My birthday project 2013


You are invited to participate. It’s simple, quick and cool.

December 30th is my birthday. This usually means that a lot of people reading this message will gravitate to my Facebook page and share with me their best wishes. While that in itself is pretty cool and I love reading my wall on this day, this year I’m hoping you do something a little different. Don’t worry, if you’re not my friend on Facebook you can participate too.

Here’s the idea: clicks CAN make a difference so since you’re going to be clicking of your keyboard anyways, I want your clicks! I want to ask for your clicks on your mouse and keyboard as an additional birthday present.

On my birthday, please consider clicking on any/all of the following:

Hagámoslo Bien – Cultura de la Legalidad. Go to the site and sign the HB Pledge, committing to being a better citizen and promoting a culture of lawfulness. (Spanish, a project for Monterrey and all of Mexico)… but do it only if you’re serious about abiding by the pledge!

Global Majority. Go to the site and sign the Global Pledge to pursue negotiation, mediation, and principled dialogue as necessary alternatives to war and violence… but do it only if you’re serious about abiding by the pledge! Also, consider donating to this organization.

The Hunger Site. Go to this Greater Good site and with just one mouse click, help feed the world’s hungry via Mercy Corps, Feeding America, and Millennium Promise.

The Diabetes Site. Go to this Greater Good site and with just one mouse click, help fund Diabetes Research.

The Breast Cancer Site. Go to this Greater Good site and with just one mouse click, help fund Mammograms.

Ta-Da! By clicking on these links you will have participated in My Birthday Project 2013. Cool.

Since I do not monitor traffic to any of these sites, there will be no way for me to know if you clicked to them or not but in all truth, me knowing about it is not the objective so I’m ok with that. But hopefully you were able to take 2 minutes of your time on my birthday and through small but significant actions, help make a change.

Want to do more? Tell your friends about this project! Invite them to participate!

Happy birthday to me and thanks!

The No Re-election Taboo is Lifted in Mexico


Here is a link to my latest article on AQBlog, titled “The No Re-election Taboo is Lifted in Mexico“, published on December 12th, 2013. 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.

In the midst of a heated national debate on political reform, December 4 marked a milestone in Mexico’s electoral politics, as the upper house of Congress voted on legislation modifying 29 articles in the country’s constitution to allow consecutive re-election for mayoral and legislative positions.

Re-election will go into effect in 2018, and will allow mayors to run for two consecutive terms, while legislators can run for the same position for up to 12 years—though they’re required to run under the same political party they originally ran under. (This raises a number of questions regarding officials running under flimsy party alliances, which come and go faster than the seasons.) The president of Mexico and the mayor of Mexico City will be limited to serving one six-year term, however.

One of Mexico’s most ingrained mottos, born during the Revolution, has been “Effective Suffrage; No Re-election.” Back then, it was understandable that the country would unite under such a slogan, as the revolutionary objective was to overthrow Porfírio Diaz’ 31- year presidential tenure (with only one four-year break from 1880 to 1884).

Since then, however, political life in Mexico has evolved in ways in which allowing re-election could be positive.

On the one hand, the electoral framework has advanced enormously since the revolution. While the Instituto Federal Electoral (Federal Elections Institute—IFE) still has a lot of room for improvement and electoral fraud is far from extinct, the Mexican political system and its institutions guarantee that free elections will take place.

As part of the political reform, IFE will actually evolve into a new institute, the Insituto Nacional de Elecciones (National Elections Institute—INE), which promises to reduce local electoral institutes’ power and supposedly bring training and electoral logistics together under one roof.

That’s apparently the positive side of the story.

The other thing to consider is that elected officials often enjoy a level of impunity that almost invites them to use any number of means at their disposal to fatten their wallets. While print media is relatively effective in denouncing these abuses, a crooked politician rarely ends up behind bars.

Politicians also have little accountability in delivering on promises and providing results. Since there is one shot at a given position, once elected, many try to get as much personal benefit while in office as possible.

The possibility of getting re-elected could change that, becoming an incentive for incumbents to run based on a proven track record of results.

Yet while re-election is a step in the right direction, there are still a number of decisions that need to be addressed for the will of the people to be truly represented in Mexico’s political arena.

Chief among them is the elimination of “plurinominal” legislators, which only serve political party interests and generate an unnecessary and quite expensive payroll in Congress. Plurinominales are legislators who are not directly elected by voters but assigned to lists created by political parties. The number of people who make it from the lists to actual seats in Congress is determined by the proportion of votes the parties receive during elections.

If directly-elected legislators don’t normally feel accountable to the people in their states and districts who voted for them (since they don’t vote according to  their constituents’ interests, but by party bloc), it appears that plurinominal representatives are lucky politicians awarded what some might view as highly-paid vacations in office (senators, for example, are paid close to 150,000 pesos a month—roughly $11,700).

For a number of years now, Pedro Ferriz de Con, one of Mexico’s most influential journalists, has been a leading voice against plurinominales through something he calls“the Revolution of Intellect,” and has collected more than 7 million signatures from Mexicans supporting his fight to eliminate these public figures—but to no avail. Once again, legislators currently debating the political reform have agreed to sidetrack the issue because it does not serve their parties’ interests—and that is not only a missed opportunity, but also another broken promise from President Enrique Peña Nieto’s electoral platform.

The other missed opportunity in the political reform debate is the implementation of a run-off election process—at the very least, at a federal level. I’ve written about this and the reasons to consider this process in the past.

It seems counterintuitive that you need a majority for decisions to pass through Congress but not for a person to be elected president.  Since the IFE was created, there has not been a single president of Mexico elected by  the majority of the citizens he/she leads. There is simply no valid argument to maintain the status quo.

In conclusion: re-election, good. Comprehensive political reform? Not really.

Hoy vamos a reconocer a todos los meseros de México


HOY (no mañana, no pasado mañana) celebramos el Día del Mesero en todo México. Es un buen momento para pensar en el trabajo que los meseros hacen y la manera en que en nuestra dinámica social, los hemos relegado a ser parte del background cuando salimos a comer/cenar con amigos.

Independientemente de que es de personas educadas reconocer a alguien cuando se dirige a ti (y sin embargo con los meseros muchas veces no lo hacemos), piensa en el hecho de que la profesión de mesero la ejercen personas que están trabajando para habilitar tu disfrute. Mientras tú te la pasas bien, los buenos meseros se aseguran que no te falte nada.

Los meseros están con nosotros en los momentos de celebración y reunión con los amigos pero muchas veces no hacemos el mínimo esfuerzo para darles las gracias y reconocer su trabajo. Cuando se presentan y nos dicen como se llaman, ¿les damos las gracias y cuando nos dirigimos a ellos les llamamos por su nombre? ¿verdad que no cuesta nada hacerlo?

Ahora que empieza la época de las posadas, ¿has pensado que en lugar de estar disfrutando de las suyas, el mesero está sirviendo la comida y bebida en las tuyas?

Hoy es viernes y muchos de nosotros seguramente saldremos en la noche a algún restaurant/bar y hoy es Día del Mesero. ¡Vamos a empezar con cambios pequeños en nuestros comportamientos para ser mejores miembros de la sociedad e inyectarle por lo menos una sonrisa a nuestros momentos! Hoy que salgas, reconoce y felicita a tu mesero y especialmente hoy que es su día, si se gana su propina, considera darle un extra para regresarle el favor de haberte ayudado a pasar un momento agradable. TE ASEGURO QUE TE SENTIRÁS MUY BIEN si hoy celebras el Día del Mesero. 

¿Quién se apunta?