Photo Globe & Mail.


What is D-Day and who still knows about it in Canada, let alone in the USA, Britain, France, and Germany? And why is that so important?


Good questions. The Globe and Mail published two articles in its weekend edition about the 75-year anniversary of this event, which turned the tide of the battle of the Allies against Hitler and his Nazi regime.


It seems irrelevant to think back of the past, so long ago, and the old divisions in the world and long-dead soldiers. Anybody who saw the movies Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers will have some idea what happened, and that there was a bad war, once.

Between the Raptors, Trump’s shenanigans, the failing trade agreement between America, Canada, and Mexico, the China problem, environmental degradation, Genocide of Indigenous Peoples—there are just too many issues in the present competing for our attention.


Although I am not trying to deceive you, like AG Barr with his summary of the Muller report, here’s a summary of the articles, although it’s best to read them yourself.

The author Jerry Amenic wrote a dystopian book on the premise that nobody knew any more about the World War II after the last veteran of that war had died, but the publisher rejected it on the grounds that premise was unbelievable. So, to prove the publisher wrong, he set out with a videographer to interview students at a Toronto university and asked them questions about the Holocaust.

From The Globe & Mail, Jerry Amenic:

“On June 6, 1944, the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division penetrated further inland at Juno Beach on D-Day (on the coast of Normandy, Northern France) than did the Yanks or Brits at the four beaches they tackled.”

“The biggest military invasion in history, D-Day turned the tide of the Second World War. The 359 Canadian dead and 715 wounded were among 10,000 Allied casualties that day, and next week is the 75th anniversary. It will be the last one with actual veterans, which means there will soon be no more witnesses and that can be a dangerous thing.”

“We all know the words Lest we forget, but I fear that young people today know little, if anything, about D-Day and the Second World War. This became obvious to me when I taught college. They just don’t know. But when the last combatant is gone, knowing what happened and why it happened will be crucial.”

“We asked them about the Allies. We asked if they knew about Churchill and FDR. We asked about D-Day. With few exceptions, these kids knew practically nothing. The video we made has gone viral around the world. When I asked if they knew what happened on D-Day, their responses ranged from, “It happened in England,” to “It was a place where a lot of bombs went off,” to them just shaking their heads.”

“Two weeks ago, I attended the funeral of Milton Berger. He was 94. Milt was a long-time Toronto city councillor and we met when I was a young newspaper reporter covering municipal politics. He was also the father-in-law of a close friend. Milt was said to be the first Holocaust survivor to serve as a politician in Ontario. When he was 17 he was sent to Auschwitz.

“Lest we forget? It’s time for us to wake up and ensure that our young know why we have the freedoms too many take for granted. Having them not know disrespects those who made the sacrifice – such as the men at Juno Beach – and may even foretell a future that we don’t want to imagine.”

Roy Macgregor wrote the second article in the G&M..He interviewed a 94-year-old veteran of the World War II, Mr. Fred Turnbull, who said

“It’s one of the major events in history,” Mr. Turnbull says. “It saved Britain and possibly the whole Western world.

“I don’t think people know enough about it.”

“It was a nexus point for Canada as a nation. [France and Poland] aren’t there. Here’s Canada. We’re a junior ally. We’re not colonial. We’re there – and this was the beginning of the end for the Germans.”

“It was the greatest seaborne invasion in history. The Germans knew it was coming, but neither where nor when. The natural presumption had been around Pas-de-Calais, the shortest distance over the channel, but the military planners working under the allied command of U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower chose instead the sandy beaches along the coast of Normandy.”

“The Americans would take Utah and Omaha beaches to the west, the British had Gold Beach in the middle of the 80-kilometre stretch and Sword Beach to the east, with the Canadians assigned to take, and hold, Juno Beach between the two British targets.”

“The sheer numbers involved are to this day overwhelming to consider: 155,000 soldiers, some 11,000 planes, 50,000 vehicles and 5,000 minesweepers, battleships, carriers and landing craft, one of them carrying 19-year-old Fred Turnbull whose task was to lower the ramp, leap over the bow and steady the craft with rope while the soldiers stormed ashore under fire.”

“All the training helped you not to think about how scared you were,” Mr. Turnbull says.

“All around him mortars were exploding, machine-gun fire ripping into sand, water and men. Somehow, Mr. Turnbull got in and out unscathed.”

“The thing that bothered me most was the noise,” he recalls. “And the confusion. We just wanted to get it over with.”

“Some 14,000 Canadians landed that day shortly after dawn. The invasion had actually been in the planning process for many months, the Americans eager to attack but British Prime Minister Winston Churchill arguing for a delay so they could plan and practice down to the smallest detail. And they needed a break in the weather.”

“Someone said it was the most important weather forecast in human history,” Dr. Cook says.”

“Six Canadian regiments landed along Juno Beach: the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, the 1st Hussars, the Queen’s Own Rifles, the Fort Garry Horse and the North Shore (New Brunswick) Regiment.”

“Another 450 Canadians were dropped behind enemy lines by parachute and gliders. The air force sent Lancaster bombers and Spitfire fighter planes. The extensive naval operations involved around 10,000 Canadian sailors. But it was the ones charging off the landing craft who were in the most and immediate danger.”

“The soldiers took quite a beating,” Mr. Turnbull remembers.

“They did indeed. The Germans forces, under command of General Erwin Rommel – the infamous “Desert Fox” – were well fortified and prepared. The Allies suffered 10,000 casualties, 4,414 of whom were killed. The Germans, at first with such a protective advantage, had 4,000 to 9,000 casualties.”

““Remembrance Day nearly died out. But then it came back. I think it goes back to 1995, the 50th anniversary of the Second World War when thousands of veterans went back and we all sort of woke up and said, ‘Oh my goodness, we’re a country of peacekeepers, but who are these warriors? Who are these people who served and liberated? Who are these old men who are standing at the graves of young boys and crying? Who are these French and Dutch civilians weeping in joy? What have we done?’”

“Nothing less than what Mr. Turnbull says as, 75 years later, he stares down at the same harbour that once brimmed with convoy ships.”

“We had a job to do – and we did it.”


So far the articles in the G&M.

These days, military attacks take place using drones and distance targeting, with little hand to hand combat. Those who come back from war are often scarred for life. We need to realize that the soldiers gave their lives, and even as their bodies survived,  their minds might drive them to desperation and suicide. We should be grateful.

The D-Day battle was the beginning of the push to defeat the Hitler Nazis. It took another year of battle before my country was liberated, it happened to be the Canadians who did that in The Netherlands. An estimated 60 million people died and many more were dragged and displaced, scarred for life by this war.

If the Allies (a collection of countries who could poorly afford another war after World War I), had not waged this long and brutal war, we would now live in a dictatorship under fascism.  In the Netherlands, May 4  is a serious and all-respected event, Remembrance Day, with 5 minutes of silence in the country, followed by May 5th to party and for celebrating the liberators. The Canadians are highly respected and loved, with enduring ties to the Dutch.

Continue reading

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Thoughts on The Tattooist of Auschwitz

The Tatooist of Auschwitz, and the difference between race and religion.



On the recommendation of my writing coach, I read the novel as a primer on how to write a story that will appeal to readers. This novel has been on everybody’s lips who is interested in World War II. This assignment was because I have been trying to write a novel about my parents’ experiences during that life-altering period in their lives before I was born—World War 2.

I began work in 2016. The first year I exclusively spent on reading, reading, reading, everything and anything I could lay my little hands on. My novel is now in the stage of pre-publication as a manuscript.

My greatest fear in putting the story down was the enormity of the project and the many mistakes I would undoubtedly make. I didn’t want to romanticize the harsh reality of the time or exploit the death of millions that put World War II in people’s mind. I doubted that I could pull it off to write this story as a new writer. All those fears materialized when I read The Tattooist, which in my opinion is well written, but indeed trivialized the horrors of the place and made it go down as a romance for avid readers.

In this time of increased anti-Semitism and the political reality, in which some politicians attempt to foment feelings of hate against “the other” in our society—just like the Nazis did in 1930—I think it is extremely important to understand one’s own society, where you come from, and who you are now. This is the reason why I delve into the book and want to add my review to the many other voices.

Below I quote parts of Allison Wood’s review in The Guardian from Dec 7, 2018.

From The Guardian (Alison Flood): Heather Morris’s The Tattooist of Auschwitz attacked as inauthentic by the camp memorial centre.

The novel is the story of how the Slovakian Jew “Ludwig ‘Lali’ Eisenberg (who changed his last name to Solokov) fell in love with a girl Gita Furman, born Gisela Fuhrmannova he was tattooing at the concentration camp, has been one of the year’s bestselling novels.

“The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum concluded that the novel is “an impression about Auschwitz inspired by authentic events, almost without any value as a document”….. “Given the number of factual errors, therefore, this book cannot be recommended as a valuable title for persons who want to explore and understand the history of KL Auschwitz.”

“A spokesperson for her (the author’s) publisher told the Guardian on Friday: “The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a novel based on the personal recollections and experiences of one man. It is not, and has never claimed to be an official history. If it inspires people to engage with the terrible events of the Holocaust more deeply, then it will have achieved everything that Lale himself wished for.”

“Paweł Sawicki, editor-in-chief of Memoria, Auschwitz Memorial’s magazine, said numerous historical details of the camp are wrong. But Sawicki took issue with Morris’s response. “Can ‘a story’ be told without paying attention to the reality of the story? If this would be a completely fictional story, we could say that the author does not know much about the history of Auschwitz. This book, however, tells a story of a real person, his real tragic experiences, and this puts much more responsibility on a person who tells this story to the world,” he said. “The number of different errors in the book – not only in simple basic facts but also in the depiction of the reality of Auschwitz – can sometimes create more confusion than understanding. It turns a real story into an interpretation – very moving and emotional – that however blurs the authenticity of this true experience. We believe that the survivor’s story deserved better.”

“Sokolov’s son Gary told the New York Times that it bothered him his father’s name had been misspelled “Lale”, rather than “Lali” in the novel.”

So far what others said.

My main objection is that the writer has bought into the Hitlerian theory that Jews are a “race” in themselves. This is a fallacy and factually, incorrect. Hitler spread this lie, so he could identify, isolate, and eradicate “the other” without much resistance from the European world in which Jews lived.

When Ms. Morris writes down Lali’s thoughts on page 185: “How can a race that is spread out across multiple countries be considered a threat?” the question for me is whether Mr. Sokolov really was thinking that, or was the thought the authors’ interpretation, using poetic license—a writer’s prerogative?

The fallacy in this line is that Jews are adherents of a religion, just like Catholics, or Muslims, and not a separate race. Originating in the Mediterranean—the tribes of Israel from the Palestine region—Jews are the brothers and sisters of Muslims of the region. Like any religion, Jews also have intermingled with people of other races, with people who adhere to a different religion, and people who are atheists.

The author apparently has no idea (like so many who have no grasp) on what the Jewish religion is or who Jews are, and she mixes the concepts of religion and race, just like Hitler and his propaganda machine did. If you have seen the cartoons and the Nazi propaganda on posters of the time, you will get the picture. It is important to understand this fact and its consequences. What you believe, is what you get.

The people that held on to their Jewish religion have spread throughout the world. Modern times have divided the members of this religion into several factions and given names to these groups: Ashkenazy (Hebrew) from east-German descent, and Sephardic from middle-eastern descent. Those ancient people split off from the ancestors of today’s Middle Easterners more than 20,000 years ago, with a founding group of about 3,500 to 3,900 people, according to the study I quoted from (https://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-ashkenazi-jews-dna-diseases-20140909-story.html.)

There are just a few races (if we still even want to use these classifications) and none of the progeny of any race is pure anymore, due to the intermixing over many centuries.

From the internet, I quote:

“The mid-20th-century racial classification by American anthropologist Carleton S. Coon, divided humanity into five races:

  • Caucasoid (White) race.
  • Negroid (Black) race.
  • Capoid (Bushmen/Hottentots) race.
  • Mongoloid (Oriental/ Amerindian) race.
  • Australoid (Australian Aborigine and Papuan) race.”

So, if you consider their original source—in the Palestine area and/or east Germany—Jews are Caucasian, but if you believe Hitler, they are non-Caucasian: meaning NOT of the same race as the Germans.

The poor morons within the various hate groups of our current time have no clue that their hatemongering, fascist thought is based on ignorance. But what else would one expect of Trump and his neo-Nazis?

By the way, why call them neo-Nazis? They have shown themselves to be real Nazis, in other words, fascists.

Jeez, and again that hateful man props up……

I would welcome your comments.






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My trip to the city of Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico

In the last couple of days, the Boeing 737 Max – 8 was grounded pretty much everywhere, after the same plane type fell out of the sky last week, the second plane that it happened to. I guess maybe it was a reason why my flight back home was overly full.



On my way back to Canada, I was keeping myself occupied during the flight, while a six-month-old cried his heart out two seats from mine and I started writing this piece. My plane was full of gringos—white people/North Americans—who had spent their vacation in Mexico and were on their way back.

I observed from the very start that this family likes attention:  from the moment the pretty mother of three came onto the plane and noticed that a few of her seats were occupied by a couple, who had read their seat numbers wrong. The purser had to come and sort out the situation, and with much joking on his part, the seats were vacated for the mother, her husband, and her three kids. At the take-off, the baby started crying. Normal procedure, so far. Kids have smaller ear tubes and they don’t know how to unblock their ears. He settled down soon after.


The lady seated beside me, dressed in summer clothes and with a deep tan and perfectly manicured nails, had come onto the plane pretty happy from too much drink. She soon sank into a near pass-out sleep with her fleece top wrapped around her.

About an hour into the flight, the baby started up again, this time he was inconsolable. The mother apparently didn’t know what to do, and the kid worked himself into a frenzy. I hadn’t known that a child can scream this loud. I considered pushing the call button to purchase the sound blocking earplugs from a flight attendant. My neighbour slowly opened her eyes and I observed the fake eyelashes separate slowly. I could feel her pain.


After about ten minutes, an unrelated, elderly lady got involved and offered to walk the boy. She took him from the mom and started talking to the munchkin in a friendly tone, while walking a few steps in each direction in the aisle, back and forth, away from the mother. It did the trick. Peace, again. What would the world be without experienced grandmothers? She returned the now quiet baby to his mother.


Back to the subject Morelia. When I started living in Mexico for part of the year, I promised myself to take trips deeper into this country. With a wonderful climate, generous and friendly people and with many ancient cultural sites, natural wonders, and a clearly documented history of colonization to explore, the options were unlimited. I have to admit that tracing and uncovering the origin of European domination outside of Europe has become a bias of mine. I cannot leave well enough alone, as some of my friends will know. Stirring the pot, they might say, poking the bear, my Indigenous friend would say. I would call it tourism beyond the surface, digging below the superficial.

Maybe I am indeed somewhat of a rebel, but it is mainly my curiosity that drives me, and above all, the thirst for knowledge and understanding how the world came to be. How did we end up in the current (political) world and what makes people different from each other? It is important for me to know what the inhabitants of other countries experienced, which may influence how they stand in the world.


I like the places where I can see the thousands of footsteps that wore down steps of ancient sites, the faint traces of a mural, a part-statue, or an artifact that has survived earthquakes or centuries of being buried. Mexico is full of these, from the Aztecs in the south and the Maya beyond that territory, who left many traces of their existence, and many sites are not yet discovered. The tribes before them left indicators of their existence as well. Many Indigenous peoples with their own languages (NOT dialects!) inhabited Mexico, according to an estimate, during the 1500s around 20 million inhabitants existed in Central America.



Oh, boy, the mother of the little crier wants the seating arrangements rearranged so hubby can look after the little boy (and the other two children). The baby has started screaming again and big tears are rolling down his red cheeks. Daddy’s not doing a great job, and the boy reaches for his mommy, seated behind the dad. Sure enough, baby gets his way. Mom reaches over and takes him back. One-naught for him. This is how you make criers, mom.


Babies are masters of the power struggle: their need is stronger than yours. This is natural and right. It’s up to mom to distract or find ways to sooth and meet the needs of the baby. I noticed he has no bottle. Mom is holding a cup with a spout. He seems too young for that and I suspect he needs more comfort. I heard her say: “He was already crabby this morning.” Hmm, maybe teething? She is loudly talking to the boy with a piercing voice. My neighbour has given up snoozing and starts reading her Kindle. She hasn’t spoken a word yet to me.















So, about Morelia.

I am downloading photos, illustrations for the blog post. The baby whines now. He knows he has success with making noises, and the cost-benefit ratio for him have improved as time goes by. The flight attendant just gave me another Granville Island pale ale, free of charge. He knows without words exchanged that I need it.


I seem to not get to the rest of the story about Morelia. The flight is bumpy and I need to stop. We are flying over deep ravines and gullies with snow-covered mountain tops, I suspect Nevada. I will finish off the post after I get home. We are advised to stay put and keep our seatbelt on. An elderly couple is getting up and a couple of the flight attendants call out to stay put. The woman is waving a food container around. “We’ll pick up the garbage when it’s safe to do so,” the attendant closest to me calls from the back of the plane. “Please stay in your seat with your seatbelt on.” An awful smell reaches my nose, I think it’s a dirty diaper.


The “buckle-up” sign beeps off and all of a sudden, the aisle is filled with people chatting and standing in a long line-up to the toilet, all the way to the middle of the plane. It starts to get bumpy again and the seatbelt signs beep on, and the intercom sends everybody back to their seats. One senior-aged woman in the line-up complains: “If you have to go, you have to go, seatbelt sign or not. We are not teenagers.”


I have to think of my flight attendant-daughter who has to keep such an ornery planeload in line. I feel your pain, sweetheart. A planeload of half-sauced tourists on their way home is no fun! We must be flying above Idaho now, but it’s dark and I can not see.


IMG_1361 2





I was unable to book my seat beforehand and I am seated in a window seat on row 20, in the far back, so am trapped. After a bottle of water and one and a half pale ale, I really need to go. The time will come that we’ll have to wear an astronaut’s diaper-system for flights if this stuffing of planes in tiny seat continues.  One more hour to go. I cannot last that long. After a while, I reluctantly touch my sleeping neighbour’s arm and have to repeat my request before she understands. She wakes up her spouse, sleeping next to her, and they get out into the aisle.

IMG_1357 2

When I return, relieved, the people behind our row—two senior women who look alike and an elderly man—the women glare at me. There is no smile. What’s their problem?

The baby is wide awake and gets entertained, and as soon as he squeaks, he gets passed on, from daddy to mommy and back. He is having a ball. I feel for the parents for when they will be back in their everyday environment and baby must be broken again from the power play he has won during this flight. The rest of the flight he screams in bursts and whines.


Finally, we land at the Kelowna airport. The deplaning goes fairly orderly, but the man seated behind me could not wait until I had wrestled the carrier with my cat from the row, and he pushed himself past my butt. “Oh, you in a hurry?” I say and let him pass.  “Yes, I am,” he said.

We all catch up with each other in the line-up, standing around before the customs agents. “You got a dog in there?” the angry-looking woman asked me. She calls to her husband in front of me. “Let that lady with the animal go first,” she admonishes. The man falls back obediently. She is chatting up everybody in the line-up now. “What a lovely boy now,” she calls to the family sitting on the bench in the hall getting organized with all their many cabin bags and children. The man grumbles to me: “Before you know it she’ll know everybody.” “Is that right?”

I declare my three bags of Mexican coffee and the bottle of tequila, get a pass and escape the airport, my suitcase already sitting beside the carousel, and soon am on my way in a taxi. At home, Mimi was very happy to be let out and pushes out of the carrier when I open the zippers. She had peed on the doggie training pad and that was all.

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This blog post is dedicated to the Indigenous population of Mexico. One cannot admire the city without reminding oneself of all the lives destroyed during its rise to fame.


The Mexican city of Morelia in the state of Michoacan is an old city, established in the 1500s after the Spanish conquest of Mexico by Charles I during the Spanish colonization of the Americas from 1519-1521. As we all know, both North and South America were not empty lands for grabs. The myth that the Europeans “discovered” America, is old, FAKE NEWS and should by now have disappeared from all history books.

The Spanish conquered  a huge area that included territories in North America as far north as what is now British Columbia in Canada, the territory that is now American, (Oregon, Washington, parts of Idaho, Montana, California, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Florida) and the current Mexican territory (including Chiapas, still mired in an battle for independence), all the way into South America (currently the nations of Guatemala, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua). The Spanish also conquered the Philippines, Guam, and a number of other island nations, including Formosa what is now Taiwan.


In 1521 after the fall of Tenochtitlan—the great Mexican city built on the water—now called Mexico City,  the main event of the Spanish conquest did not properly end until later, as its territory continued to grow to the north. Cortez tricked Moctezuma into “collaborating” with the Spanish. The Viceroyalty was officially created on 8 March 1535, the first of four such viceroyalties in the Americas.  The Vice-Royalty of New Spain (Virreinato de la Nueva España) existed from 1521-1821, three hundred years under Spanish reign. The first Vice-roy was Antonio de Mendoza y Pacheco, and the capital of the viceroyalty was established on the ancient Mexico-Tenochtitlan. Morelia only became its capital after Patzcuaro obtained that title for a number of years. The competitors for the title squared off,  and Morelia with De Mendoza won. The game of Playing Politics is as old as the world.



From Wikipedia:

Human settlements in the Guayangreo Valley in which Morelia is located have been dated back as far as the 7th century. Artifacts found here have shown Teotihuacan culture influence on even earlier cultures in this area. In the 12th century, the Purepecha arrived in the valley. They dominated it politically for the rest of the pre-Hispanic period but did not build any major settlements here. Between the 12th and the 15th century, Matlatzincas moved into the area with permission of the Purépechas, who were based around nearby Pátzcuaro Lake. The main Matlatzinca settlement was where Júarez Plaza in the city is today.



The Spanish pushed into the Guayangareo Valley between 1525 and 1526, headed by Gonzalo Gómez. In the 1530s, the area was evangelized by Roman Catholic priests of the Franciscan order, such as Juan de San Miguel and Antonio de Lisboa.


Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza and a number of encomenderos, who were granted the special status in 1541, first named it Nueva Ciudad de Mechuacan (New City of Michoacán). Our guide explained that the king sent 62 of his noblemen with their families to Morelia and rewarded each of them with a piece of the land with the right to use the Indigenous people that lived there, who were then considered free labor for anything that the encomenderos wanted them to do.


The last Spanish king reigning over Mexico was Ferdinand VII and he lost the territory in the Mexican War of Independence in 1821. In 1521 the population of Mexico was 20 million people. After the Spanish were done with Mexico, this number had shrunk in 1821 to estimates of between 5 and 6.5 million.


“The native people of Mexico experienced a series of outbreaks of disease in the wake of European conquest, including a catastrophic epidemic that began in 1545 which killed an estimated 5 million to 15 million people, or up to 80% of the native population of Mexico, followed by a second epidemic from 1576 to 1578 killing an additional 2 to 2.5 million people, or about 50% of the remaining native population. Recent research suggests that these infections appear to have been aggravated by the extreme climatic conditions of the time and by the poor living conditions and harsh treatment of the native peoples under the encomienda system of New Spain.



Encomienda was a Spanish labor system. It rewarded conquerors with the labor of particular groups of subject people. It was first established in Spain following the Christian conquest of Muslim territories. It was applied on a much larger scale during the Spanish colonization of the Americas. Conquered peoples were considered vassals of the Spanish king. The Crown awarded an encomienda as a grant to a particular individual. In the conquest era of the sixteenth century, the grants were considered to be a monopoly on the labor of particular groups of Indigenous, held in perpetuity by the grant holder, called the encomendero, and his descendants.



This was pretty much what Hitler and the Nazis did in the Second World War: all forced labor came from the captured and deported Jews in camps that were contracted to the production companies, and from the residents of occupied territories, carted off to labor camps, or laborers were just picked up from the street and sent to the ammunition and equipment factories.




Two of Moctezuma’s daughters and her younger sister were granted extensive encomiendas in perpetuity by Hernan Cortes. Doña Leonor Moctezuma married in succession two Spaniards and left the encomiendas to her daughter by her second husband. Vassal Inca rulers (who collaborated with the Spanish) appointed after the conquest also sought and were granted encomiendas.



In 1574, the Viceroy of Peru investigated the encomiendas. He concluded there were 32,000 Spanish families in (all of ) the New World, 4,000 of whom had encomiendas. They oversaw 1,500,000 natives paying tribute, and 5 million “civilized” natives.

The phrase “sin Indios no hay Indias” (without Indians, there are no Indies – i.e. America), popular in Spanish America especially in the 16th century, emphasizes the economic importance and appeal of this indentured labor. It was ranked higher than allocations of precious metals or other natural resources. Land awardees customarily complained about how “worthless” territory was without a population of encomendados.



If you have seen the movie “Roma” of Alfonso Cuaron, you know that the habit of indenturing the Indigenous population is still very much ingrained in the upper classes in Mexico, and until today, the Indigenous populations are clearly still at the bottom of Mexican society.


Until the new population rebelled against the exploitation and the strict societal laws based on racism. Most were now of mixed heritage, born from Spanish nobleman from Spain (the highest in status), the Spanish first-generation born in Mexico,  those who mixed with the Indigenous (Mestizo), or with the black slaves that were working the mines and the plantations, (Mulatto). Under the leadership of Padre Hidalgo, stationed as a priest in Dolores but who had studied in Morelia at the College (where he had met a poor, but brilliant Mulatto man, Morelos, called for a rebellion: the Grito. Padre Hidalgo (whose image or statue you see everywhere in every Mexican state and town), joined by Jose Morelos started up his call for resistance in Dolores, and on their trek through San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato to the capital.

IMG_1344They were caught and executed as traitors to the country.

Miguel Hidalgo declared slavery unworthy of the new nation and called for its abolishment, see below.




In 1847 the North Americans attacked the country. Morelia was the origin of the battalion that fought under Governor Ocampo.




Hidalgo and Morelos leading the rebellion. Below their feet you see the Indios carrying the heavy building blocks for the magnificent buildings that now line the city streets. Is it fair to get UNESCO status without mentioning and memorizing the lives it took to build it?


How the tribal structures remained, but the Indigenous were converted to Christianity.

From Wikipedia: The Spanish Crown granted a Spanish person a specified number of natives from a specific community but did not dictate which individuals in the community would have to provide their labor. Indigenous leaders were charged with mobilizing the assessed tribute and labor. In turn, encomenderos were to ensure that the encomienda natives were given instruction in the Christian faith and Spanish language, and protect them from warring tribes or pirates; they had to suppress a rebellion against Spaniards and maintain infrastructure. In return, the natives would provide tributes in the form of metals, maize (corn), wheat, pork, or other agricultural products.



In many cases, natives were forced to do hard labor and subjected to extreme punishment and death if they resisted. However, Queen Isabella of Castile forbade Indian slavery and deemed the indigenous to be “free vassals of the crown”. Various versions of the Leyes de Indias or Laws of the Indies (compare: in Canada the still-existing Indian Act) from 1512 onwards attempted to regulate the interactions between the settlers and natives. Both the Indigenous and the Spaniards appealed to the appellate court, Royal Audience for relief under the encomienda system.


Encomiendas had often been characterized by the geographical displacement of the enslaved and breakup of communities and family units, but in Mexico, the encomienda ruled the free vassals of the crown through existing community hierarchies, and the natives were allowed to keep in touch with their families and homes. This seems insignificant, but compared to Canada, where the children were forcefully removed from their parents at a young age to “kill the Indian in the child” to be educated in religious boarding schools.








The story goes that Morelos’ mother was highly pregnant and traveled from church to monastery to nunnery, but nowhere did she find mercy and a roof over her head. She was an Indigenous woman. She finally arrived at the building that is now called The House of Morelos’ Birth, where she delivered the baby, and after that, was turned into the streets again.

There are now over 200 building of historical value in Morelia, built around that time, for which the city was designated a UNESCO Worl Heritage site in 1991. The cathedral, completed in 1744, is an outstanding example of Spanish Baroque architecture and holds a remarkable 4,600-pipe organ, the focus of an annual organ festival. The colonial governor’s palace is also an imposing structure, as is a 3-mile (5-km) aqueduct, carried on arches, and was built in 1785.

I will show more of Morelia in subsequent posts. Stay tuned. I’d love to hear your comments and please, rate this post at the top; thank you.




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Straddling the new year, soon taking the plunge, and out with the old one.



Time to catch up with my blog posts. I finished my first week in Mexico this winter. It is always different each time, but never exactly what I anticipated. This time it was quite busy from the first day on. My transit went great and no problems this time with the requirements for bringing a cat. The direct flight to PV of five hours was full, mostly with retired people, snow birds. It shocks me every time when it smacks me in the face I am part of the silver wave.


I stayed one night with my best friends, wintering over in PV to give Mimi a break. This time I took it easy for the last leg from Puerto Vallarta to Guadalajara to my casa in the village by the lake on the next day. I booked a flight, instead of a long bus ride. It lasted all in all 4 hours: fifty minutes in the air, plus time going through the check-in and security, and the cab ride to my place. 10 am to the airport, home in Ajijic at 2 pm.

My plan was to possibly make a trip somewhere else in Mexico while I am in the Chapala area, so only booked one way. I didn’t want to be tied down to a return date. As it happens, more people travel with their pets nowadays. Each plane is only allowed to book 2 pets in the cabin and I knew that all direct flights end in early April. That was too early for me last year. That time, I booked a flight home to Canada around March for departure in May. I had to fly through Calgary, with an extra 2 hours tagged onto the flight. Not so nice for Mimi, stuck in her cage without drink and a bathroom.


I was going to improve on that this time around. As I was booking my flight home yesterday—I thought this was early—I found out that there’s a reason why people book return flights all in one shot on the same day: predictability. All pet spaces for all of April and most of March on direct flights were taken. So, I will have to come home this time really early: in the second week of March. I learned my lesson now: don’t be doing things differently. There’s a reason why people become sheep. Next time I’ll be in the herd.



My first day in my village was a day in which I had to do something I didn’t look forward to: attend a prayer service for a friend who unexpectedly passed away a few days earlier and had already been buried. I had to attend, because it is respectful to the survivors, and it is expected. I wanted to go, as the family has been very generous and friendly, and welcoming to this gringa. At a previous funeral, I had observed that the casket wasn’t closed until the very last minute at the panteon—the cemetery, where the family says goodbye with a last kiss or touch, as the casket sits on a cement pedestal before the lid is screwed shut and taken to the site. The friends have already dug the hole the night before, or in early morning.




The Mexican custom is to bury people immediately after an all-night wake the next day, or the day after. Then nine days of prayers—novenasat the home of the departed take place in the late afternoons, where the neighbours, family and friends take part in, and afterwards eat a bite at the deceased home. It is custom for the guests/mourners to bring flowers, food, or/and money to help with the costs. It was good that when I arrived, the prayers were already in progress. People were occupying the chairs, set out in the street along the sidewalk. Most seats were occupied, and many more people sat inside the little casa. The lady closest to the door gestured for me to go inside to meet the bereaved spouse in the middle of the prayers. With a hug and my lo siento—I’m so sorry—we met and I handed over my tokens of support. Nothing else needed to be said. I went outside and sat through the prayers on a chair. I am one of those people who tears up involuntarily at funerals and memorials, so also this time. I find it shocking and cannot easily comprehend that someone is not there anymore. The event of death is incomprehensible. One day here, next day gone. We usually live our lives as if life is endless.


A handmade sign on the wall announced a church service would take place on Sunday in the temple of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and everyone was invited to accompany the family in it. It struck me that all people at the novenawere serious, but also matter-of-fact. This is the difference with my usual world. Death is an uncommon social thing in our North American lives and is kept away from us. Here in Mexico, death is a part of life and can be seen everywhere. Although the grief is just as sorrowful, it is socially allowed to talk and to grief openly with extended prescribed times for mourning. It is keeping the family very busy, with evidence of wide support from the community. The effect as I see it, is more acceptance and going through the shock at a death of a loved one, and less resulting trauma.



At the end of the novena I slipped away. I hadn’t had anything to eat besides breakfast that day and was very hungry. I went into town to eat at a simple place without walls where I had never been before. Two tables were occupied: a few Mexican young people, and one other gringa. I had a delicious hamburger and a beer. I fell in bed and was asleep in no time, my Mimi next to me on the pillows.


The next day I got in touch with my other resident friends. My social life had started. At a shared dinner I was offering my condolences to another mutual friend for an unexpected death of a loved one: to a mother of my age who lost her son. We could talk about it and again, the heaviness that death seems to have in Canada, was absent here.

The nights are cool right now and the average temperature is around 15 degrees. Without heating in the house, you really need a good blanket on your bed. As soon as the sun shines in the morning, it warms up and by eleven is it balmy and twenty-two degrees. The cucarachas are absent and the house is clean and dust free. Mimi remembers where she last saw a cucaracha (more than a year ago) and sits in front of the wardrobe. Disappointed, she leaves after a while.


Properties are selling now. The realtor I saw today together with a friend said that everyone is buying, Americans, Canadians, and Mexicans. Values are up too. I had an evaluation from the realtor today, but decided it is not the right time yet to say goodbye to my casa. I first must leave my tourist status behind, or else I will pay a hefty capital gains tax to the Mexican government. He gave me some good advice and number of a contractor to call to address a minor problem with the rain water seeping between my wall and the neighbour’s wall, causing dampness inside at some spots. One shelf of my kitchen cabinets has a termite colony. I ripped out the shelf and got rid of the wood. Just to be sure, I also contracted an exterminator to drill holes to underground where termite colonies build their nest.


I didn’t witness it, but a local youth sitting on the stone bench next to the Virgin across my home pointed out to me that there was a problem somewhere with the roof, but I couldn’t understand him. Later that day, I noticed my internet wasn’t working. I went outside and the cable lay on the cobblestones in the street. One of those damned large trucks must have snagged it. I managed to explain to the non-English speaking service person of the Telmex help centre what the problem was and he got me an English-speaking service person on the phone. Three days to fix it. Indeed, it was fixed on the third day.


Netflix is a welcome entertainment for me at night. I saw a few great movies. The one for anyone to see who travels to Mexico, is the latest movie of Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron, currently in the theatres in Mexico, but already on Netflix: Roma. It will break your heart. Although it depicts an earlier generation, the class differences are still relevant and exist in the present time. You’ll recognize it, once you saw the movie.

Another movie I saw on Netflix was The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Why is it that movies about the Nazi atrocities fare so well when narrated from the point of view of a (German) child? The movie made its point with a sledgehammer.


Sun is up at 7 and so am I, as Mimi wakes me up. Sundown is at 6 pm. Most social activities were in the daytime, although may end after dark. I went to a movie today in the local theatre: Aquaman. A bit short on story and character development, but somebody went to town on costume and set designs. I am not sure how movie theatres can survive: only at the most four other people besides us attending. It was in English with Spanish subtitles.

It takes about a week before I feel at home again. Things change in town, with more restaurants popping up, others closed. More deaths fell in the city from gang activity, and policemen were targeted in the next town over. We will see how the new president AMLO fares with the promise to deal with the “troubles”. It seems that ever more gringos flood the town. The hills and protected natural areas are now in development, unless the voices of the locals and their supporters can stop it. Also here, tourism and migration from gringos to Mexico threatens the Mexican way of life and the environment. I try to fit in with my neighbourhood and am grateful for my neighbours, friends and the roof over my head in this sunny, beautiful town. Wishing you well in the new year.



La montana es mi casa.   The mountain is my home.


IMG_1015.jpegThis exhibition (on the plaza in Ajijic) offers a connection with the concerns of the people of Ajijic with conservation of their mountains and its environment. The threat against them and their life is real.

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At eight I was a devout little girl who swallowed hook line and sinker what I was taught in my parents’ small congregation of ultra-Christians. By age 12 I had lost all belief in fairy tales, including the bible, and had started to forge my way into the world as a critical thinker.



What really put doubts in my mind if I could believe adults was an event for the Saint Nicholas celebration, for short Sinterklaas. That year on December 5th Sinterklaas came to visit our home with his helper to hand out gifts. I was getting more observant and the thought was taking hold that I had heard those voices before. Afterwards, I commented to my mom how much the voice of Sinterklaas’ helper, Black Pete, sounded like my brother’s. “Is that right? I hadn’t noticed,” she said. The next day I discovered in my parents’ bedroom the book of Sinterklaas, from which the good bishop of Myrah had read to us about the good things—and especially the bad things—everybody had perpetrated over the year. The old man had been shaking his head, and his hands shook too, just like my friend Phyllis’ father, who—I now understand—had Parkinson’s disease. Then the penny dropped. I ran downstairs and asked my mom: “Was Sinterklaas Mr. Klaassen? And Pete Gus?” She laughed. “What makes you think that?” I told her. She then admitted that Sint and Pete were dressed up and don’t really exist, and the charade was an excuse for creating funny gifts and writing cheeky rhymes for one another.

Below a photo from a spoof on the Sinterklaas celebration at the addiction treatment centre. I am the black female Sinterklaas with the blond wig to the right.




That awkward time when your front teeth are missing and your mother cut your bangs.


It was the start of my loss of trust in anything that sounded magical or miraculous. I won’t bore the reader with the details of the next five years, other than that I started to scrutinize every statement of any adult, the stories in books, and definitively in the bible. I scrutinized the rules and started seeing the hypocrisy among people in our congregation. My conversion started with discovering that adults are imperfect, can and will lie, and are sometimes unfair.


As soon as I could read, I started reading books after bedtime under the covers with a flashlight, reading everything I could get my hands on. Especially interesting were the books of my eldest sister—eight-years-older. I read Lady Chatterley’s Lover at ten years old. Angelique of the Angels gave me a great education about female power exerted through her beauty and smarts, and through sexual favours, of course. Although the complete lack of sex education of children was the norm then, I started to understand love, physical attraction, and the beauty of equality from books. The idealist in me was taking shape, in spite of the reality of observing my elder sisters going through their adolescence, and my parents’ extremely controlling response, almost as bad as the father in the Rapunzel story. Only now I understand that their parental need to control may have been their way of dealing with their own traumas, in the aftermath of the dangerous war years.


My hunger for my own experiences rapidly increased. As I grew older, I continued exploring my own sexuality with a number of boyfriends. Unable to broach the subject with any adults, I got sidetracked, and started failing in school, where my presence was a mere nuisance to teachers. At my Christian high school, gender-discrimination was the norm in the 1960’s. The worst of it was my chemistry teacher, who refused to learn their names, calling every girl in the class simply Dora, but he loved the boys and knew them all by name. If he even spoke to a girl, it was with derision; they were becoming housewives anyway, and he went further by targeting me—a lively sort of student. As soon as I opened my mouth to chat with my neighbour, he would send me to the principal. This pattern continued throughout the year, leading to my suspension. I started skipping school. The VP wanted to pray with me. I politely declined the favour.


In my last year, my boyfriend was four years older, a poet and unemployed. Shortly after I went on the birth control pill— introduced 1968—I started running away from home. Birth control and medical exams were free for members of the Dutch Society for Sexual Reform. My mother had found the package in my room and went berserk. Like so many girls of my generation, I became the proverbial adolescent running away from home under the influence of a boyfriend. Make love, not war. Under great self-constraint, I stopped running, I managed to graduate, left home soon afterwards, and moved to Amsterdam together with my “unsuitable” boyfriend.


Those years have long gone. I participate responsibly in society like everybody else. I became obsessed with acquiring factualinformation. I work hard to match my decisions to the facts, constantly checking the integrity of my beliefs by reading a number of newspapers, watching different news channels online, and trying to debate world issues with my mostly reluctant Canadian friends. We can’t control the news; it happens. My escape from all this reality is to write stories, making it all up: disasters and happy endings, created from what is contained in the vast archive of my head. Doris Lessing said it aptly: “There’s no doubt fiction makes a better job of the truth”.



Writing fiction takes me back to my childhood love of books. It allows me to take all I have learned, mix it up, and create a new narrative. I assign imaginary people with the roles that must be played as I want them to be played in the story. I can use all of my gifts. With my somewhat unusual experiences of living within various cultures on different continents, and understanding several languages, my frame of reference is different from the mainstream. Some of my friends noticed they cannot verify my words. More than once I heard: “You’re making that up” when I related a fact. “How do you know that?” requires me to be accountable about what I know, and I gladly explain.




I first wrote creative non-fiction stories about the people around me and their adventures, staying close to facts. That opened the gate to sharing my vision and world view. I ventured into fiction, “making it all up”.

Before I could fall into the abyss of feeling useless after my retirement, I was well on my way with my second novel.

My third novel—a story about World War II—is finished in two languages, which I am currently shopping around. To my delight, I am well on my way of becoming a novelist. Life is good. Creating is the life-giving force that allows me to live many lives, all within one lifetime. I can highly recommend it.

2017-10-26 12.08.27

 An event will take place on October 11 at 6:30 pm at the KELOWNA REGIONAL LIBRARY  on Ellis Street. I hope to see you there. GUARDIANS’ BETRAYAL will be available. Cash only. 

MEET THE AUTHOR: Johanna Van Zanten.



Link to Amazon:


Link to Readers’ Favorite



Link to Bookbaby:


Link to KIRKUS review:


Review by Barbara Morrison, blogger





Posted in Author circles, Babyboomer, Creative fiction, Dealing with aging and dating, Diversity issues, Exercise; old age; aging gracefully; yoga practice ; wholesome life, latest news items, methadone treatment, Retirement, the Netherlands, Uncategorized, Writing life | Leave a comment


SELF-HARMING by young girls


This is a copy from The Guardian’s article about mental health in the UK and the trend of young girls for self-harming: Quarter of Young Girls in UK have self-harmed. My novel Guardians’ Betrayal came out last November and treats the subject of self-harming in a sensitive, exploratory manner, and is easy to read for its target readers: mature young adults and their parents.

GUARDIANS’ BETRAYAL Guardians’ Betrayal  is a story of an adopted girl, who self-harms by cutting superficial cuts on her underarms when things get really difficult for her in her adoptive family.

The subject of self-harming is difficult for parents to stomach and often they are in complete denial, and refuse to accept that their child is doing such a thing. So also the parents of Shayla in my novel.

The article quoted from The British The Guardian lets a girl say what she wants to say about it in her own words, and I am placing a copy below:


Case study: ‘If we’re not perfect we punish ourselves’

Jessica, from south Wales.
Jessica, from south Wales. Photograph: Gareth Phillips for the Guardian

“I started self-harming when I was 13. I don’t really know why I started doing it. I guess I had a lot going on and wanted to feel in control of something. The first time I did it I was in the bath and I accidentally cut myself shaving. At first I was panicking but then it felt kind of nice so I started doing it on purpose with various different objects. I would do it all the time, it became addictive.

“I would feel euphoric afterwards. I found physical pain easier to control than what was going on in my mind. The moments I felt pain were the moments my thoughts stopped and all I focused on was the physical discomfort.

“I thought I was the only one doing it, but my friends were too. It came up in conversation and I tried to help them. I encouraged them to seek help, although I never told them I was also doing the same. As well as cutting myself I also developed issues with food. I think both things stemmed from all the pressure I was feeling. Girls feel pressure from a younger and younger age these days. We feel pressure to be perfect and when they don’t achieve that they punish themselves.

“I am not sure why girls are more prone to this, perhaps it is because there is more pressure on us to look a certain way. You tend to see more female models, and girls strive to be like them. The gender stereotype is that boys are manly and girls have to be pretty. This leads to people feeling self-conscious and like they need to look and act a certain way. It makes you feel like you cannot be yourself. I saw a girl this weekend and she was so young but plastered in makeup and fake tan and acrylic nails. She was way too young to feel that pressure.

“The solution is better education about mental health, so people know where to go if they are struggling. There needs to be more resources. I am getting better now and on the road back to recovery but it’s been a long journey. The most important part of getting better for me was knowing I am not alone and others have experienced this.”
, 18, from south Wales

So far from the article.

Read the book GUARDIANS’ BETRAYAL, an easy read for mature young adults and highly educational if you like to know more about circumstances around self-harming and how to deal effectively with the young woman in your life. The book is available from most distributors as an eBook and in print. The first link below takes you to the self-publishing website to order.

Guardians’ Betrayal


or if in the USA: https://www.amazon.com/Guardians-Betrayal-Happens-Seven-Adoption-ebook/dp/B076HCPNZB

In Print Amazon:

In Print Amazon

To read its KIRKUS review:

Kirkus Review





Posted in adolescents, alcohol abuse, book review, Children, Children and child protection, E Books, eBook, EU, Mental health, Parenting, sexual politics, Uncategorized, women's issues; torture of women, Young Adult books | Leave a comment





It took me this long to realize how tourism has wrecked much of the beachfront in the lovely town of Puerto Vallarta in the state of Jalisco, Mexico, on the Pacific coast. I usually stay in the old town to spend one night on my transit from Guadalajara, where I live part of the year, to, and from Canada. The very first time I did that trip, I had selected the cheapest hotel I could find and that still looked acceptable on the photos online. As I rode a taxi to the address after arrival at the Primera Plus bus terminal on my way to the hotel, the driver seemed a bit concerned and offered to drive me to a much nicer hotel for only a slightly higher rate. I declined and responded not to worry as it was only for one night.

The hotel was old and really Mexican, built in the style of an old hacienda where the guest rooms are built around a courtyard stacked with many plants and no roof over the yard. As the building was 3 stories high, it was shady in the courtyard and the sun was unable to shine down to the bottom. I am taking a stab at guessing how old it was: at least 60 years old. It was primitive. The single bed in the middle of the small room consisted of a tiled pedestal of cement with a rather hard, but clean matrass on top of it. The bathroom in one corner of the room had an opaque glass door, a shower and a toilet. Everything tiled and in working shape. It needed an update and some tiles were broken, but it was adequate. It was only for one night after all and dirt cheap.


It is important to know that the peoples in this land existed already centuries before the hordes of modern-day tourists came down on the area like a cloud of all-consuming locusts in biblical times. I observed so much self-assuredness and feelings of entitlement on the cement patios among North American (white) tourists, hanging out on their lounge chairs surrounding the numerous swimming pools at the exclusive, all-inclusive resorts, not realizing that they and their ilk were not even around until recently in this part of the world. Tourism also ruined the village as it is. PV has become a cheap tourist mecca, just for the tourist.


Back to me. When I stayed at the Azteca Hotel, or at another place, 2-steps up from the Azteca Hotel called the Porto Nuevo Hotel—both located in old-town-PV—I used to pop in on the beach scene in the morning before catching a flight or the bus, had my coffee and breakfast, and if I was really energetic, went for a walk on the malecon.  It was always lovely with lots to see in terms of people-watching, and the occasional pod of dolphins could be spotted in the bay. PV is too crowded with tourists for me, but still an interesting spot for one day. Until I searched for a pet-friendly hotel.

The year before—my first winter with my cat in Mexico—I had a surprise on my return to Canada. The cheap and quick hotel right outside the PV airport, called One, had booked me with my cat Mimi, but on my return to Canada One wouldn’t let me stay again: no pets allowed. I had a heck of time finding a room right that same afternoon. Mimi sat in her cage all this time from early that morning through the 5-hour bus trip and could not hold her pee any longer; she sprayed right through the mesh of the kennel onto my skirt while I was arguing with the receptionist of Hotel One. So now I was not only tired and irritated, but smelly too. After a long time of haggling on the phone with hotel owners, I decided to try the old standby: the Azteca Hotel. No problem: they let me bring Mimi with me. I had my usual stroll on the beach and breakie while Mimi stayed in the room, and we left in the late afternoon for the flight back to Canada.


This year I didn’t want to be surprised. I stayed at the Azteca on my way in.  On my return to Canada, I decided to try out the so-called pet-friendly hotels. I found one online in the “Hotela Zona” for a reasonable rate. The write-up online looked lovely with pictures of a swimming pool and a dining room and supposedly close to the beach and other amenities. My Spanish-speaking friend booked it for me and Mimi, well in advance. On my arrival everything was hunky-dory. This time I had flown in to PV instead of bussing it, and had more energy left. I went out to grab a bite to eat.


IMG_3018.jpgOn the property adjacent to the hotel was a lot that had been converted to a food court with a number of converted steel containers arranged around the seating areas in its centre. The offerings were a mix of American and Mexican fast food, which is really what Mexican street food is.  It may not be fast cooking it, but the slow-cooked meats are cooked in advance (except the Al Pastor meat) and then steamed or reheated on the grill, just like the soft tacos and other receptacles for the fillings.  It was for the place and the time more than acceptable and the clientele came streaming in shortly afterwards. No surprise these customers were all tourists from outside Mexico—Norte-Americanos.


The next morning, I went out to have my breakfast on the beach as usual. I was wrong in my assumption but didn’t know that yet! I went across the busy street—the main drag into PV—and bumped into security guards standing by the barriers blocking access to the 5-star resorts on that side of the street—hotel after hotel—who would not let me pass to go to the beach. Finally, I asked one guard what the heck is going on and where the public access to the beaches is. He laughed and said “Down that way, keep walking, because this access is only for hotel guests”.

Indeed, further down at the bridge across the small river that flowed ocean-wards, I saw a small paved path underneath trees and shrubs along the river going westwards, where the beach was supposed to be. I walked down that walkway. Obviously, this was not a very “resort-worthy” trail with a lot of garbage strewn in the stinky river and beer and liquor empties on the path. This must be the place where unsavory things happen. High fences and walls blocked the access to the properties along it on the other side of the river. One young man was hanging out next to a bag of beer bottles who was talking on a phone. He noticed this lone woman walking along the path and followed me with his eyes until it was clear I was no danger to him. At the end of the walkway I saw the ocean and a sign: watch for crocodiles.


When I walked onto the beach I saw right away more uniformed Mexican guards. They did let me onto the beach however. When I walked along the sand, looking for restaurants or a beach shack for my breakfast, there weren’t any. Just more hotels with more elevated cement patios off the beach, populated with chunky white folks lolling around the many pools on lounge chairs. No fishing boats on the beach, no locals and their children playing, nothing that indicates participation by locals at all, (except as service personnel) just gringos strolling along on an immaculately groomed beach, and more Mexican guards.


On the beach itself each property border between resorts was defined with stacked up rocks, so you couldn’t easily keep walking, and more uniformed guards, and sometimes a fence or a net. Crazy! I argued with one guard that the beach is public and should be free for everybody to walk along. He smiled and kept his mouth shut, apparently well trained in dealing with these loco gringos. The guards let me walk on, watching me as I went by.


Lovely beach-side dinner location some other time in old town PV


These resorts reminded me of Bali and the ocean-side resort I stayed in more than ten years ago. People could not enter from the street and all people on the beach were resort guests. That was Bali, Indonesia, were the year before my visit a bomb had destroyed a nightclub, and other bombs had gone off including close to the American embassy, with many dead tourists as result, followed by a serious downturn in tourism. Revolutionaries or suspected activist/terrorists of the local resistance group had been trying to oppose the brutal administration, which is led (or controlled) by the military with a puppet president. Indonesia is a third world nation. But I am in Mexico, which is a member of our North American Free Trade Agreement, a democracy and not a third world country. Mexico, where millions of Americans and also Canadians have resettled year-round, and where an intense exchange of workers between the three countries happens, legal or otherwise. We, North-Americans are familiar with Mexicans; they are our partners. What gives? Why are these tourists so keen on white leisure ghettos? The cartels do not usually attack foreigners; they are a scourge for Mexicans.

I got hungry and the sun was burning on my skin. Alright then, I would eat in an American-style restaurant if there wasn’t anything else to be had. Wrong again! When I walked with my white face into one of the elevated patios and made my way along the guests without being stopped by guards and entered a building that seemed to be a restaurant, I asked the hostess at the desk for a seat. The girl’s face showed hesitation and she asked if I was a hotel guest.  I said no and asked if that mattered, and that it is a restaurant, no? I added that I would pay for my food, or something like that. Immediately a manager of some kind—male of course—came hurrying to us. I repeated my request. He explained that the restaurant is only for guests. I asked for the way out to the street, but he refused that too, and told me I have to go back the way I came in. Only guests were allowed to be in the resort. Damn!

So, I walked on along the beach, hot and hungry and really annoyed, and yet there was no access to the street. After having walked a few kilometres, I passed a sort of shack in between two resorts. Hurray, a Mexican place. It was indeed a sort of bar with a patio of planks and umbrellas with a few tables and chairs, but it was still closed, the woman there told me. I asked her if there a way to the street and she pointed me into the direction behind the shack. The property widened into a large, mostly empty and very dusty parking lot, where some tour busses were parked. A narrow exit/entrance appeared before me at the end of it and I saw the main highway. To speak in Gilead lingo: praise be! I saw a restaurant across the highway.

Happily, and near a heatstroke, I crossed the road and threw my body down on a chair in the half-empty restaurant. It turned out to be a traditional Mexican breakfast/lunch place. With a large class of fresh squeezed orange juice and water in front of me I ordered my meal, sweaty and strangely out of place as I must have looked to the young Mexican waiter. I was the only gringa of course. All the other gringos eat in their (relatively cheap) all-exclusive resort—prisoners in their all-white ghetto.

Now I know and understand what tourist resort travel does to the beaches and the beach towns. I assume this indeed goes on at other coastlines and villages with those all-inclusive resorts. It is devastating; nobody else can use the beaches anymore where the resorts take over. The locals had to make way to the gringos, who are overly concerned about their safety in this “dangerous” country, so guards are needed and boundaries drawn around them.

If there any locals left that can even afford to live there after the raised costs of living expelled most locals, they would have to travel all the way to old-town to be able to sit on their area’s beach and use a relatively small area that is already full-up with gringos. I remember at an earlier time at the beach talking to an elderly local man, sitting on a bench in old-town PV. I asked him if he thought whether tourism was good for the locals. He was quietly not positive about it but wouldn’t elaborate. Now I understand.

To me it looks like another form of colonialism, even if a few rich Mexicans also use the resorts.

In another post I will write on the history of Puerto Vallarta.

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Separating children from their parent or their caregiver is in the news a lot. For most people to take away a child from their parent doesn’t sound like a good idea, although the true impact is not well understood, unless one was removed from a parent as a child in a past life. The thing to remember is that a child usually has her or his primary attachment to a parent, needed ultimately for emotional and physical safety. Without it, the child cannot grow up and develop into a healthy adult. Breaking that bond is devastating.

As many child protection social workers can confirm, even if the parent was a harsh or an imperfect parent, removal of a child from that parent is a traumatic event for the child. Yes, an abused child may experience short-lived relief, knowing that there will be no more beatings or that s(he) doesn’t have to care for the incapacitated parent anymore, but the child often would trade the safety and adequate care of a foster home readily for the return to an abusive or neglectful parent, if given the choice. Attachment to its parent is the reason for that. Attachment is a strong, life-giving bond, necessary for a baby’s survival.

Attachment to a mother starts as soon as the child is born, and many think it starts even before birth, when the foetus can hear the voice of its mother while developing inside her. After birth, physical closeness and responsive care from the mother form the basis of that attachment for the child, which means knowing physically who the mother is by smell and sound enhanced by being breastfed, and emotionally by being attended to for all of her or his needs. Emotional and physical safety must be provided from where a child can explore the world and grow. Not only the mother, others can join the circle of adults to whom a child can form secure attachments.

A child’s brain development depends on not having great spikes of adrenalin coursing through its system, and on spending its first months in a steady and quiet environment, but with enough stimulation and child-sensitive interaction with others to allow further development of its brain and its muscles.  Children of abuse if being born addicted, or ill at a young age, have a disadvantage. Having spent time in hospital away from the tender care of a mother/father with alien and unhealthy chemicals wreaking havoc in the child will interfere with healthy growth. They cannot completely catch up later in life, as their central nervous system is already primed and developed greater sensitivity to the brain chemicals (caused by withdrawal from substances and/or the withdrawal from safe care). This condition can later manifest itself in behaviours, such as anxiety.




Not all separations are traumatic. Children of working mothers who leave the child behind to go to work are not necessarily detrimentally affected, as long as a second caring adult provides this sort of responsive and consistent care while the mother is at work. These children fare just as well as those of stay-at-home moms. A child can learn to attach to others quite easily with some preparation and a transition time. Although the number of adults a child can ultimately attach to is limited, the primary attachment can well be supplemented by attachment to other adults and children without causing emotional harm to the child.

This can work, as long as the child has the experience and can trust that the mother (or another person with whom the primary attachment is made) returns within a limited timeframe. It is important that in the meantime baby does not feel unsafe, or abandoned by the safe person of attachment, and all will be fine for baby. Baby should not work herself up into anxiety. Attachment to a primary person is like an elastic band that can be stretched, but not so far that it breaks.



In cases of child protection, all will be undertaken to prevent removal of a child from the person with whom the child has her primary attachment. If a removal looks unavoidable because of the dangerous situation the child lives in, the social workers look for another close relative who could possibly take the place of the primary caregiver/parent. Although far from ideal, it is better than the alternative: foster care.

If nobody is available and a child is placed with a total stranger, the child will experience anxiety with likely damage to her attachment–an attachment injury–within a really short time after the child feels abandoned. The younger the child, the less resilient s/he is for separation damage. If the child has siblings, the family group ideally should stay together to avoid more injuries through additional experiences of loss. Daily contact with the mother/father with whom the attachment is made is extremely important to assure the child s/he is not abandoned.


What harm will be caused if the safe person doesn’t come back at all?

 Attachment injury can take many different forms and children express that extreme emotional injury–the worst psychological injury possible–in a great variety of dysfunctional or unexplained behaviours, even many years later. A child that has experienced abandonment and has an attachment injury has difficulty with trusting all adults, blames herself for being abandoned, and her self-image is diminished. She (or he) carries this injury into adulthood and it affects the development of the child, her (his) mental health, and all future relationships as an adult.

From the article of Inge Bretherton below: “Several attachment patterns were observed: Securely attached infants cried little and seemed content to explore in the presence of mother; insecurely attached infants cried frequently, even when held by their mothers, and explored little; and not-yet attached infants manifested no differential behavior to the mother.”


Attachment injury is often the underlying reason that adoptions break down and that foster homes give up caring for the child. In adulthood they cannot form intimate relationships, which may lead to a number of mental health issues, such as depression, development of personality disorders, displaced anger, substance use and addiction. The psychologist Bowlby (1975) discovered the importance of the attachment of a child to a primary caregiver and its consequences for their life as an adult. It led the psychologists and child development professionals away from psychotherapy and introduced attachment theory and developmental psychology. Inge Bretherton explained Bowlby’s theory in her article online, link attached.



In the USA, a patchwork system of private and public child organisations provides help to families who are confronted with an attachment-injured child. The American Academy of Child and Youth Psychiatry has a guide online to educate about the various forms of the disorder. The link below will take you there.


In Canada, the government’s child and youth mental health offices can be approached through a referral from your doctor. Suicide is a most prevalent result of attachment injury especially in adolescence, and it is the number one mental health issue for youth.

But not only for children. Many adults make it through life for many years, until the final straw that breaks the camel’s back lands. Depression. We have seen some startling examples of successful people who were in the public eye and still committed suicide. Life was no longer worth living. We do well to take up the conversation and educate ourselves, so we will not have to wonder: Did I do enough to stop it?

Now what about the children of refugees?

Many argue that their life is a dangerous trip already and that their parents expose them to much danger. That the parent is engaged in a criminal act (crossing borders illegally) and deserves to be separated from the child. To them I will say: the real danger of the trip is mitigated by the child’s protector. As long as their mother or father is there with them and protects them (or the auntie who fulfills that role), the children will be alright.



The real damage begins when the government removes them from the parent without preparation and without the assurance that the child will ever be reunited, and without continuing (daily) contact with their parent in any form. How cruel and criminal this latest US government policy is! It creates long-lasting detrimental results. It may be considered a war crime, had there be a war. Now it’s just a ZERO-Tolerance Government Policy. It breaks a child before it even has a chance at life. The rights of any refugee to apply for refugee status though an approved process should be protected and it exists also in the USA, even if its president is unaware of them  or wants the break those laws and processes.

From Inge Bretherton’s article: “A good society, according to Marris, would be one which, as far as is humanly possible, minimizes disruptive events, protects each child’s experience of attachment from harm, and supports family coping.”


Where are the American psychological associations and the physicians in all of this?  What do they think about treatment of refugees and the separation of thousands of children of refugees and unaccompanied minors held in the USA?

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THE THREE SOCIAL TABOOS: Religion, Sex, Politics

THE THREE SOCIAL TABOOS: Religion, Sex, Politics

(This is a post without photos. I don’t want to exploit the misery of others. No photo of this crying little girl in a red top and red shoes. Fox took the opportunity to say the photo was fake as this girl was in the end not removed from her mother, missing the point that she had been already exposed to grief of the treatment at the border).

At age eight, I was a devout little girl that swallowed hook line and sinker what I was taught in my parents’ small congregation of ultra-Christians, until I lost all belief in fairy tales including the bible at age 12. Until then, Jesus seemed like a sort of magician, like a nice uncle who would give you everything you wanted, if you prayed long and hard. God was more like a distant father who left the day-to-day business of dealing with the small stuff to Jesus, just like my dad did with my mom.

I had never really understood the idea of the Holy Spirit but took it to be a back-up who kept followers out of trouble after Jesus had died and had gone to heaven, and to inspire them without the Man-God around. We children believed in ghosts and fairies already, so the resurrection of Jesus and an official Holy Ghost doing ‘tricks’ was not a stretch for us.

How gullible one is as a child.

I was always safe at night, but dutifully knelt by the bed anyway, citing the little rhyming verse, praying for protection for the night, but I did also look under the bed when I was in that phase of believing in monsters.

The rules of not stealing and always telling the truth were easy, as long as I had everything I needed. Until it wasn’t that easy anymore. When everyone else in my neighbourhood went to that children’ movie, a presentation that only came along once a year for the entry fee of one guilder, I stole the guilder from my mother’s purse. The film had not even started when in front of all the children in the hall she pulled me out of the audience and dragged me home. I cried loudly for the rest of that day grounded in my bedroom, convinced my mother treated me unfairly.

On entering grade school, I wanted to be part of the clan of other children that freely roamed the neighbourhood. Telling the truth to my parents became harder and the sin of lying by omission became a habit of mine. Not stealing and not causing mischief would mean saying ‘no’ to friends and staying behind, alone, which was too hard for a seven-year-old. We perpetrated our childhood misdeeds communally. I learned not to tell my parents about everything my friends and I were up to. We all knew we should not raid gardens and break into sheds and greenhouses, but those pears and apples tasted multiple times more delicious than those at home. We knew that our playing-doctor-game was maybe not what we should be doing. If we stayed silent, it was as if nothing untoward had happened.

In the fourth grade as a would-be publisher and provider of the resources with my printing kit, I was the leader of the newspaper club we called the Seven-Star in a misunderstood reference to a pentagram; we just liked that drawing. I learned that blocking some kids from joining the club led to being ousted myself as an unfair dictator: they didn’t need my printing kit to be a club. I learned the leader could not be a despot: might doesn’t make right. I gave in and was allowed back into the club. It was a lesson in humility and group dynamics I learned at an early age and taught me what a democracy is.

It also dawned on me that the unilateral and despotic rules handed down by God for his believers did seem somehow out of touch with the real world and could not be copied for use by mere mortals. Why others (including my parents and the congregation) would accept that as the law in their world anyway, seemed weird.

What really put doubts in my mind whether adults can be believed was an event in December we call Saint Nicholas, for short Sinterklaas, celebrated on December 5th. Our Santa came to visit our home with his helper. I was getting more observant and commented afterwards to my mom how much the voice of Saint Nick’s helper, Black Pete, sounded like my brother’s. “Is that right? I hadn’t noticed,” she said.

The next day I discovered in my parents’ bedroom the book of St. Nicholas, from which the bishop had read to us about all the good things—and especially the bad things—everybody had perpetrated over the year. Slowly, the thought that I had heard that voice of Saint Nick before was taking hold. The old man had been shaking his head, and his hands shook too, just like my friend Phyllis’ elderly father, who I now understand had Parkinson’s disease. Then the penny dropped: Sinterklaas had been Phyllis’ father, and Black Pete, my brother!  I ran downstairs and asked my mom: “Was Sinterklaas Mr. Klaassen?” She laughed. “What makes you think that?” I told her. To my surprise she then admitted that Sinterklaas was not real and that it is to make kids happy and have a night of fun and have an excuse for making funny gifts for each other.

The loss of my belief in Saint Nick’s existence left me disillusioned. After that episode, my seven-year-old former self became an independent thinker, in incremental steps. It was the start of my loss of trust in anything that sounded magical or miraculous. I started to scrutinise every statement of any adult and also the stories in books, and definitively the bible.

I started seeing the hypocrisy among people in our congregation, especially of course in my parents. I noticed their thoughtless prejudices and easy judgments about people who looked different or who were not of our ‘class’. The contrast between Jesus’ messages and what people within our congregation made of it in daily life seemed like day and night. I discovered two kinds of people: those who actually tried to apply the principles of Jesus and those who just wanted to be part of the club. I wasn’t sure yet where I belonged.

As I grew older, I questioned and debated the principles of the religion in catechism class and at home. My dad told me to just stop arguing and be more like my eldest sister, sweet and obedient. I knew that she was doing everything on the sly and I took my dad’s advice: since open opposition was discouraged, I went my own way, mostly silently. My road to conversion from a believer to becoming an agnostic was one of incremental disbelief and of discovering that adults lie and are unfair. It took about four years. When I entered high school by the age of 12, I had pretty much turned into an agnostic to the desperation of my Philosophy teacher at my Christian school. I argued with quite a lot of vehemence in his class, leaving the other students speechless. Critical thinking, we call it now. This teacher was also a minister and occasionally led the service in our church. To his credit, he was the only adult in my world who took my questions and my search for the truth seriously and he tried to respond honestly, but still he could not stop my conversion. Eventually, I laid low, as that was a lot easier to maintain. I meekly went to church but took off from my seat as soon as the service was about to start, to return by sermon’s end and stand outside, chatting, as my parents exited.

Learning about sexuality took much longer. One afternoon around this time, our neighbours’ son who was about 5 years older than me showed me his swollen penis behind the garden shed. I suspected that it was probably not the right thing to do, although nobody had actually said so. I touched an erect penis for the first time when I was eight. The thing felt soft and hard at the same time. Nobody ever talked about penises, vaginas, or breasts in my childhood world. I was just told to cover up and not to run naked through the garden with the hose and at the pool everyone wears a swimsuit. No sexual education took place anywhere. It was believed that keeping kids in the dark would delay sexual maturity: let sleeping dogs lie was the motto. To have intimacy—for procreation—there was to be married first; I knew that much.

I had no idea about the actual act of sex and procreation, until I saw a mare being bred on a farm; I was around nine years old. I was shocked and couldn’t believe that the long appendix under the stallion’s belly could fit into that girl horse. Although it did not look like anything the teenager next door had showed me, it dawned on me that his member might have been the same body part as the horse’s.

The whole affair kept me thinking for weeks as I was trying to figure out what that event could be for, and once I was told, I wondered if that was also how humans made babies. When I asked my mom, she started talking about the ewes next door in the orchard, and how they went away to meet men-sheep. They came back a week or so later, pregnant, and had lambs a few months later. However cryptic, nothing was explicitly said about a penis into a vagina.

My friends did not really know the facts either, so a variety of vague beliefs, myths and old wife’s tales gathered from various sources among us kept me curious, until I reached adolescence and started dating.

I started reading fiction as soon as I could read, under the covers with a flashlight after bedtime, reading everything I could get my hands on. Especially interesting were the books of my eldest sister—eight-years-older; I had to often reach to understand the contents. I must have been ten when I read Lady Chatterley’s lover.  Angelique of the Angels was another great novel about a memorable woman who exerted power through her beauty and smarts, and sex, of course. I started to understand love, physical attraction, and the beauty of equal but different powers between people: the idealist in me was taking shape.

But I also saw how my older sisters fared throughout their adolescence and how my parents responded: extremely controlling, almost as bad as in the Rapunzel story. I can forgive them now: this need to control may have been the aftermath of living through the dangerous war years. By that time, I knew I was better off laying low and just not tell my parents what I was up to.

I continued exploring my sexuality with a number of boyfriends and started failing in school. I had boyfriends. I also was gender-discriminated by a number of instructors. The worst was my chemistry teacher, who called every girl in the class simply Dora and who didn’t bother to learn their names but he loved the boys and knew them all by name. As soon as I opened my mouth to chat with my neighbour, he sent me to the principal. This continued throughout the year with this guy. I started skipping school. I got suspended. The VP wanted to pray with me. I politely declined the favour.

I ended up with an interesting boyfriend, someone four years older than me who was unemployed—a poet. I ran away from home a few times, the first time when a big confrontation happened shortly after I went on the birth control pill. That godsend little pill had recently been introduced to the women in my country and free for members of the Dutch Society for Sexual Reform. My mother had found the pill package in my room and went berserk. I became the adolescent running away from home under the influence of a ‘bad’ boyfriend. I did manage to graduate and left home that summer, to move to Amsterdam together with my boyfriend, and to an apprentice job in a hospital. My physical freedom was hard-fought. My sexual freedom took much longer and only arrived after I met my next boyfriend.

I still like the world of imagination very much, where I can explore the inner world of humans without restraint of dogmas or a prescribed worldview. I do miss the magic of believing. It felt so safe to believe as a child. Now as an adult, I have to act like an adult and, like everybody else, take up my adult responsibilities. I participate responsibly in society casting my vote in elections, and I try to follow the law and most social rules, to a certain extent, as long as these are reasonable, but I also like to debate, exchange ideas. I make a living, respect my neighbours and the rights of others–not always easy to do. Most of all as an adult I became obsessed with information: I have to research the facts and knowwhat is going on in the world. The facts have to match with my decisions and vice versa. I became a socialist and a social worker.

Yes, the truth is becoming ever harder to find. Journalist are trying to get at the truth and most upstanding reporters bring the facts. Their job is to fact-check what political orators and religious leaders are saying about public policies.

The leaders of the religious right base their policies on irrational, religious-based arguments, and defend their statements with the accusation that dissenting journalists are making up facts. The religious right has reporters who mindlessly repeat what they hear from their affiliated leaders. The religious right doesn’t want us to know the facts. They want to continue to deceive us: we should believe them unconditionally. It is important to know which voice one choses as the source for information.

The easily-led rely on somebody else for their information (relatives, husband, wife, political leader, minister/priest).  Without knowing the facts, it becomes very difficult to determine what to believe; without the facts one cannot chart one’s own course. Many people don’t want to know the facts and react from an emotional place. Of course, it is so much easier to just repeat what your chosen leader or your chosen TV news program says, compared to trying to figure out what is going on in the world.


Whomever assumes the existence of God as a fact, is in itself irrational. There are no hard, scientific facts that prove a god exists. To assume that everybody else operates from that same belief in God is also irrational. As the basis for a worldview that belief system leaves no room for people who do notbelieve in God, and who prefer to rely on science and the facts. However, that seems exactly to be the current state of affairs, when the Attorney General of the USA quotes the Bible as justification for an inhuman (and in my eyes criminal) measure—separating children from parents in an attempt to try to stop the flow of migrants into that country, many among them asylum-seekers.

In spite of the USA being a secular nation and not a religious-based state, (like Iran) it becomes clear that in fact the USA seems to base its immigration policies on a narrow-minded world view informed by a religious bias for interpreting the current laws, and also wrongheadedly applied. The Trump administration has dropped all ethical principles and the human rights of others and lost its respect for internationally adhered principles of dealing with refugees. It has divided the country between people that believe in ethical government conduct versus those that are led by religious dogmas based on a mainly old testament God-as-a vengeful God.

If Sessions wants to apply his religious beliefs, he could take Jesus’ words instead of Paul’s: to treat one’s neighbour as he would like to be treated himself. Raised as a Christian, I see Sessions distort the bible, a book from two thousand years (and more) ago and many authors talking about sometimes barbaric practices of that time. Does Sessions really want to go back to those barbaric laws born out of ignorance and harsh circumstances of survival in those times? Surely, people with a religion better debate their religious opinions and how they see the world with other, religious people, not adopt these as the tenets for public policy!

In a secular society, religion has no place in politics.

Sessions does not speak for most Americans, I suspect. Neither is Sarah Sanders. I feel sorry for Americans who see this and feel helpless to stop the erosion of their national government and its values. Their head of state is knitting lie after lie into a mantel that suits many believers fine. He and his minions use the name of God to touch an irrational cord in potential followers—his disciples. The consequences are clearly going to be the development of more policies based on fallacies. These destructive policies will destroy any society in which truth and facts have become immaterial and where anti-Other sentiments prevail. The beast has been unleashed!

I mourn for the loss of the USA as a friend and ally against dictators and common enemies. In my neighbouring country, too many Americans have put religion over facts, and racism over compassion. The USA is turning into a force for destruction of the local and international world; its administration lost its compassion, and One-eye is leading the blind.

I come from a country where debating is a national pastime. I love to debate issues and exchange ideas: I might learn something new in the process. The Netherlands has many political parties to offer the electorate choices, and the Dutch do not believe in the two-party system. Although quite a religious country, the denominational parties keep their God to themselves, although unfortunately, the neo-Nazis have become a substantial force. The Dutch government consists of a coalition—very democratically put together after an election. Neonazi Geert Wilders became a well-known oppositional force; he is a friend of the GOP and of Trump and got money from them to broaden his influence in the Netherlands.

In my adopted country of Canada, three parties (at the most) vie for votes in elections. Canadians are not very used to debating their political opinions, or about which church they belong to, and they play their affiliations close to their chest. In life, the warning ‘don’t talk about religion, politics or sex’ is generally accepted, good advice in Canada. The safe way is to just chitchat, have polite social intercourse, and talk about the things we have in common. My need for honest exchange of ideas will have to wait for my visits to the home country. I stay away from religious believers and events. I resent the Jehovah Witnessed who aggressively still come to my door, trying to tell me they have the only truth in their pocket. The best I can do in such situations is to tell them that I believe in facts and not in religion, and to ask to be scratched from their list. Then I close the door.

The subject of discussion has become Trump. We in Canada have found a common enemy about whose policies it is save to become upset and whom to denounce. I have an inkling that is what Trump tried to do in his own country: find a common enemy and unite the country behind him. Unfortunately, he is achieving the opposite in his own nation. However, he is uniting the world against him.

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