Respect. Much respect, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver

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Now let’s move on and enjoy the rest of the Playoffs!

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Politicians Under Fire in Mexico

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Here is a link to a recent on AQBlog article of mine, titled “Politicians Under Fire in Mexico“, published on April 17th, 2014.

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.

This week, two mayors in the state of Michoacán were arrested by theProcuraduría General de Justicia del Estado de Michoacán (Attorney General of the State of Michoacán—PGJE ). Uriel Chávez, the mayor of Apatzingan and a member of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party—PRI), and Noé Aburto Inclán, mayor of Tacámbaro and a member of the Partido Acción Nacional (National Action Party—PAN), were detained on suspicion of extortion and embezzlement, respectively.

As if Mexicans needed more reasons to distrust their elected officials, two other cases this month, coming from the PRI, show just how low some publicly elected officials are willing to stoop in a country plagued by impunity.

Cuauhtémoc Gutiérrez was the president of the PRI in Mexico City until April 2, 2014. Gutiérrez is the son of the late Rafael Gutiérrez—a former council member for the PRI in Mexico City known as the “The King of Trash” because he led the capital city’s trash collectors’ union for more than 20 years.  Rafael Gutiérrez’s wife, Martha García, confessed to having the “The King of Trash” murdered in 1987. She justified the murder by saying she had endured 11 years of physical abuse from her husband, and also said that Gutiérrez had sexually abused his underage niece.

Apparently Cuauhtémoc has followed in his father’s footsteps. A recent investigation byNoticias MVS radio journalist Carmen Aristegui  reported that Gutiérrez’ office ran ads to hire 18 to 32-year-old women as hostesses that were also expected to provide Gutiérrez sexual favors in exchange for higher pay. In recorded testimonies, four victims mention performing sexual favors for Gutiérrez inside Mexico City’s PRI offices, as well as accompanying him on business trips and to nighttime events. The Procuraduría de Justicia(Justice Department) in Mexico City is now investigating the case.

Gutiérrez has denied the allegations and denounced the MVS report. However, after the investigation surfaced, the PRI’s national leadership immediately stripped him of his position. Emilio Gamboa, the PRI’s senate leader, declared that Gutiérrez should face these charges alone and that “you can’t charge a whole party for one person’s actions.”

The case of the Jesús Reyna from the PRI also reached national headlines this month.  A two-time federal congressman, Reyna is a former interim governor of Michoacán and current minister of the interior for Michoacán’s state government. On April 4, theProcuraduría General de la República (Attorney General’s Office—PGR) ordered Reyna’s detention as part of an ongoing investigation of possible links between the politician and the criminal organization known as the Knights Templar.

El Universal revealed that the PGR began investigating Reyna after learning that the former governor had been in meetings with the Knights Templar’s leaders, Servando Gómez (“La Tuta”) and Nazario Moreno (“El Chayo”) in 2011.

Unfortunately, the recent cases are not scandals by exception. A look back through Mexico’s recent political history includes cases of corruption and crime across the three major political parties. Some of the recent scandals include allegations of fraud against the former D.F. secretary of finance, Gustavo Ponce of the Partido de la Revolución Democrática (Party of the Democratic Revolution—PRD)—although he was later released for lack of evidence—and the René Bejarano (PRD) video scandal, which earned the former president of the Comisión de Gobierno of the legislative assembly the nickname “the king of rubber bands” after he was seen  receiving up to 8 million in pesos and dollars in rubber band-bound wads of cash from businessman Carlos Ahumada.

As far as the PAN goes, the current mayor of Monterrey, Margarita Arellanes, has raised some questions after her purchase of a $1,543,860 (20 million peso) home on a $7,805.90 (101,377 peso) a month salary.

You can’t charge a whole party for one person’s actions, says Gamboa, and he’s right. But with cases like the ones herein mentioned piling up in Mexico’s political history, you start to wonder if the problem has shifted from particular exceptions, to a generalized rule.

¡Apoya a @Nachito10 en su proyecto para asistir a la niñez invidente!

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Me enteré por redes sociales de este gran proyecto de Nacho Llantada y ¿qué puedo decirles? Se me hizo poca madre. Tan es así, que aquí me tienen escribiendo un par de líneas para aportar en la masificación del mensaje y proyecto que se ha propuesto. POR FAVOR, den un par de minutos, conozcan el proyecto de este compadre y ojalá puedan sumarse.

Con el apoyo de EPIX, una gran empresa dirigida por un gran ser humano al que le sobra compromiso con la sociedad (me consta porque tengo el honor de conocerlo a él y su trabajo social en Monterrey), Nachito tiene una meta clara: se está entrenando para correr el maratón de San Diego en menos de 3:45. Lograrlo implicará haber ganado el Reto EPIX y dicha empresa donará $$$$ a la organización “Destellos de Luz A.B.P.“, la cual se especializa en apoyar a personas con problemas de la vista. Esto incluye cobertura de costos de hospitalización por cirugías, exámenes pre y post-operatorios, tratamientos, medicamentos, lentes y prótesis, dando seguimiento completo al paciente hasta su total recuperación.

Pero el Reto no termina ahí… ¡Tú puedes ayudar a Nacho a llegar a la meta de recaudar $50,000 pesos que se sumarán al monto donado por EPIX! Por favor da clic en este link para conocer más del proyecto y donar: https://fondeadora.mx/projects/reto-epix

Felicidades a Nacho y a EPIX por esta iniciativa. ¡Qué chingones son, carajo!

 

The Candigato is back in Mexico

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Here is a link to my latest article on AQBlog, titled “The Candigato is back in Mexico“, published on April 3rd, 2014.

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 2013, Morris, the Candigato (Cat Candidate) gained notoriety in Mexico’s social networks and news outlets after launching a successful online campaign via Facebook and Twitter, in a mock run for the position of Mayor of the city of Xalapa, Veracruz. The Candigato’s comedic slogans, such as “Tired of voting for rats? Vote for a Cat,” became popular among the online community and almost instantly his account on Facebook gained close to 250,000 followers. Morris, the Candigato, is a perfect reflection of Mexico’s idiosyncrasy: Many Mexicans will laugh at their tragedies.

The online campaign lasted for two months and only cost as much as the registry for the web domain. Yet after the votes were counted, CNN reported that Morris had bested at least 3 of the 8 actual candidates running for office. The creators the Candigato were recognized by the Victory Awards, winning the “Best Political Innovator” during the 2014 Marketing Político en la Red (Political Online Marketing) Conference—an unusual selection for an award usually won by political consultants.

Unfortunately, while the Candigato’s online success may be amusing, it is also points to Mexican society’s apathy and callousness for its political leaders. Now Morris is back with a different mission.

In a similar strategy to Bill Maher’s #flipadistrict, the creators of the Candigato are once again using humor to raise awareness. This week, Morris announced that he would be organizing an awards ceremony to recognize the worst politicians in Mexico under three categories: worst governor, worst political career, and finally, honorary sandbox, for retired or deceased politicians.

While this online campaign obviously follows no official protocols or processes to denounce ineffective public officials, it is quickly and easily providing an open channel for frustrated constituencies in different parts of the country. Replies from the Candigato’s followers on Facebook and Twitter mention too many politicians to list, but Nuevo Leon’s governor Rodrigo Medina and Estado de México’s governor Eruviel Ávila have gained repeated mentions. One Facebook user sarcastically commented “I’m worried Morris will have a tough task ahead finding a winner. Maybe he should just declare a 32-way tie,” referring to the governors of all 31 states and the Head of Government in Mexico City.

The Candigato may be just another joke about Mexico’s corrupt and ineffective politicians, but it is notable that a social media campaign with no funding is able to obtainhalf of the write-in votes for a cat running for mayor of Xalapa. The effectiveness of theCandigato’s campaigns show the level of disapproval Mexican constituents have for the candidates proposed by formal political parties in Mexico.

With the Candigato Awards showcasing some of Mexico’s allegedly “worst” elected officials, we will see if this affects their future careers or if it just serves as comedic distraction. And as long as the political class in Mexico continues to have low credibility among many constituents, Mexicans will keep tragically laughing.