Wednesday, May 03, 2006

3000 voters speak louder than a million strong mob

The Mexican illegal aliens and their supporters who marched around waving their country's flag in major cities all over the US on Monday have already seen the first evidence of how things are supposed to work here . . . er, there. In Mexico, rule by street mob is a common thing. Mobs shut down cities on a regular basis. At Atenco, a mob of machete waving campesinos, who had accepted and been paid as much as $21,000 an acre for their land which was to be used for a badly needed new Mexico City airport, changed their minds, forced the federal government to scrap plans for the airport and then kept the money they had been paid. This incident was seriously miss-reported there. It was reported by, among others, the Washington Post, that the farmers had fought off the expropriation of their land and refused to accept the $21,000 per acre.

That's not what happened at all. The farmers began selling their land to the government at $3000 an acre and receiving payment. As some diehards held out, the government began upping the ante to as much as $21,000 per acre. The earlier sellers got angry that they only received $3000 while holdouts were beginning to sell for $21,000 per acre. Then, some property owners who had homes, businesses and commercial buildings (that makes them the "rich") received even more money for their properties. Duh! I don't know too many places where an acre of pasture with a dozen cows is valued as highly as an acre of urban land with a couple of four-story office buildings sitting on it, do you? The original selling farmers who received the $3000 per acre took to the streets, with their machetes, demanding the same money as the commercial sellers. Paying the same price for rural pasture as for developed urban land would have bankrupted the airport project before it even got off the ground, pun fully intended.
But now the plan is dead, withdrawn last week by the government after local farmers, aided by free-lance activists from all over the country, rose up in a four-day spasm of violence that included hijacking trucks, burning cars, taking 19 public officials hostage and threatening to tie them to gasoline tanker trucks and blow them up.
So the government backed down. And all of the campesino sellers kept the money. And the government said it wouldn't try to get its money back. Sweet deal, this rule by street mob, eh?

Er, not really. The airport project would have created 80,000 jobs. The Atenco campesinos live and work on small parcels of a couple of acres or less where they maintain dairy herds of a half dozen animals or so or raise corn. They are subsistence farmers who survive on government handouts. The new airport was their ticket out of aching poverty. The price they would have to pay was to sell their land. They did and then they didn't, so to speak. Their future? They've no doubt already spent the money they received for their land, so they can continue to live and work and raise their families in grinding poverty until, in twos and threes, they pull up stakes and head north to march in the streets of Los Angeles.

Here in Oaxaca, the state government offices were right on the zocalo (central plaza), a main tourist attraction. After the zocalo was taken over for two months the summer before last by disaffected teachers who camped in it, drove off the tourists, strewed garbage all over the central city and urinated and defecated in public on the streets, as well as after years of every activist group that exists in the state taking over the zocalo as well as the downtown streets whenever they wanted, the state government fled the city. They converted the government headquarters into a museum, the government is now located in temporary quarters south of the city and a new state government complex is being built east of the city. All this to get the mobs away from the tourist center, hopefully.

That brings us to an affair that the Mexicans don't seem to understand. In Herndon, Fairfax County, Virginia, 3000 voters dumped pro-illegal immigrant councilmen as well as the mayor, turning a town council that was 5-2 pro illegal alien job center into a 6-1 majority against. That's the way it works there. One takes a stand based on one's principles, beliefs or poll results, the majority disagrees, and it's "Adios amigo, find other employment."

To be fair to the Mexicans, their votes have been pretty much meaningless in their home country since, well, since its inception (La Independencia). The real rich along with a handful of powerful unions control the federal congress and all the 31 state congresses as well as the governors. In Mexico, rule is by bribery, nepotism, a kept press, extorsion and murder. The politicians pay themselves exorbitant sums and the campesinos and other poor be damned. On the other hand, the campesinos and other poor return regularly to the ballot box to send the same crooks back to power. Year after year, decade after decade. It's really sad.

Until the Mexican people decide to take their lives into their own hands and vote for real reform, year after year and decade after decade, they give themselves no other options than to move north. What they must understand is that when they cross that river they are entering a whole new world where the rules are completely different. A world where 3000 voters following the rule of law can defeat a million strong mob with no bloodshed whatsoever.

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