Jul 16, 2012
On July 1st, more than 79 million Mexican voters elected the president of the Republic, and also 500 Representatives, 128 Senators, six governors and the Mayor of Mexico City. Enrique Peña Nieto, the candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) won the presidency with 38% of the vote, against 31% for Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) of the center left. Josefina Vazquez Mota, the candidate of the National Action Party (PAN), the right-wing party of the president for the past dozen years, was easily beaten.
The devastating economic and social situation is one of the reasons the voters rejected the PAN. Almost half of all Mexicans live on less than two dollars a day.
The NAFTA Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico may have increased the prosperity of the rich classes. It certainly did for Carlos Slim, who made his fortune through cell phones and is considered the richest man in the world. But it further tied the Mexican economy to that of the U.S. The U.S. recession of 2008-2009 dealt Mexico a heavy blow, causing the rate of economic growth to collapse and increasing unemployment.
The other scourge striking Mexico is the weight of the drug cartels and the violence they unleash. The change of the party in power in 2000 put an end to the status quo that existed between the PRI and the cartels. The PAN, following the suggestion of the U.S., attempted to reduce the influence of the gangs by armed repression. The result has been a failure. Not only have the cartels extended their influence, but their acts of barbarism have combined with the brutality of the police and army. A part of the population today sees the mafias and the military as being similar.
So what can Mexican workers expect from the PRI? It had ruled without interruption from 1929 to 2000. For a long time it maintained vague references to the Mexican revolution of 1910-1917. It nationalized the oil companies in the 1930s, led by President Lázaro Cárdenas, but his successors in the1990s privatized all kinds of things. The PRI was authoritarian, corrupt and maintained a vast patronage system.
The PRI candidate, like the other two main candidates, proposed that the way to get the country out of the economic crisis was to attack workers’ legal protections to facilitate layoffs; to cut taxes on the rich; and to begin the dismantling of the state oil company, Pemex. This will contribute to widening the gap further between the rich and the poor.
As for the problem of violence, despite the vague promise to reduce police corruption, the new president is basically going to continue the PAN policy. No wonder some of the PAN leaders joined the PRI. In other words, this election has done nothing to attack the problems of Mexican society.