Feel the Difference

And this is how the leading Spanish newspaper El País is covering the story:

La tragedia ha golpeado con fuerza nuevamente a la familia LeBarón, un gran clan mormón que vive en Galeana, Chihuahua, al norte de México. En 2009, Julián LeBarón se convirtió en un improbable defensor de los derechos humanos en el nivel nacional. El agricultor, que también tiene la nacionalidad estadounidense, fue una de las principales voces que exigieron el fin de la violencia provocada por el combate del Estado a los grupos de la delincuencia organizada. Su papel cobró notoriedad entonces porque fue una de las pocas víctimas dispuestas a dar la cara para explicar cómo la violencia había roto sus vidas. Diez años después, Julián LeBarón ha vuelto a narrar un horror que no cesa. Esta vez por un suceso lleno de saña ocurrido en la frontera con el Estado de Sonora, donde tres mujeres —una de ellas, Rhonita María Miller— y seis menores de su familia fueron incineradosen medio de una disputa entre bandas criminales.

For those who have been banned by Google Translate, the people that the US media undeservedly calls violent and sordid are here correctly reported as valiant human rights defenders on a national scale.

It so happens that right at this time I’m teaching about today’s Mexico, so I’m on the lookout for the news about the country. When you look at the US and Spanish reporting, this sounds like two completely different stories. The point I’m trying to make with all this posting is this: how do you know what other stories your news sources are modifying like they’ve done with this one?

5 thoughts on “Feel the Difference”

  1. I don’t speak or read Spanish, but how is this experience that you describe any different from that of an American cable news channel viewer who tries to watch Fox News to get some idea of what’s going on with the so-called “impeachment inquiry,” then switches to CNN to get a totally alternate version of who’s guilty, who’s innocent, and the certainty about whether or not Trump’s going down — and then switches back to Fox — and then checks out the opinions of the expert guests pontificating on yet another alternate reality called MSNBC?


  2. I don’t read or speak Spanish, but how is this any different than the news reporting on the major cable news in America? If you listen to MSNBC, Trump is a criminal whose team is “trying to defend the indefensible” (per giggling bobble-head Nicole Wallace), and he’s guilty as hell and doomed to be impeached, and — if the Republicans can find their “honor and backbone” –removed from office.

    CNN is even worse, with Chris Cuomo patiently explaining his carefully concocted conspiracy theories about Giuliani’s “deep state” operations bypassing the normal State Department and diplomatic personnel to illegally influence (“bribe” and “shakedown”) the Ukrainian government.

    If you listen to Fox News, the “impeachment farce” is a witch-hunt that was started the day Trump was elected, and the real Ukraine crooks are Joe Biden and his son, while bug-eyed Adam Schiff is frantically searching for everything — anything — that can be hung on Trump. Trump is either completely innocent, or he’s too incompetent to have actually committed a crime, or he really did something wrong, but it’s not an impeachable offense, so just let the goddamn voters decide in 2020!

    Three U.S. channels — three alternate universes. Choose your channel and your version of reality, and try to stay on the roller coaster that you’ve strapped into until Nov 2020.


    1. Spain doesn’t have a border with Mexico yet has the mental capacity to notice the cartels and the danger they represent. The US media seem to believe that a tiny group of religious people are a bigger threat than the Sinaloa cartel. I find that to be absolutely insane. And even more insane than the impeachment mania.


  3. I translated and saw they were human rights defenders because of protesting Mexican government’s attempts to fight cartels. What should the government do in your opinion?

    For not US readers, it is all very confusing. The cartels are horrible, yet fighting them leads to more victims (why?) and should be stopped?

    I understand the cartels sell drugs to US and sometimes by accident kill unconnected citizens. What is their biggest damage to Mexico?

    You write a lot about the subject, yet the posts have always assumed basic knowledge which I lack, so asked about it here.


    1. The cartels have turned Mexico into a failed state. The government doesn’t control large portions of the territory. Mexico is the oldest and most stable democracy in Latin America. It didn’t have any dictatorships or civil wars since the Mexican revolution. This is incredible for a Hispanic country. But now it’s all gone. All of the gains, all of the progress – it’s all been wiped out. And what’s really stunning is that we see a country that is our neighbor, that shares a very long border with us turn into a failed state, a lawless, extremely violent territory but this isn’t talked about in the US. Even when American citizens are slaughtered, there’s no discussion of the cartels and what they are doing. It’s like people have gone collectively mad, discussing marriage practices of completely unimportant fringe religious group when there’s something of this enormity happening.

      As for what the government can do. Here’s the thing. Like most of the problems these days, the phenomenon of the cartels happens at a level that a national government can’t access. Cartels at transnational organizations and they have rendered the government completely irrelevant.


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