Tag: Mexican Army

Mexico in Crisis: Time for Bold Action

I am stealing this because it is too important not to:

Reforma: Eduardo R. Huchim*
Translated by Thomas Mosley

The recent survey by Reforma (12/13/14) on the dramatic decline in citizens’ trust in key institutions, including the president and the military, confirms that Mexico is in a national crisis because of what it is experiencing.

Unfortunately, the institutions have not responded effectively or soon enough, but this is due to their leaders’ inability and/or lack of ethics and commitment. Our institutions, though they can be improved upon, have strengths in their design and the necessary legal powers, but their proper operation requires their leaders to have effort, dedication, and strict adherence to ethics and law: virtues which rarely occur in Mexico.

Although responsibility for the crisis weighs most heavily on the Executive branch, the truth is that it does not exclude the other powers. As a preview, keep in mind three facts that were released just yesterday: the judge that exonerated Raúl Salinas de Gortari [brother of former president Carlos Salinas] of illicit gain, the PRI deputies who refused to allow the Superior Audit Office to audit them in real time, and the PRI and PAN Senators who forced the Senate session to be adjourned and close the [autumn] period due to a lack of quorum. This last left the appointments of electoral and anti-corruption prosecutors, the political reform of Mexico City, and the response to the parents of the disappeared Ayotzinapa teachers college students up in the air, among other issues.

No, the Executive branch is not solely responsible for the current crisis. However, it is they who should head up rescuing the institutions, a bailout which will only be possible if the three branches and autonomous bodies work vigorously. There are essential actions that the Head of State can undertake with a patriotic spirit, far from unhealthy appetites such as wealth and extravagance. The first would be to admit the mistakes and go forward with the public apology suggested by Enrique Krauze in The New York Times [What Mexico’s President Must Do].

The apology would be a good first step toward a horizon of bold actions (yes, those!) that would definitely move Mexico in the right direction, with a premise that the vice president of Bolivia, Álvaro García Linera, aptly put recently in an interview with Carmen Aristegui (CNN, 12/15/14):

“The government must tell the truth at any cost and sacrifice anyone necessary… if a lie about something important is left planted, in the future that lie will become a stamp on anything that the government says.”

Without claiming to be exhaustive, some such actions might include the following:

a) Clarifying what actually happened in the painful Ayotzinapa case, without consideration for the federal workers who took part in its genesis and development. Does the “official story” of incineration hold up against the objections that scientifically oppose this hypothesis? Did soldiers and federal police take part in the disappearance of the 43 students? These are questions that must be answered promptly with supporting evidence.

b) Based on current law, immediately fighting against any act of corruption at all levels, and the consequent prosecution when necessary.

c) Accepting the conflicts of implicit interest in the houses of the Lomas de Chapultepec [house of  Angélica Riverapresident’s wife] and Malinalco [house of Secretary of the Treasury, Luis Videgaray], followed by selling the property and donating the proceeds to projects which unquestionably benefit society. [MV Note: Angélica Rivera has announced that she will sell her “share” of ownership in the house being financed by the Higa construction company.]

d) Cancelling the contracts awarded to the Higa Group, of John Armando Hinojosa Cantú, in particular the Monterrey VI project [an aqueduct], which would cost at least 47 billion pesos [US$3.2 billion] and whose usefulness has been rightly questioned.

e) Cancelling the purchase of the luxurious presidential jet, or replacing it planes that are useful to society.

f) Implementing a public infomation policy that excludes all paid government propaganda in the electronic media. [MV Note: The government spends large amounts on paid advertising of its programs and accomplishments. This is seen as producing favorable coverage by the media.]

g) Substantially modifying the failed policy against drug trafficking by regulating the sale of drugs that are currently banned, coupled with prevention campaigns.

h) Reversing all the content of the energy reform that lacks public consent.

i) Correcting the erroneous tax policy [which raised taxes in the context of a stagnant economy] and granting real stimuli to companies. A rich government, an impoverished population, and a discouraged business sector do nothing for the nation.

These are times of crisis, and to deal with them, we must counter with a time of boldness. Will there be one?

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*Eduardo R. Huchim is a journalist, writer and, from 1999 to 2006, member of the General Council of the Electoral Institute of Mexico City, where he presided over the Audit Commission. His books include The System Crashes (Grijalbo, 1996), The Plots (novel, Grijalbo, 1997), New Elections (Plaza y Janés, 1997), Media (Santillana, 2002) and What’s Up With the Vote (Terracotta, 2006).

Army in the Alley

Dianne comes into the bedroom. “There are soldiers in the callejón, the alley,” she says. “At least people wearing helmets.” I go up on the azotéa, the roof, so I can look down on the alley, which runs right by our front door and along the upper edge of the house. I see police with helmets—and dogs. Mexicans are afraid of dogs. This is a new weapon for the police. The police have new uniforms, look well-equipped. I look down the alley, toward the Old City center. All of it is old city. I see more police. They are acting like soldiers, taking cover in doorways. I look farther down. There are other figures. They are harder to discern. For some reason, Army olive green at night makes them blend in with the things around them. These men have Army helmets on and the rest of the battle dress. They hold assault rifles in ready-to-fire stances. I mean, they point them at a few passers-by, one of them holding his hands in the air. The soldiers have the most powerful flashlights I have every seen. They spot me on the roof top and illuminate me. I wave, to show I’m friendly. The lights stay on me, then move away. From my position, I can see the “enemy” climbing over a wall—the gang banger, paint thinner-sniffing seventeen-year old’s climbing over a wall bordering a dead end alley where the Army has trapped them. Three of them jump down and run uphill through the overgrown empty lot I’m looking down on. The Army has no idea the lads have slipped the noose. The flashlights land on me again. I point in the direction the “enemy” is escaping. I think better of it. I can be seen as collaborating. The police run back up past our house in pursuit. Then the Army. They search the vacant lot. They come up empty handed. We go to bed. At three a.m. I hear the gang bangers in front of the front door again. They are whistling signals to gather in their compañeros. They are winding up for another go at scaring the neighborhood. I call 066, get an almost immediate response. The woman at the other end is professional and clear. She wants to know how many gang bangers. I exaggerate a little: six or eight, I say. “A patrol will be right there.” I lie in bed listening. The glue-sniffing whistlers seem to have left. Later, I think I hear the quick tread of soft-soled boots on the steps of the callejón.