About Secret History

Commentary on Latin America.
Mostly about Mexico - but not always.
Designed to encourage readers to learn about
the apparently "secret history" of 500 million people
spread across two continents
- but not always.
You can always count on a little snark.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

But This Isn't New....

A reminder that random searches without cause and process have been legal in the US for some time. The Patriot Act has allowed check points within 100 miles of the US Border in what the ACLU has dubbed the "Constitution free zone" - a zone in which most Americans live.

This video was posted in February. The man is a preacher that was beaten at the checkpoint several months earlier.

To see a US Vet harassed, see this.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Immigration, Arizona....and The Hunt for Red October

My wife reminded me of this exchange from The Hunt for Red October between the captain and the sub's doctor.

Do you think they will let me live in Montana?
I would think they'll let you live wherever
you want.
Then I will live in Montana, and I will marry a
round American woman and raise rabbits,and she
will cook them for me, and I will have a pickup
truck...or a... possibly even a recreational
vehicle and drive from state to state.
Do they let you do that?
No papers?  
No papers.
Except, of course, for Arizona.

Religion and Arizona - Into the Wilderness for Christianity?

USA Today had reactions from religious leaders to the new Arizona law that will check papers, stop vehicles, impound vehicles, and arrest those associated with illegal migrants. The clergy cited by USA today called the law a ""sin."

The largest single church in Arizona is the Catholic Church (28%) and there has been some rumbling. The biggest grumble from Catholics, however, has come out of Los Angeles from Cardinal Mahony who, on his blog, called the law "dreadful" and called for reform of the laws to remove the conflict between the "Help Wanted" sign and the "No Trespassing" signs on the US border. Mahony also condemned the aspects of the law that require US citizens to inform on each other.

On another religious note, much of the early settlement of Arizona was done by Mormons - themselves seeking a refuge when the kind people of the mid-west and New England found them to be less-than-acceptable participants in the American Dream. Missouri's "extermination order" was one fun example of US Americans sharing the love. Mormons in Arizona are now only 6% of the population, 17% of the AZ legislature. At any rate, conservative Mormons see no lovely irony in the use of state power to oust a group THEY don't like. I would also note, as I have before, that though you are not allowed to be baptized a Mormon if you are currently breaking the law, the LDS church does not stop baptism if you are an illegal alien. (Arizona Republic, April 2, 2009) I assume, as in many churches, there is something of a gap between the church leadership which tends toward compassion on immigration and the conservative rank and file which tends toward... well, see the samples below to see what they tend toward. (From LDS Freedom Forum). (And of course, these nut-jobs below do not reflect the views of all Mormons... even in Arizona.)
From an acquaintance who works in the AZ Capitol:
"I haven't had any discussions with any of the senators yet, but it sounds to me like Obama is rumbling about trying to stop it. And I was told by someone in my Ward tonight that Janet Napolitano said in an interview today, "Oh, Governor Brewer signed the bill ...? Oh, that's too bad -- now we won't be able to give Arizona any federal funding." I hope that's true because it would save a lot of time and effort if they would just cut us off altogether. We want to get out from under the feds, and this would do it!! I hope it's true! :-) So, to answer your question, "What do I expect?" I guess I won't be surprised if Obama tries to stop us -- either through cutting off federal funding or something else. I'm sure it won't take him long to try to bully us back into submission."
To understand the illegal immigration and amnesty issues in depth, I believe it is necessary to understand the bigger picture. We are being assaulted not only by mass immigration of people who place tremendous burdens on our society and public services, but also by the global warming hoax, the terrorism hoax carried out by false flag Ops and media hype, undeclared wars that hurt our economy, and other actions that are leading to the destruction of the American economy and culture.
I have concluded that the purpose of this destruction is to make Americans more willing to accept a socialist or fascist dictatorship to replace what is left of our constitutional republic. All this is intended by people who have been and are still the puppetmasters of recent US Presidents and many in Congress, to eventually enable them to make this country subject to a single world government.
Good times with religion and law in Arizona.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Protestants Vs. Indigenous Worship

Corresponsales Indigenas is reporting that a site of local importance for rain ceremonies in Jicaral, Oaxaca, was recently destroyed. It appears the niche (some boulders and trees where candles and offerings were made during the rain ceremony) was destroyed by the municipal government working with local Protestant organizations.

Meanwhile in Chiapas, evangelical families were expelled from schools in Shulvo, near Zinacantan. Though the families had been booted from the community in November, the children had continued to attend school.

Mexico's Catholic majority has often drawn attention to the clash between "crown and clergy," but the great variety of the "Many Mexicos" in religion has usually been a second tier story. Good new scholars like Edward Wright Rios and Matthew Butler have done a great job of drawing attention to the history of local manifestations of religion beyond the cage of the church/state clash. Paying attention to the history of tension between clergy and local saints, schismatic feminine religious leaders and male dominated hierarchies, the use of Mexico as a religious refuge, etc., makes the above two actions understandable parts of a long tradition of tension between religious belief in Mexico. I would suggest some "good reads"...

Religious Culture in Modern Mexico, edited by Martin Nesvig, 2007.
Faith and Impiety in Revolutionary Mexico, ed. by Matthew Butler, 2007.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Historians, Stay Out of Arizona

One of the largest history conferences for Latin Americanists in the United States is the Rocky Mountain Conference of Latin American Studies (RMCLAS) held anywhere in the Mountain West between Montana and Arizona. Last year Santa Fe, this year Boulder, next year, Park City. But in years past Flagstaff and Tucson have been very popular locations for the conference (the Bill Beezley folks out of Tucson do a great job of organizing, same with the NAU folks). However, if Arizona signs and maintains the racial profiling law, RMCLAS needs to follow the example of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) and resort to the boycott. Since 2006 (or somewhere in there) LASA has boycotted the United States for regressive policies regarding visas for scholars from outside the US.

Perhaps it is time for the hundreds of members of RMCLAS to vote with their feet and wallets regarding Arizona.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Love Potion a la Mexicana

Reading Oscar Lewis' classic - and occasionally controversial - Tepoztlan: Village in Mexico. I probably took note of the section on love potions more this last week than most because I had just finished Ben Vinson and Matt Restall's book Black Mexico which had a big section on Afro-Mayan magic in the Yucatan and the uses of menstrual blood in chocolate. Anyway, Lewis has a passage on the use of toloache - a lovely little white flower with some questionable side effects. Says Lewis:
The most commonly feared type of sorcery is a potion made from ta well-known herb called toloache, secretly dropped into a man's coffee or any other drink. This herb is said to contain a drug that will affect the brain if taken in large doses. In Tepoztlan it is also believed that it will make a man tonto - that is, stupid or foolish and easily managed - and that an extra large dose will make him an idiot. The most important symptom to Tepoztecans is that the drugged man can no longer control his wife but is dominated by her. (58)
Good fun. I googled toloache and found out that a cafe in NYC is named after the plant - perhaps they use the flower as a strategy to get cafe goers to pay NYC prices for tacos.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Margarita Zavala - And the Curse of Wikipedia

With Michelle Obama touching down in DF this week and the US planning a State Dinner for Mexico in May, I thought I'd brush up on the wife of Felipe Calderon, Margarita Zavala. I'm good with starting with a tertiary source for basics, so I read the Wikipedia entry. Ok, clearly some pre-election propaganda up there, and with no sources cited, I wanted to find out a little more. Site after site after site, however, repeated the same trite little facts from Wikipedia - some times taking the language directly from the page (and looking at the dates, Wikipedia came first). A leftie think-tank, a right wing blog, and an established paper all decided to plagiarize a tertiary source and then add insult to injury by failing to add anything new. I think we have a good example of how most folks in the US have a very limited knowledge of Mexico, and how some times the knowledge they do have is mostly second rate and third hand. And just for fun... here is the wikipedia commons photo of Margarita Zavala.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Military - Rental Truck Complex

If you thought that Ryder was just a truck you rent to pack fertilizer bombs in, you're mistaken. This week the corporation sponsored a conference on border security in Ft. Worth, TX, complete with representatives from the department of homeland security. Says the company's press release:
"Increasing collaboration between government agencies and the private sector is one of the best ways to mitigate security threats against business," said Sanford Hodes, Vice President, Safety, Health & Security for Ryder. "We are grateful for the support of the Department of Homeland Security and Ryder's other security partners at this event and are committed to continuing to share best practices and prevention strategies that improve security throughout our operations and those of our customers."
It appears Ryder and other companies are looking for ways to guarantee that their businesses are not only kept safe from border violence, but are also not used in, well, unsavory border business. Ryder is also a part of the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) - a DHS / Business coalition designed to increase the inspection and security on "the global supply chain." Read more here. Because Ryder is a Third Party Logistics Provider (3PL) - a provider of transportation and warehouse services - it is in a perfect position to inspect goods and storage. It is also a perfect target / tool for smugglers. They are also the kind of company that needs a more free and open border to provide the sort of speed and service they offer customers working in the Maquilas and transporting goods to the US. Ryder is a $1.6 billion (total revenue) company and manages over $4 billion in freight - surely smuggling and the closed border must be costing them a penny or two.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Brazil - Not Even the PT Can Stop Nature

Associated Press is reporting that 200 have been killed and 11,000 displaced in a mudslide in Rio. A growing middle class and urban renewal projects under President Da Silva have done much for Brazil, but you can't wipe out the desperate poverty of Rio's poorly planned hill side slums over night. In this case we are looking at the collapse of buildings built on a land fill that had not been used for more than 20 years. Rio currently employs several thousand workers that travel around the city working to counter the possibility of slides - but how much can you really do for a spontaneous slum built on a landfill with no initial support or planning combined with record rain falls? On the bright side - if we can eve dare to use the phrase - perhaps some improvement in infrastructure has guaranteed that this disaster was not worse considering the region has endured over 80 slides in the last few days.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mexican Drug Commandos in Florida and Illinois

Narco-terrorist-illegal-immigrants penetrated US Territory over the last three weeks, killing two spring break students in drunken balcony falls and running over another out for a jog. Reports are still coming in about a Chicago teen on break struck and killed by 86 yr-old John Hillyard in Southern Illinois this week. Hillyard illegally arrived in this country from Oaxaca two years ago carrying forty pounds of marijuana and three kilos of powdered pseudoephedrine pills - all of which would have been consumed by OTHER illegal immigrants in the nation. If only all those spring breakers were armed.

I'm not sure that Iturbide or Morelos had in mind creating Mexico for the purpose of helping US Americans feel better about their own national problems, but that seems to be Mexico's most enduring hemispheric role in the minds of some US Americans. At any rate, the killing of an Arizona rancher seems to be the latest cause celebre of the anti-Mexican crowd, and the rhetoric surrounding it seems to be going nowhere pretty. Somehow I don't think the chant we'll hear at Arizona anti-immigration rallies will be something like "We'll kill our own, Mex go home."

Thursday, April 1, 2010

No More "eshorts" For Tlatachamulco

San Andres de Tlatachamulco just west of Toluca in EdoMex is a fairly sleep pueblo, and one that has apparently gotten just a little spicier. Like many small rural towns it sends almost a third of its population to the United States, but many of the young men that have been returned to San Andres are, well, sharing a little too much of themselves with the community. Well starched "Dickies" pants hanging nearly to the bottom of the young mens' nalgas have caused a stir in the town for almost a decade now, but it wasn't until the muchachas in the village had seen enough that the situation was remedied.

Last week, in an effort to "escandalizar" (according to one young woman interviewed by El Sol de Toluca) the young man and the village, girls from 15 to 34 swapped the standard painted on jeans of central Mexico for Daisy Dukes - the cut off denim jeans that show more than they cover. While the young men weren't in the least hurt by this, the pueblo was certainly scandalized, and the next day a special meeting in the cabildo passed a resolution banning both Daisy Dukes and the saggy pants. "Entendiamos lo que querian decir las chavas del pueblo y nos pusimos de acuerdo en cuanto a la resolucion," proclaimed Presidente municiapl Roberto Navas Plena. Whether such a resolution can stand will be interesting to watch. Speaking of interesting to watch - see some of the tamer pictures of the afore-mentioned cavorting here.