Mexicans in New York: Sharing Traditions and Turning Points

06/15/2016 The New York Times
nyThe decisive moment for Irma Bohórquez-Geisler came on Christmas Eve: Go home and make holiday punch or go out to take pictures?

You know what she chose.

Ms. Bohórquez-Geisler had been documenting Staten Island’s Mexican community since the early 2000s, and she knew she had to take advantage of any chance she had to photograph scenes of daily life. Being Mexican herself, she knew what was up when she spotted four girls at a local store buying ingredients for tamales. Wasting no time, she asked if she could make pictures while they made tamales.

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Mexico’s foreign minister: Anti-Mexican bigotry is no different than anti-Semitism

06/07/2016 The Washington Post


Mexico’s foreign minister, speaking here Monday to a conference of American Jews, compared “the stench” of anti-Mexican “bigotry” in U.S. political dialogue to international anti-Semitism.

“Today in the 21st century, here in the United States, a climate of intolerance is sending a similar message: Mexicans go home,” Claudia Ruiz Massieu said in a speech to the American Jewish Committee’s annual conference in Washington. “Separate those who are different, blame the minorities, demonize the stranger.”

“Well, let me tell you who those strangers are,” Ruiz Massieu said of Mexican Americans. “No different from American Jews from all walks of life.”

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Report Accuses Mexico of Crimes Against Humanity in Drug War

6/6/16 The New York Times 

Mexico CityMEXICO CITY — Two days after Jorge Antonio Parral Rabadán was kidnapped by a criminal gang, the Mexican Army raided the remote ranch where he was a prisoner and killed him. As he instinctively raised his hands in defense, the soldiers fired over and over at point-blank range.

A brief army communiqué about the event asserted that soldiers had returned fire and killed three hit men at the El Puerto ranch on April 26, 2010.

But Mr. Parral had fired no weapon.

He was a government employee, the supervisor of a bridge crossing into Texas, when he and a customs agent were abducted, according to a 2013 investigation by the National Human Rights Commission. The case, which is still open, has volleyed among prosecutors, yet his parents persist, determined that someone be held accountable.

“Tell me if this looks like the face of a killer to you,” said Alicia Rabadán Sánchez, Mr. Parral’s mother, pulling a photograph of a happy young man from a plastic folder.

In the years since the Mexican government began an intense military campaign against drug gangs, many stories like Mr. Parral’s have surfaced — accounts of people caught at the intersection of organized crime, security forces and a failing justice system.

They are killed at military checkpoints, vanish inside navy facilities or are tortured by federal police officers. Seldom are their cases investigated. A trial and conviction are even more rare.

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Elections Highlight Uneven Progress in Mexico

6/2/16 Wall Street Journal 

Mexico cityMEXICO CITY—A dozen governorships are up for grabs Sunday in states as disparate as Chihuahua in the northern desert and Veracruz on the Gulf Coast. But most have something in common: a heavy public debt that has raised questions about economic mismanagement and corruption.

Poverty and income inequality have also climbed in most states holding elections, according to government data. State services such as police remain understaffed and underpaid, and crime in many parts has grown, according to government-accountability nonprofits.

Such problems reflect the uneven progress Mexico has made since the election of former President Vicente Fox in 2000 ended seven decades of one-party rule.

For centuries, from Aztec emperors to Spanish viceroys, power was highly concentrated in Mexico. While that is much less the case now at the federal level, governors have been called Mexico’s modern viceroys, especially in rural states that are governed like fiefs.

“Once the power of the Mexican president started to wane in the late 1990s…the state governors filled the vacuum, accumulating a political power with very few checks and balances and managing increasingly bigger budgets,” said David Pérez Esparza, a researcher at University College London.

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In Mexico City, a Battle Over a Building and the Art in Its Shadow

6/2/2016 The New York Times

15440997219_89c4b6315f_mMEXICO CITY — It is a simple sculpture: 64 concrete pyramids that stand in a perfect circle around two-and-a-half acres of rippling, black volcanic rock.

Known as “Espacio Escultórico” (“Sculptural Space”), the sculpture was inaugurated in 1979 here on the campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. It is considered one of the most important pieces of land art in Mexico, a tranquil oasis in a chaotic city. But the recent construction of a white eight-story building nearby has prompted a furious protest that pits the university’s needs against Mexico’s cultural heritage.

The campaign against the building, which looms over the 13-foot pyramids from less than a quarter-mile away, has drawn hundreds of artists, architects and intellectuals from Mexico and beyond. A petition to protect the work has gathered more than 30,000 signatures.

Prominent cultural figures, including the writer Elena Poniatowska, have published letters in the press or posted video statements on Facebook defending the sculpture; about 300 students and faculty members of the university’s architecture school signed a letter to the head of the department in April calling for the building to be modified or demolished.

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Populist as President Emerges as Option for Beleaguered Mexicans

6/1/16 Bloomberg

veracruzDisgust with corruption in Mexico is so overwhelming that voters on Sunday are entertaining the thought of sacrificing landmark education and economic reforms in exchange for a chance to bring down the politicians they blame for it.

Through the heart of the June 5 elections for governors flow the stirrings of populism, personified by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, 62, a two-time presidential contender known as AMLO. He has railed against graft in government, but has also raised concernsin the past that he’d pit the poor against the rest of the country and recently criticized evaluations of teachers, whose protests have grown in some states.

The elections for governors of 12 states will help answer whether his anti-corruption message attracts voters he turned away by his more divisive policies. How his new Morena Party candidates do in the race for states overrun by graft like Veracruz could be a bellwether for the 2018 national elections — and, along the way, the potential for Lopez Obrador’s third try at the presidency.

“I have no doubt Lopez Obrador will end up in first or second place” in the presidential race, said Jose Antonio Crespo, a political analyst at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching in Mexico City. “I don’t think it would be good to have Lopez Obrador as president, but many do think so, because all other alternatives have been used up.”

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EVENT TODAY | What Do Mexicans Think About the U.S. and the World? Results from Mexico, the Americas, and the World 2014-2015

mexican-flag1WHEN: Today, May 31, 3:00-5:00 PM

WHERE: 5th Floor Conference Room, Woodrow Wilson Center

Click to RSVP.

The Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute is pleased to invite you to our event “What Do Mexicans Think About the U.S. and the World? Results from Mexico, the Americas, and the World 2014-2015.” Mexico, the Americas, and the World is a public opinion research project undertaken by the Division of International Studies at the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE) in Mexico City. The survey, carried out biannually in Mexico since 2004 (and elsewhere in Latin America since 2008), seeks to understand Mexicans’ and Latin Americans’ views on foreign policy and international relations—in a word, on their place in the world. The 2014-2015 edition finds that, among other things, fewer Mexicans report having family members that live abroad and receiving remittances. Despite the rise of anti-immigration sentiment in the U.S., Mexicans’ evaluations of “Colossus to the North” have continued to rise since 2010—apparently an “Obama effect.” Finally, faced with a grave human rights crisis, Mexicans are willing to accept supervision on rights from the UN, OAS, and even—to some extent—from the United States. Two researchers from CIDE will present and discuss the report’s findings.

Gerardo Maldonado
Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE)

David Crow
Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE)

Duncan Wood
Director, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center

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