Juarez, I Can Hear You Crying, Part 2
This LA Times Op-Ed doesn't pull any punches about Mexico's upcoming presidential election and the PRI's illustrious candidate for president:
The Mexican version of the old Soviet Politburo is poised to make a comeback, with potentially disastrous consequences for North America. In 2000, the world hailed the end of more than 70 years of rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, as a sign of democratic transition. Today, the PRI's presidential candidate in the July 1 election, Enrique Peña Nieto, threatens to bring back the authoritarian ways of the past.
The PRI has not cleaned up its act or modernized over the last 12 years. To the contrary, it has deepened its networks of corruption and illegality in the territories it still controls. The 10 states where the PRI has never lost power are among the most violent, underdeveloped and corrupt in the country. In these states, democratic transition and accountability are exotic concepts and the local governors rule like despotic feudal lords.
For example, the state of Veracruz is one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists. Recently, four journalists were assassinated in a single week. In January, officials close to the governor were detained in an airport with a suitcase containing nearly $2 million in cash, supposedly for an advertising campaign.
What this isn't, is a surprise. Shocking perhaps. Business as usual, perhaps. But, sadly, no surprise at all. And you don't need to read deeply in Paco Igancio Taibo II or Martin Solares or the Mexican press to be reminded that it's been like this for quite some time. For a very, very long time. It's a tradition. A way of life.
And, of course, the Op Ed actually says it:
Peña Nieto is a wolf in sheep's clothing. He hides behind a telegenic smile and sharp attire, but he represents Mexico's old corrupt political class. Last week, for example, a high-ranking general apparently close to Peña Nieto and his group of politicians from Mexico state was arrested on organized-crime charges.
During his governorship, Peña Nieto allegedly spent tens of millions in public funds to illegally boost his image on national television. But he has few ideas of his own and questionable moral character. He fathered a son in an extramarital affair and has come under fire from the boy's mother for being an irresponsible parent.
When Peña Nieto was asked at a book fair to name three books he had read, he could only mention that he had gone over "parts" of the Bible. The late Carlos Fuentes, who died May 15, said that Peña Nieto's "ignorance" cast serious doubts on his ability to be a good president. No intellectual or independent journalist is willing to publicly endorse Peña Nieto's candidacy.
Well, your Bloguero can relate to all of this. Most Norteamericanos should be able to, also. After all, your Bloguero lives in a country that has "elected" the seeming Village Idiot in 2000 and, as if that weren't enough, again in 2004. So the piquant smell of opaque stooge-ism and favoritism and corruption and hypocrisy and plunder of the system by its supposed curators isn't at all unfamiliar. You could wish such things were only for Banana Republics. What a joke.
Meanwhile, the current Mexican administration, once the supposed antidote to PRI's pervasive corruption, is engaged in its own crazy, deathly War on Drugs that has left more than 50,000 people dead in its wake and has reduced cities like Juarez to places to escape from. Places where the army fights pitched battles with the cartels. Places where innocent people get killed. Or kidnapped. Or maimed. Places where going out at night is extremely dangerous. Where being in public places is a risk. Where speaking out or blogging or posting on FB leads to reprisals. Where riding public transportation may expose the commuter to a hail of random bullets. In sum, Juarez represents the dystopian narco-state at its most virulent and most dangerous.
And then there's this, lest one think that the PRI has the monopoly on corruption and that the War on Drugs has nothing to do with that:
President Felipe Calderon's reliance on the army in Mexico's war on drugs was shaken in the past days with the arrest of three generals and a lieutenant colonel on corruption charges.
With Mexico's presidential election just six weeks away and political campaigns in full swing, supporters allege that at least one of the arrests is politically motivated.
Most shocking was the detention of retired major general Tomas Angeles, a close aid to Defense Minister Guillermo Galvan and a soldier with a sterling reputation.
Angeles was the second highest-ranking officer in the ministry during the first two years of Calderon's administration and had been seen as a likely candidate for defense minister until his retirement in 2008.
Javier Sicilia may have a solution to all of this. But even if he does, it's going to take major upheaval and time to move the inert, corrupt narco-state in a direction away from corruption and toward peace. One thing is sure: EPN and Calderon both have no plan, no idea, nothing relevant to say that will end the killing. They continue to fill their pockets. And they attempt to shoulder their rivals away from the public trough.
All that means, I am sorry to note, that Juarez, City of Tears and Death and Displacement, your weeping is in vain. And your obvious, uncontrollable pain is not going to be swiftly abated.