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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Mexican Champion of Democracy Passes Away

Luis H. Alvarez, R.I.P.  I interviewed him years ago when preparing my dissertation (which became the book "An Eternal Struggle."  A son of Texas, too; he grew up in El Paso, he told me.


By PAULINA VILLEGAS
NYT, MAY 24, 2016
MEXICO CITY — Luis H. Álvarez, a leading figure in the conservative National Action Party in Mexico who dedicated his life to the fight for democracy there, died on May 18 at his home in León, Mexico. He was 96.
The cause was complications of pneumonia, his nephew Fernando Álvarez said.
Mr. Álvarez, who was originally a textile executive, was steadfast in his efforts to end the long rule of Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, known as the PRI.
In 1958, he ran unsuccessfully for president against that party’s candidate, Adolfo López Mateos, in what seemed like a quixotic campaign.
Almost three decades later, with the ruling party still immovable, he rallied opposition in Chihuahua, his home state, to protest voting fraud, undertaking a long hunger strike that helped focus international attention on the Mexican opposition’s struggle for democracy.
But it was not until 2000, when the National Action Party, or PAN, won the presidency, that the PRI’s 71-year rule ended.
In a statement after Mr. Álvarez’s death, the National Action Party’s leader, Ricardo Anaya, called him “one of the greatest figures in our recent history.”
At the pinnacle of the PRI’s grip on power, Mr. Álvarez ran for governor of Chihuahua in 1956 and lost. He had not been an active party member before that, but was widely known for his community involvement and civil rights work.
Two years later, while running for president, Mr. Álvarez was arrested and briefly jailed — because, he said, he was told that being an opposition presidential candidate was illegal.
Mr. Álvarez denounced the ruling party’s tactics — which included personal threats during political rallies and raids on polling stations — and a political structure that he said made it impossible to hold fair elections.
In 1956, he led a “caravan for democracy” from Chihuahua, in the north of Mexico, to Mexico City to deliver to the attorney general’s office evidence of electoral fraud in state elections.
Mr. Álvarez was mayor of Chihuahua, the state capital, when he went on a hunger strike in 1986 to call attention to accusations of vote-rigging in local elections.
Lasting 41 days, the hunger strike brought him prominence in the party’s ranks and on the national political scene. He lost 15 pounds and was hospitalized afterward.
The next year, at 67, he was named party leader, a position he held through 1993. During his tenure, the National Action Party won its first state elections, first in Baja California and then in Chihuahua.
Mr. Álvarez was criticized for negotiating with President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, whose election in 1988 was tainted by allegations of fraud but who adopted many of the market-oriented reforms that the National Action Party had long promoted.
His willingness to compromise helped to pave the way for the party’s acceptance as a legitimate political force, and for its eventual success in claiming the presidency.
“He showed us all what to do and how to be, in order to make this country a better place,” Cecilia Romero, a congresswoman who worked closely with Mr. Álvarez when he was head of the party, said in an interview.
Friends and family recalled Mr. Álvarez as a jovial yet feisty character, prone to long political discussions over dinner.
Luis Héctor Álvarez was born on Oct. 25, 1919, in Chihuahua and earned a degree in business administration from the University of Texas, Austin.
He worked in agriculture for a few years before entering the textile business. He was also a member of a civil rights association in Ciudad Juárez.
Mr. Álvarez’s wife, Blanca Magrassi, also a prominent party member, died last year. He is survived by a son, Luis Jorge; a daughter, Blanca Estela; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
In 2000, the National Action Party candidate, Vicente Fox, was elected president, removing the PRI from power and signaling the end of a regime that had influenced nearly all aspects of Mexican life in the 20th century.
Soon after taking office, Mr. Fox named Mr. Álvarez peace negotiator for talks with the leftist rebels of the Zapatista revolutionary movement in the southern state of Chiapas.
Mr. Álvarez was later a senator for his home state. He was appointed commissioner for indigenous affairs by President Felipe Calderón in 2006.
His nephew Fernando remembered the moment Mr. Álvarez got the call announcing the results of the 2000 presidential election: “His small eyes went wide open as he grabbed my arm and asked, ‘Is this really possible?’ ”

His uncle, Fernando recalled, then said: “I have accomplished my mission. I can now die in peace.”

Friday, May 20, 2016

Six Months Ago in Paris--What Really Happened

This is the most vivid account I've seen of the Bataclan shootings that killed 89 at the metal concert. Concert goers executed like sheep, the shooting went on forever.  Surrendering to Death

One armed French cop did a lot of damage to the terrorists.  Imagine if the police response had been better?  The lead singer argues that security at the concert site was amazingly lax that night.   This piece says hundreds of mosques were searched after the attack, with lots of recruitment material found.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Hillary Must Be Stopped

Fred Barnes breaks from the pack at the Weekly Standard by essentially backing a vote for Trump. Why?  Because Hillary is a total leftist.  She has no redeeming virtues.  Whatever good ideas she had in the past she's now abandoned.  Conservatives will lose a lot if she wins.  The country will lose a lot if she wins.  Read this piece "The Hillary Myth" by Barnes and see if you agree:  http://www.weeklystandard.com/the-hillary-myth/article/2002380

The bottom line in choosing Trump might be this: not as bad as the other option, with the possibility of something good.   Actually, that is the only reason to vote Republican anyway.

Many neocons have been urging a vote for Hillary.  This is unsurprising.  They are liberals on domestic policy and support an interventionist foreign policy. Trump is their antithesis.  Hillary is not totally to their liking, but she at least offers the opportunity of a stupid war somewhere.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Son of Anarchy Strikes Again!

Robert Kaplan, the world traveler and international political pundit, just wrote "The Post-Imperial Moment" in the National Interest, which I commend to you as a perfect example of his writing.  The man has never seen a molehill that he didn't call a mountain.  Years after his "The Coming Anarchy" was published in Atlantic (I think in 1994!), he continues to flog this dog-eared idea.  A few rebuttal points:

  • No, the world isn't descending into "vulgar, populist anarchy."  What does that even mean?
  • Countries are not fighting over territory.  Interstate wars are nearly nonexistent.
  • In fact, there is more interstate cooperation than ever.  Sure, nationalism is still strong, but that doesn't mean states are cooperating less.
  • The EU is managing its crisis and is not breaking up.
  • Why does he think Africa is disintegrating?  And ISIS-related groups are hardly "rampaging" through west Africa.  They are on the eclipse.
  • What is new about international terrorism?   Why does Kaplan think an airport attack is, a new thing in the world?
  • How is it that the US is withdrawing from the world?  We have 600 international military bases and are now deployed--again--in Iraq.  
  • What is the big deal about Indian and Chinese naval ships in the Indian Ocean?  Are they going to start duking it out?   Over what?  
You could go on and on.  He never really defines anything or cites any facts to back up his points. He's like a Single-A Spengler.   

And why does he think anyone wants to read a book about Romania?  Are we that enamored of the Kaplan pensées that we'll buy anything by him?  His publisher probably is kicking herself right now...