Posts Tagged ‘United States legislation’

Expats and Mexicans alike, are watching in amazement at the nonsense (as in, making NO sense) taking place in the hallowed halls of Washington DC.  And, since many of the expats are retired, we are holding our collective breath over the possibility social security checks will not be forthcoming in November and a tanking stock market that flushes our nest eggs away.  Of course, Mexico is in the middle of its own mess, “educational reforms” and economic proposals that will hurt Mexico’s working class and rural populations the most.

Wall in Oaxaca city.

Wall in Oaxaca city.

In a New York Times article two days ago, Carlos Puig explains the reality of the material conditions that have forced the teachers of Oaxaca to take the drastic action of abandoning their classrooms to lead massive and extremely disruptive protests in Mexico City against the “No Child Left Behind” style reforms that the Peña Nieto led government has proposed and passed.  (Read a critique of the US education “reform” by Diane Ravitch, former “No Child Left Behind” proponent, here.)

Oaxaca is 500 kilometers from Mexico City, yet the real distance is much bigger. The state’s G.N.P. per capita is one-quarter the average for the country. Oaxaca ranks second-to-last among all states in infrastructure. More than half its population lives in towns of fewer than 2,500 people.

Being a teacher in Oaxaca means sometimes having to travel for an entire day to reach your school in a tiny community, teach for three days — to children of all grades — and travel back home for the weekend. It means having to deal with children who speak more than 20 different dialects.

Being a teacher in Oaxaca means operating in a different universe — and under different rules.

Banner hanging in front of a school in Oaxaca city

Banner hanging in front of a school in Oaxaca city

However, as in the USA, the incomprehensible words coming out of the mouths of the 1% and their elected representatives are mind-boggling in their obliviousness to the adverse consequences their behavior and policies cause.  And, we scratch our heads in amazement…  McClatchy journalist, Tim Johnson, has repeatedly blogged about the exceedingly “bad” behavior exhibited by Mexico City’s rich and powerful directed at those they consider “below” them — most recently, Las Ladies, episode 7.  And, just last week in Oaxaca, most were aghast to read that an indigenous woman, in the advanced stage of labor, was turned away from a hospital and forced to give birth on the hospital lawn.

Daniel Goleman had a revealing piece in the New York Times a few days ago that helps explain where this lack of empathy the ruling elite exhibit, that results in callous social policy, comes from.  He explains in Rich People Just Care Less that, by necessity, “the poor, compared with the wealthy, have keenly attuned interpersonal attention in all directions…”  And that, “A growing body of recent research shows that people with the most social power pay scant attention to those with little such power” and, “In politics, readily dismissing inconvenient people can easily extend to dismissing inconvenient truths about them.”

Okay, now we know why the rich care less, so what are we going to do about it?

Part of a mural on Niños Heroes in Oaxaca city.

Part of a mural on Niños Heroes in Oaxaca city.

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Another revealing article by one of my favorite journalists, David Bacon

What real immigration reform would look like

Clue: It’s Not a New Guest Worker Program

By David Bacon

Oralia Maceda, an immigrant mother from Oaxaca, asked the obvious question recently. At a meeting, talking about the Senate immigration reform bill, she wanted to know why Senators would spend almost $50 billion on more border walls, yet show no interest in why people leave home to cross them.

This Congressional blindness will get worse as immigration reform moves to the House. It condemns U.S. immigration policy to a kind of punitive venality, making rational political decisions virtually impossible. Yet alternatives are often proposed by migrant communities themselves, and reflect a better understanding of global economics and human rights.

Rufino Dominguez, who now works for the Oaxacan state government, describes what Maceda knows from experience: “NAFTA forced the price of corn so low it’s not economically possible to plant a crop anymore. We come to the U.S. to work because there’s no alternative.” The reason for the fall in prices, according to Timothy Wise of the Global Development and Environment Institute, is that corn imports to Mexico from the U.S. rose from 2,014,000 to 10,330,000 tons from 1992 to 2008.

Mexico imported 30,000 tons of pork in 1995, the year NAFTA took effect, and 811, 000 tons in 2010. This primarily benefited one company, Smithfield Foods, which now sells over 25% of all the pork in Mexico. Mexico, however, lost 120,000 hog-farming jobs alone. The World Bank says extreme rural poverty jumped from 35% to 55% after NAFTA took effect due to “the sluggish performance of agriculture, stagnant rural wages, and falling real agricultural prices.”

Read full article HERE.

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Yesterday in the United States…

Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) made a rare Senate appearance this morning, sitting in a wheelchair just off the floor so that members would have to see him as they entered the chamber. Why? Because they were poised to vote on ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, and Dole hoped to send a message.

It didn’t work. The Senate killed the treaty this afternoon, with a final vote of 61 to 38, which seems like a lopsided majority, but which fell short of the two-thirds necessary for ratification.  [Link to full article in The Maddow Blog]

Today in Mexico…

Mexico’s Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling Wednesday striking down a marriage ban in the southern state of Oaxaca. Advocates say the language of the decision could open the door for same-sex marriages throughout the nation. 

The ruling effectively changes Oaxaca’s civil code to state that marriage takes place “between two people,” instead of between a man and woman, reports Spanish-language site AnimalPolitico.

The Court ruled in favor of three same-sex couples who sued the state of Oaxaca for the right to marry. The ruling does not immediately eliminate marriage equality bans in other Mexican states, but it does set a legal precedent to begin challenging statewide marriage bans, according to the blog AfterMarriage.  [Link to full article in The Advocate]

I am not the only gringa and gringo who is speechless re how low US politicians have sunk.  A gal pal (since we were 12) who now lives in Mexico and is confined to a wheelchair due to MS just posted on Facebook that she is “disgusted and, frankly, very upset” and feels “like traveling to Washington and getting in their face.”  And, Chris over at Oaxaca-The Year After asks, Seriously?

Which country do I feel prouder to live in?  ¡Bravo, México!

h/t  Michelle V.

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Vive Oaxaca, one of my favorite websites that covers things cultural in Oaxaca, had the following on their homepage today:

Vive Oaxaca website banner:  No a la censura de la red; S.O.P.A. Stope Online Piracy Act; Internet nació seguirá siendo libre Do not censor the web; S.O.P.A. Stop Online Piracy Act; the Internet was born and will continue being free!

There is a video explanation of S.O.P.A. (in Spanish) and a couple of great posters.

Two posters: #1 listing websites going dark toda; #2 showing a face being gagged.

As the Vive Oaxaca website suggests, these Acts will not just affect access to information in the USA, they have worldwide implications.

For more information and links to other articles opposing SOPA and PIPA, check out Wikipedia’s SOPA and PIPA – Learn more page.

Update:  And to become even more informed, resources from the Progressive Librarians Guild:  Learn more about SOPA, censorship, & piracy:

The Swiss study (2011)…Piracy pays for itself

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