Archive for the 'Latin America' Category
Poor Mexico, runs the saying usually attributed to long-time Mexican strongman Porfirio Diaz, So far from God, so close to the United States. I was thinking of this, when we went to see the movie For Greater Glory – mostly because I had seen brief mention of it here and there on the libertarian-conservative side of the blogosphere, and the whole premise of it interested me, mostly because I had never heard of such a thing as the Cristero War. Never heard of it, and it happened in the lifetime of my grandparents, in the country right next door … and heck, in California we studied Mexico in the sixth grade. It appeared from casual conversation with the dozen or so people who caught the early matinee at a movie multiplex in San Antonio, only one of them had ever heard of it, either. Was there some cosmic cover-up, or did we have troubles enough of our own at the time … or was it just that Mexico was so constantly in turmoil that one more horrific civil struggle just blended seamlessly into the one before and the one after?
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So it was interesting – in a slow down and get a good look at the media wreck by the side of the highway kind of way – watching the Malia-Obama-Goes-to-Mexico story getting scrubbed off newspaper sites the other day. My daughter was actually surfing the intertubules that afternoon, noticed how the story was there and gone again, in the blink of an eye: ‘Hey, there’s another Obama vay-cay, how many weeks since the last one? Whoops!’ Quite honestly, we had never seen the like; a news story appearing and disappearing like that, and I thought at first that maybe a couple of newspapers had fallen for a fake story and then withdrawn it almost at once. But no … it was was a genuine story, and massively-withdrawn almost as soon as it was posted here, there and almost everywhere. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve read that the above slogan was prominently displayed at polling places during the “elections” held during the early years of the Nazi regime. While the only definitive links on I can find on this poster are at the search summary screen here, it is clear that these elections (in 1933, 1936, and 1938) were marked by a climate of extreme intimidation, as well as the banning of opposition parties. This link suggests that to the extent people were still able to choose to vote by secret ballot, surreptitious means were used to identify those who had voted “incorrectly.”
In Venezuela, in 2003, dictator-in-waiting Hugo Chavez asserted that “those who sign against Chavez are signing against their country and against the future”, and added, “whoever signs against Chavez, there will remain his name recorded for history.
And in the United States in 2012, a tweet sent out under the name of and with the evident approval of Barack Obama said:
Add your name to demand that the Koch brothers make their donors public: http://OFA.BO/mfLtZX
(The reference is to the organization Americans for Prosperity, to which the Kochs have contributed but of which they are not officers or directors.)
Pressuring a political organization to make the names of its donors public is intimidation, pure and simple. Should Obama win a second term, you can expect the level of intimidation directed against American citizens not in his camp to rise to levels which are now almost unimaginable.
Also see PowerLine: Why can’t the Obama administration make its case without disseminating hate?
As I was working over a hot computer this afternoon, with the local classical music station on, I heard a reader for this little excursion. Oh, my – I wondered if Texas Public Radio just wants us to get a good look at what happens when a prosperous state undergoes a revolution of the proletariat, and have received a full ration of social justice, as well as management by the modern version of the philosopher kings … yep, get a good long hard look at the itinerary. It includes a stop at the Bay of Pigs Museum. Lots of lovely pre-revolution buildings – at least, that is what the TPR website page about the tour displays.
Gee, I guess they couldn’t wrangle a tour to Syria – I gather that it’s lovely, this time of year. Or maybe to another civil-rights hellhole like Burma, or Iran; so many lovely historic buildings and pleasing vistas, for the delectation of the culturally-sensitive and well-heeled visitors. I am just gob-smacked by this – and the timing for this particular tour offering, as well as the community that it has been offered to. San Antonio is a fairly conservative town, full of former military – and many of whom are sponsors and contributors to public radio – or at least, we were, back in the day.
I used to work at this place, as a part-time announcer; until they decided to let all the local part-timers go, and manage the station with a combination of full-time professionals and automation. I used to think that TPR was one of those intersections where a lot of different circles in San Antonio intersected. Now, my daughter is wondering – Did Sean Penn and Michael Moore go halfsies on corporate-sponsoring Texas Public Radio?
Whatever may be the traditional sympathy of our countrymen as individuals with a people who seem to be struggling for larger autonomy and greater freedom, deepened, as such sympathy naturally must be, in behalf of our neighbors, yet the plain duty of their Government is to observe in good faith the recognized obligations of international relationship. The performance of this duty should not be made more difficult by a disregard on the part of our citizens of the obligations growing out of their allegiance to their country, which should restrain them from violating as individuals the neutrality which the nation of which they are members is bound to observe in its relations to friendly sovereign states. Though neither the warmth of our people’s sympathy with the Cuban insurgents, nor our loss and material damage consequent upon the futile endeavors thus far made to restore peace and order, nor any shock our humane sensibilities may have received from the cruelties which appear to especially characterize this sanguinary and fiercely conducted war, have in the least shaken the determination of the Government to honestly fulfill every international obligation, yet it is to be earnestly hoped on every ground that the devastation of armed conflict may speedily be stayed and order and quiet restored to the distracted island, bringing in their train the activity and thrift of peaceful pursuits.
Posted by Lexington Green on 6th August 2011 (All posts by Lexington Green)
(Those were the days. God bless YouTube. Sergio Mendes was a genius. At some point he said to himself: “OK, I am a great musician, and I know what the world wants to hear, what it’s hungry for, which is cool, jazz-tinged, Brazilian-flavored pop. I can already see those hit records and hear the cheering crowds … . But this is the age of TV, and I’m kind of homely.” (Smacks forehead) “I know, I will get two really cute girl singers with really great voices, put them in miniskirts, and put ‘em out front.” The rest is history. Thanks, Sergio. Love ya, babe.)
UPDATE: Whoa. Cool. Tom Jones — of course! — ends up dancing with the two babes and sipping champagne with them. Some guys have all the luck.
UPDATE II: Can’t … stop … this one (which has great photos of the young and utterly perfect Lani Hall — the brunette, and the lead singer on most of the songs).
[Cross-posted at zenpundit.com]
From Boing Boing:
A kindergarten teacher in Mexico seeks to protect her students and calm their fears as narco-cartel fighters conduct a raging gun battle outside the window of her school. The woman has nerves of iron.
But hey…..Mexico can’t have an “insurgency” because the narcos don’t have “political” goals. Or a unified political goal. Or because there are still good vacation deals there at all-inclusive resorts. Or….Or…Or…. whatever flimsy rationale helps policy makers continue to punt the war next door.
Posted in Americas, Crime and Punishment, Education, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Latin America, Military Affairs, National Security, North America, Society, Terrorism, War and Peace | 5 Comments »
Posted by Charles Cameron on 23rd May 2011 (All posts by Charles Cameron)
[ corss-posted from Zenpundit -- the talk & the walk, vehicles as weapons, Islamist and "narco" terror ]
Compare and contrast:
Hell, a Colombian cartel was fielding narco-subs a while back, as I recall..
[cross-posted from zenpundit.com]
Altars to Santa Muerte, “Saint Death” to the poor and the narcocultos
SWJ has been en fuego the last few days and this is the first of several that I recommend that readers give close attention.
Dr. Robert J. Bunker and Lt. John Sullivan are indicating that the canary in the coal mine phase of Mexico’s narco-insurgency has passed. Mexican society is entering a new and more dangerous period of accelerating cultural devolution. Narco-insurgent violence has shifted from the economically motivated and brutally instrumental of organized crime syndicates everywhere to culturally totemic and ghastly ceremonials out of tribal prehistory:
Extreme Barbarism, a Death Cult, and Holy Warriors in Mexico: Societal Warfare South of the Border? by Dr. Robert J. Bunker and John P. Sullivan
Posted in Americas, Civil Society, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Latin America, Law Enforcement, Military Affairs, National Security, North America, Religion, Society, Terrorism, War and Peace | 11 Comments »
Commenters on the earlier post having raised several good points, I decided to write a follow-up rather than attempt to provide individual responses.
I should first say something general about technological advance and prediction horizons. Due to the immense effects of nanomachinery, as hazardous as near-future speculation may be, it becomes extraordinarily difficult more than about 20 years out. What interests me in this context is what can be done with “bulk technology” before the transition to nanotech, and how many of the developments forecast by Drexler et al may occur relatively gradually and in unlikely places, rather than swiftly and obviously emanating from North America or some other high-technology region. Jim notes the potential of the combination of desktop fabricators and satellite links. I believe that few people on Earth will see more change in the next generation than young Haitians.
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Posted in Americas, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Entrepreneurship, Environment, International Affairs, Latin America, North America, Personal Narrative, Tech, USA | 7 Comments »
Last month I went to Haiti to help out with an IT project in Petit-Goâve, a medium-sized town about seventy kilometers west-southwest of Port-au-Prince, on the northern shore of the Tiburon Peninsula, opposite Île de la Gonâve on the Canal de Sud. The project’s objective is to create, or rather restore, a computer lab at “College” Harry Brakeman (actually a primary and secondary school, hereafter “CHB”), and provide greatly improved internet access, via wireless links, at five sites (including CHB) in Petit-Goâve owned by L’Eglise Methodiste d’Haiti (EMH). The epicenter of one of the larger aftershocks of the January 2010 earthquake was directly beneath Petit-Goâve.
Numerous ongoing projects for the EMH throughout Haiti are being funded by United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and staffed by United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM), but my personal involvement is not occurring as a result of direct involvement with any of those organizations. I have for many years been attending an informal Friday lunch group that for the past decade or so has included Clif Guy, who is the CIO of United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, generally known as “COR” throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area, in which it is by several measures the largest single church – big enough to have its own IT department (larger than most church staffs altogether) and a CIO.
In mid-January I returned from a solitary and somewhat monastic sojourn in New Mexico and the trans-Pecos region of Texas to 1) get back to work at Sprint; 2) bury my just-deceased 18-year-old cat; and 3) talk to Clif about opportunities in Haiti, which he had mentioned several times over the previous year. Two months of frantic preparation later, which included among many other tasks the filling out of a “Mission Trip Notification of Death” to specify the disposition of my corpse, I was landing at Toussaint Louverture International Airport.
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Posted in Americas, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Entrepreneurship, Environment, History, International Affairs, Latin America, North America, Personal Narrative, Religion, Tech, Transportation, USA | 8 Comments »
Posted by Charles Cameron on 21st February 2011 (All posts by Charles Cameron)
[ cross-posted from Zenpundit, with thanks to Lex for the nudge ]
I was impressed by him in London in the early sixties.
Okay, I was young and impressionable. But others have noticed him more recently, too: Hugo Chavez accused him of being a conspirator with the CIA, and the Iranians thought he, George Soros and John McCain were in cahoots.
The young leaders of the Egyptian revolt that toppled Mubarak studied tactics with members of the Serbian Otpor youth resistance who topped Milosevic, Otpor studied tactics in the writings of Gene Sharp, specifically his 90-page pamphlet From Dictatorship to Democracy [download as .pdf]. Sharp wrote that handbook for use in Burma, where it was apparently translated at the request of Aung San Suu Kyi — who once cautioned her readers that that phrase they kept hearing wasn’t “jeans shirt”, it was “Gene Sharp”.
And before that, he’d penned his masterful 900-page, three-volume work, The Politics of Nonviolent Action…
I told you he was impressive.
From Dictatorship to Democracy is now available in Amharic, Arabic, Azeri, Belarusian, Burmese, Chin (Burma), Jing-paw (Burma), Karen (Burma), Mon (Burma), Chinese (Simplified Mandarin), Chinese (Traditional Mandarin), English, Farsi, French, Indonesian, Khmer (Cambodia), Kyrgyz, Pashto, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Ukrainian, Tibetan, Tigrigna, and Vietnamese.
Posted in Book Notes, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, International Affairs, Latin America, Middle East, Military Affairs, Morality and Philosphy, National Security, Political Philosophy, Society | 5 Comments »
…may not be the most glamorous segments of the world economy. But, in a very real sense, they underlie everything else.
Colombia, in partnership with China, is looking at a potential land-bridge railroad which could serve as an alternative to the Panama Canal. Ships arriving at a coastal terminus would offload their cargoes to the railroad, which would carry them 137 miles overland, and the process would be reversed at the other end.
The benefits of this “dry canal” for Atlantic-to-Pacific connection, and vice-versa, seem a bit questionable given the costs and delays of offloading and onloading containers and other freight–unless, of course, the Panama Canal reaches an extreme state of congestion and/or the canal fees are substantially increased. It appears, however, that one major motivating factor behind the project has to do with COAL. Columbia has substantial quantities of high-quality and easily-worked coal near the Caribbean end of the proposed route.
“Progressives” and establishment liberals have praised China’s progress in “green technology,” suggesting that the future energy supply for that country will come from solar, wind, and helpful leprechauns turning cranks while being supervised by wise unicorns. But if China’s leadership is serious about investing in a project like the Colombian land-bridge, then it’s pretty clear that they see a long-term future for coal as an energy source–clean or otherwise.
And I doubt it has escaped their attention that achieving/maintaining low electricity prices establishes a powerful competitive advantage in a whole range of manufacturing industries.
(link via Commonsense & Wonder)
For a long time I assumed Obama was a communist. How else to explain his support for the Honduran Chavista Manuel Zelaya? Ideological sympathy on Obama’s part seemed the simplest explanation.
However, documents from WikiLeaks suggest an even worse possibility, namely that the whole sorry affair was driven by incompetence at a level that’s astonishing even by the low standards of the Obama administration. Were they really so eager to appease Chavez? That’s crazy even if Obama is personally sympathetic to Chavez. It was easily predictable that Chavez would pocket any concessions and go for more and that’s what happened. And now an emboldened Chavez appears to have invited Iran to install ballistic missiles in Venezuela, and we do nothing. We are cruising toward another Cuban Missile Crisis but with weaker leadership on our side, adversaries who are less stable than the Soviets were, and erstwhile allies scared off by our fecklessness. How much trouble might have been prevented if we had taken a firm line in support of the elected Honduran government and warned Chavez to stay out?
If we’re lucky Obama will be out of office before the inevitable crisis occurs.
UPDATE: Jed Babbin on The Coming Venezuela Missile Crisis:
That crisis will consume much international attention next year, though a more important spread of Middle Eastern conflict to the Americas – the partnership between Iran and Venezuela – will likely be ignored until it is too late to resolve by any means short of war.
Pamela L. Bunker and Dr. Robert J. Bunker at SWJ Blog
Conventional wisdom holds that narco gang and drug cartel violence in Mexico is primarily secular in nature. This viewpoint has been recently challenged by the activities of the La Familia cartel and some Los Zetas, Gulfo, and other cartel adherents of the cult of Santa Muerte (Saint Death) by means of religious tenets of ‘divine justice’ and instances of tortured victims and ritual human sacrifice offered up to a dark deity, respectively. Severed heads thrown onto a disco floor in Michoacan in 2005 and burnt skull imprints in a clearing in a ranch in the Yucatán Peninsula in 2008 only serve to highlight the number of such incidents which have now taken place. Whereas the infamous ‘black cauldron’ incident in Matamoros in 1989, where American college student Mark Kilroy’s brain was found in a ritual nganga belonging to a local narco gang, was the rare exception, such spiritual-like activities have now become far more frequent.
These activities only serve to further elaborate concerns amongst scholars, including Sullivan, Elkus, Brands, Manwaring, and the authors, over societal warfare breaking out across the Americas. This warfare- manifesting itself in ‘criminal insurgencies’ derived from groups of gang, cartel, and mercenary networks- promotes new forms of state organization drawn from criminally based social and political norms and behaviors. These include a value system derived from illicit narcotics use, killing for sport and pleasure, human trafficking and slavery, dysfunctional perspectives on women and family life, and a habitual orientation to violence and total disregard for modern civil society and democratic freedoms. This harkens back to Peter’s thoughts concerning the emergence of a ‘new warrior class’ and, before that, van Creveld’s ‘non-trinitarian warfare’ projections.
Cross-posted at Zenpundit.com
Containment worked for the Soviet Union. Do you think it will work for Mexico?
I figure that’s worth a post.
Zenpundit has a post up about how gunmen employed by one of the drug cartels in northern Mexico have demanded that an entire town empty out. They want the people gone, or else they will start killing.
Zen thinks this is the start of the end for Mexico, and sees a potential flood of refugees from our neighbor to the south.
To anyone interested in the subject, thought you might appreciate the news that the cartels are now attacking Mexican army bases.
A last and hopeless act of desperation by criminals who are on the ropes, or a canny move to test the security of their greatest foes?
We shall see.
(Hat tip to Scott, who snarks like mad when he says “Man, this never would have happened without American gun shows.”)
An ineffective or inappropriate state response will make this tactic go viral:
….Last week, at least 30 Mexicans from the town of El Porvenir walked to the border crossing post at Fort Hancock, Texas, and asked for political asylum. Ordinarily, their claim would be denied as groundless, and they would be turned back. Instead, they were taken to El Paso, where they expect to have their cases heard.
No one doubts that they have a strong claim. Their town on the Mexican side of the border is under siege by one or more drug cartels battling for control of the key border crossing. According to Mike Doyle, the chief deputy sheriff of Hudspeth County, Texas, one of the cartels has ordered all residents of the town of 10,000 to abandon the city within the next month.
“They came in and put up a sign in the plaza telling everyone to leave or pay with their own blood,” Doyle said. Since then there has been a steady stream of El Porvenir residents seeking safety on the American side of the border, both legally and illegally. Among them are the 30 who are seeking political asylum.
In recent days the situation in the impoverished, dusty border town has grown worse. According to Jose Franco, the superintendent of schools in Fort Hancock, the cartels have threatened to execute children in school unless parents pay 5000 pesos in protection money.
And on Wednesday night, according to Doyle, several houses in El Porvenir were set on fire, and there were reports of cars loaded with furniture leaving the town.
I don’t remember the exact words but this was the essence of a headline in a Chilean leftist newspaper after an Allende referendum was defeated by the voters (as reported, IIRC, by Robert Moss in Chile’s Marxist Experiment).
The aroma of similar attitudes wafts from an AP report that has the headline, “Honduras vote to sideline president, enshrine coup”. Hey, nobody’s calling anybody reactionary here, but if you talk about a “coup” it’s usually an indication that you’re unsympathetic to the people who did it. Never mind that the president was kicked out by his own legislature and courts, following their country’s written constitution, after he flagrantly broke the law. Like global-warming hysterics, and lawyers for obviously guilty defendants, Zelaya’s supporters don’t have the facts on their side and so keep repeating unsupported assertions that are meant to shift the frame of debate in the direction of their narrative.
Meanwhile, the Brazilian government, sensing weakness, is trying to push Obama around. This is the same Brazilian government that just received the great democrat Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a widely publicized state visit. But Honduras, one of the poorest countries in Latin America, a democracy and a steadfast US ally, is a threat to world peace.
Here’s Obama’s “media diversity czar,” Mark Lloyd:
It should be clear by now that my focus here is not freedom of speech or the press. This freedom is all too often an exaggeration. At the very least, blind references to freedom of speech or the press serve as a distraction from the critical examination of other communications policies.
[T]he purpose of free speech is warped to protect global corporations and block rules that would promote democratic governance.
(from his 2006 book)
Mr Lloyd has had some very positive things to say about Venezuelan thug Hugo Chavez and his approach to the media:
In Venezuela, with Chavez, is really an incredible revolution – a democratic revolution. To begin to put in place things that are going to have an impact on the people of Venezuela.
The property owners and the folks who then controlled the media in Venezuela rebelled – worked, frankly, with folks here in the U.S. government – worked to oust him. But he came back with another revolution, and then Chavez began to take very seriously the media in his country.
More here about what this “taking very seriously” is doing to destroy media independence in Venezuela.
Via Pejman Yousefzadeh, I hear that Norman Borlaug has passed; NYT obit.
In the face of caviling from scarcity-mentality “environmentalists,” he saved a billion lives. Requiescat in pace.
Why is our government supporting the guy in the middle?
Also, a suggestion for the Republicans: Run ads, in English and Spanish, asking this question and using this photo.
Something is wrong when the USA allies itself with communist dictators and against democrats.
In New York this week, I asked a former Eastern European dissident who spent time in prison under the Communists: “If you were sitting in a cell in Cuba, Iran or Syria and saw this photo of a smiling American president shaking hands with a smiling Hugo Chávez, what would you think?”
He said: “I would think that I was losing ground.”
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WASHINGTON, DC – Flanked by the embattled President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon and the Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, a weary looking President Barack Obama used a press conference to angrily denounce as “Alarmist and inflammatory” a recent report issued by the conservative Heritage Foundation that declared the massive chain of UN administered Mexican Refugee camps in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas as “a bottomless well for narco-insurgency” and “a threat to the territorial integrity of the United States”. The camps, home to at least 2.5 million Mexican nationals, are dominated by the “Zetas Confederales”, a loose and ultraviolent umbrella militia aligned with the feuding Mexican drug cartels that now control upwards of 80 % of Mexico.
President Obama’s political fortunes have been reeling recently in the wake of high profile incidents that include the kidnapping of his Special Envoy for Transborder Issues, former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, and the car bombing assassination of popular California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger that killed 353 people in Sacramento last month. Both events have been tied directly to factions of Zetas “hardliners” who operate with impunity on both sides of the US-Mexican border. President Obama used the conference to point to the “clear and hold” COIN strategy that has recently restored order and even a degree of tourism to Las Vegas, once the scene of bloody street battles between Zetas, local street gangs and right-wing American paramilitary groups, as a sign of the success for his administration. Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill remain skeptical and say that it is likely that President Obama will face a primary challenge next year from Senator Jim Webb (D- Va), a former Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration, who called the president’s COIN strategy “The right course of action” but ” Two years too late”….
That fictional scenario above is offered as a thought experiment.
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