Gaddafi’s best speech EVER.

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Proof that you’re on your way out. Before you were feared. Now, Conan makes fun of you.

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Six thousand pesos

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Another one for the “WOW…Really?” category.

Yesterday Ernesto Cordero, head of Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público (Mexican IRS), declared that “there are families which have a six thousand pesos income and it suffices for them to have a credit loan for housing and a car… they also send their kids to private schools and afford to make tuition payments.” Just in case you think some content is lost in translation, here is the verbatim declaration:

“…Con ingresos de 6 mil pesos al mes hay familias mexicanas que tienen el crédito para una vivienda, que tienen el crédito para un coche, que se dan el tiempo de mandar a sus hijos a una escuela privada y están pagando las colegiaturas.”

For my non-mexican readers, six thousand pesos is roughly $500 USD.

I have no idea which Mexico Cordero is living in… but it’s not were the rest of the 112 million mexicans live. There is just no way that a mexican family can live decently and make payments on a car and house, let alone pay for private tuition, on $500 USD.

Maybe Cordero thinks that we should take the US example of acquiring debt there is no way we can pay and then we can have our own reloaded version of the 2008 crisis.

This next song’s dedicated to Ernesto Cordero. May he live to be six thousand years old so that he can continue to share his wisdom with mankind eternally:

Note: Original reference to this song on the topic was made by Ferriz de Con this morning (credit where credit is due, just not on my house and car and not based on a six thousand pesos income).

Acierto de FCH. (Hay que festejarlos cuando sí se dan)

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Informa Felipe Calderón el día de hoy que “será deducible de impuestos la colegiatura hasta nivel preparatoria.” ¡Bravo! ¡Bravísimo!

Ahora, como bien menciona el colega Diego del Pozzo, (@diegodelpozzo en twitter) ¿por qué no ampliamos la deducción hasta doctorado? Si vamos a soñar, soñemos de colores, ¿no?

Esto era algo que hace mucho era necesario… apoyo a la educación de manera inteligente y no sólo la acostumbrada “creamos x aulas más”, plagadas por cuasi maestros del SNTE. Paso a paso vayamos mejorando y pensando en soluciones más integrales. Que se logre, que se apruebe y más importante, que se mantenga a largo plazo. Que este cambio sea suficientemente importante y visible a la sociedad que sea demasiado el costo político de revertirlo. Para que esto suceda, hay que comentarlo, difundirlo y en su momento, aplicarlo… para que luego no salgan con estupideces como lo que hicieron con la tenencia.

Aquí la liga oficial: http://presidencia.gob.mx/?DNA=85&Contenido=63210

Former Mexican President Misses the Mark on Drugs

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Here’s a link to my most recent article on AQBlog, titled “Former Mexican President Misses the Mark on Drugs”

http://www.americasquarterly.org/node/2241
Date published: Feb 11th, 2011 I hope you find it interesting. Please feel free to comment.

Here’s a copy of it:

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This week, while participating in a university event in the Dominican Republic, former President Vicente Fox went out on a limb and pointed his finger toward Colombia and Venezuela for presumably being culprits in Mexico’s drug-cartel violence problem.

Ignoring the basic economic principle that demand drives production, Fox ridiculed himself by saying that Mexico’s challenges in combating drug-related violence are mainly due to the fact that “Colombia continues to produce way too many drugs. And Venezuela continues to make it easy to smuggle drugs.”

Reminding us of the fact that during his presidential term, diplomatic ties between Mexico and Venezuela were severed, Fox went on to say that “it seems that there is an association between Hugo Chávez and the drug cartels. This is what happens when someone loses the compass of democracy. Such is the case of Hugo Chávez, who has lost his head.”

Vicente Fox made a mark of his presidency by constantly blurting out things without thinking about them beforehand (Mexico’s own version of the very famous “Bushisms”). Here are some examples of them:

  • “Seventy-five percent of all Mexicans now have washing machines. And I don’t mean the ones that stand on two feet.” A sexist joke not taken lightly by our female constituency.
  • “Mexico should escape ‘the perfect dictatorship’ as famous Nobel Laureate Vargas Llosa once said.” Vargas Llosa had not received the Nobel prize at that time.
  • “I did a lot of mischief when I was a kid. I continue to do mischief now that I am President.” Speaking at a Children’s Day event (April 2001).

Fox’s recent declarations about Colombia and Venezuela can now be officially added to the “Foxisms” list.

The fact that Colombia and Venezuela are origin countries for some of the narcotics that travel through Mexico is the least of all the causes of rampant violence in the country. What about corruption and cajoling between law enforcement agencies and Mexican drug cartels? What about a weak rule of law that does not allow us to effectively prosecute drug trafficking offenders in Mexico? Shouldn’t we also crack down on local production of these narcotics? (They don’t all come from South America, you know).

Now as I mentioned earlier, demand drives production. If Fox is pointing fingers, shouldn’t he also look to the North? The U.S. is where the highest demand for these illicit products lies. You can’t address the drug problem without looking at the demand side. Also, drug cartels are not shooting at each other with packages of cocaine from Colombia. They are throwing hand grenades and shooting with AK-47s and AR-15s bought in the United States and brought into Mexico without any resistance or actual vigilance on the U.S.-Mexico border. Where is our binational responsibility in stopping this?

Whether Hugo Chávez is associated to Venezuela’s drug cartels or not is beside the point. The shootings and executions are not going to go away because our former president has a chip on his shoulder about unfinished business with South America.

*Arjan Shahani is a contributing blogger to AQ Online. 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.

Aristegui y Calderón

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El tema en boga: MVS corrió a Carmen Aristegui por exigir al Presidente de la República que aclare si es alcohólico o no, esto después de que diputados del PT interrumpieran una sesión del Congreso para desplegar una manta de pésimo gusto. La manta en cuestión mostraba la imagen de Felipe Calderón con los ojos rojos, acompañado de un par de copas y con la leyenda [SIC][SIC][SIC]”¿Tu dejarías conducir a un borracho tu auto? ¿No, verdad? Y porqué lo dejas conducir tu país?”

Aqui la comparto:

Los twitteros ya han hecho de #carmenaristegui el tema no. 1 en Twitter México y la gran mayoría expresa apoyo por la periodista al mismo tiempo que aprovechan el momento para descargar su frustración respecto a la situación del país, dirigiéndola hacia Calderón y señalándolo como borracho.

Escuché la transmisión de Aristegui, misma que pueden consultar en: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y70PTSMEIq4 y quisiera compartir mis puntos de vista al respecto:

1. Siento que la reacción de MVS es incorrecta y desmedida. Los que difaman al Presidente Calderón son los diputados, no ella.

2. Al final de la transmisión Aristegui exige a la Presidencia de la República que esclaresca si las alegatas de los diputados del PT respecto al alcoholismo son ciertas o no. Esto no es profesional, es de pésimo gusto por parte de la periodista. Es tendencioso y le da parque a las jugarretas y politiquillas mediáticas de un grupo de diputados de tercera que lo único que buscan es causar ruido y manipular a un pueblo fácilmente manipulable en torno a las elecciones del 2012… pero no es razón para correrla.

3. Además de darnos otro ejemplo de lo más corriente y lo podrido que está nuestra clase gobernante, los diputados del PT además de hacer su cirquito, logran poner en evidencia que es URGENTE invertir en la educación en México. Por un lado, para que los desplantes de estos cuasipolíticos no tengan efecto ante una sociedad políticamente educada… por otro, para que el pueblo de México sepa y pueda darse cuenta de que los diputados no saben leer ni escribir. La manta está plagada de horrores ortográficos que dan pena ajena.

4. La administración de Felipe Calderón ha permitido en dos ocasiones el alza de impuestos y el establecimiento de impuestos especiales al alcohol. Creo que es contraintuitivo establecer un impuesto al producto al que estás adicto, ¿no?

Seamos honestos… si el Presidente toma alcohol o no y si se excede en dicha práctica debería ser la menor de nuestras preocupaciones en este caso. El diálogo cibernético ya carga con denuncias como “Calderón corrió a Aristegui de MVS.”  TODOS los periodistas hacen críticas (muchas de ellas más fuertes que las de Aristegui) del Presidente. Calderón no se dedica a correr periodistas. Si MVS la corrió fue porque MVS así lo decidió, no hagamos más ruido del que hay. Error de MVS pero no del preciso (suficientes errores comete como para que le carguemos más de ellos, ¿no creen?). Más nos debería preocupar que nuestro Congreso sigue siendo un ridículo y que quienes tuvimos la suerte de tener una educación superior, hemos reducido el análisis de esta situación a tweets simplistas como “#calderonveteya Eres un borracho”

 

Mexico’s respectable ranking in globalization report

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Here’s a link to my most recent article on AQBlog, titled “Mexico’s respectable ranking in globalization report” http://www.americasquarterly.org/node/2219

Date published: Feb 2nd, 2011 I hope you find it interesting. Please feel free to comment.

Here’s a copy of it:

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The auditing firm Ernst & Young recently surprised all of Mexico (and possibly the world) with the results published in their “Winning in a polycentric world” report, which ranks economies based on their level of globalization.

In this ranking, which EY coordinates with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) think tank, Mexico is placed in a very respectable #36, surpassing China (39) Japan (42) and Brazil (46) among others as “most globalized.” Hong Kong, Ireland and Singapore rank at the top of the index. The United States does not fare are well as one would expect, placed as #28, only 8 slots from its neighbor to the south.

Why does the Ernst & Young report throw out these unexpected figures and why is it so important? Granted, there are many types of studies and rankings that provide different lists. However, what makes “Winning in a polycentric world” a very relevant report and an important piece to further study, is the fact that this is one of the few reports that measures globalization in relative terms, linked to the size of the economy measured by GDP.  This is done to some extent, in order to level the playing field.

The report has 20 indicators grouped under five broad categories: movement of goods and services, movement of capital and finance, exchange of technology and ideas, movement of labor and cultural integration. Thanks mostly to strengthened economic ties (mostly fueled by NAFTA) and improvements in our financial and banking systems, Mexico gets high points for trade and movement of capital. If these were the only variables to analyze, the report would paint a profitable future for Mexico. However, the category in which the country gets its lowest grades is technology and innovation and that is very bad news.

In the book As the Future Catches You, Juan Enriquez Cabot makes a strong case for the importance of innovation and harvesting ideas as opposed to relying on commodities and primary resources to boost an economy.  He looks at where most of the added value in the supply chain lies in answering the question “how can countries rich in natural resources get so poor during this century?”. Enriquez wrote the book more than 10 years ago but we can prove he was right when we see Hong Kong, Ireland and Singapore at the top of Ernst & Young’s rankings mostly due to their ability to turn a profit without large natural resources.

Though our relative to GDP quantity of exchanged goods and capital allows us to rank higher than China and Japan, this should not cast a shadow on the fact that Mexico’s long-term relative decline may very well rest on the fact that we are lagging behind in terms of improving education systems, creating new ideas and investing in technology. As Enriquez wrote, “in a borderless world, those who do not educate and keep their citizens will lose most intellectual wars.” 

The Globalization Index rankings cannot be considered a promise of long-term growth or wealth accumulation for Mexico.  Number 36 makes a nice headline, especially when most of what we are hearing these days about the country has to do with grim pictures of violence and a failing state.  But the challenge of producing knowledge in-country and in favor of Mexicans still stands. In a globalized world, the most valued currency is and will be effective brain matter put to value-creating use.

Special thanks to Diego Del Pozzo from Ernst & Young and Salvador Treviño from Tec de Monterrey for providing the sources for this post.

*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.