Tag Archives: Mexico

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?

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.

How former Mexican president Fox’s words against Trump exposes way of doing things

The manner Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico, expressed his disapproval of Donald Trump’s wall exposes the irate, compulsive, and demeaning ways Mexican leaders have ruled over the Mexican people for centuries – but barely no one in the world noticed.

Even though Fox is one of the few (very few) Mexican presidents actually elected by the people, a dictatorial way of doing government has endured to our days. If not ask the Texans, who noticed this issue and did not wait to separate from Mexico — or unsuccesfully Yucatan, the Rio Grande Republic, Guatemala, and Chiapas. Many have pointed out that Mexican presidents rule with insults, racism, bullets, and dangerous improvisation.

Only words.

Many would say Fox leveled in tone with Trump. But bare in mind that Trump is a candidate in his own party. Fox has already been the ruler of a 100 million Mexicans plus the 10 million illegals in the US he wanted during his campaign to vote for him so he could bring them back. His words have always been that, words. He made wild promises of change, democracy, and creating jobs so that people wouldn’t have a need to migrate to the United States. The result was an utter sham.

Not only he didn’t bring illegals back to Mexico, but his only economic goal of 7% growth was a flop. So Mexicans fled, not only to the US but elsewhere.

With Mexican economy stalled Mexican Congress became overrun by opposition, so that Fox became a sitting duck – our Mexican version of Obama if you will (except a right-winged Obama). Fox started a dirty media campaign against a promising left-winged Mexico City mayor, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Insult after insult, a one-sided war of words against a man who was the de facto candidate for all leftist parties. He even orchestrated his political demise through shadowy maneuvers, which made Obrador even more popular. Sounds familiar?

The dawn of war.

Fox’s legacy are not just words and his flamboyant insults, but his ineptitude to rule a nation. The job is simple, but his obsession to destroy Obrador and his “populist” menace blinded him to urgent matters in Mexico. After all, the country is vast in territory – danger brewed in its northeastern corner.

In 2003 new drug cartels appeared in Tamaulipas. Yes, there were drug cartels in Mexico, but this new breed stormed in with freighting military tactics and such hatred against the population as a whole. Previous cartels have only operated against Mexico military. Many of the old cartels faded under the blood-thirsty new ones, who executed people in the streets and performed terror attacks at public places. Other cartels adapted at such wrath, such as El Chapo. But Fox did nothing, for words and insults could not make this away.

As his non-democratic predecessors of the 20th century, he controlled the media, so “nothing happens” was the motto. We don’t have to be historians to know how this developed, and how it has prompted Trump to build the wall at the border.

Lack of policy

I’ve come to the conclusion that Mexican presidents become dictatorial because they have no policies or ideals. Mexican presidents (and emperors) with clear policy making ideals die or are killed. After all, we Mexicans have lived under dictators under 500 years. Invaded by the Hispanics, for us government is one person laying down our destinies for his personal gain.

There is a (not so unreal) joke about Mexican presidents here in Mexico: “What time is it” asks the president. A lackey answers, “Whatever you want it to be.”

This notion that Mexican presidents can get away with murder (literally) is engraved in all Mexicans. This makes them crazy with power. Not one (except for a few cases, again) have they used their kingly power to do good.

Everything has to do for personal glory or business. There is no government policy ever made that the president in turn doesn’t have an economic or business advantage. Thus, a systematic machine of corruption, racism, and gestapo-like police is in place. American criminals always flee to Mexico because there is a sense of lawlessness when it actually has harsh non-sequitur laws… unless you are out of sight of the government (Federal, state or municipal).

One thing is the leadership

Just as Americans as uncomfortable on how things are run in Washington, so the majority of people in Mexico thinks of the Mexican government and special interest groups. Did you know that after the Arab Spring young Mexicans rose against the government in social media? And did you know that the internet was almost, almost in peril of being shut down in all of Mexico? Did you know there are political prisoners right now? I’m not talking about Cuba but Mexico. Did you know the upscale children of Mexican politicians are right now vacationing on yachts in Europe or doing safari in Africa?

Please, dear Americans or foreigner — whether you’re left or right-winged, liberal or conservative – one thing is the corrupt and racist Mexican government, politicians and criminals. Then there’s the rest of us. Whatever Mexican leaders say or do is in their interests, not in our name. And remember they have Mexican and Spanish-speaking media under their sleeve for that same reason.

Wildlife at the Mexican deserts

Photo I shot of a Mexican prairie dog.

What one can find at the apparent desolate and barren deserts can be surprising. Is it because no one expects anything and suddenly you stumble upon life? Or is it because there is indeed a wealth of thriving life?

It has always surprised me to find beautiful flowers, bunch of critters, colorful birds and of course the occasional furry friend like this one.

Contrary to worldwide popular belief Mexico is not all desert. Central Mexico has pine forests, and South Mexico has jungles and swamps. I’ve visited all of them! The place that never fails to surprise me when finding little animals, or just life, is the Mexican desert.

Of course I won’t like to cross roads with a bear or a jaguar — probably won’t since they’re in near extinction. Sad. And still the lonely desert is a cradle of life.

These furry pals are could also face extinction. Prairie dogs along with other desert animals are in danger due to human activity (hunting or poaching). Until recent years the Mexican government has enforced protecting these animals, and hunt down illegal hunting. Especially in San Luis Potosi state I have seen it, people getting arrested for killing endangered coyotes or selling baby deer to passing tourists.

Still much has to be done. And I for one support hunting animals with a camera. It’s actually more fun, and like pretty gals say when we men foolishly drool at their beauty “take a picture, it lasts longer.” Indeed it does!

If you’re interested in Mexico and its riches, check out my ebook novel Till Stars Shut Their Eyes.

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Mexico City metro area — what is it?

Photo I shot at Cuautitlan, Mexico.

Mexico City metro area is gigantic. Not only it spans over a large area but it’s also over-populated. There is a Federal District, locally known as DF — Mexico City proper. Surrounding it is the other metropolitan area in the State of Mexico.

Outside the DF limits there are 22 municipalities, to explain each one is a hard task (perhaps for another post). Each has its goodies and its bad sides, as with any place.

The northern municipalities of Mexico City’s metro area is the more vast, it encompass Teotihuacan pyramids for instance. We could divide it in Northeastern and Northwestern, all beyonf the Guadalupe Sierra mountains. Tepotzotlan and Cuautitlan are here. Before the mountains there are other municipalities as well.

Then you have the western municipalities, more posh and upscale. They’re best attractions are the pine forests. Yes, in Mexico we have forests, sorry to dissappoint Hollywood.

On the East, behind the airport we have small towns that also have ancient ruins and yearly fairs.

Finally there’s the Chalco region and volcanoes, where the main attractions are obvious although there are also beautiful colonial towns and breathtaking landscapes.

If you’re interested in Mexico, check out my novel set in Ancient Mexico. Till Stars Shut Their Eyes, a romance and political thriller based on true events.

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My Day of the Dead altar

Photos I shot of my Day of the Dead altar.

A Mexican tradition which involves mainly going to the cemetery for an all-nighter and literally dine with the dead. For some reason this has transformed into making the recreation of the tomb at our homes, schools, offices, and malls.

Maybe is the lazyness of going to the cemetery during the wee hours of early November 2nd. After all in places like here in Mexico City it can get overcrowded. Yes, he have not only traffic jams and packed subways, also cemeteries.

There are endless ways of doing a day of the dead altar. Some very odd, others very Catholic. I may say I’m no scholar but actually I am an Anthropologist, so I’m gonna tell you what I use and put.

A must is cempaxochitl flowers (also known as cempazuchil). These are the flowers of the dead. Then I put food, candles, and objects.

For food what I put were amaranth skulls (these are the original ones used by the Aztecs Mexica), sugar skulls (more modern and popularized by White American hipsters for some odd reason), bread of the dead (which is made and sold only during these days), some like my mom like to put their favorite meals when they were alive, perhaps also alcohol drinks and cigarretes (against hipsters’ advice they can’t do any more harm in the other side).

With candles many make crosses, circles — I make a native cross signaling the fours cardinal points. Yes, indigenous peoples had crosses, not Christian though.

Some put photos of the dead, I prefer objects.

If you like Mexican traditions and stories yoy may enjoy my novel Till Stars Shut Their Eyes.

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Pumpkins are Mexican

Photo I shot last year of the carved pumpkin I did.

Whether Mexicans accept it or not, Pumpkins are originally from Oaxaca, Mexico. And I fear Mexicans will be more prone to reject the historical fact than Americans (or the rest of the world for that matter) because there’s a strong anti-Halloween sentiment in Mexico.

And to think Mexicans feel offended by Donald Trump’s vision for HIS country, and still they also feel hatred (and even bigotry, I shall add) against all things Halloween. Allegedly they dislike Halloween because it’s an “all-American Holiday”, but if you ask me that title should go to the Fourth of July or Memorial Day. Anyhow, in the process Mexicans have developed hatred against pumpkins! They hate more these innocent pumpkins (they’re food after all) than Donald Trump! Media, ads, and even government propaganda attach these orange yankee “demons”.

Let’s have a raw reality check.

Pumpkins are Mexican. I wonder if the RNC are asking for visas to these friendly orange fellas. They were originally domesticated 10,000 years ago by the indigenous people that inhabited the region, most likely the ancestors of today’s Mixtecs, Zapotecs, Mixes (and others). Just like it was done with beans, squash, corn and chilli in Tamaulipas and Puebla, pumpkins began to take its current shape in Oaxaca.

The reason pumpkins ended up in Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, is because it is what white settlers found (or immigrants, I’m confused to what Ann Coulter would say — not). To those days pumpkins had already extended over North America. “So those savages had trading routes before the arrival of Europeans?” Yup, pretty neat for a hoard of savaged, won’t you think. (Coff, coff, sarcasm, sorry if you’re like Sheldon Cooper and can’t read between lines. Coff, coff!).

To sum up.

Mexicans are bigots with their own stuff. Most of the time Mexicans are fighting for things they don’t have facts or data. That’s why there’s a saying here in Mexico that you gotta have the “hair of the donkey in you hand”. Don’t ask me, that’s the way the proverb goes, but I assure you it sounds way cooler in Spanish. It means that you gotta have your info before speaking, whether we’re talking gossip or a scientific breakthrough.

If you want to read or more know about true (and exciting) Mexican history, download my ebook Till Stars Shut Their Eyes. It has romance, action, and poetry!

Carved pumpkin. Copyright 2014 Miguel Omaña.
Carved pumpkin. Copyright 2014 Miguel Omaña.

Family at the Mexican border

Photo I shot at Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.

While interviewing him, this man worked on construction structures. These structures hold cement columns, and also seem to hold the survival of this family.

After giving me permission to take portraits of him working and of his son, he explained the hardships of living in such conditions. This place was (and still is) at the outskirts of Nuevo Laredo.

Nuevo Laredo is considered an international trade hub, where goods and people pass through from the US into Mexico and vice-versa. Because of its strategic position it has attracted the best riches can get and the worst poverty can summon. This the dark side of this city and the whole of the US-Mexico border. A couple of miles from this place the United States begin.

When I presented this at my university in the American side, they were baffled and even incredulous that such scenes could exist on the other side of the river where they live, work and sleep.

If you’re interested in Mexico and inequality you should look into my novel, Till Stars Shut Their Eyes.

Family at Mexican border. Copyright 2006 Miguel Omaña.
Family at Mexican border. Copyright 2006 Miguel Omaña.

There Is Always Another Day — Shortstory.

Photo I shot at Cholula, Mexico.

The sun went down to hide behind the volcanos. That afternoon was really chilly — a typical Central Mexico summer day. I was walking behind the huge Cholula pyramid temple (or what is left of it). Away from the usual tourist path, I discovered this track and field place. The air turned colder and windier as if the day hurried in vain despair to make its presence known, when it was well aware its death was inevitable. Suddenly the sky bled, gushing to the mountains and to my skin. The red hues signalled the looming demise of that day. And with his head high and proud the Sun realized it could not hold any longer but to fall into a dignified death — it was its time. So the Sun slowly descended into the pitch darkness of the underworld, not without glaring a final goodbye for a day that will never be again. I turned and no one was watching. So I realized the mighty Sun was waving at me, regal but sadly. My hands swiftly went to brag my trusty camera. But when I took it in my hands, it was actually an old camera. I was furious to discovering this camera instead of the new one I had. The final day’s light suddenly shone my eyes, they were reflecting below my. The Sun did not wait for me, for death does not way for anyone, not even the shiniest of stars. All it could do was to give me a monumental farewell that lit the clouds. So I took my camera, and trusted it would take one final photograph, for it was too the end of its life. Barely I could make it work. “This is it”, I murmured to my old camera. One last light for one last photograph. Two lives fade, two lives willing to leave one final effort for each other in order to be remembered. I shot the photograph, and then my camera blinked into its death. As I struggled to turn it back on the Sun blinked as well. I lifted my eyes towards the west, and the light dimmed into its doom. As the wind ceased and the cold became harsh, I sat to mourn. The two have died but not in vain, for both gave each other a chance to be remembered of their existence as one. It wasn’t just a sunset or an old digital camera, it was majesty. Their death was not unsung or ill-remembered since it brought hope for goodness in this world. Darkness now reigned but I thought, “there is always another day.”

Cholula Sunset. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.
Cholula Sunset. Copyright 2015 Miguel Omaña.