On Cinco de Mayo

Here we are again, May 5th and people throughout these United States will hold “Cinco de Mayo” celebrations. Some will ignorantly believe it is México’s 4th of July or even believe that this date means a great deal to us Mexicans, it doesn’t.

In all fairness, México doesn’t really have a “4th of July”. Yes, its “Independence Day” (September 16) marked the end of Spanish rule but only to be followed by subsequent American seizure of large tracts of land such as Arizona (isn’t it ironic?), California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Texas, as well as a brief French occupation.

On May 5th, 1862 near the city of Puebla, an inferior Mexican force beat a superior French force. It was significant due to the “David-Goliath” aspect of it and because my people were victorious in a battle. The only problem is that the defeat only delayed the inevitable French occupation of my native land and subsequent appointment of a hapless Hapsburg (Maximilian I, pictured below) to the throne of the newly minted Mexican Empire. In other words, México won the Battle of Puebla but lost the war.

(Museum of History, Chapultepec)

For this reason, most of México doesn’t make a big deal of this day. After all, who celebrates a victorious battle in a war which was ultimately lost? Not even my peoples, who look for small victories to revel in especially over hegemonic entities, have the non-sense to do this. It’d be akin to making a national holiday over the Battle of the Alamo. Yes, México won that “battle” but lost the war and Texas.

Emperor Maximilian I eventually was overthrown and to make a statement that foreign governance wouldn’t be tolerated, was sentenced to death by firing squad.

Perhaps as some sort of twisted joke, 139 years later, another Maximiliano, Maxi Rodriguez, would fire a shot (see vid below) that would avenge his namesake’s death at the hands of Mexican authorities, break the heart of the Mexican people and make the name “Maximiliano” reviled once more throughout the land.

“Yes We Can!”

This chant (“Yes We Can!” or “¡Sí Se Puede!”) was introduced to the mainstream in the last Presidential election. Supporters of Barack Obama appropriated it and made it their rallying cry. If people have no problem hijacking Scripture to achieve whatever end, why not some silly phrase to usher in an era of perceived hope and change?

I say appropriated because the phrase did come from somewhere, and no I’m not talking about Bob the Builder (“Can we fix it? Yes we can!”).

The phrase is one of México’s contributions to the world of sports fanaticism. If memory serves me correct, I first heard it during the 1998 World Cup. It was used by the masses to support the national team as they went up against European powers such as the Netherlands (2-2 tie) and Germany (1-2 loss). Here’s an action shot from that match,

So close Luis, yet so far…

It makes sense why the Mexican collective would concoct such a phrase, given my native land’s ya merito (close but no cigar) performances every 4 years. They look great against top-flight competition, give us all hope of a breakthrough and then get barely beaten in elimination games. There was Germany in ’86, Bulgaria in ’94, Germany again in ’98, USA (this one still hurts) in ’02, and Argentina in ’06. I expect this upcoming World Cup to be no different, but I hope I’m wrong.

I guess I could also go on how the phrase reflects the class struggle that has been the fulcrum of México’s troubled history.

Which brings us full circle to the re-emergence of the phrase at recent protests against a law in Arizona which requires peace officers to ask for proof of legal status.

The law only applies in Arizona, for now, but 7,000 people took to the streets here in H-town in protest. They, of course, made copious use of this phrase.

I agree, this law is ridiculous and is probably unconstitutional. If you’re against nationalized health-care because it’s unconstitutional then why aren’t you against this law? But I digress…

Back to the marchers, I just have one thing to ask: Stop using this slogan.

It doesn’t apply here. “Yes We Can”, what? What can you do? Even if this was law here in Texas, what can you do? It’s obvious that Congress isn’t doing anything about immigration reform. It’ll cost too much politically to do so.

Come up with something better and leave this phrase where it belongs, when we root for our beloved Tri come June 11th.

Looking (Baja) California, Feeling Arizona

The political masters of the state of Arizona have recently passed a bill which will permit police officers in that state to check the legal status of “anyone they suspect of being illegal”.

Not only that but it will make it a violation of state law to be in these United States without the proper paperwork.

According to the LA Times,

The bill, known as SB 1070, makes it a misdemeanor to lack proper immigration paperwork in Arizona. It also requires police officers, if they form a “reasonable suspicion” that someone is an illegal immigrant, to determine the person’s immigration status.

A “reasonable suspicion”? What the hell does that entail? Swarthy men wearing frat/sorority shirts? Heavily tanned men sporting trucker hats for what they are and not as fashion statements?

As a public service to the peace officers of the state of Arizona, here are a couple of examples of the type of people they might be wary of,

(Photo credit: greenelent’s Flickr)


(Photo credit: greenelent’s Flickr)

Just out of curiosity, will the police also be allowed to question the people who take care of lawmakers’ kids, mow their lawns and clean their palatial estates?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

To my paperless paisanos living in Arizona, when you see la chota, take Han’s advice and “fly casual”.

Vladimir Putin: the Answer to Russia’s Olympic Woes

The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics just concluded yesterday and once again my fatherland turned in a dazzling performance… NOT. México’s Winter Olympic team consisted of one man, Hubertus von Hohenlohe, a slalom skier.

El Beto (who is of German descent) managed to come in 46th and 78th in the slalom and giant slalom respectively. I bring this up not to puff up my nationalistic sensitivites (as if) but to accentuate the contrast in expectations.

The Russian delegation, relative to México’s one man wrecking crew, performed gloriously. By gloriously, I mean they managed to not only win a medal but eleven of them, three of them gold! México has never sniffed a medal in a Winter Olympics.

Yet for all this, Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev came out and lambasted his nation’s performance in Vancouver,

Medvedev calls for resignations after Russia flops at Winter Olympics

Dima made some apparently helpful suggestions,

We need to think about how we change our training methods. The new training system should focus on athletes who should be put at its cornerstone, not sports federations and their executives — and not even the trainers, with all our great respect to them. Athletes are those who bring victories, and they should become the focus of our attention.

We can’t even blame Russia’s “poor performance” on the fact that the Soviet Union is a thing of the past. The combined medal won by all former Soviet republics is 22, which would have put the USSR in 5th place right behind Norway.

I’m sure Medvedev is going to summon experts to come up with better methods to increase his nation’s medal hauls at the Summer Games in London (2012) and the next Winter Games in Sochi (2014). I, however, have more helpful advice and it’ll probably cost less rubles.

Unleash your one man wrecking crew, Prime Minister Putin. He would be a lock for gold in the following events:

Badminton

Equestrian

Judo

Shooting Sports

President Medvedev, in your pal, Mr. Putin, you have a national treasure but more importantly, an athletic and versatile golden goose.

If you don’t want him, surely I can petition the Mexican government to grant him honorary citizenship so at least we can hold our heads high at the next Olympic Games.

I can see it now in Sochi, El Putin and El Beto wiping the floor with the field in the 2-man luge and the cheers ringing out from El Zócalo to Cabo San Lucas: ¡Putin! ¡Putin! ¡Putin!

La Virgen de Guadalupe on the Can

People have seen the face of Jesus and His mom in a variety of settings. The list of items is diverse but oddly enough stays mostly within culinary confines. Toast, tortillas, and spaghetti are but a few examples.

Oddly enough, some people turn these items into objects of veneration (at best) or worship (at worst). Don’t know what happens once said items succumb to one of nature’s most inexorable forces: mold. Relic, heal thyself, maybe?

Well one “relic” that doesn’t have to worry about mold is a trash can in our lunch area at work. Is it just me or is the object of my native land’s idolatry etched into the plastic?

Virgin Mary in Trash Can
[Photo credit: me]

This post was em, inspired by the following slideshow:

“Religious Sightings”

I like how a crying “Mother Nature” made it into the slideshow. Cue up Mr. Goah, “The planet has a fevah…”

And the only cure is more cowbell!

Landon Donovan to Club América? ¡Guau!

Whether or not this even has a chance of becoming reality remains to be seen, but Greg Lalas of Sports Illustrated makes the case for it here, Why Donovan could join the enemy.

Here’s Landon Donovan depicting America’s role in WW II…

Donovan
My buddy… My buddy and me.

In all seriousness, I think Lalas makes a good case for Landon joining las Águilas del America, given the precarious perch they find themselves in right now, on the brink of relegation.

Personally, I’d love to see what a world-class player like Donovan brings to a tradition-laden side like C.A. I’d also love to see how he’d be treated by the rabid fan base in México City. He is the proverbial thorn in México’s side.

Hopefully they would treat him better than they did last week, when idiotic fans threw various things at him as he prepared to take a corner kick. Seriously folks, boo the man, hiss at him but why hurl projectiles (among other things) at him?

As in most realms in the sporting world, if he joins C.A. and the team starts dominating, I think the fans will warm up to him. The fact he speaks Spanish wouldn’t hurt him either.

That being said, when Donovan suits up for the Stars and Stripes, all club allegiances dissipate and I would expect nothing less from my countrymen than a rabid antagonism.

Especially when memories like this are seared into the collective memories of all fans of my beloved Tricolor,

Landon Donovan

Maybe He Thought He was in México…

Referring to Houston police officer, Anthony R. Foster, who is accused of taking cash from a motorist whom he pulled over. He’s being charged with “theft by a public servant.” Authorities kind of frown on that. You can read about it here:

Houston police officer caught in sting

Veteran HPD officer accused of theft

While it generally isn’t a good idea to try to bribe the police, even to try to get out of a ticket, in México it is a way of life.

It’s not a stretch to say that such bribery (known there as mordida) Apple supplements the meager salary traffic cops receive from their government.

From what I understand, a $50 handshake can get one out of a DUI.

Now before the residents and citizens of these United States look down at this, let us not forget that though bribery is illegal here, it happens and it is accepted at the highest levels of government. To quote a commenter in the Chronicle story,

Why is it when a cop takes a bribe its called a felony, and when a judge takes his or her bribes( ie campaign contributions) its called a donation?

If a cop pulled you over and offered to let you go for a fee, would you?

Two Niños Héroes Help México Destroy Team USA

No, not Juan Escutia and Fernando Montes de Oca, but wunderkinds Carlos Vela (below left) and Giovanni Dos Santos (below right). Boy, the look on Troy Perkins’ face just summarizes the second half Team USA had.

Vela Dos Santos

AP

Finally, after 10 agonizing years of Mexican fútbol futility on U.S. soil, El Tricolor de todos los Méxicanos got over their bitter rivals from the North, with a 5-0 drubbing in yesterday’s Gold Cup final due largely to the efforts of these 2 blossoming stars.

Something has been wrong with México since the conclusion of the 2007 Copa América, I believe now that that something has been swagger.  Well, even though this was neither America’s or México’s main team, I believe this win gives my countrymen a great big boost of confidence.

While there are a million things I can say the best course of action is to let these glorious highlights speak for themselves,

I will reiterate something I shared with my compadres who I watched the game with.  I like the chances of Gio and Vela delivering a World Cup title to México, but one thing at a time.

Next up:  August 12th at Azteca where Team USA has never beaten México, and where I can assure you that the Star-Spangled Banner won’t be sung by nearly the amount of people who sang México’s national anthem last Sunday at Giants Stadium.

Giants Stadium will now be known as Azteca North. Here’s a shot from Sunday:
Azteca North

AP

México Actually Wins a Penalty Shootout

Mexican fans you know the routine. In an elimination match, you better hope that El Tri wins in the first 90 minutes or if not then manages to put the match away during the 30 minute overtime, why?

Because as all of us know, Mexican fútbolistas are inept at taking penalty kicks. The memories are many and are painful.

There was the ’86 World Cup quarterfinals when ze Germans bested México 4-1 in a penalty shootout. While it’s easy to blame then Mexican goalie, Pablo Larios, let’s keep in mind that his teammates couldn’t beat the German keeper. [Let’s not even mention Hugo Sanchez’ annulled goal, grrrrrr]

Then there was the ’94 World Cup Round of 16 against Bulgaria. Even though, yes Mexican keeper Jorge Campos (below right) could have better lived up to the hype his ridiculous jersey’s generated, his teammates wilted at the 11-meter dot and couldn’t buy a penalty kick. The Bulgarian keeper was the Germans and my countrymen’s penalty takers were the French.
Jorge Campos

On a lesser scale there was the harrowing loss to the hated Argentines in the 2005 Confederations Cup. In that case, my countrymen made their kicks only to have national team luminary Ricardo Osorio miss a sudden death penalty kick.

My point with all this historical hash is that my countrymen have shown an iniquitous ineptitude to execute penalty kicks and/or block them. What do you expect when your goalies’ height haven’t even come close to 6′? (This is slowly changing)

All that changed last night when my native land’s 11 bested Costa Rica in a penalty shootout in the Gold Cup Semifinal.

The frustrated/jubilant thoughts of a Mexican after the jump…

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México Dominates Guadalupanos

No, not the followers of my native land’s most famous idol (below),
Virgen de Guadalupebut rather the team from the tiny French region of Guadeloupe.

Granted, such domination only earned my paisanos only a 2-0 vic.

As much as I’d like to hem and haw over México’s inability to trounce the representative team from a tiny archipelago that isn’t even a member of FIFA, I won’t since a win is a win and said win gave México first place in 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup’s Group C.

The tone of this post will be positive, why? Because noted Mexican whipping boys, Gerardo Torrado and Miguel Sabah scored the only goals in the match (Torrado’s strike was a golazo).

I have been known to  anguishing over the decision to give Torrado the Captain’s armband.

Dude just makes too many mistakes with the ball. His passes are errant, turnover is his middle name, ok ok I’ll stop, gotta stay positive. As for Sabah, he’s new to El Tri and he’s wasted more scoring opportunities than, oh never mind.

On a positive note, it is becoming obvious that every time midfielder Giovanni Dos Santos touches the ball, something magical has the potential to transpire. He is a bona fide playmaker, now the only thing that stands between 2-0 victories and 6-0 beatdowns is a competent man or two up front to consummate the opportunities Gio generates.

By the way, it’s about time to see goalkeeper Memo Ochoa make the type of save during a match that he only makes in Allstate commercials (around the 0:31 mark),

How weird is it that the altar at the beginning of the commercial could easily be one dedicated to the idol at the top of the post?