State-sponsored cultural renaissance in revolutionary Mexico

Revolution shook Mexico between 1910 and 1920, but radical political change was not mirrored in the art of the period. In this exhibition, we do not see avant-garde extremes, but witness instead a deepening humanism, as if for once art was interlocking with human need. The cultural renaissance that followed was state-sponsored, and artists were employed by the Ministry of Education to promote the revolution. This was political art at its best, and three artists were active at its heart: los tres grandes, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros. Their most significant achievements were murals, which remain firmly in place on Mexican buildings and thus are difficult

The Son, by Philipp Meyer – review

Colonel Eli McCullough, formerly known as Tiehteti, is a living legend. The first male child born in the Republic of Texas, wrested from Mexico in 1836, Eli has miraculously reached the age of 100. Captured by Comanche Indians in boyhood, he mastered their survival skills, and was well on the way to becoming the most respected member of the tribe when smallpox struck. The all-powerful Comanches — ‘the earth had seen nothing like them since the Mongols’ — had no defence against this invisible enemy. But Eli/Tiehteti, immunised in infancy, survived. Eli rampages through the next few decades, including a spell as state ranger when he is obliged to hunt

Mexico must legalise drugs

For the last six months or so, officials on both sides of the US/Mexico border have had their fingers crossed that the appalling violence perpetrated by Mexico’s warring drug gangs might be dying down. The new president, Peña Nieto, has a new, more conciliatory approach so, you know, maybe everyone will start playing nice… No such luck. Intelligence from US officials suggests that the psychotic Los Zeta cartel and the well-established Sinaloas are in fact causing even more mayhem than ever. More than 1,000 people have been killed since Pena Nieto took over it turns out, and Los Zetas planning a bloody take-over of some crucial border towns. Well, as we

Remember The Alamo!

March 2nd is the anniversary of the Texan Declaration of Independence in 1836. Some of my more left-wing American chums rather wish Texas were still either a part of Mexico or an independent state of its own. Be that as it may, the Declaration is a grand thing that both beats anything the Scottish National Party has yet produced and, for that matter, like most declarations of independence, is a reminder that the differences between the constituent parts of this island are tiny in the grander sweep of things. Anyway: happy birthday Texas! Here, for those of you unfamiliar with the document, is the original Texas charter arguing that The

Bush and Reagan on Immigration

The times they change but the questions remain the same. It’s the Republican party that has changed. A candidate who talked about (illegal)immigration the way Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush did in this 1980 debate would receive pelters. Now, in part that reflects the fact that 30 years on the problem remains unsolved and I suppose you could argue the Reagan amnesty made matters worse still. Nevertheless the difference in tone is striking: [Hat-tip: Alex Knapp]

Yes, There Is A War on Drugs. Part XIV.

On the one hand, it’s good that Ed Vulliamy is in the Guardian today highlighting the appalling miseries of the Mexican Drug War; on the other it’s unfortunate that his piece is so very desperately confused. But this is not just a war between narco-cartels. Juarez has imploded into a state of criminal anarchy – the cartels, acting like any corporation, have outsourced violence to gangs affiliated or unaffiliated with them, who compete for tenders with corrupt police officers. The army plays its own mercurial role. “Cartel war” does not explain the story my friend, and Juarez journalist, Sandra Rodriguez told me over dinner last month: about two children who

Yes, There Is A War on Drugs

John Rentoul’s column in the Independent on Sunday this week was uncharacteristically unpersuasive. His text was Mencken’s aphorism that “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem – neat, plausible, and wrong” and Mr Rentoul suggested the Cardoso Commission’s report on drug legalisation is an example of this approach. Well, perhaps. But I think “neat, plausible, and wrong” actually better characterises the Drug Warriors mania for prohibition. To which one might add “ineffective” too. Most advocates* of decriminalisation or legalisation (as Rentoul says, two different approaches) concede that these alternatives will not eradicate all of the problems associated with drug use but argue instead that they will make

It’s happening in Monterrey

Nick Clegg is in Mexico, striving to build a trade relationship. The Guardian reports that Clegg will address the Mexican Senate, in Spanish. He will concentrate on praising the education sector, which he hopes to export. There are also plans to open British universities to affluent Mexicans, and Clegg is being accompanied by four universities vice chancellors and David Willetts. At the moment, trade between Britain and Mexico, the world’s 14th largest economy, is negligible – Clegg claims that Britain accounts for less than 1 percent of rapidly developing Mexico’s imports. There are huge opportunities to expand. UK Trade and Investment has 3 dedicated offices in Mexico and it is

So far from God . . .

Ciudad Juárez, Mexico’s second largest border city, is clogged with rubbish, fouled with car exhaust and, increasingly, flooded with narcotics. Ciudad Juárez, Mexico’s second largest border city, is clogged with rubbish, fouled with car exhaust and, increasingly, flooded with narcotics. Mexican drug cartels are now so deeply ingrained in the city’s political and social fabric that not a single bar or shop remains ‘un-narcotised’. Mexico in the 21st century, according to Ed Vulliamy, is a nation shadowed by gangland enterprise and the rat-tat-tat of Kalashnikovs. To live on the US-Mexican border, how ever, calls for special qualities of endurance. The four US states bordering Mexico — Texas, New Mexico, Arizona

Fox’s Radical Good Sense

Whatever you think of the rights and wrongs of our drug policies, I hope we may agree that they’re much less important than drug policy in the United States or the countries that produce narcotics. Nearly 30,000 people have been killed in Mexico since the “War on Drugs” was re-militarised in 2006. Now former President Vincente Fox is the latest Latin American statesman to suggest that the war is a pointless, murderous folly that weakens civil society while empowering the very people it’s supposed to be fighting: “Legalization does not mean that drugs are good … but we have to see (legalization of the production, sale and distribution of drugs)

Drug War Economics

It seems that Mexican drug cartels, vexed by inceased security at the American border, are sensibly moving production to be closer to their clients. Consequently, they’re growing marijuana on Indian Reservations inside the United States. As the Wall Street Journal reports: The math is tempting. Start-up expense for about dozen plots, with 10,000 plants each, is well under $500,000, U.S. officials estimate, including the cost of hiring 100 workers to plant marijuana and then several “tenders” to water them for three to four months until harvest. Incidental costs might include generators, PVC pipe and food supplies for the growers. Those plants could fetch about $120 million on the open market.

Midget Wrestlers Murdered by Fake Hookers

I defy you to find a better story today. Sad, obviously for the tiny wrestlers and their fans, but pure, unadulterated, newspaper gold for everyone else. We need more details but, by the looks of it anyway, this has the potential to be the story of the year… Two professional midget wrestlers have been found dead in a low-rent hotel room in Mexico City. La Parkita (Little Death) and Espectrito Jr – in real life brothers Alberto and Alejandro Jiménez – had been entertaining two prostitutes on the night of their death. Police beileve the women gave the pair, both 35, a fatal drugs overdose before fleeing with their belongings.

Mexico is the new Colombia?

That seems to be the message from the Obama administration anyway. Mind you, that was the message from the Bush administration too as the War on Drugs – so successful in Colombia and, for that matter, Afghanistan – was expanded to Mexico. Hillary Clinton is in Mexico City today, just as her boss announces that Washington will send hundreds more federal agents to police the Mexican border. All in all: The administration will spend $700 million this year and more in the future on a wide variety of bilateral security programs, including improving cross-border interdiction efforts, upgrading intelligence-gathering methods and establishing corruption-resistant police agencies and courts. The White House also