“..of the four candidates running, there are only two projects. Two men and a woman represent more of the same-the continuity of the regime and the corruption, injustice and privileges. We represent the option of a true change at all levels of public life.
– Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador
Presidential and local elections will be held in Mexico on July 1 and the results will influence key issues that concretely affect the lives of the
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the leftist PRD is challenging Enrique Pena Nieto who is attempting to regain power for the authoritarian PRI ( click to enlarge photos)
people and determine the future direction of the country. The three major political parties contending for power are the two parties that stand ideologically to the right and one that represents the left. The conservative PAN or National Action Party is aligned with big business and the Catholic church and is currently in power under President Calderon. The current PAN candidate is Josefina Vasquez Mota who is the first woman to run for president and who is presently in third place according to the polls. Also on the right is the autocratic and traditional PRI or Institutional Revolutionary Party which held a monolithic and authoritarian lock on power over the country from the post-Mexican Revolution period throughout most of the last century. Their controversial candidate is Enrique Pena Nieto who hopes to regain power for the PRI after it previously ruled Mexico with a tight fist for over 70 years. The challenger on the left is Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador from the PRD or Party of the Democratic Revolution who is known by his initials AMLO. Obrador narrowly lost to current President Calderon in 2006 by 0.5% of the vote in a controversial election marred by charges of voter fraud and illegal ballot stuffing
Vazquez Mota is the first woman to run for president and vows to continue the right-wing policies of the PAN
on the part of the victorious PAN. Calderon was strongly supported by U.S. President Bush with advisers and funds in that election. Another factor in the 2006 election that is now absent was the role of the Zapatista movement whose leader called for a boycott of the elections which resulted in the loss of valuable votes for the PRD from among intellectuals and students. There is also a smaller party campaigning called the New Alliance which trails behind in the polls in fourth place. Some of the pertinent issues that are presently facing the Mexican people are the rampaging drug war with its rapid militarization of the country, the growing inequality in wealth among social classes, unemployment, the unresolved immigration question, access to education and the quest by the people for more democracy.
The government of Calderon and the PAN have left six years of disaster
President Calderon has been a loyal and cooperative ally of the U.S. and its policies. Pressure applied by Washington to pursue and intensify the war on drugs in Mexico through military means has resulted in a dramatic spiral of
U.S. allies Fox and Calderon were pressured into implementing Neoliberal free market policies and the drug war which have led to chaos
violence and death. Economic inequality in the country has deepened and is symbolized by billionaire Carlos Slim who sits at the top of a pyramid of wealth as the richest person in Mexico and the world. While the accumulation of wealth has enriched those at the top, poverty is increasing at the bottom due to a lack of jobs to meet the needs of the country’s growing labor market and in particular its young people. Scarce resources have been spent on arming the police and military to fight the criminal gangs and seize drugs destined for the U.S. while funding for education and other social needs have been slashed and given a low priority. There has been no progress toward achieving a bilateral agreement with the U.S. that would regulate immigration with an organized and fair system that is beneficial to both nations. The lack of such an agreement has resulted in a chaotic situation in which rampant human smuggling is controlled by organized gangs while conversely hundreds of thousands of adults and children recently deported from the U.S. have been dumped back into Mexico with no resources to survive on nor without any comment or proposed solution by Mexican officials.
The economic stagnation under the PAN will continue with a PRI victory
The twelve years of presidential power held by right-wing PAN Presidents Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderon have not witnessed any promised increase in economic prosperity and equality for the majority of people. Fox, who had previously worked for the Coca Cola Corporation, ran as a nationalist and supposed reformer in 2000 and promised much needed economic and political change. Soon after being elected, he quickly veered to the political right and began implementing Neoliberal economic policies that were proposed by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and from his ally George W. Bush. These “free market” policies were
The unequal distribution of wealth has resulted in rising unemployment and a lower standard of living for the majority
aimed at privatizing and selling off state enterprises such as Pemex and its oil producing facilities as well as those that produce electrical power to foreign corporations. An additional aspect of these policies were increased efforts to weaken unions and the targeting of public-sector workers and others by cutting wages and pensions. Mexico’s gross domestic product has fallen by over 10 percent in the last year causing more unemployment. A recent analysis of Mexico’s economic situation has documented that 3 million more Mexicans have been pushed down into poverty in the last three years under the presidency of Calderon while the national debt has increased to foreign banks who dominate Mexico’s financial sector. More than one-half of the population now lives on 2,100 pesos a month or 150 dollars and this amount is even less in many parts of the countryside and in areas where indigenous peoples reside. Neglect and a lack of investment in the state owned PEMEX has resulted in a decrease in oil production and much needed revenue. The ongoing war on drugs that has cost over 55,000 young lives to date has resulted in economic havoc as violence by the cartels and police have disrupted business and tourism as a climate of fear and insecurity has descended over the country. While the Mexican stock market has risen somewhat recently, this has primarily benefited the upper-class, the upper sector of the middle class and foreign investors who take profits and capital out of the country rather than invest it domestically. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Agreement that was reached between the U.S. and
NAFTA and massive U.S. food imports have devastated Mexican villages and increased immigration
the PRI government of Mexico during the 1990’s and strongly supported by Presidents Fox and Calderon, has permitted massive amounts of American agricultural imports to enter Mexico and undercut the production of small farmers and domestic prices charged for crops. This flood of corn and wheat imports from the U.S. has undermined the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of campesinos in the countryside whose inability to compete financially with U.S. subsidized agricultural corporations has driven them off of their small farms and forced them to migrate to Mexican cities or to the U.S. in search of work. Presently in many villages, there are only elderly people and women left as the majority of young men have left during the last ten years to seek work in the U.S.
The growing aspiration of the people for democracy will be stunted
The yearning for democracy by the Mexican people has endured years of authoritarian rule and repression by the PRI during its 70 years of domination in which it used the tactics of pan o palo to either buy
President Luis Echeverria of the PRI used troops to massacre students and repress democracy in 1968
off opponents or eliminate them. This tactic of the palo or club used by the PRI was symbolized by the massacre ordered by President Echeverria in 1968 of over 500 students who were demonstrating for democracy at Tlatelolco Plaza in Mexico City. This was followed in 1971 by the use of the Halcones or paid thugs by the PRI to once again attack and kill student protesters. As the writer Mario Vargas Llosa once remarked, the PRI is “the perfect dictatorship.” The 2000 election finally broke the monolithic power of the PRI with the election of PAN candidates
The Halcones, paid thugs working for the PRI, attack and kill student protesters in 1971
Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderon in 2006 as both presidents promised needed reforms. While these campaign promises were not kept by them, the struggle to broaden out democratic aspirations was intensified on the part of the people and continues today. The present lead in the polls by the PRI candidate Enrique Pena Nieto has been attributed to people’s disillusionment with the failed and chaotic policies of the PAN as people are desperately seeking an alternative to the prevailing violence. The PDR’s candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is closing in on Pena Nieto in the national polls with a reform platform that focuses on fighting corruption by implementing democratic change and structural reforms within the economy, both of which he successfully did while governor of the state of Mexico.
A continuation of violence, death and the war on drugs
U.S. pressure to continue the failed war on drugs is fueled by the growing demand by American consumers for illegal narcotics and the false premise that cutting the supply will somehow decrease this demand. As a long-time U.S. ally, a PRI victory will support and continue the present drug policy of militarization and violence which is highly
The profitable flood of U.S. weapons into Mexico and the northward flow of drugs has left the Mexican people to suffer the consequences
profitable to the cartels, arms dealers, politicians, the prison industry and the numerous banks that launder millions in drug money. This violence between the military-police authorities and the cartels; and among the criminal gangs themselves for financial power and territory, is transforming Mexico into a militarized and dysfunctional narco-state that is undermining democracy and the rule of civilized law. The well-armed and financed drug gangs are corrupting and overwhelming the police in their quest to control key border regions that enable them to supply the profitable U.S. drug market. A victory by PRI candidate Pena Nieto would continue this never-ending drug war which is steadily eroding the country’s fragile democracy and undermining the national independence of Mexico as U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents, military advisors and weapons flood the country and grow in power and influence.
The elections offer Mexico two paths: a narco state or a democratic republic
Strong democratic institutions and a yearning for peace and security by the Mexican people are in contradiction to the present militarization and development of a lawless narco-state. The road toward this undemocratic and dysfunctional state of affairs has been paved by the PAN’s drug policy which has primarily focused on a military solution to the problem. Contributing to this problem is the fact that many PRI governors are being
Lopez Obrador and the PRD are running on a platform of democratic change and structural reform of the economy
charged with accepting drug profits and engaging in money laundering. An alternative solution is needed to stem the violence by halting the flow of arms and military advisers into Mexico that are corrupting its institutions and instead concentrate on maintaining security and peaceful development. Discussions with the U.S. are urgently needed in order to develop a new policy that curtails the large number of U.S. arms dealers along the border who are exporting weapons into Mexico and to decriminalize and regulate the growing U.S. demand for drugs in order to lessen these detrimental effects on the people of Mexico. At present, both U.S. presidential candidates have been silent on this issue. Also, jobs must be created in Mexico as an alternative for many young and unemployed people to discourage them from joining the drug gangs. Lopez Obrador and the PRD have declared that they will create national construction projects to stimulate the economy and revive the impoverished countryside by providing new jobs and old-age pensions. The PRD platform has also taken aim at the huge private corporations in Mexico that hold monopolies over certain key industries which control markets and prices and result in stifling competition and
The growing student protest movement named yo soy132 is opposed to the PRI and demands democracy in Mexico
national development. One of these monpolies is media giant Televisa which has been linked to a systematic effort to spread fear of a Lopez Obrador presidency among the public in order to sabotage his campaign in favor of the pro-establishment PRI candidate Nieto Pena. There has also been a recent surge in the killing of journalists who were covering the elections in order to discourage others from printing the truth. In the PRI dominated state of Vera Cruz alone, eight reporters have been murdered. A positive factor in the upcoming election has been the emergence of a mass pro-democracy youth movement called yo soy132 which has held rallies and mobilization efforts across Mexico in a wave of opposition to the PRI and in favor of the PRD. There are clear economic and political differences between the platforms of the PRI and PRD and it is the Mexican people who must rise up and decide whether the country will move forward and progress or languish and recede back into the stagnant past under the domination of the PRI.