By Mel Carriere
My wife has an extremely nifty smartphone, a Google Nexus 6, that makes me seethe with envy every time I see her with it. But I know I am not worthy so I suffer along with my very proletariat low end Samsung.
It always takes my wife a while to get the hang of any new gadget. She is reluctant to punch any buttons on the device, out of fear that it will explode in a mushroom cloud of malicious computer viruses that will affect not only her phone, but all the electronic devices in the house and possibly even wriggle their way into her cerebral cortex. It is amusing to watch her index finger orbit in tight circles above an icon for half a minute before she finally has the nerve to press it.
But once she gets it, she gets it good and is reluctant to give the darn thing a rest. She stays up late at night watching You Tube videos on the Nexus's extremely large screen, which is actually bigger than that of a portable TV I used to carry with me. Lately her curiosity has been piqued by the scandal occurring in her native Mexico surrounding The President of Mexico, his first lady, and a majestic 7 million dollar residence in an exclusive place called Lomas de Chapultepec, overlooking Mexico City. My wife can't get enough of this controversy, and her tired phone has been working overtime.
The scandal that Mexico finds itself embroiled in is of Soap Opera-ish proportions, which is appropriate because the First Lady of the Republic, Angelica Rivera, who you see above frolicking in the agave fields with a husky Tequila magnate, was a famous Soap Opera star before forswearing cheap theatricals in favor of the fame, prestige, and allegedly obscene wealth associated with being the wife of the Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. Although some complain the first lady's qualifications are beneath those required for her lofty position, her husband's intelligence and educational level are well below the standards typically associated with being the leader of a country of 122 million. He was recently quoted as saying that the battle of Puebla, which occurred on the fifth of May, 1862, and featured musket-wielding dragoons dispatched by the Emperor of the French Napoleon III, actually took place in the year 1995. Apparently the honorable President was never invited to a Cinco de Mayo party before 1995, hence the confusion. That's okay, we here in the US can't boast about the intellectual achievements of our Presidents either, having endured George W. Bush's mumbled malaprops for 8 years.
Anyhow, the scandal threatening to dethrone the President of Mexico surrounds the 7 million dollar Chapultepec mansion, which was probably gifted to him by a conglomerate called Grupo Higa, to whom he awarded a cushy 652 million dollar contract while serving as the governor of the state of Mexico. In a crude and misguided attempt to dispel the scandal, Pena Nieto had his wife Angelica Rivera appear on television to read a very arrogant Marie Antoinette inspired "Let the peasants eat cake" style speech in which she claimed the mansion was purchased with her hard earned Soap Opera bucks and was, therefore, not anybody's business. Nobody believes her, and now the Pena Nieto presidency may be on the verge of collapse.
Meanwhile, over here on the North side of the Rio Grande, the average American doesn't seem to care or even be aware of the tumultuous political climate in Mexico. Could it be that we Yanquis are being deliberately kept in the dark over events that threaten to disrupt our south of the border neighbor so that we will continue to assume the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of 1994 (one year before the Battle of Puebla, per Pena Nieto) was a complete success and an economic boon for all signatories; these being The United States, Canada, and Mexico? Is the ominous reality behind the potentially explosive political and economic situation in Mexico perhaps being played down to dampen criticism of another trade agreement; the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) we are about to enter into with the big economic players of the Pacific Rim?
Some of you following the progress of the TPP at home might find it about as hard to swallow as the wild, raving assertions of a sultry Mexican Cinderella Soap Opera star turned Queen of a kingdom by the wave of a magic wand who now fumbles and fidgets desperately on camera as the stroke of midnight arrives and the carriage is about to turn back into a pumpkin. At least one potential US Presidential candidate, who might very well know the correct years of his country's major battles, shares your doubts. This is former Maryland Governor Democrat Martin O'Malley, a definite dark horse underdog in the 2016 Presidential contest, a man whose candidacy appears to be lost in the irrepressible onslaught of the hordes of Hillary hashtaggers. We all know his opponent Ms. Clinton had a Soap Opera-ish spouse as well; this being her husband Bill, whose romps with Monica Lewinsky seem to have been pulled right out of a Mexican telenovela; featuring long, sticky cigars instead of tequila, of course. But before we get carried away trying to mimic Mexico by mailing in our Hillary-stamped ballots right now, perhaps we should consider what this intelligent, articulate man O'Malley had to say on a recent National Public Radio interview about free trade agreements in general and the TPP in particular. I don't hear Hillary expressing concerns over this treaty, and it makes me think that we, like the Mexican electorate, are being hypnotized by the melodramatic glamour of our Soap Opera politicians.
The Martin O'Malley NPR Interview
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Image from: http://www.coveralia.com/caratulas/BSO-Destilando-Amor--Interior-Frontal.php
Battle of Puebla from: "Batalla del 5 de mayo de 1862" by Anonymous - http://www.inehrm.gob.mx/Portal/PtMain.php?pagina=exp-ignacio-zaragoza-galeria. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Batalla_del_5_de_mayo_de_1862.jpg#/media/File:Batalla_del_5_de_mayo_de_1862.jpg