Ebrard, no es nadie para exigir

Marcelito, ponte a trabajar

En este artículo Marcelo Ebrard, “jefe” de gobierno del Distrito Federal, anuncia que va a “exigir” a los contribuyentes el pago oportuno del impuesto predial.

“vamos a hacer una gran campaña el año que entra, los impuestos los vamos a mantener como están, salvo el ajuste de la inflación, pero sí les vamos a exigir, colonia por colonia, que aporten su predial, no sólo porque es una obligación, sino porque lo vamos a usar preferentemente para seguridad”

Téngase en cuenta que el gobierno del Distrito Federal es uno de los que cuentan con más apoyo de sus constituyentes y el DF ha sido un bastión del supuesto partido de izquierda desde 1997.

Sin embargo Ebrard parece empeñado en despilfarrar todo este capital político pues en ocasiones sus políticas son simplemente una embestida sin distinción contra capitalinos que en su gran mayoría tampoco ven un gran beneficio.

Así pues, como Marcelo se siente en derecho de “exigir” sin distingos el pago del predial, impuesto por demás absurdo y que por otro lado se ha incrementado fuertemente recientemente, la población también debería ser muy clara en lo que se exige y se espera del gobierno de la ciudad. Así que cuando llegue la campaña de Ebrard a sus casas, colonia por colonia, a “exigir”, yo espero que la gente también tenga los pantalones de exigir con esa misma granularidad, casa por casa, que se atiendan las necesidades de todos.

Marcelo, te EXIJO que:

  • Pongas en cintura YA a TODAS las unidades de transporte público, taxis y microbuses por igual, ya que se sienten dueños de la calle y conducen ARMAS MORTALES sin entrenamiento ni capacidad, y a veces agotados o drogados. No esperes a que un microbús cause un accidente para suspenderlo. Es TU CULPA que 95% de los microbuses estén operando sin concesión.
  • Pongas en cintura YA a TODOS los policías que operan manualmente los semáforos de las avenidas desquiciando el tráfico por las mañanas y por las tardes.  Es ridículo que en mi (pequeña) calle se tarde 15 minutos en avanzar 300 metros porque el policía que controla el semáforo decidió irse a echar un taco de canasta en lo que el tráfico de la gran avenida se desahoga.
  • Pongas en cintura YA a TODAS las obras de  mejoramiento vial e hidráulico porque son unos FLOJOS que destrozan la calle y luego se van, no aparecen en semanas, mientras tanto las calles y avenidas son un caos vial por los agujeros, bloqueos y baches que dejan, un desastre para los peatones y una fuente dañina de polvo y desperdicios para las casas. Casos específicos de la zona división del norte- miguel ángel de quevedo.
  • Pongas tus PINCHES CAMARITAS en lugares donde sí hay problemas de seguridad y vandalismo, no las pongas TODAS EN REFORMA y EL ZOCALO. Pon una afuera de mi casa, a ver si encuentras a los desgraciados que me rayaron mi coche, me poncharon las llantas y me arruinaron un cristal, o a los marranos que se ORINAN enfrente de mi casa. (pero claro, si yo pongo una luz para disuadirlos la rompen y si no la rompen, LFC me cobra una fortuna por tenerla encendida). Atrapar a secuestradores y robacoches es muy bonito pero HAY OTRAS CLASES DE CRIMEN.
  • Te dediques YA a dotar de infraestructura de transporte alterno a otras zonas de la ciudad, no solamente a las vistosas Reforma e Insurgentes. URGEN ciclopistas en todos los puntos de la ciudad; haz una encuesta y verás la ENORME cantidad de gente que NO va en bicicleta o autobús a su trabajo por el peligro físico que esto implica. La ciclopista de Chapultepec es bonita pero NO sirve para ir al trabajo.
  • Te pongas YA a mejorar las vialidades importantes aunque sean menos vistosas; deja de construir superpuentes en Santa Fe y atiende zonas que están en el OLVIDO como el sur de la ciudad. Basta que tardes 40 minutos en llegar de Copilco a Taxqueña para que ENTIENDAS que LAS VIALIDADES NO BASTAN.
  • Exijas YA, que así como tú subes el IMPUESTO según la inflación, también mi empresa me suba el SUELDO según la inflación y el gobierno federal deje de SUBIR la gasolina; porque hay que recordar que aunque no subas los impuestos locales, todo lo que es de competencia federal y privada sube y sube y sube. El representarnos y defendernos frente a los abusos del gobierno federal ES responsabilidad del jefe de gobierno y de los diputados y senadores que están ahí porque NOSOTROS VOTAMOS POR ELLOS. Y si estás peleado con Calderón y no te hacen caso, lo ARREGLAS, o le INSISTES, o RENUNCIAS, porque no fuiste elegido para decir “es que no me hacen caso”.
  • Te fijes bien a quién le EXIGES; le tienes que EXIGIR a las grandes empresas que llevan años sin pagar su predial, NO LE EXIJAS a la gente que como yo pagó su predial SIN CHISTAR, A TIEMPO y AL CONTADO (ojo, muy importante, danos prioridad y descuentos a los que NO NOS ENDEUDAMOS, porque luego no vamos a estar chillando para que nos quiten de encima a los usureros de los bancos).

Así que Marcelo, con todo el respeto que mereces (disminuyendo rápidamente), te EXIJO que TE PONGAS A TRABAJAR. ¡Gracias!  JAJA.

Untrustworthy cops in Mexico: what else is new?

As part of the ongoing public safety mess in Mexico, the president himself sent a document to the Senate, detailing the findings in a “trustworthiness” evaluation that was performed this year to Mexico’s security forces. The unsurprising result: 50% of all law enforcement personnel don’t fulfill the required trustworthiness requirements.

The report itself is ridiculously incongruous, with high ratings for states such as Tabasco, Mexico City (where every inhabitant knows that cops are a joke) and, bafflingly, Chihuahua, with a 97% approval rating. Mind you, world-famous capital of violence against women, Ciudad Juárez, is in Chihuahua, so this information is so obviously and flagrantly flawed, that it calls into question the entire study, as well as the prowess of the so-called statisticians who gave a 97% approval rating with only 82 cops taking the tests. Yes, we’re supposed to believe that 100% of Tabasco’s law enforcers are trustworthy and reliable.

What are the implications of this? there are many, for starters, how flawed was the hiring process that allowed this high an amount of worthless people to get to such a position of power and influence? second, as the article points out, how reliable are the people who administered the test? meaning, basically, that the percentage might even actually be higher.

But the real problem is, now that we know this, what is the government going to do? Because  the sensible thing to do would be to fire all these people. Of course, since the process was wrong from the beginning, it’s now a tangled, unsolvable mess where the obvious solution won’t work. You can’t fire half the cops in the country, which is already in the middle of a public safety crisis, and expect things to improve. You need time to fix your training and screening procedures, because they are so flawed that they are partly to blame for this mess. You need time to find and train new personnel (which the unemployment rate might make a bit easier, assuming most applicants actually make it through the screening procedure).

Assuming you did this, in the meanwhile you’d have close to 30 thousand people out of a job. Mind you, these people have a certificate for unreliableness, as well as police training. So we’re looking at two possibilities: either they start to make a living out of illegal activities (kidnappings, robberies, drug dealing, racketeering schemes) or they join private security companies. Now, these companies are a huge success because, if there’s something the average mexican wants, is security. So I foresee a situation where, desperate to have more personnel to get more customers, these companies will hire those, certified unreliable, former law enforcers. Ironically, as someone concerned about security, I might hire one of those companies who would then send a security guard with questionable integrity to watch over my property. Who’s to say he won’t tip his friends off so that they can rob or murder me?

This problem is indeed so complex that a solution eludes the mind. But indeed this is how things work in Mexico most of the time: it looks as though the government is hellbent on digging itself (and us) into the most tangled, deep hole possible, so that as there is no solution possible, none will be demanded of them. But it is time that the mexican people started demanding something from the people who amount to our (quite highly paid) employees.

Kidnappings in Mexico

Kidnapping in Mexico has been a big security problem for several years now. A crime previously unheard of, kidnappings are now common, fueled by a number of circumstances. Chief among them is the fact that authorities are completely inept and bound to be useless in cases of kidnapping. Many times former police staff have been involved in this crime. Naturally, then, when a family suffers a kidnapping, the last thing that crosses their mind is reporting this to the authorities.

Once again, Mexico exhibits its kafkian nature: if you work hard and get rich, you’re a target for kidnappers. Even if you don’t get rich, you’re still a target. And are most kidnappers poor people who do this out of necessity? no, they’re already quite wealthy but will keep doing this because it’s more profitable than having a company or investing in the stock market.

Fernando Martí, a wealthy sports store owner, had his son kidnapped and murdered earlier this year. The case received a lot of publicity mainly because he’s a well-known businessman. Not even government officials are safe from this: Nelson Vargas, who was president of the national sports commision, also had his daughter kidnapped, about a year ago. However, as is most usual, he kept quiet about this: the public only knew about this when, after Martí’s murder, Vargas made a public statement revealing his plight. Back then he pleaded for the authorities to do something. Today, however, he exploded and actually, amidst profanities, demanded, in a press conference, that the authorities find his daughter. As usual, said authorities are clueless: even Vargas has provided them with clues and insight on who might be responsible and where to begin investigating. And still nothing. Who are they protecting? Shouldn’t we all be really worried that even an important man like Vargas is ignored? or is the true reason to worry seeing that the authorities just don’t know what they are doing?

Another related article tells about a 15-year old who escaped the safehouse where he was being held for ransom and told the authorities, who then proceeded to catch the criminals. So here we have it, short of someone telling them “I was kidnapped, I escaped and they live in this house over here”, nothing will be done to help the victims.

So how did the kid escape? “the kidnappers were sloppy”, authorities explain, “and were not very experienced in this business. Just a bunch of beginners”. They say this with utmost confidence and almost arrogance.

Please! Wake up! They need to realize that this comes from the fact that Mexico has diminishing, instead of increasing, opportunities. So what are people going to do? indeed, they are being forced into kidnapping because there’s nothing else to do. And they target your average citizen, in this case the son of a moderately successful couple of street merchants. The fact that this particular band was unsuccessful shouldn’t be a cause for self-congratulating. It should be a wakeup call that while something needs to be done to curb crime in all its forms, the true heart of the problem is the lack of honest opportunities in Mexico. As long as there are none, people will resort to the next easiest way to make money. Drug dealing yesterday, kidnapping today, and I can only wonder in fear about the “self-made opportunities” for tomorrow’s Mexico.

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The “Pinky proposal”

So here’s the thing. Everybody’s gaga about security these days. And biometrics are big because, hey, you always carry them around. At work, we already scan our fingerprint instead of punching cards, and it’s saved a ton of time for everyone.

However, the problem arises when you talk about a high-security setting. Because, everyone fears, what if someone, just to get your access, cuts off your finger? that would be much worse than having your keycard stolen, wouldn’t it? the prospect of losing a thumb or (in some cases) an index finger is scary to most people.

So here’s the proposal: let’s use our pinkies instead. I know losing a pinky would be just as painful but bear with me for a second. The loss of a pinky will impair you a lot less than losing an index finger or thumb. So while painful, it will let you get on with your life a lot better. Imagine not being able to grab anything, or to point at things. Look at your hands when you’re typing; I bet you barely use your pinkies anyway. You’re supposed to lift them when you eat or drink, so again, you’re not using them. So I think they’re a good choice when you absolutely must lose a finger.

So there; particularly if you live in a violent country where people wouldn’t think twice about mutilating you just to get in that high-security facility you work at, be sensible and ask your HR staff to scan your pinky instead of your thumb. Might save you a lot of grief.

Mexico’s secretary of the interior dies in plane accident

Photo (c) La Jornada, 2008
Photo (c) La Jornada, 2008

Or, was it an accident? There’s plenty of speculation about the plane crash that cost Juan Camilo Mouriño, Mexico’s secretary of the interior (Secretario de Gobernación) and (so far) 12 other people their lives. Theories ranging from a simple accident to a narco-fueled vendetta abound.

But the fact is that the tragedy should be looked at from a humanitarian point of view. 13 dead and over 40 injured, 3 of which might also die in the next few days. It’s a time for mourning, yes, but for us to mourn for all the people who died, not just mr. Mouriño; a time for the entire mexican society to give their support to the families of the deceased, just as we would in any other tragedy.

Let me be cold-hearted for a while and state this: Mouriño’s death will not have a great impact for Mexico or even for president Felipe Calderón’s team, his plans or aspirations. Because for all the power his position brought, Mouriño himself was a rather grey politician. So yes, let the president give speeches about how we lost a “great mexican” (he was born in Spain so even that is debatable). But the truth is, Mouriño will get replaced by someone else, with similar political prowess, capabilities, aspirations and a similar position to further Calderón’s plans, whatever they are. And in the public eye, Mouriño will fade and then disappear, to become a footnote like Ramón Martín Huerta (whose name, incidentally, has resurfaced in connection with the Mouriño tragedy).

He will disappear, that is, in the eyes of everybody but his family and friends: these people didn’t just witness the death of a high-ranking government officer; they lost a friend, a father, a husband, and a son. To them, and to all the relatives of the deceased, the tragedy has a very personal feel. This is the level at which us normal people can empathize and understand the magnitude of what happened, for any loss of human life is to be regretted. So indeed, let our prayers (for those who pray) and our condolences and best wishes be with mr. Mouriño’s family, as well as with those of all the others who lost their lives or were injured in the tragedy.

Peseros in Mexico City, the spawn from hell

Peseros in Mexico City are a fact of life; indeed, due to several mishandlings of transport policy (yes, the government again), they have thrived and carry up to 60% of the city’s passengers. Yet, as everybody knows, they’re unsafe, dangerous, rude and cause endless traffic jams and problems.

Watching two of these behemoths racing down an avenue, in a contest to win god knows what (but usually more passengers, never mind that the poor schmucks already on board are risking their lives), is a sight to behold and a prime example of just how out of control the situation is.

Pesero accidents are quite common, but sometimes they take a turn for the tragic. And strangely, high-profile accidents are the ones that bring the neglect and impunity of the Pesero problem into light.

On October 29th, 2008, a pesero was driving too fast, then rolled over. The tragic result: 15 injured, 2 dead. The two casualties were crushed by the (precarious and strength-lacking) roof and side metal as the vehicle flipped over and ended upside down. The entire scene was gruesome.

People were shocked; the driver escaped. Authorities reacted by launching a massive manhunt for the driver, opening legal procedures against the unit’s owner who is considered an accomplice, as well as cancelling the Pesero’s concession. This is a first, never before has this been done in response to an accident of any kind involving a pesero. So everyone is happy about what happened, right?

Think about this for a minute. Pesero accidents are a dime a dozen. The driver is most often responsible; the owners just ignore the fact and protect themselves with lawyers and amparos (a legal procedure to harbour yourself against government action). People have died before in pesero accidents, as pedestrians run over by Peseros, car drivers or passengers hit by out-of-control units, or everyday passengers.

So why is this the first time one of these negligent criminals has had his concession suspended? While the driver is mostly responsible, it’s the vehicle owner’s responsibility as much as the driver’s. So indeed, any owner whose unit is involved in an accident should have the concession revoked. It doesn’t matter if it was the driver’s fault (why do they hire 18-year-olds with no experience and entrust them with the lives of up to 50 passeners?), or a technical failure (most of the units are in sad conditions, falling apart, and lack even the most basic security measures)  or a simple traffic accident (pesero drivers are known for purposely hitting other cars when they feel like it, because their units barely suffer any damage). It’s their responsibility to provide quality service with safe, courteous drivers in up-to-spec units and upholding all traffic regulations; if all, they should be even more cautious than other vehicles.

This of course is never going to happen; the accident will help to make an example and then things will go back to normal. Few people will remember this the next time a fatal accident is caused by a Pesero. Hopefully this article will help change that, so that eventually, Peseros can be replaced by something better. But it won’t happen unless authorities change their policies regarding this problem.