Mexico 2010: Enter the Detonators

By Al Giordano

In recent weeks, Mexican television viewers have been deluged with an advertisement in power rotation on all networks, including cable channels, from an apparently wealthy consortium called “Iniciativa México,” or, the Mexico Initiative.

The ad features head coach Javier Aguirre of Mexico’s national soccer team (the original ad appears here) strutting around the Mexico City monument known as the Angel of Independence, wearing a suit jacket and unbuttoned white shirt, noting that 2010 marks the bicentennial of Mexican independence and the centennial of the revolution of 1910. And, he encourages the people of the nation not to fall into “the old complexes” this time and to be positive and sunshiney in this historic year.

You can't make this stuff up!

The reaction on the street, in the markets and other public places, was overwhelmingly negative. “Who is this futbol coach to tell us what to do?” was the typical reaction this reporter received everywhere he asked. Interestingly, everybody had seen the ad, and hated it.

Aguirre had already caused a national scandal last February when he told a Spaniard sports network that “Mexico es jodido” (“Mexico is fucked”) and that he keeps his family in Madrid so they can be safe. And after the Mexican team was disqualified from the World Cup finals last week, Aguirre quit in a public tantrum and said he wanted to move to England or Spain. Thus, his ad, which begins, “I’m Javier Aguirre and I love Mexico” has become a national joke of sorts, in the category of gallows humor. The gross ratings points that the Iniciativa México spent on airing this ad has had the opposite effect of its intent to calm down the public and strip them of any ideas of a centennial revolt in 2010. To the contrary, it got a lot of regular folks thinking about the possibilities. More than a few passersby I interviewed practically tried to recruit this international reporter for a revolution!

According to the Iniciative’s website, the consortium's board of advisors includes the owners of the two national television networks, Televisa and TV Azteca, also Channels 11 and 22, plus the owners of UNIRADIO, Radio Formula, Braca Communications, and the daily newspapers El Financiero, Novedades, Milenio, El Universal, El Siglo de Torreón, El Economista, in other words, the media oligarchs of the nation.

And the consortium’s technical advisory board includes, in addition to the media owners, the rectors of the National Autonomous University (UNAM), the Insituto Politechnico Nacional (IPN), the Tech de Monterrey (gotta keep those rambunctious students in line!), and the CEO of the cinema chain Cinépolis, among others.

It doesn’t take a degree in marketing to understand what the magnates are up to: their ad campaign reveals their intense fear that the historic memory of the Mexican people could turn on the aspiring owners of the country as they it in 1810 and 1910. The electoral fraud by which President Felipe Calderón came to power is still an open wound, unresolved, festering. And the wave of repression against pro-democracy social movements that escalated in Atenco and Oaxaca in 2006 continues raging into the present.

A sign that the State is at least somewhat worried about the potential detonation of 2010 came on Thursday when the Supreme Court of the Nation ordered the release of Ignacio “Nacho” del Valle and eleven other political prisoners from Atenco, the town that rose up and defeated the national airport planned for their farmlands in 2002.

Javier Aguirre, in the Iniciativa México TV ad.

Into this churning national cauldron today entered a group that calls itself “Los Detonadores” (“The Detonators”) with a video parody of the Initiative’s TV ad, that in a few short hours has already gone viral on the Internet.

Field Smith, in the response from Los Detonadores.

The actor the group hired looks familiar, and is quite good at the role (think of a Mexican version of Stephen Colbert). He plays a US businessman with a heavy gringo accent who claims to be “the owner of Mexico” and Aguirre’s “compadre,” urging the Mexican people to calm down and stop rebelling every hundred years, and thanking them for sitting in front of the TV during this bicentennial year, for sending their sons and daughters to work as his “illegal slaves” in the North, for putting up with the war on drugs, and for buying all their products from him and for selling their "beaches, mountains and rivers" to his companies. And that is pretty much what has happened since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) took effect in 1994.

Here is the ad, which hit the Internet at 10 a.m. this morning, Mexico City time:

Here is a translation of the ad’s text, which borrows liberally from Aguirre’s narrative while turning his phrases against the intentions of the Mexico Initiative’s ad campaign:

I’m Field Smith and I love Mexico. In fact, I’m the owner of Mexico!

I don’t know if I always understand it, but I know that I always love it.

And I know that for some reason every hundred years the Mexican people go out from their homes to try to make things impossible for businessmen like me. And what’s worse is that if they rebel, they can achieve it.

In 1810 it seemed impossible that Mexico could be an independent country. And it has cost us a lot of money in troops and loans to your government to insure that it still is not.

In 1910 it seemed impossible that Mexico could be democratic. And thanks to the huge electoral frauds it still is not.

It’s 2010, and the clock of history is ringing anew.

And it seems impossible that this could be a great country, secure, prosperous and just, that the Mexican people want.

The time has come to ask you if you want to keep being a country for sale for failure, or if you are capable of ending this capitalist control over your country.

Mexicans, calm down!

The time has come to change the country doing no more than sitting and obeying orders, and believing exactly what they tell us on TV.

Because as my compadre Javier Aguirre said, “Mexico is fucked,” and it’s clear that neither the national soccer team nor the people can do anything because Mexico… is what it is.

It’s the hour to forget about the Mexico that fought for its indepdendence, to leave behind the Mexico that seeks to develop itself. And to keep being a Mexico in which all of you buy my products.

It’s time to change history, passing from the Mexico of “Yes, we can,” to the Mexico of “we’re already screwed.”

But it won’t be easy if the people remember that a country can transform itself during just one night of mass awaking.

The seed that Mexico yearns for is already transgenic.

For it to flower depends on its consumption by all of you.

Believe me that the most important things have already been done.

Keep being a country subjugated and unaware of its own history.

Welcome to the Fucked Mexico of 2010.

Thank you, Mexicans, for sending your sons and daughters to the United States to be my “illegal” slaves.

Thank you, Mexicans, for handing over your rivers, your beaches and mountains, to my companies.

Thank you, Mexicans, for lending yourselves to the war on drugs and allowing me to buy your politicians with the profits.

Thank you, Mexicans, for sitting in front of the TV during this bicentennial year!

Mexico is already our place. 2010 is our year. Now is the hour to sell your homeland to the highest bidder.

The ad then offers a link to a website – - which has only one paragraph of text and an email address. It says:

"The Detonators seek choreographers, dancers, designers, video makers, audio techs, musicians, artists, muralists, pamphleteers, writers, poets, performance artists, singers, dramaturges, game players, thinkers, actors, detonators and talents of all means of expression to collaborate in the most fun and urgent game: to reconquer all the terrains of daily life..."

The video has no credits for the screenplay, the video, the audio, the editing, the costume, the make-up, the post-production, the actor, or the website. They sent us the video anonymously, with permission to publish it, free of charge. It carries none of the whiff of bureaucracy, careerism or droll self-sacrifice or tired sloganeering that burden, sadly, too many “art projects” and “activist groups” alike.

I guess by “detonators” they mean that they don’t follow, and they don’t lead, they simply exist to detonate that "single night of mass awakening" that, throughout history, has made great leaps forward.

And, gee, it all looks and sounds so very fun. I think I will write to these “detonators” right now and ask them to please keep us posted on their next detonations. I could be wrong, but this looks like a project with a lot more up its sleeve and still to come.


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About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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