Archive for category Politics
09/25/12 – Alonso Lujambio, a Mexican senator who also served as Secretary of Public Education (Secretario de Educación Pública) under President Felipe Calderón’s administration, passed away on Tuesday, September 25, 2012. Diagnosed in November 2011, Lujambio battled bone marrow cancer for almost a year, seeking treatment in the United States for three months and taking a leave of absence from his government duties. In addition to the ongoing vigil being held in his honor in Mexico City, he was remembered today with a mass in the Lorraine del Panteón Francés chapel in Mexico City, as well as an homage held in the Senate chambers. Lujambio had just turned 50 in early September.
Although passing away at an early age, Lujambio was a well-accomplished politician who was preparing to run for president under the National Action Party (Partido de Acción Nacional, PAN) before he was diagnosed last year. Many remember Lujambio for his former role as Secretary of Public Education, a position in which he actively pushed to improve the quality of education in Mexico. He implemented several programs in order to encourage participation among parents and students in their schools, passed reforms to increase the distribution of scholarships and grants to students so they could continue their education, and increased teacher evaluations to help streamline and standardize academic content throughout the nation.
In addition to serving as a senator and secretary, according to a profile provided by El Universal, Lujambio also belonged to the General Council of the Federal Electoral Institute (Consejo General del Instituto Federal Electoral, IFE) in the 1997, 2000, and 2003 elections; as commissioner for the Federal Institute for Access to Information (Instituto Federal de Acceso a la Información, IFAI) from 2005 to 2009; as an advisor to the United Nations, a role in which he specifically worked on establishing elections in Iraq; and as a professor for more than 20 years at institutes including the Ibero-American University (UIA), the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and the Autonomous Institute of Technology of Mexico (ITAM), the latter where he received his Bachelor’s degree in political science before obtaining a Master’s at Yale University.
Among the nationwide outpouring of support in remembrance of Lujambio was President Calderón, a close friend of the senator, who tweeted, “Rest in peace, dear Alonso. We will very much miss you. We will follow your example of sensitivity, joy, honesty, patriotism and love of life.” Secretary of the Interior Alejandro Poiré also added, “More than anyone else, he was always an example of courage and love for Mexico, and of service [to his country].”
09/12/12 – Over the past few months, a number of events related to the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) have unfolded as the ongoing debate on immigration ensues in the United States. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, 1.7 million people living in the United States without proper documentation could benefit from the DREAM Act, a bill intended to protect undocumented migrants who arrived to the United States before they were 16 from being deported if certain criteria are met.
As El Universal reported, the Act would provide an avenue for temporary residency for this population–who have come to be known as the “dreamers”–if they apply for deferral before the age of 31, have lived in the United States for at least five consecutive years, and have no criminal background. In addition, those eligible under this bill can apply for unconditional permanent residency if they complete two of four years at an institute of higher education, and/or serve at least two years in the military. Moreover, the DREAM Act applies not only to students and military members, but also to fieldworkers. According to El Universal, approximately 54,000 field workers could benefit from the Act’s passage. All said, the “dreamers” who qualify would have the opportunity to eventually obtain U.S. citizenship and legal status, thereby potentially opening doors to a higher quality education and better working conditions.
Supporters of the DREAM Act, who have been frustrated in the past due to Congress’s delay in passing the bill, were excited this summer to hear President Obama declare that he would open avenues for temporary residency under new federal immigration policies, relax deportation measures, and specifically stop deporting potential “dreamers,” which was reassuring news to many given the administration’s record-breaking number of deportations in the past three and a half years. In addition, as The New York Times reported, thousands of people across the United States seized the opportunity to apply for their temporary deferral on August 15, the first day the application process began.
However, the DREAM Act has been met with criticism, including from potential “dreamers” themselves. Among other issues, given that the Act only benefits a specified group of people with strict qualifications, many “dreamers” have argued that the its benefits ought to extend to the “dreamers’” relatives. In fact, on Tuesday, September 4, ten undocumented immigrants were arrested for blocking the street while organizing a march outside the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, demanding that President Obama reform immigration policy and end the deportations of “dreamers’” family members. The migrants were part of the so-called “Undocubus” that travelled from Arizona to North Carolina–a bus of over 50 undocumented migrants drawing attention to their plight and circumstances. All of the arrested individuals were eventually released, a move that falls in line with the Obama Administration’s push to focus on deportations of migrants with criminal pasts and high-profiles. As Vincent Picard with the Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) noted regarding the release of the individuals in Charlotte, “ICE is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes the removal of criminal aliens, recent border crossers and egregious immigration law violators, such as those who have been previously removed from the United States.” Additional criticism continues to come from Governor Jan Brewer in Arizona who ordered state offices to deny any applicants seeking deferred action the opportunity to apply under Obama’s relaxed measures. Her executive order was issued on August 15, the same day the application process was opened nationwide.
It is important to note that the full DREAM Act has thus far failed to pass in Congress, despite being introduced back in 2001 and being put to vote in 2007 and 2010, both times falling short by eight and five votes, respectively. Nevertheless, immigration will undoubtedly remain an important issue in the upcoming U.S. presidential elections.
Is Enrique Pena Nieto buying tweets? A newly released video shows the prospective Presidential candidate’s campaign organizing people to send out tweets with the hash tag, “#EsMomentoDeMexico”/ “#It’sMexico’smoment”. Univision has discovered that nearly 260 Twitter accounts that simultaneously posting pre-fabricated messages in favior of the Presidential candidate. The video below the PRI campaign coordinator tells a room full of people what to tweet during minutes before Mexico’s presidential debate.
When confronted about the scandal the PRI said it was just “good coordination.” Evidence shows though that most of the twitter account are new and the tweets mostly consisted of endorsments of Pena Nieto. Twitter users committing to what seems to be an act supported by the PRI are being called “accareados” or “corralled ones.” A strategy in Mexico used by political parties whether they gather up poor people and offer them food and money in exchange for their endorsement.
04/23/2012-Arizona’s SB 1070 will be one of Washington D.C.’s hot topics this week, as supporters and opponents of the bill make a cross country trek for this week’s hearings. On Tuesday April 24, 2012, Russell Pearce, SB 1070’s sponsor, will speak before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on immigration. Pearce has been one of the law’s fiercest supporters. “Just the threat of 1070 has made a huge difference in the state of Arizona,” Pearce said. “It is a success story.” It’s forced thousands of illegal immigrants to leave Arizona, he says. In opposition to the Senate Bill, a representative from Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform, a business group, will speak out against the law and claim that it is bad for the state’s economy.
On Wednesday April 25, the debate will be taken to the Supreme Court. Justices of the Supreme Court will be looking at the injunctions of SB 1070, which have been put on hold due to their controversial nature, namely the clause which requires police officials to check the immigration status of those who they believe to be in the country illegally.
Each side of the debate brings up arguments that are unique to their own causes. Supporters of the bill call use words like ‘patriotic, reasonable, and necessary’ when describing it, while opponents use words like ‘hate, fear, and extremism’ to describe its effects. The Supreme Court will not likely make a decision on SB 1070 until later in the summer, but what the Justices have to say will be a final word of sorts for this debate.
O’Dowd, Peter. “Busy Week Ahead for SB 1070, Arizona’s Immigration Law: Besides a Hearing Before the U.S. Supreme Court, a Congressional Committee Will Hold Hearings on SB 1070.” Fronteras Desk. April 23, 2012.
Mexico’s candidates officially began their presidential campaigns this past Friday (03/30/12). The candidates have 3 months till the July 1st votes are cast and the next six year term President of Mexico in elected. With the population tired of the drug war (nearly 50,000 dead as of 2006) and Mexico/Latin America’s largest corporation, state owned oil company PEMEX reporting a quarter drop in production since 2004, triple the number of graduates within the last three decades and a growing middle class having less children, this is an election for the world to watch. Read about the candidates and watch their campaign commericals below:
Candidate: Peña Nieto
Ratings in the Polls: 36%
Party: Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)
-The PRI is a member of the Socialist International
-The PRI had governed Mexico for 70 year before 2000 (mostly due to false elections).
On the Issues:
-Has proposed replacing the military combating the drug war with a better organized police force, as well as creating a national division to combat kidnapping and extortion
-For the state owned energy industry PEMEX, Nieto would like to increase foreign investment from foreign capital markets to raise exploration, production and refining capacity
-On jobs and fiscal policy Nieto has proposed expanding the public budget to double the spending for infrustructure projects
-On education Nieto proposes giving teachers incentives based on student performance
-Nieto’s foreign policy is to consist of working with the United States to ease Mexican’s conerns over the treatment of undocumented workers as well as ease concerns over emerging market rivals such as China.
Candidate: Josefina Vázquez Mota
Rating in the Polls: 26%
Party: National Action Party (PAN)
-Came to power 2000 with the election of current President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon
On the Issues:
-On the drug war Mota promotes maintaining the same agenda as Calderon, deploying the army and marines to combat the drug problem.
-On Mexico’s state owned oil company PEMEX, she has raised the possibility of listing it on the stock exchange.
-Mota’s fiscal policy consist of liberalizing the labor market, very similar to Nieto’s proposal
-Mota had served as Calderon’s Education Minister, helping to pass education reform that established the first national teacher performance test, as well as mandating that raises and hiring of teacher be subject to more rigorous evaluations
-Mota’s foreign policy consists of strengthening ties with Latin America; she has recently toured the region.
Candidate: López Obrador
Rating in the Polls: 18%
Party: Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD)
-Established 1989, never held a presidential position
-The PRD is a member of Socialist International
On the Issues:
-Has proposed withdrawing troops from combating the drug war in the streets and refocusing resources on job creation in poor neighborhoods where kids are more prone to enter join gangs.
-On the state owned energy monopoly PEMEX, Obrador hopes to expand it refinery construction to lessen Mexico’s need for foreign oil.
-Obrador’s fiscal policy calls for shifting taxes from individual to corporations.
-On education Orbrador has said the country must reach an annual economic growth of 6% annually to pay for school and jobs for seven million youth within a six-month time frame. He would also like to provide more scholarships for low-income students
-Orbrador’s foreign policy stronger economic ties with the United States and not so much military cooperation
03/27/12 The Pope arrived in Leon, Mexico this past Saturday. Upon his arrival he took a 20-mile ride in his Pope Mobil to “Colegio de Miraflores,”a Catholic school run by nuns. Here the Pope stayed for three days before moving onto Cuba. Several people have come to understand the reason for the Pope visiting Mexico and Cuba is to address the changing environment in the two countries. As the Pope spoke out against Cuba’s Marxist ideology on his flight to Mexico and after speaking out against the drug war upon his arrival in Leon, people understood his visit to be politically motivated.
Mexico’s current President Felipe Calderon is member of PAN, the party most identified with the Roman Catholic Party. Their candidate for the 2012 Presidential elections is Josefina Vazquez Mota; she is currently behind in the polls. Her campaign has concentrated on calling to parents, especially to mother’s (or senora’s as she claims to be and embraces) to protect their kids from falling into the drug violence. The Pope had similar talking points in his speech at the Catholic school he arrived to. He called for the adults in Mexico to “protect and to care for the children.” The Pope had previously focused his attention shortly after he was elected in 2005 on calling for the end of the narco-church; a relationship where the church takes donations from unknown sources and asks no questions. His message to the adults of Mexico also did not resonate well with many critics who saw it as ironic because they claim the Vatican protected Marcial Maciel for decades. Maciel was a pedophile abuse offender born in Mexico and founder of the Legion of Christ order; he died in 2008. Since being elected the Pope has sat down with abuse victims in every country, except during this trip to Mexico despite public outcry. A spokeman for the Pope said no Mexico Bishop’s requested such an encounter.
The visit is hoped to reinvigorate Mexico though, the second largest Roman Catholic nation in the world. Mexico had once been almost universally Roman Catholic, but now has dropped to 83% of the total population. In exchange for the Pope’s support he has said he wants changes to Mexico’s constitution to allow for religious education in public schools. There has been a separation between church and state in Mexico since 1855.
Tuckmen, Jo. “Pope’s visit to Mexico, refocuses attention on narco-church relations: Priest have tp report suspicious donations to their dioceses, but the power of the drug cartels means it is not that simple,” The Guardian, March 22, 2012.
The City of Escondido in San Diego County Faces Accusations of Committing their DUI Checkpoint to Immigrant Capture, not Public Safety
03/20/12- The City of Escondido is one of the only cities in the U.S. where U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) work out of the city’s police department. Their collaboration launched in May of 2010 under the name “Operation Joint Effort.” It said its plan is to arrest criminal illegal immigrants. San Diego Police Chief Jim Maher reports that this operation has lead to the arrest of 700 criminal illegal immigrants. This operation has led to the Escondido Police Department receiving the national “Partnership for Public Safety Award” at the international police chief’s convention in Chicago. However, there are several problems with this operation. First, the operation works to arrest all “criminal illegal” immigrants. This predisposes all undocumented immigrants who are who are stopped at DUI checkpoints because by default they are all criminals under the law. Secondly, the Escondido Police Department refuses to release information of the names and crimes of the supposed 700 deported individuals. The controversial relationship between Escondido police and ICE has recently come to face accusations now that the Escondido Police Department are using DUI checkpoints as immigrant checkpoints and profiting from impounding their cars.
Bill Flores, a retired Assistant San Diego County Sheriff, is leading the charge against the Escondido Police for using the DUI checkpoints as immigration checkpoints. The Escondido Police have given the excuse that they only deport “criminal” illegal immigrants and that under the state grant to conduct DUI checkpoints they are required to conduct a sobriety check and driver’s license check. The State of California’s Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), who hand out the grants to conduct DUI checkpoints, affirms though that there is no requirement to check for driver’s license, nor do they penalize a grantee for not checking a driver’s license. The chief of police has even admitted he uses DUI checkpoints to check for immigration status and it has been documented that ICE is often notified when an undocumented immigrants is found. With the cities high rates of undocumented individuals being caught at checkpoints, the benefits of towing has also sparked a new conversation.
John Carlos Frey, an investigative journalist, estimates that the city has pulled in millions of dollars from the DUI checkpoints. The city has raised the contract fee for tow companies from $25,000 in 2004 to $100,000 in 2011. Frey claims the city raised its stated cost for towing cars to justify the increase. Documents prove that the city increased the time officers had to spend towing a car from 30 minutes in 2007 to three hours in 2012. This allows the police department to take advantage of a loophole. They receive $350,000 in grants to conduct the DUI checkpoints from OTS, but under certain conditions, they may not generate profits from checkpoints except to recoup expenses. They have seemingly therefore raised their recoup expenses. The State of California has tried to reduce the impounding of cars, which mostly affects undocumented immigrants at a cost of $2,000 per car for holding the car for 30 days by recently passing the bill AB 353. This bill prohibits police from seizing a car solely because the driver is unlicensed. This solidifies that fact that for every one DUI there are ten people without documentation caught. Escondido seems to be ubiquitous with reorganizing its city policy to catch undocumented immigrants as its Hispanic population has recently reached 49%, while their first and only Hispanic city council member, Olga Diaz, came to office in 2008. She is up for re-election in 2012.
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE TRANS-BORDER INSTITUTES PANEL DISUCSSION ON “STATE AND LOCAL IMMIGRATION POLICY” WITH MAYOR OF ESCONDIDO, SAM ABED AND RETIRED ASSISTANT SAN DIEGO COUNTY SHERIFF, BILL FLORES.
(03/08/12) On March 8-9, 2012, the Trans-Border Institute participated in a forum on public policy at the state level in Mexico hosted by the United Nations Development Program and the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) in Mexico City. The conference was organized by CIDE professor and former-TBI project coordinator Alejandra Rios Cázares as part of a longer-term project to provide objective information and analysis on “Mexico’s States” (Mexico Estatal). The conference coincided with the launch of a new report and a related database with over 1,300 variables related to state governance and accountability.
CIDE has been a leading center for the study of decentralization in Mexico, a topic of considerable discussion and debate in Mexico. Over the last thirty years, the Mexican federal government has gradually decentralized both fiscal and decision-making autonomy to state governments. Decentralization brings with it the advantages of greater flexibility and proximity of service to local constituencies, as well as the possibility of policy innovation and experimentation across different states. At the same time, in a country with enormous inequalities, as well as very varied governmental capacity, decentralization also runs the risk of leaving the weakest states to fall behind even as the most advanced prosper.
The “México Estatal” conference explored these issues on Thursday with panel discussions on a range of issues, including accountability, education, and public health challenges at the state level. The Friday panels will include a discussion of public security issues at the state level with TBI Director David Shirk, Mexico Evalua Director Edna Jaime, and international consultant Eduardo Guerrero, as well as a concluding panel on state-level efforts to promote economic development.
The Mexico Estatal project maintains a website (http://www.mexicoestatal.cide.edu), generates objective indicators and analysis, and hosts forums on public policy and accountability issues confronting Mexico in four key areas at the state-level (education, economic development, health and safety).
1.5 million acres for developing oil and gas reserve are to be leased in the Gulf of Mexico under the Trans-Boundary Agreement
The United States and Mexico agreed on Monday to co-regulate the exploration and development of oil and gas reserves along their maritime border in the Gulf of Mexico. It will allow for 1.5 million acres of offshore territory claimed by the United States open for lease. Now American and Mexican energy companies can partner to jointly tap cross-border reservoirs and the two governments will share in oversight of the sites regarding compliance with environmental and safety standards. It also opens up an area that was previously off limits to both nations due to a moratorium set to expire in 2014.
The area is the size of Delaware and is said to contain 172 million barrels of oil and 304 billion dollars in cubic feet of natural gas. The discussion for this agreement has been going on since 2010 between President Obama and Calderon, the same year of the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry in the Gulf of Mexico. The agreement also comes at a time when oil prices have reached 105$ a barrel after Iran announced it would halt oil exports to Britain and France.
The United States interior secretary Ken Salazar has stated that, “The most significant part of the agreement, is that we’re moving forward jointly with Mexico to ensure we have a common set of safety protocols.” The agreement also benefits Mexico’s growing middle class demand for energy and increases their production output, which has been slowing for the past decade.
Mexico’s Presidential elections are to be held July 1st and the National Action Party (known in Mexico as PAN), one of the three biggest political parties in Mexico has nominated Josefina Vasquez Mota. Mota is 51, a former congresswoman, education minister and has embraced her role as being the first possible female president of Mexico with pride.
With 32 percent of support ahead of the June 1st deadline Mota is claiming, “I will be the first women president of Mexico.” She was chosen early this month by PAN in hopes she will pull in independent women voters and young people away from her rival Pena Nieto. She is said to be branding herself as traditional everyday women in order to appeal female homemakers and female workings stiffs. As a child of seven, married to her first boyfriend and having three daughters, she definitely has the potential to pull in the their target constituency.
PAN is also the party of Felipe Calderon, with their approval ratings down, it seems the party is hoping to introduce Mota as a motherly soothing remedy to exasperate public unease about the escalated drug violence in Mexico. PAN is also a conservative party and promises much of the previous parties policies and offers feminist little hope. So will Mexico the same without a senora for President, much like Mota claimes a home without a senora “would not be a home”? Mota trails leading rival Nieto by 16 points.