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.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Protesting the Reform of Article 24 Continues

The news from Veracruz is that (mostly Protestants) were out in the streets before Christmas protesting the reforms of Article 24.  The fuss over this began back in late 2011 and early 2012, with opponents of the reform saying that any changes to the article would kill the secular state and provide huge benefits to the Catholic Church.  The reform - which would allow the Catholic Church to teach religious classes in public schools - has been under fire from protesters for nearly a year now.  It looks like with the new PRI government another attempt is being made to hamper those changes.  See here.

Before anybody in the United States gets too anti-Catholic about this, I would point out that California schools reserve rooms for religiously observant students to conduct prayers and religious club meetings, and in many western states like Utah, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, LDS students can take "seminary" classes in the public school buildings during "release" time.

The reform would also make other changes, as well.

Además de permitir al clero dar catecismo en las escuelas, esta reforma le otorga la facultad para poseer y administrar medios de comunicación, participar en el ejército y la marina mediante capellanías y obispados castrenses, así como en la política electoral, ocupar puestos de elección popular y recibir subvenciones económicas del erario para sus actividades religiosas y las visitas papales.  (See more from this story here.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Whole New World ...

We have entered a new age... an age where politicians aren't afraid to think out of the box, color outside the lines, or draw new maps.  Maps, apparently, that lack the rest of the Americas.  "Fracaso" to both the parties for failing to engage the question of guns and drugs in the US relationship with Mexico, for ignoring Cuba, skipping over US coups in Latin America, disregarding the failed war on drugs through interdiction, and the apparently invisible economic relationship of intertwined labor and capital with this hemisphere.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Romney Novela?

How did I miss this take on the Craig Romney ad by Conan O'Brien.  Brilliantly funny.

On another front, we have a reminder of the failure of the GOP to understand the Latino vote outside of the Cuban quarter.  You want ads to appeal to Mexicanos and you run one saying "my grandpa came here from Mexico and got rich" with the subtext being "but you as a person are 'illegal'" - bad form, Big R.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Chavez. Again.

As everybody that follows Latin America knows by now, Hugo Chavez has pulled off another electoral victory.  He's wielded the power of incumbency in a centralized economic state like a pro and benefited from the loyalty of increased state sponsored projects - not something that any incumbent can disitance themselves from.  I think, however, that he did himself and Venezuela a disservice on two fronts.

1) By choosing to run again he provokes a reaction that will dramatically seek to overturn his policies - which would undermine his entire project.  He also stifles a second tier of leadership that could replace him and creates another personalist regime in Latin America - and those are hit and miss on the legacy front.

2) Getting to the top required flinging a lot of mud - and he's going to have to work over time to clean that up.  For a comparison of Chavez to Mitt Romney, see this short commentary by the NY Magazine.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Elephant Not in the Room

It is customary to woo various sectors of the US immigrant population by discussing items of importance to that group: Wilson's concern for Poland, Reagan's interest in Northern Ireland, or everybody's obsession with Israel and on occasion Cuba.  And non-Cuban Latinos?

The 2012 US Presidential election marks several important ideas for Latinos:

1) Nobody wants to talk about issues regarding foreign policy with Mexico and Central America.
2) Nobody CAN talk about issues regarding  foreign policy with Mexico and Central America because those issues are so central to the US perception of itself.

At some point the United States needs to recognize that the era of the German, Irish, and Jewish migrant is over and that the needs and issues of Mexicanos, Salvadorenos, Ticos, Nicas, etc., count.  When those issues are discussed, the Elephants and the Donkey's need to get in the room - and maybe you will draw some Latino votes.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Romney - Keeping Close to His Mexican Roots (Sort Of...)

Ohio coal miners say they were forced to attend a Mitt Romney rally - without pay.  Come on, Mitt.  In Mexico - home of your forefathers and many of your cousins - the ruling PRI party had more class than that. When they would have employers bus in workers and force them to attend rallies the workers could count on being paid as well as a sandwich and a soda or beer.


Thursday, July 26, 2012


In this political year for the US, let's take a minute to remember some of those "great" Spanish ads that ran in the United States.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Happy 25th, Iran Contra

With the "Fast and Furious" debate raging in Washington and Senator Issa hunting for heads from the Justice Department, let's take a moment to remember 25 years ago this summer when the nation learned via hearings in DC the extent to which Ronald Reagan and his advisors (let's remember the "President was briefed verbally" moment) were funneling weapons to Iran and the Contra terrorists in Nicaragua.  Don't forget to have a look at the Oliver North files at the National Security Archive, HERE.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Poor GOP: So Close to Catholic Latinos, So Far From Catholic Votes

More on the use and abuse of Mexican History.

Since Glenn Beck's failed crusade to Jerusalem (see The Guardian article here) I've lost track of the nutter, but back in May he apparently took a shot at Eva Longoria for comments she made on the Bill Maher show stating that the United States had occupied Mexico.  Beck seeks to, erm, set the record straight regarding the "Mexico was occupied crap" that was dropped on "us" (he had a mouse in his pocket).  His reasons for saying Mexico was not occupied by the United States:

1) In Mexico they speak Spanish (not Mexican, he said, which will come as a shock to all the nahuatl speakers and perhaps the 51 other indigenous language speakers in Mexico), not Enlgish, which would be a sign of occupation (again, which would come as a shock to all those Mexicans that remained on the north end of the 1847 war AND all the Mexicans speaking English to deal with the tourists and 1 million economic refugees from the US that live in Mexico).  No, the true sign of an occupation is that Spanish and Hispanic come from a Roman (he also says Italian) occupation of Spain and then a 300 year Spanish occupation of Mexico.  The part of Mexico that became Texas was only Mexican for 15 years, so no occupation happened.

2) The war with Mexico was a product of Mexican aggression.  The presence of US forces in Mexico City was not an occupation because it was resolved with a treaty.  Interesting.  He does take a moment to recognize that Manifest Destiny was in play.

3) Even though the US "routed" Mexico we were benevolent enough to purchase what became the Western American States for $15 million.  "We went the extra distance" and paid for it.  So, since what was left of Mexico was not occupied with military forces or controlled by the US politically, and because the part that was militarily occupied was paid for and won in war then no occupation happened.  The Mexicans living in the US were bought for, fair and square.  Not occupied.

4) Anybody that thinks any portion of Mexico was occupied is ignorant, and that ignorance of history creates the current climate of bad immigration policy.  

5) The US and Israel are the only two nations in the world that are slandered and attacked as wrongful occupiers of invaded lands, even when justly conquered in war.  Not even China's occupation of Tibet.

6) Israel is a benevolent nation, rightfully given land by the United Nations, and just vanquisher of wrongful Arabic aggression.

7) The world is devoid of truth.

8) Disagreeing with the Beckian version of history means you hate the United States.

See the full nuttiness here.

Beck got all of that from a statement in which Longoria said Latinos are not a monolithic voting bloc because Cubans are welcomed as political refugees but Mexicans were occupied.    From Nogales to Tel Aviv in a few short minutes of Beck logic.  While Beck gets some surface facts correct, his disregard for other goings on is a history crime aided and abetted by some strange interpretations.  The only thing I think we can fully agree on his the seventh point - that the world is devoid of truth - starting with the void space between his ears.

I'd point out that not two weeks after Longoria's "betrayal" of the United States, her movie about the Cristero war and how "big bad gubment" beats up on the defenseless and weak Catholic Church in Mexico has become a darling of the American right-wing.    

Post PRI 2012: Pay For the Votes You Bought, Cabrones

Hey, if you're going to buy votes, pay up.  These ladies from Atzcapotzalco have a few palabrotas for the PRI.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

2012 Election - the PRI IS Back.

Reports of hormiga style vote stealing (a few hundred here, a few hundred there), armed robbery of ballot boxes, mis-counting, bribery, and an interesting hacking job by anonymous showing that AMLO won has the outcome of the 2012 election a little more up in the air than the pundits in New York and D.C. are reporting.  Hold on to your hats folks - if there is a shred of justice left in electoral politics in Mexico this SHOULD get interesting.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Historia Mexicana - ala Facebook.

Mexican History / Historia Mexicana is now on Facebook. Richard Grabman of Editorial Mazatlan and Jason Dormady (yo) have gotten together to create a Facebook page to post information on history in Mexico. You can find it here. Please sign up or come participate.