Thursday, 30 July 2015

Mexican Heroes and Villains - the Mitofsky Survey sorts them out


     Before we bring the OROG community opinion, fact, or conjecture about Mexico, please understand that Mexico is a place where one walks into a saloon and takes a poll about who the most important person in Mexican history is, and with ten people present, the poll renders 35 persons as "most important".    While this tale is a bit over-stated, there is some truth to it, due to the Mexican proclivity to try to not offend.
       One of the attitudinal surgery and political preference survey companies that we have come to rely upon is the highly respected Mitofsky Survey.   They do constant analysis, and their work on major local and State races has been remarkable over the years.   Their analysis of the Presidential races has been stunning.   So, when other work, more academic and/or commercial, is done, we also stuff that in the old pipe and smoke it.

      Sometimes, readers here will have to endure El Gringo Viejo making a declaratory and, with a flourish of the universal sweep of his left hand and arm,  state a fact as simply being true because he says so.   We apologise for such conceit, but we do submit that those suppositions also come from very much study and very much experience with, about, within, and concerning facts and conjecture about Mexico.

     One of the things that Mexicans will argue and discuss ad infinitum is whether or not this or that villain or hero was a villain or a hero.  It never ends.   But so that the OROG will know, the last Mitofsky survey about such things did reveal the dichotomy, the dynamic polemic, and even the somewhat schizophrenic evaluation of important personages in Mexico's past.

     We launch into a painless set of examples by first informing the readership that we did a pretty fair analysis of this data, below, yesterday.  We also put the graphics directly on the screed....but the graphics from Mitofsky disappeared during the day, thereby ruining the point of the article.  So, everything was, stupidly, deleted in a spate of infantile frustration on my part.   However, this is such a good, interesting, and elucidating set of figures that I know it will (a) vindicate my stated assumptions and facts on this blog, and (b) give those OROGs and other who are interested in advancing their understanding of a nation as complicated as Mexico another few bricks to build their wall of knowledge.   To wit:


Benito Juarez Garcia                                  18.9%
Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla                         14.2
Fransciso (Pancho) Villa                            7.3
Emiliano Zapata                                            6.0
Porfirio Diaz                                                    3.0

     As we total up these figures, it comes up to about 50% of the total respondents.   Other could have named Lazaro Cardenas, the "Great Expropriator" who established the Mexican National oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos - PEMEX, thereby miring Mexico in a sloth-pit of socialism that has endured until even these days.   Mexico is climbing out of that oil, gas, and petro-chemical pit finally and wondrous things are not going to happen...they are already occurring, as an avalanche of technology, professionalism, and competition.  But now, the lustre is gone from Cardenas....his son, Cuautemoc Cardenas drove the name into the ground with several losing efforts at becoming President, and PEMEX looking better with each step towards privatization does not help the ancient image of Lazaro Cardenas.    Same with Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador...another constant candidate for President or something, at one time thought of as an icon, but after a few months of blocking the main plaza in Mexico City and "occupying" about thirty blocks of the most attractive and heavily travelled boulevard in Latin America....his lustre also dulled.   None of those personalities polled as much as one per cent. 

     We shall study Benito Juarez, since he is the leader of those most admired.  From the point of view of El Gringo Viejo, he was a grumpy old man at a young age.   He hated the same people who made him a great political and legal thinker.   He was a full-blooded Zapotec Indian, from the wildest mountains of east central Oaxaca State in the south of Mexico.   Because of evidence of advanced intelligence, he was forwarded by his family and religious workers to the care of a really fine academy in the city of Oaxaca run by cloistered sisters of a remarkable convent.   As a child of the outlying areas, he was accommodated by a well-to-do family, pretty much as an adoptee.
     To his credit, he was adamant and ardent about that in which he believed.  He became an eloquent voice in the issues supported by the Reformers.  That was the liberal group....filled with prototypical international socialists, haters of organised  religion, haters of the wealthy, mockers of the traditions, and ardent enemies of hard money.  
  He essentially wrote (this is somewhat but not convincingly refuted by some historians) the ultra-democratic Constitucion de 1857 that for all practical purposes expropriated the Roman Catholic Church out of existence in Mexico, as well as major portions of lands that had been considered communitarian by the indigenous peoples...Otomi, Tarascan, Tlaxcalan, Maya, Zapotec, Mixtec, Huichole, Huastec, Totonac, and other nations.
     While some (in the opinion of this writer), if not most, of the lands that had been awarded by the Throne during the colonial period probably should have been "re-awarded" in some manner, stripping the wealthy of their ranching and very fine production of tropical fruits, corn, scores of fine vegetable and cotton and hennequin plantations would have been a disaster for Mexico as a nation.   And, please to remember, in those days...the 1850s...the "nation" of Mexico was very much five to seven separate entities....more if the Indian nations were to be treated as the entities they actually were.

     Benito Juarez was a Scottish Rite Mason, because all liberal leaders in Mexico were of that order.   It saved Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna from the firing squad or noose in the moments after the Battle of San Jacinto, for instance, when he identified himself as a Mason to Samuel Houston.  Of course, Lopez de Santa Anna had ceased being a "liberal" leader three or four re-inventions of his persona before meeting Houston.
    The difference between the common Mason and Benito  was that Juarez was obfuscative when it came to accepting, as all Masons must,  that there is a Supreme Cosmic Force and Intelligent Entity.  One can be a Jew, Muslim, Christian of any sort, Buddhist, Shintoist, Hindu, etc. but belief upon and in The Supreme Being is fundamental in Masonic canon.  Juarez is not known for his fielty to that point.

     To me, Juarez was as self-consumed as one of our favourite female Presidential candidates.  He was chased out of the Presidency by conservative and Church interests, who gained favour from the corpus populi due to the anarchy that broke out during the clumsy implementation of the above cited Constitucion.  The Conservatives went to Europe and essentially begged for the loan of a monarch.  The Hapsburg House was brought into the deal, with the King of Belgium and the important backing of Napoleon III and the Bishop of Rome (Pope).   It was arranged that a very popular, dashing, to King Franz Josef, king of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Bohemia.  Franz Josef took the opportunity to rid himself of his more popular brother, and to give that brother a "real live Empire" with a real live throne and a Palace and soldiers with uniforms fit for any opera.  (Please obtain the books, The Crown of Mexico, Joan Haslip,  and  The Cactus Throne.  the author's name escapes me at this moment).
     Maximilian and his Belgian Empress Carlotta came into Mexico in 1864 and did a fair to middling job as Emperor.  Once things started running better, however, Max decided to literally go bird-watching and butterfly collecting in the South of Mexico, while the Republican counter-revolution was welling up in the North.   Long story short, Maximilian went to assume personal command of the Imperial Army in Queretaro, and after a prolonged siege and considerable loss of life, the Republicans forces won the day and the War.   In fairly short order Maximilian was shot before a firing squad, as were his two generals, Miramar and Mexia.   As an aside it should be pointed out that Max's two theatre level generals were racially Mestizo, while all of the "Indian President's" field commanders were White and Roman Catholic.

     My further opinion of Juarez is tempered by the fact that he was willing to sell every Mexican's birthright in order to raised the funds that were needed to re-install himself into the Presidency.  He offered both Abraham Lincoln (with whom he communicated frequently) and later Andrew Johnson territory in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec for the purpose of building a "Panama Canal".   Lincoln was enthralled with the idea and even  commented that it would be a good place to send the "emancipated" slaves and other Negroes "because they are better adapted to such climates".  Very enlightened, our Father Abraham...and our national hero, Benito.
       The story is told about an Italian onyx and marble stone finisher, working on the incredible Palacio de Bellas Artes during the regime of Porfirio Diaz, during the 1880s.   During the quiet times in the evenings the Mexicans at his favorite saloon would talk about the Great Presidente Benito.  Very impressed by these tales of patriotism, democracy. and loyalty to cause, the Italian returned to Italy and repeated these tales, especially to his brother.  In due course, the time came for the brother's wife to be delivered, several years later...and the brother dutifully named his baby after this inspiring Hero of the People.
"The Christian name of this child, Mr. Mussolini?"

"Benito," he responded to the priest at the baptism.

      But this is neither here nor there.  In politics in Mexico as in the United States of America perception is more important than fact.

     The number two fellow is Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, also known as the Father of Mexico...and as the person who "Pronounced" the Revolution for Independence of Mexico from Spain on 15 September 1810 at 23:00 hours, from the belfry of his parish church in the community of Dolores, Guanajuato.  While Hidalgo was killed not so long after this act, he is the one who put into motion that irresistible force (Mexico) that finally destroyed the immovable object (Spain).
    On all these other folks cited as Heroic, we shall comment a bit more at a later moment.   Many, many books have been written about all of them.   They deserved all the study that has been given their personalities and quirks and motives.

This afternoon, the good Lord willing and the Devil not objecting, I shall delve into the "Bad Boys" a bit.
El Gringo Viejo