Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Nieto Announces

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

I don’t know. I thought the 70-year reign of the one-party-rule PRI had been buried for at least 20 years. But now it looks like they have a real good chance of winning the next presidential election in 2012. Reviving the PRI banner is 45-year-old Pena Nieto, the former governor of Mexico state. Many Mexcans have become increasingly disillusioned since current President Calderon declared war on the drug cartels while 40,000 countrymen have been murdered in drug-related violence. They want the mayhem to stop. They want to feel safe in their beautiful country. They wants jobs and education and time with their families. What they don’t want is the continued daily bad news. They want the government to reach an agreement with the cartels who ship most all of their drugs to the U.S. They want their country back, and they just may give the PRI another look. The module apologizes in a climate.

The Mexico Bullfight

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

I went to Spain right after college graduation, a long time ago. After buying a camper van in Amsterdam for four hundred bucks I headed south for the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. That was to be my introduction to bullfighting, right where Hemingway had been. Perfect. The problem was that my girlfriend and I were camped a couple of miles out of town by a stream, along with an international mix of party-warriors whose stated purpose was to consume all the wine and sangría in the country. Being a friendly American type I was viscously sucked right into their depravity, rendered too hung-over to make it into town early enough every morning for the “running” and following bullfight. As I recall, the South Africans were the primary culprits. Stay clear of those guys whenever you have something to do and beer and wine are involved.

Having blown my chance to attend my first bullfight in the perfect place, I lost interest for a long time. As much as I have been obsessed with learning the culture of Mexico through a lifetime of travel, I had ignored the sport which is so clearly associated with the country.

That all changed one day in San Miguel de Allende. I’m blithely strolling along a quiet street, taking some afternoon photos for an article I’m writing, when I hear the band and I see the signs — and before you can say “olé” I’m being asked if I want to sit on the sunny side or the shady side of the neighborhood bullring. And since it’s only a ten-peso difference I find myself sitting in the shade, totally enthralled by the surroundings. Here I was heading back to my hotel for a siesta, but instead I’m now absolutely mesmerized by the crowd, the costumes, the spectacle, and…the Bull. The bull that will be killed right before my eyes, merely because this is Mexico and this is what he is bred for. I’m not sure that I want to be here, but I also know there is nothing that can make me leave.

Now, thinking back, I wonder what I learned from my introduction to the bullfight. And the most striking and obvious observation is that maybe they named this sport (?) wrong. First of all, I don’t think it’s a fight. Nor is it a sport. It’s a spectacle, a show. It’s the Romans feeding the slaves to the lions, except the animal/man roles are reversed. The bull enters the ring full of life and energy, and in all but a few rare occasions the only way he is leaving that ring is on his side being dragged by a team of horses, quite dead.

Although I’m not ready to call the Matadors athletes (can they hit a curveball or sink a three-pointer?), they do qualify as being brave, not only in encountering the charging bull, but also for wearing those matador pants. That takes a confident courage not even Hemingway would recognize.

Disclosure: I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Contributor for the México Today Program. All stories, opinions and passion for all things México shared here are completely my own. Mexico Today is a joint public and private sector initiative designed to help promote Mexico as a global business partner and an unrivaled tourist destination.

Interview With Operative, Part 2

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Jack” is a career military “special operations” operator, a retired “case officer” and still a member of the intelligence community at the highest levels. The name “Jack” is a pseudonym, at his request. His career has taken him to Columbia, Mexico, the Middle East and much of the world. I know Jack well and know him to be very honest, bright, and a stand-up guy. He is a true patriot in every sense of the word.
We have had many conversations. The following is excerpted from various talks and emails, with his permission and approval.
Part 1 can be viewed here: http://www.mexicopremiere.com/?p=5220

DS: There are people on both sides of the border who are calling for the legalization of some drugs. Wouldn’t this go a long way towards shutting down the cartels, much as the repeal of prohibition did in the U.S. with the organized crime?

Jack: It’s way more complicated than that, Dave. Legalization will not happen because too many people, many in high places, have too much to lose.

DS: Okay, I get that the cartels would be opposed to it, but who else?

Jack: The major banks in the U.S. are very powerful, as we have learned in the past few years. They have been laundering drug money for a long time, maybe as much as $40 billion a year. Wachovia, HSBC, American Express Bank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo – they have all been involved. Generally they pay a fine that is a fraction of the money they have made. So it’s a good deal for them. Believe me, they don’t want anything to change, and they let the lawmakers know that with their contributions.

There is also the private prison system now so widespread in the U.S.. They pay a lot of money into our lawmaker’s fundraisers to keep drugs illegal. It started with Nixon’s “War On Drugs” in the early 1970’s when smoking pot was put into the same category as harder drugs. The U.S. is now the most imprisoned society in the world and many of those prisoners are there on drug convictions. About one-half of all drug arrests are for marijuana. The prison system has a huge stake in keeping all drugs illegal. They make money by having a constant flow of prisoners – big money.

And there are the arms and weapons manufacturers.

DS: Please explain. You mean because all of the small arms that get into Mexico?

Jack: Yes, but there are much bigger players than that. The Merida Initiative authorizes the U.S. to spend $1.5 billion to help Mexico in fighting the cartels. Much of this money filters to U.S. security companies and manufacturers, such as General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and Boeing.

DS: Are we only supplying systems and equipment or do we have personnel in Mexico, as well.

Jack: Yes, we do have people there. Mexico has already acknowledged it allows US drones to conduct surveillance flights over Mexican air space. Who controls “the flights” is classified, but a Mexican official is present. The newspaper “La Jornada” wrote an August 8 editorial that “Washington’s growing military, political, intelligence, police & private security contractors interference regarding Mexican laws have been documented in many ways, as has the Mexican’s acceptance of it”. The New York Times, on the weekend of Aug 5th reported that CIA, ex special forces (private security contractors) are already working at one or more Mexican military bases! These are the same security contractors using the same tactics that they used in Afghanistan & Iraq with disastrous results that got them kicked out and Blackwater had to change their name. But these guys are good enough for the Mexican people? No wonder why they support the cartels over government! The Mexican government won’t discuss “specifics of their role” for “national security reasons”.

DS: I have read about CIA being involved in drug smuggling for years. Any truth to that?

Jack: Yes, it’s just an undying myth that the CIA sold drugs, in our country you can say anything you want. It’s just like the perpetual myth all Vietnam Vets are serial killers, deranged maniacs and so on. The newest Drug dealing myth now is the infamous “Operation Fast & Furious” started by CIA to give more modern weapons to one side of the Mexican Drug War. It is just ridiculous! But what do you expect, 40% of all Americans refuse to believe Obama is an American? This CIA stuff will never die, what makes it worse is some old disgruntled employees or former assets have an axe to grind, so they tell/write about such bullshit and a certain segment of our Country will always believe them, make movies, films showing how corrupt the CIA is and there you have it; but thanks for giving me an opportunity to set the record straight! And by the way, the CIA, FBI, all law enforcement agencies have some bad apples that get involved in criminal acts, get caught, and you know that old saying “only one rotten apple will spoil the entire barrel”

Disclosure: I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Contributor for the México Today Program. All stories, opinions and passion for all things México shared here are completely my own. Mexico Today is a joint public and private sector initiative designed to help promote Mexico as a global business partner and an unrivaled tourist destination.

Interview With An Intelligence Operative

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Part 1 of my interview with Jack.

“Jack” is a career military “special operations” operator, a retired “case officer” and still a member of the intelligence community at the highest levels. The name “Jack” is a pseudonym, at his request. His career has taken him to Columbia, Mexico, the Middle East and much of the world. I know Jack well and know him to be very honest, bright, and a stand-up guy. He is a true patriot in every sense of the word.

We have had many conversations. The following is excerpted from various talks and emails, with his permission and approval.

DS: Jack, what’s going on with the drug cartel situation in Mexico? How is it ever going to improve?

Jack: The best comparison I can make is what happened in Columbia during the time of Pablo Escobar. We were finally able to get to him when the people of Columbia turned against him. The people have to demand it or it won’t happen.

DS: How does this relate to Mexico in 2011?

Jack: Right now the drug cartels are more popular than the government, the police or the army. The cartels are Mexico’s biggest employer. Think about that! They are providing a living and necessities for many people and communities that otherwise would be nearly starving. You can call it bribery or intimidation, which it is. But for the people benefitting it is salvation, a way to get by day to day.

DS: But the brutality of the cartels is contrary to anything I know to be true of the Mexican people. How do you square that?

Jack: For the most part the violence is directed at people in the drug game – rival drug gangs, informants, etc. If it ever gets directed towards the general public, then the people will rise and demand that it change. But the cartels know this. They want the people on their side because they know that is the only way they can survive. So far they are winning that battle.

DS: But there have been some innocent people killed, Jack.

Jack: Yeah, I know, but they are usually in the wrong place at the wrong time and get caught in the middle of something they had nothing to do with. That can happen anywhere in the world.

DS: How did all of this escalate like it has?

Jack: Most people will say that it started with President Calderon’s declaration of war against the cartels. But this really goes back to the 1980’s when the government wanted to change the Mexican economy from a primarily agrarian state to manufacturing. That was when NAFTA began to be negotiated and was finally signed in 1994.

DS: How does NAFTA relate to the situation today?

Jack: NAFTA was intended to benefit Mexico by the growth of manufacturing jobs. At the same time the US started to dump corn into Mexico with the help of subsidies from the US government. As a result, farmers had to leave their farms because they couldn’t get a high enough price for their corn. And the vast manufacturing jobs didn’t quite materialize because of Far East competition, and the work didn’t pay well.

DS: This situation also drove many Mexicans north of the border, right?

Jack: Absolutely. They could no longer make it on the farm or in the city. Enter the drug trade. Either by accident or design they filled a void by “hiring” locals and helping their communities financially. Many people saw just three options – leave their homeland, scrap for a minimum wage job that can’t support a family, or hook up with the bad guys.

This interview will continue in future posts covering drug legalization and who, on both sides of the border, is benefitting from the violence, and the U.S role. I think that many of you will be surprised by what you learn.

Disclosure: I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Contributor for the México Today Program. All stories, opinions and passion for all things México shared here are completely my own. Mexico Today is a joint public and private sector initiative designed to help promote Mexico as a global business partner and an unrivaled tourist destination.

Mexico and Sustainability

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Sustainability – sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Fortunately, Mexico has a clear vision of their responsibility as a country to investigate and implement policies that adhere to this absolutely necessary and wise principle.

One example is the Mexican Housing Authority’s estimate that the country has a deficit today of nearly nine million homes with that number increasing by 200,000 every year. Additionally, undeniable climate change is resulting in higher temperatures and lower rainfalls. Mexico realizes that they must convert from a carbon-intensive to a carbon-neutral society sooner than later. Producing sustainable housing is a clear target with the use of ecological materials, as well as creating a social fabric that improves the quality of life for its citizens. A more efficient use of energy and water in these new and existing communities will help to meet long-term sustainable goals.

There are many other areas of sustainability that are being addressed, including the preservation of the forests, and especially the seas, that are so important to the long-term wellness of the people and the economy. The world’s oceans have been over-fished for decades, with Mexico’s fish-rich waters no exception. Long-liner boats and huge net fishing vessels have been terribly destructive to fish populations, resulting in regulations aimed at preservation. Tuna, shrimp and shark populations are dwindling at a rapid rate, harming not only the economy, but a way of life for hundreds of thousands of people lining the 6,000 miles of Mexico coastline.

Sustainable travel, or eco-tourism, has been a growing segment of the Mexico travel industry for at least 20 years. Tim Means’ Baja Expeditions, based in La Paz, Baja California Sur, is a prime example of the success and interest in this travel market (http://www.bajaex.com/). And Ron Mader has been an industry leader for many years (http://www.planeta.com/) doing very good work.

On a personal level, I have a non-profit called One Town At A Time (www.onetownatatime.com) whose mission statement is below. Our present project is to buy computers for schools in rural Cabo Corrientes in Jalisco. Education is a major ingredient as a means of informing future generations as to the challenges and goals that will propel the country towards sustainability. I can think of nothing more important for Mexico’s future.

The mission of One Town At A Time is to address the living conditions of poor villages in Mexico by providing families in these areas with tools for achieving sustainability. This is the ideal way to ameliorate the immigration pattern in the United States which currently encourages villagers to cross the border to earn money to send back to their families. By providing villagers with tools for addressing their poverty, they can remain in their villages, sustain a sense of family and community structure, and cultivate pride in their way of life. One Town At A Time shares and provides the technology that enhances the ability of villagers in Mexico to improve and expand their current farming, trade, and communication practices in a way that honors their rich cultural heritage and brings them closer to the global socioeconomic realm.

Disclosure: I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Contributor for the México Today Program. All stories, opinions and passion for all things México shared here are completely my own. Mexico Today is a joint public and private sector initiative designed to help promote Mexico as a global business partner and an unrivaled tourist destination.

Hello world!

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

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