there has been an institutionalized effort to block information from the common Mexican. They have gone from the patriotic extremes, like prohibiting the old movies that recounted the El Alamo battle in Texas, to the annoying “nothing is happening” ideal of a make-believe nation. But now almost anyone who can fairly handle a mobile phone with camera can record video or photographs of things happening in Mexico — from police corruption, politicians sex escapades, and worldwide violence (literally many are battles in the drug wars). If not, we can see it at Fox News, CNN, or other media. This has undermined president Enrique Peña Nieto and his presidency and the belief of democracy.

A few hours ago the military and federal police were deployed to four states awaiting violence.

Now many municipalities and states are tonight in a true state of rebellion. A few hours ago the military and federal police were deployed to entire states like Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chiapas, and Puebla. Teachers, students, natives, and community vigilantes have stormed in the last days into INE (National Electoral Institute) facilities, offices, and warehouses were electoral material is kept. Some political party offices have been burned in Chiapas. INE offices have been bombed in Puebla. Tonight there is no access to many towns in Oaxaca and Guerrero, taken by the people itself to impede elections from happening. In an electoral office in Oaxaca the soldiers fled from the people who were burning ballots. People in Oaxaca still reported in the afternoon many helicopters continually hovering over cities and towns, as if prepared for the worst.

It may not be as fast as the Arab Spring, but the uprise in Mexico is happening.

We don’t know, and I guess no one can know, what will happen. This never happened in Mexico. Something similar, but not so grave actually, started what we all now know as the Mexican Revolution. If you know Pancho Villa, you know something about that uprise that exploded in 1910. 105 years later here we are. Many people are actually surprised there hasn’t been a proper revolution in Mexico. Although after the drug cartels took hold of many places, citizens rose in vigilante groups against them and the government alike. Many towns in Michoacan are self-ruled, and many more in Guerrero state want to be the same. It may not be a revolution that may start as fast as the Arab Spring, but slowly but surely things are becoming more violent in a nation that has endured hardships, violence, and poverty.

Let us live and love freely.

Let us live and love freely — war is more cruelly! And yet, you have chosen. We may back down at many things but never in matters of life and love.

Excerpt from Till Stars Shut Their Eyes.

We live in a time very similar to that which Yacanex along her beloved Atotoztli lived in the late 1200’s. The moment when governments impose upon us how to live and whom to love is a decisive moment to either stand down or face injustice. Just like it happened to Yacanex, it is the authority who has chosen the confrontation, not the we the people.

Pass it on! Fight for love!


You can find links on where to download my novel here or at online book retailers. 


Photo I shot at northwestern Mexico City.

Yacanex. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.
Yacanex. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.

The future is based on our past — Op-ed

Photo and text by Miguel Omaña.

The past is about discovering who we may become or accomplish, the good and the bad.

I tend to write, research, paint, and talk about the past — a lot, especially of indigenous Mexican history. Many don’t see the point of bringing to the light about things and people from years past. It may well seem as if I may be stuck in the past, when in fact it is about discovering who we may become and what we can accomplish — the good and the bad as well.

If our ancestors were able to overcome the obstacles of their time way before the Internet, why can’t we?

To glance into the past is to see what we are capable of. We are surprised to see how Sumerian cities were organized, Egyptian pyramids erected, ancient Chinese achievements, otherworldly amazing artistry from India, and the sculptural and writing feats of the Olmecs… well before iPhones, laptops, the internet, or electricity for that matter! If our ancestors were able to overcome the obstacles of their time, why can’t we? It is safe to assume that if they did those things we can do better, and yet we don’t.

Newsflash, the future can actually be more awesome that we imagine.

The key is in our past. People dream of a future with flying cars, floating cities, space rockets coming and going, and magical pills. Reality check, this isn’t the 1950’s anymore. Newsflash, the future can actually be more awesome than we may imagine (literally!). We don’t need magic pills because in Mexico there were ancient remedies for todays maladies, and it is not that much of a secret. We just have to delve into our past.

Before hipster lean meals there was amaranth.

Prickly pear cactus (yes, like the thousands that grow in the Northern Mexican desert) can control diabetes and lowers cholesterol. Aspirin is an artificial ripoff of remedies done with salicylic acid from Mexican Willow trees called Huexotl. Way before over-processed powerbars there was (now called) Spirulina, a rich algae from Lake Texcoco that the Mexica Aztecs considered it gold (than actual gold) for its stunning nourishment effects. Before hipster lean meals there was amaranth, which today’s experts say it has the properties of cereals… plus everything else, without the fat. Our ancestors used to be so cool, that not only they knew how to cure illness or take care of a fit body, but also invented chocolate for dessert (originally it was called xolocolatl and it was a beverage) way before the Belgians added sugar into the frankenstein-ish thing we now know as chocolate.

It’s not about getting stuck in the past.

We need the past in order to have a future. We need to see what worked and what not to “move on” as hip progressive and conservative people tend to say. Many problems that afflict us today were those of our ancestors, how they solved it or not is important to us (or it should be). Climate issues, food shortage, social issues, technological hurdles — our ancestors around the world had the same troubles. It is not about getting stuck in the past, it is about letting our past light our future.

Photo I shot at Tepojaco, Mexico.


If you’re a history buff, you may enjoy my novel Till Stars Shut Their Eyes. Set in Ancient Mexico based in true events, a story of forbidden love.


Tepojaco, Mexico. Copyright 2014 Miguel Omaña.
Tepojaco, Mexico. Copyright 2014 Miguel Omaña.

How can state-sponsored racism in Mexico exist in the 21st century?

Please explain to me…

How can state-sponsored racism in Mexico (and the rest of the world, for that matter) exist in the 21st century?

A few days ago an audio recording emerged showing how a high Mexican official insulted the way of talking of indigenous native Mexica, specifically those from Guanajuato state. Lorenzo Cordova, head of the National Electoral Institute mocked a Chichimec leader and even compared his interview with their leader as a laughable Lone Ranger situation.

Lorenzo Cordova refuses to resign after racist remarks. Lorenzo Cordova refuses to resign after racist remarks.

Lorenzo Cordova is not only a high official within Mexican politics, he’s a key person. The Electoral Institute, INE, is the body that set federal elections nationwide. This institute was created after a much debated presidential election in 1988. To avoid a violent uprise the Mexican government allowed the opposition motion to create an independent-ish body to establish federal elections, oversee political parties, and hence declare winners in an allegedly democratic manner. In the 1990’s the then called IFE worked, so much that after 71 years of the ruling PRI party the opposition won the presidency in 2000.

A person invested to protect plurality is ready to provoke upheaval.

But now the Electoral Institute is under fire. Amid a political crisis in Mexico, these recording of the highest official representing democracy in Mexico insulting natives have spurred heated reactions from the people and obviously from yours truly. How can someone who is supposed to guard democracy and equality in modern-day Mexico operates with such bigotry? It is hurtful that a person invested to protect plurality in a wounded nation that strives to overcome a past of confrontations is ready to provoke such upheaval with such childish remarks.

Like in colonial times, empowered white Mexicans rule with cynicism over the masses.

He’s been called to resign, and naturally he refuses to leave. This white man who rules over the “democratic” body mocks the origin and way of life on millions of Mexicans, and insults whatever little hope remain for democracy in this nation. People are disenchanted — and with good reasons with the racist actions of Mexican ruling class. This sounds exactly as colonial times, where the empowered white Mexicans ruled with cynicism over the masses of natives. Not all white Mexicans should be stigmatized, after all a white priest from the same state Lorenzo Cordova insulted rose to war to declared Mexico an independent nation from gachupines (a name given in colonial times to Hispanics mainly from mainland Spain). Perhaps the gachupines are still amongst us in Mexico, not living an honorable life, but a disgraceful life driven by intolerance. Will such reckless attitude not leave Mexico but take root and eternize into 21st century Mexican social landscape?