Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Past Revisited

On the eve of what would've been J.C. Martin's 99th birthday, I want to give you a glimpse into what council proceedings looked like back in the day.  From the book "Patron Democracy":
A talkative person by nature, Aldo was used to open discussions, particularly when the decisions to be made affect the public interest.  In the city council meetings, there was little, if any, discussions.  Ayes and nayes were automatic and always unanimous, either way.  The meetings were little more than Mayor Martin directing and the city council accepting. 
All were guided by an agenda which highlighted events without any explanation, and all reacted to the approval or rejection of items which had been probably discussed prior to the meeting.
No one in the council questioned, probed, suggested alternative courses of action, asked for delays for further study.  It all was done automatic, as an orchestra whose members react to the direction of the director - even at the slightest cue.
It sounds like what goes on sometimes during current city council meetings.
J.C. Martin Jr. left a lasting legacy.  A corrupt one at that, but a legacy nonetheless.  Locals think the patron system of politics is still alive and well today, but I don't think it matches the level of those who came before us.  If you needed help, and went to Mayor Raul Salinas now, I doubt que te podria sacar de ulgun apuro

I don't discount the fact that corruption still exists, but the corruption of yesteryear was such a work of art.  It was all so tightly connected.  To go up against the Old Party was a futile attempt by those seeking change.  What has remained constant, however, is voter apathy.  People don't think that their vote counts, or are turned off by politics for different reasons, so they stay home.  But at the same time, we have a small group of concerned citizens who challenge those in power, as Voices In Democratic Action (VIDA) is doing today.  If we have that, then we can tamp down the patronismo that tries to rear its ugly head once again.

I'll be watching the election results tonight.  Stay tuned.  

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