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Last night, AMLO’s victory brought the sights and sounds of celebration to Oaxaca.

Fireworks exploding in night sky

This morning, Mexico’s World Cup loss to Brazil brought the sights and sounds of silence to the city.

Young man in Mexico soccer jersey sitting

The highs and lows of life in Oaxaca over the course of twelve hours.

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What a game; three goals in 10 minutes in the second half!!!   Another thrilling win by El Tri advances Mexico to the next stage in World Cup 2014.  They struggled and needed a little help from their “friends” in el norte to even play in Brazil.  However, against all odds, this team exhibits a gutsy and tenacious heart and soul that can’t help but have people rooting for them — much like the country of Mexico, itself.

Mural under fútbol stadium in Oaxaca - Dec. 2012

Mural under fútbol stadium in Oaxaca – Dec. 2012

Francisco Goldman wrote an op-ed in yesterday’s New York Times.  His article, “Fooling Mexican Fans,” relates the current politics of Mexico, the “bread and circuses” diversion of the World Cup, and the notion that El Tri might exemplify all that is inspiring and hopeful in the Mexican national character.

Goldman’s op-ed begins…

The day before the Mexican soccer team’s thrilling underdog tie with the World Cup favorite, Brazil, last week, the lead editorial of the news site SinEmbargo was titled, “Ready for your Clamato and Gatorade?” — common hangover remedies. “In about three weeks, when you wake from your World Cup dreams,” the editors wrote, “remember that when the soccer fest began, the country was on the verge of monumental decisions. If upon waking, you realize that the country’s energy reserves have been cheaply sold off or whatever else, don’t bother protesting because this is a chronicle foretold.”

To debate and pass laws that could open Pemex, the nationalized oil company, to foreign investment, the Mexican Congress scheduled legislative sessions from June 10 to 23, dates precisely coinciding with you know what. Final passage might be pushed back, but it originally looked like it was supposed to happen on Monday, when Mexico plays Croatia to decide which country advances to the elimination rounds.

As I wrote previously, Mexicans have been Expressing the outrage since last year, when Mexico’s newly elected president Enrique Peña Nieto (initials EPN), from the PRI party, first made the Pemex energy “reform” proposal.

Graffiti seen on a wall south of Oaxaca's zócalo, May 23, 2014.

Graffiti seen on a wall south of Oaxaca’s zócalo, May 23, 2014. 

Goldman goes on to discuss this and other “reforms,” the role of the PRI, and the current overall political climate in Mexico.  However, as dismal as it all sounds, he ends on a hopeful note…

There has been much talk lately about the way the style of soccer teams manifests national characters. I don’t know if that’s true. But when I look at the Mexican team which, after barely even qualifying for the World Cup, has been playing so well, I see a team without stars — a gritty, hard-working, pretty humble, resourceful, creative, disciplined, joyous, friendly-seeming group of players who seem to be learning to play the game as it is meant to be played.

These are values that we see enacted and re-enacted all over Mexico, and in Mexican communities elsewhere, every day. Someday Mexico will get another chance to vote the PRI away and to restart the long process of building the country from the ground up. It could do worse than take some inspiration from its national team.

Absolutely, those are the values I, too, see exhibited in Mexican communities both in Mexico and the US.  There is hope for the future — and not just on the pitch!   I encourage you to read Goldman’s op-ed in full.  In the meantime, Mexico vs. Netherlands on Sunday at Estadio Castelao Forteleza.  ¡¡¡ VAMOS EL TRI !!!

h/t K Hackbarth for the article

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This afternoon, the headline of Noticias announced, “Oaxaca paralyzed by Mexico-Brazil match.”  It goes on to report that zócalo restaurants offered drink promotions and there were cries, sighs, applause, and prayers as people were glued to the TV monitors and their mobile devices. 

I, too, have caught World Cup fever.  I’m relatively new to fútbol/soccer (my sons played American football), but began learning during Mexico’s march to the Gold during the summer Olympics two years ago.

Still in California, today I was one of the Millions of U.S. Soccer Fans … Cheering for Mexico.  Friday, I watched Mexico’s 1-0 (should have been, 3-0) defeat of Cameroon by myself, albeit from the comfort of my younger son’s living room (he was at work).  However, for today’s match against Brazil, I headed to Sweetwater Music Hall and their ginormous screen.

Screenshot of Chicharito and Brazilian player

It was a full house and cries, sighs, applause, and prayers were evident there, too.  I’d say the crowd was 60-40 for Mexico, though some of the Brazilian contingent was particularly vocal.  Our (El Tri’s fans) hopes rose when Chicharito FINALLY came into the game, but in the end, the score remained nil-nil.  No scoring?  No, but it was a great game and Mexico’s goalkeeper Memo Ochoa played the game of his life.

Screenshot of Guillermo Ochoa

Immediately following the game, Memes Hail Guillermo ‘Memo’ Ochoa’s Remarkable Saves for Mexico vs. Brazil.  I was going to try to add to it, by putting his face on an airborne Moctezuma during Danza de la Pluma, but I don’t have Photoshop on this computer.  Anybody?  Chris???

¡¡¡ #VamosMexico !!!

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Congratulations to the Gold Medal winning Mexican fútbol team!!!  With all the bad press Mexico continues to be subjected to, El Tri, as they are known down here, has provided México with a much-needed and well deserved win.

Reuters photo

The TV is showing celebrations in the streets of Mexico City, Guadalajara, and other major cities, but (surprisingly, at least to me) all is quiet in Oaxaca.  I watched much of the game while eating breakfast with my neighbor at Del Jardín, on the zócalo.  We arrived 10 minutes before the game began and were able to sit right in front of one of the televisions.  The restaurants had been packed for the Mexico vs Japan game — maybe it was today’s 9 AM start.  I watched the end of the game at home, but no bells rang, no horns honked, and I only heard one shout.  After the medal ceremony, I went back out.  The streets still were still emptier than usual.  A few buildings had hung flags.

Mexican flag hanging from second floor of building.

And, these guys were driving around waving a flag and beeping their horn, but that was pretty much it.

2/3rds of Mexican flag seen on car as it rounds a corner

Maybe tonight there will dancing in the streets…

By the way, if you watched the game, you heard the name of midfielder Javier Aquino Carmona (#11) frequently mentioned.  Aquino is from San Francisco Ixhuatán, in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region of Oaxaca.

Update:  This just in from Noticias… apparently some celebrating was being done up at the Fuente de las Ocho Regiones, 25-30 blocks NE of the zócalo, and gathering point for many marches into the city center.

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