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La Jornada, Mexico

Obama and Us

By Rolando Cordera Campos

Translated By Esther French

11 November 2012

Edited by Tom Proctor

Mexico - La Jornada - Original Article (Spanish)

Obama arrives to his second presidential term without his efforts against the economic crisis having been able to be realized in a sustained recovery. Green shoots have appeared and disappeared, as has happened in recent weeks. But the trail of unemployment produced by the shock of 2008 has not been substantially corrected.

Without a doubt, the trajectory has been extended. And with respect to unemployment, it has been complicated by the precariousness that accompanies the upturn in employment and the emergence of layers that live beneath the radar of labor statistics because they have decided that it is not worthwhile to look for work. The proletariat world has amplified itself; in the peculiar subcontinent of American insecurity, those who the form long lines are the badly-named Hispanics, among whom Mexicans, either of origin or nationality, make up the [largest] minority. What is certain these days is that informality is the monopoly of undocumented immigrants no more.

The disposition to vote that these contingents of Americans lacking social protections have displayed is notable; it is necessary to evaluate its magnitude and intensity with precision. The fact that more than 60 percent of Mexican-Americans supported Obama at the ballot boxes not only confirms a tendency; it also proposes an interesting challenge to the interpretation of policy and to the configuration of ways of either negotiating the exit of the crisis or merely living with and supporting it.

Years ago, Jesse Jackson searched for a changing of the guard in the African-American movement that had propelled Martin Luther King Jr., giving him an ethnic and social dimension under the metaphor of the rainbow. At protest after protest, Jackson’s summons were languishing, perhaps as a result of the growing complexity of his audience. Such is the case with not only African-American communities, but also other migrant communities. [That includes] ours, which, according to some scholars, appears to be the most reluctant to every kind of integration or acculturation, as well as the most inclined to stagnating regarding entry and mobility [in the market.]

This is not a simplistic mythology, but in the next few months, we will surely have occasion to know revisions and updates that, if not mythological, have been a stereotype with multiple uses. This includes the part of most recent and elemental readers of culturalist approaches toward being Mexican.

For Mexico, which continues a phase of democratic debut and testing, Obama’s triumph and the composition of the coalition that carried him to reelection constitute an open challenge. To know and recognize the mosaic that now forms part of millions of us is indispensable. Also, [it is important to] have a functional and operative idea of what this coalition could imply for the profile of the new American government and its policies, including its personnel.

The United States lives out a still-long process of structural and cultural change whose inclusions and uncertainties, inter-constructed by the same process, have brought with them an extreme ideological polarization and the emergence of almost lunatic positions on the economy and the government of society. One of the focuses of this delirium constitutes migrants, and among them are ours.

The relationship with the north must change in speech and concept. What Obama brings in his hands is a deep restructuring of American capitalism, which passes through the energy and transport matrices and even tries to arrive at exploring the terms of a new industrialization. His success or lack thereof depends in great part on his valor and capacity for changing the principal equations of the politics of the masses. But it would be a big mistake on the part of Mexico to act as if what was said and done by the re-elected president was merely rhetoric for the occasion.

Maintaining ourselves in the vision that the American connection it deals with is a toy, armed by independent modules, can show itself to be not only unproductive, but also destructive. It would lead us to make the issue of security absolute without having to continue down Calderon’s path and, in addition, putting at risk what remains of the positive loyalty of the armed forces. It would lead us to also maintain a routine and cynical position about the issue of migration that would not correspond with the great change that the election has placed above a superficial level. At the height of stupidity, some self-designated experts could deal with re-editing the absurd hypothesis that we are better with the Republicans.

The path forward in bilateral relations is seeded with mines, discoveries and reductionisms. However, perhaps from the platform that the reelection has caused to emerge, Mexico could prepare the terms of an agenda headed by the almost-forgotten issue of economic and social development, which is understood as the principal condition for drawing close to new approaches to migration, cooperation and security. “Security for prosperity” should change its emphasis and see the second term as something more complex than a single aperture — naive and even solicitous — in petroleum matters or phantom polygons to help with the immigration police.

A country of passing through and expulsion, Mexico has to assume and reiterate its constitutional commitment to civil rights. Perhaps this would be the starting point for having a new state and not filling us with shame about the atrocities Central Americans are victims of when they pass through our land.



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