Trump’s Era – The Ministry of Truth

The Trump Era began last Friday the 20th of January, with a nationalistic, protectionist, agitated speech given by Donald (most likely written by Putin’s team). How are we supposed to feel about Trump becoming the most powerful man on earth (after Putin, obviously)? Until Friday the answer to this question was uncertain. Today, we have sort of an idea, but first, let me tell you a story.

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About a couple of weeks ago I visited the Memory and Tolerance Museum, in the heart of Mexico City. This museum presents the Jewish genocide under the Nazi regime during World War II. It chronologically informs the visitor the series of events that unfolded into one of the rawest and most violent periods in human modern history: the concentration camps, part of the final solution. Six million Jewish men, women, and children were killed during the Holocaust—two-thirds of the Jews living in Europe before World War II.

The museum also includes a recap of the genocides perpetrated in Rwanda, Armenia, Yugoslavia, Guatemala, Camboya and Darfur. According to the official museum’s website, rescuing memories and data is fundamental for a call against violence. “Never again” (“Nunca más”) can be read in the walls of its rooms, as a call to action. Its premise states that the study and comprehension of genocides like the ones showed is the starting point to develop strategies that will prevent things like the “final solution” to happen ever again.
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“Walking through the horrors of the past is a way to praise the memory of its victims, but also a way to prevent their suffering from being forgotten and that similar episodes hurt human kind again. Look back to learn, learn to never repeat again”.

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Why am I talking about genocide, history and dictatorial regimes when referring to Trump? Because of his speech, the regurgitation of threats thrown at anybody willing to question his stamina as national leader (or the number of people who attended his Inauguration). His words reminded me of those praised by authoritarian tyrants from our recent past. Now, as president of the USA, his executive orders are coming out of the White House one after the other, which set the path to a potential suppression of liberties and rights for the American people, as well as the cracking of an international diplomacy that has been carefully built for decades since the creation of the United Nations.

trump6Trump combines an authoritarian political communication strategy that emulates that of the Ministry of Truth (G Orwell, 1984) , Goebbels propaganda (based on the ‘creation’ of foreign enemies, that derived into a xenophobe national sentiment) and the Monroe Doctrine (“America for the Americans”, justification for the American intervention in developing countries). Him and his team lie, profusely, without hesitation, deliberately, blatantly about anything. Well, they don’t lie, they present “alternative facts”.  Why do they lie?

As Bloomberg’s article written by  Tyler Cowen, Trump’s team lie as a sort of loyalty test: “the leader wishes to mislead the public, and wants to have subordinates doing so, in part because many citizens won’t pursue fact-checking. But that’s the obvious explanation, and the truth runs much deeper” the article reads. trump5

Nationalism as the core of your rhetoric is applauded when coming from developing countries’ leaders willing to fight back globalization and neo-liberalism. Nationalism isn’t a good sign coming from a Great Power like the US (Russia, USA, Japan and China considered the four great powers in the current international arena). Nationalism leads to protectionism, which leads to economic sanctions, then to anger, finally, to the dark side.

Trump’s first steps are focused on closing economic borders, bully the private sector, discredit the media and, surrounded by white supremacists men, make “America Great Again”, no matter what.

Conclusion:

There are still many things Trump has up his sleeve, things that the American Congress will not be able to stop. China seems to be his main concern, and collaborating with Russia appears (as indoctrinated by the Kremlin) to be the only way to fight back Xi Jinping’s position in Asia, where China has the geopolitical balance in its favor. The not-so-dormant dragon has shown little patience to Trump’s not so tacit disobedience of the “One China” policy, and looks ready to fight back (at least on free trade) the American bully.

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I have a bad feeling about this.

Ps- Recommended readings:

 

New York – New York

My last stop in the USA was New York City. The bus drive from DC to NYC was roughly 4 hours. As a cliché as it sounds, my first glance of the city was its skyline. As we crossed through Jersey into the Lincoln Tunnel I got a perfect view of the its skyscrapers.

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NYC view from the Rockefeller Centre

I got to the city around 4pm on Thursday, so as soon as I got off the bus I walked my way up to Harlem (where my Airbnb hosts were waiting for me).

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On my way through Central Park I passed by Broadway, Times Square, the Museum of Modern Art and a lot of tourists. After leaving my bag at my room, I decided that I’d get to know the city just by walking around it. My hostess told me to buy a one week subway pass, around USD 32, super helpful in order to hop on and off the subway if needed.

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Harlem, near Central Park, my temporary ‘Hood’

 

Little China and Little Italy were obliged spots to visit. Little Italy had all these restaurants and grocery stores that would drive any cooking enthusiast like me crazy. I sat down at Sofia’s Little Italy and had a glass of white wine and a wee plate of seafood, as if trying to “blend in” with the locals. Well, the Italians know how to interact with the peasants, it was funny and creepy at the same time how this middle age restaurant host talked to a group of tourists trying to convince them to have a bite at his establishment.

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However, Little China was something else, it was crowded and louder, full of aromas and colours, with produce, meat, fish and other goods literally protruding from their stores into the streets. After almost four years, I finally had a steamed bun with lamb just like the ones I had in Auckland, NZ, soft, tender and full of flavour (as you can tell, food is always the highlight of my trips). Go to Grand St and Chrystie St, and just get in the Ken Hing Food Market or Nam Son, that’s a good taste of China Town’s foundations of its cuisine.

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On Friday night I met up with my friend Patricio (another Mexican abroad) at East Village. We had dinner at Cafe Katja, lots of food, great prices and lounge-ish ambiance. Right after we went to the Il Laboratorio del Gelato where I had an amazing vanilla-cinamon-lavender something gelato, glorious.

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Little Italy

 

Of course, as an International Relations enthusiast (and that’s saying little, I’m passionate about human rights and international relations), I had to got the United Nations building, Ground Zero, Trump Tour (aye, you bet your arse I said “Hi” to the orange dude), the Natural History Museum, among other historical places.

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New York City indeed amazed me, it is bright, loud, flamboyant, liberal, multicultural, epic. In times of Trump and desperation (Aye, those words do go together), NYC, just like San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, DC, serves as a beacon of solidarity, diversity, tolerance and freedom.

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Aye, go to Joe’s pizza, it is famous for a reason.

Ps. Trump finally became the 45th president of the USA… I have a bad feeling about this.

 

 

Washington D.C, Burgers and Mezcal

After my cousin’s wedding I decided that crossing the border into the “US and A” could be a great idea. And it was.

So I took the bus from Toronto to DC (and it was a hell of a long drive),  where I’ll spend at least a day, and then I’ll find my way to New York City by bus or train. Sure thing, greyhound seemed like a good option, but Megabus was far much cheaper, reliable and had more runs, so that’s my recommendation.

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I got to DC on a Wednesday morning at its beautiful Union Station, my first impression about DC is that it was built by and for giants. Must confess that I’ve never been fond of my American neighbours and their nationalistic love for overwhelming monuments and beacons of their glorious history; however, DC is a gorgeous example of grand architecture devoted to enhance the past.

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My good old Mexican friend from University, Sergio, picked me up from the Station and took me to one of Obama’s favourite burger places in DC, Good Stuff Eatery. I helped myself with a “Hillary”, because at that time, mid October, the elections were still on. Beautiful burger, you should definitely try the Prez Obama Burger or their Good Stuff Melt. Serious stuff.

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After that “breakfast” I was on my own, Sergio told me to walk down from The Capitol all the way to the Lincoln Memorial, going around the Tidal Basin by the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

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Jefferson Memorial at Tidal Basin

This is such a great path if you don’t have enough time in DC, as no matter where you are at the National Mall, literally you get to enjoy a great view of everything!

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The Lincoln Memorial is magnificent, as it crowns the National Mall bringing a sublime balance to the whole landscape, overwhelming Capitol Hill as it aligns in perfection to the Washington Monument. It was at the stairs of the Memorial where  I sat down to rest, while hundreds of tourists like me were doing their best to capture a picture of Lincoln’s statue, trying not to hit each other with their selfie-sticks. After a while, I headed to the White House, choosing to walk by the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.

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I look so full of freedom and democracy

That afternoon I had beers and burgers (DC loves its burgers) with a great friend of mine. She is a smart-ass good looking journalist, one of the few people who appreciate my nerdy sense of humour and laughs at pretty much most of my jokes. That was the night of the last debate, mezcal was mandatory in order to hear Trump’s now famous quotes of “Bad Hombres” and “Nasty Woman” (which we all agree are great names for rock bands). Spoiler alert: Trump won the election.

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Or a great Eau de Toilette brand name

Washington DC showed me a different and refreshing face of the “US and A”. Even though I’m a Mexican used to the American “culture”, experiencing something different from LA, Minnesota, or Texas, was needed.

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On Thursday morning I had this wee piece of heaven at the Pretzel Bakery – gorgeous

All that happened in one day. On Thursday morning I was again at Union Station, ready for NYC, and that’s for another post.

Canada, Poutine and Gay Marriage

I have such a bad memory, but my German aunt doesn’t, so she clearly reminded me that it’s been almost 10 years since the last time I set foot on the Great North. So there I was, on the 14th of October, arriving to Toronto Airport, where my cousin Karen and her fiance, Cheyenne, were waiting for me.

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Niagara Falls – Far out, bro! 

Karen and Cheyenne are two wonderful girls, and the most important reason for me being there was their wedding… and eating poutine again! (Poutine is a Canadian dish, originated in the province of Québec, made with French fries and cheese curds topped with a light brown gravy.)

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Lake Ontario 

So there I was, at this beautiful chapel, while Cheyenne was standing there by the atrium, waiting for my uncle to walk my cousin down the aisle. Suddenly, all the attendees stood up, turned to the entrance and there she was, holding my uncle´s arm with a shy smile on her face. My uncle looked proud, happy and, honestly, he brought it, wearing that pretty awesome suit.

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Anyway, where was I? Right, #LoveIsLove and poutine is awesome. So, the ceremony was fantastic and I couldn’t be happier that I got the chance to be there with them.

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Going back to my Canadian experience, well, my neighbours have taken their love for poutine to the next level. While I was there I had pizza topped with poutine, regular poutine, poutine and eggs and I reckon somewhere in Toronto they were selling poutine icecream (this last one might not be real at all).

So, that was part of my abroad experience this 2016. After my cousin’s wedding I crossed the border into the USA, headed to Washington D.C, then to NYC. But that’s for a different post.

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PS: Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, certainly is a beacon of hope for the Americas and the Western countries, as he understands how a global civil society should work together towards development, tolerance, and respect. In times where racist and authoritarian leaders rise in the horizon, we should be suspicious of behaviors that equal to those seen in fascist, nationalist and tyrannical regimes from our recent history.