Less than ten years after losing control of the executive branch, and by extension, the country, the PRI won effective control of the lower house of the legislature, a broad swath of the country’s largest cities and five out of six gubernatorial races. The PRI’s electoral success automatically converted their most elected official and party leader, Enrique Peña Nieto, a front-runner in the 2012 presidential campaign. Polls demonstrated voters believed the PRI had not changed.
But they didn’t care. Millions of Mexicans felt nostalgia for the “functionality” of the old, antidemocratic regime, and still do.
As of last week, a Mitofsky poll confirmed that Peña Nieto remains comfortably in the lead. And as such is predicted to win the presidential election, returning the PRI to Los Pinos (Mexico’s White House).
But Mexico’s young people are especially incensed that victory by Enrique Peña Nieto on July 1 is often portrayed as a fait accompli. Thousands of students have poured into the streets of Mexico City for the second time in a week to protest the way the nation’s upcoming presidential election is being run and, more specifically, covered in the Mexican media. The young people taking to the streets come from a wide range of schools—public, private, leftist, rightist, and Catholic. They are decidedly anti-Peña Nieto, an unmistakable, unifying sentiment expressed by the banners and signs they carry. Nevertheless, these manifestations, like the Occupy movement erupting from Zuccotti Park, go beyond partisan politics, and represent a broader questioning of the status quo.
- From “Yo Soy 132 and the Mexican Spring,” by Unai Montes-Irueste
By Arturo R. García
It was only fitting, in this modern age, that news of the death of Mexican author, diplomat, and social critic Carlos Fuentes, spread via Twitter. And it was just as befitting of his stature that the person who broke the news was the President of México himself, Felipe Calderón.
That kind of acknowledgement from the highest political circles might’ve amused Fuentes; as recently as the 1980s, his name and works were practically verboten in the public-school curriculum mandated by the country’s ruling party of seven decades, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Far from being a loyal party subject, Fuentes, the son of a diplomat, resigned from his post as Mexico’s ambassador to France in 1977 after the PRI named Gustavo Díaz Ordaz–the former president who sanctioned the 1968 massacre of student protestors at Tlatelolco Plaza in Mexico City–to be his colleague. The party also hovered over one of his more celebrated works, The Death of Artemio Cruz.
“There was no need to mention the PRI,” he once told The Associated Press. “It is present by its absence.”
In his absence, Fuentes’ presence will be remembered not just because of his sheer dedication–he published more than 50 works spanning literature, theater, and film, beginning with La Región Más Transparente (Where The Air Is Clear) in 1957–but because of his influence on the other writers who would fuel the Latin American “Boom” movement. As University of California-Riverside Professor Raymond L. Williams told the AP, Fuentes was responsible for galvanizing other preeminent authors, like Gabriel García Márquez, Julio Cortázar, and Mario Vargas Llosa into a collective.
“It took Fuentes’ vision to say if we unite forces and provide a common political and literary voice, we’ll have more impact,” Williams told the AP. “His home in Pedregal (an upscale Mexico City neighborhood) was the intellectual center what brought a lot of writers together.”
Fuentes was creative, almost literally, to the very end: not only is his latest book, Vlad, scheduled for release this July (“I loved the old Dracula movies,” he told Publishers Weekly)–but an essay he penned on the recent presidential elections in France was published in the Mexican newspaper Reforma the day he died, just 24 hours after his interview with the Spanish newspaper El Día was printed, in which he revealed that he had completed another book, and planned to start another.
So, it’s only fitting to let this consummate man of words speak for himself. Under the cut are selections and videos from several interviews Fuentes has given over the years. Today, we join readers, writers, and fans of the written word all over the world in celebrating Fuentes’ singular vision.
It is after midnight and I’m in a taxi on the way back to my barrio, mouthing the lyrics to a song on the radio that I’m proud to know the lyrics of when, suddenly, I stop (fake) singing. Spanish is my second language and memorizing song lyrics doesn’t come as easily to me as it does in English—if I can successfully sing along to a song in a café or on the radio, I wave the useless ability like a flag. But, as I silently croon in my cab tonight, I realize that, in my quest to hone my dual language lip syncing abilities, I have paid absolutely zero attention to the content of the lyrics I’m not singing.
The song on my cabbie’s radio is “Lamento Boliviano,” (Bolivian Lament). You may know it for its famous chorus:
Y yo estoy aquí
borracho y loco
y mi corazón idiota
y yo te amaré
te amaré por siempre
(And I am here
drunk and crazy
and my stupid heart
will always shine
and I will love you
I will love you forever)
As I listen carefully to the lyrics, I imagine the scene being described: a drunk, desperate man declaring his undying love to his wronged mujer after saying, in earlier lyrics, that he feels there is a volcano of rage inside of him. I have lived this scene. The drunk, desperate man “in love” is not nearly as romantic as the Enanitos Verdes — the Argentinean rock band that croons “Lamento Boliviano” — make him seem. He can be, in fact, quite dangerous, especially when he says he has an, um, “volcano” inside of him.
Ugh — sexist lyrics glamorizing alcoholism and violence in Spanish, too? I think, dumbly. How has the thought never occurred to me before? I mean, what did I expect from the music that just happened to be playing the many times I have been fondled or — I’ll just say it — humped on various dance floors across Mexico? Hip hop gets the rap in the United States for violent, misogynistic lyrics with country music coming in at second place—both deservingly. But, what about the music I’m listening to in Latin America?
By Arturo R. García
DC Comics has added to the buzz surrounding its’ relaunch with the announcement that Teen Titans will feature a gay POC character starting with the series’ third issue.
On one hand, this is something to be happy for, and Titans artist Brett Booth has already expressed his support for gay marriage and gay rights in discussing the new character, Miguel Jose Barragan, a.k.a. Bunker. But, as Booth wrote on his blog, he’s aware that he and series writer Scott Lobdell are wading into a complicated issue.
We wanted to show an interesting character who’s [sic] homosexuality is part of him, not something that’s hidden. Sure they are gay people who you wouldn’t know are gay right off the bat, but there are others who are a more flamboyant, and we thought it would be nice to actually see them portrayed in comics. Did we go over the top, I don’t think so. I wanted you to know he might be gay as soon as you see him. Our TT is partly about diversity of ANY kind, its about all kinds of teens getting together to help each other. It is a very difficult line to walk, will he be as I’ve read in some of the comments ‘fruity’? Not that I’m aware of. Will he be more effeminate than what we’ve seen before, the ‘typical’ gay male comic character, yes. Does it scare the shit out of me that I might inadvertently piss off the group I want to reflect in a positive way, you’re damn straight (pun intended!)
By Arturo R. García
If you’re going out tonight, be careful and be wary – Cinco De Mayo is amateur hour when it comes to frosty adult beverages. The drinks will probably be cheaper, but the rowdies will probably be taking advantage of that. So watch out for anybody in a cheap “sombrero,” especially on the road.
In the meantime, please check out this little bit of perspective on today’s “holiday,” originally published at The R two years ago today. And let’s all stay safe out there.
By Guest Contributor The Feminist Texican
Note: Trigger Warning
Since the days of Prohibition, Juarez has been a place for First World visitors to come and indulge in any number of illicit pleasures (alcohol, guns, drugs, sex). It is also the site where global capital has been making a killing to the tune of billions of dollars in annual profit…Because pollution laws are conveniently lax, the factories can emit fumes and dump waste without much concern or coversight. For all these reason, the U.S.-Mexico border has been made into something of an international sacrifice zone.
I’m not sure how old I was when I first heard about the women who were being sexually violated, horribly mutilated, and discarded like garbage in the desert surrounding Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The femicide that has claimed the lives of hundreds of women–with thousands more unaccounted for–began in 1993, although no one can really know for sure. Looking at several of the time frames listed in Making a Killing: Femicide, Free Trade, and La Frontera and doing the math, I was stunned to realize that I’ve been hearing about this femicide for at least fifteen years now. Over the years, I’ve been even more stunned to learn how many people still don’t know that the murders are even taking place.
By Arturo R. García
Toward the end of Down & Delirious In Mexico City: The Aztec Metropolis In The Twenty-First Century, author Daniel Hernandez talks about encountering a group of seven muses. It’s a credit to his craft and this book that he’s able to weave the entire septet together skillfully, not just with each other, but with the whole other array of characters that inhabit the worlds he encounters as part of his own journey.
By Arturo R. García
On Thursday, the BBC issued a response to the calls for an apology from the hosts of Top Gear after the program’s hosts engaged in racist rhetoric about Mexico and its’ people earlier this week.
The gist of the BBC’s statement? “It’s just what they do.” Full transcript under the cut.