July 7, 2000
4:50 AM   Subscribe

This isn’t exactly hot news, but there hasn’t been much MeFi discussion of the long-awaited defeat of the PRI in the Mexican elections.
posted by Mocata (6 comments total)
Good news – but the reform programme they’ve announced is so blandly centre-right that even The Man himself is cheering them on.
posted by Mocata at 4:53 AM on July 7, 2000

Well, of course. Fox is a center-right candidate, compared to the center-left technocrats in the PRI -- or wasn't that obvious?

I think it's terrific that Mexico has joined the "real democracy" bandwagon along with other Latin American countries like Brazil and Argentina (especially since Peru and others are seeming to need an example right now). I'm not really concerned that this is probably simply the birth of a Mexican GOP: having a working multi-party democracy is so much more important than the question of which actual party is in power.

It's likely that PRI will split now. Some will go to the leftist peasant party and some, mainly the technocrat wing exemplified by Zedillo et al., will go over to PAN and Fox. (They may take a spell as a transitional splinter party.) The old PRI may re-emerge as a realistic social democratic party in the European mold, or be eclipsed by the leftist party. It really doesn't matter. What's happened is that Mexico will suddenly realize it has choices galore, not just in the voting booth but choices for its future. So many Mexicans are educated in US schools or apprenticed in US businesses that they're starting to build their own modern economy, which is excellent news for us. Maybe the NAFTA dream of truly open borders will eventually come true.

I also think this has the potential to make the Mexican president the de facto leader of the Latin American and Spanish-speaking community of nations. I found it interesting that one of the first people who called to congratulate Fox was King Juan Carlos. Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country.
posted by dhartung at 9:52 AM on July 7, 2000

Hey, informed debate! I like it... I notice that you're well versed in Lloyd George as well, dhartung - which must make you the Renaissance Man of Metafilter. As for the de facto leader of the Latin American and Spanish-speaking community of nations, though, I thought he was in La Habana...
posted by Mocata at 10:14 AM on July 7, 2000

Surely you're kidding? Half of South America used to hunt communists for sport.

There was a day when he did rule the roost, around 1979 when he achieved chairmanship of the Nonaligned Nations group. He still has many friends in this group -- and Mexico, ironically, was one of the staunchest. (He lived in Mexico while he prepared his revolution ... almost every other Cuban revolutionary movement, including Che's, was organized in the United States.)

It's actually been an interesting process to watch. Around a generation ago most Latin American countries were following the example of Spain and running very nationalist, militaristic régimes (to be correct, fascist). From Franco in Spain, Pinochet in Chile, the "dirty war" in Argentina ... then Franco died, handing power back to King Juan Carlos, who unexpectedly helped reintroduce parliamentary democracy in the classic European mold. Portugal soon followed. As democracy spread, Spain nurtured its links with Latin America, and Juan Carlos was frequently an intermediary between difficult régimes and the Western democracies. (Interestingly, except for one early skirmish, he has maintained a strong hands-off approach with the Spanish parliament. He has expanded his role to be as much Spain's defender of democracy as her ambassador-without-portfolio.) As Spain opened up, it prospered, and I believe this was extremely influential in bringing about social change in Latin America.

This is also partly why Spain has moved to prosecute Pinochet and the Argentine generals. Unfortunately, this has also offended the young democracies in question and has probably diminished Spanish influence. This is why I believe the time has come for a new leader.
posted by dhartung at 4:59 PM on July 7, 2000

You mean Juan Carlos needs to be replaced?
posted by Mocata at 2:51 AM on July 10, 2000

Been out on vacation too long. Yes, the change in my home country is great news.
    Fox may not be great, and in fact, surely there will be more problems in the short term since the very foundations of our whole way of getting things done are about to change. But we have someone new to blame, someone new we can elect OUT of office. We now have the power to make our leaders accountable, and that is all we needed.
    The change is mostly a different "frame of mind", and also I like the guy for having and displaying the image of a more real mexican, vowing never to take his boots off, accidentally using curse words every now and then, able to laugh and joke. What a difference from the solemn, carton cut-outs, stern faces we're used to.

¡Viva México!
posted by tremendo at 7:00 AM on July 10, 2000

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