Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mexican Immigration to the United States: the Right Trend for the Wrong Reasons?

The New York Times published on July 6, 2011, an article titled “Better Lives for Mexicans Cut Allure of Going Wrong.” The main argument is that illegal immigration to the United States is going down in the last couple of years in comparison to a growing trend registered in 2000-2005. The reporter states that expanding economic and educational opportunities, rising border crime and shrinking families are important explanatory factors. These factors are as important as “economic slowdowns or immigrant crackdowns in the United States.”

The author quotes Professor D. Massey (Princeton University) saying that “for the first time in 60 years, the net traffic has gone to zero and is probably a little bit negative.” The reporter uses the example of the Orozco family in Arandas, Jalisco, to make his point, and quotes researchers from the University of California San Diego to show the wage and quality of life progress for the Jalisco worker in Mexico.

On July 12 in Zacatecas, the Mexican President, Felipe Calderón, pointed out to this article, along with a similar one in The Economist, as an attestation that this diminishing trend of Mexican emigration towards the United States was led by the uprising generation of job opportunities in Mexico and its economic growth, among other factors.

I certainly agree with the reasons of this diminishing emigration trend, although I would not give the same weight to all the different variables that the reporter mentions in the article. And certainly, I would not base my conclusions in the study of only one Jalisco family in Mexico. That makes no sense at all.

I would say that the main factor that is upholding the diminishing emigration trend is the U.S. economy downturn and the increasing anti immigrant laws in U.S. states. Since 2007 the U.S. is not doing OK in job creation numbers, and that is currently affecting job opportunities for illegal and legal immigrants. Focusing on two thirds of immigrant jobs, the illegal ones for the Mexican case, whenever there is a lack of job opportunities, immigrants try to find jobs in the same city or region, then they move from the original place to another city or region looking for a job, then they consider going back to their places of origin. This centrifugal emigration caused by a weak U.S. economy is generally financed by the savings of the immigrant, the Mexican family´s little capital that could be send to the immigrant, and little temporary jobs as emigration takes place, or a combination of all of the above.

In the meantime, (during the last four years, this is) as difficulties arise trying to find jobs in the U.S., immigrants send back home a clear message: “Stop coming, it is difficult to find jobs here, stay back home for the moment.” This process takes time and the results are clearly lagged, that is why we see a diminishing trend of Mexican emigrants toward the U.S. until 2010-2011. Indeed, this trend is bad news for the recovery of the U.S. economy.

The hallucinating statement that Mexicans are staying home because things are getting better from a microeconomic standpoint is just crazy stuff. Although from a macroeconomic perspective Mexico is a good place to invest, from a microeconomic standpoint the case of the Orozco family is just a nice, interesting, and even cute case study, non representative of the Mexican reality. If the reporter goes to other selected locations in Mexico, he would find other happy stories; but in doing serious research he would realize that Mexicans stay home because they have little or no choice.

Some days ago, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography released data that confirm that between 2006 and 2010 the average family income in Mexico has gone down in 13.7%. This means that the poorer becomes the poorest, the former poorest go starving, and that an important share of rich guys in this country is taking their money abroad. The justice system is a total mess, corruption is rampant all over the place, democracy is in great danger, and more than 40,000 death have become the historical legacy of El Presidente Calderón.

All this also means that as soon as the economic downturn in the U.S. is reversed, chances are very high that Mexican immigration towards the U.S. will go back to their 2000-2005 levels, although it is important to pay attention to the relationship between capital and labor in marginal terms. In certain Mexican regions, mostly because of former high levels of emigration and because of war dynamics, the shortage of labor points out to higher levels of income to fulfill the demand for labor, although the narco-lords are indeed offering competitive wages in these regions for relatively non skilled jobs. In any instance, the New York Times should be more careful in disseminating this type of poorly-backed information.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Poet vs. El Presidente

El Presidente Calderón asserted some days ago that Mexicans should say “It’s enough!” to the criminals, and not to the government and the military.

El Presidente is losing it.

It seems that in the Mexico of El Presidente, the good are always good and the bad are always bad. The good guys always win the final battle to the bad guys, mostly because the bad guys always lose and the good guys always win. Happy end is always around the corner.

Mexico and Walt Disney productions, same thing.

El Presidente’s reaction came after thousands of Mexicans in twenty cities came out and marched to say “enough is enough” to criminals and politicians. Something really never seen in the post-revolutionary Mexico, at least after the protests of 1968.
The protests were led by a poet, Mr. Sicilia, whose son was brutally murdered by the organized crime in the small state of Morelos. It seems that most local and state authorities are deeply involved in protecting organized crime’s drug-trafficking activities in Morelos. Morelos is an example of what is going on (wrong) in the rest of the country.

And that is the problem. First, El Presidente is assuming that the authorities and the military are not part of the problem, but only part of the solution, indeed, “the solution.” But reality indicates the opposite. Thirty billions of dollars per year are used by Narco Gangs for three purposes mainly: Uno. Buying high tech arms, mostly to U.S. dealers and government (Rapid and Furious was cynically called, I think…). Dos. Keep on with the trafficking business, mostly buying drugs in South America and selling them to a growing and aggressively demanding U.S. market. Tres. Buying government and politicians’ protection along the way, buying (or killing) whoever stands in their way: local, state, federal authorities, politicians, governors, mayors, police chiefs, the military, even whole-country governments (Central America). The killing of local and state authorities generally take place when two rival gangs are fighting for the control of a city, town or highway. Federal and some military actions are said to be coordinated to protect the interests of certain powerful narco lords (El Chapo’s?). It seems that dollars buy everybody, sooner or later. The line between the good guys and the bad guys only exists in El Presidente’s mind.

Second. El Presidente’s claim is a desperate and direct break down of the social contract between the government and the society within the State. In a collapsing State, the government disassociates from one of the most fundamental and minimal tasks that the society expects government to perform: national security. Currently, Mexican government (at every single level) and the military are incapable to perform the minimum requirements to hold the assumption that Mexicans live in a functioning, secure State. Mexican national security is in the hands of American security agencies, drug consumption in the U.S. is not going down, drug consumption in Mexico is going up, drug trafficking is becoming more violent and more and more profitable, drug-related corruption is growing in both sides of the border, the war in Mexican territory is at its best (36,000 deaths in four years), government officials make stupid/surreal declarations 24/7 in both sides of the border, and federal authorities have been reduced to the official speakers of the Body Counting Company.

National Human Rights organizations have responded strongly to the crazy call of El Presidente: It is the responsibility of the Mexican government to guarantee security to Mexican society. Indeed, Mexican society has the right to protest, to demand for palpable results, and to demand a once and for all stop of the killings. On the one hand, the Mexican poet is naïve: he was surprised for the close to null reaction of state and federal authorities after the protests; and he uses to make statements in which the fight between the evil and Catholic God plays a main role. On the other hand, he is not stupid: he is learning fast, using his young years of Jesuit preparation to mobilize people under terrible, socially unfair circumstances; and he has put the finger where it hurts: organized crime and politicians, same thing in Mexico.

He is also heard by locals and foreigners, and he can involve the Catholic Church in the process of healing, peace negotiating, and leading the reconciliation process as a whole. Mr. Sicilia, although in great pain for the loss of his son, is the best and only man with real capacity to change things in the country. Most women, mainly in the north of the country, who have sadly shared a similar position, have already been murdered, and local/state authorities have done nothing to solve their crimes.

Yes, it is a total mess down here. But let me assert my firm belief that those Americans who are snuffing cocaine tonight, those American authorities who are gladly corrupted by drug money, and those U.S. government officials and agencies who think that the solution to their problems relies in war actions taken by the government of the big sombrero country: the ugly dog of this nonsense drug war will bite their sorry asses. It is just matter of time. Indeed, it is happening already.

If only El Presidente could understand that the U.S. is the only capable to solve U.S. problems, and that Mexicans, we should focus in solving only our own, multiple, urgent, third-world country problems.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Irapuato no es Juárez

Ni Napolitano, ni el director del ICE, ni el fiscal general de los Estados Unidos entienden que la muerte del agente Zapata en carreteras mexicanas es un evento de terrible importancia para la soberanía de un país que se llama “México”.

Ellos se la pasaron diciendo durante las exequias del agente Zapata que él había muerto murió "no sólo para proteger a su país, sino al pueblo de México” (Morton-ICE). Napolitano dijo que “no vamos a descansar ni a ceder en nuestra determinación hasta ver que los responsables sean detenidos y paguen por sus crímenes" y el buen Holder (fiscal general) se lució, refiriéndose a Zapata: "trabajaba para ayudar a nuestros vecinos y aliados en México a cumplir con sus responsabilidades ante aquellos a los que sirven y para construir una nación que constituye un faro de esperanza y oportunidad, un lugar donde todos los mexicanos puedan vivir no con miedo, sino en unidad. Ganaremos esta lucha, ésa es mi promesa ante ustedes".
Thanks but no thanks!

Por un lado, el enojo de las autoridades estadounidenses se entiende desde la perspectiva de que cualquier pérdida de sus agentes debe honrarse como si fuese la última. Eso es de admirar a los norteamericanos. Acá en México muere un judicial o un estatal y a lo mucho lo entierran rápido o hacen ceremonias selectivas, sobre todo si fueron varios los caídos. Pero no se hace nada por parar la carnicería.

Es de admirar a las autoridades norteamericanas su determinación de aclarar todas y cada una de sus bajas en la eterna guerra de los buenos contra los malos. Mientras que en México ya nos medio conformamos conque medio paren la matazón.

Pero de eso a que nos cuelguen un héroe… thanks compadre, pero no hay necesidad. Cada quien trabaja desde su respectivo lado de la frontera. Ya tenemos 35,000 héroes, francamente no se necesita ni uno más. Hasta donde yo entiendo, todo el personal norteamericano de justicia y seguridad que trabaja en territorio mexicano sabe perfectamente a lo que se enfrenta y que su muerte siempre será un activo para los Estados Unidos, pero no para México. Lo que siguió (y sigue) es indignante: El FBI cerrando las carreteras federales mexicanas y la PGR elevada a carácter de pariente pobre en las averiguaciones del crimen. Y ya no se diga las regañizas telefónicas de funcionarios americanos a su contraparte mexicana.

Una persecución norteamericana sobre algún cártel mexicano, definitivamente corre el riesgo de vestir de héroes a los narcos. No obstante, los servicios de inteligencia tienen un panorama muy claro acerca de quién es quién y dónde andan los que andan entre los narcos mexicanos. Así que parece que es cuestión de tiempo que el largo brazo de la justicia norteamericana agarre a los culpables y ¡órenle jijos de la jijurria! A una cárcel de máxima seguridad gringa y el resto de la historia ya es conocido: en México se les hace algunos corridos y, si son ejecutados, empieza su culto junto con el de la Niña Blanca.

¿Y el gobierno mexicano? Bien gracias: el presidente Felipe en el alucine diciendo ante inversionistas japoneses que la seguridad en ciudades mexicanas es equiparable a ciudades europeas. En efecto, Irapuato no es Juárez. Todavía. En el inter, la inteligencia mexicana deja de existir oficialmente ante la acción que a sus largas y anchas la inteligencia norteamericana actualmente despliega no nada más para el caso Zapata, sino para cualquier detalle estratégico y táctico en la guerra contra las drogas. Llevándose de corbata (por delante, pues) a los militares mexicanos y haciendo añicos las aspiraciones democráticas de este gran país, llamado México.

Lo que ni Napolitano, ni Holder, ni Morton entienden es que la muerte del agente Zapata es inútil mientras los norteamericanos no enfrenten con los destos bien puestos el problema de drogadicción de su población. Mientras la demanda de drogas no disminuya significativamente, el problema seguirá en los dos países. Se necesita creatividad y ganas de resolver el problema, no funerales transmitidos en vivo y promesas cínicas de violar la soberanía de otro país.

Nuevamente: soluciones transnacionales a problemas transnacionales. Mi más sentido pésame para la familia Zapata y para las familias de 35,000 mexicanos sacrificados para que los norteamericanos ya no se droguen. Todas ellas muertes inútiles, so far, if I may.

[PUBLICADO EL 23 DE FEBRERO EN La gente anda diciendo...]

Una de dos

¿El presidente Calderón sufre o no de la enfermedad del alcoholismo?

Una de dos: Felipe es o no es alcohólico. Si no lo es, perfecto, a otra cosa mariposa y se sugiere al amable lector que se vaya de una vez a leer otro blog. También el despido de Aristegui queda fuera de discusión y la irritada reacción de ciertos diputados cada vez que les saquen una manta alusiva al tema en mero pleno de la Cámara, pues ni viene al caso, pura pérdida de tiempo, como si no tuvieran nada mejor que hacer. Si sí lo es, entonces la pregunta cambia.

Bajo el supuesto de que Calderón sea un alcohólico, la pregunta entonces sería: ¿es un asunto personal o público?

Una de dos: es asunto público o es personal. Desde el punto de vista humano, el presidente es libre de ser lo que pueda o quiera ser y su vida privada o sus enfermedades no le incumbe absolutamente a nadie. Pero el presidente es una figura pública y lo crónico de sus enfermedades puede afectar el destino de 110 millones de mexicanos en un momento dado.

Bajo el supuesto de que el asunto no es personal, sino de interés público, la siguiente pregunta sería: ¿qué tan grave es que el presidente sea un alcohólico?

Una de dos: es grave o no lo es. Y aquí vienen las complicaciones. Uno se puede imaginar las presiones que un alto funcionario de este tipo enfrenta de manera cotidiana. Un ejemplo hipotético sería el siguiente: el gobierno norteamericano le arrebata la seguridad nacional de las manos al presidente y lanza direcciones sobre lo que deben o no hacer la armada y marina mexicanas en la lucha contra el narco con el objetivo de que el norteamericano promedio ya no se drogue y de repente amanecemos todos los mexicanos con 35,000 muertos. Y los norteamericanos, quitados de la pena, siguen drogándose… La presión supongo que es enorme y el alcohol puede presentarse como una puerta falsa para sobrellevar la situación.

Bajo el supuesto de que el alcohol sea una tentadora herramienta para sobrellevar la situación, surge la pregunta: ¿el alcoholismo tiene remedio?

Una de dos: tiene o no tiene remedio. Pues con la novedad de que no tiene remedio. Una vez que se adquiere la enfermedad no hay cura. ¿Se puede tener una vida normal una vez que se adquiere? Claro que sí. Programas de doce pasos como Alcohólicos Anónimos o tratamientos especializados en clínicas de recuperación o idas con el psicólogo o el psiquiatra... de que ayudan, ayudan. El alcohólico puede convertirse en un alcohólico pasivo (que ya no bebe, pero en su conducta puede seguir siendo un alcohólico) y, si tiene suerte, puede desarrollar su recuperación a tres niveles: el físico, el espiritual y el emocional. ¿Pero entonces qué tan grave es el alcoholismo del presidente, bajo el supuesto de que sufra de esta enfermedad? Eso es asunto del enfermo desde una perspectiva estrictamente privada. Desde una perspectiva pública, se puede pensar que si la situación alcanza las dimensiones de Yeltsin en sus momentos más críticos a cargo de la Federación Rusa, pues el asunto es muy, pero muy grave. Quién sabe…

¿Qué tan grave es la situación entonces?

Una de dos, es grave o no lo es. Esto es muy relativo. Ciertamente no sería el primer presidente alcohólico, ni el primer político mexicano alcohólico (¡por el amor de dios!). Es un ser humano y el alcoholismo no distingue ni condición social, ni estatus económico, ni sexo o edad, ni posición ideológica. Ataca parejo. En una nota de El Universal (22 agosto, 2010) se afirma que hay 6 millones de alcohólicos en México; que cada año 1.7 millones de mexicanos incrementan las filas del alcoholismo (!); que el 57% de los suicidios están relacionados con bebidas embriagantes; que se pierden 160,000 horas hombre de trabajo quincenalmente y que el 36% de los delitos se relacionan con las bebidas alcohólicas. De acuerdo al Centro de Integración Juvenil (Octubre 2010), la edad promedio a la que los jóvenes mexicanos comienzan a consumir alcohol es de 14 años y se calcula que tres millones de adolescentes tienen problemas de alcoholismo. México tiene un fuerte problema de consumo de alcohol y el presidente simplemente sería un número más en el problema.

Quizá ha llegado el momento de hablar largo y tendido sobre el problema de alcoholismo para los mexicanos en su conjunto. Quizá ha llegado una invaluable oportunidad para debatir sobre la problemática y convertirnos en una mejor nación, una nación que adquiera conciencia de sus enfermedades crónicas y que empiece a debatir sobre cómo combatirlas de manera humana y eficiente. En fin...

Felipe, te deseo lo mejor, sinceramente. Recibe un fuerte abrazo.

[PUBLICADO EL 9-FEB-2011 EN La gente anda diciendo...]

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

New Book: Mexicanos en el Exterior

The new book “Mexicanos en el Exterior: Trayectoria y perspectivas (1990-2010)” is a magnificient contribution to the analysis of the transnational relations between the Mexican government and the organized Mexican diaspora. It is published by the Instituto Matías Romero, Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores, Mexico.

The contents of the book, which is written in Spanish, is divided in four sections. The first section is written by former directors of the Program of Mexican Communities Abroad (PCME): Roger Dáz de Cossío, Leonardo Ffrench Iduarte, Rodulfo Figueroa Aramoni, Teodoro Maus, and Melba Pría; and the former director of the Institute of Mexicans Abroad (IME): Carlos González Gutiérrez. In this section, we find a rich set of considerations about the most important aspects of the Mexican government’s institutional efforts to contact and organize Mexicans abroad: How everything began, the transition from PCME to IME, the networking efforts, the pending stuff, and the future.

The second section is a collection of essays from Mexican and American scholars about the IME: The importance of the actions of the Advisory Council of the IME, the IME as a tool of Mexican Foreign Policy, the role of the United States in the process, and thoughts about the migrant him/herself, mostly as a social subject of study.

The third section was written by representatives of the civic society who have witnessed the process from different perspectives: organizations of civil society abroad, the cultural factors of the process, and historical essays on the matter. Last, but not least, the fourth section deals with the topic from the perspective of the members of the Advisory Council of the IME: Leni González, Laura González Martínez, Gloria Inzunza-Franco, Orlando Iturbe, María de los Ángeles López-Gallo, Eliseo Medina, Enrique Morones Careaga, Juan de Dios Pineda, and Mario César Ramírez.

I think that this book is a strong, updated reference for scholars in Mexican migration issues, institutional transnationalism, and historical studies of Mexican foreign affairs. To get the book, go directly to the website of the Instituto Matías Romero.