For the love of rhetoric
By José Fernández Ramos Original Print Publication: April, 2009
In a brilliant documentary titled Calentamiento Local (Local Warming), beach boys in Puerto Escondido use all their wisdom, energy, and charm to conquer foreign güerita girls, who make yearly defrosting trips looking for romance in moreno arms.
Slow-motion scenes of Escondido's magnificent waves, together with a National Geographic-style narration, make the courtship look so natural and innocent you could almost forget the useless bashing going on between the US and Mexican governments of late.
If only bilateral relations were as easy as young love.
The fact is that when the presidents of the two nations meet this month in the land of the Aztecs, they will be facing a very complex situation.
It takes time for newlyweds to adjust to each other; the same is true of new shoes and eyeglasses. Why wouldn't it take time to see how the new US-Mexico relationship fits, especially when the global neighborhood is going through tough times?
In our daily lives, 440 million people in the North American community (remember that Canada is part of this dysfunctional threesome) are trying to keep pace in the face of job losses, shootouts in front of our homes, and increasing drug addiction among the young, all as we cut expenses to cope with a recession. We go out there to face the perils of everyday life even as we blame our governments for not supervising corporate greed and crony capitalism.
Banning Mexican trucks on US roads only makes sense as a concession to the powerful Teamsters union. As firearms are sold like candy to increasingly violent drug cartels, and the White House cries about how violent and dangerous Mexico has become to US citizens, one hears the loud kiss of compromise to the influential National Rifle Association.
Fencing the border may be a way to look good to yet another interest group, but in the long run it's a waste of time and an insult to common sense. The North American community is in the process of melting together. It may take decades to consolidate, but leaders must facilitate the process instead of obstructing it. They should leave the blame game behind in favor of fair play.
The Mexican government, on the other hand, has to stop acting like a lady whose honor has been besmirched, given that it hasn't been able to really crack down on corruption in its own rank and file, largely because it lacks legitimacy: Felipe Calderón grabbed the presidency with the help of corrupt unions, the business elite, and the Army. The time is right to show that the "Vivir Mejor" slogan can be more than rhetoric: don't let corruption poison the future (education) and wealth (oil). Allow free competition in television and telecommunications, and stop splashing blood on the Army's good reputation with a blind war on drugs.
War is a language used by the US military industry to justify its existence and keep a multimillion business running. War is not the word of families infected by the drug disease. That word should be "education." Even if decriminalization is the only viable option, it will take decades to educate an entire generation to face this problem with the only effective weapons: knowledge and the freedom to make personal choices.
Preventing drugs from reaching kids fails. Preventing kids from reaching out to drugs could just be the answer.
Doctor Humberto Brocca has devoted his life to curing people of addictions. He has had success with both street kids and prominent citizens. If only 10 percent of the drug war's budget were allocated to prevention education, the problem could be solved, he says. Drugs, in different forms have always been, and will always be, available; educated people can learn how to deal with them.
The magnetic Calentamiento Local, by Fernando Frias, was one of the highlights of this year's FICCO, Mexico's international contemporary film festival. White House and Los Pinos take note, and make the film available to presidents Obama and Calderón before the meeting. They may learn something about leaving short-sighted agendas aside in favor of a long-term vision for our North American neighborhood.
Mexicans are clamoring for a US ambassador to Mexico to be appointed. This appointment is not only necessary but will be a relief to hundreds of thousands of "Usonians" who have made Mexico their home. At that level, the show doesn't seem to stop: there are hotel and flight reservations being made every minute. English and Spanish lessons are exchanged, as are dollars and pesos, kisses and business transactions, plans to meet for tacos and tamales. . .
As the politicians blast away at each other, life goes on here in unique Mexican time: al ratito.
José Fernández Ramos is a freelance writer and private consultant. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.