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The meaning of the student movement

The student movement that surged earlier this month -- opposed to concentration of power in the media and, to a lesser extent, the PRI candidacy of Enrique Pena Nieto –- appears to have dissipated somewhat.

But it has led to some serious name-calling among the pundit class.

For background on the movement, here’s a story I did last week. 

Near the center of the latest controversy is Jorge G. Castaneda, a former foreign minister and arguably one of the better-known Mexicans in global circles, perhaps because of impeccable English and a clear writing style.

Castaneda has argued in several places that the students in the streets have amorphous aims that don’t really touch on concrete social or economic matters.

“This is much more Occupy Wall Street than Arab Spring. They aren’t trying to topple a dictatorship,” Castaneda said on the Hora de Opinar debate program on Foro TV.

In a separate column (in Spanish, see here), Castaneda comes down hard on young Mexicans who confuse what appears to be the likely outcome of the election (Pena Nieto wins) with their own wishes, believing that the opinion polls are part of a plot designed to thwart the desired outcome. He described some of the university students as “lacking in the political culture that one would expect in such a privileged group.”

 “Wow, they are nuts,” he concluded.

An American law professor in Mexico City, John M. Ackerman, lashed out at Castaneda in a column in La Jornada, accusing him of “intolerance and elitism” and adding this:

“Students may not remember well the corruption and ineffectiveness of the PRI government, but they suffer daily the ravages of media manipulation and electoral opacity. They are not ready for another six years with a president of questionable legitimacy who has no social support or political will to fully resolve major national problems,” he wrote (Google translation).

Ackerman accused writer Enrique Krauze (who he said has an advisory role at Televisa, the monopolistic network that is a target of student wrath) of not having credibility to comment on the student demands.

Sadly, Castaneda’s comments have drawn much harsher commentary on Twitter, where critics have called him “Nazi” and worse. Making matter worse, both Krauze and Castaneda have Jewish heritage.


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Dave Palmer

The revelations in the Guardian about Televisa's bought-and-paid-for coverage substantiate the students' claims: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jun/07/mexico-presidency-tv-dirty-tricks

Jorge Castañeda is a Mexican version of Joaquin Villalobos -- former leftists who are strongly suspected of CIA ties, and who have made lucrative careers for themselves as "intellectuals" attacking the left. Similarly, Enrique Krauze, who is also suspected of CIA ties, made a career for himself as a writer by attacking Carlos Fuentes, whose talents he could never hope to match.

The outrage of the students against Castañeda and Krauze has nothing to do with the ethnicity of their mothers, and everything to do with their utter lack of credibility. They are bought-and-paid-for "intellectuals" defending a bought-and-paid-for media.


The criticisms against the students are completely justified in my opinion. The students are being manipulated by supporters of Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Their biggest complaint is that they allege there is no "democracy" in the media, but they only point out the two national TV chains who continue not to be stooges of AMLO, and they ignore ALL the media that prints outright lies against other candidates and their parties in support of AMLO. They also continue to ignore the fact that the media have every right in the world to support any candidate or party they wish. Only a public TV station should be criticized for not being balanced, fair and impartial. The students and AMLO continue insulting the intelligence of millions of Mexicans who know the 2006 elections were the "cleanest" and most transparent in the history of Mexico. Not one poll worker of AMLO's own party ever declared fraud. Only AMLO followers who did NOT work the voting polls. The AMLO supporters denounce ex-President Fox for saying AMLO was a "danger", then they call Enrique Peña Nieto a "murderer" and claim the totalitarian state will reign again if EPN wins the election. Their own hypocrisy is apparently invisible to themselves. The students of the #YoSoy132 movement are nothing but pawns of the AMLO campaign, but as Mark Twain once said, "it's easier to fool someone than to convince them they've been fooled."

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This blog is written by Tim Johnson, the Mexico bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers.

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