Monthly Archives: November 2009

Taking a short break…

Guadelupe Valley, Baja California

I wish it were this kind of a break (photo from from a summer outing in Baja California’s Guadalupe Valley). But no – I need to finish up my final project for my final master’s class at USC and that looming deadline has kept me from updating this blog lately. I will, however, be responding to messages left on this blog, and I will return to blogging in about a week…Thanks for your patience!

Migrants using online communities to stay in touch with their Mexican villages

Picture 5

Mexicans who have migrated to the United States from rural villages have been forming online communities to stay in touch with their families and friends back home. They log onto specific websites (such as that of, above) to share photos, memories and send Yearbook-style greetings. In the process, they are reinforcing cultural, historic and emotional ties.

In some cases, the online communication is also providing a way of reinforcing democratic practices and political debate in Mexico. According to one study about the village of San Martin de Blonan~os, 13.26 percent of messages on that village’s independently-run web site included discussions about politics and accountability (A few examples: The alleged corruption of one of the mayoral candidate members and mine contamination in a local river). The study, by Mexican researcher Miriam Cardenas Torres, provides a fascinating look at the online dynamics of this particular Jalisco community and the technological barriers and benefits to such interaction.

I am not finding a recent link to the paper about San Martin de Bloan~os that I found earlier this year by Miriam Cardenas Torres. But here is a link to another study of hers that mentions San Martin de Bolan~os: “Transnational Migration and Communication” (in Spanish). An additional study by Victor Gonzalez an Luis Castro  – “Maintaining links through the Web: The case of the Mexican communities of immigrants in the United States” (in Spanish) – was published in the Journal of Community Informatices (2007).

Special thanks to Stephanie Elizondo Griest, author of “Mexican Enough.” Elizondo Griest mentioned Miriam Cardenas’ studies in her own book “Mexican Enough,” which I read earlier this year.

Mexico’s police show their dance moves

A video of this lap-dancing police officer was forwarded to me in recent months from my Mexico contacts. I’m posting an abridged (and Rated G version) above, but there is another video mash-up of this called “Policia de TJ” that is is all the rage.

The “Policia de TJ” version frames the video in terms of how these days the Tijuana police officers may not be earning enough money to go to the strip clubs and so they are having to find new ways to collect some cash.  Then the video of the gyrating officer begins. It’s followed by a video ending with clown music of an apparent robber escaping in front of a squad of officers.

The videos are a little grainy and you can’t actually make out the word Tijuana on the insignias, so who is to say they are even officers. Still, if true, I wonder what happened to this officer after he became a YouTube star. I dug around for videos of dancing police officers in the United States and came up with just a few – traffic cops –  who were profiled on the news. Other countries’ police forces seem to have a greater propensity to swish their hips in front of a camera. Judge for yourself who is the better dancer.

Policia de TJ” video:

Mexican officer dancing with his rifle in Sinaloa:

U.S. traffic officer (now retired) in Providence:

A U.S. traffic officer in New York City:

Posted YouTube video – “humor policia bailando –  from OOseasjonathan

The Day of the Dead’s literary tradition

calaverasThis is the time of year when people in Mexico  – and in other Latin American countries – honor the dead by visiting graveyards and creating homemade altars to departed family members and friends. But the “Day of the Dead”  festivities also have a literary tradition. Pick up the local newspapers and you will find short poems called calaveras that are written as epitaphs for the living.

It may seem a little morbid to find such a poem for U.S. President Barack Obama, but these clever and often politically-motivated calaveras are simply reflections of the cultural differences in how Mexicans view death and the deceased through playful mockery. The subjects of these poems are often picked for their relevance to current events, and sometimes reflect inanimate characters such as ” the 3 percent telecommunications tax.”

The poems start appearing before and on the Day of the Dead celebrations, which occur Nov. 1-2. In the most recent edition of the Tijuana newspaper Frontera,  the featured poems include one  for Mexico’s president Felipe Calderon, Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Secretary of Labor Javier Lozano. Here is a snippet from the one for Barack Obama:

“Although the Nobel prize he won surprised them all, death wasn’t perturbed. It took him anyways…The death of the president was in difficult moments because he left many people with poor health and without documents.”


Screen shot from Tijuana’s Frontera newspaper Calaveras section.