Las ligas, las propiedades en EdoMex y Acapulco, los pirataxis en el DF, las cajitas de Nextel con efectivo…

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Me queda claro. No es un tema de partidos. Poco me mueven las declaraciones de los partidos distintos al que pertenece el último de los protagonistas de los videoescándalos y/o muestras de corrupción. Es más, hasta me parecen irónicas en este juego de dimes y diretes que llamamos la política mexicana y en la que miembros de todos los clubes, tienen las manos manchadas… del material que ustedes prefieran pero se me ocurre la mugre, mierda o sangre por proponer algunas.

Disculparán el lenguaje, pero emana de la frustración. Porque insisto, no es un tema de ideologías o de partidos… el mal está cimentado en un sistema que no sólo permite, sino invita a que se den estos hechos que por lo menos hoy son escándalos (todavía recuerdo cuando lo único que se publicaba eran las noticias oficiales, sopena recibir un bloqueo en la disponibilidad de la materia prima necesaria para cualquier periódico: papel). Ahora por lo menos pescan aire y nos enteramos. Es un paso hacia adelante… el problema es que nos enteramos y después no pasa nada. No hay consecución legal y más importante, más allá de darle un manazo a quien se sobrepasó, las condiciones para que llegue un oportunista más permanecen. 

No tengo soluciones. Qué más quisiera que poder encontrar por donde resolver, cambiar el sistema. Por lo pronto mi primer paso es no alimentar la enfermerdad, no contribuirle. Mi compromiso es buscar ser una persona íntegra y mostrar el valor de ello a quienes me siguen en el camino. Por algo habría de empezar.

Tubi continllud, diría el gringo…

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Mexico mourns after Casino Royale massacre

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Dear readers,

Though originally the plan was to wait for AQBlog to publish this piece, I suspect they are dealing with Hurricane Irene in the NYC offices and might have already evacuated. For that reason and that reason alone, I am publishing this article on my personal blog (here) first. I’ll let you know when it goes online at AQBlog.

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“Mexico mourns after Casino Royale massacre”

Yesterday Mexico suffered the criminal attack with most civilian casualties in its recent history, as a group of 10-12 armed men entered the two-story ‘Casino Royale’ in the city of Monterrey, doused it with a flammable liquid and threw Molotov cocktails in the first floor. Details are still sketchy as I write these words and the death toll has not yet been established but unofficially the number is above 50, most of them women. The motive behind the attack will probably never be determined, but the local media’s investigative reports point towards non-compliance with a criminal gang that had demanded a cut of the business’ profits in exchange for ‘protection.’

Gruesome as the attack itself was, the reason for the elevated number of victims sadly has more to do with institutionalized corruption than with the criminal act itself. Survivors to this tragedy have testified that other than the main entrance to the establishment (which was blocked by the attackers), four non-labelled service doors were locked and the only supposed emergency exit to the place was fake and had a concrete wall behind it. The amount of suffering and emotions the victims must have felt when they thought they would be able to escape the fire and faced a wall in front of them, is horribly unimaginable.

Casino Royale received its license to operate as a restaurant and betting house in 2007, during the administration of Mayor Adalberto Madero, who in 2011 was officially kicked out of the PAN party for corruption charges and tainting the party’s image (he was later reinstated due to a technicality). Ironically enough, Rodrigo, José Francisco and Ramón Agustín Madero (Adalberto’s cousins) are members of the Administrative Board of the company that owns Casino Royale.

The matter becomes worse when we learn that during 2011 the establishment had already been subject to two other criminal attacks and during neither of the follow-up investigations was the fact that the venue was obviously not up to code, enough to shut it down permanently.

Today, a city and a whole country mourn. Frustration is at an all-time high and is manifesting itself in different ways. On Twitter users heightened their continued demands for Governor Rodrigo Medina to resign. Others called for the two local soccer teams to hold a friendly match in the name of peace and/or for people to wear white in the next match on Saturday. Peace rallies are the current talk of the town and surely at least one march will take place in the near future.

Well-intentioned as these efforts may be, the sad truth is that they will do little to solve the problem. And going after the criminals with guns is a must, but that is fighting the manifestations of the ailment and not the root causes. Calderon’s war on organized crime is palliative at best. The worst criminals behind massacres like Casino Royale do not carry an AK-47. They wear suits, sit behind desks at government buildings and are a part of institutionalized corruption. And we keep them there.

While I can certainly understand the plight for Medina to leave office, the person is only part of a larger system-level problem and changing a system does not occur with one single action, and it does not occur overnight.

The prescription for a real cure seems like a utopian list we’ve heard over and over again: better education, more viable job opportunities, strengthened law enforcement, rule of law, actively combating impunity and corruption, etc. But if we really want to act on our current frustration, I believe there are individual actions that each of us can take in order to start moving in the right direction. I for one, plan to do my part.

On January 5th, I wrote “A New Year’s Resolution for Mexico” for Americas Quarterly. Back then I called for our new year’s resolution as Mexicans to be not exercising any form of corruption. I proposed that we no longer bribe public officials to avoid a speeding ticket. No more tax evasion, no more purchasing pirate products which we now know are part of organized crime’s value chain. No more negligence in our duty to monitor and demand effectiveness from our elected officials and government bureaucrats and no more questionable practices in the companies we work for.

Little by little, with each permissible act of corruption, we have collectively allowed for this tragedy to happen. My new year’s resolution is even more relevant today than it was when it was originally published and I firmly believe it is a small but decisive step toward the system change we need to instil.

My heartfelt condolences for the victims of the Casino Royale tragedy and their families.

Video from the Casino Royale attack

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I have not gotten word from Americas Quarterly yet with regards to publishing my article on this tragedy but in the interests of keeping you updated and informed, I am posting a video released by local authorities which shows the maneuvers of the attackers during their arrival and departure at the scene.

Please, keep your head up. It’s tough but we’re gonna get by.

Quick note on ‘Casino Royale’

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Dear readers,

As most of you already know, today is a very sad day for the city of Monterrey and the whole of Mexico. Since yesterday, some of you have asked me whether or not I was going to write about the Casino Royale massacre for Americas Quarterly.

While at first it was hard to do so, given a state of numbness I believe I had to go through in order to process it, I have written a piece on this subject and sent it to AQBlog’s editing director (just a couple of minutes ago).

I will let you know via Facebook and Twitter when it goes online.

Thank you for your interest. Other www.arjanshahani.wordpress.com content will go on as planned.

Keep you head up.

Happy Birthday India

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Today we celebrate the birth of India and the triumph of non-violence as an effective mean to oust British rule and liberate a nation. 

Mohandas Gandhi believed that if violence was used to achieve any end – even if it was employed in the name of justice – the result would be more violence.

 

From Thomas Merton’s “Gandhi on Non-Violence”:

“In Gandhi’s mind, non-violence was not simply a political tactic which was supremely useful and efficacious in liberating his people from foreign rule. [. . .] On the contrary, the spirit of non-violence sprang from an inner realization of spiritual unity in himself.” 

His message is as alive today as in 1947 and it applies to many different conflicts in the world. Too often, peace is mistaken for compliance or conformity. It seems like when traditional channels to voice one’s views are muted, more and more people are finding their way to violence in order to further their agendas… but Gandhi showed us a better way. Happy Birthday India.

“Anonymous” has announced it will attack Facebook, V for Vendetta style

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Remember, remember the 5th of november… the gunpowder, treason and plot.

The gauntlet has been thrown. How will Zuckenberg prepare to do battle?

Rogue Group Attacks Nanotechnology in Mexico

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Here is a link to my latest article on AQBlog, titled “Rogue Group Attacks Nanotechnology in Mexico” , published on Aug 10th, 2011. Please feel free to visit and comment. Here is a verbatim copy of it in case you prefer to read it on my personal blog, though I recommend actually going to the site because of additional content, other blogger’s articles, etc.

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The anarchist group known as ITS (Individualidades Tendiendo a lo Salvaje or “Individual actions bordering on being savage” as it would roughly translate in English) gained notoriety in Mexico on Monday (August 8th) when they claimed responsibility for a home-made explosive device that detonated in the hands of Tec de Monterrey Estado de México professor Armando Herrera Corral on the first day of school of this semester. A second device was found in another university (Instituto Politécnico Nacional) the next day; luckily authorities were able to remove and defuse it.

Through its blog “Liberación Total” ITS claims that it is an organization against all forms of domination. Radical language against the neoliberal model is of course included, with the usual blurb about the United States dominating the world, cultural and economic imperialism, etc. ITS states that nanotechnology will lead to the downfall of mankind and paints a fatalist picture of the future where artificial intelligence will take over and control mankind. Tempting as it may seem, we really shouldn’t blame Arnold Schwarzenegger and those Terminator movies for the existence of this group.

In the communiqué where they claim responsibility for the attack at Tec de Monterrey, ITS denounces universities in Mexico, claiming they “aim to prepare minds that don’t only want a piece of paper that credits their studies, but to graduate people who truly contribute to scientific knowledge and development of nanobiotechnology, in order to obtain what the system ultimately wants: total domination of everything which is potentially free.” They go on to say that scientists who claim to be investigating benefits for all of mankind are lying to us and that their true intentions are purely based on self-indulgence. The cherry on top is an isolated line in between paragraphs : “No matter what they say, Ted Kaczynski was right.”

I normally try to respect other ideologies, no matter how much they differ from my own. I believe that is the key to social understanding. However, as with other forms of fanaticism, you lose all respect when your methods for promoting that ideology involve harming other human beings, especially when it is so evident that you don’t have your facts straight. The data provided by the “Liberación Total” blog in different sections is biased and questionable at best. Here are some clear examples:

At one point they quote Nobel laureate Harold Kroto saying “if we turn back the clock to 1910 and avoided investigating in chemistry during the twentieth century, we would not have napalm or the atomic bomb.” This quote is taken out of context and cut in order to use Kroto’s title and present him as somebody against nanotechnology. When Kroto mentioned this he was actually making a case for nanotechnology investigation; his last statement is that without science we would “also not have computers, mobile phones or many other appliances.” In fact, according to Enriquez Cabot, Kroto’s work on nanotechnology will allow for the creation of “a molecular motor [with which] you can power machines that float (literally) on a speck of dust.”

ITS then pinpoints Tec de Monterrey University and Tec Professor Laura Palomares, “who in 2009 was recognized by the Academy of Mexican Science for using nanomaterials in developing an artificial virus which would cure certain sicknesses.” What’s wrong with this? According to ITS and their extensive scientific knowledge, “in any given moment it has been proven that this could create more sicknesses as a reaction to the substance.” Fact: today nanotechnology is being tested for (among many other medical applications) the effective drug delivery without harming healthy cells, with a very positive outlook. That is, nanotechnology could open the door to a definitive cure of cancer among many other ailments.

One last example of skewed ITS arguments: in their communiqué they quote Dr. Gary Small saying that excessive use of the internet causes “damages to the functioning of the brain and reducing personal skills to establish face to face conversations.” Once again, they fail to include the part where Small praises the digital era and mentions that thanks to the Internet we are “heightening skills like multi-tasking, complex reasoning and decision making.

If anything, Mexico’s investment in technological development and innovation is late at best. In a world where capacity to compete will be based more and more in knowledge and less on natural resources, ITS would propose abandonment of the little effort being made to catch up.

How far behind is Mexico? Ownership of knowledge and the result of research and development can easily be measured by the amount of patents registered in the U.S. and Europe Patent Offices. In 2010, the U.S. registered 107,792 patents and South Korea held 11,671. Mexico? 101. Fact: the U.S. state of North Dakota holds more patents than the whole of Mexico.

And isn’t it ironic that the only way ITS is able to effectively coordinate their attacks and link with other anarchist groups in the world, is through the use of the Internet? They mention that through the Tec bombing, their intention was to gain notoriety. In that effect, they’ve been very successful. They are now famously ridiculous.

*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 nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of nonviolent conflict resolution.