One of the reasons that I keep my blog going is that there is a lack of historical context about the politics in El Paso that allows certain political factions to build, cultivate and create public personas for future political races. I have previously shown you how individuals, like Veronica Escobar, are allowed to be incubated on the taxpayers’ dime via schemes like the Community Scholars until they are ready to mount a political campaign. In addition, schemes like the Community Scholars allows individuals like Escobar to create a stable of like-minded candidates, like Jose Landeros, to put into positions of power, or run them for office, to keep their public policy agendas in play. There is nothing inherently illegal about how they do it, however their use of community dollars for their agendas is morally wrong and contrary to the ideal of a Democracy.
US politics has evolved into a public relations competition where the public persona becomes the central figure in the political races. Besides the incubation of public officials that I routinely demonstrate, there are also events happening in the background that is seldom seen by the voters. They happen over time and are designed to create a public persona for future candidates or community leaders that helps to keep the public policy agenda in place.
Like many of you, I peripherally watched the Lexmark wage dispute in Juárez the last few months. Wage disputes are complex with many facets driving them. This is especially true in Mexico where labor disputes are governed by a complex mixture of labor laws at the various levels of government and, although diminishing, the power exerted by strong labor unions that have dominated Mexico’s national politics for years. Not to mention the issues of national sovereignty that this latest dispute brought forth with the binational intervention by various groups.
However, my attention to the issue increased when it was announced that the Lexmark workers had settled with Lexmark. It will take a book to explain to you why this is an important settlement so for now I am only going to point out that the settlement is a huge triumph for the grassroots effort that worked behind the scenes to make it happen. You will have to take my word that this is a significant event in Mexico’s wage disputes and it likely the impetus for significant changes in organized labor in Mexico.
The significance of this was not lost on the politicos that suddenly appeared before the news media to take credit for the efforts that led to the settlement. Most of you understand that this is how it is done. What is seldom discussed or pointed out are the behind the scenes efforts to hijack efforts such as this. The hijacking has one purpose – to take credit for the efforts of the hard work by others for business or political purposes.
The Lexmark settlement was accomplished by the labor of many who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to mobilize support, organize outreach, collect funds and keep the news media interested. Above all there is the goal of creating enough pressure on government and corporate officials to force them to capitulate. For every hundred or so of these types of events, very few succeed in bringing attention to their goals and many do not accomplish the primary goal of achieving their intended purpose.
With so little victories, many of these grassroots efforts seldom involve high profile individuals and much less politicos from the onset. Oh, they will tell you that they support the cause and may even offer their faces for media attention, but they seldom get their hands dirty and do actual work.
The worker bees trudge along focused on the goal they intend to achieve. They are the majority working in the trenches while the minority, the politicos do what they do best – pretend to care about the community.
This is true for almost all, if not all, grassroots efforts. When the Lexmark workers settled it caught my attention and I started paying closer attention to my news feeds. Like clockwork, the politicos came out of the woodwork and fought for facetime before the various news media outlets.
And, as I expected, the behind the scenes public perception manipulations started. Yet, something interesting happened, I got to see first-hand how descaradamente (brazenly) some individuals just steal the hard work of others. On the Facebook group, Chucopedia, an exchange caught my attention between a few individuals including Miguel Juárez and Carmen Rodriguez.
For those of you that do not know, Carmen Rodriguez is an attorney who is married to Jose Rodriguez. Jose Rodriguez, as you know, is a current Texas Senator representing El Paso. He was formally the County Attorney during the time that much of the public corruption that sent many public officials to jail was happening at the County. What caught my attention was the brazen attempt by Carmen Rodriguez to take credit for something she had little, to nothing to do with.
I know this because although I was not actively following the Lexmark wage dispute I was routinely, sometimes too routinely, receiving updates about the issue from Miguel Juárez. In the many updates that I received and saw on the news media, I saw many hard workers working behind the scenes. Carmen Rodriguez was not among them.
Yet, as soon as it became apparent that the Lexmark workers issue was a huge victory, Carmen Rodriguez, with the help of others started to create the illusion that she was instrumental in the victory. As with all who steal other people’s hard work, Rodriguez injected herself into the dialog and started to create a false narrative by misusing the Lexmark wage dispute intellectual body of work that was created by the others.
Normally, the worker bees remain silent or are hoodwinked into believing that politicos or figures like Carmen Rodriguez have their best interests in mind and so they play along. Not Miguel Juárez, he had already experienced first-hand how the con works numerous times before, so he called out Carmen Rodriguez out on Facebook for misusing photographs of the Lexmark issue for her own outreach program.
From there ensued a back-and-forth about grassroots efforts and whether it’s about taking credit for the work that was done. As with all grassroots efforts, the effort is manned by diverse groups with different interests and of course each agenda fractured into their own subgroups. What I noticed though, was that Carmen Rodriguez went silent immediately after she was called out and refused to be engaged in the discussion. She let others defend her while she quietly took down the intellectual property she had misused.
Among her defenders was Debbie Nathan, one of the administrators for Chucopedia. Initially, the long thread calling Carmen Rodriguez out for her con, mysteriously disappeared from the Facebook group. Nathan claims she has no idea how it disappeared. When some started asking about the coincidence, Nathan brought back the dialog and added her own comments about how much she admires the work of Rodriguez. What is interesting is that Nathan recounted some history between herself and Rodriguez. Yet, I find it interesting that the dialog first disappears and when questions arise it is put back on by the same administrator the posted glowing comments about Rodriguez. Conveniently, it seems like a conversation was had about silencing the dissent and when it became apparent the disappearing a thread was not working it was brought back along with glowing support for Rodriguez.
I had seen this before and immediately realized what was happening.
I believe that Carmen Rodriguez was attempting to create the illusion that she was highly instrumental in the victory that is the Lexmark wage dispute settlement. As an attorney she would benefit financially by creating a fictional dialog that it was her leadership that led to the victory. It would likely open up a new or bigger revenue stream for her.
But, in addition to her legal work, imagine the following scenario.
In El Paso, mobilizing voters is the hardest thing to do. People are basically lazy and do not vote. Currently, the public policy agenda in El Paso is driven by using public funds to create the illusion of prosperity. To keep the agenda, you need to keep certain politicos in office. They need to win elections.
How do you do this?
Easy, you create an illusion that someone, like Carmen Rodriguez, is the defender of the downtrodden and has a public record to back it up with. Down the road, in a political race not too far from now, either Carmen Rodriguez will endorse the candidate that best defends the needs of the pobrecitos, or she runs for office herself. Her ticket, as the defender of the pobrecitos, is the notion that it was her leadership that led to the victory of the Lexmark wage settlement.
It would be easy for her to maintain this illusion because historical records that explain what really happen seldom exists. As they say, history is written by those who win.
Unfortunately for her, she was called out for her attempt to hijack other peoples’ hard work and this blog has documented that effort for others to consult in the future.