Opinion

MAY 13, 2014

Drugs: The Second Mexican-American War

The ongoing, years-long “War on Drugs” pitting the United States and Mexico against a supposed common enemy has no end in sight, nor the political will to see it finished.

The war is extremely complex, that is already well-known, but perhaps there is another facet to it. Delving further into the issue leads this writer to think that this drug warfare is sponsored by both states. It’s, perhaps, an unspoken truth that both are warring through this new medium: drugs.

It’s undiplomatic to utter these words, isn’t it? It’s not neighborly, it abandons all niceties, political correctness but the possibility certainly exists.

There are precedents that have remained mostly hush-hush with a wink to these days. How often does it cross the general conscience that prior to the Cuban missile crisis, Fidel Castro lived in Mexico where he brainstormed with Che Guevara? Do people even know that Castro raised an army in Mexico, and that his offensive came from there? That prior to the Bay of Pigs planned invasion of Cuba there were counter-Castro Cubans being trained in New Orleans makes perfect geographical sense given that Castro was training his army on the other edge of the Gulf of Mexico. CIA (state sponsored albeit covert) involvement in New Orleans means that the same was true in Mexico (state involvement).

How often does it occur to people, in either country, that former Mexican presidents Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, Adolfo López Mateos and Luis Echeverría Álvarez had CIA ties, some even calling them CIA agents? All of that and more is explained in the book Our Man in Mexico, by Jefferson Morley.

A better solution for both countries is to put an end to covert operations like “Project Gunrunner” aka “Operation Fast and Furious,” which was the plan to allow guns into Mexico, a plan to trace drug lords that Obama’s government knew all too well, and focus on generating self-sustaining small business men and women in Mexico. But unfortunately, there are likely too many politicians that would rather see drug violence corralled in Mexico, instead of seeing that neighbor prosper. When Mexico as a country prospers, we all win, on both sides of the border and throughout the region.

On the Mexican side, governmental complacency at all levels of government spells the condoning of drug trafficking, which is nearly a direct affront, an offense.

That spillover has reverberations here. When thinking of generating future business leaders in Santa Ana, for example, do we want these to think medicinal marijuana shop? How many does Santa Ana need? The youth in Santa Ana desperately need alternatives to the already burned-out, typical drug culture. Santa Ana youth need real role models not glorified drug kingpins, done so through Hollywood flicks or fictional narco corrido lyrics.

It’s a battle that no one wins, because Mexican and Mexican-American youth get caught in the cycle, and American users are no smarter for using, which doesn’t really help to build a better country in my opinion.

 

APRIL 11, 2013

Santa Ana: In Need of a Real Renaissance

In a city that is overwhelmingly Latino (upwards of over 80 percent) it becomes necessary for the majority to be reflected in the city’s decision making. Santa Ana is in need of a true organic growth from within, and not from unmeasured transplantation from without.

One area where Latinos are grossly under-represented is in business. We Latinos in Santa Ana have the numbers. We are a numeric and political majority, but we are not an economic majority.

Let me rephrase that. We are not the economic engine. We provide dollars and consumers, but we generally don’t generate the jobs, much less own commercial real estate.

In a city where we’ve faced controversy and battles over gentrification, it is up to those of us that care for this city, and who want to see our majority reflected in all aspects of city life, to become the business class.

We’ve faced problems with what some of us interpret as a transgressive landlord in the downtown at the newly christened “East End.” Well the way to counteract landlords like that is to become one yourself. We need more Latino commercial landlords for every type like the “East Enders.”

Why? Why is it important for us to have our majority reflected in commercial real estate? Because then we decide what gets programmed and housed. We decide what cultural activities and events are appropriate. We decide what businesses get leases.

The way things are setup now, The Yost Theater is not a space reflective of the Santa Ana community, and it is a shame. A former city council facilitated privatizing this historic theater and in doing so took what should have been a historic resource and cultural outlet away from the community.

Arts & Letters

Santa Ana is in need of a real rebirth and it must show in the Arts & Letters. Who is our Langston Hughes? Where is our real literary movement? What can we learn from the Harlem Renaissance?

Why is there talk of building a modern museum of Asian art on Harbor Blvd when it is more than obvious that a Latino-specific museum is in order here?

We need to raise the bar of what is expected of ourselves. A publication likeSantanero or the sensationalism of Gustavo Arellano is only a start. We can do better.

It is heartening to learn that Latino high school graduation rates are on the rise, as the Department of Education reports. This should translate in the future to more Latino business and commercial real estate owners.

Sandra Wood, Professor of Sociology at Santa Ana College taught that Latinos would become a numeric and political majority first, prior to becoming an economic majority. We’re 2/3rds of the way there.

That day when we’re an economic majority cannot come fast enough.

 

JANUARY 29, 2013

Obama’s Immigration Plan: Tired Rhetoric

Obama’s words at Del Sol High School in Nevada today amount to nothing more than recycled rhetoric. The main points within the flowery speech are what is expected to be done in this so-called bipartisan immigration reform proposal.

Obama took pages from G.W. Bush, and outright admitted to using Bush-influenced ideas in the beginning of the speech. Where’s the thought put into this proposed reform? Nowhere. Nothing new since Bush.

There is still verbiage about “having people go to the back of the line” after passing background checks, paying back taxes if necessary, and paying penalties as if these things aren’t enough punishment already.

Why should these people applying for legal status not have to make way for others applying?

Undocumented immigrants, whether Americans in general like it or not, or whether they choose to admit it or not, contribute to the American economy every single day in more ways than one. Undocumented immigrants fuel the private and public sectors with billions of dollars in sales taxes. Are people that blissfully ignorant or are they just willfully ignorant of this fact? It is strictly political to deny that this undocumented segment of the population contributes economically.

And where does that put those that apply to come here “legally?” I’ll put it bluntly for them, or you, if the jacket fits you.

If you don’t have the nerve to risk your life in an Arizona desert or in a cargo ship overseas to try to get to this country, then how bad do you really want to be here? While you were waiting for your papers to get to you so that could you fly over nice and neat, others risked or gave their lives to get here and once they did, they contributed in more ways than you did. Many of which have been here for decades. All that is denied to them is “Uncle Sam’s” stamp of approval.

You know who else risks or gives their lives to give something back to this country? Soldiers.

Sidenote: Anyone who tries to twist my argument or even think that soldiers are there to protect this country from undocumented immigrants is a bonehead. Immigrants are not combatants nor invaders as some dolts think. Many fail to comprehend the positive impacts on this country due to as I said, them contributing big bucks to the private and public sectors.

Public and private companies go after that “undocumented” dollar all the live long day. Who? AT&T, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Coke, Pepsi, Major League Baseball. The list is endless. Um, ever watch Univision? You should. And become enlightened to what goes on in your own country.

Oh but “Uncle Sam” gets a nice chunk of that private sector dollar too. Doesn’t he? You bet he does.

So why the double standard? When you realize that the dollar generated and contributed by an undocumented person is as green as that of the mogul snob or the valley girl, then there is no logical reason not to reward those that contribute.

What’s left to argue? They’re not white enough? Their surname isn’t Anglo enough? It’s pure hypocrisy to take someone’s dollar and in turn be an ingrate. What is that if not robbery?

That is the history of the relations between this country and its undocumented immigrants.

 

OCTOBER 18, 2012

Editorial: The Arts are What Saved Me

I grew up during very difficult and challenging times in Santa Ana. I came into adolescence in the early 90s and I remember how throughout that decade there were multiple gang shootings on almost a nightly basis. You could hear them.

This was during a time when party crews were at their peak along with tagging crews. It was all too easy for kids to be led astray into these types of activities.

Back then there was no Orange County High School of the Arts or an Artists Village. That meant that there were less alternatives to gangs and crews.

I became engulfed with the downtown when I discovered Neutral Grounds Cafe around 1997, where Lola Gaspar now stands. They had poetry readings and an open mic every Thursday. The area that came to be called Artists Village gave me a place to be and become.

This area was a stimulant, it allowed me to think creatively and wildly. These thoughts alone were deterrents to negative distractions like gangs and the like. My mind became occupied and stimulated by the arts and this place to be an artist.

This area contributed to the forming of my artistic personality. There was a time when I performed a new classical guitar piece for a series of Thursdays at Morey’s Deli, formerly Neutral Grounds. These kinds of activities reinforce the artistic personality.

I was fortunate enough to be part of substantial artistic events in the Santora, like when world-renowned Mexican composer Arturo Márquez came to town. I got to moderate a panel discussion with him and another world-renowned sculptor, Felipe Castañeda and also Pilar O’Cádiz, daughter of muralist Sergio O’Cádiz, whose relief work decorates the façade of Santa Ana City Hall.

The downtown allowed me to generate ideas and projects like one I called Flamenco de la Santora, a performance project that I ran for two years.

The downtown allowed me to generate another project that I called The Institute for Mexican Art Music, which I headquartered at the Santora for a year.

The arts in the Artist Village stimulate creative thinking, free thinking. The Artist Village is not for archaic, suppressing, stymying, controlling entities commonly associated with churches.

That anyone would even think of interrupting or altering this free-thinking environment is an affront to artists and free-thinking people.

After awhile, time spent in the Artists Village was time well spent because each visit there was a reinforcement of my developing musical and artistic persona. I didn’t do too bad either. I’m lucky enough to work in the arts, in Music at Santa Ana College, at Phillips Hall Theatre at Santa Ana College and in Dance at UC Irvine. Anyone else can too.

I honestly don’t believe I’m anymore capable than anyone else. I was on track to be another statistic, another kid found dead in Santa Ana. Sometimes I’m amazed that I even survived.

The point is that I know that the arts can save others. I know that they prevent gang activity. That anyone can disrupt the fact that the arts are what has changed the perception of Santa Ana, and that the arts have a salvaging and positive effect is completely unforgivable.

I’ve been here all of my life, I’ve seen the dark and bright sides of Santa Ana. This place is synonymous with the arts. Anyone that doesn’t realize this is completely out of touch.

 

SEPTEMBER 4, 2012

City of Santa Ana Election 2012 Endorsements

People and political parties have made up their minds about who they want to see elected and their endorsements are out. Never mind waiting to hear what a candidate has to say, like for example, at the upcoming Santa Ana election debate scheduled to happen on September 12 at the Rancho Santiago Community College District Board Room (because when I think openness and transparency and connecting to the public, I think the RSCCD Board Room) at 7pm.

Just how the “OC Dems” can get behind a guy like Benavides, who nearly helped sell the Santora arts building to his church and is in favor of the PBID is beyond me.But maybe it’s best explained when realizing that the “OC Dems” are out of touch with Santa Ana.

The Santa Ana Sentinel endorses the following:

City of Santa Ana:

Mayor: Miguel Pulido

Continuity is still the order of the day. There simply is no better option, yet again, for the mayor’s office. Pulido is vastly popular and his time as mayor is proof of that. Benavides is an incognito without the track record or popularity of Pulido. To be fair, Benavides was an incognito until his true colors shone through when he nearly had a hand in the sale of the Santora arts building to his church. Now he’s come out in favor of the PBID, showing his true colors.

Ward 1: Vincent Sarmiento

Sarmiento has emerged from all of the dust concerning scandals like Benavides almost having a hand in the sale of the Santora to his church or Bustamante’s suspicion of subordinate abuse, unscathed. He appears to be the most shrewd and maybe calculating, in addition to Pulido.

Ward 3: Eric Alderete

The word is that he’s supportive of the arts, although during this election year, all candidates are supportive of the arts and they’ll (Benavides) say what artists want to hear. There’s a bit of common rhetoric in his platform at his website though. Every candidate wants to create jobs so my question to him is, how exactly do you intend to work towards creating jobs? He’s a corporate lawyer who worked for US Bank and looks good on paper to business folks, and he has some background in small business development. So the obvious question is how will that experience be applied to Santa Ana?

The answer: He can start by starting one of those small business financial centers (sounds like another bank, hope not) that he touts on his website, in Santa Ana. Because the “Orange County Small Business Development Center” over on Broadway by the RSCCD headquarters is not serving Santa Ana satisfactorily in my opinion.

Ward 5: Karina Onofre

This is a strategic endorsement because of Benavides’s intention to create a council in his favor. He’s allied with council members Martínez, and now Tinajero apparently, and he wants his buddy Román Reyna in there as another guaranteed vote. If Benavides becomes mayor, that will leave Ward 4 open for a newly appointed councilperson, obviously one favored by the would-be new powerstructure.

Checks and balances people, checks and balances.

But really, there’s no good option in Ward 5. Who’s to say that Onofre won’t go along with everyone else? It’s been said that she flip flopped on her party registration.

I would’ve have voted for Zeke Hernández for this ward if he had turned in papers. I’m told that he pulled but them but decided not to run.

 

JANUARY 16, 2012

Ron Paul: Republican business, as usual

“Real” change? What do you call giving the wealthiest Americans tax breaks, like those that make income on their Wall Street investments? Do you call that “real” change? Unless you’ve been living in isolation in this country and detached of anynews, or if you’ve been living in some other country, do you not know that the Republican party is synonymous with giving the wealthy in this country tax breaks.

The latest example, one that Ron Paul pushes for, is the eliminating of capital gainstaxes.

This type of tax applies to income made on the sale of real estate and investments, particularly investments made in the stock market, you know, places like Wall Street that have become as vilified as the word communism in modern times.

One can try to defend the elimination of capital gains taxes by saying that ordinary people can make investments and not get taxed on income made from that, or that they can sell property and not get taxed, but that does not answer the question of how much money the wealthiest make by doing these same things. How much more money do the wealthiest make on their Wall Street investments and theirsales of large property?

Why would Paul be in favor of eliminating capital gains taxes? Because it is Republican business as usual with him, that’s why he was an “independent” gone Republican, because the ideals of Republicanism are what appeal to him. More of the same: no immigration reform, no DREAM act, and now no capital gains taxes?

That is the biggest pro Wall Street move you can make. Reward those that play the stock market, which let’s face it, are the wealthiest and those that have disposable income to invest, and not the majority that is struggling.

It’s one thing to spill verbiage in favor of Ron Paul, but to do it thinking that listing a pretentiously impressive x, y, and z topic that he’s in favor of just for the sake of listing and not thinking that readers won’t catch and see what’s wrong with the big picture is a nice try at best.

Ron Paul being in favor of eliminating capital gains taxes proves that he’s Republican business as usual, the type that bows to big money. The argument that he’s somehow different from other politicians because he’s against big money is now invalid.

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