Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Mexico, December 6th

Balloon: We have an enormous social debt to the poorest... but now they can eat three times a day in jail. (Image by Huelgera of La Jornada) The first Calderon budget makes bows and curtsies toward Mexico's entrenched problems. The cabinet endures a 10% pay cut, meaning they're only going to take home a quarter of a million dollars a year. Lopez Obrador had promised to cut their pay in half, which still makes one pretty comfortable in Mexico. Anyway, the $200B dollar budget breaks down pretty much this way: Public Security gets a 55% boost. Total "security" spending goes to something like $7B. The poor get a hefty 3.8% boost above baseline to getting about $15B. Healthcare supposedly gets 24%; my guess is that this will get siphoned off by American companies. Supposedly there will be big austerity cuts to growth in Energy, Communications, Public Function, Medio Ambiente, and Government, but Pemex will get some money. And they'll fix everything by more efficient tax collection. That could prove interesting if other parts of the country decide, like Oaxaca, to effectively secede. Speaking of Oaxaca, the Calderon government has now broken off negotiations with APPO. Since governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz has vowed to use the full force of the law against everyone who participated in the uprising, a fairly good prediction is that violence will rise in Oaxaca. This seems to me to be the goal of the government. It is also about the stupidest possible thing it could do, since it will knit together the fragmented indigenous movement, the PRD, and international human rights movements. A new limbo benchmark in judicial rulings from the Mexican electoral court: if we didn't rule on a crime, it must not have been very important. Basically, corporate slush money illegally poured in for publicity spots to promote Vicente Fox's image. Not so coincidentally, that aided Calderon's campaign-- a lot. When Lopez Obrador complained about it, the court said it was busy. Last February, the Deputies's Chamber complained about it, and Fox eventually cancelled the spots. So, the electoral court decided to drop the issue. One good piece of news. Henry Waxman may investigate the House of Death and the connections of narcotraffickers to top levels of the Bush Administration. Encourage him.
Thanks for the updates, Charles. It boggles my mind how much is being hidden from us about our neighbor to the south.
Mexico is not a story I would normally have a high level of interest in, PW. It's very painful to watch. As one more bit of pain, they let the killers of Brad Will go. He filmed his own murder and that's not good enough evidence!

But I feel an obligation to follow this one. It's a very important story that will have a large impact on the US, and for which our nation has significant culpability. The worst part is watching the government maneuver the situation toward violence, to justify repression.
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