El Fomentador

Alive and well in Mexico…

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Hola Amigos! How y’all doing? I thought that after a few months of writing posts to this blog and thinking about some of the ideas that have grown out of it I should actually fill in this page that, as I understand it , is supposed to explain what el fomentador is all about. That would be a lot easier if, for instance, I knew what the heck it was all about. Oh, I had an idea when I started; it was going to be about education in Mexico, both the good and the bad–I’ll be honest, I haven’t found very many good things. I’ve travelled with Mexican university students to forgotten primary schools in the blighted areas surrounding the major cities. I’ve seen bright little kids being strangled by the grip of poverty; many of them essentially abandoned as their parents have been forced to migrate to the US to simply survive. The children may be abandoned but they are not forgotten. Yes, there are students and teachers and communities banding together to help save these children. Will it be enough? I doubt it, and most Mexicans don’t really care, there are simply too many poor here and, as we know, poverty disporportionately affects children. When you consider that fact that they will never have an opportunity for a real education their plight is doubly disheartening.

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So is el fomentador about education or poverty? Again, in my opinion you can’t separate the two.

Okay throw in official corruption, politicans stealing milk from babies, and a national teachers union that hasn’t done anything positive for teachers or students ever. Well, don’t get me started on the teacher’s union–if I say too much I may just become “disappeared”. I always say I think it is significant that the word in Spanish for “labor union” is “syndicato” because it is run like the mafia. I believe in organized labor, workers need job protection, and the power to bargain for salary and benefits. My father and grandfather were both Teamster members during the reign of Jimmy Hoffa as union president. Union benefits made a difference to my family. The problem is that eventually an oligarchy develops that is so far removed from the real lives and responsibilities of the workers that it becomes easier to just make back-room deals, skim money off of the top, and put into place a top down power structure that fills the organizational hierarchy with a legion of toadies willing to say and do anything to protect themselves, and their position–workers be damned. (Now that I think about it that could describe the US Congress too. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. recently said that he is a Democrat because 95% of the Repubicans are corrupt and only 75% of the Democrats are corrupt. As Homer Simpson might say, “It’s funny because it’s true.”

I talk with teachers afraid to say anything about failing policies, graft, and incompentent administration, because if you are black-balled by the minions in the public university community you will not work again. So mediocrity is the order of the day and I believe it will ever be thus. I’ve talked to both Mexicans and foreigners that say, don’t worry about the education system in Mexico–it’s rotten all the way through–and even if it changed tomorrow it wouldn’t matter because even countries like China and India have already zoomed too far ahead. I, however, remain optimistic that good people will see what needs to be done and will work toward doing it.

I’ll admit that I am getting tired of complaining about Mexico, for one thing it is too easy of a target. And people that live here don’t need me to tell them that there are problems. Obviously right now the biggest problem is internal security. The Mexicans I talk to recognize the battle against the drug cartels as a war for the survival of civil society. They are worried that the weak, corrupt and ineffective institutions of Mexican government will not be able to withstand the threat and that the country will collapse into chaos, or an increased state of chaos. I worry about that too. The US and Mexico both have too much at stake to allow that to happen.

So what is el fomentador all about? It is about learnng and growing and changing. It is about restoring the rule of law and protecting citizens on both sides of the border, in fact on all sides of many different borders. It is about expecting both Mexico and the US to live up to their responsibilities to each other and to humanity in general. I know that sounds like a tall task, but I also know that it can happen and that it must happen if the western hemisphere is to move forward and retain a leadership role in the world. There are dark forces at work in the world that are intent on destroying democracy and if Mexico thinks they are immune to hatred and terrorism they are mistaken. There are dark forces at work within the current US administration visiting death and destruction upon it’s own citizens and people in many different parts of the world, creating an atmosphere of mistrust and a generating a demand for vengence that will last for generations. (If you don’t believe me, just ask a Mexican about the Mexican-American War. It has been more than 150 years and they still hate us because of the territory they lost. I understand, but I say, “Get over it, already”. I mean, really, you can’t even run the country you have. What would you do with more area? Besides Mexico is recovering more and more everyday. Go to southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, or Texas. There you will find an inexorable demographic change. You will also find that the Hispanics living there do not want to be a part of Mexico. They are the ones that have escaped, that have discovered a new life. Certainly it is not always the idyllic life imagined by immigrants for hundreds of years–the land of milk and honey where the streets are paved with gold. But I can tell you it is a better life than they had in Mexico. And it will be a better life by far for their children and grandchildren, assuming the people can get past the pride and prejudice that has driven humans since the beginning of time. And, believe me, I know that is asking a lot, but what’s the point of being an idealist if you can’t believe in a better future?

Okay, maybe that is too much to hope for, but in Mexico “hope” is often all they have. I always say I find it interesting that in Spanish the verb “esperar” means both “to hope” and “to wait”. Well, from what I can see, hoping hasn’t accomplished anything and, in my opinion, the people have waited long enough.

If you agree or disagree el fomentador is also about your views and ideas, comments and suggestions, stories and questions. I hope you find the material in this blog thought-provoking if not always useful and that you will take advantage of the opportunity to give others something to think about, too.

So the “About” page will continue to grow and change too as time goes on. Thanks and please keep tuned in.

Ah, mis amigos,  Man, I have been gone a long time! Well, I haven’t really been ‘gone’…but I am baaack now. El Fomentador has been busy fighting ignorance–and many days, I have to admit, it feels like ignorance is winning. But will that feeling stop me? No! Does el Santo give up when some bad guy has him against the ropes in a choke hold, trying to pull off his mask in order to reveal his secret identity to the world? Of course not! Our hero just muscles his way out of it and does a reverse on the guy. (Please insert a mental image of the wrestling fans going nutz here.)

Yes, I have been busy. Busy alienating everyone I meet. Americans, Mexicans, Canadians, British, Spanish, Chinese, Catholics, you name a nationality or creed and I will manage to offend them. And do you know why I go out of my way to offend them? Because, for the most part they are  idiots (or idiotas, a Spanish word which is often used in movie sub-titles in place of a–hole, well, there I go again, I apologize if that offended anyone). I am really am kind of sorry when something I say offends people–but as I have often said, people just tend to take things too personally. A friend of mine agreed, saying, Yes, when something bad happens to someone they say, “Why did this have to happen to me? Oh, woe is me, why me, why me?” But when something good happens to that same person, they say, “Well, I deserved it. It is about time. I earned this.”

I’ve  also been busy reading a batch of essays by the English writer E.M. Forster (author of  ‘A Passage to India’, among other novels) and he suggests, in the essay ‘What I Believe’, that we just look the other way until fate strikes us. That way we have time to live, to enjoy life, to create, to be happy, to irritate people ( sorry, I threw that last one in myself). Because as Chekhov points out: sooner or later life will show us all its claws.

I’ll admit, at times it is hard not to take things personally. For example, the new law against illegal immigrants in Arizona (it was set to go into effect at the end of July 2010), anyway when it was announced, the media in Mexico went nutz, politicians, whose only interest in migrants is  how much money they will send back to Mexico from their jobs in the states and how they can get their grubby little hands on some of it, started going nutz, even some drunken Mexican bum, who was probably already nutz, came up to me on the street and started  mouthing off about the law and the US, and I’m not sure what the hell else this guy had to complain about. So I’m like, hey, go sleep it off pal, do I look like I’m from Arizona, asshole (I was going to call him an idiota, but I figured, this guy doesn’t speak English so I can say whatever I want to). I suppose I just managed to offend people from Arizona. Well, no matter. Hey, I am with you on this one guys. Mexicans are crying that the law is anti-Mexican–hallo–it is anti-illegal immigration and illegal immigration has served as the Mexican government’s jobs program for at least thirty years–and as a source of cheap, disposable labor north of the border. Oh, sure it has kept down the price of rutabagas at the local market–but my question is: Who likes rutabagas anyway?!?

No, wait a minute, that wasn’t really my question, although…. Oh, my point was that I started to take this wave of anti-Americanism personally until I realized they’re all a bunch of f—ing idiots. And please don’t take that personally. I tried to explain to people here that the truth is people in the states, especially along the border, see that more than 23,000 murders–and I mean bloody murders–have taken place in the last three and a half years as result of the drug wars. Just last week 21 gang members were killed in a firefight between rival cartels just 12 miles south of the Arizona border. People aren’t being prejudice as much as they are just afraid. Hell, people in Mexico are afraid. But is el Fomentador afraid, well, once in a while, yes…, but really no, forget about all of those scary looking fat guys with the stupid sounding nicknames and driving around in gold-plated, bullet-proof  SUVs with ice-chests filled with severed heads in the back. Life will show its claws to them too. I say bring it on idiotas, because el Fomentador is back–“the most dangerous man in Mexico”–a free man who speaks the truth!  It’s good to be alive and gosh darn-it it’s good to be an American. Adios Amigos!

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Written by El Fomentador

January 9, 2008 at 3:21 am

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