Category Archives: Mexico

Deficit

Y Tu Mama Tambien conoce a El Laberinto de la Soledad. Los taglines dicen donde falta justicia sobra dinero, pero falta nmuchas cosas. En una fiesta donde pasa de todo, Deficit es la opera prima del actor mexicano Gael Garcia Bernal, pelicula cual no duro mucho en taquillera y no tuvo suficiente distribucion, pero que su mensaje tenia mucho que decirnos sobre la clase politica mexicana y las clases altas. Detras de una fiesta de fin de semana en su casa de Tepoztan, Morelos, la pelicula nos da un vistazo a la relacion entre clases sociales. En este pais, siempre hay un deficit, esa palabra temida con la que siempre hemos crecido. En esta pelicula los personajes , la mayoria sufren deficits emocionales, sobre todo Cristobal  que por medio de el somos testigos a una clase politica que poco a poco esta decayendo.

Cristobal es hijo de un politico corrupto de alto nivel que esta en el extranjero huyendo de las autoridades, ya saben, la misma historia. Ve que todos sus amigos estan saliendo adelante y el por alguna razon aun no sabe que quiere hacer con su vida. Pero bien que sabe que no quiere seguir los pasos de su padre.

Atra vez de una fiesta, en la que se divide entre los amigos de Cristobal y de su hermana Elisa. Fresas contra hippies. La diferencia entre sus amigos es aparente, y representa a las divisiones que la misma sociedad se impone asi misma. Si no pueden vivir entre ellos, como van a vivir con ellos mismos, con otros grupos, clases.  Entre otras cosas, esta pelicula tiene enganos, peleas entre la servidumbre, ahora si que sexo, drogas y rock and roll, una ventana hacia la vida de los ricos y famosos.

Pero no todo es de colores, como dice  Cristobal, “todo se esta yendo a la verga”  igual que el pais. Cristobal se da cuenta que la fiesta se arruino tras todo lo que le ha pasado ese dia, ve que su mundo se esta derrumbando, igual que su familia. El hecho de que desvia a su novia para que no llegue a la casa y tenga mas tiempo con su amiga argentina tiene que ver con el engano e hipocrecia que existe en nuestro pais que no nos déja progresar con el fin de que saquen provecho.

Una excelente película que muestra las realidades sociales a las que se enfrenta Mexico entre las clases sociales, vale la pena ver.

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Filed under Cine, Mexico, Peliculas

Movie del Dia- Su Excelenica

ESPANOL

Los paises colorados (los comunistas), los verdes (los capitalistas) y los de dulce (los no alineados). Como los tamales. Solo asi se podria explicar la situacion de ese entonces. Los dos potencias lideres del mundo, Estados Unidos y la Union Sovietica se enfrentaban en una Guerra fria y ambos estaban tratando de ganar aliados, especialmente estos paises de dulce, los paises descolonizados. La pelicula Cantinflas, Su Excelencia presenta esto y otros  temas de la politica internacional, algo asi como La Guerra Fria para Principiantes, o como las ediciones americanas de For Dummies. En esta escena, hasta no los explican con palitos, el consejero del embajador de la Republica de Los Cocos.

Mas que esto, Su Excelencia se burla de la burocracia. Varias de las peliculas de Cantinflas siempre se caracterizaban por esto, ya sea de la iglesia, de los maestros, de los diputados y los policias. En una escena en particular, todos estan en una cena official y le informan al embajador que hay un golpe de estado y cambian de embajador porque vuelven a ocurrir mas golpes de estado hasta que llega a ser Lopitos, (el personaje que interpreta Cantinflas) embajador. Esto es un ejemplo de la inestabilidad y golpes de estados que sucedian en ese tiempo hasta que llega a tomar poder el proletariado y empiezan a recomendar a sus familiares y amigos a puestos importantes sin que sepan nada de politica internacional, historia que continua hast ahoy. Es suficiente ejemplo con que el Presidente Obama haya asignado a las embajadas de Inglaterra, Francia y Japon a los que mas dinero recaudaron dinero para su campana, Louis Susman, Charles Rifkin y John Roos todos con poca o ninguna experiencia en relaciones internacionales.

Una vez en poder, ambos paises, Dolaronia y Pepeslavia, (los verdes y los colorados)tartan de convencer a Lopitos que les den su voto en la asamble (al estilo ONU)que decidira el destino de la humanidad. Es curioso notar que durante la pelicula si cantinflea, habla mucho y no dice nada, durante el ultimo discurso en la asamblea se expresa tan eloquente de algo importante, diciendo muchas verdades de los dos poderes. Habla de la sociedad, como hemos avanzado cientificamente e intelectualmente somos gigantes, pero moralmente somos unos pigmeos. Habla a favor y en contra de los dos paises, no por sus ideales, pero los procedimientos con que las imponen. Nos dice que hay que respetar esas ideas, pero como los colorados, no hay que oprimir a la gente por pensar de otra forma. Y a los verdes les dice que hay que ofrecer oportunidades equitativas. Pero como pueden garantizar cosas materials como carros, cuando todavia hay gente descalza.  Habla de los pros y contras de ambos sistemas. Alguien dijo alguna vez, no estare de acuerdo con lo que dices, pero defenderia hasta la muerte tu derecho a decirlo. Si solo nuestros politicos vieran esta pelicula y captaran el mensaje. O alomejor ya la vieron, pero se hacen gueyes.  O que piensan?  Vean la pelicula por ustedes mismos.

ENGLISH

The red (communists) countries, the green (capitalists) and sweet (nonaligned). Like tamales. Only a film like this one could explain the situation during the Cold War as funny as simple as Cantinflas. T=The two leading super powers, USA and the USSR were at war, and both were trying to gain allies as these new decolonized countries were emerging. Su Excelencia presents this and other themes like foreign affairs, bureaccracy in a type of Cold War for Dummies kind of way.

More than this, Su Excelencia makes fun of the burecrocay. Many Cantinflas’ movies make fun of establishments, like the church, teachers, politicians and police. In one scen, the embassy is at a state dinner and the ambassador to Los Cocos is notified that he has been discharged from his position due to a coup. This happens a few times until Cantinflas’ character is ambassador. This not only makes fun of the political instability that many countries faced at that time, but also the eventual rise of the proliterait and politicians recommending their friends to important positions, like the recent nominations for ambassardors to England, France and Japan. With neither of them with sufficient experience in foreign affairs.

Once in power, both countries, Dolaronia and Pepeslavia try to convince Lopitos to give them his vote at the international assembly a la UN, where the fate of the world will be decided. One thing I noted is that while throughout the movie, Cantinflas speaks a lot without saying anything, cantinflear as he is known to do, but at the speech in front of the assembly, he expresses himself eloquently. He talks about important issues. For and against both systems.  An excellent movie, I recommend it. Or what do you think?

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BINACOM essay

I just came back from the BINACOM Encuentro at the University of San Diego. Thank you Kristin Moran and all the people that came up to me to comment on my essay. I presented an essay on the border, politics and the problems that both the United States and Mexico faced. Overall, I had a good response from the audience. Here’s the transcript to the essay.

Eduardo Santacruz

BINACOM Encuentro at USD

April 17, 2009

The Problem on the Other Side

Mike Vargas from Orson Welles 1958 film, Touch of Evil said, “all border towns bring out the worst in a country.”That sounds about right, considering the state of our region currently. We are neither Mexico nor the United States but a combination of both. I quote from Gloria Anzaldua’s Borderlands they are “where people of different races occupy the same territory, where under, lower, middle and upper classes touch, where the space between two individuals shrink with intimacy.” That intimacy, cooperation, at least with any results that benefit our regions I have yet to see. Like Anzaldua, many of us grew up between two cultures, trying to define our own identity, but we are now with awareness and consciousness of what happens in both countries. Residents of these borderlands grow up with two languages, two cultures, two traditions, two perspectives, two identities.

But what stands out to me the most is how close we are physically, and how far we have distanced ourselves from each other, how we have divided ourselves by a border, a wall, and our differences. That contradiction that a border divides our statuses as first and third world countries. We have isolated ourselves to handle our own problems. The United States is the leading superpower, that is a fact of life and we have to learn to accept that but how interested is the US in the rest of the world, they cannot afford to isolate themselves. With new technologies, globalization, we have to stay united. I remember Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s last film, Babel and if that film taught me anything is that we are all connected somehow, whether it is across the street, across the border, or across the world.

And now with this current economic crisis, we have more reason to stay connected.

I realize that both countries are codependent. We have always depended on each other, supply and demand. The United States needs labor and Mexico provides it. It’s all a question of economics. Mexico needs us as much as we need them. Throughout the years we have established agreements that facilitate collaboration between our two countries, like guest worker programs, and the NAFTA. We have been able to outsource jobs to Mexico thanks to the establishment of the maquiladoras.

We talk about creating community across borders, how can we do that? Acknowledge these people that leave their home in order for a better life that their country won’t provide them, talk about alienation. There’s no easy solution for immigration, we can’t let just anyone in, not with the threat of terrorism at large. There are rules and limits that we have to abide by in order to protect our border. It’s illogical that we keep open borders, Mexico protect their border with Guatemala. Now we can’t solve all each others problems but we are responsible to the problems that we are somehow directly or indirectly affected by. That level of interest determines our involvement. But we can at least collaborate and reach an agreement that works for both countries.

But at least here in the border, we can start with organized crime and drug trafficking. I quote from Fund for Peace, “a state that is failing has several attributes. One of the most common is the loss of physical control of its territory or a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. Other attributes of state failure include the erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions, an inability to provide reasonable public services, and the inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community.”

That seems to be both our countries at the moment to some degree. In order to be able to attack the problem, we must accept it, like twelve step program. I remember this news story in Mexico that said that violence was only occurring in three states of Mexico. Not only is this denial a big irresponsibility from our authorities, but they are misinforming, lying to us to keep the social order. We are both affected. Mexico supplies the drugs; the United States creates the demand for them.

What can we do about it? Decriminalize drugs; tobacco kills more people than car crashes. How come drugs are illegal, because it’s a problem of coexistence, of living with each other, not only are drugs morally wrong, but they’re not socially acceptable as tobacco. Fast food and alcohol are bad for you, but we don’t prohibit them, we remember how that turned out in the 1920’s, same thing is happening with the drugs. So we either cut down on consumption or we decriminalize drugs, I know both countries have proposed it, but we have to do it the right way, by educating people on proper usage, limits.

Then the United States traffics guns and just adds up to the problem. We are both to blame. But the United States isn’t the cause, they’re just a symptom, the real causes are the economy, capitalism and globalization. I don’t intend to promote communism, as both political and economic systems have their upsides and downsides. But organized crime is a result of a capitalist economy and the maldistribution of wealth. People want more, and there are people out there willing to get it anyway they can.

But why don’t governments do anything to control the crime? It has gotten out of hand and now the drug cartels are at war. All these border towns are no longer safe, nobody wants to go there, or live there because no one will do anything to stop the violence. But what do we expect, when the police in Mexico are underpaid, ill motivated and clueless, and in most cases, corrupt. No longer is any border town or any city in Mexico for that matter safe to walk at any time of the day or without the fear of a criminal incident waiting for you around the corner. Kidnappings, shootings, murders, we hear of these incidents on the news. And it’s the first headline on a newspaper or news broadcast. A police was killed, a businessman was kidnapped, a shooting in front of a department store in plain daylight.

Going back to the news coverage, bad news are always first, especially in Mexican news, it’s on the front page. When I turn on the news, all I see are bad news, because tragedy sells, it brings back the viewer. Rarely do I see good news, I don’t remember the last time I saw a story about a man that just did his job, I mean is nothing good happening around us? Instead I get to see that 100 were killed so far in the last week, 200 in the last month 500 in the year for example. How many today? 15, that’s normal.

Then there’s another thing; we’ve grown used to violence, impervious to it and see it as part of our daily lives. That’s not right. But the news is also a cause for this terrorism. They create a fear on society. I watch the news, now I’m scared to go to Tijuana. Business has gone down, restaurants have closed and again the economy especially the service sector has been affected. On this side of the border, we hear from American news about the ongoing violence south of the border. The United States Department of State sends out travel alerts to not go to Mexico, and if we do take precautions. It’s common sense, and sometimes it’s just hype, and there’s always been violence, and we’re as likely to be victims of organized crimes as any city in the United States.

To those who partner with organized crime, they now who they are, and you and I know who they are. There’s always been corruption on both sides of the border. What do we do? The question is what the authorities should do. Both Mexican and American authorities must work together to solve these problems. The problem of organized crime and all its related activities such as drug trafficking and the street violence. I watch TV spots from the Mexican government stating they’ve confiscated x amount of drugs, captured several drug traffickers but I see no results. There is still violence, there’s still poverty, and drugs are still on the streets. If we really want results, both countries must work together, setting borders aside, with an open mind and all parties, both Mexican and American have to work together if we want to progress.

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Imaginantes


Hace poco Fundación Televisa lanzo una campana para promover la cultura en la televisión con el nombre de Imaginantes. Este proyecto consiste de capsulas con un minuto o mas de duración, conducidos por José Gordon, con temas y anécdotas de escritores, directores y otras figuras. Es un buen intento para incrementar la difusión cultural en nuestra televisión para inculcar la cultura, la lectura, y discurso inteligente en nuestro país. Ojala que al ver una de estas capsulas, el televidente quiera investigar la historia de la que hablan de Julio Cortazar o ver una película de Woody Allen, o igual encender el foco de nuestra imaginación y crear un nuevo imaginante. Porque de esto se trata, abrir nuestra imaginación. Claro, también esta el otro lado de la moneda. La cultura no es algo que se pueda resumir en un video de un minuto y medio. En esta capsula creo que tratan de condesar una idea a términos comunes sin tantas palabras domingueras. La cultura tiene que surgir al leer un libro, ver una película, aprendiendo la historia, no es algo que se pueda empaquetar en una cajita y la puedas comprar en la tienda. Si fuera así, estaríamos recurriendo a la televisión para aprender, y eso no ha sucedido. Si acaso Imaginantes es un buen proyecto para la difusión cultural y un paso hacia televisión inteligente que tanto nos falta en este país. O como la ve?

Aquí una capsula de Imaginantes. Y por si quieren ver más capsulas como estas están disponibles en su página aquí.

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Pachucos

Pachucos might not have had a positive perception in their time, thanks to their appearance (the zoot suit) and their part in the Zoot Suit Riots and Sleepy Lagoon Murder.

But there have been some revolutionary works that changed that perception such as Luis Valdez’s play Zoot Suit and 1981 film adaptation. One person in particular was influenced by his experiences in the border and imported the pachuco to Mexico. I’m of course talking about German Valdes, known to most as Tin Tan, who grew up in the border town of Ciudad Juarez and made calo famous through his many films as this funny character. At times harshly criticized for his image by intellectual Jose Vasconcelos, but accepted by the Mexican public and now is a memorable figure of Mexican cinema along with Mario Moreno “Cantinflas.”

Here is part of El Hijo Desobediente film that brought the pachuco Tin Tan to Mexico.

Another portrayal of the pachuco archetype is Mexican band Maldita Vecindad’s Pachuco, a song that depicts the pachuco as an alienated character from society by older generations. And to some extent, the song also suggests the alienation rock and other music (in this case, ska) in Mexico has faced by those people as well.

En el mensaje anterior le habia comentado de la jerga y habla de la Ciudad de Mexico expresada en la cancion de Cafe Tacuba, Chilanga Banda. El juego de palabras ilustrado en esa cancion es conocida como calo, popularizado por German Valdes por medio de su personaje, Tin Tan y tambien por la influencia de mexico-americanos. El Hijo Desobediente, 1945, nos introduce al pachuco y rapidamente se convierte en una figura memorable del cine mexicano, aunque fue criticado por su imagen por Jose Vasconcelos. El primer video es un excerpto de dicha pelicula, mientras que el segundo es de la cancion de Pachuco, original de la Maldita Vecindad. Esta cancion narra el rechazo de la imagen del pachuco por las generaciones anteriores y en paralelo, el rechazo del rock en Mexico. O como la ve?

E.S.

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