political stuff

Dear President Obama:

I know you’re pretty busy right now and probably don’t have time to listen to a weird, hyperactive college student from Canada, but I assure you that you will be glad that you did, Mr President. Though I often stand impotent in the face of problems in my personal life, I believe I have the solution you have been hoping to find. Now I know it’s been one crisis after another, from uncertainty over whether to act in Syria to the Fiscal Cliff to the Sequester to the Final Shutdown to Obamacare to uncertainty over whether to engage with Iran to Larry Summers to Scientology. Ok that last one is not your problem yet, but I feel it’s making it’s way over to you, you know? Doesn’t all this just make you want to have a nice, smokey cigarette? Oh yeah, your wife sequestered your smoking habit 😥

…or did she shut it down? Or throw it off a fiscal cliff? What would a fiscal cliff even look like in real life? I imagine a mountain of money, and then a cliff just right at the end there. I know I’m off topic now, but I just had to ask. Let’s get back to the business of how I have solved your problem.

You see, Mr President, I fancy myself a modern day Jimmy Swaggart: able to solve the problems of others with the utmost ease while my own life is secretly in the shitter. Excuse my language, Mr President, but I understand that you are friends with Jay Z and therefore may have heard foul language before in your life. How is Jay Z by the way??? Is he enjoying his child and his messy friend Kanye? Do you and Michelle go on double dates with Beyonce and Jay? Sorry–I’m very nosy today!

BFFs ❤

Anyway, let me get to the point. The US is quickly approaching the debt ceiling for the fifteenth time in ten seconds (kidding! LOLZ). There has been talk of minting a trillion dollar coin, but this solution, along with declaring US default unconstitutional, has been nixed for primarily legal reasons but also because Republicans have stupid faces. But you know that, Mr President! In all seriousness, if a solution is not reached soon, the US is at risk of defaulting on its loans, which will roil already unstable markets and leave recipients of social security destitute.

So. There are over 3100 people who define themselves as mathematicians on their tax returns, not to mention the hundreds of thousands more who work as professors and janitors. What you need to do is take some of these people–as many as you can–and let them do some math. Only difference is they’ll be doing it for a useful purpose this time.

Bitcoin! The digital currency favored by drug dealers and libertarians alike. You put about 10,000 mathematicians to work mining Bitcoins, and in no time you will have more crypto-currency than you’ll know what to do with. Bitcoin has just crashed (again) due to the closure of major illegal drug marketplace Silk Road, so you know those Bitcoins will be worth some crazy cheese soon. And I know that there are only 10.5 million Bitcoins left to be mined, as it’s a finite currency, but, as you know, we as a society give our currency value by agreeing that it’s valuable. So, while deflation of Bitcoin is arguably inevitable (and desirable if you’re of the Austrian persuasion), we can mine low and sell high before deflation occurs, thus giving the government sufficient fiat currency to pay its bills. (Where fiat=not psycho-loonytoon currency.) Just don’t spend it too fast, or you’ll prove Rand Paul a wise man. And that would be hard to recover from, both politically and personally.

What a hottie!!

Perhaps you are wondering what the US would do without all those mathematicians working hard to solve…math stuff. Well since the unemployment rate of mathematicians is lower than the national average, you don’t have a sufficient pool to draw from. But guess what? Millions of people are unemployed in the US–just give them the jobs! Like math professor? What’s that? It’s pretty much babysitting a bunch of hungover first-years who are too busy wondering whether they’ve contracted an STI to pay attention. And what does a mathematician do? According to some guy called G. H. Hardy, a mathematician is a “maker of patterns.” So they’re pretty much glorified seamstresses.

Now Mr. President I know you have one more question: What will you do with all the extra time you will have now that you don’t have to bicker with Republicans and keep Biden from talking to the press? Actually still do that second thing… But my advice is for you to take some time. Watch some Hannah Montana with your family, kick back, and enjoy a delicious tar ciggie. Your wife won’t mind–after all, you’ve just saved the world from certain doom.


Kristen P.

Today I need to write about a man who has been on my mind a lot lately. He is a complicated man full of unending paradoxes and rhetorical bluster. And no, it’s not Lil’ Wayne. It’s this guy:

Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, May 14, 2012.

Sean Kilpatrick, The Canadian Press

I have written before about the Harper government’s clumsy way of engaging with the rest of the world, but I want to revisit this topic as Baird has recently spoken at the UN and has been busy unleashing a litany of ominous statements (i.e., threats) about everything from Egypt to zombie invasions.

Not to be outdone, PM Harper visited New York last week ostensibly to advocate for women’s rights and to bolster (…create?) Canada’s business-friendly image, but his real intention was to make obnoxious and unilateral declarations about the Keystone Pipeline. The highlight was when he proclaimed that he “won’t take no for an answer” on the issue. Fair enough, but what’s the plan, pal? Is it to annoy the US Government so much that it acquiesces just to get some peace and quiet? Or will the mighty Canada be going to war with the meek and dovish US? Because despite recent events, they could still totally kick our asses–that should go without saying. But such is the trademark of this government’s foreign policy: making hawkish, impossible to substantiate proclamations. Oh yeah, that and punching above its weight while simultaneously withdrawing from international bodies and peacekeeping efforts. But I digress–let’s let Baird speak:

On Canada vs the US’ friendship with Israel:

“I think the U.S. is a good friend, too,” Baird said. “I like to think we are better.” Because it’s a contest and we win forever and ever wheeee!!!! BFFs ❤

On the ongoing detention of two Canadians in Egypt:

“I stated in no uncertain terms that this was a significant problem in our bilateral relations,” Baird said. To which Egypt’s interim government replied, “oh shit, really? We’ll release them right away then!”

On the recent improvement in US-Iran relations:

“Kind words, a smile and a charm offensive are not a substitute for real action.” Well that explains Baird’s public speaking style, as well as this picture:

John Baird a réitéré que les Nations unies... (Photo: PC)

Presse Canadienne

In response to the Pope’s appeal to G20 leaders to work together to find a nonmilitary solution to the Syrian conflict:

“I have high regard for His Holiness and appreciate his thoughts.” Translation: Who let this hippie past security? Bomb the shit out of Assad, Obama–Canada offers you moral support! But just so you know, we’re still better friends with Israel than you–Netanyahu snapchats me on the regular. HAHA!

But sometimes, just to complicate my frustration with his anti-diplomacy, Baird says nice things that I like.

On Russia’s anti-gay legislation:

“This mean-spirited and hateful law will affect all Russians 365 days of the year, every year. It is an incitement to intolerance, which breeds hate. And intolerance and hate breed violence.” This comment makes me want to hug the dude, despite his distinctively un-cuddly (not to mention un-photogenic) demeanor.

On the looming specter of a zombie apocalypse:

“Canada will never become a safe haven for zombies.” Well, he’s back in hawk mode, but perhaps this is the one area in which a foreign affairs minister should always be hawkish…to be honest, I’m pale enough without having to deal with a complete loss of blood flow.

Courtesy of AMC’s the Walking Dead

I am bitterly disappointed by many things in this world. During my morning run today I saw at least ten things on CP24 that deeply troubled me, most of them having to do with Syria and the asinine presidents of Venezuela and Russia’s reactions. On a smaller scale, I am disappointed that Liberte no longer makes 2.1% un-Greek coconut yogurt, and that three out of every four Golden Girls are dead. And don’t even get me started on dinosaurs or Data’s death!!

But nothing in this world has disappointed me more consistently than my adopted country of origin, Mexico. I was born September 15, which is when Mexicans begin celebrating the Grito de Dolores (the beginning of their revolt from the Spaniards). In other words, my birthday is the day when Mexico gets really, really messy.

So it’s fitting that I have always had a special relationship with Mexico. I watch its telenovelas, I listen to its music, I single-handedly keep Corona in business, and, yes, I’ve been known to see a Mexican man or two in my time.

Now anyone who has been following the events in Mexico for any amount of time is likely pretty horrified, as am I. Ciudad Juarez had/has the murder rate of a war zone. The police force is so corrupt and ineffectual that vigilante groups are popping up all over the country. The state of Michoacan is in danger of being overtaken by drug cartels. Many of the candidates in recent elections faced violence and some were murdered. And now the one bright spot–the miraculous “Pacto por Mexico” project of cooperation between the three major political parties, the PRI, PAN, and PRD–is in danger of derailment due to an ugly spat over the privatization of Pemex, the state-owned oil behemoth.

But many of these problems have been argued and lamented over for years. The violence in Mexico has been turning my stomach pretty much ever since I had a stomach to turn, and the nation is certainly no stranger to failed state speculation. The thing is that now the one thing that President Pena Nieto said his government would be good at, the economy, is also falling into the shitter. This is purportedly due to a weak export market in the States, but I don’t know why anyone even feels the need to make excuses: how can the economy function, let alone grow, when much of the country is in a constant state of chaos and insecurity?!

At the outset of his mandate, Pena Nieto vowed to focus on the economy; economic prosperity, he claimed,  would be the key to solving the country’s grave security issues. (Though he has also outlined a comprehensive security strategy.) By severely downplaying the situation, he attempted to attract foreign investors, and official crime stats since he took office have been promising. However, this is probably due to factors outside of his control: his predecessor Calderon took down many of the major narcos in his bloody and ill-advised war on drugs. Even more worrying is the PRI’s history of cooperation (for a price) with the cartels, which makes me wonder how much of violent crime reduction is due to the PRI returning to old ways. I have my suspicions, but I haven’t seen any coverage of this issue in mainstream media, so I’m not sure how concerned I should be.

So as I’ve previously mentioned, Mexico would do well to diversify its export market away from the States, but it really needs to deal with the crazy shit happening inside its borders, and it probably needs some help to do that. Some of what should be done lies with the US–gun control and drug legalization would be a nice start, but good luck getting anything accomplished in that partisan cesspool. And Mexico’s regulators should use this rare moment of harmony to focus on creating a strategy to deal with the violence instead of squabbling over oil.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I am not really disappointed by Mexico, as most Mexicans are not actively and maliciously attempting to take down their own country. I am disappointed by the events that always seem to conspire against Mexico, and I am disappointed that its neighbors to the north are too self-involved to care. I am disappointed that I cannot go there and start a new life without wondering if my severed head will be put on a stick outside of a nightclub at some point–and that’s one of the better ways to die.

Also, I am disappointed that Jaime Camil doesn’t seem to be aging as gracefully as I’d hoped. Yowza!

Seriously, Jamito, get it together…or not. A few days ago, a Mexican man I used to date proudly declared that he was a player. I asked him why, and his response? “Baby, soy latino!” Way to ruin it for everyone else, man. Just one more thing to add to the pile of Mexican disappointments.

Some of the press regarding Croatia’s accession to the European Union has been cautiously optimistic, but the general tone is downright gloomy. Almost all reports express concern over Croatia getting caught up in the debt crisis, and one report in the Guardian reveals that “some economists” think that Croatia will ask for a bail-out almost immediately. However many of the worries expressed over Croatia’s accession to the EU are the product of flawed reasoning: there is no reason to believe that either party will be harmed, and there is every reason to believe that EU membership will be a force for good in Croatia and throughout the Balkans.

Fears of crisis contagion, both from Croatia to the EU and vice versa, are unfounded. It is true that both parties are experiencing difficult economic moments, to say the least, but this development will not harm them. Some images in the news of a commemorative coin in Croatia’s currency, the kuna, gave me a scare: for a while I was under the impression that Croatia would be adopting the Euro. If this were the case, then there would certainly be cause for concern. Poor countries in the eurozone are hurt the worst by crises due to their lack of control over monetary policy. A struggling Greece cannot let its currency fall to make its exports more competitive, nor can it cut interest rates to encourage economic activity. The Euro and interest rates are kept up due to (kind of) flourishing economies in other regions. However, since Croatia is keeping its currency, lack of control over monetary policy is not a concern.

Furthermore, I cannot imagine how EU membership would somehow cause Croatia to get caught in the debt crisis. The sovereign debt crisis was (is) a product of a complex chain of events, but the reason that countries have had trouble emerging from crisis is due again to a lack of control over their own currencies. In countries where excessive debt was a concern, rates rose to unsustainable levels since investors saw an increased risk of default because countries could not print currency to service debts in a worst-case scenario. But since Draghi famously vowed to do “whatever it takes” to save the Euro, markets have calmed down for the most part. Of course, Romania had trouble selling its own bonds in Romanian lei, which led to a bail-out in 2009, but this had more to do with the country’s flat-lining credit rating and ongoing political instability. Either way, if Croatia is going to have a problem issuing debt, its EU membership will not worsen the situation. Conflating the debt issuance woes of southern Europe with those of nations with sovereign currencies is lazy and harmful.

There are concerns that Croatia will need a bail-out as soon as it accedes. These “concerns” are voiced in a mildly accusatory manner that makes it seem as if the nation has been negotiating for EU entry for a decade just so it can have access to rescue funds. And that’s a load of hooey! Croatia’s president acknowledges that his country is struggling, with unemployment above 20%, but if the reforms required of it by the EC are indeed designed to make countries more stable and less vulnerable to collapse (ahem), then there should be no issue. Furthermore, the image of a ruined Croatia waiting until it gets into the EU to ask for funds makes no sense, since the majority of rescue funds provided by members are reserved for eurozone countries. When Romania was bailed out in 2009, the IMF was its creditor, helped by the World Bank with a little more thrown in by the EU’s development bank. How sneaky of Croatia, to lie in waiting for ten years just to receive a bail-out that it could have received anyway. Grow up, guys!

The one threat I cannot speak to is that pesky banking crisis that seems fond of taking down even the most innocuous of nations (see: Cyprus). This report gives some clues, but in general I’m going to conclude that Croatia is not a tax haven for rich Russians. Please someone let me know if I am wrong. In general, though, Croatia’s finances are quite solid, with a debt-to-GDP ratio far below the EU average.

There are also those who question whether the EU is already too large. While the eurozone’s troubles can be ascribed to too large a monetary union, the EU will not suffer from expansion. It seems that, again, a conflation of the eurozone’s challenges with those of the EU has occurred. There are a paltry 5 million people in Croatia. It is part of Europe. The EU should expand until all European countries have joined, or it should rename itself.

And now for the good: membership in the EU will provide Croatia, and eventually all of the Balkans, with a wonderful sense of belonging to Europe, both politically and geographically. It will provide further trade and economic opportunities (though the government should help local producers remain competitive, at least at first). And, most importantly, it holds countries to human rights standards that they would never adhere to without the immediate threat of being turfed out. It is especially important to have this stabilizing force in the Balkans, where regional divides and memory of war are still very present. While I’m not the biggest fan of the monetary union, I think the EU is a fantastic way for nations to integrate politically and economically, and an experiment in multinational governance that will hopefully serve as a template for a world government someday.

So to all the naysayers: stop raining on Croatia’s parade!

New revelations made by whistleblower Edward Snowden make three things abundantly clear:

1. Nations are so interconnected in a post-globalization world that things like financial crises and government scandals can no longer be contained within borders. The  far-reaching effects that a housing crash in the United States had throughout the world is attributed to “linkage,” the idea that financial shocks in one country are swiftly transferred to others because of the interconnectedness of modern markets. Financial markets of nations as diverse as Japan, Spain, and Russia were adversely affected, and GDP growth charts for a vast majority of countries show a marked decline around 2008, though the severity of the downturn depended on how big a stake that country had in the US housing market by way of mortgage-backed securities, as well as how much it relied on trade with the US.

Taken together, these charts suggest that we are all in this together. A disaster in one developed country (especially one with the largest economy in the world) has grave consequences both for emerging markets and other developed nations. But what Snowden’s most recent revelations suggest is that technology is creating political linkage among some nations, and that when the abuse of this technology is made public, this creates a domino-like scandal that threatens to seriously discredit more than one government.

The allegations that the British eavesdropping agency GCHQ used unsavory tactics to intercept communications from Turkey, South Africa, and Russia, as well as collaborating with US forces to tap the Russian President’s phone in 2009 should surprise no one; however, it suggests that more countries are probably involved in aggressive surveillance than formerly suspected. (There is now concern in Canada about both the effects of PRISM and the Canadian government’s use of data.) As citizens look to the US and begin asking questions about the surveillance tactics of their governments, the answers they come up with may be far more complicated and, well, scandalous than they imagine.

Of course, the information we receive about this scandal is brought to us via technological means. The ease with which information can be transmitted across the world in seconds is the cause of the linkage in financial markets, and the reason that events in one country now have a far greater impact than before.

2. Snowden’s allegations against the NSA and GCHQ confirm what we already suspected anyway: that regulation has not caught up to the great strides made in technological development in the past 20 years. It is hotly debated whether or not the NSA’s actions were constitutional, and as the GCHQ story breaks, no one seems to know if what they did is legal, or even ethical. This is unsurprising–it’s not like the US Constitution has amendments pertaining to the use of Facebook data by the government, and while the Constitution was meant to be interpreted, things have changed so radically since then that perhaps some new ground rules are needed (though the NSA may have violated the Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens against unreasonable search and seizure).

And as for the ethics of cyber-attacks and use of personal data, I’m pretty sure Kant has a chapter on that somewhere, but I seem to have misplaced it. His Categorical Imperative might give us some useful insight into the moral dilemma posed by a state defending its citizens by infringing on their privacy–Kant hated moral inconsistency and would likely conclude that citizens either have a right to privacy, or they don’t. It’s easy to replace Kant’s famous murderer who asks which way his intended victim went with a vague image of a terrorist and conclude that moral rules cannot be violated even when the outcome is desirable (i.e. the ends never justify the means). Conor Friedersdorf makes some wonderful points about this in his article for The Atlantic.

3. The combination of informational linkage and lack of comprehensive regulation for both domestic and international uses of technology by governments signals that the day is fast approaching when we will need an international regulatory body recognized by every country in the world. It is needed partly due to rampant moral hazard among nations. Mexico bears the cost of lax gun regulation in the US; pollution engendered in one country can adversely affect another; and spy agencies act unilaterally, knowing they won’t be held accountable by their own governments, much less their victims.

While international bodies do exist, they range from mildly ineffective to superfluous, especially in regard to setting badly needed guidelines for information sharing. And how has international law helped in the capture of Mr. Snowden, who has chosen to hide first in China and now in Russia? A scandal involving one security leak now threatens to escalate into a full-blown diplomatic crisis–the butterfly effect has never been so potent! With domestic affairs so radically altered by international affairs due to technological integration, it is imperative that world leaders step up to the task of creating an international regulatory body; if they fail to do so, they may soon lose control of what happens inside their borders, too.

The recent closure of Greece’s public broadcaster, the Hellenistic Broadcasting Corp., or ERT, is just the latest turn on a path that seems increasingly destined to lead to fascism, or at least extremism, for much of southern Europe.

To be sure, in the 1970s the channel was used by the totalitarian government as a means to transmit propaganda, but in today’s Greece, where privately owned media outlets have two settings: dead or dying, it represents one of the last bastions of information dissemination to the public. Upon closer examination of the circumstances that have led to its closure, it becomes clear that Samaras sees this as an “easy” (i.e. less painful than the other options) way to make it to the goal of firing 15,000 civil servants, which was part of the terms under which the “Troika” bailed out Greece. Twenty-seven hundred civil servants have lost their jobs in one fell swoop; while this does indeed go a long way toward achieving the questionable goal of 15,000 firings, one may wonder if it is the best course of action to pump even more unemployed into a floundering economy. Greece’s civil service was bloated, but the government will now have to pay more in entitlements, and now more people will lose jobs because unemployed people make lousy consumers.

But economic concerns are not even the central issue here. The media performs a crucial function in a democracy, and if it is allowed to go silent, a breeding ground for extremism and other undemocratic ghouls will be created. Greece’s third most popular party is already the terrifying Golden Dawn, a neo-Nazi party with xenophobic and fascist inclinations that exploits agrarian Greeks’ ignorance of Greek history, according to the Guardian. Shutting down the ERT will only exacerbate ignorance in the absence of reliable information about national affairs.

The part of this story that stings the worst is that Samaras did not just wake up and decide that the ERT was no longer providing a useful service in the Greek democracy. Samaras has been forced to take this decision by the aforementioned Troika: the European Commission, the IMF, and European Central Bank. Essentially what is happening here is that Greece’s politicians are being forced to take decisions that neither they nor Greek citizens want–this is an egregious affront to Greek sovereignty, as Greece is now being run by groups that Greeks did not even elect!

When countries joined the Euro currency, they explicitly agreed to give up power over monetary policy, thus implicitly sacrificing a small measure of sovereignty. However, recent events have made it clear that in many cases this arrangement means giving up much of their political sovereignty, as when a country falls on hard times and cannot compensate by adjusting monetary policy or devaluing its currency (Greece’s former favorite party trick), it must appeal to the Troika for help and in turn play by its austere rules. Few foresaw a situation quite so acute as the one that has come to pass, in which an inability to control monetary policy erodes entire democracies.

Portugal’s democracy, too, bears the scars of savage lending requirements. After deeming Portugal’s public service sector heavily bloated, its lenders demanded the Constitution be changed in order to facilitate savage cuts. In this scenario, Portugal’s Constitution is an inconvenient roadblock to the implementation of policies that aren’t aimed at helping Portuguese citizens, but rather at convincing lenders that Portugal is atoning for past (perceived) sins. Eurocrats testily call it the “last socialist constitution in Europe,” but what they seem to mean is that there is no market value to a welfare state.

That austerity cuts are so severe that they are ruled unconstitutional (albeit by “socialist” courts) should be a red flag. Perhaps Portugal’s Constitution is idealist; still, it was drafted by elected officials who had a vision of how they wanted their democracy to look, and now it is threatened with being torn apart by eurocrats unconcerned with the well-being of its citizens, just as long as Portugal projects an image of fiscal responsibility. Unfortunately, this puts Portugal in danger of falling prey to right-wing extremists that harness the populace’s discontent with how they are being treated: these are just the conditions that allowed Hitler to take power in the 1930s!

Unfortunately, Euro membership in hard times necessitates giving up more sovereignty than countries bargained for, and the erosion of sovereignty is proving a threat to democracy in some countries. A policy modification may be on the horizon, seen in the IMF’s changing attitude toward austerity and its handling of bail-outs, but it may not be enough. A half-in, half-out mentality by creditor countries must be eradicated–as Draghi did, they too must commit to doing “whatever it takes” to preserve the Euro, giving more and intervening less in countries’ domestic affairs. Though creditor countries are the beneficiaries of the troubled economies of their neighbors, which keep the Euro down and help exports, they must weigh these benefits against the cost of keeping these neighbors (barely) afloat, along with the unbearable consequences of allowing fascism to flourish in the eurozone.

I’m feeling extremely scattered today, so I thought it would be a good time to publish this piece. I love Mexico partly because of its enigmatic nature. I can rarely succinctly summarise what is going on there, politically or otherwise, and when I am actually in the country I understand even less. I believe that this is because Mexico is a country that defies easy definition.

So it is only fitting that I have written an article with which I’m sure some, though not all, Mexicans would disagree. I wish now that I had acknowledged the unrest that did continue after Pena Nieto’s election–first from residual #yosoy132 protests, but now from teachers in Guerrero furious over a proposed education reform. Compounded with lawless chaos in Michoacan and the usual disappearances (though new, “revised” figures released by the government claim that many less disappeared than was thought), Mexico’s grave security problems are adding another facet to the general unrest there.

In depicting #yosoy132 as a failed movement, I was mainly drawing upon what I observed of the trajectory of the #occupywallst movement. I would be interested to know if #yosoy132 continues to be active. The bias of this article is likely a reflection of my skepticism regarding the capacity of people to effect change through revolutionary means, as well as a general pessimism toward human nature. I am quite fond of people, but I deeply doubt their ability to act rationally or in their own best interest. I also had the opportunity to read many interviews with Mexicans on this subject, and many were dismissive of the staying power of the movement. So with that in mind, here is my take on the events that led up to the 2012 election of Enrique Pena Nieto:

Mexican Winter

After igniting a flurry of protest, the #yosoy132 movement comes to naught

At its peak, the #yosoy132 movement was billed as the “Mexican Spring.” Social media sites were inundated with a steady stream of high revolutionary rhetoric, and mass demonstrations throughout Mexico made it seem indisputable that a new era of participatory democracy had dawned in Mexico.

Almost a year on, this is no longer the case. The movement has fallen into obscurity as the protestors’ pet target, PRI presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto, has taken power. A visit to the movement’s official website defines #yosoy132 as a “social network.” This is fitting, if not ironic, as the movement spread primarily through social networks—that it was able to circumvent traditional media channels was hailed as proof of the movement’s mettle.

Last June, this scenario would have been unimaginable. The movement began when, on a campaign stop at the Ibero-American University in Mexico City, students grilled Peña Nieto about an incident in which, as governor of the state of Mexico, he authorised police to use excessive force on protestors, resulting in two deaths and numerous human rights violations. His answers did not appease the students, whose ire forced Peña Nieto to hide in the bathroom and sneak out the back door.

As more disenfranchised groups joined its ranks, #yosoy132 became a fragmented movement lacking a unified message. One of the only common grievances was the political influence that media conglomerate Televisa enjoys in Mexico.

Mexicans elected Peña Nieto anyway, and since he was sworn in December of last year, everyone seems to be on board—or at least indifferent—as the President tones down his predecessor’s “war on drugs” rhetoric, declares Mexico open for business, and selectively targets corrupt officials.

Peña Nieto’s once-vocal detractors have gone quiet. One theory is that this silence is forced. #yosoy132 spokesperson Aleph Jiménez disappeared in September of last year only to re-emerge days later, claiming that threats on his life had forced him into hiding. However, it is unlikely that the PRI would risk drawing attention back to protestors just as public interest in them had begun to wane. Any threats are probably unsanctioned by PRI officials.

Another spokesperson, Antonio Attolini, has (ironically) been given his own television program on Televisa, while many of the students that fuelled the movement have simply lost interest. In a trajectory reminiscent of the #occupywallst movement and, to some extent, the Arab Spring, the more noise that is made, the more deafening the silence after it is realised that change initiated by social media must be backed up by real world action, too.