I'm from Mexico City and lived in the U.S. for a total of more than 24 years. Now I'm back in Mexico. I realized I was seeing my country through the eyes of a native stranger. This is an attempt to process the differences, to explain Mexico to the U.S. and the U.S. to Mexico. With digressions along the way.

jueves, diciembre 30, 2004

Foxilandia and Mexican Politics 101

It may not be as large a country as Bushland, but Foxilandia is just as steeped in fantasy. What is Foxilandia? It is the country people say President Fox lives in--because with the claims he makes about the country he governs, there's NO WAY it's the Mexico we live in! So...in order to proceed I need to give a little bit of background about politics in Mexico at the moment.
First of all, Fox has been president since 2000, and he has 2 years to go (we have a six year term, but no reelection in Mexico). He is the first president from a party other than the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) to win a presidential election in Mexico in more than 70 years. A lot of people were really happy about this, but I have to explain two things:

1. Fox is from the PAN party (National Action Party), which is the ultra-right party that has close ties to the Catholic Church, and to a secret organization called "el Yunque." Tons of politicians from the PAN belong to el Yunque (Loret de Mola [see news shows post] did an interview with Alvaro Delgado, author of the book El Yunque, la utraderecha en el poder that you can read about (in Spanish) here.) So, frankly, the only good news is that the PRI's hold was, at least temporarily, loosened (now that the PAN is doing such an awful job, the PRI has started winning elections again--most of the governorships up for grabs this year were taken by the PRI.)
2. Although I hear many Americans say Mexico has (had) a one-party system, thus nulling it's claim to be a democracy, at the state and local level, other political parties have had much more of an impact than small parties in the U.S. So in some ways Mexico's democracy is healthier than the U.S.'s. Of course there is plenty of corruption (just like in the U.S., but with a hell of a lot more public knowledge and acceptance of it). When Cuauhtemoc Cárdenas, the leftist candidate, won the election in 1988, it was stolen by the PRI (hmmm...sound familiar?).

In any case...so Fox has been President for four years, and he's from the PAN (furthest right of the three main parties). The head of government of the D.F. (sorta like the mayor), López Obrador, is from the PRD (furthest left of the three main parties). There is a RAGING WAR between the two, which currently centers on the budget for next year. They even had to call in the Supreme Court to settle the dispute. The weirdest thing about this is the way this plays out in the media. Fox does PSAs (payed for by the government, I might add) promoting his leadership. He claims that there is full transparency in government. That Mexican democracy is healthier than ever. That corruption is being extinguished. Thus...Foxilandia. I mean, is he really talking about this Mexico, the one I live in? For his part, López Obrador...well...he doesn't really say much, but he certainly is just as self-promoting. What I mean by "he doesn't say much" is...literally that! The guy utters like one word per hour. I don't know how this guy made it into government. He never answers a question directly, but unlike other politicians who answer with what we call the "Olendorf method" (zestfully and verbosely talking about something irrelevant), he just says things like "let's not get into that," or simply, "I'm not going to answer that." Seeing him on the news is absolutely surreal. But, well...at least he's on the left, right?
Ha ha ha...they're all corrupt. We had high hopes for the PRD, but you can't survive in Mexican politics without being at least a little crooked (or in any politics, I'm sure). Around April, there was a big scandal that is still a main news story over a video where someone from the PRD (René Bejarano) is accepting a bribe from this guy Ahumada. For what, we don't know. But it's played over and over again as evidence of the PRD's corruption. Of course, Ahumada bribed politicians from the PRI and PAN as well...but what was so disappointing was that even PRD was doing it now. Our last hope had fallen from grace. Poor Mexico. The PRI might win the next election just because the fight between the PAN and the PRD has reached such ridiculous levels that they make the PRI seem prudent (imagine that!).

Aside from the corruption, though, politics have really changed in Mexico. Fox makes use of tactics that are very similar to the type of presidential display that Reagan started (or at least perfected): image, image, image, no content. He even hired an American political advisor, Dick Morris (Bill Clinton's former advisor).

I think Fox is probably almost as stupid as Bush is. But what's the biggest difference between Foxilandia and Bushland?

Foxilandia doesn't hold the fate of the rest of the world in its hands.


Blogger Jeff said...

Great site

10:36 p. m.


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