Calderón Pal Ugalde Smears Javier Sicilia on Washington DC Facebook Page
By Al Giordano
When a parent has to bury a son or daughter, as Javier Sicilia pointed out this month after the assassination of 24-year-old Juan Francisco Sicilia, there is no word for what the parent becomes: “the death of a child is always unnatural and that’s why it has no name: I don’t know if it is orphan or widow, but it is simply and painfully nothing – from these, I repeat, mutilated lives, from this suffering, from the indignation that these deaths have provoked, it is simply that we have had it up to here.”
The fast developing saga of one father’s search for justice – not just for his own loss but for the families and friends and countrymen of 40,000 slain in the drug war of president Felipe Calderón since 2007 – has shaken the conscience of the Mexican nation. Tens of thousands of citizens have mobilized under Sicilia’s call of “Stop the War, for a Just Mexico, in Peace.” And as momentum builds toward a silent march to step out on May 5 from Sicilia’s city of Cuernavaca to Mexico City on May 8, the first signs of a smear campaign by the few defenders of Calderón’s War left emerged this week in an unpredicted location: on Facebook.
While Calderón has publicly attempted to treat Sicilia’s loss with respect – including that he invited the poet, father and nationally beloved journalist to the presidential manse of Los Pinos in the days after the murder of Sicilia’s son and six other innocents – he and his allies have been gritting their teeth as any tyrant and his lackeys anywhere tend to do when the citizenry turns audibly against the violence of his decrees.
One of Calderón’s closest personal and political buddies this week let it slip how those in power really view Sicilia and the citizen movement that has risen up around him.
Let us show you a screen shot and then tell you about Luis Carlos Ugalde, the individual who typed these words from his Facebook account on the fan page of the Mexico Institute, part of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC:
Here, and just so no tyrants will need their spectacles to read the words on that screen shot, Ugalde responded to a call by one global citizen for Mexico Institute friends to vote in favor of Javier Sicilia for a Global Exchange “people’s choice” award in human rights.
The idea of honoring a human rights advocate with a human rights award was apparently offensive to Ugalde, who at 6:44 p.m. on Wednesday typed onto Facebook:
“Speaking out does not necessarily menan (sic) speaking well. It is laudable that he has come out to organize civil society. However, his message suggesting making a pact with drug trafickers (sic) to decrease violence in Mexico, is quite dangerous and provides the bad incentives to fight impunity in Mexico.”
First of all, getting lectured by Luis Carlos Ugalde on “impunity” is something akin to being force-fed a speech on "democracy" by deposed Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak. Impunity is something that Ugalde publicly embraced in 2006, as then head of Mexico’s Federal Elections Institute (IFE, in its Spanish initials) when he refused to recuse himself from arbitrating a massive and well-documented case of election fraud in Mexico’s presidential elections. It was an election in which the candidate who received 1.5 million more votes than the other was denied the presidency by Ugalde and his electoral politbureau, and, instead, the post was handed to second-place finisher Felipe Calderón, who only a few years prior had served - you can't make this stuff up - as best man at Ugalde’s wedding in Tepoztlán, Morelos.
Now, that’s impunity! When you can be the top umpire over an electoral game in which you can deliver the presidency of a nation to the best man from your wedding, and not even have to recuse yourself from the case: ain’t that grand? The guy who won the most votes in that election, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, later called Ugalde an “electoral felon.”
Of course, impunity has its rewards. Since leaving the Federal Electoral Institute in 2007, Ugalde has been lavished with fellowships and teaching gigs at important US institutions like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and Harvard University. According to Ugalde’s own Facebook page, he now resides in Washington, DC, and even posts a cute profile photo of himself in front of the cherry blossom trees on the Potomac Basin:
(Oh, my, there goes the neighborhood: your correspondent is embarrassed to disclose that he has five “Facebook friends” in common with this “electoral felon.” Fair enough: we’ll have to post this story on their Facebook pages, too, then: that's what friends are for!)
Anyway, many keen observers have noticed what they see as a direct relationship between Calderón’s 2006 ascension-by-fraud to the presidency and the violence he unleashed when he militarized the drug war a few months later. After all, what better way to distract from the public grievance that you’re not, um, a real president than sending the Armed Forces into the streets to fight an unwinnable war and creating daily headlines and gruesome photos and TV images of so many of the 40,000 to perish in the bloodshed?
So when one man, in his immeasurable grief, stands up and says “we have had it up to here” with that simulated “war on drugs” and an entire country’s discontent finds echo in his call, the engineers of that false presidency have got to be a little bit concerned that the jig may soon be up, especially at this moment in history when an “Arab Spring” has become so attractive to people in other lands, maybe especially others with pyramids and pride for the ancient advanced civilizations of their own.
Most disgraceful about Ugalde’s Facebook indiscretion, is that it was knowingly dishonest – one could even say “fraudulent” - in its claim that Javier Sicilia had suggested “making a pact with drug traffickers.” For this is a point that Sicilia himself clarified in the national magazine Proceso more than two weeks ago.
Sicilia’s words at that moment were very valuable and instructive, and still are, so they are worth repeating here:
He said that such a pact would not come at this moment, but, rather, once drugs are legalized and their consumption will be treated as a public health matter.
In a brief declaration sent to the media, the poet and collaborator of Proceso, Javier Sicilia – whose son Juan Francisco was assassinated with six others on March 28 – said that if we don’t want to make such pacts then there will have to be “pacts of honor” so that the civilian population isn’t touched and the prisoners of the gangs should be treated according to human rights standards.
“My statements about a pact with narco-trafficking, as tends to occur in such a tense world and distorted by political interests, were not well understood. When I referred to a pact, I referred precisely to the fact that narco-trafficking has existed for a long time in our country. It is part of our life. However, since the war was unleashed as a means to exterminate it, the US, which is the grand consumer of these toxic substances, has not done anything to support us.
“The weapons that are arming organized crime and are killing our kids, our soldiers, our police, come from the US and they are not doing anything to stop them. These guns are maybe worse than any kind of drug, they are powerful, terrible and widespread,” said Sicilia.
He asked that “if the US doesn’t prosecute and put a stop to its arms industry – a legalized horror – why should we prosecute the producers of the drugs?”
Sicilia’s call, in fact, requires no pact with drug traffickers. It would simply and unilaterally pull the rug out from under their huge profits by legalizing and regulating drugs like alcohol is regulated today.
But Luis Carlos Ugalde, not surprisingly, doesn’t seem to exercise a scholar-fellow’s expected academic rigor when choosing to smear a father and poet who only weeks ago lost his son to the newly militarized “drug war” that Ugalde is at least partially responsible for wreaking. That's because he’s the guy who put Calderón in the powerful post to which he was not elected, thus creating the need for a big violent distraction from the cloud of illegitimacy that hung, and continues to hang, over his government.
The best way to interpret this is that the clique around Calderón, despite having all the armament and firepower of the Armed Forces, the police agencies, the commercial media monopolies and the entire apparatus of Mexican State at their command, is very frightened of one unarmed poet and student of Gandhian nonviolence that is Javier Sicilia.
They’re even scared of the possibility that he gets an international “people’s choice” human rights award, so terrified that Ugalde, for one, had to type a knowing falsehood during Wednesday Happy Hour during the Easter Week holidays onto his Facebook account.
Forgive them, Facebook. They know not what they do…