Democrats & Liberals Archives

Mexico's election deserves our attention

Mexicans this weekend face a difficult choice as they try to read the tea leaves as to what a radical change of course would really mean. Those who genuinely long for reforms aimed at supporting the aspirations of the poor and weakening the grip of the wealthy and powerful on the purse strings of the country must be tempted by the populist promises of López Obrador, candidate of the Party of Democratic Revolution.

But concerns that his numbers don't add up, and that his programs would wreck the economy, or that his messianic message would usher in a cult of personality damaging to democratic ideals are giving pause to many.

In 2000, Vicente Fox came in and ended 71 years of rule by the PRI, ending an era dominated by corruption. His business friendly policies, however, were hardly welcomed by populists or the left. Felipe Calderón is the standard bearer of Fox's party, PAN, and promises stability. Recent polls show him trailing Obrador, but only by a few points. PRI candidate, Roberto Madrazo, is painting himself as the moderate between extremes on the right and the left, but trails the leaders in the polls by 8 or 9 points. PRI remains Mexico's largest party, but years of corruption have earned them plenty of distrust.

The possibility of an Obrador victory is at once the most exciting outcome and the scariest. Who can reliably predict how such changes will play out? When Robert Mugabe was elected President of Zimbabwe 26 years ago on the strength of a populist message there was great celebrating, but it took very little time for his rule to betray signs of tyranny, and today Zimbabwe stands in ruins while Mugabe lives in walled splendor as was sadly reported on last night's Frontline on PBS. My guess is that Obrador is genuine in his pronouncements now, but is he realistic or would his policies work?

The right will no doubt reflexively pull out the standard repeated failure of socialism meme and declare that Obrador would be a disaster, but as ever it will depend on the details, not on the putative ideology of the leader or his party. For now, anyway, there does not seem to be the fear and loathing from the usual quarters in U.S. politics against Obrador as we have seen against Hugo Chavez of Venezuela or Evo Morales of Bolivia. Of course he hasn't been elected yet.

An additional fear that hangs over this Mexican election is that Obrador is already accusing the ruling party of attempted fraud, so even if Calderón prevails, some see the likelihood of unrest in the wake of such charges. We should be watching with some interest and concern.

Posted by Walker Willingham at June 28, 2006 10:58 AM
Comments
Comment #162750

So much for Attention.You guys are losing on the war so now you want to run other countries.Sounds Liberal to me.

Posted by: devestated at June 28, 2006 1:45 PM
Comment #162768

devastated:
So much for Attention.You guys are losing on the war so now you want to run other countries.Sounds Liberal to me
…and who is it that decried “nation building” and then went on a spree through Afghanistan and Iraq? Oh that’s right, the Republicans…

Posted by: brico at June 28, 2006 2:22 PM
Comment #162772

Brico - c’mon devastated has a point. Conservative Mantra “Ignore absolutely everything you can’t control.”

Posted by: DOC at June 28, 2006 2:24 PM
Comment #162773

And thank God for the Republicans!

Posted by: devestated at June 28, 2006 2:25 PM
Comment #162777

“devestated”:
Sounds Liberal to me.
There you go - attach a label to it and then dismiss it, it makes life so much easier doesn’t it? Perhaps it would amaze you to learn that I don’t mind actually learning things from conservatives! I never suggested we should go down and control Mexico’s election, only that we should pay attention.

BushCo: It’s not how far right they are; It’s how far wrong they are.

Posted by: Walker Willingham at June 28, 2006 2:30 PM
Comment #162780

Walker If It Walks like a Duck!

Posted by: devestated at June 28, 2006 2:33 PM
Comment #162795

WW - I knew the vote was approaching, but I had not kept up on the timeframe. Thanks for the information. Sorry about falling for the trite one liners, I should know better.

Posted by: DOC at June 28, 2006 2:50 PM
Comment #162800

It doesn’t matter who is elected down there all we would really like to see is that country start an importation program of their own people, they’ve already proven they can export them.

Posted by: peter at June 28, 2006 2:53 PM
Comment #162827

This is definitely an election we should be watching, good article

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at June 28, 2006 3:31 PM
Comment #162829

Walker
Do you know if any of those candidates are more willing than the others, to work with us to fix the illegal alien problem?

Posted by: kctim at June 28, 2006 3:33 PM
Comment #162845

kctm: Good question. I would say Obrador. The only real way to stop the Mexican migration north is for more economic opportunity to develope in Mexico. That means things like forceing the maquilladoros to pay higher wages. Things like land reform. A big danger here is that when he or anyone else attempts these reforms the CIA et al will go to work on them at the behest of big corporations. That is our typical M.O. in Latin America. We need people from the right and left to say no. These are just common sense reforms that need to happen for our own security.

Posted by: BillS at June 28, 2006 4:11 PM
Comment #162892

From what little I know of this election, I think it can be safely stated that it will be an indicator of how strong this shift to the Left in Latin and South America (Chile, Boliva, Venezuela, Peru et.al.) really is.

Mexico is unique from the others in that it is traditionally a more conservative nation. Evidently, the change that Lopez Obrador is advocating is no where near the changes pushed by Chavez of Venezuela or Evo Morales of Bolivia.

Here’s an overview of Sunday’s voting in Mexico:

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0628-05.htm

It should be interesting.

Posted by: Tim Crow at June 28, 2006 5:57 PM
Comment #162900

Walker,

Good article. I’m having trouble putting thoughts to print so I hope you or others will jump in to fill the gaps.

The situation we’re looking at with Mexico is just another “symptom” of America’s failed diplomacy under Bush & Co. I see a huge potential here for what could easily become North America’s worst case of genocide.

(I’ve posted before about this and nearly everyone thinks I’m nuts, but we also hate to admit that there was a “Black Holocaust” in the USA or that our treatment of the American Indian really amounted to genocide, we prefer to save the use of the word genocide to describe the actions of other nations.)

Back to the point, Mexico is our next door neighbor. For the purpose of this post I’ll put aside the fact that we forcibly took control of a large land mass that would otherwise still be the sovereign property of the Mexicans. We’ve failed miserably as neighbors.

A good neighbor knows that a starving neighbor is a greater threat than a neighbor who know’s you are always willing to extend a helping hand. Well, we’ve ignored our neighbor’s strife and now we’re faced with the results. Our relationship with Mexico could arguably be compared to the plight of the Kurds in Iraq and the rest of the Arab world.

(Take a close look at the plight of the Kurds regarding Turkey and get out your history books.)

Now, we’re besieged by fools like Tom Tancredo who decry, not only the “illegals” but the threat of multiculturalism. Huh?

What a freakin’ moron, his book; In Mortal Danger-The Battle for America’s Border and Security, is on sale here:
http://shop.wnd.com/store/item.asp?ITEM_ID=1844

I apologize, this guy isn’t a moron. He’s a bigot, plain and simple. I’ve listened to him talk about the threat of “multiculuralism” on, yep, no other than FOX News, and this guy has no business in the congress of the USA, he’d be better suited to maintain a post amomg the KKK.

Now, I have one dumb question: Can anyone tell me what our diplomatic strategy with Mexico has been during the past 5 years?

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at June 28, 2006 6:32 PM
Comment #162908

Tim Crow,

Thanks for the link. I especially appreciated seeing Mexico’s stats.

Anybody look at America’s stats recently?

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at June 28, 2006 6:43 PM
Comment #163030

Kansas Dem

Our diplomatic strategy concerning Mexico has been to court the Mexican-American vote. Do whatever appears pro-Mexican so that you can get a larger percentage of their vote here in the states. And try not to piss off your conservative base in the process.

Posted by: mark at June 28, 2006 9:47 PM
Comment #163050

Mark,

Tancredo fits in with that. I lived less than 2 hours away from Denver nearly my entire life and his district is mostly affluential and upper middle class white. I think he fears “those dirty brown people” that he sees around Denver polluting his neighborhood.

His comments about “muticulturalism” really blew my mind. How many towns and cities around America celebrate some kind of cultural holiday? Or even nickname their towns after the culture of the founders?

Obviously if a person totally lacks intelligence, skill and artistic talent they can always be a congressman.

KansasDem

PS: when I said his book was “on sale” I meant that literally. Not just for sale. They’ve obviously lowered the price because all the stupid people already bought their copy.

Posted by: KansasDem at June 28, 2006 10:16 PM
Comment #163054

KansasDem

I was always taught and strongly believe that multiculturalism was one of this countries strongest points, I thought nearly everyone did. It made us great and helps keep us that way.

Posted by: mark at June 28, 2006 10:22 PM
Comment #163072

Having lived in California, Arizona and Texas, and by default have traveled extensively through southern New Mexico, I can attest to the fact that the farther east one travels in those states
the more apparent the disconnect between the cultures. These border states demonstrate both the best assimilation of Hispanic culture and some of the most challenging. Of course this is not surprising due to the fact that many of the older cities were settled by Mexicans, Native Americans, or a mix of the two.

Sadly, many people who would either grant amnesty or pursue deportaion, have no idea of the economic and political environment that these immigrants sprang from.

Posted by: DOC at June 28, 2006 10:51 PM
Comment #163128

My comments are about the elections in Mexico. As far as I can see George W. Bush is carrying the United States in the same direction that Mexico is in now. In Mexico the rich control everything and the poor have nothing. Well thanks to Bush thats exactly where we are going now.I guess he learned that from being around Fox and living around Mexico so long. He saw how they controlled their people with drugs and all the crime so it seemed to work for Mexico, so he’s using it on us now. And the american people are so blind they just let it happen to us.Money, Power, oil, and crime,if people don’t open their eyes we’re going to be just like Mexico.And we don’t have a country to run to like Mexico has us!Bush is taken total control of this country, and we’re not doing a damn thing to stop it. Thank God for the New York Times, they are the only ones that will stand up to him and his group of power groopies.Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and the rest of his group.If people don’t wake up we’re going to be just like Mexico, except nowhere to go!We use to have a great country, and now its being dragged down just like any other third world country, where the people have NO rights, except the ones Bush gives us. People wake up before its to late!I can understand why the Mexican people want to come here, but the way it’s going they are running toward the same place they are running away from, Just give it time.Then we will be wanting to go there.Because our lives are going to be the same as theirs. Poor, drugs and crime.

Posted by: cherry weisel at June 29, 2006 1:50 AM
Comment #163153

cherry weisel,

I totally agree. And it’s amazing that more people don’t see what we’re slipping into.

Just one little example:
“The best example of the administration’s efforts to protect Big Pharma was revealed recently when the FDA announced a preemption rule that would disallow lawsuits in state court against drug makers if a drug has been approved by the FDA.”
from: http://www.sierratimes.com/06/06/24/75_7_241_211_29304.htm

“Bush team’s FDA has less bite, Democrat charges”
http://www.denverpost.com/ci_3984040?source=rss

As I say that’s just one small example of our government being for sale under Bush & Co.

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at June 29, 2006 7:29 AM
Comment #163154

It would seem to me that Obrador could be the best choice. A shift to the left could spark some badly needed reforms in the Mexican system. Since the beginning, Mexico has had basically two classes: a small ruling class and a large peasant population. At first Spain and the Roman Catholic Church served as the masters. Then, a small group of large land owners took over and the country devolved into what it is today.

For anyone to make life better for the ordinary person will require a lot of courage and the backing of some of the more progressive upper class(yes, there are a few). One of the first things that will have to be done is to start cleaning up the endemic corruption in government. Without that, nothing else is going to change. Second, a strong effort to build an effectice middle class. Third, true democracy with free and fair elections. If Obrador, or anyone else, can start accomplishing these goals, then two things will happen: the Mexican people will start to believe in their own country and the mass migration North will slow dramatically.

And,Cherry, exactly what rights has Bush taken away from you, or any other citizen?

Posted by: John Back at June 29, 2006 7:40 AM
Comment #163198

John Back: Pretty good. One piece of reform would be to allow independant,democratic,trade unions. Even Macarthur,a conservative, thought this would be a good idea for Japan. It is the best way to insure economic gains are shared with workers and does not involve government mandates.
A big danger is reactionary forces turning to
violence. If you think we have a immigration problem now just wait until we have civil war refugees. What would you do to get your family out of a war zone.
Along those lines part of the danger is ouselves. If workers at the Ford and GM plants demanded an increase in wages for example,those companies would no doubt try to push the administration into sending in the CIA to do their dirty work etc. We have seen this over and over.It will be our responsibilty to prevent this,both right and left.

Posted by: BillS at June 29, 2006 11:56 AM
Comment #163228

I’m happy to see people here thinking and discussing problems that are WAY closer to
home that what the ayatollahs in Iran are doing for the weekend.
This is a critical election in Mexico’s democratic history, but I’m afraid whoever wins is
going to be very unsuccessful in whatever the try to accomplish. The majority in congress
belongs to the PRI, closely followed by PAN and with PRD in third place. In Mexico,
Congress has absolute control of the budget, down to how much the president can spend
while traveling! The reason Fox has had such a difficult presidency is because every
legislative item he has ever proposed has been rejected by the congressional delegations
of the PRI and the PRD.
If Calderon (PAN) wins, he’ll be subjected to the same treatment. If Obrador (PRD)
wins, the PAN and the PRI far outnumber PRD members, so the same will be true.
Obrador would be a disastrous president. His populism is more about buying people
rather than empowering them. And while no one can argue that as Mayor of Mexico City,
new public works are very apparent, he has done nothing to address the crime situation
which is by far the largest problem of that city. Mexico has seen steady economic growth
since the presidency of Ernesto Zedillo and the smartest thing that Fox has done is not to
mess that up. Obrador would probably try to stir the economy closer to the government.
This would be a return to the socialist economic management that created the earlier
inflation meltdowns of the 70’s and 80’s. Obrador is old-guard PRI after all. If it was
entirely up to him, Mexico would go back the single-party, Imperial Presidentialism of
the PRI era.
With regards to Illegal immigration, Obrador would be more likely to follow the populist
message and vilify the U.S. for its treatment of migrants. The best chance of curbing
illegal immigration still resides on economic growth.

Posted by: Genaro Blake at June 29, 2006 1:38 PM
Comment #163407

Any debate about family planning in Mexico? Which ever party is most likely to tell the RC to mind their own business and move forward with family planning on a large scale is the party that will slow down the northward migration the most and build the Mexican economy ,even though it will take years.

Posted by: BillS at June 29, 2006 7:54 PM
Comment #163470

—I saw a post that stated 300.000 security personnel on duty in Iraq, which seemed a bit high so I went to media matters which states 85.000 maybe! One or the other is wrong. I found thousands of of down right lies, with as many twisted truths! With all the so called good richeous people around How can so many untruths be uttered, before some of us will have to start embarrassing these story tellers with a vengeance.

Posted by: DAVID at June 30, 2006 1:36 AM
Comment #163473

—On second thought I guess I should take care of my own personal character and leave others to be judged by someone else.

Posted by: DAVID at June 30, 2006 1:48 AM
Comment #163491

Perhaps this link should be taken with a grain of salt—it is more than moderate left, and Tom Hayden’s personal and political history is far Left to be sure.

But, if you read judiciously, it brings some interesting ideas.

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=59&ItemID=10494

Posted by: Tim Crow at June 30, 2006 3:12 AM
Comment #163519

Hi, Liked your blog and enjoyed your comments. Since you a regular writer and commentator on Politics, I would like to invite you to post your views and ratings on politics on ResponsePlanet.com. I believe your views will be much appreciated on ResponsePlanet.com; moreover, I am sure you’d welcome the opportunity to promote your own blog and attract some traffic.

Posted by: Kevin Collier at June 30, 2006 6:35 AM
Comment #164950

Large numbers of Mexican voters who, took photos of their districts tally sheet found that the results shown by the PREP system online dont match. The differences go from 1 or 2 votes to over 600 per box and invariably favor candidate Calderon. Theres even a website called senderodelpeje where private citizens are sending these photos.

Posted by: Jose Solis at July 5, 2006 1:34 PM
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