Sunday, May 24, 2009

Gettting State Recognition for the Battle of Medina Is One Historian's Quest

15 April 2009
Getting state recognition of the Battle of Medina is one historian’s quest


AUSTIN, April 15 - When historian Dan Arellano first tried to explain that Texas’ battle for independence from Mexico did not start at the Alamo he struggled to get heard. Now he is paid to do so.
On a visit to the state Capitol on Tuesday, Arellano offered a couple of examples of how the Establishment in Texas is now paying attention to his work.
Firstly, he was contacted by Texas Monthly about participating in a feature about the state’s long forgotten battlefields. And secondly, the person that put Texas Monthly writer Gary Cartwright in touch with him was none other than Texas State Historian Jesús F. de la Teja.
Arellano explained to Cartwright what happened at the Battle of Medina for a feature called Ghosts of War. It is in the April edition of Texas Monthly.
“It’s amazing the changes that are happening in this state. When I started I practically had to beg to get someone to allow me to tell the story of the Battle of Medina. Now I get paid to come and speak about it. It pays the bills,” said Arellano, whose day job, when he has time, is selling real estate in Austin.
Arellano was at the state Capitol to offer his support to House Concurrent Resolution 139, authored by state Rep. Kino Flores, D-Palmview, which seeks to have a Tejano Monument erected on the south lawn of the Capitol grounds. The efforts to get the monument approved by the Legislature and the State Preservation Board has taken many years but based upon the testimony heard by the House Committee on Culture, Recreation and Tourism on Tuesday, it looks as though it may finally happen.
Arellano is hoping for similar success in his individual quest. He wants the Battle of Medina to be included in Texas school history books and April 6, 1813 to be recognized by the state just as much as March 2, 1836 is.
As every Texas schoolchild knows, the Battle of the Alamo took place on March 2, 1836. Far fewer people know about the Battle of Medina, which took place on April 6, 1813. Arellano’s mission is to put that right.
“The history books are forgetting to tell us that Texas history does not begin with the arrival of Stephen F. Austin and the struggle for freedom did not begin with Davy Crockett and the Alamo. The struggle began way before they got here,” Arellano said.
In his book, “Tejano Roots, a Family Legend,” Arellano refers to the Battle of Medina as being “the Mother of All Wars” in Texas. “About 1,000 Tejanos fought against the Mexican Army in the battle, along with 300 Anglos and 200 Indians,” Arellano said. “Yet the battle has been largely swept under the proverbial rug of history.”
The story is personal for Arellano because an ancestor on his father’s side, Francisco Arellano, fought for the loyalists. By 1832, he had deserted the Mexican Army and joined the Tejanos. Arellano has his ancestor’s sword.
Arellano said the actual beginning of the struggle to “free Texas from tyranny” began in 1812 when 130-plus men took part in the Gutierrez-Magee Expedition, crossing the Sabine from Louisiana in a rebel movement against Spanish rule.
Arellano said he is pleased to have the support of de la Teja as he pushes the cause of having April 6, 1813, officially recognized by the state of Texas. For the past three years he and others have stood in front of the Spanish Governor’s Palace in downtown San Antonio on April 6. “The attendance is getting bigger each year,” he said.
The next move, Arellano said, is to send a letter to Gov. Rick Perry asking for his support and to get a state legislator to file a bill recognizing the Battle of Medina’s significance in the struggle for independence from Mexico.
“It has taken 14 years to get to this point. Eight years of research, two years to write the book and four years promoting it,” he said. “But it is paying off. The story I am telling is the way Texas history actually happened, not what is in the textbooks and now, 2.3 million Texas Monthly readers are going to know the story. I am excited about what is going to happen. We are taking this statewide.”
One of Arellano’s upcoming speaking engagements will be at the Kenedy Ranch. He said most interest in his book comes from the people of San Antonio and those living south of the city.
“The book does real well south of San Antonio. That’s the line, that’s the traditional line. You drive down to San Antonio and it is totally different to Austin. It’s like being in another world. The Valley is another world,” he explained.

Steve Taylor

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Resplandor International

This is a project that I am involved in. It is located in Guanajuato, Guanajuato. Glad to see it got coverage in


Country: Mexico


The idea of Resplandor began the summer of 2008 by a professor at the University of Arizona, Dr. Todd Fletcher, who was inspired to give back to a community that has welcomed U of A students and staff for the last 15 years. Todd is a man with vision and integrity, who knows that small altruistic acts can make large impacts on the world in positive ways and develop self-sustainability. In partnership with Jacquie Mackenzie, founder of Summerland Corp (1991) and Tierra de Verano (2008) non-profits and University of Arizona doctoral student, Dr. Fletcher formalized the plans for construction on inaugural Tuesday, January 20, 2009. The goal of the project is to establish equal opportunities, and chances for all kids.

Jacquie had already spent two summers, 2005 and 2006, in Guanajuato when Todd Fletcher decided to expose the students to a rural school; Jacquie was immediately hooked. She begin making plans right then to move to rural Guanajauto. Plans to move a family from the USA to Central Mexico take time, but by June 2008 her family was settled in the village of Cajones, Guanajauto. In October 2008 Dr. Fletcher visited the village and found a small unfinished home long abandonded. January 20, 2009 he and Jacquie signed the contract to rent that small group of bricks and the land around it. Don Mackenzie, Jacquie's husband, promised to the the designer and contractor for the new community center. Jolene Gailey, Jacquie's "hermana de alma" (soul sister) promissed to translate for everyone. Dr. Helena Todd pciked out the name: Resplandor ("brightness") and the rest is still history in the making.

Focus of Activities
In particular, to establish a summer school program for the local community, which provides an opportunity for faculty, students and colleagues to participate in programs in different capacities. Additionally, Resplandor can serve by providing additional support to the many primary schools and pre-school in the immediate area during the regular school year. Resplandor will implement community out-reach programs through a mobile classroom to teach parents how to read to their children, conduct domestic violence prevention workshops, and literacy training. Sustainability begins with mentors and then the community can take over for themselves.

Notable Achievements
The most notable achievement is beginning the dream in January 2009 with no funding and having the roof of the first floor of an 1,850 sq. ft. building poured on May 8, 2009.The old remains were preserved as much as possible; materials are all local. Nearly all suppliers are within a 4 miles radius and all builders within a 2 miles redius. The community walks to the site; it's very visible like a becon of light.

The dedication will take place on June 13, 2009.Our dedication ceremony will include Dr. Ron Marx, the Dean of the College of Education of the University of Arizona. We will then walk 100 meters to eat at Tierra de Verano.

The entire community is invited to attend that historic event. All the local GTO officers of Tierra de
Verano (Jacqueline & Donald Mackenzie) and Resplendor (Dr. Todd Fletcher) signed the contract for the Resplendor property; work began in early February and Phase One will done by May 30th. Todd is committed to the NGO buying additional property for expansion if necessary. All work by Tierra de Verano and Resplendor is 100% non-profit.

Celebrity Supporters

Dr. Todd Fletcher is the most informed authority in academia on special education in Mexico.

Governance & Financial

Resplandor International has applied for non-profit status in the Counry of Mexico.A NGO (non-governmental organization) will be created soon to run Resplendor in Cajones.

Regions / countries which benefit
Resplandor International is located in Cajones, ten miles outside of Guanajuato in the state of Guanajuato.

Please stop by the website and leave a donation as a "pass-through" with a 501(c)3 who is working closly with Resplandor International until their non-profit paperwork is complete. Donations are being solicited through grants and sources predominately outside GTO Mexico; volunteers from anywhere and everywhere who come to Mexico to learn about the cultural differences between these neighboring countries.

Tags Resplandor International lifestyle sustainability eco-education empowerment of native people indegenious people literacy
External Website Links
Resplandor International website
Submitted by Eco Living on May 8, 2009

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Border, the flu, the immigration, the violence – whose fault is it, anyway?

The Border, the flu, the immigration, the violence – whose fault is it, anyway?
Frontera NorteSur (FNS)

This article by Kent Patterson connects the swine flue to that activities of a possible U.S. company.

" reports link the possible start of the health crisis to a huge, runaway US pig farm located in the Veracruz-Puebla borderlands. The farm in question is owned in part by US-based Smithfield Foods, the largest hog and pork producer in the world and a company with a record for environmental violations on this side of the border." Continue reading below.


Swine Flu, Border Security and Public Priorities

It couldn’t have struck at a worse moment. Reeling from economic crisis and public insecurity, Mexico was now faced with a public health emergency of unknown proportions. Across the country, from Tijuana in the north to Tapachula in the south, schools were closed, masses canceled, restaurants and nightclubs shuttered, museums and libraries shut down, and workplaces put on reduced hours.

Slammed with travel warnings and restrictions from abroad, Mexico’s important tourist industry, already teetering on the brink, was threatened with a coup de grace from the deadly hand of the swine flu.

Aguascalientes’ beloved San Marcos National Fair, the country’s largest spring festival, was canceled in the middle of festivities. Ironically, it was the controversial pop star Gloria Trevi (locked up for several years in a Chihuahua prison accused of corrupting minors before being acquitted) who delivered the final performance. The loss of an annual spring rite replete with love, wine, song and dance was added to the heartbreak of dying or sick relatives and friends.

In Mexico, the spring flowers withered and died this year.

In almost surrealistic fashion, an April 27 earthquake reportedly killed two people in the state of Guerrero and rattled Mexico City. Interviewed in a city which suffered major water shortages prior to the swine flu outbreak, a young woman described the feeling in the Mexican capital as apocalyptic.

It is still too identify the origin of the Mexican swine flu epidemic, but news reports link the possible start of the health crisis to a huge, runaway US pig farm located in the Veracruz-Puebla borderlands. The farm in question is owned in part by US-based Smithfield Foods, the largest hog and pork producer in the world and a company with a record for environmental violations on this side of the border.

Residents of the community of La Gloria have long protested unsanitary conditions, thick clouds of flies, unrelenting odors, and groundwater contamination allegedly coming from the factory farm. In response, the state governments of Veracruz and Puebla have slapped protestors with legal charges and sent in the police to arrest them.

Early this week, Smithfield Foods said tests found no evidence of swine flu in its employees or animals. Mexican Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova said it was “adventurist” to blame the Veracruz countryside for the health epidemic and, in a comment sure to surprise many US health officials, added that swine flu was present in California and Texas before it was in Mexico.

Another high Mexican health official, Miguel Angel Lezana, expounded on the theme. Dissociating the pig farm from the killer virus sweeping the country, Lezana said it was difficult to determine where swine flu originated and may have in fact come from Asia or the United States.

Whatever true story of the swine flu outbreak finally emerges, it is almost certain the public health emergency, which could last for weeks, will have major political, social and economic ramifications for Mexico and its relations with the US and other nations.

Which brings us to the real meaning of border security. In recent months, both Washington and Mexico City have placed heavy emphasis on increasing border law enforcement. Coming from multiple branches of government, proposals are on the table to station more National Guard troops on the border, beef up local law enforcement agencies, set up additional border checkpoints and crack down on allegedly rampant gun running, to name a just a few.

Although the sheer volume of official, security-related statements (frequently contradictory) flowing from corridors of power on both sides of the border is challenging for even a news editor to follow and decipher, it is clear billions of new dollars are in the pipeline to government agencies and private contractors charged with implementing a cross-border security strategy.

Yet new border walls or state-of-the-art cameras didn't stop swine flu from crossing the border, south to north or north to south.

All this is not to say that Mexico and the US are totally unprepared to handle health emergencies like the swine flu. A healthy degree of cooperation exists among health professionals of the two neighboring countries, though much more remains to be done.

But serious questions about the ability of either country to handle a pandemic are the talk of the press. An individual connected to a major New Mexico hospital acknowledged to a media colleague that the institution would be rapidly overwhelmed if large numbers of people fell ill withswine flu.

The insider’s revelation is not surprising to journalists who probe the vast underbelly of New Mexico outside celebrity-haunted Santa Fe. Despite undergoing much-trumpeted economic growth in recent years, New Mexico has many trappings of the Third World underdeveloped colonias, mounting water shortages, lousy wages, high prices, rural doctor shortages, few dentists anywhere, and hundreds of thousands of people without health insurance. In numerous ways, New Mexico is not all that far removed from the Mexican reality.

A state that was once considered best suited for atomic bomb tests or treated as a quaint stop-over for Indian curios on the Chicago-LA highway, now ironically stands as the model of development for growing sections of the United States, where the Third World is settling in, too.

Like the financial meltdown of 2008, the swine flu is a wake-up call furiously ringing on both sides of the border. Will protecting public health make it up the list of political priorities for the respective governments?

-Kent Paterson

This article originally appeared on April 28, 2009, reprinted here with permission from FNS.

© Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University Las Cruces, New Mexico

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mexican Community Gives; UA College of Education Returns the Favor

Kudos to U of AZ Professor Todd Fletcher has done great work in promoting U.S.-Mexico binationalism.


Education students and their faculty mentors hope small change can make a big difference for a community in Mexico.

By Rebecca Ruiz-McGill, University Communications
April 13, 2009

Over the last 15 years University of Arizona students have been welcomed into the homes of residents of Guanajuato, Mexico, as part of the College of Education's Summer in Mexico, or Verano en México, study abroad program.

Todd Fletcher, UA associate professor of special education, rehabilitation and school psychology, used an array of networks to develop Verano en México. Since its inception, the program has benefitted hundreds of students preparing for careers in regular, bilingual and special education, English as a second language, social work, speech and language therapy and school psychology.

Students live with community members for the just-over five-week program and are taught intensive Spanish language classes. They also observe in Mexican public schools where they teach and work with Mexican educators, children, youth and their families for 20 hours each week. They also take regular university classes while there.

With the theme of "change," Fletcher, his faculty colleagues and students from his Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in Exceptional Learners class have begun an effort to give back to Guanajuato. They have started raising funds for a community development center that will help develop literacy, technology training and health education, build a library and provide mobile teaching classrooms to serve as a resource to remote rural communities.

"In class Dr. Fletcher always speaks how we as students and professionals can make a difference and how we should be the change we want to see. We began calling ourselves the fellowship of change and from there we have developed a relationship with an organization called Change for Change that is founded on the notion that a little can make a lot of difference," said Susan Baker, a graduate student in special education and president of the newly formed Arizona Students of The University of Arizona Change for Change Club.

Change for Change is a national organization that supports philanthropic efforts by collecting donations of small change. The UA club contributes its share to make big changes in Guanajuato.

"The UA's Change for Change Club is the first chapter in the West," Baker said.

Fletcher also has secured a 12-year lease for Resplandor International Cultural and Education Center, a non-profit facility being built in Guanajuato. Students began their fund-raising effort to support Resplandor and its programs with an April 13 bake sale on campus and a Change for Change campaign in UA residence halls. Another bake sale will be held in the UA College of Education on April 20.

In addition, Fletcher is exploring grants that will help sustain the project over time. He credits his work and the experiences of students in Verano en México for the Resplandor effort. "Students who have been to Guanajuato through the Verano en México program are transformed by the experience. They come back as educators who are more empathetic and who have greater cultural context to draw from for students and families who are here in the United States outside of their known cultural context," Fletcher said.

A scholarship fundraiser to honor former students and to help new students enroll in the program will be held on Saturday, April 25, at La Hacienda de Loma Linda in Oro Valley. Suggested donations are $30. Former and current students, faculty and interested UA and Tucson community members are invited to attend. The event will feature a night of music and entertainment provided by local artists.

All donations are tax deductible and all proceeds will go towards UA student study abroad, research and service scholarships associated with the Resplandor International Cultural and Education Center in Guanajuato.

Drugs: To Legalize or Not

* APRIL 25, 2009

Drugs: To Legalize or Not
Decriminalizing the possession and use of marijuana would raise
billions in taxes and eliminate much of the profits that fuel
bloodshed and violence in Mexico.


The drug-fueled murders and mayhem in Mexico bring to mind the
Prohibition-era killings in Chicago. Although the Mexican violence
dwarfs the bloodshed of the old bootleggers, both share a common
motivation: profits. These are turf wars, fought between rival gangs
trying to increase their share of the market for illegal drugs.
Seventy-five years ago, we sensibly quelled the bootleggers' violence
by repealing the prohibition of alcohol. The only long-term solution
to the cartel-related murders in Mexico is to legalize the other
illegal drugs we overlooked when we repealed Prohibition in 1933.
Problem of Relaxed Drug Restrictions
[Drugs: To Legalize or Not ]

Read John P. Walters's essay on how progress in Colombia provides
clear evidence that the war on drugs is winnable, while history
repeatedly shows that relaxed restrictions lead to more abuse and

In 2000, the Mexican government disturbed a hornets' nest when it
began arresting and prosecuting major distributors of marijuana,
cocaine, heroin and amphetamines. Previously, the cartels had relied
largely on bribery and corruption to maintain their peaceful
co-existence with the Mexican government. Once this pax Mexicana
ended, however, they began to fight not only the government but among
themselves. The ensuing violence has claimed the lives of at least
10,000 in Mexico since 2005, and the carnage has even spilled north to
the United States and south to Central and South America.

Some say that this killing spree -- about 400 murders a month
currently -- threatens the survival of the Mexican government. Whether
or not that is the exaggeration that Mexican President Felipe Calderón
insists it is, Mexico is in crisis. The Mexicans have asked the Obama
administration for help, and the president has obliged, offering
material support and praising the integrity and courage of the Mexican
government in taking on the cartels.

The U.S. should enforce its laws against murder and other atrocious
crimes and we should cooperate with Mexican authorities in helping
them arrest and prosecute drug traffickers hiding out here. But what
more can and should we do?

Is gun control the answer? President Calderón asserts that the cartels
get most of their guns from the U.S. We could virtually disarm the
cartels, he implies, if we made it harder to buy guns here and smuggle
them into Mexico. President Obama has bought into this claim and has
made noises about reducing the availability of guns. However, even if
the Obama administration were able to circumvent the political and
constitutional impediments to restricting Americans' access to
handguns, the effect on Mexican drug violence would be negligible. The
cartels are heavily armed now, and handguns wear out very slowly.

View Full Image
Mexican police agents in Tijuana
Associated Press

Mexican police agents with drugs and weapons seized during an
operation near Tijuana last December.
Mexican police agents in Tijuana
Mexican police agents in Tijuana

Even if the Mexican gangsters lost their American supply line, they
would probably not feel the loss for years. And when they did, they
would simply turn to other suppliers. There is a world-wide black
market in military weapons. If the Mexicans could not buy pistols and
rifles, they might buy more bazookas, machine guns and bombs from the
black market, thus escalating the violence.

Also hopeless is the notion -- now believed by almost no one -- that
we can keep the drugs from coming into this country and thereby cut
off the traffickers' major market. If we could effectively interdict
smuggling through any of our 300-plus official border crossing points
across the country and if we eventually build that fence along our
entire border with Mexico -- 1,933 miles long -- experience strongly
suggests that the smugglers will get through it or over it. If not,
they will tunnel under or fly over it. And there is always our 12,383
miles of virtually unguarded coastline.

Several proposals have been submitted in the Mexican congress to
decriminalize illegal drugs. One was even passed in 2006 but, under
pressure from the U.S., President Vicente Fox refused to sign it. The
proposals rest on the notion that by eliminating the profit from
illegal drug distribution, the cartels will die from the dearth of
profits. A major weakness in such proposals, however, is that the main
source of the cartels' profits is not Mexican but American. Mexican
drug consumption is a mere trickle compared to the river that flows
north. However laudable, proposals to decriminalize drugs in Mexico
would have little impact on the current drug warfare.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recognized the heart of the matter
when she told the Mexicans last month that the "insatiable demand for
illegal drugs" in the U.S. is fueling the Mexican drug wars. Without
that demand, there would be few illegal drug traffickers in Mexico.

Once we have recognized this root cause, we have few options. We can
try to eliminate demand, we can attack the suppliers or we can attempt
a combination of both. Thus far, the Obama administration, like every
other U.S. administration since drug prohibition went into effect in
1914, seems bent on trying to defeat the drug traffickers militarily.
Hopefully, President Obama will soon realize, if he does not already,
that this approach will not work.
[A federal agent in Chicago] The Granger Collection

A federal agent in Chicago destroys contraband kegs of alcohol during
Prohibition in the 1920s.

Suppose the U.S. were to "bail out" the Mexican government with tens
of billions of dollars, including the provision of military personnel,
expertise and equipment in an all-out concerted attack on the drug
traffickers. After first escalating, the level of cartel-related
violence would ultimately subside. Thousands more lives would be lost
in the process, but Mexico could thereby be made less hospitable to
the traffickers, as other areas, such as Colombia, Peru and Panama,
were made less hospitable in the past. That, after all, is how the
Mexicans got their start in the grisly business. Eventually, the
traffic would simply move to another country in Latin America or in
the Caribbean and the entire process would begin anew. This push-down,
pop-up effect has been demonstrated time and again in efforts to curb
black markets. It produces an illusion of success, but only an

An administration really open to "change" would consider a long-term
solution to the problem -- ending the market for illegal drugs by
eliminating their illegality. We cannot destroy the appetite for
psychotropic drugs. Both animals and humans have an innate desire for
the altered consciousness obtainable through drugs. What we can and
should do is eliminate the black market for the drugs by regulating
and taxing them as we do our two most harmful recreational drugs,
tobacco and alcohol.

Marijuana presents the strongest case for this approach. According to
some estimates, marijuana comprises about 70% of the illegal product
distributed by the Mexican cartels. Marijuana will grow anywhere. If
the threat of criminal prosecution and forfeitures did not deter
American marijuana farmers, America's entire supply of that drug would
be home-grown. If we taxed the marijuana agribusiness at rates similar
to that for tobacco and alcohol, we would raise about $10 billion in
taxes per year and would save another $10 billion we now spend on law
enforcement and imprisoning marijuana users and distributors.

Even with popular support, legalizing and regulating the distribution
of marijuana in the U.S. would be neither easy nor quick. While
imposing its prohibitionist will on the rest of the world for nearly a
century, the U.S. has created a network of treaties and international
agreements requiring drug prohibition. Those agreements would have to
be revised. A sensible intermediate step would be to decriminalize the
possession and use of marijuana and to exercise benign neglect of
American marijuana growers. Doing both would puncture the market for
imports from Mexico and elsewhere and would eliminate much of the
profit that fuels the internecine warfare in Mexico.

After we reap the rewards from decriminalizing marijuana, we should
move on to hard drugs. This will encounter strong resistance.
Marijuana is a relatively safe drug. No one has ever died from a
marijuana overdose nor has anyone gone on a violent rampage as a
result of a marijuana high. Cocaine, heroin and amphetamines, on the
other hand, can be highly addictive and harmful, both physically and
psychologically. But prohibition makes those dangers worse, unleashing
on vulnerable users chemicals of unknown content and potency, and
deterring addicts from seeking help with their dependency. There is
burgeoning recognition, in the U.S. and elsewhere, that the health
benefits and the myriad social and economic advantages of substituting
regulation of hard drugs for their prohibition deserves serious

A most impressive experiment has been underway in Portugal since 2001,
when that country decriminalized the possession and personal use of
all psychotropic drugs. According to a study just published by the
Cato Institute, "judged by virtually every metric," the Portuguese
decriminalization "has been a resounding success." Contrary to the
prognostications of prohibitionists, the numbers of Portuguese drug
users has not increased since decriminalization. Indeed, the
percentage of the population who has ever used these drugs is lower in
Portugal than virtually anywhere else in the European Union and is far
below the percentage of users in the U.S.. One explanation for this
startling fact is that decriminalization has both freed up funds for
drug treatment and, by lifting the threat of criminal charges,
encouraged drug abusers to seek that treatment.

We can try to deal with the Mexican murderers as we first dealt with
Al Capone and his minions, or we can apply the lessons we learned from
alcohol prohibition and finish dismantling the destructive prohibition
experiment. We should begin by decriminalizing marijuana now.

Steven B. Duke is a professor of law at Yale Law School.

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