Archive | May, 2010

Between Borders

20 May

Just received a copy of Between Borders (ed. Del Castillo, Adelaida R.)

An expensive purchase, but I really needed to get a hold of essay by José E Limón entitled “La Llorona, The Third Legend of Greater Mexico: Cultural Symbols, Women, and the Political Unconscious.”

After delving through the last two books, I found myself looking for religious symbols in the protests in Arizona. As La Virgen has transcended political borders, moving as a cultural and political symbol from Mexico to the US – from the Mexican revolution to the United Farm Workers’ protests – it was vaguely surprising to find no image cropping up in the plethora of videos and news articles I have come across so far dealing with either SB1070 or HB2281.* However, the protests have not been completely bereft of Catholic iconography, with the Sacred Heart of Jesus appearing in artwork displayed in the Art Campaign of Alto Arizona, among others.

With a strong tradition of mural and other street art on the borderlands and beyond, it is not surprising to find some excellent artwork being produced in response to the current political landscape of Arizona. However, instead of the Virgen or other Aztec figures, as have been reproduced in the past, artists appear to be taking inspiration from more Eurocentric white supremist groups. Nazi Germany iconography – the swastika and Nazi uniforms – and the KKK uniform appear over and over again. This is not surprising, given the threat of racial profiling which protestors fear will arise from the bill.

Arizona citizens who are pro the immigration and/or Ethnic Studies bill, or who are simply fed up with the protesting and threats of boycott action from neighbouring states have also produced their own artwork. There is one in particular which has appeared on twitter a few times; a photoshop of a cactus to look like someone flipping the bird (unfortunately I’ve lost the link, but when I find the right one, I’ll post it). It’s concise, but forcibly portrays the anger and resentment brewing in opposition to the groups of protestors.

*It should be noted that as a non-US citizen writing from outside Arizona I am constrained to what is appearing on the internet. There could be other iconography appearing, however my research has not yet uncovered any on the internet. Any arguments/proof to the contrary are greatly welcome!

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Oklahoma introduces Immigration Law HB 1804

11 May

After weeks of protest and unrest HB1804 (House Bill 1804) has come into law in Oklahoma. Following the signing of SB 1070 in Arizona and the high profile reactions to its introduction, it is not surprising that HB1804 has accrued similar sentiment from its citizens.

You can read the bill here at the United Front Task Force website [.rtf and .doc]. The site also contains the Memoradum of Agreement (MOA) between the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) [pdf).

As with the Arizona law there is wrangling between the different parties and officials as to the legitimacy, necessity and scope of this anti-immigration law. The problem of immigration being a federal rather than state issue has again raised its head with the National Coalition of Latino Clergy filing a suit precisely because they see the bill as the state overstepping their authority on a federal matter. Representatives like Randy Terrill, one of the authors of the bill has reiterated the failure of national legislation which has spurred this recent state action on immigration: “The states have to act because the federal government has refused to enforce our nation’s borders and turned every state into a border state,” he told reporters with the Washington Times.

However, NewsOk, an Oklahoma news site has stated that it is too late for legislators to tackle such a huge issue this session.

The Latino community, is duly concerned about the threat of racial profiling. With business members who work within primarily Latino areas claiming massive drops in profits since the introduction of the bill as Latinos stay at home more for fear of deportation. Indeed The Urban Institute, a respected national research organization,  hasjust released a study, commissioned by the National Council of La Raza, titled “Untangling the Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act: Consequences for Children and Families” that looks closely at the effects of HB 1804. In it one of the major implications of the bill on the Latino community has been to instil fear; primarily of deportation and thus separation from children.

What it also finds, however, is that most of the legislation – such as the prevention of supplying state aid to undocumented immigrants – has already been in place since the 1990s.

With the furore in Arizona, Oklahoma’s geographical location and a massive budget crisis, why introduce an immigration law now? In Arizona the issue seems to stem primarily from a political manoeuvre to regain lost faith from a primarily republican electorate. But Oklahoma is not a border state, with a far smaller immigrant population, what has spurred politicians into looking at immigration when budgets are the primary problem? Or is that why immigration now seems like a good area to tackle?

The Drug Cartel’s Diamond-Studded Gun Cache

5 May

The Mexican Attorney General’s office uncovered an interesting cache this week in a raid on one of the hideouts of Oscar Nava Valencia aka “El Lobo.” El Lobo is recognised as one of the lead operators of the Milenio cartel, aka “La Familia Michaocana“.

According to the Attorney General’s Office Press Release among the cache were

• Un arma larga calibre AR-15, calibre .223 con lanza granadas.
• Una subametralladora MP-5, calibre .9 mm.
• Dos fusiles AK-47, calibre 7.62X39 de los conocidos como “cuerno de chivo” uno de ellos chapado en oro con silenciador.
• Dos Fusiles AR-15, calibre .223 chapados en oro y plata.
• 31 armas cortas de diferentes calibres, con incrustaciones en diamante y chapadas en oro y plata, además de constar con las leyendas “Lobo Valencia”.
• 706 cartuchos de diferentes calibres.
• 76 cargadores de diferentes calibres.
• Una bolsa con 200 gramos de marihuana.
• Un vehículo Escalade modelo 2009 con placas de circulación JHH-8323 del Estado de Jalisco.
• Joyería diversa.

  • An AR-15 long gun, .223 with a grenade launcher.
  • An MP-5 submachine gun, 9 mm.
  • Two AK-47 “goat horn” rifles, 7.62X39, one of them gold-plated with a silencer.
  • Two AR-15 rifles .223 caliber, silver and gold plated.
  • 31 handguns of various calibers, inlaid with diamonds, plated in gold and silver, and engraved “Lobo Valencia.”
  • 706 cartridges of different calibers.
  • Magazines of 76 different calibers.
  • A bag containing 200 grams of marijuana.
  • A 2009 model Escalade vehicle.
  • Various jewelry.

Photos are available from Gawker (English) and the PGR (Castellano)sites.