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.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Egypt and Latin America

The end of the Washington consensus in Latin America has created a decade of progress (warts and all), and the world is holding its breath as Egyptians challenge another segment of U.S. domination. Regarding Egypt in Latin America:

- Venezuelans of Egyptian descent temporarily occupied the Egyptian embassy. There were no injuries, and President Chavez moved quickly to preserve the diplomatic integrity of the embassy.
- The official gov't line has been to remain silent on the issue, encouraging "peace" but Chavez remains silent on the protests for democracy.

- Kristina Kirchner recently toured the Middle East, and it appears there are still some Argentine journalists still in Cairo. One says that Cairo feels like Buenos Aires in 2001.

- Irony is the dish of the day for Cuba. January 27 saw Cuba's ambassador to Egypt in Liberty Park (???) in Cairo to celebrate the calls for independence and freedom of Jose Marti. Otherwise, everybody in Cuba seems to be looking at El Paso, TX these days.

- While everybody is probably looking at Sundays elections in Guererro, there are a few Mexicans in Cairo that would find even that state a welcome retreat, according to El Universal.


I've been a bit perplexed at the lack of solidarity being expressed with Egypt in Latin America. The United States and Canada are alight with protests, but the corner of the world that can most easily empathize with long lasting US supported dictatorships presiding over democracies in name only, there seems to be minimal support.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Question of Security: Great Resources

Hardly a day goes by when I don't hear either the phrase "pick up a history book" or "I can just go read a history book to know you are wrong." I hear it on the radio and television, I read it in the news and on the internet, I hear it at the local farmer's market from the Piney Woods hippies and the aging Klansmen. And then I check out a copy of the Washington Post this morning:
Glacial Melt in Peru Becomes More Than a Climate Issue

HUARAZ, Peru - Glacier melt hasn't caused a national crisis in Peru, yet. But high in the Andes, rising temperatures and changes in water supply over the last 40 years have decimated crops, killed fish stocks and forced villages to question how they will survive for another generation.
The story goes on to interview the head of the CIA who sees the situation in Peru as a critical moment in (drum roll) US national security. And he should. Millions of displaced people in a region just now getting back on its feet would be a disaster for the hemisphere.

If Peru and its allies don't fund and create projects to conserve water, improve decrepit water infrastructure and regulate runoff from glaciers within five years, the disappearance of Andean glaciers could lead to social and economic disaster, said Alberto Hart, climate change adviser at Peru's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"This will become a problem for the United States," he said. "When you have a dysfunctional country, you have a problem for the entire region."

The reporting on this glacial melt is a part of what is called the National Security Journalism initiative. I would highly suggest a look at their site, as well as an interesting interactive chart on security and climate change. I also found their documents page interesting, with climate security information from the CIA to the Navy, from the World Bank to university scientists.

I guess if we want to know what happens when regions create massive displacement, all we have to do is pick up a history book.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Islam En Las Americas

A former grad school acquaintance of mine recently wrapped up a major grant project on Islam in the Americas. She is a specialist in Syria, but hails from Spain, so I have no fears on the language gymnastics needed for the project. She and her crew have put together an excellent web site on the topic. http://www.islamamericas.com/ Islam En Las Americas. I am excited to see it is an active forum in both English and Spanish and that there are items on topics such as Islam in the border regions of Paraguay and Brazil. This is a very exciting project and a good example of the positive work that can come about with some invested money and time.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Shamless Self Promotion: Primitive Revolution

In the tradition of shamless robber bloggers, I have posted my new book, out in the Spring Catalog for New Mexico press.
Sez UNM press:

"In this intriguing study, Jason Dormady examines the ways members of Mexico’s urban and rural poor used religious community to mediate between themselves and the state through the practice of religious primitivism, the belief that they were restoring Christianity—and the practice of Mexican citizenship—to a more pure and essential state. Focusing on three community formation projects—the Iglesia del Reino de Dios en su Plenitud, a Mormon-based polygamist organization; the Iglesia Luz del Mundo, an evangelical Protestant organization; and the Union Nacional Sinarquista, a semi-fascist Mexican Catholic group—Dormady argues that their attempts to establish religious authenticity mirror the efforts of officials to define the meaning of the Mexican Revolution in the era following its military phase. Despite the fact that these communities engaged in counterrevolutionary behavior, the state remained pragmatic and willing to be flexible depending on convergence of the group’s interests with those of the official revolution."
A big thanks to the departed Adrian Bantjes who read the ms. and suggested it for press.
Pre-order at Amazon.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Northern Arizona is Hiring

So, I see that Northern Arizona University is hiring a new Latin America scholar this year. I suppose the power of the desperation of the job market will overwhelm the ethics of Latin Americanists in their initial call to boycott Arizona. I simply can't imagine in this job climate that the job will go un-applied for. I think that is a shame.

Recent shootings aside, the New York Times just ran an article on shutting down Latino literature courses in Tucson. I think this is one of the horrific controls on speech that has gotten far too little press. As the article in the Times states of Curtis Acosta's class:
Mr. Acosta’s class and others in the Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican-American program have been declared illegal by the State of Arizona — even while similar programs for black, Asian and American Indian students have been left untouched.
Arizona, you are right, we do need to build a wall on a border in this country - around Arizona.