Mexico News and Analysis: Dec 26 - Jan 1, 2012

1 - POVERTY INCREASING
2 - ENRIQUE KRAUZE ON THE REAL MEXICO
3 - POPE TO VISIT MEXICO
4 - MICHOACAN ELECTION ANULLED

More than half of Mexico's population now lives below the official poverty line, in large part because the economy is so tightly linked to the United States. About one-third of Mexico's production is exported, with 90% headed to the US. Mexico boasts the world's richest man, Carlos Slim, worth about US$74 billion, or about 7% of the annual GNP, while 58 million Mexicans live on less than US$150 per month. Economic growth under Felipe Calderon has averaged 2.2% annually, about half the overall rate for the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean. Despite the dismal figures, Calderon continues to bank on his expensive and largely ineffective "war on drugs" as the foundation of his political program.

2 - ENRIQUE KRAUZE ON THE REAL MEXICO
Enrique Krause, a historian and one of Mexico's leading right wing ideologues, published a year-end celebratory piece for Bloomberg lauding Mexico's "good news ... since the 2000 elections broke the 71-year hegemony of a single party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party." A reliable defender of Mexico's institutions, Krauze's piece caught our eye because it includes so many "common sense" notions that are widely held by Mexican elites. Among his nuggets: "Mexico is now a democracy, with a true division of powers, full democratic freedoms and elections supervised by an independent electoral institute." Apparently Krauze forgot the PAN currently controls all nine members of the Federal Electoral Institute, the same group that awarded a clearly fraudulent election to the current President, Felipe Calderon.

Speaking from the security of his well-paid position at one of Mexico's elite private institutions of higher education, Krauze can claim, "The economy has shown notable advances. After serious crises in 1976, 1982, 1988 and 1994, the country has learned its lessons, demonstrated resilience and developed a civil service that can maintain stability in the shifting world economy." This, of course, would be news to the 58 million Mexican who live on less than US$150 per month (see article above).

"In keeping with the Christmas spirit," Krauze "lists some of contemporary Mexico's strengths," among them the lack of racism, though he admits that "in some areas (and in some minds), lingering bigotry toward 'Indians' persists, but it is by no means widespread." Perhaps Krauze missed the Zapatista uprising in 1994, or the development of the Other Campaign since 2006, or the fact that much of Mexico's poverty is concentrated in indigenous communities. Or perhaps not. In the following paragraph he reminds us that "Mexico displays a cultural inclusiveness in major and minor matters, in our cuisine, in the names of our streets and villages, in our art and in the nature of our religious practices." It would appear that the Zapatistas can close up shop, perhaps in exchange for a few more streets in Mexico City named after indigenous leaders. But wait. Krauze seems to think "almost the entire population of the country is mestizo," so perhaps in his mind there is really no need for indigenous street names. Better to celebrate the dead "Indians" in museums while ignoring the perhaps 15 to 20% of the population that is still alive and speaking 56 languages other than Spanish.

Krauze informs us that "religion hasn't been an important source of discord," unless of course you happen to be one of the many women serving prison terms for abortions. Krauze laments, "though women are still burdened with the relics of machismo, their role is evolving." And the evolution? "Women are entering the labor market in increasing numbers, sometimes as the family's sole source of income." In Krauze's world, it appears the doble jornada (double workday) is not a relic of machismo but rather an advance for single mothers, even though women routinely are paid lower wages than men for similar work, while often supporting children.

Krauze even finds a way to celebrate "the massive migration to the US." Without analyzing the difficulties faced by seven million undocumented Mexicans living in the US and the fact that most were forced from their homes by economic necessity, Krauze finds it remarkable that "immigrants remain closely attached to their families in Mexico and send for them when they can." Mexico's elites have always been happy with the immigration "escape valve" that allows poverty and its potentially destabilizing effects to be exported northward, though few openly celebrate immigration like Krauze.

Krauze ends with a feel-good platitude: "despite our real problems (especially crime and poverty), if we can finally confront and subdue what is wrong with us and continue to expand the economy - within a democratic framework - our nation could retain the strengths of its past while moving toward the future." Enter chorus of singing angels backed by a bright and hopeful sunrise. Thank you, Mr. Krauze.

3 - POPE TO VISIT MEXICO
The Pope will visit Mexico in March, with plans to spend most of his three-day stay in the conservative Catholic bastion of Guanajuato, coincidentally also one of the strongholds of the ruling National Action Party (PAN). Guanajuato is one of 16 conservative states that penalizes women who have abortions, with up to 3 years in prison.

4 - MICHOACAN ELECTION ANULLED
A regional electoral council annulled a tightly contested November election in Michoacan, in part because a famous Mexican boxer wore the logo of the winning party on his trunks on the eve of the vote, a violation of campaign regulations. The council also cited a television show featuring PRI candidates broadcast outside the allotted campaign time. The election for mayor of Morelia, the capital of Michoacan, will have to be held again within 150 days, and other local elections won by the PRI will likely be challenged. The National Action Party (PAN) is anxious to contest the gubernatorial vote in which the PRI narrowly defeated President Felipe Calderon's sister, "Cocoa" Calderon. And the PRD, which controlled much of the state for the past decade, is also challenging some results. Both the PAN and PRD complained of drug money influencing the election, though the electoral council appears reluctant to enter that particular battle. Millions of Mexicans watched the November 12th televised boxing match as the popular Juan Manuel Marquez lost to world champion Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines in a contested decision. It was not immediately apparent if the electoral council would also call for a rematch between Marquez and Pacquiao, which would certainly be more popular than another expensive electoral contest among political elites.

Tags: 
Tags: 
Tags: