Tag Archives: Mexico
In my most recent post for Global Voices, reproduced below, I look at an example of the ways in which Mexicans are taking to citizen media to redeploy the language used by governments, the military and the mainstream media for their own critical purposes. On Twitter, Mexican tweeps are savvy in their exploitation of the user-generated convention of the hashtag: in this example, #estadofallido, which signals a range of responses to the idea, or topos, of Mexico as an actual or potential “failed state.”
A feature article by political historian David Rieff , published in the online edition of The New Republic on March 17, 2011, provides a rich yet succinct context for the genesis of the idea or topos of Mexico as an actual and certainly a potential “failed state.” Its epic title, “The Struggle for Mexico,” is followed by an interrogative subtitle that raises a question that has been pending since late 2008: “Its present is grim, its future uncertain – but is it a failed state?”
From a diplomatic point of view, the U.S. military’s Joint Forces Command did the incoming Obama administration no favors with the stark warning it issued in November 2008. In its annual evaluation of the threats America’s armed forces were likely to face in the future, it declared that, “[i]n terms of worst-case scenarios for the Joint Force and indeed the world, two large and important states bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse: Pakistan and Mexico.”
Not surprisingly, this didn’t sit well with the Mexican government of Felipe Calderón. And so, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose references to U.S.-Mexico relations during her Senate confirmation hearings had been so perfunctory as to be nonexistent in political terms, was obliged to make a trip to Mexico City in March 2009 to smooth relations between the two governments. This was followed the next month with a visit to Mexico City by President Obama himself. Jorge Castañeda, Mexico’s former foreign minister, quipped at the time that Calderón “wants to hear [Obama] say that Mexico was never a failed state, is not a failed state today, and even in their deepest, darkest fears will never, ever be a failed state.”
Flash-forward two years. “Buggs,” a founder of the popular blog Borderland Beat, which reports on drug violence from both sides of the border, picks up the thread and posts an article from the EFE news agency dated March 27, 2011.
President Felipe Calderon said in an interview published Sunday by the Spanish daily El Pais that Mexico was not a failed state and blamed the United States for the illegal flow of arms into his country. Calderon said he regretted the fact that the matter of referring to Mexico as a failed state appeared in a U.S. government report.
In Mexico, the meme has been adopted as the title of the blog Estado Fallido [es] (Failed State), whose mission statement reads:
Este blog nace por la necessidad de ofrecer una cronica periodistica de la ingobernabilidad, la desbordada crisis de seguridad nacional y la Guerra que vive Mexico.
Intelectuales, academicos y columnistas aun debaten si Mexico es o no es Estado Fallido. Lo cierto es que algunas regiones del pais han caido en la ingobernabilidad absoluta.
This blog was born from the need to offer a journalistic chronicle of the lawlessness, the spiraling national security crisis and the War that Mexico is experiencing.
Intellectuals, academics and columnists are still debating whether Mexico is or is not a Failed State. What is certain is that some regions of the country have fallen into absolute lawlessness.
On Revoluciones Mexico – RMX, blogger Gregorio Ortega Molina posted on April 4, 2011, under the title “Mexico va que vuela para Estado fallido” (”Mexico is well on its way to become a failed state”).
La decomposicion social, la anomia de los gobiernos, la debilidad de las instituciones, el desorden y la impossibilidad de dar seguridad juridica y publica porque la violencia y la desconfianza desborden a las autoridades, son sintomas que permiten establecer un diagnostico: el modelo politico y economico de Mexico dio de si, y intentar la restauracion equivale a llamar a gritos la implosion de las fallas sistemicas y estructurales que afectan al Estado mexicano, para convertirlo en uno fallido.
Some commentators make the case that Mexico is emphatically not an #estadofallido (#failedstate). A post on the blog Burro Hall takes a pragmatic view:
While we continuously hear people refer to Mexico as a failed – or failing – state, no one here went to bed last night wondering if the government would still be functioning in the morning. (On the other hand, if that ever happened, 99% of the government workforce could easily be deemed nonessential.)
And writing under the title “En corto…sin cortes” [es] (”In short…without cuts”), columnist Jose Ortiz Medina provides a global framework for his argument against the “failed state” premise.
Veo lo que esta ocurriendo en Egipto, veo lo que esta ocurriendo en todo el Norte de Africa, veo lo que esta ocurriendo en Asia, veo lo que esta ocurriendo en Africa, veo lo que esta ocurriendo hace mucho tiempo en Somalia, veo lo que esta ocurriendo en algunos de nuestros paises en America Latina. En este pais todos los dias van a la escuela 36 millones de alumnus, puntualmente. El pais functiona. Tenemos poderes muy fuertes separados, independientes: el Ejecutivo, el Legislativo, el Judicial. Es un pais que tiene elecciones regulares. Se gana y se pierde; se debate muy fuerte, no se persigue la prensa. Hay absoluta libertad de publicar, de presenter todos los temas en un ambiente de libertad sin precedents en Mexico. […] La verdad es que Mexico esta realmente muy, muy lejos de ello.
On Twitter, the ubiquitous hashtag #estadofallido (#failedstate) conjoins a range of analysis and opinion. Materia FECAL (@kklderon) tweeted a link to a Facebook page bearing a powerful photo of starkly anti-Calderon graffiti.
Carlos Campos (@CarolvsCampi) used the hashtag to point to a relevant report in La Jornada [es] which quotes former Brazilian President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva saying that violence in Mexico stems in part from a history of not paying attention to the poor.
Writing from the city Reynosa in the state of Tamaulipas in the aftermath of the latest discovery of mass graves in the region, Pablo Navarro (@DELREYII) took to Twitter to address his country’s president directly, signaling one among countless impacts of criminal violence on daily life in Mexico:
“Autobuses de pasajeros prefieron no cruzar por Tamaulipas y cancelan sus rutas” // @FelipeCalderon Sr. Presidente ke sigue #estadofallido
What follows is my latest post for Global Voices, just published on their website http://globalvoicesonline.org/ , where you can find some valuable citizen reporting on current hotspots as well as underreported countries and communities around the world.
Posted 8 April 2011
Rapido y furioso se autorizo en Washington, revela ex jefe de ATF http://www.lajor.mx/ejdrbr #LaJornada y #CBS #estadofallido #failedstate
The link provided by Lara yields a report [es] in the Mexican daily La Jornada. The article followed up on a series of investigative reports by Sharyl Attkisson of the American broadcast network CBS that included an interview with Darren Gil, a former senior official in the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives).
The CBS interview with Gil, which was promptly picked up by a host of news organizations in both countries, brought to light the secret operation, sanctioned at high levels by United States (US) officials, under which ATF officers monitored without intervening as more than 2,000 weapons were purchased at a handful of gun stores in Arizona and transported over the border into Mexico.
The practice is known as “gunwalking,” which in theory gives the ATF an opportunity to observe patterns of circulation and establish the eventual destinations of the firearms. In the event, according to the CBS reports, some of the weapons found their way to crime scenes deep within Mexican territory. One was used in the murder of a US agent.
One blogger among many to take verbal aim at the ATF’s secret operation was Horacio Garcia Fernandez, who posted [es] on ApiaVirtual, taking issue first of all with name of the mission, which he parsed like an impassioned linguist:
“RÁPIDO Y FURIOSO” fué el nombre que eligieron para una cruenta acción de guerra contra México.[…]
¿Qué significan exactamente esas dos palabras así reunidas?
Acudimos a un buen “tumba burros”, también llamado “diccionario” y leemos que “rápido”significa “con ímpetu”, “impetuoso”.[…]
Por tanto, lo de “rápido” lleva asociada la idea de “energía”; un movimiento “rápido” es un movimiento “enérgico”.
El programa de acción que fué bautizado ( ¿? ) con ese nombre de “rápido y furioso” nos envía un mensaje de fondo: “¡Cuidado! este asunto está cargado de energía”, en lo que claramente es un intento de asustarnos.
“Fast and Furious” was the name they chose for a vicious act of war against Mexico.[…]
What exactly do these two words, so conjoined, signify?
We consulted a good […] “dictionary,” and we read that “fast” means “with impetus”, “impetuous”.[…]
Therefore, “fast” is associated with the idea of ”energy”; a”fast” movement is an “energetic” one.
The operational plan that was baptized (??) with the name “fast and furious” sends us a fundamental message: “Caution! This matter is full of energy,” in what is clearly an attempt to scare us.
Viene después la palabrita” furioso”, la cual nos dice el diccionario que significa “poseído de furia”, “violento”, “terrible”.
A su vez, “furia” significa ” ira exaltada”, “violenta agitación”.[…]
Por tanto, la “furia” ES UNA VIOLENTA IRA DESATADA Y FUERA DE CONTROL, provocada por alguna causa mayor, fuera de lo común.[…]
Los E.U han puesto las armas, y nosotros, los mexicanos, hemos puesto las víctimas, los cadáveres.
Next comes the little word “furious,” which the dictionary tells us signifies “possessed by fury,” “violent,” “terrible.”
In turn, “fury” means “exalted rage,” “violent agitation.”
Therefore, the “fury” is a violent rage spinning out of control, caused by a force majeure, extraordinary.[…]
The US have their weapons, and we Mexicans have the corpses.
On EjeCentral, contributor Martha Anaya noted [es]:
Pero acercarse a la información de primera mano sobre la operación “Rápido y Furioso” no es nada fácil. Ni siquiera en Estados Unidos, pues ningún funcionario del Departamento de Justicia ni de la ATF han comparecido ante el Comité senatorial que investiga el caso.Según un reporte de la CBS, Kenneth Melson, director general de la ATF, tenía programada una audiencia en el senado el jueves pasado, pero no asistió.
Así que, al igual que en México y Estados Unidos, la operación “Rápido y Furioso” está provocando que sus principales implicados se escondan. Pero, como la avestruces, sólo ocultan la cabeza, todo lo demás queda –o va quedando– al descubierto.
But to obtain firsthand information about operation “Fast and Furious” is not easy. Even in the United States, no officials from the Justice Department or the ATF have appeared before the Senate committee investigating the case. According to a CBS report, Kenneth Melson, general director of the ATF, was scheduled to appear at a hearing in the Senate last Thursday, but did not attend.
In Mexico and the United States, then, Operation “Fast and Furious” is prompting its major players to hide. But, like ostriches, they only conceal the head, everything else is being – or will be – exposed.
In the meantime, Twitter users were likewise galvanized by the revelations. Ross Romero (@rosseromero) ventured on March 30:
#Mexicorojo Seguro que rapido y furioso pronto va ser el nombre de la empressa que armara a los mexicanos para defenderse de la violencia???
Mexican journalist Juan Pablo de Leo (@juanpadeleo) wondered on April 5:
Bueno, el operativo rapido y furioso ya fue, nos guste o no. Pero ahora yo quiero saber: cuales fueron los resultados? Que encontraron?
North of the Rio Grande, a self-described “American. Conservative. Mom. Wife. Blogger” with 160,000+ followers, Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) leavened her skepticism with humour on March 30:
Code name for Obama stonewall/denials on Operation Fast and Furious — Operation False and Spurious.
Writing from Mexico City (D.F.) on the same day, Julieta Boy (@julieboy) perhaps spoke for others south of the border:
Estados Unidos tuvo un operativo llamado “rapido y furioso”, Mexico tiene el suyo: “en chinga y encabronado”