Leon Krauze at PostGlobal

Leon Krauze


Leon Krauze is a Mexican blogger and a founder of letraslibres.com. Close.

Leon Krauze


Leon Krauze is a Mexican blogger and a founder of letraslibres.com. more »

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February 9, 2009 2:42 PM

"Waltz with Bashir": Israel's Heavy Burden

The Current Discussion: The Academy Awards are coming, and an Indian movie, "Slumdog Millionaire," could win best picture. But what are we overlooking? What's the best non-Hollywood movie you saw this year?

"Waltz with Bashir" was, hands down, the best non-Hollywood movie I saw this year. It's not only visually imaginative but also heart-breaking. The movie represents an exercise in national introspection. It is also an admirable and deeply artistic act of contrition. What happened at Sabra and Shatila in the early eighties has long been a burden on the conscience of Israel. This movie's power comes from its unflinching willingness to see the brutality of war directly in the eye, with all the complexities and contradictions it entails. By the end of the movie, when director Ari Folman finally breaks away from animation and takes the audience near the dead, one can feel the weight of guilt and then, strikingly, something close to an authentic catharsis. The world now waits for a similar exercise from a moderate Islamic filmmaker.

December 29, 2008 10:28 AM

In Mexico, Hope Lies With the Voters

It's hard to predict much good news coming from Mexico in 2009. For two years now -- and for far longer, as we all know --Mexico has been at war.

Back in 2006, President Calderón began his administration facing what were, in fact, two Mexicos: one licit and one illicit. In much of the northern part of the country, the drug Cartels have built a parallel State, with its own tax system, informal welfare programs and "police" force.

The truth is, Mexico was well on its way towards becoming a failed nation. It might still be.

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July 1, 2008 10:14 AM

Attack On Iran? It Won't Happen

The Current Discussion:Seymour Hersh reports a $400 million U.S. covert action program against Iran. On a scale of 1 to 10, what's the likelihood of an American or Israeli military attack on Iran before Jan. 20 (Inauguration Day), and why? For extra points, name the date.

I can think of three reasons why George W. Bush will not attack Iran.

The first reason is the economy. With gas prices breaking records in the United States, the economy is bound to be the main issue facing the American electorate in November (with the exception of a terrorist attack happening soon, of course). Just last week, when markets heard of the supposed Israeli preparations for an attack against Iran, oil prices immediately went up an additional four dollars per barrel. Can the Bush administration really afford to send the world into an even deeper energy-related crisis? I doubt it.

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March 3, 2008 10:14 AM

Hollywood, Alive and Well

The Current Discussion: All four Oscars for best acting went to non-Americans. Is Hollywood's cultural hegemony finally breaking up? Or are we Hollywoodizing foreign talents like Javier Bardem and Marion Cotillard?

While it’s true that the four actors who won Oscars on Sunday are all non-Americans, all but one of the films in which they worked were produced in Hollywood. The American cinema machine is alive and well. What was interesting in this year’s Oscars was the much-needed comeback of grown-up movies. Cinema is the most powerful of all media, even more so than television, which lacks the former’s reach and enduring emotional impact. That’s why it was satisfying to see Hollywood reward the serious and relevant work of men like the Coen brothers, Tony Gilroy and Paul Thomas Anderson. All their movies did what cinema does when it becomes art: they held a mirror in front of a turbulent and violent world.

It’s a good year for movies when the audience gets to see and reflect on characters like Anton Chigurh and Daniel Plainview, both symbolic of the world we now live in. And it’s certainly a great year for Hollywood when Cormac McCarthy, the most grown-up of all grown-up American novelists, sits smack in the middle of the second row at the Oscars.

January 4, 2008 10:41 AM

Dear Candidates: Visit Ellis Island

The Question: The U.S. starts to choose a president this week. If you could send the candidates one message, what would it be?

I have been following the growing anti-immigrant rhetoric in both political parties and some of the American media. As a Mexican who has studied and lived in the United States and who admires the country, I find the whole thing not only sad but deeply unworthy of America’s history. The United States has an obligation to the world and to itself of finding ways to be both politically imaginative and humane. The nativist and xenophobic tone that has transformed the immigration issue into borderline racism forgets the way America was forged. The United States is one of the few countries on Earth which can pride itself on its diverse social fabric. To walk the streets of America today is to witness, firsthand, how opportunity and social mobility work: languages, flavors and, yes, skin tones, merge in admirable harmony. That’s the way it’s always been. To listen to the likes of Tom Tancredo is sickening and confounding to anyone who has taken the time to seriously study American history. That is why, as the primaries begin, I would like to invite the presidential candidates to a tour of Ellis Island. A ride on the ferry costs only eight dollars (six for seniors).

And a quick note. I am not ignoring the role of the Mexican government on immigration. My country’s leadership has failed in two crucial regards: acknowledging the importance of border security in the post-9/11 world, and working harder to improve conditions in rural Mexico. But that is another matter entirely.

December 6, 2007 4:03 PM

Viva The Other Left

I sure hope that Hugo Chavez’s defeat in Sunday’s referendum will indeed be the beginning of the end of the Venezuelan autocrat’s version of Latin American leftism. But perhaps even more important than Chavez’s eventual downfall would be the vindication of the region’s other brand of leftist thought.

More than a battle between left and right, Latin America has long been immersed in a struggle between chavismo, or old-fashioned populism, and chilenismo, or forward-looking, open social democracies. As several of the region’s intellectuals have pointed out, chavismo has been winning the fight mostly due to its Venezuelan patron saint’s oil-enriched coffers and the region’s weird fascination with revolutionary leaders – our infatuation with “Che-chic”, if you will. My hope is that Chavez’s loss – and his recent, demented outbursts against King Juan Carlos and Colombia’s president Uribe – will begin to expose the man for what he really is: a populist narcissist.

That could start some sort of domino-effect. Nothing could benefit Latin America’s transition more than for the region as a whole to have a solid, modern left. Mexico itself badly needs it. My own country’s democratic transition will not be complete until Mexico’s disjointed leftist party moves away from the Chavez like figure of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and embraces the sort of tolerant and advanced left that has led Chile’s modernization. Maybe then we’ll see Ricardo Lagos’s picture printed on t-shirts. That would be the day…

October 15, 2007 9:45 AM

Isolation Won’t Heal Turkey’s Wounds

The U.S Congress has made a big mistake. On paper, the resolution to denounce as genocide the killing of 1.5 million Armenians in early-twentieth century Turkey sounds like a no-brainer. As Jon Stewart said yesterday, in that inane, unfortunate politically correct mode he sometimes embraces: “A resolution condemning genocide? Uh, I think you gotta go ‘yes’ with that one!”

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August 27, 2007 3:48 PM

More Public Transit, Fewer Grand Monuments

Mexico City’s pollution troubles are well known. The city’s 22 million people live inside an immense valley that holds noxious waste just like a pressure cooker. The main source of this environmental chaos is the four million cars that clog the city’s roads day in and day out. The sorry state of our public transportation doesn’t help much, either. It is not uncommon to find people whose daily journey to work takes up to three or four hours and involves every mode of transportation known to man: from suburban trains to subways, large buses to smaller vans, all in a morning’s commute. The city’s subway system is capable but insufficient: vast areas of town -- and its sprawling suburbs -- are not covered by the network.

One would think that, in a city this size, the government would focus almost obsessively on the development of public transportation. Unfortunately, Mexico City has become a fashionable stepping stone towards the country’s presidency, thus encouraging its governor to develop fancy, visible infrastructure that might earn votes and populist cheers but do nothing to solve the city’s troubles. Such was the case of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s, former governor and then presidential candidate, who built a gargantuan "second floor" of the Periferico, the city’s main urban highway, that cost at least six hundred million dollars -- and four years of indescribable headaches -- to erect.

As in any major city, the only way to get people to stop driving here is to give them other viable options. While the city’s governors -- be they left or right, conservative or liberal -- continue to use the place as a political launching pad, precious little will be done to fix the gridlock that will have me, in around 15 more minutes, nursing my daily back pain while moving ever so slowly in traffic.

July 23, 2007 12:16 PM

This Summer, Try Horror!

This summer, I have decided to go back to my late adolescence and read some horror literature (what better way to deal with terrorism that to read about ghosts and demons while walking down Broadway?). A friend of mine recommended a couple of books that I have just finished reading: "A Heart Shaped Box" by Joe Hill, and "A Good and Happy Child" by Justin Evans. My rule with scary books (and films) has always been this: if they can give me one good scare -- one adrenaline sting, one good, old-fashioned hair rising – they've made the grade.

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July 6, 2007 10:04 AM

Not Roman Military, but Same Arrogance

The question asked by PostGlobal editors this week stems from “Are we Rome?”, Cullen Murphy’s book comparing the United States to the Roman empire. Anyone who reads Murphy’s powerful book will have a long list of examples in which America does indeed resemble Rome: an over-stretched military, increasing mistrust of government, fear of immigrants, even America’s obsession with celebrities (Paris Hilton would fit right in among the decadent Roman elite).

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