For the past couple of weeks, Mexico has been threatening to cut off over 24 million cell phone users, and it looks like it might actually happen (or is happening). Last year, the Mexican Congress passed a law mandating that every cell phone user had to register their phone, using the Mexican equivalent of a SSN and their real name. The registration scheme was supposed to foil extortion schemes carried out over the telephone, but of course a lot of registrants used fake or joke names. Nevertheless, the government has vowed to cut off every unregistered phone.
This seems like a big deal, since it affects about a quarter of Mexico’s adult population. But there’s been almost no coverage of it in the US media, and the coverage that I’ve seen has been confused. For example, McClatchy thinks it may happen today, while the LA Times says that it already started happening last weekend.
It’s amazing how much more we read about Canada, or most European countries, than we do about Mexico. I wonder what else we’re missing.
Here’s a FAQ for those who read Spanish. Looks like RENAUT is the name of the program.
I’ll edit with some translations of the FAQ
8. Is it mandatory to register with RENAUT?
Yes. The Federal Telecommunications Act establishes an obligation to register mobile telephone users and update their data.
17. What happens if I don’t register my cellular by April 10?
Your service will be suspended.
In 2003, Carlos Fuentes wrote a hilarious novel called La Silla del Aguila. In it all satellite communication had been cut off by the US because Mexico refused to support them on some foreign adventure so the whole story is letters people write to each other to be able to communicate with each other since they had no phones, email, etc. Now the mexican govt is trying to make this magic realist romp into their reality. Gotta love it when fiction turns out to be a documentary before its time.
Didn’t give myself enough time to edit there. Seems to me that #17 is an important one and I’m not sure my spanish is up to all the nuance.
What happens if I don’t register my cellular before April 10, 2010?
The Federal Telecommunications Law establishes that, following a legal period, the line will be suspended without any responsibility for the service provider (?)
What happens if somebody registers their cellular with a fake name or birthdate? [BIRTHDATE!]
The information sending in the text message [that’s how you register] is verified in the National Population Register, [something] the system will reject the registration of an invalid CURP or number.
[I’m not sure what a CURP is, it’s referenced several times on that page]
Looks like a CURP is some sort of personal record with the government, perhaps the equivalent of a SSN. You can search for your CURP by name, birthdate and birthplace.
Similar rule is in place in Greece.
your translations are very much on the money.
One of the effects of the collapse of the newspaper business has been the closure of bureaus, especially ones outside the country. Now that coverage is handled mostly by stringers, And with the drug cartels targeting journos, I doubt a lot of folks are willing to risk their lives for a part-time job.
Mexican cell phone policy. Hmmm. Maybe the reason no one is covering it is Who Cares?
Why should we care about this?
So the Dems hold a key House seat in Florida and the media is … what, yawn. The teabaggers were yelling to take Obama and Health Care down and they lost two to one! The Demorats had better get a back bone.
Thanks for proving mistermix’s point.
WHY don’t we care? We have two neighbors. One we follow very closely, and the other we can ignore even when there are problems (e.g. hundreds of unsolved murders of young women in Juarez) literally right on our doorstep. There is this amazing closed-mindedness about Mexico.
Part of my ancestry (my mothers side) comes from Mexico so I have sort of a personal interest, but I know very little also. I knew her family had come over fleeing the Revolution. One day as an adult it occurred to me that, even though I’d gotten decent if not stellar grades in high school history, I had no clue about that Revolution. I didn’t know who or what they were rebelling against, what the government was like before the revolution, or what it was like after.
I suspect you don’t either, and you’d also say “why do I care?” Do you care about things that happen in the next state to yours? Why is that important but neighboring countries are not?
I don’t care if media ignore it. The winner stuck up for the health care bill and the stimulus, and Obama’s foreign policy. It’s a perfect result.
He won as a Democrat. Let’s hope the rest of them get the message.
The most humiliating thing about the stunning inept lack of coverage of Mexico issues in the U.S. is that Mexico has a huge range of really good newspapers.
Our newspapers don’t even have to hire reporters to station all over Mexico — they can hire people to read the Mexican press ONLINE. And then, like other news companies do with U.S. newspapers, they can form agreements to distribute news / reports up here, translated.
Our billion dollar news media acts — I hope acts is the correct interpretation — as though it can’t afford to hire Spanish- and Portuguese-capable readers and translators.
Whether it’s Mexico or the rest of Latin America, the U.S. press acts like there simply are no journalists any where else, like speaking Spanish is some sort of impassable mountain range.
Reading the Mexican newspapers every day, it’s astounding the number of gigantic, shocking, fascinating stories that the U.S. press passes up and presenting a systematically dumber and ideologically colored view overall.
I had no idea that the Secret Service’s code name for Dubya was “Toast.” Makes sense, though.
El Cid – heck, they don’t even have to hire competent translators. Google Translator can do most of the work in figuring out what the foreign language press says.
As far as what we’re missing – Well, I don’t recall the last time I saw a story on the Mexican Drug War in the traditional press. Given the size and scope of the war, it should be getting regular coverage. Maybe it would have an impact on the ease with which people are able to buy & run guns over the border to Mexico.
Take, for example, Colombia. There are some stories you might think would be interesting, given the interest of the U.S. press in narcotrafficking, and the fact that Colombia is by far the largest recipient of U.S. aid in the hemisphere.
The last 5 directors of its national intelligence agency (the DAS) are under arrest for illegally wiretapping any force of interest to the conservative government — journalists, opposition politicians, prosecutors, the Supreme Court justices even — and in some cases passing that spying-produced information to right wing death squad narco-paramilitaries so they could assassinate figures they opposed (such as a professor or union organizers).
Many of those involved in the investigations say that the orders came right out of the close U.S. ally and Washington Post “Savior of Democracy” President Uribe’s office, though as yet the teflon President has avoided apparent proof of this involvement. (Personally I think his denials are utter ‘plausible deniability’ horse-shit for the President who for his entire political life has worked closely but just not incriminatingly enough with the death squad paramilitaries.) All the directors were nominated by the President, and the one accused of helping paramilitaries murder their targets was Uribe’s former re-election campaign director.
This illegal wiretapping was carried out using U.S.-provided surveillance equipment.
The outcry in Colombia was so bad that the U.S. has had to announce it was cutting off aid to that agency, though of course in practice this means little.
Another story which might have been of interest to U.S. readers was that around 1/3 of the Colombian Congress, all allies of the U.S.-beloved right wing President, are either under arrest or under investigation for collaboration (including elections extorted by death threats) with the right wing death squad narco-paramilitaries.
Instead, these 2 huuuuuuuge stories are treated like boutique interests, occasionally burbling up to the U.S. press, where as if Hugo Chavez is rumored to have left the toilet seat up, you have editorial pages screaming about how he’s on the edge of killing us all.
Though there are of course serious and real criticisms to be made of the Venezuelan government, the U.S. press instead feels free to openly fabricate stories about Chavez, such as being ‘proven’ to be assisting the Colombian ‘leftist’ narco-guerrillas, including making up words not present in original documents supposedly found on captured rebel computers.
Yes. Literally fabricating the text of documents so as to heighten the charges.
And no one has accused Hugo Chavez of anything comparable to what the government of neighboring Colombia has done.
Sure, it maybe shouldn’t be surprising given that this is exactly the inanity and servility of traditional U.S. press coverage of foreign affairs, adhering perfectly to the preferences and needs and interests of the U.S. foreign policy establishment, but, still, it’s shocking in a familiar way.
Americans can barely dredge up the interest to pay attention to foreign countries we send our soldiers to kill and die in.
Oh, major earthquake in China, btw. Hundreds dead, thousands injured or missing.
Since when do Americans follow Canada closely?
I doubt that many (or any) here are able to name the Prime Minister, Opposition Leader, Governor General, the 4 major parties or even what Canada’s capital is without a Googlesearch. And Canadian shows like “As it Happens” play on U.S. public radio.
And even that you can put in your eye and it wouldn’t make you blink.
Americans are stunningly, stone ignorant of the world around them, due to a steady diet of American news media, which routinely ignore the rest of the world. And they do it because, I’m sure, they insist the American public doesn’t want to know. It’s a vicious circle, and yet another way in which the American news industry is falling down on the job.
Americans are willfully ignorant of things that are beneath them. They will pay more attention to Susan Boyle and to the latest fad than they will a massive drug war that has been turning the border areas of the Southwestern United States into a killing zone. I am always astounded at the lack of coverage–or outrage–that the routine mass killings receive in the States.
Twenty people can be gunned down and it won’t even register with the American media; when Susan Boyle passes wind, eighty-four media outlets have it on their sites in a matter of moments, complete with a shot of Boyle’s rippling pair of nylon pants being distended out in slow motion.
What a disgrace.
Mr Stagger Lee
I think people who troll gore sites (especially if they show images from ALARMA!) are probably more informed about Mexico than the average American.
It’s amazing how much more we read about
Canada, or most European countries,Israel than we do about Mexico.
If you want to talk about a country that takes up an undue amount of mindshare…
My thoughts exactly. Not that I expect everybody to be well-versed on every country in the world, but it does seem bizarre to be so ignorant of your next-door neighbour (and a major trading partner). But anytime I, or anybody I know, have gone down to the States, we cannot help but notice how the news channels will only cover stuff that happens in the U.S. or that directly involves the U.S. It’s as though the rest of the planet doesn’t even exist. The insularity is kind of weird and spooky, in a slightly IngSoc kind of way.
NPR actually ran a pretty good piece on the US military getting involved on the border– except that they didn’t talk at all about the greater implications of the militarization of the border.
I am living in southern Mexico. The phone registration has not raised too much of a stink here. There have been slight delays in cutting off people’s phones as millions have not registered yet. Given the number of drug cartel killings and kidnappings, it seems a prudent step. Of course, the crooks will be able to evade the law, so I am not sure of the benefit. There are very few options for phone service. For many things in Mexico, businesses operate as monopolies. It does not matter if it is phones or cable/internet or beer, often there is really no choice, one has to buy into the system. That being said and acknowledging that this country has lots of problems, corruption and poverty being two big ones, life is better than in the States. Here, people are politically engaged and active. There are protests and marches every week and every now and then, they get something done. Thousands of people have died in the drug wars, even with billions of US dollars essentially turning this country into a police state. Nothing wakes you up like being stopped by truckload of soldiers or police with very big guns and in full battle gear. And it might seem crazy, but this country, Mexico, is in better shape than the US. Some of it is having a couple of thousand years of history. They have been up and they have been down. The US is so painfully and proudly ignorant of what is happening in the rest of the world, it does not bode well.
the reporting only starts when they send us a shoe bomber or if we start bombing them by mistake or if they start ogling at our women.
I was down in Mexico for a couple of weeks in February and on the Mexicana flight back from Guadalajara I grabbed a copy of the local newspaper (the name of which escapes me) as I entered the plane. (Don’t they know that giving free stuff away to air travelers is so last century?)
I was completely blown away by the size, depth and quality of this weekday newspaper. A whole section of in depth and contrasting opinion pieces. Every photo in color. Long local, regional, national and international news stories. It’s what the NYT wishes it could be.
The lack of foreign reporting doesn’t shock me. It’s been that way for several decades. It seems like end of the Cold War was also the end of the U.S. media’s desire to report internationally.
The interesting thing to me is the extent to which the U.S. media doesn’t even report about things that happen in America. Short of disaster, crime or man bites dog stories, the national media ignores what’s going on everywhere but in New York, D.C. and L.A. If reporters can’t drive to it or it didn’t happen to anyone they know, they don’t cover it.
It’s literally like the nation’s media decided to cover the world like small-town reporters. We’re supposedly the world’s hyperpower, but our national media write articles about their friends’ cocktail parties, hires their buddies’ kids as reporters and obsess about personal gossip about people 99.9 percent of the country has never heard of.
Is one of the things we are missing about Mexico is that, apparently, they have (and actually enforce) more stringent meat safety standards than the USA?
The amusing thing about Mexico is that it is actually the 11th or 15th – depending on the year – richest nation in the world. In terms of national wealth, it’s better off than many EU nations.
It also has the type of government that Republicans would love to have and are actively working toward. Few public services, low taxes on the wealthy and a close partnership between industry and the government. It would be right wing heaven, if not for the awkward fact that those policies have made it chronically unstable and in danger of being the first major nation to fall to a narco-revolution.
Maybe that’s why our national media ignores it.
Yes we really should pay more attention to Mexico. After all this is the Republican utopia we’ve been headed towards since Ronald Reagan was in office.
This is sockulism we can believe in! The U.S. media is ignoring it because their cell phones are their lifelines and they don’t want to give the big bad Democrats any funny ideas.