Monday, November 30, 2009
I initiated this article saying that I am a person, a woman, of definitions. Yes. I opted for valuing the state and the public.
Democratization opened the authoritarian system like a flower. Transparency was introduced as a constitutional obligation, but accountability was not. We must distinguish between both. Transparency is the right of citizens to obtain governmental information that is by nature public. On this issue a battlefield has opened between the government and the governed. It's an incipient field dilled with unstable but not inocuous tools. The IFAI is already an institution through which it is possible to demand information to learn the origin and destination of decision and money.
But accountability is something else. It is the check against the exercise of power by groups institutionalized as part of the same power. Congress supervises the executive, the judicial branch is the judge of acts that can legally be sanctioned, the federation regulates the behavior of the states; the state legislatures and the courts are a check on the power of executives and municipalities.
Although the right to information was translated into a law after decades of existence, the structure described in the previous paragraph suffers from grave defects. The state institutes of transparency have advanced very slowly and are not a measure of effective control against the behavior of those in power nor of the administration of public money. The state legislatures are not a check for the governors. In practice, the latter have swept them aside so as to turn themselves into the little viceroys that today dominate their territories without adequate checks controlling them.
Although a dose of ethics doesn't do anyone harm, we shouldn't rely on that subjective side of conduct of people in power to instill a sense of ethics in the exercise of power. We need to turn it into an externally cotrolled, obligatory norm. Accountability is the only antidote to keep corruption under control, because it's illusory to think you can control it entirely.
If the authoritarian system was oiled with corruption, in democracy it is a cancer. It's not oil but rather the most corrosive element. If corruption strengthened the state when power was unipolar, it weakens it once it has been distributed between parties, branches, and society. The situation is grave and only a reform of the instruments of checks and accountability will remedy it, but it's doubtful that the topic will really be on the change agenda that is planned for 2010.
What is the worst place in Mexico in terms of security", this reporter asked one of the quarterbacks of the war against drug trafficking, a member of Felipe Calderón's cabinet.Assuming none of this is exaggerated (and I think Loret gets a fact wrong elsewhere in the column, so perhaps it isn't 100 percent accurate), I guess the domination of one group (the Zetas and the remains of Osiel Cárdenas' group) explains the lack violence in Tamaulipas over the past few years. With all the reporting from Juárez and Chihuahua in recent months, a deeper look at this very different situation would be much appreciated.
"In murders, Ciudad Juárez. In social decomposition and the penetration of drug traffickers in all of the structures, without a doubt Tamaulipas."
The business have flown from Tampico, in Reynosa the principal informants of organized crime are taxi drivers, in Victoria housewives in populous neighborhoods sell drugs, in Nuevo Laredo the citizens live in fear of speaking. In Tamaulipas, more than the president, the governor, or the mayors, drug traffickers rule and no one doubts it.
The criminal leaders in this state keep society with a pistol in its mouth so that no one talks: they levy taxes on merchants of all branches of economic activity (not just brothels, bars, and restaurant as in the beginning) and those who don't pay receive a grenade the following morning so that the clients never return.
Calderón's decision to push political reform aimed at strengthening government so that it can confront powerful interest groups turns out to be very correct. Furthermore, if the president wants to do so, he doesn't have a whole lot of time because any political reform will become harder to pass as the 2012 election approaches.You'd think that with Manlio Fabio Beltrones' longtime interest in political reform (and his plan has a lot in common with Calderón proposal), the president would have a pretty good chance of getting a significant bill passed.
The only thing I fear is that, as has been the story with this administration, the president sends good proposals to Congress, which the opposition than shaves down and we end up with a result contrary to the original proposal.
Whatever the case, it still remains to be seen how much reform will help. The incentives in Mexico's political system are totally screwed up, and there is far too much distance between a pol's performance in office and his future prospects, and this reform should address those problems. But as far as attacking special interests, other than a lack of will, there was nothing stopping Mexico's politicians from doing so before. Calderón's reform is a good idea, but I don't think it will necessarily bring about the necessary reserve of will to attack Mexico's monopolies and reform its oil industry (to take but two examples). At least, it won't do so overnight.
In 2000, Colorado legalized medical marijuana. Since Justice's decision, the average age of the 400 persons a day seeking "prescriptions" at Colorado's multiplying medical marijuana dispensaries has fallen precipitously.According to whom? A concrete stat would be nice there. Later:
Customers -- this, not patients, is what most really are -- tell doctors at the dispensaries that they suffer from insomnia, anxiety, headaches, premenstrual syndrome, "chronic pain," whatever, and pay nominal fees for "prescriptions." Most really just want to smoke pot.Again, according to whom? It's logical that there is some of that, but I can't imagine that more than tiny fraction of Colorado's pot-smokers take advantage of the government's medical marijuana program. I have to think that for most, it's a lot easier to continue buying from the same people from whom they've bought for years, without getting the government involved.
Colorado ranks sixth in the nation in identity theft, two-thirds of which is driven by the state's $1.4 billion annual methamphetamine addiction.What does that mean? It could be a really interesting factotum were it unpacked a bit, but there's no further explanation.
Following up on that:
He is loath to see complete legalization of marijuana at a moment when new methods of cultivation are producing plants in which the active ingredient, THC, is "seven, eight times as concentrated" as it used to be.Jack Shafer demonstrated the silliness of the time-tested government panic about super-potent marijuana several years ago. As one might guess, just as a martini fan won't go beverage for beverage with a beer drinker, the weed may be stronger, but people smoke less of it.
*Of course I mean that the estimable columnist was writing about marijuana, not indulging in its use.
The decline has been building for several months, which makes sense. But the thing is, the circumstances in March were in many ways worse than they were in November. A small dip in the first few months of the year notwithstanding, violence in March was close to as bad as it is now. The numbers for the economy coming out in the first quarter were far worse than those today, and the light at the end of the tunnel was farther away. One wonders if, after a natural lag time of a few months, Calderón's numbers will be begin to bounce back, or if this is a semi-permanent shift.
(I feel obligated to add that agreeing with the article's conclusions is in no way an endorsement of making superficial electoral decisions, or of Fox's performance in office. Indeed, if Fox is your subject, charisma and effectiveness are inversely proportional.)
I've found no specifics on the final two planks, but the TV access and especially deputy and mayoral reelection are good ideas.
[T]here definitely is a problem since migrants won't denounce crimes against and officials in some parts of the country show a crushing indifference toward launching investigations.That's a good point, and it's something that immigrants mention, too. That makes me wonder if an anonymous denunciation system would be feasible for Central American immigrants. Of course, there would be some significant practical barriers; many crimes against immigrants take place in remote locations, the kidnappers of immigrants are unlikely to remain in the spot for long, and, whatever the assurances, convincing vulnerable immigrants to denounce their attackers rather than simply move on is always going to be an uphill battle. Nonetheless, this doesn't strike me as an impossible problem.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
"At this time and since the July 5 election, I don't share the way of doing politics in the PRD," Zavaleta said in her letter.
Zavaleta didn't mention López Obrador by name in her letter, but one long-time enemy of the self-declared "legitimate president," former PRD director of political formation, Fernando Belaunzarán, told the newspaper La Razón that she had tired of the "Stalinist intolerance against her," and, "she was attacked in a hypocritical way."
La Razón columnist Adrián Rueda, meanwhile, suggested on Friday that Zavaleta was disappointed that PRD president Jesús Ortega refused to endorse her aspirations for the 2011 gubernatorial race in her birth state of Guerrero - a move that "accelerated" her resignation.
The decision surprised many, but mostly due to the timing of Zavaleta's departure. The PRD holds a "refoundation" forum Dec. 3 - Dec. 6 that has been organized in response to the party's scandalous 2008 leadership race - that Ortega won by barely 16,000 votes and was settled by the federal electoral tribunal - and could result in disaffected factions and members heading for the exits.
Zavaleta expressed pessimism that the forum would produce results.
"I'm not willing to participate in the supposed discussion on the refounding of the PRD because I don't believe that discussion will be had," she said in her letter.
Doug McKalip, confidential assistant to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, recalled the secretary's reaction when told of Ohlendorf's e-mail: "Are you serious? A major league player wants to do this?"So confidential, in fact, that we learn all about the secretary's private reactions.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
This proposal provokes great ambivalence at Gancho. On the one hand, local police departments are a veritable cesspool of corruption, and establishing new methods of accountability with new chains of command might bring about an improvement. At the same time, cosmetic changes of uniform have been largely unsuccessful in the past, because they don't necessarily strike at the heart of the problem: undertrained, underpaid, incompetent, and largely corrupt cops that are not adequately monitored by their political bosses. If the new regime that Calderón is proposing keeps better tabs on local cops and punishes wrongdoing more swiftly, that's great news, but there's no reason to assume that merely through centralizing local police departments, they will become more effective.
Furthermore, with apologies to Tip O'Neill, it's all police work that is local. All in all, it would be much better to keep the local police departments truly local, with the federal government focusing on improving the operation of the municipal governments that are in charge of them. Perhaps that's not a reasonable goal in the near term, but centralizing the police departments while doing nothing about local government corruption is an incomplete solution.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Today she is, in a manner of speaking, hand and glove with Ernesto Cordero, the chief of Sedesol. Soon, we are told, she will complete her shedding of skin: she presented her resignation from the PRD. She also has it in her plans to hand over her soul: it has been sworng to us, although she has denied it, that she has decided to join the PAN. Over there, way up top, they want her to reinforce the PAN in Mexico City: let's remember she was a delegate. And in 2011, the candidacy in Guerrero. A rapid transformation, that of Zavaleta. In three years she bought new convictions and principles.
I have had some conversations with Ruth Zavaleta, she is in a process of reflection, I sent her a message of solidarity and friendship.
Now, it's only partly true that the crisis of 2009 initiated abroad. Mexico already had it's own crisis, expect the government and the business class had learned to live with it, thanks to high oil income and financial stability. The crisis consisted of the economy not growing by more than 2.5 percent a year and this obligated half a million people to emigrate each year.An intensification of the American recession now with global financial consequences would expose the government and therefore Mexico to much greater risks, with much more negative effects than those experience thus far. Its problem has been that it was incorrect in its diagnosis and from the beginning lacked a genuine project for managing the country.
What is true is that his present discourse marks an important change in political direction. Over the past year the discourse of the "great rupture" has been incubated and stimulated, which promises the fall of Calderón, takes up a supposed national feeling that, now as in 1810 and 1910, in the next year Mexico is magically condemned to live a revolutionary rupture of government. It assumed that the country would enter into a situation of presidential replacement, for which his favorite deputies already presented an initiative with eyes toward defining a quick replacement of the federal executive. Nevertheless, everything indicates that it is already clear that there don't exist the conditions for such a process in the country. The greatest reflection of this national mood is the scarce response that the SME movement is having...[Break]
The formal leaders of this supposed left would do well to think not only about themselves, but rethink their position on the country. Can they explain the advance of conservative and restorational thought in Mexico? Do they have any coherent idea to explain this phenomenon? Do they perhaps know that one important part of that explanation that they resist giving? The tomb of the left is in sight, tragically: it is prepared with the goal of the 2012 contest, turning over the country, from this point on, to projects that, still with their tricks and their lies, offer more hope than bitterness, more optimism than depression, more known options than magic offerings. What happened to creative, intelligent, and above all modern thought in the Left?
Just as important: there's a great picture of the new attorney general in the article above.
More significantly (though less entertainingly), Ruth Zavaleta, the former president of the Chamber of Deputies, has resigned from the PRD.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
"I was very strict about not using anonymous sources, because I think that has done a lot of harm. In Mexico we are very accustomed to a source, even if he is from the government, saying any possible thing to us and we believe him, and it's not that journalists don't ask, but rather the authorities are not capable of giving complete information and that does a lot of harm; that's why I was very detailed in how the relationship between these groups came about."[Break]"Presently the objective of the Italian mafia groups isn't to kill or even to do harm: it's to make money, and that's why they link up with whomever they have to, which explains their link with the Zetas", she said.
Nevertheless, he also showed his teeth, proposing "to democratize the media" What does he understand as democratization: supporting allies and insulting those who think differently? Snatching away the radio and television industries that, he claims, are in the hands of only a few, to place them in the hands of another few supporters? Concessions for his friends, the assassins' bullet for his enemies?This is, quite obviously, a bit hysterical. Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of Mexican TV broadcasts come from one of two conglomerates, each owned by a billionaire. Those who criticize the lack of democratization of mass media in Mexico are on to something. However, AMLO's spent the last three years denouncing to the four corners of Mexico those who run the networks as part of a "mafia", which is as hyperbolic as what Moreno writes. If he really feels that way, an expropriation of Televisa is not out of the question. Obviously, AMLO doesn't support executing Emilio Azcárraga by firing squad (at least I don't think so), but what is his plan for democratizing the media?
Perhaps Peña Nieto deserves credit for not going overboard, but with the election so far away, he should go a little further in strategically taking some of the wind out of his sails right now. He seems like an NFL team playing great football in September, but he's got some flaws that need to be taken care of before the weather turns cold.
Loret's column's aren't for everyone, but if for no other reason they are fun to read for the comments beneath. I can think of no author in Mexico who provokes such anger. In the above column, one of them called him a disgusting man. Another column last week spurred a Torreón resident to leave a comment (which was subsequently deleted) questioning Loret's anatomical wholeness.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
AMLO redirected his missiles at the man he considers his new enemy: Enrique Peña Nieto. And it's because the mafia that controls the country already decided that the Mexican State Governor will be the next president.
It's not a surprise that the new PRI majority in the Chamber of Deputies worked to distribute funds in a feudal manner, not just in the sense that every governor, according to the number of deputies he controls, got his funds...What was a novelty was the disappearance of spending controls. If before there were some established accountability mechanisms on spending, now the locks have been eliminated; now spending commitments won't have to be fulfilled, nor will performance or results be evaluated for the possibility of receiving more funds.
A little while an evaluation of accountability in Mexico was completed, which found that in local government the panorama was the following: accountability mechanisms in local governments are incomplete; there is no link between results of evaluations and actions to improve them; there is no link between information, evaluation, and transparency; there is [not] a network of reactive accountability rules (study from CIDE, Accountability in Mexico, 2009).
To that you can add that the Superior Auditor of the Federation itself has found in state government spending problems such as: "Excessive payment for public works, payment for works that were not carried out, unauthorized transfers (...) interests on bank accounts not reported to finance authorities, improper aid for union sections, improper payments to popularly elected officials, and acquisitions at above-market prices" (Enfoque 812, 11/1/09). Before this panorama it is completely naive, to say the least, that Calderón would invite honest and transparent spending. What does that mean? How much more time will politicians think that they are fooling us with their "democratic" speeches full of good intentions?
The Houston Chronicle's business blog wonders why there hasn't been any action on the Mexican side of the case.
John Joseph O'Shea, 57, of Pleasanton, Calif., was charged in an 18-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Houston last week. He faces charges including conspiracy, violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, money laundering and falsifying records.
According to the indictment, O'Shea and a Mexico City businessman, Fernando Maya Basurto, 47, conspired to funnel up to $900,000 in 2004 to four top officials with the Comisión Federal de Electridad, Mexico's grid operator.
The men coordinated payments to shell companies in Mexico and a bank account in Germany, which were then passed on to the Mexican officials, the indictment alleges. In one case a payment was made directly to a U.S. military school to pay the tuition for the son of one official.
But perhaps the most important and least discussed one is that Mexico is being held hostage by its cartels. I am not referring to drug cartels. The cartels holding Mexico back are the private conglomerates, unions, political groups, universities, media companies and professional associations that limit competition within their sectors. Mexico is full of cartels with privileges and veto powers that inhibit the nation’s ability to make the changes the country needs to move forward.
Monday, November 23, 2009
And a rough indication of the opposition to significant and progressive fiscal reform: more than half of the 429 largest businesses in Mexico are seeking an injunction to protect themselves from the latest tax regime passed earlier this month.
Given that the 6 percent will also be accompanied by very high rates of underemployment and informal employment, and Calderón seems intent on making this the social development half of his presidency, this would seem to be a fertile ground for government innovations in the informal sector.
To think that Ebrard or Encinas are worthy leftists is to ignore history and misunderstand reality. The left doesn't have to make ice rinks or giant Christmas trees, typical American values. It must protect with great care social struggles, not give alms without creating jobs and above all, providing the population with the instruments that allow Mexico to be seen under another model, distinct from that which we have, a legacy of the PRI in its most degrading moments. That's what I think when I read an article by Manuel Bartlett, a new arrival to the left, once his political life concluded with the PRI, where he was senator, governor, and a cabinet secretary. His language corresponds to that of a Pharisee, Marx would say, or better yet a useful idiot*, as Lenin saw those who were at time fighting for socialism.One notable difference is that Fernández didn't say anything about Ebrard. Come to think of it, I don't remember reading people questioning Ebrard's leftist credentials on many occasions in the past.
The question is, where did the left that now show off insignias of the Virgin of Guadalupe, hand out alms like madmen and turn Mexico City into an immense circus where commercial spectacles predominate? From the PRI. That's where Dante Delgado, Camacho, Ebrard, El Peje. When they were priistas they didn't have even one leftist thought.
*As far as "useful idiot", I assume given the context that was what he referred to with "compañero de ruta", although there's a lot of distance between those two phrases. Which makes me wonder what the term really means in Russian.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
After decades of mistrust and sometimes betrayal, Mexican and U.S. authorities are increasingly setting aside their differences to unite against a common enemy. According to interviews in Washington and Mexico City, the two countries are sharing sensitive intelligence and computer technology, military hardware and, perhaps most importantly, U.S. know-how to train and vet Mexican agents. Police and soldiers secretly on the cartels' payroll have long poisoned efforts at cross-border cooperation against some of the world's most dangerous criminal organizations.I've probably written it once or twice as well. Many bits of interesting information follow, including about the 10,000 Federal Police cadets that Mexico hopes to graduate from its San Luis Potosí academy (with US help) by next spring.
1) Rescuing the state and putting it at the service of the people and the nation2) Democratizing the mass media3) Creating a new economy4) Combating monopolistic practices5) Abolishing fiscal special treatment6) Exercising politics as an ethical imperative7) Strengthening the energy sector8) Achieving nutritional sovereignty9) Establishing a welfare state10) Promoting a new current of thought
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
The first part is a defensible position, but the second is wrong. First of all, because the previous two pacts that drug gangs have tried to hammer out (in June of 2008 and January of 2009, I believe), with the government's support, have not held, and the country has gotten a lot more violent. The biggest reason for that is, in my estimation, the fact that the trafficking industry is way too fragmented for any group to call a nationwide truce that means anything. As much as you hear about the five big cartels in the media, it's easy to draw a conclusion that if Calderón promises to let the five leaders go about their business, and the same five leaders agreed to not kill each other, then Mexico would turn into Costa Rica. But there's is nothing in the last five years to suggest that such a scenario is possible. Mexico's drug trafficking industry is not a battle between a few armed groups, but a wide open free market, a cauldron of splinter groups and new players and regional heavyweights. That's why the most "dangerous" gang today is one no one had heard of five years ago, and the most "dangerous" gang five years ago was one that no one had heard of ten years ago. This is part of the reason that I think the benefit of not using the word cartel goes beyond mere semantics: we simplify the situation far too much by classifying hundreds of different drug gangs into five cartels.
But even supposing that the tacit pact was a viable option, it would still be wrong. First, there's the moral issue; a government that establishes a pact with criminals, tacit though it may be, loses its moral authority to act on other issues, like strengthening the corporate tax code. If Slim armed a bunch of henchmen to start dropping bodies in response to a telecom tax in order to come to a tacit agreement, how would that be any different from the drug gangs?
Furthermore, the tacit agreement that persisted in the 1980s and 1990s was a) a lot more violent than is remembered today, and b) led to the disaster of a mole for drug traffickers working as Vicente Fox's travel secretary, among other achievements. This is something that was covered in De Las Maras a Las Zetas and last week's column from Macario Schettino: a lot of people in Mexican government, especially in the Fox administration, were slow to realize the threat that drug traffickers posed to the nation's democracy, not specifically because of the violence, but because of its corrupting power. That's not to say that Mexico is within light years of being a failed state, but leaving drug traffickers to their devices under a tacit pact, while it might lead to less violence, increases the threat to Mexico's government.
It seems that Stiglitz doesn't know that Mexico was battered by two blows: the global economic recession, including in the United States, and the decline in oil production of 800,000 barrels a day, Carstens said.The effectiveness of Mexico's response often boils down to whether or not the nation should have taken on more debt. I can't offer an expert opinion on that, but it definitely seems as though most Mexican analysts were more leery of doing so (and, like Carstens, use the impossibility of indebting the government as a justification of the response) than were foreign observers. That in turn seems to be a lingering psychological effect of the crises of the 1980s and 1990s.
"We didn't have the option of taking on more debt. One has to act responsibly and that was what was president Calderón decided and what he did", added Carstens in a forum on Mexican infrastructure projects with international investors.
In Mérida, another Mexican 108-pound champ, Giovanni Segura, climbs between the ropes to face off against another Filipino challenger, Sonny Boy Jaro. Like Sosa, I see Segura having an entertaining and ultimately successful defense, ending in a later-round KO. On the undercard, I like yet another Mexican 108-pound titlist (albeit a former belt-holder), Ulises Solis, to find success in his leap up to 112 pounds, with a decision win over very faded former title challenger Gilberto Keb Bass.
Elsewhere, I like the Filipino rising star Marvin Sonsona to take care of business in Ontario with a knockout of the never-before-stopped Alejandro Hernández.
And in the Super Six, I think Kessler leaves Oakland with an impressive decision over Andre Ward, which would be a solid win against a really tricky opponent on his home turf. The Americans, 0-3 with the Ward loss, will need to step up in the second round of the Super Six.
Gancho is 84 up, 28 down on the year.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
And if you add to this that toward the end of next year Nava must be ratified or a new leader to handle the election of a presidential candidate must be elected, all of the ingredients for panista division seem to be present. They can be united by only one episode, if it is understood as such: the existence of a common enemy.The only thing I'd add is that such disagreement is not abnormal for a party that's not winning elections, especially with a presidential race coming up. To a certain degree, it's like team sports: winning can cover up a lot of problems.
There are the decades of corruption from the PRI and its presidents. The corrupt indolence of the PAN governments. The perredistas corrupted across the nation. The corrupt unions. The corrupted and corrupting politicians. The great political family of Mexico turned into a bunch of thieves. It would take an encyclopedia to name all of the people that are the emblem of national corruption. They, as have many others, have contributed to the present decadence. They collaborate brilliantly in their robbery.The anger is understandable, but I think Mexican analysts sometimes paint with too broad a brush on this kind of stuff. Instead of just calling them a "bunch of thieves", tell us who the dishonest are, but mention the honest politicians too. Mention the successes. And, once again, where was the finger-pointing to go with last week's gender gap ranking, which was far worse?
We have lost the way. We don’t believe in ourselves, we don’t know where we stand nor in what direction we are going. The nation navigates, aimlessly, between the yoke of a mediocre, abusive, myopic political class, and population that debates the question of whether it’s better to return to the past and the desire to hop on the train of development that every day seems farther away.I think there's a lot of truth to that; Mexicans are relentlessly down on Mexico. Of course, there's been a lot of reason for that lately, but much of it is not directly related to the grimness of the evening news. People just repeat the tired old saws because they've heard them a million times before. It makes me wonder a Reagan or an Obama-type of politician who builds a campaign that on hope and optimism, who focuses more on what Mexico can become rather than where it is lacking, could find a very responsive electorate right now. Peña Nieto would seem to be the most likely to implement such a strategy, but really, the door is wide open.
While Brazil, Colombia, and Chile show us that it is possible to combine social inclusion, economic growth, and the rule of law, years ago we stopped believing in our capacity to continue improving.
We have to believe in ourselves again. Not in the Tlatoani incarnate, not in illuminated saviors that propose to throw us off a cliff, not in corrupt union leaders, not in those deputies who worry about their Christmas bonus, not in those parties that are sterile with proposals and avid about more money for their campaigns, not in the yellow journalists, disrespectful of the intelligence of the citizens. The answer doesn’t lie in them: it’s in us, who can do what we want, that must do so better than ever before, for ourselves and our children. The country is in play. We’ll have to see if there are patriots than opportunists and criminals. And we’ll have to see it soon, before everything falls apart.
My colleague Ignacio Marván hit the nail on the head: the approval of the 2010 budget has signified the beginning of the congressional government in Mexico. From Congress, particularly in the Chamber of Deputies, the PRI will try to govern the country. On this occasion they gave a lot of money to local governments, which is where the PRI has its principal power base. In the future, the PRI will continue strengthening the power of the legislative branch and of the state governments to the detriment of the executive branch, as one of the steps to return to Los Pinos in 2012. If the achieve this objective, well then they will have the presidency in their power. If they don’t, well they will have already weakened the executive; they’ll be able to continue governing from Congress and the local governments, as they do now.
The logic of mediocrity continues alive and well. In the recent election of the president of the National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH), the Senators overlooked the candidate with the most complete profile: that rare mix of experience, knowledge of the issue, strength, and serenity that Emilio Álvarez Icaza has. The political interests didn’t dare to elect an uncomfortable ombudsman, although this is the reason for being for a defender of human rights: to be uncomfortable to those in power.He has an interesting historical explanation for it, one I'd not heard before. In the years of the presidential dedazo determining who would rise to power, docility and quiet competence were the ideal qualities for an ambitious pol, not standout performance. In effect, there was a system-wide reward for mediocrity.
The same thing that happened in the CNDH and in the IFE repeats itself in other crucial spaces of the republic, the brown-nosers arrive, those who assure the interests of those who put them there, that’s why the organizations have decayed and very little is left of their autonomy.
Another practice that prevails is that of quotas and exchanges between the parties. That’s why, when we are on the brink of settling other crucial elections --namely, those of the two ministers of the Supreme Court and the governorship of the Bank of Mexico—there are bad signals.
But if that is, irredeemably, the logic of the powerful, we citizens focus on watching them, scrutinizing, verifying the fulfillment of their responsibilities…
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
In the midst of a raging river, the priístas gallop toward 2012 applying the maxim that "when your enemy is fucking up, don't distract him..."
The best photo. The advancing march. There one would expect to find the best of the Mexican left concentrated. Well, together with Esparza there were Porfirio Muñoz Ledo, Manuel Bartlett, Gerardo Fernández Noroña, Jaime Cárdenas: none of them has ever been of the left. Muñoz Ledo, a man who was intelligent and now, in any forum or restaurant, like the street corner speakers from Hyde Park, limits himself to demanding the overthrow of Felipe Calderón. The same man who praised Díaz Ordaz for the massacre in '68, who was secretary of labor in the Echeverría government and organized the repression...of the SME. And the same man with a long history of betrayals and abandonments: of Cárdenas, Fox, and the PRD.
Bartlett has worked since 1988 to be in that group and only now is he achieving it. In 1987, he was the pre-candidate of the PRI of Porfirio and Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas: if he had been unveiled by Miguel de la Madrid the PRD wouldn't have been born. What a paradox: he wasn't and it was his job to handle the election of 1988. He had his prize: with Salinas he was the secretary of education and governor of Puebla, both by presidential designation, but Manuel says that he was never a salinista. And he still managed to be senator for six years. Bartlett is an intelligent and sophisticated man, who somehow must have enjoyed that the SME protesters received him with applause rather than pictures of the dinosaur Barney.
There was the now rock-hard deputy Jaime Cárdenas. But now is his political origin even remotely of the left. Jaime began to shine when he was designated counselor of the IFE: he wasn't proposed by the PRD, but rather by the priísta Fernando Ortiz Arana, to whom he was close adviser. Once in the IFE his enemy was Zedillo (origin is destiny) and he displayed an independence that took him even to demand a life-long pension upon leaving the Institute. And immediately after he presented himself as a loyal follower of López Obrador. Why even mention Fernández Noroña? When was the now-ferocious deputy ever a part of the left? In his days as an IMSS worker? Now, like all good converts, he is the grand inquisitor of the "new left".
[O]ur new left has ended up together with marginal provocateurs, together with the restorers of the oldest priísmo, allied with the broadcaster that it hated before, and with the most conservative wing of the church.
It is insisted that Mexicans in general suffer from [a corrupt character], when in reality it is the authorities of all of the political parties that allow its perpetuation as accomplices or simple spectators.This follows an opinion piece yesterday from Ernesto López Portillo, which essentially made the opposite case (though before the ranking was known) about the causes of insecurity:
A few days ago I was riding in a taxi and the same driver that complaining about the bad government because of the insecurity was running every stop sign he could, increasing his insecurity and that of everyone else. We must carry out a job of bottom up and vice versa. The co-production of healthy living and of security goes in both direction. The leadership to promote it and make it a reality must come from within and outside of the public domain...So, dear reader, the next time you go out on the street, look in the mirror and ask yourselves if you are a producer of insecurity or security.I agree with López Portillo that it would be nice if there was more respect for traffic laws, but I think to a certain extant this complaint is rote in Mexico. Furthermore, I'm not convinced of the link between respect for traffic laws and the society-wide existence of corruption or a bad security climate. That's a broken window too far. I remember being blown away by the way people drove in Santiago, far more than when I arrived here in Torreón, yet Chile was Latin America's least corrupt country, and is much less violent than Mexico. Personally, I break traffic laws on a daily basis (though none too grave), but that doesn't make me more tolerant of official malfeasance. I guess my lead foot makes me something of a hypocrite, but not a bad citizen (at least not in the watchdog sense). There's no reason that a society-wide improvement in respect for rules has to be a prerequisite for a Mexico that is more vigilant in penalizing corruption right now.