John Lennon Forever

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Today we observe the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s untimely demise.

Today more than ever: You may say I’m a dreamer but I am not the only one.  I hope someday you will join us and the world will live as one.

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Mexican heroes we shouldn’t have

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Here’s a link to my most recent article on AQBlog, titled “Mexican Heroes we shouldn’t have”
http://americasquarterly.org/node/2026
Date published: December 8th, 2010

I hope you find it interesting.

Here is a copy of it:

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On November 13a group of drug dealers approached Don Alejo Garza Tamez in his ranch on the outskirts of Ciudad Victoria, in the troubled border state of Tamaulipas. They threatened Don Alejo and demanded that he hand over his land, which given its strategic location would have been used to harbor narcotic trafficking operations. They told him he had 24 hours to vacate the premises on his own free will or they would take the ranch using deadly force.

After the criminal group left, the 77-year-old businessman rounded up all ranch workers and asked them to go home for a couple of days, assuring them that nothing bad would happen. A hunter by trade, Don Alejo spent the rest of the day cleaning his guns and rifles and transforming the ranch into a trench.

When the drug dealers came back the next day expecting Don Alejo to give up at the sight of their heavy artillery, they faced a fierce combatant who gunned down at least four of them before taking a deadly hit. The criminals who survived the exchange escaped in their trucks leaving a dirt trail and the bodies of their friends behind.

What is most relevant of this story is not the fact in itself, but what it inspired and what it symbolizes for a tired and disenfranchised nation. The story of Don Alejo made the headlines of all major national newspapers. Respected journalists like Denise Maerker and Ciro Gomez Leyva were quick to hail him as a folk hero. In just a couple of days, stories about him hit the usual social media websites and today the letters “don a” are enough to bring up his full name as the first hit in Google Mexico’s instant search bar. Norteño music bands have already dedicated at least three songs to him and his story has spurred up a national debate about the right to carry weapons for self-defense.

Don Alejo was undoubtedly a brave and principled man. He most likely knew how his story would end and he faced death with his head held high. He didn’t call his family to warn or worry them and he made the decision of not placing his workers in danger. He faced what has become the largest threat to all of the nation’s livelihood and well-being and gave his aggressors a lesson many in this country would wish they had the courage to administer.

The problem is that Don Alejo is a hero we should not have to have. If Mexico continues to claim that it is not a failed or failing state, we (not just the government but society as a whole) have to prove that we can fix our law enforcement so that people like Don Alejo have an alternative to picking up a hunting rifle and using it to defend their property. We have to clean up our police force and they have to regain the trust of the citizenry. We need to contain and establish boundaries with regards to what (if anything) we are willing to tolerate from criminal organizations.

Don Alejo is a people’s symbol but he should also serve as a warning to government in order for them to get their act together and protect their constituents. He should be a wake-up call to all of us in order to demand more and actively participate in strengthening our institutions in order to rescue our country. An eye for an eye and a gun for each of us cannot be the answer. The organization “La familia Michoacana” was born under the ideal of taking justice in their own hands and they are now one of the most dangerous groups of criminals in the country. When people find that tallion law is more effective than rule of law, structured society is at a fragile state.

*Arjan Shahani is a contributing blogger to AmericasQuarterly.org. He lives in Monterrey, Mexico, and is an MBA graduate from Thunderbird University and Tecnológico de Monterrey and a member of the International Advisory Board of Global Majority—an international non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of non-violent conflict resolution.

Depto. de Estado Americano: en el hoyo y cavando

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Hillary despotricando como quinceañera enojada con su novio, Obama nombrando un zar antileaks, amenazas de muerte a Assagne, ataques de hackers en contra del wikileaks y Amazon y PayPal cruzando los brazos. Interpol haciendo el ridículo a nivel internacional persiguiendo a alguien supuestamente por “sex crimes” cuando en realidad lo que quieren es callarlo.

Leaks intrascendentes respecto a México, más de lo que ya sabíamos… México en riesgo de perder la guerra contra el narco, Chávez amigo del Peje y conflictos dentro de las fuerzas armadas: ¿cuál es la novedad?

Este par de párrafos son una sinopsis de la semana pero la reciente nota en el Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/04/state-department-to-colum_n_792059.html sí es novedad en lo mediocre que resulta la estrategia de respuesta del Depto. de Estado a una situación que evidentemente se les salió de las manos.

En una nación que presume libertad de expresión NO puede ser que por medio de un comunicado (que luego negaron) adviertan a alumnos de una de las universidades más prestigiosas del país que hablar de Wikileaks podría poner en riesgo sus futuros profesionales.

El punto no sólo es que la táctica es pueril, sino que la respuesta que genera es en detrimento del Departamento de Estado. Me recuerda a “No pienses en un perro azul”… ¿En qué pensaste? ¿En un perro azul?

Si antes ya ocupaba el número 1 en los trends de todos los medios sociales, después de estas declaraciones lo único que lograrán es echarle más gasolina a la discusión, añadiendo a la plática el hecho de que el Depto. de Estado amenaza a la gente respecto a su futuro en el servicio público. La verdad dudo mucho que alguien que esté hablando propositivamente respecto a wikileaks hoy tenga muchas ganas de pedir chamba en el Depto. de Estado.  

AQBlog me ha pedido que escriba sobre wikileaks y México… ya les pasaré la liga pero les anticipo: la verdad el escándalo es mucho más por propagación mediática que por contenido que nos impresione. Somos una nación que bastante conoce las fallas en nuestro sistema y será muy dificil que nos sorprendan.

Wikileaks and Amazon

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Under pressure from US government and exercising their rights as a private firm, Amazon caved and stopped hosting Wikileaks.  Even if it is their legal right to do this, a company like Amazon should take a stand for free speech. Also, they should provide all parties the right to access and continued service, provided that they do not publish anything illegally or going against universal values.

Amazon was never going to be liable for hosting Wikileaks. At most, if the US legal system acted as a puppet for the Executive branch, they would order a Cease and Desist. Only then would a move like the one recently pulled by Amazon be justified but not before that.

Echoeing the now famous tweet by Assange: “If Amazon are so uncomfortable with the first amendment, they should get out of the business of selling books.”

NSM achieves what terrorism could not

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  It’s all over the news. The interpol is now actively searching for Julian Assagne, founder of Wikileaks. See article here: http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/notas/727071.html

Since they know there is no hope of prosecuting him for what wikileaks actually does (and does extremely well), they’re pulling an Al Capone on him. Apparently an individual’s sexual deviance is now enough for Interpol to issue a red notification, an international apprehension order.  They couldn’t get Capone for racketeering so they got him on tax evasion. They can’t get Assagne for telling the truth and leaking official documents (because the fact is they know he’s not responsible for stealing this information and they have not been able to find those who would be accountable for actual crimes), but they will now attempt to get him on the “grave crim”e of erotic mischief.

There is a lot more to this story than Assagne’s ability to stay underground (let’s see for how long) or legal proceedings. The real juice behind this is the fact that Web 2.0 and new social media have been able to do something that not even international terrorism had been able to: hit government hard enough to actually get them trembling.

When the twin towers got hit, the end target was to collapse the US financial system. To a certain extent, the terrorists were succesful but the hit was quickly returned in the form of smart bombs and air raids over Afghanistan and Iraq. The US economy was hit but kept afloat, in great part through activating the system with war machine revenues.

When Assagne setup Wikileaks and got his hands on a number of confidential documents (most recently the now famous US diplomatic cables) and shared them with the world, the target was truth. And truth hurt the US government (and others implied in these cables)… it hurt it bad enough for Hillary Clinton to pay attention and react.  The executive branch of US government is in a more fragile state today than they have been as a result of terrorist attacks.

The good news is that no innocent lives will be lost due to wikipedia and a nation which prides itself on the pursuit of truth above all, will get a dose of reality.  The even better news is that a site like wikileaks is not and never will be dependant on its founder’s personal life to remain afloat. Like the rest of Web 2.0 and under concepts such as open sourcing and open innovation, wikileaks may have been founded by Assagne but it (like truth) belongs to the world.