Porfirio Díaz somewhere at the turn of the last century, was "so far from God, so close to the United States". Mexico's story has been shaped by the gravitational pull of the US in everything from idiosyncrasies to economics and the unappeasable American hunger for oil.
It's easy to blame the US for Mexico's problems. It's such a great country, the US--so huge, so powerful. The role of puppet-master almost comes with the job description. Plus, there's that Monroe doctrine that turned the US into the pater familias of the whole American continent, and for a good chunk of the second half of last century, into the iron fist, perhaps well-intentioned but no less castrating, that the continent bowed to.
2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows marked increase in the abuse of prescription drugs, while cocaine use hasn't increased. The US has a drug problem, yes--but its relationship with the increased violence in Mexico is tangential.
Mexico's main problem today isn't the US. It's ignorance.
Education is good in Mexico. Grades one through six are mandatory--and free. Private schools abound where half the curriculum is given in English, and elective languages like French and German are common in certain circles. Mexico's foremost university, the UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico), produces a yearly crop of PhDs that go on to brilliant careers as rocket scientists and researchers wooed by Harvard and the Sorbonne. And this university is free, for all intents and purposes--a semester costs MX$200, roughly USD 15. That's right. FIFTEEN bucks.
But education is not criteria. And criteria, with a not-so-small dose of balls, is what Mexico sorely lacks.
We're about to put the PRI back in the presidential chair. The PRI, the party that ruled Mexico for 70 years in a pseudo-dictatorship monopoly of corruption and inequality, until in 2000 the vote against them was so exuberant, so undeniable, that no amount of election manipulation could save them.
For twelve years--the presidential term in Mexico is six years, with no possibility of reelection--we've had the PAN in power. People had high hopes: this was it, the beginning of a golden age, of democracy--finally!--in Mexico, the end to all trouble. The panacea.
Of course, it wasn't.
Drug-related violence escalated. Bad decisions were made. A few years ago the global economic crisis hit. Companies closed down, people lost their jobs.
Disappointment hit like a tsunami, and in the wake of its devastation, people started to think, "did we make a mistake?"
Enrique Peña Nieto and his baby face, his perfected politician's smile, his soap-opera-star wife,his ties to the very worst the PRI produced for the country (Salinas de Gortari, for example), and his absolute cluelessness as to how to run a country, cannot become president.
This man has committed more gaffes in public since formally registering his campaign last November than most presidents commit in their whole lives.
-- At an international book fair in December, he said the author of La Silla Del Aguila (The Seat Of Power, one of Mexico's prime works of literature that takes a critical look at the presidential succession in Mexico) was Enrique Krauze.
BUUUZZZZZZ--it's Carlos Fuentes (who, by the way, died yesterday and leaves Mexico a whole lot closer to the destitution he predicted in this book). He then proceeded to dig a deeper hole by mismatching other authors and books. He then sort of apologized by explaining he focuses more on the content of a book than on the author or the title. (Video, with subtitles in English, here.)
|EPN: "I'm not a housewife."|
The country would do much better
run by one, if you ask me.
-- El País also asked him for the price of a kilo of tortillas. This is a national economic indicator, an important one, much as gas or rice is in other countries. Mr. Peña Nieto did not know. No clue. His excuse? "I'm not a housewife."
-- In a priceless interview in Univision (which was never shown in Mexican TV) in May 2009, Mr. Peña Nieto was asked about the death of his first wife (she died in january 2007). He couldn't remember. He floundered and tossed about; you could see him racking his brain for the details. But bottom-line? He couldn't remember. The fact that he announced his romance with Angelica Rivera, a soap-opera star, a mere year later--almost as if he'd followed the prescribed year of mourning to avoid tongues wagging, like the old days--strikes no one as, at the very least, insensitive?
-- Also in 2009, speaking before a stadium packed full of PRI supporters, he exhorted Mexico to strive for justice and social inequality. Yes--INEQUALITY. He realized his mistake and corrected it, and then proceeded to repeat it: "[...] inequality is the banner we make ours." (Video here.)
Well... Perhaps, for once, he spoke the truth.
And Mexico-US relationships will undoubtedly improve, seeing EPN's impressive mastery of foreign languages:
It is this man that polls show has 45% of the vote.
Elections are on the 1st of July. His two main opponents, Josefina Vázquez Mota (PAN) and Andrés Manuel López Obrador (PRD), each have around 26%. The remainder, a meager 3%, belongs to the only candidate that seems to have a functional head on his shoulders: Gabriel Quadri de la Torre (PANAL).
These votes represent a large chunk of the country. Still, it's not a majority. If people with criteria--the people that read, that conceive the economy as more than just a localized issue, that understand the global implications, the far-reaching consequences into the future, if these people vote smartly, EPN and the PRI will be out on the sidewalk begging for handouts another six years--six years the country seriously needs to finish firming up the democratic ideals that must prevail if Mexico is to have any kind of hope for the twenty-first century.
But these people are few and far between. And that's what's got me scared half to death.
Mexico doesn't need a movie-star face for a president, or a charming public personality. What Mexico needs is balls. We did it before, in 2000--we simply refused to allow the PRI's farce of democracy to go on and grabbed the bull by the horns. Why not again now? Why give up and let the PRI pigs back into power?
Joseph de Maistre said it best: toute nation a le gouvernement qu'elle mérite. Every nation has the government it deserves. If the PRI is allowed to win the presidential elections in Mexico this July, it will be the most tragic truth of Mexico's history.