Sunday, February 28, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
Calderón seems to be selling the idea that he is above the political fray, and he has no responsibility for the alliances. Any political decisions come from César Nava, and Calderón can disapprove of them like any ordinary panista, but he can't interfere with the process. That's simply not credible. PRI big shot Jesús Murrillo, for one, doesn't believe it. But it's not a silly strategy simply because it beggars belief; even if you give the president the benefit of the doubt, he comes off looking like a powerless dupe despite occupying the most important position in the country. He's either disingenuous or impotent, neither of which is a very appealing trait.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
I had the same reaction to Sarukhán's denial. American agents have long been known to operate on Mexican soil. The examples of it are legion: Enrique Camarena, the two DEA agents who were nearly abducted by Osiel Cárdenas, et cetera. Not only are such examples many, they are not controversial, or at least, they haven't been. There was a controversy a few years ago about whether DEA agents (I believe, although maybe it was another branch of the US government) could be armed, but not whether they could be here. And even that controversy was more about hair-splitting over the explicit right versus the accepted custom.
Yesterday, William Booth of the Washington Post reported:
For the first time, U.S. officials plan to embed American intelligence agents in Mexican law enforcement units to help pursue drug cartel leaders and their hit men operating in the most violent city in Mexico, according to U.S. and Mexican officials.
Later in the day, Arturo Saukhan, the Mexican Ambassador to Washington, and U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Carlos Pascual, denied that that any United States agents are working in Mexican territory and that there are no plans to seek a change to Mexican law to allow such operations.
Of course, there ARE U.S. agents working in Mexico (we have a Drug Enforcement Agency office here in Mazatán. and –when the news cycle is slow — you can count on an expose of the U.S. agents at the Mexico City airport (looking for U.S. citizens transferring from Cuban flights to U.S. ones, no doubt) — but they aren’t “embedded” and, it sounds as if this is either wishful thinking on the U.S. government’s part, or Booth is talking about trainers of some sort… which isn’t controversial, given that Mexican police and military units have received training from Israeli, French and Spanish police in the past.
Pemex's relationship with organized crime is nothing new, but it's generally been the criminals stealing and then selling oil. Using Pemex as a holding station is something new.
*I guess it's not a platform, but the above makes a better, folksier 1950s-ish movie title.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
This reporter doesn't know if Aguirre imagined that no one would find out about his words, or if he was animated by a Spanish red wine or if he was just comfortable in the interview, but this much I know, he didn't say a single lie and his critical exercise doesn't exhibit a lack of commitment to his country or his team.I'm not sure I agree with that. Aguirre, of course, is free to speak his mind, but he's also a representative of the country, an ambassador before the world, of sorts. What he does reflects on Mexico. And he wasn't asked specifically about insecurity; he was asked "How's Mexico?" He volunteered, "Fucked up", and then expanded on his views at length.
There are a lot of expectations regarding the Mexican team and then there are voices that go overboard. Champions? Mexico is what it is, it was 15th in Germany, in Korea when I was coach it was 11th and four years before that in France 13th and four years earlier in the US it was 13th.
The Germans wouldn't permit its banks to be held by foreigners. Now that in the US their banks went under, they didn't let any foreigner arrive to save them, they don't let foreigners in.This strikes me as odd, not least because one of those most responsible for the influx of foreign banks is Salinas himself. Furthermore, I don't know about Germany, but the argument about the States is just not true. To take but one obvious example, Barclays acquired Lehman Brothers in 2008. Other foreign banks, from Credit Suisse to ING, operate on US soil, and have long done so. Why is Salinas lying? And when did he turn into a populist on financial issues?
This kind of thing illustrates why the standard narrative about political collusion with the organized crime --politician X sold the city to drug gang Y-- is a bit simplistic. Politicians are much more products of the surrounding business community than the criminal community. Given that it's horrible news for local business, the travel alert is bad news for the elected officials. In other words, a surge in violence is decidedly not in the interest of local politicians interested in continuing as politicians. There certainly are cases where local officials do in fact sell the plaza to one group (although often in such cases the guilty parties are federal appointees whose popularity among the local voters is largely irrelevant to their career), either because he (or she) is scared, or he has a skewed view of his interest, or he values the kickback more than his future electoral prospects, but it doesn't seem logical in most cases.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Strengthening ties to Brazil, on the other hand, offers significant economic -- and strategic -- potential for Mexico. Mexico's oil sector has been declining since the 1980s because the state-owned oil company, PEMEX, suffers from gross inefficiencies and a lack of deep-sea drilling capacity. Petrobras, Brazil's state-owned petroleum company, has the capacity to aid PEMEX in tapping the estimated 30 million barrels of crude deposited beneath the Gulf of Mexico. It can also invigorate PEMEX's refining capacity (Mexico is forced to import 40 percent of its oil because it lacks refineries), and expand Mexico's presence in the biodiesel market.I think that last bolded part is key, and it's equally (if not more) applicable to Mexican trade with the US. Both sides of the argument often imply that it's an either/or question: either Mexico puts its eggs in the US basket, or it looks south. On trade, that's not really necessary. (Politically it's a little more complicated.) If Mexico were to increase its commerce with Brazil or any other nation, as an overall percentage of Mexican commerce, it's not like the gross trade numbers with the US would have to decline. Rather, everyone gets wealthier. Mexico doesn't turn its back on the US in expanding trade with Brazil or China or Europe, any more than the US does by doing business with the same nations.
Additionally, Brazil's growing middle class is ripe for Mexican durable goods. Home ownership is growing rapidly in Brazil, and consumer credit has expanded by more than 20 percent annually since 2002. Unlike Europeans or Americans, Brazilian consumers were undaunted last year, another hopeful sign. Hitching its economy to another large consumer market would diversify Mexico's exports, and would likely engender a positive cycle by attracting foreign direct investment into Mexico in order to target the Brazilian market.
A pact with Brazil could also prove a strategic coup for Mexico. Brazil's opposition to U.S. agricultural subsidies is currently the biggest barrier to a regional free trade agreement between the Americas. The prospect of being excluded from a trade pact between Latin America's two largest economies may entice the U.S. to negotiate on its agricultural subsidies as a means of relaunching a hemispheric trade deal. (Currently the U.S. is only offering to negotiate on agricultural subsidies via the Doha talks at the WTO.) Opposition by populist leaders may impede a regional free trade deal in the short term, but if the U.S. reconsiders its subsidies, Mexico stands to benefit regardless.
Building ties with Brazil offers Mexico better prospects than with Europe, but the two needn't be mutually exclusive. Indeed, Brazil's growth could mean the rapid development of domestic enterprises that could whittle away room for Mexican goods, leaving a narrower window for developing trade ties than with Europe. And in either case, trade cannot cure all ills, as NAFTA attests.
I'm a privileged man because I have seen my worst enemies fall, I watched Pancho Herrera die like a dog and saw the Rodríguez Orejuelas extradited, scared and crying. A person watches his worst enemies die from jail and it's very gratifying.Evidently the years in the can have not softened him. This reminds of the bit from Richard Pryor when he went to prison looking for solidarity with the oppressed, and came out saying "Thank God we have penitentiaries".
Monday, February 22, 2010
A slightly less famous general, Mexican Defense Secretary Guillermo Galván, said last week that the fight against drugs can't be continued forever and that Mexico's Congress needs to pass security reforms as soon as possible. The article only paraphrases his comments, so as far as the "fight" against drug traffickers (which was also paraphrased as a war at one point), it's hard to know if he means the use of the army or just the generalized spirit of combat with drug traffickers.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Say this much about Tiger: People give a crap. I don't know anyone who didn't watch this morning's speech. There isn't another athlete -- not one -- who could have made the world stop from 11 to 11:15 like Tiger Woods did.I don't live in a cave, and I know zero people who watched it, nor did anyone mention it to me yesterday. Of course, I do live in Mexico, but I can't imagine that among my family and friends in the States, much more than 10 percent stopped what they were doing to watch the press conference live. It was mildly interesting when new information was still coming out and before the supply of stupid jokes had been exhausted, but ever since then, it's been kind of tiresome.
In a few weeks, or a few months, Tiger will start hitting golf balls and everything will be fine again. I just want to get there. For now, we apparently have to put up with a few more weeks (and possibly months) of the Tiger Woods Rehabilitation Tour. There will be more rehab, more staged photos, more secrecy and eventually a carefully planned interview with the right person who won't be a threat to ask him anything interesting. Wake me up when he plays a tournament.
Like so many other mega-celebrities who became famous too early, it's as though they never properly develop the part of their brain that controls this question: "How can I win over the person I'm talking to right now?" When you become famous too early, you don't have to win over anyone. You just have to exist.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Laws like these aren't a bad thing, but the reason that extortion, et al is such a huge problem is not the lack of a victims' rights law, but the fact that those charged with investigating and punishing such crimes (namely the police) are largely corrupt and/or incompetent. A new law won't be worth a whole lot if the Mexico doesn't improve the quality of the people who implement it at the most basic level.In other words, the solution to Mexico's kidnapping problem cannot be primarily legislative.
It seems that much of this criticism comes from the point of view that the a strengthened SEP needs to be the white horse to defeat the evil SNTE. That may be partly true, but in my not-insubstantial experience with the SEP, it's also an embarrassment, to put it mildly. I have had no dealings with the SNTE, so it may well be worse (a scary thought), but I've never had any interaction with the SEP that didn't start from a pointless premise, that didn't include hours of time wasted, and that wasn't marked by inexplicable inefficiency and a lack of professionalism. If the SEP is the white horse, God help Mexico.
Second, with a good bit more publicity, there's Manuel Clouthier, who criticized Calderón's security strategy for its lack of commitment to Sinaloa, criticized the subsequent criticism of his comments, and is now listening to calls for his resignation from the party. More on that here from Richard.
A certain amount of sniping and disunion is only natural as the presidential campaign approaches, but a lot of what's been pulling the PAN apart in recent months isn't the inevitable electoral jockeying. That's got to be a bit worrying for PAN supporters.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
According to a spokesman from [the PGR], for them its strictly a judicial matter and "not based on social, political, or religious considerations". Why do the panistas hide their conservatism and shield themselves with legal arguments? Why the shame at defending their values? Could it be because, as Héctor Aguilar Camín says, the conservative reaction against gay marriage only hides the profound homophobia that exists in our country? Would it embarrass panistas to admit that prejudice?These days I have heard some liberals that are in favor of gay marriage, and their right to adopt, but that believe that it was an error for the capital city government to approve this law because it will wake up the powerful "conservative lion" that exists in Mexico. They argue that, as was the case with the decriminalization of abortion, this will unleash a conservative reaction that will not only set liberal legislation in Mexico City back, but will also promote regressive legislation across the country. I don't share this worry. If this type of law awakens the conservative lion, then it is welcome. Liberals will have to confront this carnivore, as long as it doesn't hide behind "strictly judicial" arguments.
Since there was a several-months lag time between the explosion of the financial crisis and the implosion of Calderón's popularity, it seems logical that as the popular perception of the improving Mexican economy takes hold over the next several months, Calderón's popularity should bounce back a bit. News like the upward revision of Mexico's official GDP growth projection will only help this process along, albeit slowly. Although, at that point it could be too late for his popularity to have any impact on his agenda, if it ever did.
[Violence] has permeated the society, without a doubt, I remember 20 or 25 years ago when I still played football drug traffickers were active, but they took care of business between themselves, today you can't walk around calmly because suddenly there are problems and you are caught in the middle, I'm of course someone known, respected, but one never knows.I hope that doesn't mean he's planning on Mexico not performing well, because that really would endanger his wellbeing. Everyone enjoys the right to feel safe in their everyday existence, but you have to wonder if Aguirre could have handled this in a way that didn't tar the image of his country. The hysterical newspaper openers all but write themselves:
The violence has now grown to the point that even a revered figure like the national team soccer coach is voluntarily exiling himself.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
That's still, however, more than Mexico accomplished in attacking dirty money. I don't know the ins and outs of the recently passed asset-seizure law, and it could be that for technical reasons it's very difficult to apply liberally (although the recent criticism from Carlos Navarrete would seem to indicate that it's more a matter of will), but it's an open secret which bars and restaurants are fronts for drug traffickers here in Torreón. As ever, more could be done on this issue.
The municipalities seem to be an afterthought in terms of funding by the federal and state authorities, but in the final analysis they are a litmus test of the historic limitations of federalism in Mexico.Mexico's got more pressing reforms at the moment, but at some point legislation further federalizing the nation's governing structures is going to be needed.
With the exception of the local property tax (the “predial”) and some minor fees, the municipalities depend on federal government funding. While a “federalist” reform from the sexenio of Zedillo provided for many transfers from the federal government directly to the municipalities, the states retain a kind of “sticky” hand in the process.
The property tax is a weak reed to lean on. The OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) has studied the question of the property tax as a funding source of local governments, providing a startling insight into the Mexican municipal problem. As a rule of thumb, the OECD notes that developed nations collect property taxes at a level from 3% to 4% of the GDP. This is the situation with the US and with the UK. Mexico is at the bottom of the OECD list of nations collecting less than 0.4% of GDP in its property taxes; many municipalities collect less than 0.2%. The municipal governments are perennially under-financed.
They are also woefully underrepresented in lobbying. The CONAMM (National Conference of Municipalities of Mexico) is an association of the various technical, regional-thematic and partybased municipal associations. But, the strongest political lobbying is done by the FENAMM (Federation of Municipalities of Mexico includes some 1,510 members) affiliated with the PRI.
Update: I should add that the last sentence takes Calderón's denial of knowing about Gómez Mont's quid pro quo at face value, which virtually no one is doing.
I mentioned last week how the South of Mexico in a relatively short time has gone from a major locus of violence to a big reason why, record drug violence notwithstanding, the nation is safer now than ten years ago. Unemployment in that region is traditionally low, so it can't explain the whole of that transition, but achieving full employment certainly doesn't make public security more complicated.
I've not seen any response from local officials about this, but I wonder if part of the problem is capacity: lots of municipal governments, long deficient in autonomy and over-reliant on the federal government, don't have the know-how to make multi-million dollar security purchases, whether they are hardware or police certification programs (such as the Certipol program at the Instituto para la Democracia y la Seguridad) or whatever. In any event, the inability of municipal governments to police their jurisdictions remains a major handicap for Mexican public security.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Everything indicates that the Mexico City government was aware of the emergency, but they didn't give it importance; now Ebrard, skillfully, appears on the streets handing out refrigerators and money to citizens whom he didn't alert about the danger.Because we shouldn't forget that the capital government has denied to make public the risk map for Mexico City, which signals the vulnerable zones in case of earthquakes, floods, or rains.And that's without taking into account that the previous UNAM administration tired of warning the Mexico City government that it had to address the drainage problem in the city or it could flood; El Peje told them to go to hell and here are the consequences.
Anyway, since Mexico is on average much safer than both Brazil and Russia, one can only conclude that insofar as Mexico's security problems inhibit economic growth, it is mostly a problem of image. And among the largest impediments to improving that image is influential columnists viewing Mexico almost exclusively through the prism of its struggles with organized crime, and in the process inflating the significance of that challenge.
Rachman tackles other elements of Mexico's problems later in the column, such as over-reliance on the US, monopolies, and Calderón's relative lack of prestige compared to Lula (although the same charge could be labeled at virtually every world leader not named Obama). He could have also mentioned that the somewhat arbitrary concept of Bric nations is much tidier than the reality, and being left out isn't like being demoted from the Premier League. (After all, Russia, hardly a paragon of economic dynamism, is a Bric nation.) Such explanations may be more boring, but they are also more important.
Other findings: schools are the most trusted institutions in Mexico, with 80 percent of Mexicans believing in the nation's educational institutions. This is followed by the Church (75 percent) and the army (74 percent). At the bottom of the list were the unions (30 percent), the police (29 percent) and the deputies (28 percent).
I imagine that most people will assume this is a fib aimed at cementing the image of Calderón as above the political fray. I have no idea if it's true or not, but if it's a lie, it's certainly not a lie that makes Calderón look very good.
Monday, February 15, 2010
In other Juárez news, 2,000 Federal Police troops are on their way to Juárez. A portion of this group will focus on protecting bars and nightclubs, while another will seek to prevent extortion by operating in commercial areas. Also, local businessmen are not satisfied with Calderón's plan for the city.In summary, a catalogue of measures that it would be hard to question. Nevertheless, everything indicates that the new strategy in Juárez responds more to the political pressure deriving from the killing of the young Juárez residents than to the magnitude of the problem.The proposals announced by Calderón seek to satisfy those sectors that think that the development of organized crime is directly linked to social inequality. Nevertheless, such a position doesn't exactly define the problem. It's true that the growth of common crime is directly associated with social inequality. And organized crime also feeds off of common crime. Which is to say, a criminal career begins with small crimes until it climbs to organized crime. That's why it's important to have a preventative and social development approach, as is applying the law with minor crimes, with the goal of preventing young people from developing a criminal career. The problem is that once organized crime takes root, as has been the case in Ciudad Juárez and in a good part of the country, the preventative approach has little or no impact in reverting the phenomenon.[Break]In Ciudad Juárez the crime-prevention measures without a doubt failed. The problem of the deterioration of the social fabric was not addressed and common crime grew. But the application of the law also failed.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
According to the latest National Survey on Political Culture and Citizen Practices in 2008, 54 percent of Mexicans feel that the deputies represent the voters' point of view only a little or not at all. Only 11 percent consider that, when passing laws, legislators take into account the interests of the population. A mere 5 percent say that they have asked for the help of a deputy or senator. And all of the polls demonstrate that the two houses of Congress are, together with the police and the parties, among the institutions with the least trust granted by the citizenry. Against that backdrop, it seems to me that many Mexicans are asking themselves, why should we give these men who represent us and so bother us the right to reelect themselves?[Break][Those of us] who believer in reelection have ahead of us the task of persuading public opinion. We must explain the benefit of this modification. It's not easy in a political culture where the word "reelection" has a negative connotation. That is, therefore, the challenge that I think requires the coordinated efforts of politicians, academics, intellectuals, journalists, and citizens that are in favor of legislative reelection, not as a magic process that will solve all of the nation's problems, but that will demonstrably improve the performance of our democracy.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Through public debates with declared presidential candidates, meetings with students, and discussions with businessmen and political activists in many corners of Mexico, Aguilar Camín and I have begun to move the country away from the body- and head-count of the country's bloody drug war, and its understandable obsession with violence and organized crime.A pretty high opinion of his influence, don't you think? Also, as a matter of fact, he just wrote a long article slamming Calderón's "war" for a major American magazine in which the body count appeared in the third sentence. Incidentally, Beith thinks he's running for president in 2012.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Juárez and El Paso created a promising development zone. They were cities of similar size, capable of attracting investment with a regional impact. Their inevitable closeness stimulated a mobility in both directions. The negative part was the serial murder of women, which was marked with impunity. This incompetency generated justifiable reactions that inhibited investment. The vaccuum was occupied by organized crime, with local, national, and international examples.
In the last five years, the tolerance of the state authority consolidated criminal structures that have advanced despite the massive deployment of Federal Police, replaced by the army that was in turn again replaced by Federal Police. This disorder has made Juárez's criminal bands opt for guerrilla tactics, mocking the elite corps. The operational hesitation confirms that the federal government in the creation of trustworthy institutions, which explains the actions of marines in Cuernavaca or constant purges of police commands.
Ciudad Juárez is Mexico but not all of Mexico is Ciudad Juárez. It's important to make the distinction. The rot in this failed town is not anything close to the reality of the entire country. Nevertheless, it's all of Mexico's job to combat the infected boil on the national body that is Ciudad Juárez. A fetid ulcer, which every days oozes more pus, that should give us shame. The federal, state, and local governments must integrate a Ciudad Juárez Commission that, with the participation of civil society groups, proposes as soon as possible a series of public policies in every sector that immediately solves the unacceptable situation in that locality.
*Though not before many of us are left with permanent hearing loss.
It appears as though a threshold has been broken and local and federal officials alike are approaching the border city's problems with an open mind and a new sense of purpose. The massacre that sparked the flurry of attention on Juárez was truly awful, so this reaction is logical and, insofar as it reflects the government responding to the citizens' needs, admirable. At the same time, why did it take so long? Juárez has been the most dangerous city in the country for than two years. It has been arguably the most dangerous city in the world for a year. Horrible as it was, the murder of the 16 teenagers two weekends ago was not the only mass killing in Juárez over the past two years.
Likewise, Juárez's educational problems are severe; we should all be scandalized by the fact that, according to Proceso, the West Side of the city, where 40 percent of the city's population (or about 600,000 people) resides, has only two operating high schools. Good for Calderón for including this in his new strategy. However, this is an issue that existed in 2006 when Calderón took office; that would have been a gigantic obstacle for the city even without the recent explosion in violence; and that I imagine is repeated in lots of other border towns, which means that there are several if not dozens of other bubbling social cauldrons that we aren't paying sufficient attention to simply because they have not yet spilled over into anarchy. I don't mean to complain about Calderón and co. finally addressing a longstanding challenge, nor do they deserve more blame than the other leaders who've ignored the deep-seated problem for generations, but one can't help but wonder if there would be 1,500 gangs operating in Juárez today if what is being pronounced with great fanfare today was carried out quietly ten and twenty years ago.
I also worry that if the Juárez strategy, with its conspicuous focus on social issues, doesn't work, it will discourage a socially conscious security approach elsewhere in Mexico.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
One of the most interesting findings is the trend on whether or not abortion should be a crime. In April of 2007, only 20 percent said no, while 74 percent said yes. Today, after 17 states have criminalized the procedure, 46 percent say that it should not be a crime, compared to 41 percent who say that it should. To me, this says that there is indeed a deep reservoir of anti-abortion sentiment in Mexico, but it's much stronger in the abstract than in reality. For a large sector of Mexico, once their more distant beliefs on abortion come into contact with the reality of criminalization, they become less avid in their pro-life stances.
If there is no financial war, there is no war. The frontal attack on drug trafficking, wielded by President Calderón since the beginning of his term as a legitimacy strategy and an emblem of his government, has lacked throughout this time a fundamental ingredient.This column and other similar complaints presumably led to the Tuesday news story that I wrote about yesterday. It's not an adequate response.
For public viewing, we see arrested cartel leaders, lieutenants, chiefs of hit men, hit men, financial operators, city bosses, corrupt officials, falcons, soup-makers, high and low-caliber weapons, fake uniforms, radio communication equipment, armored cars, bricks of marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, but almost never --expect in that memorable case of the "Chinese" Zhenli Ye Gon-- large quantities of money nor bank accounts with juicy balances.
The UN calculates that Mexican drug traffickers launder $30 billion per year in Mexico. The government doesn't know where that money is and, what's worse, it doesn't seem to be looking for it.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
[I]t's a confirmation of what many of wanted to deny, without basing their opinions on evidence, that the government pressure has obligated these organizations to deepen their contractions and embark upon an internecine war that will wind up exhausting them. It's not politically correct to say it, it sounds much better to speak of legalizing drugs or of seeking new strategies (never saying what these would be), or even negotiating with the cartels, but the reality is that the governmental pressure, despite all its shortcomings, is bringing the cartels to these levels of self-destruction.
Short sentences! Short sentences! Short sentences! I will grant you three clauses from capital letter to period, dear boy, provided that one of them is subordinate; should you exceed your quota, I will bring this ruler down on your wrist with terrific force!
Update: The decision was due to the alliances.
Every day it's worse. There's no exit in sight and the measures that the federal government have taken have failed. But instead of recognizing it, Felipe Calderón talks of a "new strategy" that he's going to negotiate with Juárez residents. What is the cause of all this ineptitude? A government that decided to confront organized crime without having a strategy, without instruments, without calculating the levels of corruption that are in the police and the judicial systems of the state. A government that decided to send in the army, as if this option was going to resolve anything, when it's well known that the army can't work as a police agency. Where are the necessary reforms to attack organized crime? Where is the project to make a national police unifies multiple corporations?I'd say this is a bit unfair; Aziz gives Calderón a 0 and you can argue that he doesn't deserve a passing grade, but he has indeed made an effort. For instance, Aziz asks where the reforms are. Well, last April the government passed a potentially significant asset-seizure law, and in 2008 there was a groundbreaking judicial reform. There are certainly issues with the application (see the Carlos Navarrete's recent criticism of the government for not using the asset-seizure law), but the idea that Calderón's team has done nothing but twiddle its thumbs isn't accurate.
And here's someone with a very different take on public security, Jorge Fernández Menéndez:
One [option for Juárez] that should be considered seriously is establishing a sort of state of emergency in the city and its metropolitan area, as agreed to by the city, the state, and the federal government, so as to recover territory and establish limits that are essential in the present environment. One example is visible only a few meters from Juárez, in El Paso, where the members of gangs (that's where Los Aztecas and Los Artistas Asesinos, who are directly responsible for a good part of the murders that have been committed in the city, come from) are prohibited from going out, except in cases of evident urgency, starting at 10 at night. These rules have been established, for example, in the Barrio Azteca of El Paso, where the gang that carries that name comes from and operates with enormous liberty on this side of the border.Fernández Menéndez was also very supportive of the decision to move the state government operations to Juárez, which has provoked a great deal of criticism of Chihuahua Governor José Reyes Baeza.
It will be said that it's not necessary, that this way the civilian population is sacrificed, but the fact is that this plan seeks to recover tranquility and that, with certain measures, such as this one, much more control can be achieved.
In any event, what this positively doesn't show is that more people are going to jail for money laundering, or that drug traffickers are having their pseudo-legitimate businesses taken from them because of their connection to dirty money.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
During the height of the Zapatista uprising in the mid 1990s - a rebellion fueled by land conflicts - southern Chiapas state had a rate of nearly 40 per 100,000 people with 1,000 homicides a year. By 2008, that fell to 8 per 100,000 people with 364 killings.It's not just Chiapas; throughout Mexico's southern region, rural killings have dropped off the charts since the 1990s. Given that the degree of the decline is such that a five-fold increase in drug killings in three years is more than offset, this is rather remarkable, a mini-Mexican miracle in the midst of the anarchy in Juárez and widespread violence across the North and in much of the interior of the country as well. I suspect that much of that is unrelated to Marcos, but I'd love to see a deeper explanation.
This definitely fits with the idea of Juárez being violent not only because two kingpins have decided to fight it out (which is true), but because there's just a more generalized social unraveling in the city. You also get the feeling that there's such a proliferation of autonomous violent groups that it's beyond the power of one or two or three hegemonic groups --be they the government or Chapo Guzmán's people-- to keep a lid on it all.
Resolve his personal relationship with the actress Angélica Rivera, which whom it is said that he will be married between May and October, as he himself intimated in his recent visit to the Vatican.I'm not sure if it says more about the author or the subject that the first item on his list has to do with his personal life, the next two are purely horse-race political concerns, while actually preparing himself to serve as president is a virtual afterthought. And this regarding a politician about whose ideology and economic philosophy we know little, to boot. A Peña Nieto campaign and presidency has the potential to be an orgy of superficiality.
Resolve his succession, which, in the opinion of those in the know, includes two well positioned prospects: federal deputy Luis Videgaray, his former secretary of finance, and, also, the present leader of Congress in the state, Ernesto Nemer.
Widening his present position, in such a way that the high approval and awareness ratings that he has in recent polls that are for the most part taken in the preferable terrain in the center of the country, are repeated throughout the breadth and depth of the country.
And building an expertise that, added to his efficient and popular government, will permit him to forcefully project himself toward 2012, while, it is said, spending time participating in issue forums and consultations that, in time, will allow him to form a program, a governing program, for the next presidential term.
Hold on, hold on. Ssshhhhhh! One moment both of you. Calm down, calm down! Look let's work on this, look both of you, both of you please wait. Wait ma'am, and you too.
Monday, February 8, 2010
[A]mong the panistas, not everyone is in favor of declaring a war on gay marriage. Some argued that Mexico City has other more pressing priorities. Many requested independence and time for consideration. But, we are told, Mariana Gómez del Campo employs a coercive leadership. She pressures, and pressures. Some say that she has exploited her relationship with the presidential family. She bases her own power on Felipe Calderón and Margarita Zavala. Lastly, in the Legislative Assembly, she pressured the issue of a constitutional challenge of the law that permits marriage between people of the same sex. She requested that legislators signed it without seeing it. And many, especially those with the strongest links to civil society (where the PAN grabbed many of its candidates in recent elections) growled. Mariana Gómez let some time pass, and she has now begun to show signs of avenging what she considers "affronts". There will be changes in the legislative committees. Read: those who are forced out are those who dared to respond to Mariana.Update: The NY Times had a piece this weekend on the conflict.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010
After more than 200 years of studying the causes of economic growth, researches have come to understand that growth occurs when a country manages to build a framework of rules that incentivizes investment in infrastructure and human capital. Which is to say, growth doesn't come from investment for investment's sake, nor from education alone, but is the result of the combination of both, something that happens only when the rules that society has laid out foments it.This argument that economic reform must take precedent over political reform, which Luis Carlos Ugalde also referred to earlier this week, is deeply flawed. Marco-economics and politics are to a large degree inseparable. If you have deep problems in one, chances are you have (or will have in short order) deep problems in the other. In such a situation, as Mexico is today, it's hard to address one without considering the other, and it makes no sense to wait for one to improve without simultaneously considering the other.
Today they tell us we must resolve our economic and social problems, and that politics can wait. The people telling us are the priístas that came to power precisely when López Portillo was destroying the last of the national economy, and today they control the Chamber of Deputies. The people telling us are those who want to delay relevant economic changes, which is to say a serious fiscal reform, so that they can support exactly the policies that destroyed our economy: the development bank, industrial policy, and social policy as a co-opter of votes.
The cynicism of these people seems to be limitless. The tolerance of our economy, but above all our society, is not. Opening our political system lets out some rope, returning to the economy of the past takes it in. And there is no such thing as a rope that doesn't break.
It not only removes the speed of the procedure, but also the simplicity, and any individual that doesn't have the technical knowledge of judicial concepts will necessarily require a judicial advisor to unclog the legal process and therefore try to obtain a ruling favorable to their interests.They also said that access to information will become the province of the elites only.