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Mexico's Uncertainty -- and More?
September 7, 2006 9:51 AM   Subscribe

Felipe Calderon has been declared the next President of Mexico, but the controversy has not ended as his rival, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has vowed to stay in the streets. The most intense conflict has been in Oaxaca, but this is underreported in the US media. Tie this in with a recent Mother Jones article describing the current influx of Mexicans into the United States as an exodus from a failed economy, and all of a sudden the reports coming from Mexico take on a very different meaning.
posted by graymouser (33 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm reading Down by the River right now... a gripping, chilling, somewhat mind-blowing work of reporting. I had no idea just how corrupt Mexican govt. was/is. As of 1995, the entire federal govt. of Mexico was completely controlled by drug money. I wonder if this has changed. Probably not, unless they repealed the laws of economics somewhere and I missed it...
posted by jcruelty at 11:03 AM on September 7, 2006


It's time for Yankees who care about our southern neighbor to stop using Mexico 2006 as an excuse to settle scores from Florida 2000 and start reinforcing the vital institutions of Mexican democracy.
posted by Kwantsar at 11:07 AM on September 7, 2006


Kwantsar:

The WSJ's perspective is that of the ruling class, who have a vested interest in a relatively sedated Mexico. Its opinion page is excellent as an unapologetic statement of the prevailing opinion of the capitalist class. But for fuck's sake, who in their right mind could pretend that the ruling class candidate in Mexico -- we're talking about a country that was under one-party rule for most of the 20th century -- is really a shining beacon of democracy, and not more of the same corruption and repression?
posted by graymouser at 11:15 AM on September 7, 2006


Can someone please explain this to me:

Tuesday, after a recount of about 9 per cent of Mexico's polling stations, the TEFPJ said in its official and final vote count that Calderon won by 233,831 votes, or 0.56 percentage points over Lopez Obrador.

I assmue this is a projection, because after 9% of the polling stations have been recounted and the differential between the candidates has shrunk by 42%. If this is not a projection and the trend continued Obrador actually won.
posted by batou_ at 11:22 AM on September 7, 2006


Before we rehash the insanity of FL2000, it seems that 0.56 percentage point difference is likely to be within the margin of error for the method used to count votes.

Interesting paper on what to do when margin of victory < margin of error/a> (Google HTML version of
PDF).


Thus, recounts don't help anyone. Suppose there's a a recount and the loser (this time around) wins the recount. Did he really win? Why is the recount more valid than the original count?
posted by Pastabagel at 11:39 AM on September 7, 2006


The thing is, batou_, and this is the explanation of the TEFPJ, not my opinion, those polling stations (the 9%) were in doubt, there appeared to be something wrong with them, so they were analyzed and that recount modified the overall percentage a tiny bit but, they say, this does not apply to the other 91% which showed no signs of fraud.
posted by micayetoca at 11:39 AM on September 7, 2006


what I meant to say is that the adjustment is a "verdict" on the 9% and not a projection that should extend to the remaining 91%, in the words of the TEFPJ
posted by micayetoca at 11:43 AM on September 7, 2006


I was in the DF a few weeks ago and was stunned by the number of people camping out in the Zocalo, Av Juarez and on Reforma. The scope was definitely larger than the Houston Chronicle and LA Times made me believe.

It is similar Bush/Gore 2000 in the sense Mexico is split into a Estados Rojos/Estados Azules. But like the US, it is about class. Well off Mexicans in Condesa or Polanco like Calderon. The working class in Mexico City like Obrador. And there are lot more poor people. In Northern Mexico along the Rio Grande, it seems to be supportive of Calderon at both ends of the economic spectrum. I believe this probably has to do with how much those in the north depend on the US and Calderon won't rock the boat with the US. In truth Obrador wouldn't have rocked the boat with the US either.

But a lot of Chilangos are more annoyed than the supportive of those who have taken to the streets. It is hurting their bottom lines in terms of longer commute times and layoffs in tourism-based business.
posted by birdherder at 11:48 AM on September 7, 2006


Thanks for the links, but does this mean that we can stop using the pesky and inconvenient accents in "Calderón" "Andrés" and "López"? Please help in the fight against monoglottism.
posted by peeedro at 11:49 AM on September 7, 2006


It's time for Yankees who care about our southern neighbor to stop using Mexico 2006 as an excuse to settle scores from Florida 2000 and start reinforcing the vital institutions of Mexican democracy.

You know, this statement could have been somewhat sensible if it'd just read:

"It's time for Yankess who care about our southern neighbor to start reinforcing the vital institutions of Mexican democracy."

But "excuse to settle the score from Florida 2000?" Helluva projected motive. Relies on the idea that much of the country consists of lefties trading lefty baseball cards with lefty stats for their favorite lefty candidates throughout the world. And yeah, I realize these people, like most caricatures, actually do exist and wear Che T-Shirts at the local U, but does the WSJ really think they're that much of the US population? And hell, as far a score settlin' for 2000 goes.... Mexico? Most of those upset about 2000 are going to experience a vicarious feeling of victory through Mexico? Nah. Seems pretty likely that Y2KETS (Y2K Election Trauma Syndrome) is pretty much an domestic inflamatory disorder.
posted by namespan at 11:56 AM on September 7, 2006


Whatever else can be said of Al Gore, his eventual decision to finally concede in 2000 was a courageous move that both sprang from and fostered the rule of law in the U.S. Would that such wisdom come to Mexico.

And it serves again as an object lesson to all electorates, that, if they cannot reach a compelling decision in the ballot box, the decision they get from courts and process isn't likely to be any more palatable. Body politics voting margins of under 1% have said, effectively, it doesn't matter to them who runs their country.
posted by paulsc at 11:57 AM on September 7, 2006


paulsc --

I'd advise that you read the later articles in the post; their point was not to pad out an otherwise newsfiltery post, but to provide some very distinct context for what's going on. It's not that AMLO (who I'm not particularly a fan of) needs to play Al Gore and concede; it's more that the country's in a desperate fix and the election result is only helping it unravel.
posted by graymouser at 12:14 PM on September 7, 2006


It's time for Yankees who care about our southern neighbor to stop using Mexico 2006 as an excuse to settle scores from Florida 2000 and start reinforcing the vital institutions of Mexican democracy.

Maybe so, but the WSJ Editorial page? Why not just link to Rush Limbaugh or Powerline?

Obrador needs to get over himself, though.
posted by delmoi at 12:15 PM on September 7, 2006


paulsc: I get the feeling "such wisdom" would not apply in Mexico. There is no real "rule of law" in Mexico and people are tired of it. Obrador can concede, people will still be tired of it and will group around someone else.

This is not about court rulings and conceding defeat. The problem is still there, it is not being addressed and, given a couple years, it might just explode in the hands of today's presidente electo.
posted by micayetoca at 12:28 PM on September 7, 2006


Thanks for the links, but does this mean that we can stop using the pesky and inconvenient accents in "Calderón" "Andrés" and "López"? Please help in the fight against monoglottism.

As a language fan, my apologies for any missed accents.
posted by graymouser at 12:50 PM on September 7, 2006


I'm reading Down by the River right now... a gripping, chilling, somewhat mind-blowing work of reporting. I had no idea just how corrupt Mexican govt. was/is. As of 1995, the entire federal govt. of Mexico was completely controlled by drug money.
posted by jcruelty at 11:03 AM PST


Be careful what rabbit hole you look in. You might loose faith in government.
Fitts on drug money
Hugs and kisses from Wall Steet to FARC

Why would such go on? A big red button parable....
posted by rough ashlar at 12:52 PM on September 7, 2006




Stupid bitch believes in god! What a larf!
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:27 PM on September 7, 2006


"... It's not that AMLO (who I'm not particularly a fan of) needs to play Al Gore and concede; it's more that the country's in a desperate fix and the election result is only helping it unravel. "
posted by graymouser at 3:14 PM EST on September 7 [+] [!]


The Mother Jones piece was typically over written, and over long, but I did wade through it and the other links, before posting, graymouser. You may have intended these links to provide "background" to your main links about the Mexican election fiasco, but I think, perversely, that they don't, and may even detract from any discussion of Mexican presidential politics. Latinos emigrating from Mexico do not, I postulate, figure heavily in Mexican election politics; if they did stay home and bother to vote in any organized way, maybe Mexican politics would be different. And the same could be said, absent the immigration theme, of American politics, where the fracture of the electorate into hundreds if not thousands of "issue groups" has narrowed election results to the point of calling into question the very nature of elections and the electoral process.

For years back in the PRI era, half of the buildings in rural Mexico got painted red, green, and white every six years by the PRI, not because the building owners were big PRI supporters, but because it was one way PRI had of spreading work and money into rural economies as part of electioneering. I cite this not as an example of how Mexican politics once benevolently aided the masses, but as an example of how little it takes in poor countries for parties to create voting majorities. The current state of Mexican politics, particularly its parties, has slipped significantly, even from the PRI days. Why? Isn't it possible that Mexican society is corrupt and "failing" (as your linked writers see it) because Mexicans have failed, by the millions, to individually exercise and develop social responsibility, and because their party leaders have failed to organize the electorate as effectively as they once did, as have American politicians of late? And finally, if Mexico is on the verge of class warfare or even revolution, as your linked authors seem to think, will the flow of economic immigrants markedly affect any outcome, except for the remittances they send home, seeing as how the illegal immigrants that your linked authors profile are rarely educated or politically active?

If AMLO truly cared about the country, he'd concede, and put in the next six years building a party and an economic base which could deliver a decisive electoral win. But he's not doing that, because he seems to think that getting people in the streets is more likely to effect change, despite all of Mexico's long history to the contrary. Mexico is no Peru in its political rhythms, and tens of thousands of people in the streets of Mexico City won't make it so.

"... There is no real "rule of law" in Mexico and people are tired of it. Obrador can concede, people will still be tired of it and will group around someone else. ..."
posted by micayetoca at 3:28 PM EST on September 7 [+][!]


The current electoral problem for Mexico is precisely that the electorate didn't "group around someone else." in sufficient quantity to make their will the undisputable election result. We have the same problem in America, with an Administration that was twice elected on razor thin margins whose legitimacy is still debated, and whose popular approval has been well below 50% for months stretching into years now.
posted by paulsc at 1:57 PM on September 7, 2006


paulsc: don't you think the problem might be with two-party dominated political systems in general, since those seem to be the ones that primarily suffer from this 50/50 split problem you point to? See, I think it's not a people problem but a systemic one.

/derail
posted by saulgoodman at 2:15 PM on September 7, 2006


You may have intended these links to provide "background" to your main links about the Mexican election fiasco, but I think, perversely, that they don't, and may even detract from any discussion of Mexican presidential politics. Latinos emigrating from Mexico do not, I postulate, figure heavily in Mexican election politics; if they did stay home and bother to vote in any organized way, maybe Mexican politics would be different.

I think we're a bit at cross purposes, in large part because I think that people aren't making the synthesis between the broader points. I'm not really interested in how the large-scale migration out of Mexico is impacting the elections; I'm interested in how it's essentially the safety valve from bad economic winds, and it's at or near capacity today. The state of Oaxaca is at or near an objectively revolutionary situation, and the marginal loser in the elections is preparing to declare himself president in about a week. The Mexican situation is explosive, and the electoral focus is doing it a total disservice.

The current state of Mexican politics, particularly its parties, has slipped significantly, even from the PRI days. Why? Isn't it possible that Mexican society is corrupt and "failing" (as your linked writers see it) because Mexicans have failed, by the millions, to individually exercise and develop social responsibility, and because their party leaders have failed to organize the electorate as effectively as they once did, as have American politicians of late?

Sorry, but I find arguments about "social responsibility" weak when you're dealing with Mexico; you're talking about a country whose economy has collapsed in the last decade to the point where remittances from the United States are a major source of national income. Mexican industry is in China these days, like in America, but with nothing to fall back upon. Desperate poverty -- and it's not as if Mexico were a rich country to start with -- does not encourage such niceties, and I think it's rather arrogant to say that things could be solved with a healthy dose of "responsibility." Mexico's crisis is deep and broad, and its implications are in fact revolutionary, as we're starting to see in Oaxaca and in a different form in Mexico City.

If AMLO truly cared about the country, he'd concede, and put in the next six years building a party and an economic base which could deliver a decisive electoral win. But he's not doing that, because he seems to think that getting people in the streets is more likely to effect change, despite all of Mexico's long history to the contrary. Mexico is no Peru in its political rhythms, and tens of thousands of people in the streets of Mexico City won't make it so.

I'm not a partisan of AMLO, as I've said before; I have no particular advice for him. But I find yours to be precious; Mexico's a tinderbox waiting to burst today, and starting to burst, and that doesn't wait for presidential elections. I don't agree with your underlying premise that -- especially out of power -- AMLO could make a situation where he could be seriously effective six years from now. In Oaxaca -- I didn't provide much linkage about it because most of the coverage is in explicitly socialist or communist sources -- it's already boiling over, and it will have profound implications for the rest of the country and the region if it does. I think that makes pat lectures about civics ring hollow.
posted by graymouser at 2:20 PM on September 7, 2006


(2-party systems may ultimately just be overcomplicated coin-tosses, that inevitably lead to roughly a 50/50 distribution of outcomes, as one would expect if elections were determined by sheer random probability alone...)
posted by saulgoodman at 2:20 PM on September 7, 2006


Someone let me know where voting is done by the Binary Approval method, so that I can see what happens when a majority actually approves of their leaders.
posted by davejay at 2:23 PM on September 7, 2006


Gotta say paulsc, you are right. "If AMLO truly cared about the country" he should concede, work hard, try to do things to actually make things better. The problem is, I don't think he truly cares about the country (neither does Calderon, in my opinion).

I think he just realized they snatched the glass from his hands just when he was about to drink from it. Now that it's not in his hands, he just wants to break it. An if-it's-not-mine-it-is-no-one's type of thing.

So, I think you were talking about how things should be. I was talking about how they are. You say (and you are right) they could be better. I'm just saying they are looking pretty grim.
posted by micayetoca at 2:26 PM on September 7, 2006


and, saulgoodman, there were 5 parties contending in Mexico's election.
posted by micayetoca at 2:28 PM on September 7, 2006


cool. thanks! then i guess it's a more subtle problem than that.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:29 PM on September 7, 2006


Not sure what the point of the Mother Jones article was. The last paragraph summed it all up pretty well, and the color about Santa Muerte and the Altar-Sásabe pollo trail was interesting, but was all of that something that needed 11,800 words to express?

An excellent discussion of the blurred Mexico-US border, and a much more cogent discussion of Mexican political and sociological dynamics (especially the intense differences between northern and southern Mexico) than the Mother Jones article, can be found in Juan Enriquez' The Untied States of America.
posted by blucevalo at 3:21 PM on September 7, 2006


They should have done a complete recount--it's ridiculous and all they've accomplished now is ruining the trust (shaky as it was) in the new system they specifically set up to supposedly stop the corruption. Mexico has 90 years of corrupt and fixed elections, and now they still do. The court found many irregularities just in that small sample they recounted, and it should have led them to do a full recount.
posted by amberglow at 3:39 PM on September 7, 2006


because Mexicans have failed, by the millions, to individually exercise and develop social responsibility, and because their party leaders have failed to organize the electorate as effectively as they once did, as have American politicians of late?

They're doing that now, in the streets. They tried the court and it was no help. This is social responsibility in action.
posted by amberglow at 3:41 PM on September 7, 2006


Maybe so, but the WSJ Editorial page? Why not just link to Rush Limbaugh or Powerline?

Heh. There are links to Mother Jones and The Nation in the FPP, but post a WSJ OpEd and someone jumps your shit.
posted by Kwantsar at 5:02 PM on September 7, 2006


The only reason I know about this at all is becaue the business pages are talking about whether to pull money out of Mexican investments.

I wish we had a news media that regarded millions of people striking and rioting in our nearest-neighbor country as a newsworthy event.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:31 PM on September 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


Paulsc wrote "Whatever else can be said of Al Gore, his eventual decision to finally concede in 2000 was a courageous move that both sprang from and fostered the rule of law in the U.S."

Feh on that load of crap. The rule of law was broken the moment the SCOTUS stuck its nose in the affair.
posted by filchyboy at 9:19 PM on September 7, 2006


ikkyu2: I wish we had a news media that regarded millions of people striking and rioting in our nearest-neighbor country as a newsworthy event.

This bears repeating in bold-face. Just further evidence of what we previously talked about here.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:58 AM on September 8, 2006


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