how the world sees america

Mexico Better Off Without U.S.?

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MEXICO CITY - "If the U.S. didn't exist, would Mexico be better off, exactly the same, or worse?" Leon Krauze asks his national radio audience of three million Mexicans. Jump to a commercial break, and calls start coming in. A lone woman in the adjacent office begins fielding the four dozen phone calls that will stream in over the next hour. She writes down replies at a frenetic pace, and hands them to Leon. He likes what he reads.

He expected knee-jerk anti-Americanism from his audience -- vague calls for Mexican sovereignty. Three months ago his station, W Radio, lost Carmen Aristegui, a prominent host of what Leon calls "The Populist Left"; she accused the station of effectively censoring her. Leon, who sees himself as a pragmatic progressive, began broadcasting from the same station on a show with the same name, Hoy Por Hoy (Today for Today), but with a very different view of the U.S.

Leon's father, Enrique, is a prominent Mexican historian, who collaborated closely with Octavio Paz and founded the magazine 'Letras Libres.' Both father and son Krauze vociferously opposed leftist presidential hopeful Lopez Obrador in 2006, dubbing him a dangerous Messiah. Thirty-three-old Leon saw greater hope in Felipe Calderon, now president, a pro-business figure who, like the Krauzes, supports closer ties with the U.S.

Leon's gotten used to taking heat from supporters of Lopez Obrador, and what he calls "that small part of the loud Left that insists on frowning upon everything." This group, he says, opposes the United States at every turn, from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to the liberalizing/privatizing of Mexican oil ownership (the hot topic now). Their emphasis on "sovereignty," he says, is misplaced for a nation whose people and economy are entwined with those right across their borders.

About a fifth of today's callers tell Leon what he expected to hear. The first caller, Enrique Mendrillo says, "Mexico has been losing to the U.S. since the 1800s. They always leave us nothing!" and he calls on Leon "not to forget 1848." Another caller, Mario Rosales, then laments President Felipe Calderon's visit to the U.S. this week, worrying that he'll bargain away Mexico's oil resources to the United States' private sector, much as La Malinche enabled Spain's Hernán Cortés to conquer the Mayan Empire. (Don't forget 1521 either.)

Another 20% of the callers who say Mexico must look within to solve its problems. "The problem isn't with the U.S. in Mexico, it's with our own corrupt politicians," Rogelio Rivera Lopez says succinctly. Don't look north for salvation, he warns.

The remaining three-fifths like Carlos Frauda from Nayarit, argue that "we’d be much worse off without the U.S." He says Mexico's education system would be weaker, its movies duller, and its citizens poorer, looking more like "Mexico's poor Honduran, Guatemalan and El Salvadorian neighbors." Caller Rodrigo La Torre provocatively quotes a former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, who apparently said: "There’s no worse punishment for Mexicans than to leave them alone to govern themselves," invoking the U.S. as a protectorate of sorts.

Time's running out for the show. A Tom Petty tune swells, and Leon calls out, "Buenos noches, amigos." He flips a switch and says, with a surprised look on his face: "I didn't expect that!"

His callers ran the gamut, from fierce, historically-rooted distrust of the U.S. to a passive dependence upon it. Where does Leon come down? He'd say in the pragmatic center. As one caller Ignacio Chavez put it, "Let’s leave the complaints alone already and take advantage of our northern neighbor!"

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Comments (40)

Søren Kjær Vestergaard:

I would like you to make an analyze of the difference between how Europe will see US after either MacCain and Obama/Clinton ?

http://www.debatcode.com

jtobiassen:

To oldpotsmuggler:

you've smoked to much, I think

Gerardo, Mexico City:

Well, I think there's a big issue here. Many Mexican and American people usually tend to blame on each other of their countries' problems.

For many years, in Mexico, there has been an evident division in two kinds of thoughts. 'The US is the best country, and is the only one that can save us' and 'Americans are responsible of our disgraces'. I merely don't share these feelings. From my point of view, both nations are important for their neighbors.

In Mexico, there has been a lack of vision, not only from the governments, but also from the people. Mexican people hasn't been able to look forward and notice that a good relation between both countries is quite useful for a regional development. Mexican politician's speech has been heavily loaded of hopes that the NAFTA would save mexican economy, or that an immigration reform (which is certainly necessary) is the lifesaver we need. The United States are important to Mexico, yes; but I must say, they're not the only country in the world, and I sadly have to recognize that many of my compatriots don't think the same. Even those that are against the US.

Finally, I have say what I see. Mexico is constantly looking towards the US as the big door that leads to development and the first world, and the United States seem to have forgotten that Mexico IS their big door to Latin America.

Alberto :

Regarding all the “sort of nazi-conservative” comments.
The topic we are supposed to talk about is “How the world sees America”, and now the some inhabitants of Mexico will have the opportunity to speak out their mind…
So, to be accurate in your judgments over what you might see or read, the first thing you should do, is ask yourself if all Mexicans are alike or if all think the same way?, the answer of course is obvious, NO… the reason?... quite simple, cuz neither inhabitants of America or of any other country are alike or think the same way…
Therefore, once I have underlined that, I will like to say that the answer you are going to get is strictly dependable to whom you submit the question How do you see America?
If you ask a wealthy Mexican that has benefit of the political oligarchic system, like Krauze throughout daddy’s friends, you will get a very sympathetic answer, come on, basically they dream someday Mexico becomes part of the US… but they, as much, are 10% of the population… 10 millions.
In the other hand, if you ask the same question to circa 40 or 60 millions, you will probably get a confusing answer, America is at the same time heaven and hell, heaven because is the only chance they have to improve their life, and hell because they might get kill in their way to get there and if they reach the US, racism and exploitation might be their destiny.
And if you ask the other 30 millions, “the middle class”, the answer would be sympathetic some times and negative other times. Why? There is a long list of reasons for both cases. They don’t hate you, but they don’t love you. You are just a neighbor (an imperial one) with whom they know have had and have to deal… sometimes it has been easy, but not always…
I completely agree with the fact that most of problems Mexico has are total responsibility of Mexicans, also that Mexicans must solve them… but only by Mexicans, and the better help you can give us, is MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS, don’t mess in Mexican affairs… and in a short period, at the same time we bring back every uneducated Mexican that you hate so much (which by the way, lots of them come back and die here) we will not allow any American pedophiles and cocaine consumers to enter to our country… meanwhile both as good neighbors we will have to get along… both countries been tolerant to those uncomfortable visitors…
Finally, I will like to say that is true how different the two countries have evolved in the past century… The US is a super global power and Mexico is a under develop country, but there are also another differences Mexico has never invade another country, therefore, never kill as much innocent people, i.e. Hirochisma… has never violated international law been a terrorist state (Nicaragua) or do war for oil (Irak)…
But oh well, this is just another point of view, one of the 100,000,000 that you could have in Mexico…

The Luger:

Thanx Chucho, I know i cant be taken seriously but I agree that barbaric racists, want a quick solution by means of violence, That´s to say is the american way.

And yes, I agree, the ENTIRE world be better off without people like me, and therefore gringos bacause Gabachos are the best teachers for that because they are the best "rational and intelligent human beings" that live in this world. Yeah, God Bless you. Long Live to the Sacrum Americanum-Gabachus Imperium!

truth:

the truth of the matter is the people of Mexico and the USA are more alike then Diffrent. forget the politics of our governments, nut look at the people and their values and work habits. we in the us should be helping the People of mexico to form a government that is represenitive of all of them I have travled to Mexico on a constant basis. from my eyes it looks like those of spanis decent are the ones with the most power and influance and the native people are looked downupon as trash and filth they make less money on average and usualy have the crappy jobs. it reminds me of what the people of the us did to my Native ancestors, if we are suposed to be the beacon of freedom then I think we are doing a poor job of shining that light to our closest neighbors wo in a poll I saw showed that 70% wanted to come to america and be like us. shame on us. do we really beleave theies words
"Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Emma Lazarus, 1883
in over 232years the United states has Grown up alot but if we trun a blind eye to put friends and famlies who want the same freedoms and opertunitys we have then we have become no better then the British rulers we declared our independance from so many years ago

susum:

Given: The Canadian Government had listed the US as a torture state in briefing books of legal interns for the Dept of Foreign Affirs. Given: Canadian Military stops handing over Afgan POW's either US or Afgan custody by reason of proven abuse in both regimes. Given: Extraditon Orders for US servicemen in Canada was overtuned on appeal based on abuse of prisoners by the US. Result: Absolute decline in the eyes of Canadians of things American. Prognisis: Continued detachment of American ties, slowly but surely. Perhaps the question should be "Does Canada need America"?

susum:

Given: The Canadian Government had listed the US as a torture state in briefing books of legal interns for the Dept of Foreign Affirs. Given: Canadian Military stops handing over Afgan POW's either US or Afgan custody by reason of proven abuse in both regimes. Given: Extraditon Orders for US servicemen in Canada was overtuned on appeal based on abuse of prisoners by the US. Result: Absolute decline in the eyes of Canadians of things American. Prognisis: Continued detachment of American ties, slowly but surely. Perhaps the question should be "Does Canada need America"?

A Venezuelan:

TO ELZIAX:

"I'm begging you: Please don't mess up this once-in-a-lifetime chance of electing a president who could not only change Washington and turn the page of American history but actually inspire the whole world!!!"

Change the words "Washington" and "America" to "Caracas" and "Venezuela" and you'll get what ignorant blind followers here said of Chavez. He turned out to be a clown that only convinces the weak or undereducated minds, like "Orlando", the first guy to comment on this article... oh, and he still convinces many armchair revolutionaries that DON'T LIVE UNDER HIS MEDIOCRE GOVERNMENT.

Let's hope that if Obama wins, he lives up to the hype.

bong_jamesbong2001:

Mexicans have to understand that they must solve their problems themselves, and that their problems won't be solved by illegally immigrating North without any intention of assimilating. That is just another form of colonialism, and Americans dislike it as much as anyone else, including Mexicans.
We have shared a common border for a long time, and this border has been quiet for nearly the entire length of that time. I really have a difficult time imagining that Mexicans could forget that we gave President Benito Juarez asylum during the French invasion, (Juarez was a man more Americans should know about, a truly great man), or that we helped them get rid of the French. For the most part, our relations have been honorable, on both sides. I have visited Mexico a few times, briefly, and never had any trouble there. Mexicans I have met here have been almost always kind and good people. I hope things continue in that vein.

Mickey:

"keliffa:
The only difference with a nice guy image is that the other hand is not openly shooting us a bird while they take it."


A tall Russian prostitute did that to me after I finished my "business meeting" with her in a Beverly Hills hotel. She took the money and stormed out of the room while her F-words still ringing in my ear. LOL Glad I got that reaction out of her.

bong_jamesbong2001:

Mexicans have to understand that they must solve their problems themselves, and that their problems won't be solved by illegally immigrating North without any intention of assimilating. That is just another form of colonialism, and Americans dislike it as much as anyone else, including Mexicans.
We have shared a common border for a long time, and this border has been quiet for nearly the entire length of that time. I really have a difficult time imagining that Mexicans could forget that we gave President Benito Juarez asylum during the French invasion, (Juarez was a man more Americans should know about, a truly great man), or that we helped them get rid of the French. For the most part, our relations have been honorable, on both sides. I have visited Mexico a few times, briefly, and never had any trouble there. Mexicans I have met here have been almost always kind and good people. I hope things continue in that vein.

Chucho McGrane:

Hey The Luger, I don't follow local and world politics as closely as I would like to, I do however, enjoy the views of other people and how they compare with each other. My comment to you is, how in the world do you expect to be taken seriously, when you end your view with: "I hope some (country) destroys the U.S.?" This completely discredits you as an intelligent, rational human being. Instead it shows how you and, sadly, millions of other barbaric racists, want a quick solution by means of violence. The better question is not would Mexico be better off without the U.S., but would the ENTIRE world be better off without people like you? the answer is a resounding YES.

kr:

Once again massive riots have taken place in a Paris suburb which is populated with North African and Arab immigrants. Over the past week, over 100 police officers have been injured as the thugs hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails and fired shotguns at them. The violence is a direct result of the large influx of Third World immigrants who have no intention of assimilating.”
One third of immigrants are on some form of welfare, costing states nearly $20 billion a year--adding that efforts to legalize the spiraling number of illegal aliens will only increase the amount of uneducated, uninsured legal immigrants burdening America’s welfare rolls. Since 2000, more than 10 million immigrants have entered the U.S., more than half of them illegally. With no change in U.S. immigration policy, another 15 million immigrants will likely arrive in the next 10 years.
“The last seven years have been the highest period of immigration in American history,” says Dr. Steven A. Camarota of www.cis.org. “The roughly 1.5 million immigrants arriving each year have a very significant effect on American life.”
The question grows: how long before the United States suffers the same fate as France? Short answer: not too much longer if the current immigration numbers continue.
If U.S. citizens fail to stop all forms of immigration, this country doesn’t stand a chance against its immigrants as they outnumber, overwhelm and thoroughly change our country into something like those immigrants fled.
Immigration in any form creates a lose-lose dilemma for all Americans. The November 2008 election of senators and House members, and the next president will sustain or destroy the United States of America. If the democrats win the White House, our borders become a free-for-all.

gp:


McNut,s reasons for Amnesty
McCain's God,s Children Argument!
Then there is they are all God,s children argument(Another McCain favor) well isn't everyone God,s children? If so then guess McCain is saying everyone and anyone has the right to Invade this Nation, waving their flags, demand their rights, while feasting at the trough of public welfare and Kill, Rape and Rob thousands of American citizens each year!

McCain's Lettuce Argument!
There's the "lettuce" argument -- we'll be paying $50/head (or starving)( McCain really likes this argument) if we don't have illegal aliens working in the fields. As Phil Martin, ag economist at UC Davis shows, the field labor cost in a $1 head of lettuce is about 6 cents. Triple those wages and Americans will do the jobs. (They're not career positions. They're seasonal jobs for young people, starting in the world of work. I have did similarly menial jobs.) And you'll be paying 10% more for lettuce and other produce. Do you spend $1,000/year on produce? OK, you'll pay $100 more.

The lettuce argument also parallels that for the retention of slavery.

Immigrant Argument!
There's the "everyone's an immigrant except for the 'Native Americans'" argument. Well, the American Indians didn't sprout from the land, they came across the Bering land bridge from Asia. So if the criterion is "You're an immigrant if you had an ancestor who immigrated here," then American Indians are immigrants, too.

In that case, "immigrant" is no longer a useful word, since Everyone's an immigrant.

Stole Southwest Argument!
There's the "the U.S. stole the southwest" argument. Well, the land in dispute was "owned" by Spain for a couple of centuries. Then by Mexico for about 25 years. During these periods, there weren't more than a few thousand Spaniards or Mexicans in the entire territory. It's been owned by the U.S. for about 160 years now, much longer than Mexico's reign. And the U.S. has actually done something with the land, made it habitable for tens of millions. As Robert Kaplan has described, the difference between American and Mexican "twin cities" straddling the border is like night and day, yet the land is obviously the same. It's not the dirt that's important, it's the people. Put another way, if culture didn't matter, Mexico and Central America would be paradise.

Illegal pay taxes Argument!

There's the "illegal aliens pay tons of taxes" argument. Sure, they all pay real estate taxes (in rent) and sales taxes (most states). Those working on the books (typically using stolen Social Security numbers) pay FICA and, perhaps, income taxes. But they're mostly ill-educated and low-skilled and pay very low taxes connected to their working -- in fact, most claim the Earned Income Tax Credit, i.e. negative income tax! If a family with both parents working has two kids in school, that's at least $15k/year just for schooling, way more than the taxes on, say, $35k/year aggregate income.

Robert Rector at the Heritage Foundation has done the systematic accounting on all this. A typical household headed by a low-skilled illegal alien is a net drain of about $20k/year for the rest of us, year after year. (Low-skilled Americans are a similar burden, but they're part of the national family, not gate crashers from other societies.)

Illegal Bad..Amnesty good Argument!

There's the "illegal immigration is bad, but make them citizens and problem solved" argument. Nope. If that were the case, legalizing (i.e. amnestying) the illegal aliens would solve the problem. But they'd still be (on average) low-skilled workers whose burden on the rest of us would continue. In fact, once legal they'd be able to access more public benefits programs, so their cost to the rest of us would actually rise substantially. In short, most of the problems of mass illegal immigration are shared by mass amnestying them.

The flood of immigrants drives wages and living conditions in our central cities toward those of the Third World.

- The influx imposes both sprawl and gridlock on our metropolitan areas.

- Immigrant families needing services overwhelm our schools, taxpayer-funded health care facilities, and other public agencies.

- Those requiring services don’t assimilate and, instead, expect to be served in their native languages.

- American civic culture frays as each ethnic group establishes its own grievance lobby and pushes for preferences.

- Communicable diseases such as tuberculosis (new, drug-resistant strains) return.

- Shortages of water and other resources loom, especially in immigration-blitzed Southwest.

Most that come across our open borders come from countries where, Crime, Corruption, Poverty, Misery, Anti-education, and hate for Americans has existed for centuries and is normal. Should anyone be surprised they bring those same family values across the border with them?

jp:


McNut,s reasons for Amnesty
McCain's God,s Children Argument!
Then there is they are all God,s children argument(Another McCain favor) well isn't everyone God,s children? If so then guess McCain is saying everyone and anyone has the right to Invade this Nation, waving their flags, demand their rights, while feasting at the trough of public welfare and Kill, Rape and Rob thousands of American citizens each year!

McCain's Lettuce Argument!
There's the "lettuce" argument -- we'll be paying $50/head (or starving)( McCain really likes this argument) if we don't have illegal aliens working in the fields. As Phil Martin, ag economist at UC Davis shows, the field labor cost in a $1 head of lettuce is about 6 cents. Triple those wages and Americans will do the jobs. (They're not career positions. They're seasonal jobs for young people, starting in the world of work. I have did similarly menial jobs.) And you'll be paying 10% more for lettuce and other produce. Do you spend $1,000/year on produce? OK, you'll pay $100 more.

The lettuce argument also parallels that for the retention of slavery.

Immigrant Argument!
There's the "everyone's an immigrant except for the 'Native Americans'" argument. Well, the American Indians didn't sprout from the land, they came across the Bering land bridge from Asia. So if the criterion is "You're an immigrant if you had an ancestor who immigrated here," then American Indians are immigrants, too.

In that case, "immigrant" is no longer a useful word, since Everyone's an immigrant.

Stole Southwest Argument!
There's the "the U.S. stole the southwest" argument. Well, the land in dispute was "owned" by Spain for a couple of centuries. Then by Mexico for about 25 years. During these periods, there weren't more than a few thousand Spaniards or Mexicans in the entire territory. It's been owned by the U.S. for about 160 years now, much longer than Mexico's reign. And the U.S. has actually done something with the land, made it habitable for tens of millions. As Robert Kaplan has described, the difference between American and Mexican "twin cities" straddling the border is like night and day, yet the land is obviously the same. It's not the dirt that's important, it's the people. Put another way, if culture didn't matter, Mexico and Central America would be paradise.

Illegal pay taxes Argument!

There's the "illegal aliens pay tons of taxes" argument. Sure, they all pay real estate taxes (in rent) and sales taxes (most states). Those working on the books (typically using stolen Social Security numbers) pay FICA and, perhaps, income taxes. But they're mostly ill-educated and low-skilled and pay very low taxes connected to their working -- in fact, most claim the Earned Income Tax Credit, i.e. negative income tax! If a family with both parents working has two kids in school, that's at least $15k/year just for schooling, way more than the taxes on, say, $35k/year aggregate income.

Robert Rector at the Heritage Foundation has done the systematic accounting on all this. A typical household headed by a low-skilled illegal alien is a net drain of about $20k/year for the rest of us, year after year. (Low-skilled Americans are a similar burden, but they're part of the national family, not gate crashers from other societies.)

Illegal Bad..Amnesty good Argument!

There's the "illegal immigration is bad, but make them citizens and problem solved" argument. Nope. If that were the case, legalizing (i.e. amnestying) the illegal aliens would solve the problem. But they'd still be (on average) low-skilled workers whose burden on the rest of us would continue. In fact, once legal they'd be able to access more public benefits programs, so their cost to the rest of us would actually rise substantially. In short, most of the problems of mass illegal immigration are shared by mass amnestying them.

The flood of immigrants drives wages and living conditions in our central cities toward those of the Third World.

- The influx imposes both sprawl and gridlock on our metropolitan areas.

- Immigrant families needing services overwhelm our schools, taxpayer-funded health care facilities, and other public agencies.

- Those requiring services don’t assimilate and, instead, expect to be served in their native languages.

- American civic culture frays as each ethnic group establishes its own grievance lobby and pushes for preferences.

- Communicable diseases such as tuberculosis (new, drug-resistant strains) return.

- Shortages of water and other resources loom, especially in immigration-blitzed Southwest.

Most that come across our open borders come from countries where, Crime, Corruption, Poverty, Misery, Anti-education, and hate for Americans has existed for centuries and is normal. Should anyone be surprised they bring those same family values across the border with them?

bl:

Less face the truth Mexico has a official policy of offloading their Uneducated peons, criminals and other undesirables on the USA. They provide them documents and instruction in the form of funny papers (because many if not most cannot read) on how to avoid the border parole. How to get illegal documents and jobs in the USA. By off loading their uneducated peons, criminals and other undesirables on American taxpayers they avoid a revolution in Mexico and improve the standard of living while gaining billions in remittance back to Mexico. They play the race very effective and appeal to the Compassion of American citizens. In the long run maybe the most effective thing we could do for Mexico is deport every illegal Mexican in the USA. After having lived here and getting used to the standard of living here if we send back the 12 to 30 million back to Mexico they would demand a better, less corrupt government. It may require an revolution there but the end results hopefully would be a better country! Mexico as countries go is rich there is no reason they cannot do a better job in caring for their citizens.

To put it bluntly without being PC the problem with Mexico is Mexicans. In hundreds of years the only type of society they have been able to build is a Cesspool of Crime, Corruption, Poverty, Misery and Cruelly! Look at their sports, Bull fighting, Horse tripping, Dog Fighting, & of course rape is a great sport for the young men. Which you would think would hardly be necessary since sex is legal with 12 year old girls there. It would seem that would be enough like rape to satisfy even the most jaded! Not surprising as more Mexicans come to this country the more like Mexico we become! In the long run it is either good or desirable for us or the world to allow Mexico to turn this country into another Third World Country. If any more proof is required look at the Border cities, they are as different as night and day. Obviously the land is the same so how to explain the poverty on the Mexican side other than Mexican culture?

John Lison:

I was fortunate enough to have spent several years working in Mexico, a country whose beauty and people I love. Getting a "green card" in Mexico is tough but when I had one it was nearly green unlike those in the USA.

I was involved in a former government owned enterprise which had been privatized during the Salinas Goteri administration. We had actually operated reasonably well while Zedillo was president, only 3 strikes in 6 years but then mexicans got what they asked for--Fox. Soon after that election, we were struck for double wages. Mexico's Labor Department became powerless or unwilling to act. No one could be found to whom the mordida could be paid and the enterprise slipped into oblivion, along with several thousand jobs. Now being used as an outsource by a US company at a shadow of former employment.

Mexico needs to clean itself of the greedy oligarchs. Amazing to compare the similarities between modern Mexican and Russian history. The mexican narcos and russian mafia have now become "respectable" members of their respective society. I am always blown away by the fact that Salinas' brother's buddy, Carlos Slim, who became wealthy as a result of the privitisations, became the world's richest man.

USA is the wealthy Mexican's best friend and the poor Mexican's worst enemy. Illegal immigration is nothing less than 21st Century slavery.

Best thing the USA could do would be to legalize all narcotics , tax the hell out of them(like alcohol) and put the Mexican slave merchants and narco bosses along with their dirty cops and politicians out of business. If we combine that with a law making the hiring of illegals from anywhere a felony while making instant confirmation of immigration status available to employers, we could embark upon a foreign policy between neighbors as opposed to a mutual taking advantage by both countries for advantage of their wealthy.

John Lison:

I was fortunate enough to have spent several years working in Mexico, a country whose beauty and people I love. Getting a "green card" in Mexico is tough but when I had one it was nearly green unlike those in the USA.

I was involved in a former government owned enterprise which had been privatized during the Salinas Goteri administration. We had actually operated reasonably well while Zedillo was president, only 3 strikes in 6 years but then mexicans got what they asked for--Fox. Soon after that election, we were struck for double wages. Mexico's Labor Department became powerless or unwilling to act. No one could be found to whom the mordida could be paid and the enterprise slipped into oblivion, along with several thousand jobs. Now being used as an outsource by a US company at a shadow of former employment.

Mexico needs to clean itself of the greedy oligarchs. Amazing to compare the similarities between modern Mexican and Russian history. The mexican narcos and russian mafia have now become "respectable" members of their respective society. I am always blown away by the fact that Salinas' brother's buddy, Carlos Slim, who became wealthy as a result of the privitisations, became the world's richest man.

USA is the wealthy Mexican's best friend and the poor Mexican's worst enemy. Illegal immigration is nothing less than 21st Century slavery.

Best thing the USA could do would be to legalize all narcotics , tax the hell out of them(like alcohol) and put the Mexican slave merchants and narco bosses along with their dirty cops and politicians out of business. If we combine that with a law making the hiring of illegals from anywhere a felony while making instant confirmation of immigration status available to employers, we could embark upon a foreign policy between neighbors as opposed to a mutual taking advantage by both countries for advantage of their wealthy.

Amar C. Bakshi:

Hey all, Love the Obama discussion unfolding. Sorry about posting so sparcely this week. I've been meeting a lot of smart people but have got more background and opinion than stories from them, so they haven't been fitting for this vlog. But tomorrow I am finally leaving Mexico City and heading to Oaxaca, where I'll be talking to ordinary folks about their stories, and for the final two weeks of this project coming up, I hope to get you my strongest posts yet, daily. Another problem, let me vent here, is I fell terribly sick last night. It was one of those sickness spells from hell, but when I woke up, I felt cured, just tired. So that's where I am now, editing my next video and drinking tea. Will write more about the Obama et al discussion soon.

Vic van Meter:

Obama's status as a rock-star has mostly to do with the fact that, as you stated Amar, nobody outside the United States really knows him. If they did, it would be fairly obvious that the majority of his reforms and opinions are exactly what most Democrats have been pushing for. Obama is riding a wave of appeal and hoping to ride it past Hillary Clinton, who was already the insiders' favorite before he arrived.

Talking heads inside the U.S. (and most likely outside as well) aren't particularly kind to politicians. The fact that Hillary Clinton's biggest sell in the primary is that she is an experienced politician sets her in harsh contrast to our public appeal which tends to be very distrustful of government (almost by tradition). So you can hardly blame someone for not listing every international harm and merit each candidate brings to the table when most people think ALL politics are a necessary evil. So Obama's huge appeal probably has more to do with his status as a political outsider than because of any policy he has.

Obama will continue to be popular in America with people who believe he can single-handedly change our political system with some sort of magic bullet solution that will fix everything. A bit like America's oil problem. Everyone agrees that America's fossil fuel consumption is a problem. Everyone knows it. Everyone uses it as leverage and inexorably that problem has made the world go 'round for some time now. Now everyone expects the next president to fix it. The problem being that fixing it can't be done so easily. There are no magic-bullet solutions to our problem. There is no energy source that will allow us to live the way we are currently living. The only solutions will undoubtedly cause a lot of problems, a lot of pain, and things will take decades, if not another century, to sort out.

Now apply that to our political system. For hundreds of years, our political system has collected junk, sort of like your shower drain catching hair. And enough has accumulated that our actual progress moves at a trickle. What is the solution to this? To clean out the junk? Fix the entire legal code, process of politics, and election procedures all at once? Is it even possible? And better yet, is one political outsider at president, if he really is an outsider, going to be able to fix it? Or any country?

Of course not. If Barack Obama becomes president, I am sure he would be just like any other president. He will introduce some legislation that may be passed if half of both chambers of Congress approve it. But he cannot change the way things are at their core in America, he cannot permanently change perceptions of America outside of the U.S., and it seems that if any leader changes the world, it is always for the worse. He simply does not have the solution for America, no leader does, and no leader outside of America has any solution for their own country's problems. The problems are too complex, there are too many variables involved, and the inertia of the world is impossible to grind to a halt.

Which brings us to the sorry state of affairs in the world. People so passionate about things that are really meaningless because they think they have the solution to the problem. That they have worked out all of the variables and can correct the big flaw we all seem to have with our surroundings. They can gather people behind them, raise money, raise flags, change whole governments and in the end they change nothing. It isn't their fault that they can't figure out the function, nobody really can. And now that we are climbing slowly out of the cesspool that was the Bush Jr Administration, we are desperate as Americans for that change, that magic bullet that will solve all our problems with the world that Bush, Clinton, Reagan, and every other world leader in every country has ever caused by their friction.

Obama doesn't have it. It isn't his fault, because it isn't his problem. It's our problem. All the world's grandiose dilemmas that men and women are willing to die for are all based on the same principle that keeps you angry at your neighbor because you tell him not to leave his garbage open on the curb and he does it anyway to spite you. Personal conflicts balloon into larger global conflicts.

And if you can't be perfectly happy with all your neighbors who live in your neighborhood, how can you really expect anyone to get along?

The point being, if I can reign all this in, is that everyone will tell you they have the solution. Unfortunately, there is no solution to the problem. The world's one, fundamental, insurmountable problem is that two people will want two different things and either one or none will be happy with the result. There is no solution to this problem. Obama doesn't have it. No one has it.

So stop holding your breath and don't be taken for a ride if someone tells you they know the answer and all you need to do is nod, follow, and pay.

berry, ecuador:

Amar:

I watched Obama giving an interview to CNN en Español (the Spanish branch of CNN) last week. In that interview, Obama defended his stand AGAINST the Free Trade Agreement with Colombia. He justified his position by expressing worries about "human rights abuses and coercion of unions rights by the Colombian Government". (I couldn't find a video or a transcript of that interview on the internet, but I'm sure you'll have no problem geting it directly from CNN).

Granted, Obama is not alone in spreading such a crap. Al Gore said almost the same thing a few months ago, and that was a terrible blow to the Colombian FTA.

Not long ago, the American media jumped on Mike Huckabee's comments about large numbers of Pakistanis entering the U.S. illegally.

But Obama is allowed to come up with anything. I'm sure the Washington Post is not going to publish Obama's remarks about Colombia.

Obama says he is willing to talk to Hugo Chavez. About what? About releasing the hundreds of hostages the FARC hold in the jungle? About the billions spent on Russian weapons, which have been distributed all over Latin America in order to defend us from "an imminent gringo invasion"? About stopping FARC's drug trafficking activities? Come on! This is not fantasyland. If they ever talk to each other, they will talk about oil: the Exxon lawsuit against Venezuela, or Chavez's threats to stop shipping oil to the U.S.

As much as we, the people of Latin America, despise George W Bush, at least we know he is no friend of Hugo Chavez and the FARC.

I can't even imagine the day when the President of the United States is someone who calls the Colombian governmet a dictatorship while pleasantly talking to Hugo Chavez.

As Abraham Lincoln once said: "When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty -to Russia, for instance-, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy".

I just hope that Obama's position is the result of simple and pure IGNORANCE, and not a deliberate plan by the world's communists and anarchists to destroy America from inside.

oldpotsmuggler:

To improve our national image across the planet our next President needs to be genuinely friendly. Anyone who would do that would gain the results we need.

Friendly means stepping out into the world, seeing people and places, and enjoying the experience. It also means extending our hospitality, just like it is for anyone who is trying to make friends.

Remember when we had a President who played the Sax in public, and wsn't adverse to having himself displayed favorably by media, even foreign media? Go some places, give some speeches, press some flesh. Don't move and act like some sort of a monarch, traveling the planet only rarely, and then appearing more like a dark cloud than any sort of ray of light.

Even go visit the hard places. Obama has indicated that he has that in him and that by istelf would be a wonderful thing. I mean, I know from first hand experience that Venezuela is a wonderful place this time of year.

Elziax :

As a German living in the Netherlands, I can wholeheartily support the claim made in Amar's Obama post. I'm working as a reverend in a predominantly muslim neighbourhood. Trust me, I've seen loads of Anti-Americanism in the last years. Anti-US grafitti, small-scale demonstrations, flag-burning... Still last year a Dutch guy was beaten up only because he had "US" on his shirt. In my function, I attended a couple of forums, where the local imam was part of the panel. Several times, his anti-US (or anti-Israel) comments made me leave in protest.

In this light, it is unbelievable how much only the run of Obama has changed! Certainly on the streets: lots of people I talked to are reconsidering their stance on America because of Obama. Last week, I spotted an Obama poster in the window of my grocerydealer who emigrated to Holland from Iran: he downloaded the poster and put it up, because "Obama will finally start talking to this idiot running my country!" And get this: my elderly Moroccon neighbour Ali turned to me yesterday asking me to check 'on the computer' how he could donate to Obama's campaign because he would love a US president who had lived in a muslim country! (he was disappointed when I told him that only US citizens can donate)
But what really blew me away: Last Friday, I attended the festivities celebrating the 10th anniversary of the local mosque. The service was led by the same imam I mentioned above, a guy I know as a fundamentalist. His sermon was about a surah (koran-text) dealing with hope - and yes: His shining, bright example was Obama! It was a sermon positively inspired by America and American culture. He even prayed for Obama to become persident!
And mine were by far not the only eyes filled with tears after he finished!!!

I'm begging you: Please don't mess up this once-in-a-lifetime chance of electing a president who could not only change Washington and turn the page of American history but actually inspire the whole world!!!

Amar C. Bakshi:

Wow, Berry, intense post. I'll respond in a bit addressing your points when I have time. Taking on the whole world in one 500something word piece is tough, though commenters on this blog seem to have a canny ability to do so. I think Obama's positions aren't clear on a lot of things, but there are answers to many of the things you raise. As to calling Colombia's government a dictatorship, I've never heard about that. Can you send me a link or a quote reference? Like the passion man, and will respond with more this weekend.

Susie McGreger:

No, Mexico needs the US, and we need to help Mexico through charities s that Mexican citizens stay in their own country and want to stay and live there. Why do we help other countries so far away like Ethiopia and the like, when Mexico is our next door neighbor.

The Luger:

Mexico would be better without USA...that´s for sure! But how much better? I don´t know.... IN fact Latin America would be a better place in the world without the filthy hands of the Gringo Imperialism, c´mon you know in all XIX and XX centuries were wars and coup d'etats thanks to the
manifest destiny, ask to Central America, Chile or Argentina. And Krauze? please, a voice of the conservatives and oligarchy instead of the free voice of Aristegui (leftist? haha, now if you say the truth you are leftist).... Of course i´m not saying all troubles from Mexico are because USA, but USA has always been very clever to make woodpiles from the fallen tree....Anyway USA has a lot of failures, too many for a First World Country....I hope someday China, Europe, Canada and Chinconcuac destroy USA...

berry, ecuador:

Amar:

Your article on Obama is as empty as Obama's rethoric.

You say nothing about his positions on Iraq, Israel, and Iran. What change can be expected in the Middle East? Is the U.S. going to leave Iraq anytime soon? Is the U.S. going to promote freedom and democracy in Saudi Arabia and Egypt? Will the U.S. stop bribing Musharraf? You don't even bother to mention that Obama has already threatened to invade Pakistan in pursuit of Bin Laden, with or without Pakistan's authorization. What about nuclear India? What about Afghanistan?

Not a single word about Europe. Not a word about Russia. Nothing about China. And Africa is reduced to Zimbabwe.

Regarding Latin America, you have been to Venezuela and Mexico; you know enough about Hugo Chavez and his leftist buddies all over the region, including those kidnapers-murderers-drug traffickers by the name of FARC, which have hundreds of Colombian hostages living and dying in the jungle. And you say nothing when Obama calls THE COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT a dictatorship.

Speaking about Obama's rock star status, I would invite you to visit any Latin American country in time of elections. You will find politicians that are able to attract hundrends of thousands of followers. For the last half century, Fidel Castro has had one-million-people demonstrations at Havana. Last year, you could see millions of people in the streets of Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro or Caracas. Last month, in Guayaquil, Ecuador, the president and the mayor organized their own demonstrations, each with more than one-hundred thousand people. So, we are not really surprised when we see a populist politician.

For people around the world, the only surprise is to realize how low the U.S. has fallen, when the leading presidential candidate is... an empty-rethoric populist.

We all know the world is insane. All of us applaud you for travelling around the world and for trying to understand it better. But you must show that you have LEARNED something from all those trips.

Sincerely

BM
Ecuador

berrymonster1@yahoo.com

keliffa:

I really could care less about America's image. The world still wants american money,security, and benefits of being allied to the most powerful country at the end of the day,like us or not. The only difference with a nice guy image is that the other hand is not openly shooting us a bird while they take it.

Amar C. Bakshi:

Just FYI, I just posted a piece on how Obama could improve America's image at Huffington Post. Check it out:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amar-bakshi/how-obama-can-improve-ame_b_86541.html

Amar C. Bakshi:

Hey all,

Just wondering what you thought of Calderon's visit to the U.S.? Is that making news in the U.S.? Its hard for me to tell from here. Doesn't seem so.

There was some press on this end about him giving a strange press conference outside a Starbucks and, of course, not meeting President Bush. What's up with the visit?

I'm going to ask a Mexican IR thinker post on this tomorrow here in the comment thread, dealing specifically with this issue of U.S. better off or not.

And Leon, you need to leave a comment too!

Now, it is late late, and I'm writing a piece on cartoonist Paco Calderon (a big cartoonist here, perhaps one of the only pro-American ones too).

Then, I am leaving Mexico City, probably for good, going to Oaxaca, Zacatecas and Michoacan among other spots, looking into painting, drugs, migration, NAFTA and a host of issues. Should be fun, and interesting for you all I hope.

Hunky Santa:

Not nice, Ron. "Mexico" comprises of more than 100,000,000 and the US of more than 300,000,000. It's dangerous and dishonest to generalize.

I'd also polish my Spanish.

berry, ecuador:

It's funny: Mexican far-left extremists are almost undistinguishable from American far-right extremists: they both want a huge wall built on the border, aimed at keeping the two countries apart for the centuries to come. Both Lopez Obrador and Lou Dobbs would be very happy if trade, investment and migration are reduced to ZERO. That way, Mexicans could stay in their country enjoying their poverty, and Americans won't have to deal with Spanish-speaking nannies nor gardeners anymore. Isn't it wonderful?

Wait a second! How about the millions of Mexicans and Americans whose living depends on trade? How about the millions of Mexicans who work across the border and send remittances back home so their families can afford some food? How about the millions of American families who depend on Latinos for child care, cleaning, gardening, restaurants, and countless other services? How about the millions of acres that need labor for harvest? Oh, yeah, that's just an annoyance.

Regarding Obama, I heard him giving an interview to CNN en Español, where he justified his vote against the Free Trade Agreement with Colombia. He characterized Colombia's government as a cruel dictatorship guilty of widespread crimes against human rights. That sheer ignorance announces very dark days for the world if Obama ever wins the Presidency.

Ricardo Sanchez, Monterrey, MX:

Try to visit Michoacán, Zacatecas or Oaxaca (southwest, center and south of Mexico respectively). These places are affected by migration, where many families now don't have men because they had to go to US to get money for their families, so you can see there a lot of mother-families that have to work. Another story is that some of those communities don't have young people anymore for the same reason, so these communities will disappear in the next 10 years.

You can also try the border, where you can see cities that live because of the people that is trying to reach the US, such as Tijuana in Baja California (border to San Diego) or Ciudad Juarez in Chihuahua). There you can also see the maquila phenomena that consist in all the people that makes the assembling of American products that then are re-send to US when they are done, this because the lower wage the US companies can pay in Mexico, lowering their manufacturing costs. So, there you can see a lot of temporal moving population that just go to those cities to get some work, try to cross the border, and some of them just stay there in improvised houses.

More stories

* US as an urban example: Some of the most wealthy areas of Monterrey, for example, resemble of those suburban American cities, and people in there try to wear as Americans, drive American fancy cars and listen to American music. This probably is repeated in every corner of big cities in Mexico. I can tell you Tijuana is the same (I used to live in Ensenada, a city south from Tijuana)

* US as a threat: Some of the more nationalistic political parties use the "anti-gringo" flag to blame the US for our economic problems (just like the US ironically), because the NAFTA opened the border to American products that are making our Mexican producers to compete. Actually, you are coming in an excellent timing for this because in the next days you'll see in Mexico City some mass manifestations against a chapter of NAFTA that allowed in 2008 to completely open the border to corn and bean, some of the most traditional agricultural products of our country. The manifestations want NAFTA to be renegotiated but the Mexican government is against this.

* US as a cultural reference: Probably you can try to go to a movie theater and catch some people´s impressions of American movies. You'll see that the majority of the movies are American. If you come to Monterrey you can also try to visit some malls (Galerias Valle Oriente, Plaza Fiesta San Agustin, any cab can take you to those places), and you'll see what I'm talking about.

[http://lasillaquevuela.blogspot.com/]

Yemen:

My wife and I are serving overseas in Yemen and I wanted to share a quick anecdote with you about Obama-buzz here in Sanaa. While getting my haircut several weeks ago, I was surprised when my barber Mohammed drifted from his usual aspersions about George Bush to suddenly inquire about Barack Obama. My Arabic is fairly limited, so it took me some time to understand that Mohammed and the other Yemeni patrons had seen Obama during an appearance with Oprah on Al-Jazeera. All of them agreed that of the people seeking to become President, Obama offered the only redemptive option for America.

After my haircut was nearing an end - a nearly 60 minute process - Mohammed said that "if a black man can become President, then maybe the story of America isn't a lie after all."

A few weeks later I was surprised at the end of a meeting with Yemeni government officials, when my hosts broke out into spontaneous praise for Obama and simultaneous incredulity that a man of color could win the American presidency. These two stories are just blips on the Yemeni consciousness, but it's worth noting that the advent of satellite television enables even the poorest families in the Middle East's poorest country to follow the US election. Those two stories stand out as the most dramatic to me, but they're not the only ones. Obama's mere candidacy has restored a fraction of the prestige and credibility we've lost - at least in Sanaa.

Hunky Santa:

We have to be careful here. There is tremendous commercial activity between both nations, which is undeniably beneficial for both of them. It provides millions of jobs and raises the standard of living for both sides. The most important people in this equation, those who are involved in this commerce and hence create jobs and wealth, don't care about past or present political grievances. They don't create jobs nor wealth.

That being said, politics is inevitable. There is deep anti-Americanism in many parts of Mexico due to a mixture of envy, low self-esteem, and jealousy. Despite enormous natural resources and a large population, Mexico has always been corrupt, poor, lost land in a war with the US, and treated like a minor partner by its more powerful and rich neighbor. And now the US can beat Mexico in soccer? Oh, to add insult to injuty! Mexican populists and demagogues inflame such passions with their anti-American rhetoric.

So, yes. Mexico needs the US, and desperately. The US also needs Mexico, although not in the same proportion as it needs a more reliable and serious partner such as Canada.

James Buchanan:

>>>Caller Rodrigo La Torre provocatively quotes a former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, who apparently said: "There’s no worse punishment for Mexicans than to leave them alone to govern themselves," invoking the U.S. as a protectorate of sorts.<<<

Oh God, that's beautiful.

Hunky Santa:

Without the United States of America, Mexico would wither like a flower that has no water in the desert.

As simple as that.

Corrupt Oligarch:

So wait? How do you feel about the corrupt oligarchs?

Orlando:

Leon Krauze is the attack dog let loose by Mexico's corrupt oligarchs ruling class. It's logical Krauze helps his evil master by broadcasting corrupt oligarchs propaganda.

The corrupt Mexican oligarchs are so scared that they send their money and family to the U.S.

These corrupt Mexican oligarchs elites are traitors to Mexico.

The only way for Mexicans to have a bright future is to rise up and overthrow the corrupt oligarchs controlled government.

Viva La Revolucion!

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