Monday, February 6, 2012

Forget Mitt & Barack
By Michael

I'm halfway through this book.
The author was Mexico's foreign
minister in the Fox administration
and is a visiting professor at Princeton.
The book sheds light on many of
the seeming paradoxes of Mexican
culture and examines where this
country may be headed in the next
50 years. So far, it is fascinating.
Mexican presidential politics are getting exciting. As of yesterday, all three major parties have selected their candidate. One way or another, the outcome of the July presidential election will be extraordinary.

A WOMAN AT THE HELM: Josefina Vazquez Mota could be the first female leader of Mexico. While female leadership is relatively common throughout Latin America (Evita! is only one example), Mexico is a glaring exception. What are her odds? Vazquez  Mota is a member of the PAN party. This is the party of the current administration  (President Calderon) and the party of his predecessor, President Fox. Fox is credited with returning Mexico to democracy 12 years ago when his election ended the rule of the PRI party, which had been in power for 71 years and was widely acknowledged as corrupt, nearly a dictatorship. Fox was a pro-business candidate who instituted free market reforms and is credited with eliminating much corruption. But...while the Mexican economy has been awesome over the past decade, the populace is fatigued by the war on drugs that has hurt tourism, reduced foreign investment, and resulted in so much violence.

A RETURN TO DARKNESS?: As I wrote above, the PRI party has been out of power for 12 years, but otherwise ruled the country since 1929. That tenure was a period defined by corruption, no doubt about it. The PRI candidate for this election is Enrique Pena Nieto. He is handsome, charismatic governor of the state of Mexico and married to an ultra-popular, glamorous Mexican soap opera star. Will his election undo many of the reforms and much of the clean-up that's happened over the past 12 years? Or does Pena Nieto represent a new PRI platform?

A NEW SOCIALISM: The PRD party advances a platform way to the left of what we are used to in the U.S. Their candidate for this election is Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, one of the most recognizable politicians in Mexico and the same guy they ran during the last election. He came in second last time and refused to accept the results, attempting to rally a populist revolution in the streets to have them overturned. While his actions were largely criticized for their destabilizing effect, he is credited with improving the Federal District of Mexico during his tenure as mayor of Mexico City.

I see the PRI and PRD parties as polar opposites, at the political extremes, with the PAN party platform somewhere in the middle. But regardless of who wins, I think moderation will prevail. For the first time in history, no one party has a stranglehold on the country. All three parties are strongly represented in local and state politics and in the national congress. Like in the U.S., Mexico's executive branch may set the tone, but doesn't rule absolutely.

So where do things stand? The PRI candidate, Enrique Pena Nieto, is leading in the polls by a huge margin,  PAN's Josefina Vazquez Mota  is second, and the PRD's Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is a distant third.

July will be here soon and I'm excited to see what happens.

Josefina Vazquez Mota celebrating her victory yesterday.

Sea of Cortez beaches are almost all very shallow, which means that
the girls can wade out for hundreds of yards sometimes, and the
water is delightfully clear. None of this is bound to change,
regardless of the election outcome.


  1. Seeing Windy and Eleanor in shorts on a warm beach is sending waves of envy through my wool-clad body. I think my physician should demand that my insurance company pay for a trip to see you so that I can build up my vitamin D stores the natural way. Fat chance, huh?

  2. Awesome primer for us expats living in Mexico. I feel all informed and worldly now. Thanks


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