Saturday, December 02, 2006


Mexico, December 2nd

La Jornada had this editorial about the midnight ceremony: Ominous mutilation. Last midnight, Fox and Calderon starred in an ominous and strange nocturnal ritual. It marked the end of office for the first but was not a formal taking on of office by the second. It was done in private, but disseminated by national chain. It pretended civility but had a marked military flavor. It was completely unnecessary but appeared to be forced by circumstances. It followed legal forms but was not foreseen in the laws. It was a demonstration of fearful weakness but constituted an unmistakable threat of force… The sense that Mexico is being militarized is amplified by an article re-posted by Ana Maria Salazar Slack. The excuse is narcotrafficking, but since the government apparently runs that, well, draw your own conclusions. Other than that, Calderon began his presidency on a relatively good note, with an order to cut his own salary and that of his cabinet. He also (cf )pledged himself to enact the platform of Lopez Obrador. Uniter, not a dividerHe told those who voted against him that he would not ignore the reason and causes they voted against him and asked them to give him a chance to win their confidence through his deeds. A rock in a raging sea He said he was aware of the seriousness of the mutual alienation, but that La Patria requires those to be submerged. Political conflict hurts the powerless most of all. He will converse with those who will converse with him. Some of our citizens doubt the promise, even the justice, of our own country. Politics is not a zero sum battle between parties, but a collaboration between parties, powers, and citizens to improve living conditions. We will reclaim America's Mexico's school The schools need basic infrastructure, young people need work, working mothers need day care, and public spaces need to be free of crime. We will build our defenses beyond challenge Crime threatens to paralyze and terrorize society. One of the three priorities of my government will be law and order. When we see that wounded traveler on the road to Jericho, we will not pass to the other side. I am acutely aware of the poverty in which half of Mexico lives. Mexico has an enormous social debt to the poor. We need to re-orient spending to meet need, and resolve the inequality between north and south, between city and country, between men and women, between the young and the old. Mexicans have a constitutional right to food, to health, to education, and to a job. The angel in a verbal whirlwind Better that investment come to Mexico than that Mexicans emigrate to invest themselves in the US. We need to improve competitiveness by boosting tourism and the infrastructure that supports it. The government needs to get in the mechanic's shoes, the housewife's kitchen, grandpa's store-- we need to encourage small business. And so on. The Spanish language version was less florid and more plausible-sounding than Bush's earlier delivery, but I suspect that six years from now, it will be fodder for parody, maybe of an American inaugural. Meanwhile, morons in El Norte continue to insist that "Leftist guerrillas are organizing in the south" and "For Lopez Obrador's followers, anger is reaching the boiling point," not that they can find anybody to quote who expresses anger. And then there's this howler: "After being stagnant for the first few years of Fox's government, growth of the gross domestic product has recently improved to about 3 percent a year. Shopping malls are full of customers, highways are crowded with late-model cars, and the expansion of bank credit has allowed many middle-class Mexicans to buy their first homes. " Translation: growth is terrible, population growth outstrips infrastructure, and Mexicans are in hock up to their dentures. Fred Rosen has a more realistic take: it is hard to know what to make of the announced determination of Felipe Calderón, elected with 36 percent of the popular vote, to further polarize Mexico by ruling from the hard right....Recent Latin American history has shown that the repressive law enforcement many expect from [Interior Secretary] Ramírez is a necessary complement to the deregulatory, neoliberal economic policies we can expect from [Treasury Secretary] Carstens. The one enforces as the other excludes and divides....Carstens is also an advocate of managing inflation by keeping the chief cost of doing business, wages and salaries, under control. This means limiting the power of trade unions even more than he may want to limit the power of industrial monopolies....Last week, speaking at the International Book Fair in Guadalajara, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, the former Chief Economist of the World Bank, warned against the wholesale adoption of IMF-style economic policies for Mexico. In particular, he warned against the destabilizing effects those policies have had on income distribution." One of the things that missing is a sense that the PRD can do positive things, rather than simply march and protest. One of the hopeful signs in Mexico, and a primary target of repression, is of grassroots organization. All governments want the people to stay out of governing, since they tend to be overly literalistic about, say, constitutional guarantees to making a livelihood or to not having their %$#king phones tapped or their bodies electronically stripsearched. But it is precisely that energy from below that makes societies dynamic and adaptive. So, a listen to Lopez Obrador's speech is in order. I hear opposition, but I don't hear an alternative government. Not yet, anyway.
Calderon is such a coward. Midnight coronations, done without warning? That's something only cowards do.
There is no one more dangerous than a coward.

Witness Bush.

Strong leaders, like Clinton, use persuasion rather than force. They are willing to be pilloried in the public square, because they believe in what they are doing. And in the end, they win, because people remember them with respect long after they've forgotten which of his opponents's graves they wanted to spit on. Weak leaders use force.
Did I read that right? Stiglitz is opposing neocon economics?
Oh, Stiglitz underwent a real transformation, Avedon. He's been one of the good guys for donkey's years.
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