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.

MAY 6, 2014

Santa Ana College Math Teacher Interviewed on Huffington Post

Santa Ana College math teacher Hao-Nien Q. Vu was recently interviewed by the Huffington Post to discuss the launch of a new voice from the Vietnamese community called Vietnam Right Now. To read a contribution to Santaniego by Hao-Nien Vu, click here. Click here for the original Huffington Post with Hao-Nien Vu.
NOVEMBER 7, 2013

Mexican Consulate in Santa Ana Moves to 2100 E. Fourth St.

The Mexican Consulate in Santa Ana has for the longest time needed more space. They finally moved their headquarters to a larger, two-story space at 2100 E. 4th Street, where they reopened on November 4th. The new consulate office is near the corner of 4th and Golden Circle Drive on the south side and before Tustin avenue, heading east.

There’s speculation that this move may be to prepare for an expected immigration reform, where people could arrive in greater numbers. The Consulate, in its old location near Broadway and Civic Center, saw lines stretch outside. Whether or not a reform occurs, a move into a larger space was long overdue.

This information comes from the Mexican Embassy’s new smartphone app, called MiConsulMex, which is avaialbe on iPhones and Androids, and provides information on the Embassy’s consulates.

Click on the link for more information on the Mexican Consulate in Santa Ana.



OCTOBER 9, 2013

Commentary: Arts in Politics and Vice Versa

Art is tied to politics. Some of the greatest works of art have messages tied to all kinds of political topics including social justice, economic disparity, economic policies and history, just to name very few topics.

Politics are not only present in visual art, where they perhaps are most evident, but also in musical art. Politics occur when an orchestra conductor or a philharmonic society that he or she serves decides what music gets programmed.

Politics occur at music venues that deny a type of genre to be performed, or atmovie houses that won’t show certain film genres, or at museums that won’tdisplay visual art forms that they don’t see fit.

These two things, art and politics, are inseparable. That’s the way it works and always will.

With regards to the controversy over a proposed Santa Ana mural

A grand-scale project, like painting a mural, obviously has to go through a public approval and process of some sort. This wouldn’t be just any mural, it would be the largest publicly visible one ever painted in Santa Ana. Do you know that the City of Los Angeles even has a Mural Ordinance? In fact, Los Angeles even has aDepartment of Cultural Affairs and literature concerning mural processes including issues, rights & responsibilities.

It turns out that Santa Ana’s Planning and Building Agency has guidelines for Public Art processes. These sections in Chapter 15 are crucial to the development of a public artwork, like a mural.

a. Public art associated with
commercial development is
encouraged. It is strongly
encouraged that art should invite
participation and interaction,
add local meaning, interpret the
community by revealing its culture
or history, and/or capture or
reinforce the unique character of
a place.

Already, a problem is presented with the recent painting of a mural at Plaza Santa Ana. Based on PBA Chapter 15.1, said mural does not “add local meaning, interpret the community by revealing its culture or history, and/or capture or reinforce the unique character of a place.”

Fairness dictates that the following question be asked of the desingers / owners:How does that design add local meaning, interpret the community by revealing its culture or history, and/or capture or reinforce the unique character of a place?

Also, regard section 15.3.d:

d. Art should be sited to complement
other features, such as a plaza or
architectural components that
acknowledge and respond to the
presence of the art and make the
art an integral part of site

So, again, in fairness, how does that piece complement the plaza? I’ve seen the Workshop for Community Art’s propsed mural sketch and it would not complement the one above the plaza. They don’t complement each other because the one proposed one tells a story and the other one just…?

And this gets me to another mural, one in an alley on the side of the Yost. That mural raises a very valid and serious question that no one has bothered to ask publicly. Again, how does that mural add local meaning, interpret the community by revealing its culture or history, and/or capture or reinforce the unique character of a place?

What is in place is a giant graffiti mural or “bomb” (what the one at Plaza Santa Ana is, in reality) with a giant dragon, which is a symbol of Asian culture. Is it because when people think Santa Ana, they think Asian dragons? Or is that what developers want people to think?

The “re-envisioning” and re-characterization of downtown Santa Ana has been studied and proposed before. Refer to this person’s master’s thesis on ripping out Mexican symbols in downtown Santa Ana called “Identity Design for Downtown Santa Ana.”

So now you see the politics behind this newfound “mural movement” in the downtown.

Developers should contact the City as
early as possible during the design
process to obtain information
regarding inclusion of artwork within a
development proposal and guidelines
for developing a project art plan,
selecting and working with artists and
art consultants.

Project developers are strongly
encouraged to work with an art
consultant in the selection of artists
and artwork. An art consultant can
provide expert assistance
 about artists
who work on public projects.
Budgets, site selection and contract
knowledge will assist the developer in
developing the Public Art Plan.

Artists selected should be generally
recognized as a professional of serious
intent. Their work should show strong
artistic excellence, the ability to
produce works appropriate to the site,
integration of artworks into the design
of the building or landscape. The
artwork should show recognition of
accessibility, durability, and an
awareness of the issues of security,
maintenance, and safety.

Based on these guidelines, and based on the fact that such a thing as a mural ordinance does exist in other places, I recommend that the City of Santa Ana enact a specific mural ordinance, with a body to oversee projects, and make recommendations.

The process should be opened to interested groups to bid on mural projects (what’s fair) to find the best-qualified muralists with a proven record as accomplished muralists and for them to provide that expertise expected in the Chapter 15 Public Art Guidelines.

Said ordinance would complement and strengthen existing guidelines.

Take for example that in Los Angeles, there’s even curriculum being developed for Judy Baca’s mural La gente del maíz (The People of the Corn). Including curriculum could be part of a new ordinance.

It just seems obvious that prior to painting such an important mural, that it has to be done right, with as much information synthesized from what can be learned from other mural movements. We don’t have to look that far, LA is a perfect model. In LA there’s the Social and Public Art Resource Center – SPARC. How do they work with public entities and with the LA mural ordinance? What can be learned from a community that has more of a history with public art in the form of murals? There is much to be learned from an organization involved with the production of 105 murals since 1988. Again, their work directly engages and involves the City of LA’s Department of Cultural Affairs.

Going forward it makes all the sense in the world to adopt and enact a process, one even guaranteeing conservancy.

What we have now is a rush job and a horse race, all the while disregarding processes and more careful studies of other mural projects. There’s an overwhelming amount of information about each mural out there, complete with the histories they contain and the processes involved in getting them done. They too synthesize public input.

Fairness dictates that neither group competing for a public wall, not WCA or UASA, should be awarded anything until there are mechanisms and systems in place in the form of a mural ordinance and an arts commission.

A project like this can only benefit from more thought put into it.


MAY 1, 2013

L.A. Times Drops “Illegal Immigrant”

The Los Angeles Times drops the term “illegal immigrant” from its writing in a sign of true progressive thought. L.A. is not first in doing so, they’re following the New York Times’ and the Associated Press’ lead.

The Times’ Deirdre Edgar says,

The Los Angeles Times has announced new guidelines for covering immigration.

The goal is to “provide relevance and context and to avoid labels.”

That means stories will no longer refer to individuals as “illegal immigrants” or “undocumented immigrants,” but instead will describe a person’s circumstances.

A memo from The Times’ Standards and Practices Committee announcing the change explains the move away from labels:

” ‘Illegal immigrants’ is overly broad and does not accurately apply in every situation. The alternative suggested by the 1995 guidelines, ‘undocumented immigrants,’ similarly falls short of our goal of precision. It is also untrue in many cases, as with immigrants who possess passports or other documentation but lack valid visas.”

Click here to read more


OCTOBER 31, 2012

PAC Linked to Controversial Downtown Inc is Backing Benavides

A political action committee with close ties to the controversial downtowncommunity management district entity “Downtown Inc” was recently discovered as being behind a defamation campaign aimed at Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido. The group is called the “Stand up for Santa Ana Coalition.”

The names of those involved with Downtown Inc and the PAC are available here.

The question of who is behind Benavides’s campaign was answered piece by piece this week.

There is at least one downtown restaurant owner who is backing him. On Monday night Benavides campaign signs were added to the inside of an empty storefront at the Empire Building on 2nd & Broadway courtesy of a Chapter One business owner. Access to the building was made possible by the building owner, Bob Stewart, who is a former director of Downtown Inc.

Another piece of the puzzle comes in the form of the current Downtown Inc director, Vicky Baxter. She distanced herself and the entity from the mayor over the controversy around the possibility of moving pro soccer club Chivas USA to Eddie West Field, and later, Willowick Golf Course. Downtown Inc was supportive of the move until they were intimidated by a vocal minority in town. She stated in that email, in which she distanced the entity from the mayor, that Downtown Inc does not politic.

Not exactly.

Instead, at least two members inside of Downtown Inc are listed as members of this PAC, acting with a name separate of Downtown Inc, but the members are one in the same.

The pattern that has emerged is one of the Downtown Inc network being behind the attempt to oust Pulido.

Downtown Inc has been largely criticized for being out of touch with the longtime local population of Santa Ana and for co-opting ideas based on the OC Film Fiesta and the Grain Project’s Farmer’s Market. The Farmer’s Market ran for years prior to the existence of a Downtown Inc. The entity has also been criticized for showing an unwillingness to work with those that have experience in the downtown, like the directors of the Film Fiesta and the Grain Project.

Another criticism of the entity, that lends to the idea of them being out of touch with Santa Ana, is that they are made up largely of non Santa Ana residents or newcomers.

The entity was formed out of a controversial and unpopular property based tax known as the PBID (Property Based Improvement District). Benavides defended the PBID in the past by taking a dismissive tone of an Orange County Grand Jury Report that was critical of the PBID. He too is a newcomer to Santa Ana in comparison to many others.

The downtown entity is looking for ways to remain solvent, or for a political structure in their favor, perhaps one that will continue to execute a PBID or something similar.

They’re betting on Benavides to be their guy in City Hall.


JULY 2, 2012

Stalemate over PBID at City Hall

The hot item on the council’s agenda, a veritable hot potato, was item 85A, which is a proposal to eliminate the unpopular and controversial downtown Property andBusiness Improvement District more commonly called PBID.

So hot an item it was that Mayor Miguel Pulido and councilpersons Michelle Martínez and Vince Sarmiento abstained from voting on the item. Pulido, Martínez and Sarmiento all cited a conflict of interest in disallowing them to vote on the matter. Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Álvarez mentioned that this was not the first time that councilpersons removed themselves from voting on the matter.

Pulido and Sarmiento mentioned the businesses that they own in the downtown, and Martínez said she could not vote due to her residing in the PBID. Martínez and Sarmiento also said that the City Attorney advised them not to vote on the disestablishment of the PBID because of those stated conflicts of interest.

Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Álvarez challenged the City Attorney for advising members not to vote on the intent to eliminate the PBID and said that she could force another council member to vote on the item if allowed to within the guidelines of the Fair Political Practices Commission. Álvarez also stated that councilwoman Michelle Martínez may not qualify for removing herself from a vote, or that she may not cite a conflict of interest, because she is not a home, property or business owner in the PBID. Instead, Martínez leases an apartment in the downtown and this may require her to fulfill her voting duty on the City Council.

The City Attorney was asked to take action on a Fair Political Practice Commission report by next council meeting to determine what limits Álvarez has on forcing another councilperson to vote on the item. A failure to vote on the matter on the Council’s behalf eventually results in the elimination of the PBID.

The removal of Pulido, Sarmiento and Martínez left only Álvarez, and councilmen Sal Tinajero and David Benavides to vote on the matter. Thus, a stalemate was the end result. Another vote, that of councilman Carlos Bustamante’s, was missing due to his arrest today on charges of sexual misconduct.


JANUARY 3, 2012

The Platform of Paranoia

The platform of paranoia run by the conservative right’s propaganda machine and other “free-minded” wingnuts will have you think that all is bleak. It will have you think you’re going to jail. It will tell you that defense mechanisms like the PATRIOT and NDAA acts are too far-reaching.

The platform of paranoia will tell you that there needs to be an end to a Federal Reserve and a return to a gold standard. Is this Ron Paul’s idea of “restoring” America? To mint gold coins in place of paper money? How realistic is it to mint enough gold currency for the entire American population? And what of the costs of minting gold? And if there isn’t enough gold to go around to back up the dollar, how long before the country plunders other countries out of necessity like it currently does for oil?

Why was the U.S. Mint wanting to do away with the penny? Because of the cost associated with making it versus the paper dollar. If the copper penny costs more to make than the paper dollar, how much more would gold coins cost?

There is a common fallacy going around concerning the printing and minting of money that is attributed to the Federal Reserve. These tasks are in fact not executed by the Federal Reserve.

Is the money printed by the Department of the Treasury not backed up by anything?NO. There are numerous commodities that back up the dollar beyond gold like products ranging from grains, beef, oil, natural gas, to foreign currencies and developing technologies like cel phone minutes and bandwith. Verily, the economy itself is what backs up the dollar.

It happens that the trading of commodities occurs through trade centers, the most famous or infamous of these being Wall Street. Because much of the country’s economy passes through Wall Street, the trade center becomes suspect to questionable or untrustworthy transactions, then it becomes vilified. But the fallacy that so many commit concerning Wall Street is the generalization that it is a cesspool of corrupt corporate trading.

To say that nothing backs up the dollar is wrong, but this is a stance that one would take to make an argument to impeach a president.

The NDAA expanded the military’s arsenal and the United States is dependent on its own military strength, and the oil that fuels the war machine. The country has grown so large that it has no choice but to enforce its maritime borders, and its airspace. The expanding of the military arsenal also puts people to work, like my father and many others who work in the machining industry.

This is the reality that we live in. Some would call it a necessary evil.

Those who attack our current president should think carefully about who and what entity was tied to oil, the resource that keeps the military running. Think about a former commander in chief that came from an oil background, that abused his powers to declare war on Iraq based on a personal vendetta, a mission with coststied to it. How much did that cost?

The platform of paranoia will pull anything from anywhere, because in political season, slander is commonplace and a common tactic.

People don’t have to agree with the methods that keep the country moving, but only after one truly understands how the economy and the military ticks, should he or she call for the removal of the underpinnings of Washington.


DECEMBER 26, 2011

Ron Paul: Consistently Inconsistent

Ron Paul is one to flip flop on the issue of immigration because he doesn’t want to outright admit his discriminatory or racist views that he has recently been questioned about. His discriminatory remarks do not only concern African-Americans but also undocumented immigrants which he refers to as “illegals.” He wants to pass himself off as a reasonable type when it comes to immigration but his true colors shine through.

Ron Paul was once asked:

Q: When you ran for president in 1988, you said, “As in our country’s first 150 years, there shouldn’t be any immigration policy at all. We should welcome everyone who wants to come here and work.” You’ve changed your view.

Ron Paul “And during that campaign I got into trouble with Libertarians because I said there may well be a time when immigration is like an invasion and we have to treat it differently. My approach to immigration is somewhat different than the others. Mine is you deal with it economically We’re in worse shape now because we subsidize immigration. We give food stampsSocial Securityfree medical care, free education and amnesty. So you subsidize it, and you have a mess. Conditions have changed. And I think this means that we should look at immigration differently. It’s an economic issue more than anything. If our economy was in good health, I don’t think there’d be an immigration problem. We’d be looking for workers and we would be very generous.”

What Paul overlooks is that there has been immigration to this country in times of good and bad economic times. In fact, the Los Angeles Times reported that immigration is down due to the recession in this country. What Paul is saying is that bad economic policies contribute to immigration which is completely false. Is he one to see the glass as half empty? What he and others conveniently overlook is that there are benefits to immigration here, whether it is documented or not.

He is no different than others who condemn undocumented immigration because of the costs associated with it. Why doesn’t he or anyone examine the profits of it? Verily, this country makes a business on undocumented labor, and there are costs associated with every business. Anyone who does not see this lives under a rock or is blinded by racism.

One of Paul’s most radical views is that concerning birthright. Humorously, a staunch supporter of his might argue vigorously, and ultimately unreasonably, about NOT amending the constitution of the United States, but he’s in favor of it, so long as it allows him to deny citizenship to a child born here of an undocumented parent.

“Well, that’s constitutional, to do it (amend the constitution). Besides, it was the 14th Amendment. It wasn’t in the original Constitution. And there’s confusion on interpretation. In the early years, it was never interpreted that way, and it’s still confusing because individuals are supposed to have birthright citizenship if they’re under the jurisdiction of the government. And somebody who illegally comes in this country as a drug dealer, is he under the jurisdiction and their children deserve citizenship? I think it’s awfully, awfully confusing, and, matter of fact, I have a bill to change that as well as a Constitutional amendment to clarify it.”

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , Dec 23, 2007

Why doesn’t he just come out and make a generalization that all Mexicans are drug dealers?

More Ron Paul statements on the immigration issue:

“I would not sign a bill like [comprehensive immigration reform], because it would be amnesty. I also think that it’s pretty impractical to get an army in this country toround up 12 or maybe 20 million. But I do believe that we have to stick to our guns on obeying the law, and anybody who comes in here illegally shouldn’t be rewarded. And that would be the case.”

“We subsidize illegal immigration, we reward it by easy citizenship, either birthright or amnesty.”

Does this guy have any clue as to how many parents of citizens he has insulted? No, he doesn’t.

“Because of our economic conditions, we do need workers. But if we had a truly free market economy, the illegal immigrants would not be the scapegoat. We would probably need them and they would be acceptable.”

Probably? Probably??? No, this country is completely, not probably, dependent on immigrant labor, in good or bad economic times.

Paul voted to pass a bill that would require hospitals to gather and report information on possible illegal aliens before hospitals can be reimbursed for treating them. The bill would also make employers liable for the reimbursements if an undocumented employee seeks medical attention, unless the employer meets particular conditions for exemption. The bill would specify that hospitals aren’t required to provide care to undocumented aliens if they can be transported to their home country without a significant chance of worsening their condition.

Source: Ron Paul on Immigration

This shows me another typical ingrate and hypocrite, the type that shows no gratitude for the services done in this country by undocumented laborers.

The arguments against undocumented immigration are made by a pack of ingrates that fails to see, or deviously and willfully overlooks, the profits made on the backs of these people.


SEPTEMBER 11, 2011

9/11, Mexican American Veterans Remembered

A moment of silence is taken in memory of 9/11, and the contributions of MexicanAmericans in the U.S. Armed Forces at the Yost Theater today.

The documentary The Longoria Affair, concerning the discrimination of Felix Longoria and other Mexican American servicemen during and after the second World War, is shown as part of the commemorations.

Actor and dramatist Louie Olivos Jr (pictured below) dropped by the Yost to talk about his family’s involvement in the U.S. military and their ownership of the Yost theater, which began in 1952, and to mention stories of some of the entertainers that came to the Yost and Orange County including Mexican singer Pedro Infante and Cuban composer and orchestra director Dámaso Pérez Prado, the original mambo king, who Olivos brought to the OC Fairgrounds.



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