Nothing To See Here…
A few days ago, I wrote about how difficult it is to take people seriously when they can’t be bothered to get some very simple facts straight.
When pressed to supply precedents for foreigners being deported from Mexico for involving themselves in politics, the author of this Yucatan Living article cited the case of Gianni Proiettis, an Italian professor in Chiapas who was deported in April, ostensibly for having a lapsed FM2 visa (though this was, in fact, not the case.)
The author of said Yucatan Living article went on to explain why Gianni Proiettis was deported:
We had to turn a shovelful of earth to find the most recent notable deportation of a foreigner for perceived political activities: Gianni Proiettis, an expat anthropology professor at the Autonomous University of Chiapas (UNACH), was arrested on April 15 and deported on April 16, 2011….
According to La Jornada, professor Proiettis’ only offense was to be “fortuitously” photographed in Cancun “near a group that was protesting against President Felipe Calderón at the world summit on climate change”. Proiettis was picked-up by government agents, interrogated, and released. He was re-arrested several days later and accused of being an “alleged narcomenudista“, but Mexican officials reassuringly stated ‘’(His arrest) was due to confusion” and he was released again. Four months later, when professor Proiettis had his final FM2 renewal appointment, he was arrested and deported, with no official reason given. Professor Proiettis and press reports describe the only factual justification for deporting him was his documented proximity to a protest of Calderon at the world summit on climate change…
Clearly, since only one side of the story is available, there could have been other factors at work, but the deported person’s reports and journalists’ reports of him being near a protest are the best sources available in this recent case.
However, even when it was breaking news back in April, the “other side” of the story was not only available, and completely known by Hugo and myself and a number of our friends (it was the topic of a great many dinner conversations,) it was rather widely publicized that Proiettis was a journalist working for the communist Italian newspaper, Il Manifesto.
And even yesterday, it took all of two minutes on Google to not only come up with a number of sources detailing Proiettis’ long career as a human rights journalist, a vocal supporter of the Zapatistas, and an outspoken critic of President Calderon, but to find the smoking gun itself, a link to Gianni’s blog showing all that he wrote in 2010 and 2011 that ultimately got him deported, all of which is still available online, including a number of inflammatory anti-Calderon articles that he published after his initial arrest in Cancun.
(It’s in Italian, though you don’t need Google Translate to discern the meaning of phrases like “Un presidente elitista o etilista?” and how these could be construed as political involvement. [Hint: etilista means ‘alcoholic.’])
In other words, the Yucatan Living author’s assertion that his sources were the “best sources available” is complete nonsense, and if you’re wondering why Gianni Proiettis was deported, all you have to do is look at his blog.
You’d think, in the interest of accuracy, those who have charged themselves with informing the public would jump on this opportunity to present the truth, especially when it’s no secret that Yucatan Living is the most widely-read expat blog in Merida and a resource that many expats rely on for good information. And while it’s a little early to call and I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, I’m wondering if that comment is ever going to be published, because I submitted two comments about Proiettis last night and, as I write this, only one has been approved, as well as two more recent comments from other readers; one that was approved this morning, and another this afternoon:
Between the ignorant, alarmist remarks about Proiettis, whose purpose seems only to frighten people and to support the author’s initial uninformed claims, and the revelation that it is, in fact, not the Geneva Convention that ensures consular benefits to people arrested in foreign countries, it’s beginning to look like virtually no part of this article represents the truth.
Which is sad, because I believe its point is still valid, and I do agree that expats have no business being anywhere near a protest in progress. Still, all it would have taken to write a good, solid article without these rather simple (but important) errors is a few minutes spent on Google.
UPDATE: Anyone who has read a newspaper or magazine knows that professional journalists run corrections and issue retractions when their words are proven to be demonstrably false. I just noticed that since I started writing criticisms of their piece, Yucatan Living has deleted the link to this site that originally accompanied my commenter name in my first comment on their article, though they still have yet to do it on my most recent comment (you might want to get on deleting that as soon as possible, you guys):
Cowardly moves like this only serve to underscore that Yucatan Living is more interested in appearing “right” than supplying their readers with accurate information, and set a precedent that when you prove, with reliable sources and citations, that Yucatan Living made a serious mistake in their handling of a topic, you can expect to be squelched.