By Richard N.
27 February 2005
We went through
the flap over the travel warning from the US State department concerning
public security advice for US tourists in the northern border area. And the
Mexican foreign ministry screeched loudly.
Then came the revelation that the drug cartels had penetrated the
travel office of the Mexican presidency. While the administration tried to
downplay this, President Fox himself admitted that there was an official who
had been removed and arrested for being on the take from the drug people.
Now why would the drug people be interested in the travel plans of Fox?
In the middle of the week of 13 Feb, 17 people had been found that had
been executed in the state of Sinoloa. These seemed to be all drug related
killings, and the war seems to be moving further south. Six weeks into this
year, the toll of drug killings reached 127.
After the federal government used the army to take control of México's
drug cartel controlled federal prisons President Fox said that he would
unleash the "Mother of all wars" against the drug cartels. In the meantime,
human rights observers state that the drug people run over half of the state
On 17 Feb the commissioner of the northern border affairs, Arturo
Gonzalez, resigned. The reason? Out of frustration because of lack of
support from the federal administration to address the region's problems.
And we wonder why many in the US want a triple 30-foot high fence
totally sealing off the border?
Now another flap is starting. Speaking to the US congress, CIA director
Porter Goss said that a number of Latin American nations present potential
areas for "instability" and called them "potential flashpoints". México was
one of them. One of the daily newspapers here ran a headline "México
unstable, according to the CIA!" This time the Secretary of the Interior,
Santiago Creel, joins the fray. He comments "We know that (the CIA) is
frequently mistaken and makes erroneous decisions. . . ".
While we all know about the botched analysis that the CIA (and others)
made in the lead up to the Iraq war, I am not sure that "frequently
mistaken" is correct.
The CIA was saying that the already started presidential political
campaign for 2006 is "likely to stall progress on fiscal, labor and energy
reforms". My comment? What took the CIA so long to figure this out? And they
forgot to mention the rest of the list of promised reforms (legal, law
enforcement and public safety) that concern the people of México. We all
know that these issues are now dead in the water for the remainder of this
administration. The administration is now in a terminal case of denial. We
should point out to Mr. Creel that the CIA was reporting to the US congress
on international situations of concern to that congress. He was not
"interfering in Mexican affairs". Just bringing the US congress up to date
as is his job.
Now we are seeing the death of another reform, labor reform. Labor
reform is needed for both sectors (employers and the workers). But it seems
like this one is doomed too. According to Human Rights Watch (an independent
non-governmental organization specializing in human rights abuses) while
adding protection to the employers, the proposal, known as the Abascal
project, weakens worker protection rights. While the UN report of 2003
covering Mexican human rights recommends increasing the "freedom of
association in the workplace", the Abascal project does just the reverse.
This points to a return of the former government supported single corrupt
union that Mexican workers were forced to join. Many of the "secret vote"
provisions now in force would be scrapped.
This proposal will go the same way as the double attempt of the
administration to do fiscal reform on the backs of the poorest by adding the
15% IVA (national sales tax) on food and medicine. This one won't fly
I feel the CIA's analysis of the near future of México is correct.
Demonstration time is coming up (and in fact has started). While the
government is in a steadily deepening state of paralysis. And more and more
people feel that their needs are being ignored.
Instead of trying to move real reform, Fox recently spent time abroad
in a series of North African countries, smiling and signing free trade
agreements. (México has more free trade agreements than any country in the
world already.) This is on a par with the recent FTA with Iran (for Persian
rugs?). Or was he hiding from the druggies?
Modern México does permit the people to peacefully demonstrate. At
least they have that alternative. But it sure is sheer hell on the traffic
Richard N. Baldwin T., a HispanicVista.com (http://www.hispanicvista.com/)
contributing columnist, lives in
de México. E-mail at: