The 2000’s were the years that started with the menace of Y2K, gave us 6 years of Bush, the Argentine peso crash, 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the terrorist attacks in Madrid, London & Mumbai, the bomb in Myyrmanni, wars in Chechenya and Georgia, the Asian tsunami, the floods of Tabasco, Katrina, protests in Ukraine & Thailand, two stock market crashes, wars in Liberia, Congo and Somalia, the Jokela & Kauhajoki school shootings, the drug war & ended with the Haiti earthquake.
However, they also gave us the rise of the rest of the globalized countries and the formation of the G-20, the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka, the rescue of the Chilean miners, the spread of mobile communication, the fast adoption of broadband, the dramatic reduction of poverty in certain areas and the improving availability of basic sanitation in many others, though you won’t see that in the news ;).
The country where I was born has seen ten years of democracy, but also ten years of disorder and lack of statesmanship. The country where I have lived for most of this decade has experienced more change than some of its people would like, it’s showing itself more to the world but the world has also arrived in numbers to its shores. It’s not a homogeneous as it used to be.
Ten years might be a short time in geological or astronomical terms, but teenagers become adults in that time :).
Televisa (the largest media company in the Spanish-speaking world) is not a company I have traditionally liked very much due to its very strong ties to the PRI, the party that dominated Mexican politics for 71 years. Their operations have been usually extremely conservative with a tint of monopoly. The company, however, holds the rights for broadcasting the matches of the Mexican national football team together with its main rival, TV Azteca.
My surprise has been that in the year or two they have completely changed their attitude towards the internet, offering some of their TV content for free over the web, broadcasting live some matches of the national team (not the WC), and pushing Facebook and Twitter heavily in their mainstream media.
While I do not have enough information to know whether they have reacted this favourably because they have a solid online strategy or just through fear, it’s nice to watch Mexican news for a change even if the news items themselves are not that nice.
If there is one thing that drives me insane is when I turn the TV to get my news fix and stumble into any bulletins by YLE or the MTV3 morning news (their evening news are OK, even if their sense of humour is on the very basic side of the scale). Their focus on inane ultra-local stories (like a recent one on neighbourhood cats) reminds me of a sketch a comedian used when I was growing up called Ranch News, or Noti Rancho in Spanish. The amount of navel-gazing is mind-numbing for a guy like me who needs to know what is going on with the world.
Mexican news programmes, on the other hand, focus on three things: the latest celebrity scandal, the latest political scandal, or the latest violent deaths caused by the drug situation (with as many graphic details as possible).
No wonder I’ll be stuck with the BBC for the time being, even if I couldn’t care less about cricket.
Those who follow news about Mexico might know that on the same night Barack Obama was elected president of the United States, there was a very dramatic tragedy in Mexico City, as a small airplane carrying the secretary of the interior of the country crashed in the middle of the business district. The news was quite tragic, but that was it.
Then, I started hearing some more personal accounts. My brother-in-law works in the area, and the plane crashed 12 metres away from his office. He saw everything, and was quite shocked by the time he got home. Understandably, I was quite upset when I heard about it. Then I found out that a friend of mine was injured and is in hospital, and am frankly still in shock.
A couple of weeks ago we spent a long weekend with friends in Moscow (photos here). The city has very beautiful areas and downtown is just amazing.
One thing that surprised me was that clearly the current price of commodities has done wonders for the local economy and you can see it everywhere you go: people dress better that what I saw 7 years ago in Saint Petersburg, the city looks clean and frankly it’s not the cheapest place on Earth.
Another interesting thing was that we were there while the situation in Georgia was developing, and the points of view in the local media were completely different from what you see in CNN or even the BBC.
Finally, as stupid as this might sound, it was very comforting to get past the usual stereotypes and just notice that the people over there are just like everybody else 😉 .
I was watching CNN when they had a report about an alleged link between childhood vaccination and autism. Right after it, they had a poll where they asked the audience if they believed there was such a link. I found the process disturbing for one reason: whatever I believe may or may not be backed by scientific fact, and in issues such as healthcare this becomes very dangerous.
I might believe that the world is a flat dish, but the facts prove me wrong.
An article that quite surprised me in Wired about the Bali summit mentions that Mexico is actually doing quite a bit to tackle climate change and is leading the efforts to cap emmissions, having started at home.
The Missioners of Guadalupe won the Ohtli award, given to those who raise the profile of the country abroad, for their charity activities in Kenya. I met one of them in Brussels half a year ago, and he told me the challenges they had working there.