El Monstruo: The Alarm Clock

It wasn’t as if the signs of social unrest had never been posted along the road to 1968. The labor troubles of the late ‘50s were a clear warning bell that the Mexican Miracle was not working milagros down at the grassroots. The slaughter of Ruben Jaramillo and his family in 1962 was a rude indicator of just how the all-powerful PRI government would respond to social agitation. On May 23 that year, Jaramillo, the last surviving lieutenant of Emiliano Zapata, was eating lunch at his home in Tlaquiltenango, Morelos, when the house was surrounded by 60 state and federal troops. Ruben, his pregnant wife and three children were thrown into army trucks and driven to a nearby archeological site where they were executed with Thompson machine guns.

Gustavo Diaz Ordaz further displayed his hard hand in breaking a doctors’ strike in 1965 after 8,000 medics walked off the job at five hospitals including the new Medical Center – doctors at public hospitals were so underpaid they had to double as cabdrivers in their off hours. Diaz Ordaz was inflexible, and the doctors were forced back to work under the threat of being summarily fired.

University campuses were restive. The military was mobilized to break a 1965 student strike at San Nicolas University in Morelia and again at the Sonora State University in 1967. The alarm clocks rang loud at the UNAM. Between 1952 and the mid-1960s, the student body had quadrupled from 22,000 to 85,000 and the battle for a place in University City triggered troubles.

The rumbling out in what sociologist Guillermo Bonfil termed Mexico Profundo, where campesinos had been diminished to second-class citizen status, was unmistakable. The murder of Ruben Jaramillo begged an answer. At dawn on September 23, 1965, a band of “subversives” led by rural schoolteacher Arturo Gamiz attacked an army fort in Ciudad Madero in the Sierra Maestra of Chihuahua – the similarities to Fidel Castro’ assault on the Moncada Barracks could not be blurred. Although all 15 rebels were killed, the date would soon be embedded in the name of the September 23rd Communist League, Mexico’s most active urban guerilla in the 1970s.

In the southern state of Guerrero, another rural maestro, Genaro Vasquez, picked up the gun in 1963. Operating in the mountains that surround the provincial capital of Chilpancingo, Vasquez’s Revolutionary National Civic Association (ACNAR) kidnapped the rector of the state university. After a 1967 massacre at a rural school in Atoyac on the state’s Costa Grande, Lucio Cabanas, another rural teacher (rural teachers were often graduates of radicalized Normal schools), rose up in the coastal sierra, and his Party of the Poor would carry on a seven-year guerrilla war against the mal gobierno.

Despite the loud ring of the social despertador, Gustavo Diaz Ordaz’s vision had tunneled in on the coming Olympic Games and he didn’t seem to hear the din.

Excerpt from El Monstruo: Dread and Redemption in Mexico City by John Ross

¡Sí Se Pudo!

Mexico won the U-17 World Cup for the second time in the past ten years. Quite an accomplishment for the youth of El Tri. Se jugó muy bien al fútbol! I still can’t believe how Mexico fans come out in full force. Estadio Azteca was packed with one hundred thousand fans watching the game. You have to admit that whatever the FMF is doing, it is paying dividends. Perhaps there is something to the whole “generacion de oro” label.

Below is the gol against Germany that put El Tri in the final. I still don’t know which was a better gol. This one that clinched a ticket to the final or Gio Dos Santo’s gol against the U.S. that sealed the game.

La Guadalupana

But I don’t know that far back. I just know that my affinity for La Virgen is undoubtedly influenced by my elders. My parents and grandparents rise at dawn on el Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe (or the Sunday preceding the 12th of December) to go pray and sing Las Mañanitas with other devotees at church.

Loteria Chicana


Such hypocrisy on the part of some of our “leaders.” You’re worried about immigration but yet our country has managed to wreck other countries economically, culturally and of course politically. You think Uncle Sam hasn’t played a significant role in the incompetence that has reigned over the ruling of Mexico and the rest of Latin America?

Until Next Time

Selección mexicana

Just like Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof had his conversations with God, I too do the same.

God, I know you have a lot of things to tend to like natural disasters, war, world hunger, etc., but one of these days is it possible that you help the Mexican national team win the World Cup? It would bring so much happiness to a country that has suffered much and fill its citizens with optimism. Perhaps it would be the springboard to a better Mexico. Whenever you have time God. It may be a lot to ask for but hopefully you will consider it one day. In the meantime I thank you for giving me a real bad cold because it helped conceal my pain at the defeat. The sniffles weren’t a result of some virus but instead were caused by the tears that I shed. I know that no one wants to see a grown man crying, so once again I thank you. (originally written in 2006)

» El Tri – Si México Ganara el Mundial

In God’s Country

A common argument that I hear when discussing immigration is that immigrants should stay in their home country and create change there, (whether that needed change is due to a dictatorship, narco-violence, human rights violations, etc.) instead of looking for change here. I always come up with some counter argument essentially glossing over this interesting point that is made. Why do immigrants not create change in their home countries? I guess it’s the same reason why people don’t create positive change in their own country. One looks at cities like Detroit and quickly dismisses it as a has-been city and the butt of jokes. Why haven’t former Michiganders created a better Detroit instead of simply abandoning it? In the valley, we suffer from enormous brain drain. A significant number of our brightest people go to school elsewhere and never return. Why not come back to the valley and make it a better place? I guess the bottom line is that people go where opportunity exists. Why be an agent of a change that is going to quite possibly take a lifetime when one can simply move somewhere else. Is this right or wrong? I have mixed feelings. I stayed in the valley not because I was fearful of leaving. I stayed in the valley because this is my home. This is where I grew up. If my parents had never left Detroit I would probably still live in Detroit. Regardless of the reason, any individual should have the right to move where opportunity exists. Although I wish that there was change that would swiftly move Mexico in the right direction, at this point in history, that seems to be in a far off future. Until then I am happy where I am at now.

In the above pictures you can see a photograph of my former elementary school in Detroit, as well as a picture of an alley that led to my house…the same alley that would fill with snow…the same alley where we played with our Star Wars action figures.

The Mexican Dream

The real Mexican dream, not the false one, not the one that the intellectuals like myself make up, but the real one is that people leave for the United States, find a well-paying job, improve their income level slightly over time, eventually obtain papers, bring their family or create a family, build a family in the United States. And then later on in life, depending on their age and how they do, etc., maybe go home to Mexico to retire. But to retire at an early age, at 50ish or something like that. I think that to a large extent that is the Mexican dream. Because the other one is that they could find the same sorts of jobs in Mexico that they find in the U.S., and that hasn’t happened for the last 100 odd years, and will not happen at least for the next 15 or 20 years.

-Jorge Castaneda

Originally Written Last Year

I finally got around to watching Michael Moore’s Sicko…

I’ve always had a thing against Mexican telenovelas because in my opinion they portray a whitewashed Mexico. There are too many gueros in telenovelas. Not to say that there are no gueros in Mexico, but they don’t constitute a majority of the population. Anyhow, I always thought that it was with racist motivos. I kind of changed my mind. When we were in French Polynesia over the summer the hottest telenovela (yes, the Polynisians watch Mexican novelas too) was Rubi. The telenovela was a hit in France and since we only got to see French channels we got to watch it too when we were in our room. While eating dinner one night the waitress asked Sonia if she was the actress who played Rubi’s sister? Can you believe that? Not that Sonia was getting confused with an actress but instead that in the South Pacific someone knew of a Mexican telenovela and followed it like my family now watches “Gaviota” in Destilando Amor.

What is my position on universal health care? I’m for it. Business and health do not mix. My experiences with health insurance companies has been horrible. From regular health care and prescription medicine to worker’s compensation and social security. Dealing with insurance claim adjusters can is like pulling teeth. One doctor says you’re injured, the other says you’re healthy; one says you can lift 50 lbs. and the other says you can only lift 5. It’s obvious that some doctors work for insurance companies while the rest actually practice medicine. Across the board it sucks. My parents have diabetes and they need insurance but no one will insure them because of their “preexisting condition.” If you’re sick you can’t get the insurance you need to help you stay healthy. You have hard working Americans having to drive across the border to recieve affordable health treatment and medicine.