Saturday, June 4, 2016

Death in Xalapa… politics as usual

At least six, and maybe many more (possibly as many as 20), people were murdered early Sunday morning at Madame,a popular Xalapa gay bar. A horrible crime, and with no real information being given out by the authorities, one can only go on speculation.
 
According to news reports, there were about 400 people in the bar at the time. The Madame’s hit may have been directed on one individual or group. That same Saturday night/Sunday morning, a bar in Orizaba was also hit, killing two, including the boyfriend of the late Anabel Flores, a reporter murdered by the Zetas a few weeks back. The Zetas are not careful about avoiding collateral damage, and it’s quite plausible the attack at Madame was meant to either take out a targeted individual (or group), or … as when other public venues have been attacked… to threaten the business’ owners.
Coming at the end of the week when GLBT issues have been a matter of public discourse, there is the nagging sense that there was something more than just another gangster rub-out writ large.



The previous Monday, Enrique Peña Nieto surprised the nation by proposing that same-sex marriage laws be enacted nation-wide. The Supreme Court has already ruled that the states must change their marriage laws for constitutional reasons (since 2011, the Mexican Constitution has recognize equality before the law regardless of gender preference) and that same-sex marriages in any of the six states or the Federal District where same-sex marriages are already legal are valid throughout the Republic. It is only a matter of months before same-sex marriage laws are on the books in every state anyway.
The President’s support was seen more as a way of deflecting world-wide criticism of his administration’s dismal human rights record… and a way of moving the focus of media coverage away from unpopular educational “reforms”, the falling peso, chronic corruption scandals, missing students… In a sense, it’s worked, although even among the GLBT media figures, there is the recognition that this is more a cynical political ploy, and not a particular change of heart by a president who claims to be a “good Catholic”. Peña Nieto, in his announcement, noted that there was support in all political parties for the initiative.
True enough: other than token opposition by legislators talking about “family values” and the hard-right, the only party not to sign on is on the left, Morena. Even there, the opposition is less to marriage or GLBT rights than to who is pushing for the change. It’s just a given that if Morena proposes, the other parties oppose, and vice-versa. And Andrés Manuel López Obrador, as with many of his followers, are social conservatives, and has grown from non-existence to being on the verge of becoming the third largest party (and leading in polls to win the 2018 presidential elections) by focusing on those other issues, like missing students and dissenters from the neo-liberal ruling parties. And, Morena attracts not just the intellectuals and the artistic community, but also has its power base in Mexico City, where same-sex marriage didn’t prove as controversial as expected, and while still not all that common, met mostly with a shrug. As it is, AMLO has confined himself to sniping about his usual complaints, and … no fool when it comes to building coalitions wherever he can… has made nice with the GLBT community of late.
Veracruz State, the scene of the slaughter, is the one hold-out state where legislation explicitly forbids same-sex marriage. It is also in the midst of one of the nastiest (and most fascinating) elections I’ve ever watched. There, the right-liberal coalition (PAN-PRD) is running Miguel Ángel Yunes against the PRI’s Héctor Yunes. One would hate to be at their family dinners, with the two cousins hurling accusations of not just the usual corruption, but pedophilia, and other perversions as well. Perhaps it’s simply a matter of disgust with both the major party candidates, but it appears likely that Cuitláhuac García, of Morena, will be the next governor. With the present governor, Javier Duarte, widely known to be corrupt, and even the PRI offering to “investigate”, while the PAN-PRD Yunes cousin ups the ante by promising to send him to jail, García has the edge… wanting to send the Governor to Hell.
This election was widely expected to become violent, and — with Duarte assumed to have a hand in organized crime in the a state where same-sex marriage (and GLBT rights in general) are openly opposed — some suspect the Madame massacre may have been a “perfect storm” … political opportunism, organized crime, and just under the surface bigotry exploding in one night of gunfire.