Expats in Mexico’s Votes Can Make a Difference
This is a story about something I did not see and only half heard – but it was just too good not to pass along. This week, on CNN, a political analyst made a stunning remark. I was in the next room, so did not see who said it. The man was predicting electoral votes, then said: "…and then there are two groups who have the power to make a difference if this election is really close"… I didn’t hear the first group because I really wasn’t paying that much attention… but I stopped dead in my tracks when he said "…and the Democrats in Mexico." With that, I was running for the television, but the segment was over before I could get there. If you have not yet voted, please visit Democrats Abroad in Mexico site. They can still, in many cases, help you get your vote (for either party) counted in this important election, the outcome of which will surely affect, among other things, our long-awaited ability to use Medicare Benefits in Mexico.
CNN: 6 Million Expats Could Vote
There are approximately 6 million Americans living abroad for one reason or another. Some are retired, some live abroad for work. This week, 800 Americans cast their absentee ballots in Buenos Aires alone. It will be interesting to see the final expat count, country by country. These numbers will also give the folks back home an idea of how many expats there actually are and information about their choices of places to live.
Yucatecos Rejecting Credit Cards in Record Numbers
In 2006 and 2007, credit card use was on the rise in Yucatan, but no more. In the first 6 months of this year, 65,000 Yucatecos canceled credit cards through local banks and businesses. This phenomenon is continuing as many discover how easily they got into debt and how difficult it is to get solvent again. The crisis north of the border has also played a part, as has tighter restrictions on limits and improved collections by the banks. Whatever the reason, it is a good thing for Yucatecos not to be tied to a ship that has such a tendency to sink when least expected. Instead, they are wisely considering the necessity of every purchase and, with that, will surely be the winners when markets stabilize once again.
New Database: Behavior Has Consequences in Yucatan
The names of men who have committed violence against women are going into a new database in the State of Yucatan. Information from this database will be used, according to the government, to eradicate violence against women throughout our state. We wonder if women will have the ability to check whether someone they are dating might be on that list. That little “ounce of prevention” sure would save a lot of misery down the road. We will be watching with interest to see how this information will be used.
Mexico’s Energy Bill Passes the Senate
Why do Mexicans get so angry at the prospect of accepting foreign investment in their oil industry? The answer to that lies in the abuse they suffered over about a 40 year period after the turn of the 20th century. Oil was discovered in Mexico in 1901. By 1920, Mexico was in the grip of foreign oil companies to the point that it actually became an issue of national security. By 1938, the situation was critical and Mexico chose to nationalize its oil industry. The foreign oil companies were not simply thrown out (as some propaganda machines still claim). In truth, the people of Mexico compensated them for their losses. When the people had given all of their money, they gave jewelry, and even farm animals to buy their freedom from foreign oil companies.
Today, in reality, no nation can alone afford the costs of the technology, research and development, and infrastructure that it takes to produce oil on its own. As a result, Mexico is slipping in its ability to supply her growing need for energy. The President suggested allowing foreign oil companies to invest in Mexico’s vast oil fields again, but the people have a long memory of what lies at the end of that road. As they watch what foreign oil dependency is doing to other nations, the people have decided that it is best not to risk foreign investment in Mexican oil. Instead, PEMEX will be allowed to subcontract parts of exploration and infrastructure projects to foreign companies while maintaining strict regulation and monitoring over the entire process. The bill has passed in the Senate and is expected to pass the lower house of Congress this week, but it will be some time before contracts can be written and modernization actually is underway.
In the meantime, it might be beneficial if the citizens of other nations take a brief moment to try and understand that what was popularly propagandized as Mexico “stealing by nationalizing” large and successful foreign businesses may have happened only when the people were so badly abused that the nation could no longer survive if something had not been done. Then, ask yourself if your country would have that kind of courage? Would you? We know that PEMEX is not perfect, but our hats are off to the Mexican Senate and Chamber of Deputies for continuing to work so hard to try to find the best solution possible.
Mexico Will Return Cuban Migrants
Over the course of the past few years, human traffickers have picked up their pace in the transportation of Cuban migrants through our state and north to the U.S. border. During that time, it was often standard procedure to give them a pass to get them there, where they would cross the border and obtain residency under “wet foot – dry foot.” Even if Mexico did detain them, the sentence was only 15 days in jail and a fine, then they were on their way north again. Subsequently, as is the case with many illegal activities, the human traffickers fell in league with drug cartels. With that, Mexico has had enough and, after the unfortunate recent event in our state, so has Yucatan. Last Monday, Mexico and Cuba reached an understanding in which Mexico agrees to return Cuban migrants who enter illegally. Both Mexico and Cuba blame failed U.S. immigration policies for encouraging what was a $165 million dollar illegal human trafficking business last year in transporting Cubans alone.
Update: Mexico’s Other Border
The 11,000 undocumented Cubans smuggled through Mexico last year are hardly a blip on the radar screen when compared to the 2 million documented and undocumented Latinos from other parts of Latin America who are annually streaming across our southern border. Most are seeking escape from political and/or economic unrest. They are looking for jobs and a new life in either Mexico or the U.S. Traditionally, even undocumented migrants have been accepted in the southern part of our state. Many have married here and raised their families here. No one bothered them as long as they behaved as good citizens. However, their sheer numbers are now a problem because the programs that Mexico has in place to ensure food and health care for the very poor are unable to absorb this many migrants on an annual basis. Something must be done and Mexico is actively looking for answers within the context of human rights. Vanessa Burgos makes some excellent observations.
UADY to Host:
First International Congress on Roots and Trajectories of Afrocaribeños
Some questions are equally as funny in anthropological circles as they are in general conversation. One that comes to mind is: What race and/or ethnicity are Mexicans? After you stop laughing at the enormity of the question, try explaining to the folks back home that Mexico has African, Jewish, Middle Eastern, European, and Asian communities and watch the looks you get. Most are astounded to learn that all Mexicans are not “just” Spanish or Native American, or some amalgamation thereof. The first Africans who came to Mexico came to Campeche in the last half of the 16th century. Today, there is still a thriving African community all along the eastern seaboard and they are, without a doubt in their minds or anyone else’s, 100% Mexican.
From Nov. 3 through Nov. 7, one hundred anthropologists from Mexico, Germany, the U.S., and throughout Latin America will come to see 30 different presentations, many of which show the difference between the often-overwhelming struggles of men and women forced into slavery versus the accomplishments of those who were never slaves. Many Mexicans of African descent have so assimilated into the culture of Mexico that they have completely forgotten their roots. Through conferences such as this, it is hoped that they, and the world, will remember the origins of the special gifts that have led them to produce some of the finest minds and talents in the last 400 years of Mexican history.
International Students: Culture Shock
Latin American International Students are bound to experience some degree of culture shock as they travel the world in search of education and expanded horizons. Two, one of whom is from Merida, went to Canada and claim that they were largely ignored by their Canadian classmates. The Columbian student said that, in her country, affection is found even among strangers. We have many International Students here in Yucatan and we can assure you that such is not the case here. In fact, it is just the opposite. Everyone is welcome in Yucatan and everyone is included, if they want to be, in the wonderful culture that is present here. So – for parents of prospective International Students – the one thing you can be certain of, in the State of Yucatan, is that your child will be included in mainstream culture and that he or she will be watched over as if they have always belonged here.