By RICARDO CASTILLO
MLK III at Guerrero Homage
Martin Luther King III, the eldest son of U.S. civil rights activist MLK, Jr., was the keynote speaker Sunday, Feb. 14, at the homage paid to the memory of Mexico’s second president, Vicente Guerrero. Guerrero was killed 190 years ago at Cuilápa, Oaxaca.
Guerrero, a descendant of African slaves brought to Mexico, is considered to be one of the nation’s forefathers and was a great influence in having Mexico abolish slavery in its 1825 Constitution. He was a disciple and admirer of then-U.S. Diplomatic Representative in Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett, who encouraged him to run for president.
Guerrero was assassinated on orders from the man who had been his vice president, Anastasio Bustamante, on Feb. 14, 1831.
MLK III came to Mexico on a special invitation from President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), who led the Guerrero homage proceedings.
The event, the first of many to come, is part of AMLO’s celebration of the 200th anniversary of the consummation of Mexican Independence from Spain, the memorial of the fall of Aztec Great Tenochtitlan to Hernán Cortés in 1521 and the city’s foundation dated to circa 1321, marking a date for 700 years of history.
King delivered an emotional speech, remembering his father, but also Guerrero’s historic influence in the making Mexican independence and slavery abolition a reality in the American continent.
>African slavery in Mexico was reched its pinnacle in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, after Spain prohibited enslaving the indigenous population, with around 200,000 Africans brought to Mexico.
Growing awareness has led more people to self-identify as Afro-Mexican in recent years, with the 2020 census counting 2.5 million people, or 2 percent of the population.
Changing of the Guard in Washington
On Friday, Feb. 12, around 100 employees at the Mexican Embassy in Washington held a video conference to bid farewell to Ambassador Martha Bárcena, who, after 42 years of service in the Foreign Relations Secretariat (SRE), and two posting as ambassador, has opted for retirement.
“I wish you great success in your new stage of life. It has a true privilege to work under the vision and leadership of the first woman to be the Mexican ambassador to the United States,” the embassy employees told Bárcena.
Meanwhile, back in México City, Bárcena’s replacement, Ambassador Esteban Moctezuma, held his last official function as head of the nation’s Public Education Secretariat by signing a cooperation agreement with French Ambassador to Mexico Jean-Pierre Asvazadourian to promote bilateral cooperation in the area of education.
On Thursday, Feb. 11, AMLO welcomed to the National Palace new envoys from six different nations, who presented their diplomatic credentials to the president.
The new envoys are Carlos Alfonso Tomada of Argentina, Jean-Pierre Asvazadourian of France, Alireza Ghelizi of Iran, Rosa Delmy de Zacarías of El Salvador, Paisan Rupanichkij of Thailand, and Oksana Dramaretska of Ukraine.
The president spoke individually to each of the new ambassadors on the status of bilateral relations with their respective nations.
The so-called “open parliament” to debate Mexico’s proposed Electric Industry Bill, which is about to be voted on at the Chamber of Deputies, continued on Friday, Feb. 12, with four participants representing different points of view in favor and against the bill. The virtual debate is being sponsored by the Chamber’s Energy Committee.
Speaking against the bill were Julio Valle, head of the Mexican Association of Eolic Energy, and Isabel Studer, head of the Global Sustainability Network, a non-government organization.
Valle warned the proposed bill “violates the principle of free economic competition” under the Mexican Constitution and international treaties, and would damage the economy by preventing investment and the creation of new jobs. It would also bring about suits in which the government would lose compensation, he said.
Studer, on the other hand, argued that the bill would be a step backwards for the nation because it would accelerates the climate change process, to which Mexico is especially vulnerable.
Supporting the bill were National Polytechnic Institute professor Iván Estrada and energy specialist Luis Roberto Escalante.
Estrada said that clean energy is not that clean since the tools – metallic wind mills and solar panels – used to produce it require metals for their manufacturing, which translates into toxic pollution and are difficult to dispose of once they finish their useable cycle.
Escalante said it is unviable for wind and solar energy to help the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) to meet the country’s energy demand. For that simple reason, he said, Mexico must continue to generate energy using carbon-based fuel oil and gas – as well as coal in some regions – even if they contaminate.
The virtual debate over the bill will continue this week.
INE Seeks Booth Officials
As the next stage of preparation for Mexico’s June 6 midterm electionscrank up, the largest in the nation’s history, the National Electoral Institute (INE) President Lorenzo Córdova announced on Friday, Feb. 12, the selection of citizens who will run the voting stations.
Córdova said election organizers will visit more that 12.2 million people to invite them to volunteer to be booth officials.
“Holding elections during the pandemic goes against social distancing practices recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO),” Córdova said at a conference of the National Association of Business Lawyers.
“But we are not the first country holding election in times of pandemic.”
The INE, he said, will conduct itself in keeping with “best practices” in organizing the elections.
…Feb. 15, 2021