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Back You are here: Home Columns Columns Allyn Hunt

Students, young people, Sicilia’s allies bring useful hard truths to a laggard campaign, but are they too little, too late to perform a rescue?

While the gutsy, imaginative and energetic Mexican online-born “student revolt” movement, “#Yo Soy 132” (“I am number 132”), is exciting the attention of political junkies — and journalists — the world over, veteran Mexican hands, while cheered, are somber about the results.

A week when the credulity, even of veteran residents, was being tested — both by slippery politicians and tea-reading statisticians

This was a week in which credulity was repeatedly and severely tested. Let’s leave aside the ouija board meanderings of U.S. political thought, a fantasy made boring months ago by what seemed to be 300 vitriolic Republican candidates destructively denouncing one another.

Mexico and the U.S., women and politics: In America it’s called 'war on women,' here it’s called 'the slaughter of women'

A Mexican judge March 6 ordered authorities to investigate the killings of hundreds of women in the State of Mexico, which surrounds Mexico City, which took place during the former governorship of Enrique Peña Nieto (2005 to 2011), now the leading contender in the July 1 presidential election.

Carlos Fuentes, Mexico’s preeminent literary figure, dies, leaving the post that combined elegance and eloquence empty

“Literary Great, Carlos Fuentes, Dies.” A headline that did not exaggerate. Fuentes had become Mexico’s “greatest living author” April 19, 1998, the day that Mexico’s only Nobel Laureate in Literature — and Fuentes’ one-time mentor — Octavio Paz, died.

Prostitutes and prostitution are noisily on the minds of Republicans and media folk, stirring memories of cantina murals

Abruptly, the word, “prostitute” – not greatly used in public political speech because of that iron truism, “Those who live in glass houses ...” – is extremely popular.   Suddenly it’s a favorite among Republicans.  They seem consumed with sex, especially Rick Santorum and the weirdly loathsome Rush Limbaugh.

Jalisco’s favorite red-headed fighter, ‘Canelo,’ notches his 40th win as critics say he’s not busy enough in the ring

Jalisco’s 21-year-old Saul “Canelo” Alvarez retained his WBC Light MiddleWeight Championship title, Saturday, May 5, defeating six-time world champion Shane Mosley. Mosley, at 40, had just begun to show the wear-and-tear of a long, successful career in his last three fights. Yet many pundits, especially in Mexico, had suggested Canelo would have trouble with Mosley’s well-known hard punching and ring savvy.

Trying to explain the GOP primaries to Mexican friends, as many Republicans suggest the party may be self-destructing

It has become more and more difficult to explain the United States presidential election process to Mexican friends. (This predicament is glittery with irony, because after 20 Republican debates it’s become difficult for most U.S. citizens to make coherent sense of what’s going on.) The picky interest in the U.S. political process for many of my Mexican friends and acquaintances is relatively new — certainly it’s a newly informed interest. The quickly spreading appearance of computers in middle-class homes here — and in poorer households, where hand-me-down PCs are appearing — means the sudden arrival of a social media among people whose spotty educations don’t equip them to usefully handle the avalanches of information rushing their way. Yet their interest is not idle curiosity. A great many have family members — some legal, some illegal — living in states where anti-Latino laws and racists are rife. And they are seeing these rough attitudes being flourished in various ways by the revolving cast of over-excited and verbally undisciplined aspirants battling to become the Republican candidate in the coming general campaign for president. That fosters apprehension here regarding relatives living in such states as Georgia, Florida, Ohio, Nevada, Colorado, and, especially Arizona.

Zapata wanted to retire, marry, and settle into a quiet countryside life, but no warring faction wanted that

‘As of marriages, so of revolutions,’ writes a historian of Mexico. ‘The best take years to turn out well. (Francisco) Madero accomplished the overthrow of (Porfirio) Diaz in ten months of planning and action. A victory won too soon.’

Voters in Mexico and the United States are reported by the media, and others, as being weary and disillusioned

The media in Mexico and the United States are noting that the electorates in both countries are “weary” of the narrowness of their national political discourse. In other words they are both cynical and bored with their politicians, the campaigns, their national political rhetoric and their meager political choices.

A film about a Jalisco-based anti-cleric leader who lead the Catholic rebellion against an attempt to destroy the Church

The United States-Mexican film, “For Greater Glory” (Spanish title: “Cristiada”), which opened in Mexico April 20, and is scheduled for U.S. release June 1, has special meaning for the people of Jalisco — however it may be judged as cinematic fare. That’s because it revives a valorous and bloody past. “Glory” recounts a special moment in history (1926-1929) when Jalisco become the center of a furious, ambitiously dispersed post-Revolution rebellion involving 13 states.

Crazy February: Too much rain, cold wind, chilly hearts, and the lessons of hard times that shape the endurance to deal with them

It had been raining most of a week. The traditionally dry month of February was living up to its ancient reputation, Febrero Loco. Unseasonably cold, with enough wind-driven rain to make it seem like the middle of the rainy season. Except that term is aimed at seasonal high winds announcing the coming of spring. It’s twined with the following month, forming the Mexican dicho, Febrero loco, Marzo mas poco.

Looking at the de la Madrid legacy: drug trafficking on a large scale tested federal government’s response, found it useful

When Miguel de la Madrid, who died April 1, at 77, began his six-year term as Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) president in 1982, he inherited from his mentor, President Jose Lopez Portillo (1976-1982), a trashed economy, and a lavish and unabashed level of corruption in every sector of government. Lopez Portillo was one of three consecutive megalomaniacal presidents who had brought Mexico to it knees, destroying its economy by the end of each of their sexenios (administrations), shattering the public’s  bruised confidence in critical government institutions, even in its own calloused ability to judge the sanity and harmfulness of its leaders.

Apostille: not an exotic species of pastry, but an internationally recognized seal certifying a document’s authenticity

Explaining legal terms sometimes seems like trying to translate the entire four original volumes of William Blackstone’s hugely famed “Commentaries on English Law” (1770) into a familiar language.

Former President Miguel de la Madrid dies; his policy regarding burgeoning drug cartel influence is being recalled

Mainstream media in both Mexico and the United States lost a useful opportunity when they produced the internet era’s requisite undernourished obituaries (the best: Associated Press) of former Mexican president (1982-1988), Miguel de la Madrid, who died April 2, at 77.   He and his presidency are both basic and critical tools to understanding Mexico today – but not because de la Madrid was a dramatically innovative, or transformative chief executive. He is pertinent today primarily because his former long-ruling party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), is expected to return to power in the mannequin-like figure of Enrique Peña Nieto, former governor of the State of Mexico, which surrounds Mexico City.  And because Latin America’s drug war isn’t working, Peña Nieto, whose PRI has a disastrous past of colluding with drug traffickers, is making grand promises to overhaul the current policy and reduce violence in general.

A week of cold and rain: Recovering stolen cattle the easy way – following the muddy trail to find some amateur livestock thieves

Winter weather in the Jalisco highlands traditionally arrives after harvesting is finished in mid-October, a bit later if the rainy season is bountiful.  And frequently there are some cabañuelas in January – brief soakings that are popularly believed to forecast the next temporada de las aguas.

The founders’ ideas about Christianity, often contradictory, challenge many of the claims made today about the creators of the US

Easter is often said to be a time of reflection.  It certainly is for any mind even vaguely curious about Christianity (even as not more than an amazingly world-shaping idea) during what Mexicans call Semana Santa/Semana de Pascua and English-speakers of the world term the “Easter Season.”

Innovative Jalisco ceramicists emerged as the Latin American cultural ‘boom’ exploded, putting Tlaquepaque and Tonala on world’s aesthetic map

When internationally recognized Jalisco ceramicist Jorge Wilmot Mason talked of the halcyon stretch he and others in Mexico shared — the 1950-1960 era of surging creativity — he termed those days “another world.” It was an era when Octavio Paz stunned Mexican society and attracted international acclaim with his analysis of Mexican character, “The Labyrinth of Solitude,” when Carlos Fuentes did the same with his novel “The Death of Artemio Cruz.” Mexican culture in all its forms seemed to catch the world’s eye.

New law to protect journalists welcomed as its effectiveness is questioned by media executives, reporters, free press advocates

After a haystack full of unfulfilled political promises, Mexico’s Senate March 13 finally approved a constitutional amendment making attacks on journalists a federal crime. This came after years of public pressure, both here and abroad, especially from news gatherers and their supporters in this country, where 51 journalists were killed from 2000 to 2011, according to the latest figures from the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. That number is disputed by Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission, and numerous journalists. The Human Rights Commission presently places the number at 74, since President Felipe Calderon launched his “war on drugs” in December 2006. That move now is widely considered precipitant by international law enforcement experts, by Mexican journalists, even by members of his own administration. Such critics generally agree that he should have taken a year to shake-out and coordinate the nation’s law enforcement agencies, the judiciary and the military, preparing them to launch an unprecedented nationwide anti-crime campaign. “He bit off way more than he could chew,” as one U.S. drug cartel analyst has said. Clearly journalists in Mexico, and elsewhere, agree with that.

‘She put out the fire!’ Campo family deals with a threat of drug and child abuse with calmness, stern resolution

Jose Maria (“Chema”) Flores, a dark, crease-faced campesino of 57, was having family problems. He and his wife, Lupe, have eight children. One of their older sons, Jose, had gone off some time ago to dabble in crack and marry a woman also drawn to drugs.

Mexico’s middle class aspirations: Exhilaration of a new status dampened by sobering social/political circumstances

Mexico’s middle class is now the “new majority,” according to the authors of a new, and much-quoted book, “Mexico: A Middle Class Society, Poor No More, Developed Not Yet.” The authors, economist and Mexico’s former undersecretary of Trade, Luis de la Calle, and Luis Rubio, former advisor to Mexico’s secretary of Treasury, write that “Even though there is no consensus on what exactly constitutes the middle class, there is no doubt that a significant portion of the Mexican population behaves and perceives itself as one.” This will surprise many — including many Mexicans — several analysts have noted.

Knocking on heaven’s door: Folks here of a certain age are wise to make a resolution to put their affairs in order

Morey Leonard lived alone. He was a quiet man of 75 who dealt with his five-year bout with illness in a private way. No complaints to friends or acquaintances. His kitchen and refrigerator were stocked with nourishing stuff. No junk-food, no high cholesterol or high sugar-foods. No booze – unlike earlier times, times that were now catching up with him. His maid found him on the living room floor unconscious when she made her regular Tuesday cleaning-day round. She immediately called the Red Cross.

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