Saturday, November 30, 2013

English Translation of "La Jornada" Editorial As Published in "Borderland Beat"

At What Moment Did Our Country Become What It Is Today?

Saturday, November 30, 2013 |  

Borderland Beat 



 La Jornada: By Simón Vargas Aguilar

At what moment did our country become what it is today? Why has organized crime acquired such power and influence, factors that have permitted it to become the law and the authority in some regions? Why has violence increased exponentially over the last years, reaching levels of sadism and cruelty never before seen? 

Why has this savagery succeeded in robbing us of public places, changing our lives, and taking our loved ones from us? When exactly did the youth decide to follow the path of organized crime to live the fast life and die early? Why is our society eroding so rapidly?

Siddharta Guatama said: “If you want to know the past, look to the present, which is its result. If you want to know the future, look to the present, which is its cause.”

Our present country is the summation of a great number of errors and poor decisions made over the course of our history. This history has almost always been—and likely, will continue to be—determined by the interests of certain developed countries, international organizations, and those who unlawfully hold extensive resources. 

And although between the aforementioned forces some exceptions exist, promoting alternative agendas, the hegemony and the power of the majority is such that the development and well-being of our society has rarely been their priority.

Today, our outlook is dominated by poverty, inequality, social exclusion, lack of opportunity, corruption, impunity, weak institutions, and meager economic growth. Thanks to these variables, the violence associated with organized crime and drug trafficking found favorable footholds to flourish and obtain million-dollar earnings at the cost of the destruction of forward-looking perspectives and the development of the entire country. 



The family ceased to be the cornerstone of society, social ties became increasingly fragile, and our values—which once distinguished us in the world—were replaced by anti-values such as hatred, intolerance, and individualism.

In this sense, violence in all its forms has become part of our lives: the drug-trafficking cartels fight bloody battles amongst themselves to control territories. A report from Stratfor [security analysis firm in the U.S.] published last October predicted that during the last trimester of the year violence would increase due to this phenomenon. Radical groups have emerged and selected violence and confrontation to express their dissatisfaction, and have already communicated that their force will grow with increasingly aggressive groups.

Our children practice bullying in school, which has already taken several lives. Orphans of drug trafficking harbor a deep resentment towards those hitmen who, following orders on threat of death themselves, ended the lives of their families. Many of this second generation, motivated by vengeance and a lack of other opportunities, themselves become assassins, which feeds the vicious circle of violence.

At the same time, we have also seen how demonstrations and protests have increased, and how some demonstrators have discharged their ire and frustration against police 
who safeguard a partial, selective, and deliberate “state of law.” This status quo permits those who have misappropriated political, economic, social, and religious power to continue to make decisions that directly affect the people, who then form their own police forces.

The Polish philosopher and sociologist Zygmunt Brauman states in his bookCollateral Damage: Social Inequalities in a Global Age:

“When an electric circuit is overloaded the first part to burn is the fuse… The effectiveness and the duration of the entire circuit—and as a consequence, the electricity that it is capable of absorbing and the work that it is capable of performing—cannot be greater than the resistance of the fuse. Once the fuse blows, the entire circuit fails.”
Today Mexicans—grandmothers, mothers, fathers, brothers, sons—all those who strive to stoically continue the daily fight to make a living and satisfy needs through sacrifice, are facing corruption, manipulation, repression, and violence. We citizens, who seek a better future for coming generations but find neither understanding nor support from the majority of our government, are that fuse which is at the overloaded point of failure

Editorial About Mexico from Simon Vargas Aguilar Published in "La Jornada"

México: entre la indefinición histórica y la posibilidad del caos
Simón Vargas Aguilar*
¿E
n qué momento nuestro país se convirtió en lo que hoy es? ¿Por qué el crimen organizado ha adquirido tanto poder e influencia, factores que le han permitido convertirse en autoridad y ley en algunas regiones? ¿Por qué la violencia se incrementó de manera exponencial en los últimos años, hasta alcanzar niveles de sadismo y crueldad nunca antes vistos? ¿Por qué ésta ha logrado arrebatarnos el espacio público, alterar nuestras vidas y quitarnos a aquellos que amamos? ¿En qué momento los jóvenes decidieron ingresar a las filas del crimen organizado para vivir rápido y morir a temprana edad? ¿Por qué nuestra sociedad se degrada con tanta celeridad?
Siddharta Gautama dijo: Si quieres conocer el pasado mira el presente, que es su resultado. Si quieres conocer el futuro mira el presente, que es su causa. Nuestro presente como país es la suma de una gran cantidad de errores y malas decisiones tomadas a lo largo de nuestra historia, la cual ha estado casi siempre determinada –y muy probablemente, lo seguirá estando en el futuro– por los intereses de algunos países desarrollados, organismos internacionales y por aquellos que detentan los grandes capitales. Y aunque entre las fuerzas antes mencionadas existen algunas excepciones que impulsan agendas alternativas, la hegemonía y el poder de los primeros es tal que el desarrollo y el bienestar de nuestra sociedad pocas veces han sido prioridad.
Actualmente, nuestro panorama está determinado en gran medida por pobreza, desigualdad, exclusión social, falta de oportunidades, corrupción, impunidad, instituciones débiles, exiguo crecimiento económico; y gracias a estas variables, la violencia asociada al crimen organizado y el narcotráfico encontró el terreno propicio en el cual ha florecido y obtenido ganancias millonarias a costa de la cancelación de las perspectivas de futuro y desarrollo de todo un pueblo. La familia dejó de ser la piedra basal de la sociedad, los vínculos sociales se hicieron cada vez más frágiles y nuestros valores –aquellos que en antaño nos distinguían en todo el mundo– fueron remplazados por antivalores tales como odio, intolerancia e individualismo.
En este sentido, la violencia en todas sus formas se ha vuelto parte de nuestra vida: los cárteles del narcotráfico libran batallas encarnizadas entre ellos por el control de las plazas –un reporte de Stratfor publicado en octubre pasado prevé que en este último trimestre del año escale la violencia a causa de este fenómeno–; grupos radicales han surgido y elegido la vía de la confrontación y el choque para expresar su insatisfacción –los cuates ya han comunicado que su fuerza irá en ascenso con grupos cada vez más agresivos–.
Nuestros niños ejercen el bullying en las escuelas y éste ya ha cobrado la vida de varios; los huérfanos del narcotráfico guardan un profundo rencor contra aquellos sicarios que atendiendo órdenes o saldando cuentas acabaron con la vida de sus familiares –muchos de éstos, motivados por la venganza y la falta de oportunidades, se han convertido en sicarios, que alimentan el círculo vicioso de la violencia–.
Por otra parte, también hemos sido testigos de cómo las movilizaciones y protestas se han incrementado, y de cómo algunos manifestantes han descargado su ira y su frustración en contra de policías que salvaguardan unestado de derecho parcial, selectivo y alevoso, que permite que algunos de los que detentan el poder político, económico, social y religioso continúen tomando decisiones que afectan directamente al pueblo, del que forman parte los propios policías.
Zygmunt Bauman, el filósofo y sociólogo polaco, en su libro Daños colaterales: desigualdades sociales en la era global, señala que “cuando se sobrecarga un circuito eléctrico la primera parte que se quema es el fusible (…) La operatividad y la duración del circuito entero –y, en consecuencia, la electricidad que es capaz de absorber y el trabajo que es capaz de hacer– no pueden ser mayores que la resistencia de su fusible. Una vez que el fusible se quema, todo el circuito se detiene”.
Hoy los mexicanos: los abuelos, las madres, los padres, los hermanos, los hijos… todos aquellos que nos esforzamos por continuar de manera estoica en la lucha cotidiana para ganar el sustento y satisfacer las necesidades a costa de privaciones y sacrificios, a pesar de la corrupción, la manipulación, la represión y la violencia, que queremos un mejor futuro para las nuevas generaciones y que no encontramos ni el apoyo ni la comprensión de buena parte de nuestros gobernantes, somos ese fusible que está a punto de quemarse.
* Presidente de Educación y Formación con Valores AC, y analista en temas de seguridad, educación y justicia

Puppet Master Gilberto Hinojosa Tabs Joe Rivera to Run for County Judge

Joe Rivera, Immortalized by
Unapproved $2500 Portrait
Cameron County breathed a collective sigh of relief when Gilberto Hinojosa was elected State Democratic Party Chair.  "At least we'll be rid of him in Brownsville and Cameron County," many residents thought to themselves.

Not so fast!  Gilberto still has some scores to settle in the county.  His embarrassing defeat to Republican Carlos Cascos in 2006 gnawed at him enough that in 2010 his aggressiveness in finding votes for John Wood against Cascos resulted in a dozen affidavits of harassment and heavy-handedness from poll watchers.  Despite Hinojosa's and Roger Ortiz' "finding" of a bag of votes in the washroom, Gilberto's candidate lost again to Cascos.


Now, we've learned that Gilberto Hinojosa, fearing that neither Port Commissioner Martin Arambula nor former Cameron County Chair Sylvia Garza-Perez could actually defeat Carlos Cascos, has sweet-talked current Cameron County Clerk Joe Rivera into running for County Judge.

 
Rivera, employed by Cameron County for over three decades, is thought to have a sufficient war chest to make him a formidable candidate.  Many readers may remember our report from a year ago of Rivera coercing his employees to sell raffle tickets to his campaign event at the court house on county time and his expensive self-ordered $2,500 portrait to immortalize himself on the walls of a county satellite judicial building.  These and other issues may resurface if Rivera defeats Arambula and Garza-Perez in the primary.

Cindy, Gilberto Hinojosa
We were also informed that the gist of Hinojosa's plea to Rivera to run for County Judge was "to unite the party."  That sort of flies in the face of recent developments within the Cameron County Democratic Party with Hinojosa's wife Cindy founding a splinter group, the Cameron County Texas Democratic Women, to offset then Cameron County Chairperson Sylvia Garza-Perez' control of the local party.  That situation took care of itself when Garza-Perez initially resigned in favor of Carlos Masso at what proved to be an illegal meeting of precinct chairs.  At a subsequent meeting, Amber Medina, who many of Garza-Perez's supporters felt was a Gilberto Hinojosa plant, was elected County Chair.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Two Christmas Songs, Both Brother Duets~The Winters and The Castros




Cowardly Cartels Hanging Young People at City Entrance~Borderland Beat Pics

Two students executed by the slimy, cowardly Gulf Cartel at the entrance of Fresnillo, Zacatecas
Killed by CT: Sisters Fanny and Jazmine Guerra, 19 y/o Jazmine was a university student. Fanny was married to Javier Pulido, also hanged, along with Didier Sierra a secondary school teacher. The men were horribly tortured before hanging, they were all hanged alive. Fanny and Javier had a 3 mo old baby. Their crime? Helping Mexico's self-defense groups.

Drug Cartels Taking Over Mining in Mexico~Iron and Coal. . . According to "Borderland Beat"

Borderland Beat

MEXICO CITY -- Mexican drug cartels looking to diversify their businesses long ago moved into oil theft, pirated goods, extortion and kidnapping, consuming an ever larger swath of the country's economy. 

Mexican drug cartels have muscled in to the country's lucrative mining industry during a mafia-style takeover of great swathes of the economy, officials warned. 

This month, federal officials confirmed the cartels have even entered the country's lucrative mining industry, exporting iron ore to Chinese mills.

Los Zetas enter Coal Business

Such large-scale illegal mining operations were long thought to be mostly wild rumor, but federal officials confirmed they had known about the cartels' involvement in mining since 2010, and that the Nov. 4 military takeover of Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico's second-largest port, was aimed at cutting off the cartels' export trade.

That news served as a wake-up call to Mexicans that drug traffickers have penetrated the country's economy at unheard-of levels, becoming true Mafia-style organizations, ready to defend their mines at gun point.

Three Michoacan state detectives were wounded in an ambush earlier this week when they were traveling to investigate a mine taken over by criminals. 


When reinforcements arrived, those officers were also ambushed, part of a string of attacks on police in Michoacan on Wednesday and Thursday that left two officers dead and about a dozen wounded.

The Knights Templar cartel and its predecessor, the La Familia Michoacan, have been stealing or extorting shipments of iron ore, or illegally extracting the mineral themselves and selling it through Pacific coast ports, said Michoacan residents, mining companies and current and former federal officials. The cartel had already imposed demands for "protection payments" on many in the state, including shopkeepers, ranchers and farmers.

But so deeply entrenched was the cartel connection to mines, mills, ports, export firms and land holders that it took authorities three years to confront the phenomenon head-on. Federal officials said they are looking to crack down on other ports where drug gangs are operating.

"This is the terrible thing about this process of (the cartel's) taking control of and reconfiguring the state," said Guillermo Valdes Castellanos, the former head of the country's top domestic intelligence agency. "They managed to impose a Mafia-style control of organized crime, and the different social groups like port authorities, transnational companies and local landowners, had to get in line."

Valdez Castellanos said that even back in 2010, the La Familia cartel would take ore from areas that were under concession to private mining companies, sometimes with the aid or complicity of local farmers and land owners, then sell the ore to processors, distributors and even, apparently, foreign firms.

Mexico's Economy Department said the problem was so severe that it prompted the government to quietly toughen rules on exporters in 2011 and 2012 and make them prove they received their ore from established, recognized sources.

Many exporters couldn't. In 2012, the department denied export applications from 13 companies, because they didn't meet the new rules. And the problem wasn't just limited to Michoacan, or the Knights Templar cartel.

"Since 2010, evidence surfaced of irregular mining of iron in the states of Jalisco, Michoacan and Colima," the department said in a statement to The Associated Press.

"That illegal activity was encouraged by the great demand for iron by countries such as China, to develop their industries," according to the department. "Many trading companies began to build up big stockpiles of legally and illegally obtained iron (ore), that was later shipped out for export."

Unsubstantiated Report That Myra Caridad Garcia, Executive Director of V.I.D.A., Has Just Resigned

Myra Caridad Garcia

Livin' La V.I.D.A. Loca with the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation

Myra Caridad Garcia,
V.I.D.A.  Executive Director
We know what job training is.  We know what assistance includes, especially so-called public assistance as in welfare, food stamps and other help given to the needy, aged and homeless.
What V.I.D.A (an acronym for Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement) offers, according to the I.R.S. Form 990(Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax) is to provide "job training assistance."  Job training assistance is neither job training, that is teaching the skills that make a person hireable, or any form of tangible assistance.

It involves, according to information provided by V.I.D.A., one hour of consultation per month with a V.I.D.A. counselor and a once a week group session with other V.I.D.A. trainees about what they're doing to find work and get off welfare.

One might assume that most of those bases were already covered by the Texas Workforce, our public schools and universities and the welfare system, but clever people find little niches where a charity can fit and promote itself and V.I.D.A. has done a great job doing just that.  The first two GBIC meetings we attended, V.I.D.A. reps were there, either to kindly thank the Brownsville taxpayer entity for their generous stipend to their work or express in economic development code language how well their work was going.  The GBIC gave the group $302,000 this year.  To justify that kind of money, the V.I.D.A rep claimed more than once that, during the past calendar year, the group had assisted 43 Brownsville residents, who had been on welfare, into jobs paying "on average $35,000 per year.  There was no documentation of this claim.  One GBIC board member was curious as to what companies or types of companies were hiring these people at that rate.  The answer was extremely vague, as in "mostly technology, but sometimes nursing."

The Harlingen City Commission chose to no longer fund V.I.D.A., based on a recommendation of the Harlingen Economic Development Corporation, despite the fact that V.I.D.A.'s claim of success in Harlingen was even grander than Brownsville's, 93 off welfare in one year, but at the same "average salary of $35,000."  My email to Harlingen Mayor Tom Boswell for more detail was returned "undeliverable," so I was not able to get more detail on their reasoning.

Someone sent me a link to V.I.D.A.'s I.R.S. 990, which has some interesting numbers.  V.I.D.A. received $4,175,516 in grants and contributions from cities in the Rio Grande Valley during 2011, $913,907 of which was spent on salaries, $124, 467 to Myra Caridad Garcia, the Executive Director.  Despite the economic hard times and all the work V.I.D.A. does for us, they had $731,300 in the bank at the end of the year.

Carlos Marin
Eleven officers are listed including Carlos Marin as a director, which may explain the GBIC's unquestioned participation.  In addition to nearly $1 million in salaries, $89,565 was spent on "management and expenses," $57,070 on "occupancy," $17,879 on "travel," $13,675 on "conferences, conventions and meetings," $40,207 on "in-kind expenses," and $10,961 spent on "non-cash raffle prizes."

While we wish to thank the anonymous commenter who sent us a copy of V.I.D.A.'s Form 990 return, we never got a response from Executive Director Myra Garcia with out request for more information about the program.  Below is our request sent 10/9/13:

  • More detail on V.I.D.A.‏

10/09/13
To: mgarcia@vidacareers.org
Ms. Garcia,
The rep for V.I.D.A. shared some of your group's successes at the recent GBIC board meeting.  He mentioned 43 graduates from the Brownsville program in the fiscal year, now finding jobs with income averaging $35,000 per year. 

Would it be possible to get more detail on this?  What companies in Brownsville are employing these people?  What is the salary range for low to high?  How many salaried personnel does V.I.D.A. employ?  How many volunteers, if any?

Thanks,

Jim Barton

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thoughtful Thanksgiving Note/Donation Request Received from Congressman Filemon Vela



  • From the editor: Filemon Vela has a sharp, young staff. I'm certain they put out the Thanksgiving message without any thought as to how tacky, crass and insincere the message appears accompanied by a link to donate by credit card. Or is it just me?


    Jim
  • Before your Thanksgiving meal:‏

Filemon Vela (velaforcongress@gmail.com)
11:00 AM

Newsletters
To: rvpark645@hotmail.com

Picture of Filemon Vela
Congressman Vela


Jim,
Thanksgiving is a holiday that is especially meaningful for South Texas. Many of our communities were originally founded as ranching and farming towns, so giving grace for a bountiful crop and celebrating good health is a warm part of our heritage.
This Thanksgiving, I have so much to be grateful for. I am so thankful for my wonderful family and for having the honor of representing you in Congress. Your continued trust is something I cherish and I will reflect on at today's dinner.
Warmly,
Filemon

Contribute

Shared Email and Blog Commenters Provide A Glimpse of Carlos Marin's Role Within United Brownsville

Carlos Marin(Celebrity Magazine photo)
A frequently repeated theme in Brownsville's blogs and citizen chitchat is that the city is actually run by a group of power brokers from behind the scenes, apart from, but very much connected to local government.  The name of Carlos Marin, the CEO of Ambiotec Engineering, gets frequent mention in such discussions likely because his firm was involved in the production of the Imagine Brownsville Comprehensive Plan, a coffee table sized paperback the City of Brownsville was duped into purchasing for $900,000, but was never implemented.

While a single sidewalk was never laid or a tree trimmed as result of the plan, which now lays on city bookshelves gathering dust, a sort of city supervisory board did emerge, eventually morphing into something called United Brownsville.  IBC Bank President Fred Rusteberg, chairs this panel, that includes Carlos Marin, outgoing UTB President Juliet Garcia and also cleverly incorporated City Commissioners Estela Chavez-Vasquez and John Villarreal along with Mayor Tony Martinez.

Carlos Marin keeps an extremely low profile.  It's almost impossible to find of picture of him on the internet.  He serves on many, many local boards besides United Brownsville(Farmer's Market, V.I.D.A., etc.), but his name is never accompanied by a picture.  The photo above was taken by Celebrity Magazine, whose photographers attend public events taking pictures of locals, hoping to sell their glossy magazine to those immortalized in it.  The above pic of Marin originally included Ernie Hernandez(Ernie was cropped out as irrelevant to this story).  At a recent United Brownsville/City Commission meeting held at United Way of Southern Cameron, Marin did not utter a word.

Nevertheless, a forwarded email among members of United Brownsville seems to verify that Carlos Marin plays a major role within the group despite his quiet public persona.  Notice in the email below, how Mike Gonzalez, the Executive Director of United Brownsville emails the board members about a BiNED Summit Event.  Carlos Marin instructs Gonzalez to "clean up the generic text" so the invitation can be circulated "ASAP" to "invitees."

Robin McCaffrey, Carolyn McIntosh
The BiNED Summit 2013, scheduled for December 6 at UTB's Gran Salon, includes presentations by Robin McCaffrey and Carolyn McIntosh of Needham-McCaffrey & Associates, Inc., who recently received $454,592.08 for the Greater Brownsville Infrastructure & Development Plan, yet another study purchased by City of Brownsville tax-payer, rate-payer entities(Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation, Port of Brownsville, P.U.B.).


Commenters to this blog hinted that Carlos Marin will profit handsomely from this study, much as he did from the Imagine Brownsville Comprehensive Plan:

AnonymousNovember 19, 2013 at 7:47 AM

"If you look at this Jim, this plan is directly tied with Imagine Brownsville. Carlos Marin is the one that brought this firm to Brownsville and he was the one that worked hand in hand to get this study done. It accomplishes nothing but gives credence to the imagine Brownsville document. It is another pipe dream that in all costs over two billion dollars. When is the community going to wake up and stop giving money to Marin? They are going after commissioners for giving a family member a job, but a guy that steals millions from the community is free to roam and keep stealing."


and yet another comment:

AnonymousNovember 1, 2013 at 8:27 AM

"Marin is behind this corridor also Jim. He owns interest all around the corridor. He is the biggest thief in Brownsville. He is pushing now to make Oscar Garcia Jr. the director at GIBIC,..his trusted puppet. The item was tabled in yesterday."





From: Mike Gonzalez [mailto:mikeg@unitedbrownsville.com] 
Sent: Friday, November 08, 2013 4:46 PM
To: carlos marin
Cc: Marisela Cortez; Mark Kroll; Perry Brody; Alan Artibise; Pablo Rhi-Perez; FRED RUSTEBERG; Irv Downing; John L. Villarreal; Gerardo A Gonzalez
Subject: Re: BiNED Summit Website

website is cleaned up . . . please include it in your communications.


http://borderinsight.com


event registration option will be online over weekend.


TWITTER FEATURE: anything you tweet to hashtag #BiNEDSummit will come out on summit's website twitter feed. If you are logged into twitter you can simply click on the twitter button on the summit website to tweet from your account.



MIKE

Sent from my iPhone

On Nov 8, 2013, at 1:39 PM, carlos marin wrote:

Nice job mike . Can you please clean up/remove the last parts with the generic text so we can forward to our invitees ASAP?

Carlos Marin Ph.D. P.E.
Ambiotec Group
Infrastructure Planning Engineering and Management
(956)778-4551
cmmarin@ambiotec.com


On Nov 8, 2013, at 11:54 AM, Mike Gonzalez wrote:

All - 

Below is the BiNED Summit Event website. We can direct invitees to this site for general information and registration.

The domain is www.borderinsight.com.

My hope is that after the summit we can transition this site to continue both action and dialogue to keep moving our BiNED concept forward. It will mainly be an aggregator site similar to mashable.com or BuzzFeed.com but solely on border issues.

The idea came to me after the San Diego conference where everyone expressed frustration on getting the "Border" message out to both DC and the American public. Hopefully this will help our region have a voice and allow us to join the conversation along with SD.

Thanks,

Mike

Addendum:  An engineer and his wife we run into at city events made this candid comment to me:  "I bid on smaller engineering projects in the city.  I've learned over the years that I'm just wasting my time and money studying and preparing a bid on the larger projects.  Those ALWAYS go to Ambiotec, regardless of the bid."




NOCHE DE ARTE DOWNTOWN BROWNSVILLE JUNE 15, 6-9 PM

Self-Portrait by Josie del Castillo