Wednesday, December 5, 2012



Note: Seems to be much of "hope and change" in this one, but also
some truths.

The PRI, like chicago democrats, the epitome of corruption. They
also have no problem with using violence to serve their objectives.
Those of us on the border will be surprised by the "net" immigration
numbers. Significant increase in cross border activity being noted
over last couple months. BTW, it is the PRI that blocks the "needed
reforms" of their constituency. No, don't know if FCH is going to
Harvard for the HCM.

Expectations are high for Mexico's new president
A national poll released this week shows that 59 percent of Mexicans
expect their lives to be better under incoming President Enrique Peña
Nieto, who is being sworn in today.
9 hours ago • Alfredo Corchado The Dallas Morning News

MEXICO CITY - Enrique Peña Nieto, who followed his childhood dream of
one day becoming a public servant, will be sworn in today as Mexico's
new president. And despite inheriting a country riven by violence and
corruption, he may be one of its luckiest leaders in recent memory.

He takes over a nation of nearly 117 million with a resurgent economy
that has become one of the most competitive in the globe, surpassing
Brazil in annual growth rate. Drug killings, which have been the top
priority for Mexicans, aren't over by any means, but they appear to
be receding. A national poll released this week by Gabinete de
Comunicacion Estrategica, or GCE, shows that 59 percent of Mexicans
believe Peña Nieto will improve their lives. Indeed, those high
expectations may be Peña Nieto's biggest challenge.

"What the numbers say is that Peña Nieto will not have a honeymoon,"
said Liebano Saenz, president of GCE. "The bar has been set too high."

Peña Nieto succeeds Felipe Calderón, who heads to Harvard University
on a 12-month fellowship at the John F. Kennedy School of Government."

Peña Nieto, the 46-year-old former governor of the state of Mexico,
faces a nation divided by how to proceed in the drug war, a people
disillusioned by the unfulfilled promise of democracy, and a civil
society still in diapers. Many of its citizens are uneasily awaiting
the return of Peña Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI,
which ruled imperiously throughout most of the 20th century through
vote-fixing, vote-buying, co-option of opponents, corruption and even

"I for one am nervous about their return," said Guadalupe Davila of
Ciudad Juarez, whose son was one of the more than 60,000 victims of
drug violence under Calderón's term. "But it will be up to us,
society, to show the PRI that we have changed as a people, that we
demand government accountability, that things cannot go back to where
they were and fall back into neglect. That's why we lost what we lost."

Indeed, whatever one thinks about Calderón's conservative National
Action Party, or PAN, the country began to shed its paternalistic
past during its 12-year reign, beginning with the election of Vicente
Fox in 2000. Freedom of expression flourished. Civil society was
strengthened, and transparency laws were enacted.

"Whether it's the old or new PRI that returns - and it is likely to
be a bit of both - Mexico has changed," said Shannon O'Neil, an
expert on Mexico at the Council on Foreign Relations. "Congress
matters, the Supreme Court matters, and increasingly social
organizations and voices matter. The incoming PRI government will be
working within a much more democratic context than their predecessors."

Maybe so, said journalist Victor Hugo Michel, 34, of Milenio
newspaper, but the PRI "will test us to protect whatever gains we've
made as a society."

Michel spent three months examining government documents, obtained
through freedom-of-information tools, to determine how many people
had disappeared during Calderón's term. He was surprised not just by
the staggering number of disappeared - 24,000 - but by the fact that
some states blocked access to the information, in one case with the
excuse, "We must respect the deceased." All were states in which the
PRI controls the state government.

Peña Nieto won with just 38 percent of the vote, and his party failed
to win a majority in either house of Congress, which will make it
difficult to push through needed energy, education and tax reforms,
analysts say, or to loosen the grip of cronyism, powerful unions and
monopolies - all changes that are needed to catapult Mexico forward.

Peña Nieto and his team have repeatedly vowed that the old PRI is
dead and have said that the priority is to change Mexico's narrative,
from a country plagued by violence to a nation brimming with economic
opportunity. It's a tall order. Yes, the economy is improving,
generating tens of thousands of jobs for the past two years, but not
nearly enough to be considered the next China or India, according to
experts, including former Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda.

"Mexico's economy is OK, period," he said. "Just OK."

According to the GCE poll, 72 percent of Mexicans believe their
country is either stuck or moving backward, and only 27 percent
believe their country is progressing.

Then there's the image problem. A recent poll by Austin, Texas-based
Vianovo consultants and GSD&M advertising showed that 72 percent of
Americans surveyed viewed Mexico as a nation stymied by drug violence.

Even as studies show that net migration to the United States has
fallen to zero, some workers don't discount the possibility of
migrating north, where wages remain as much as five times higher,
especially as the U.S. economy recovers along with sectors such as
home construction, a magnet for Mexican workers.

Corruption, however, haunts the new narrative. This week, Laredo,
Texas-born drug trafficker Edgar Valdez Villarreal, known as "La
Barbie," instructed his attorney to deliver to the Mexico City
newspaper Reforma a letter in which he accused much of the U.S.-
trained Mexican federal police, including its leader, Genaro Garcia
Luna, of being on the payroll of the Beltran Leyva cartel. The Senate
has called for an investigation and summoned Garcia Luna to appear
before lawmakers Thursday. He denied the allegations.

The latest allegation underscored a finding of the GCE poll, which
showed that 94 percent of Mexicans want the military to continue the
fight against the cartels, and that only 4.9 percent trust the
federal police, despite billions spent on revamping the agency
through new facilities, equipment and training by advisers from the
United States and other countries, including Great Britain, Israel
and Colombia.

Peña Nieto has proposed reorganizing government security agencies -
including prisons, local police forces and the federal police, which
has grown to more than 35,000 men and women - by returning control to
the Interior Ministry. The ministry, known as Gobernacion, long
served as the PRI's eyes and ears.

"Whether it's the old or new PRI that returns - and it is likely to
be a bit of both - Mexico has changed"

Shannon O'Neil
Expert on Mexico at the Council on Foreign Relations

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