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viernes, junio 29, 2012

Mexico Votes On Sunday: Will This End The Killing?

Yo Soy 132 demonstrators on May 1

Mexico goes to the polls on Sunday to elect a president.

It’s widely predicted that the PRI, swept out of office in 2000 after 71 years of rule, and its pretty boy candidate, Enriquie Pena Nieto (EPN), will win. This, despite opposition from Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who nearly won the last election (some believe he actually did win) and who seems to have moved toward the center to capture more votes, and from Mexican students whose movement, Yo Soy #132, has brought thousands into the street in opposition to EPN, and from the presently ruling PAN party, whose candidate is trying mightily to distance herself from the Calderon presidency and its war on drugs that has killed more than 50,000 people by saying she's "different."

A description of the major candidates is here.

If it’s true, as Yo Soy 132 assert and the Guardian hints, that there has been a deal between the media and PRI that accounts for the opinion polls showing EPN far ahead, Sunday could be very interesting. Such a deal has great plausibility in Mexico. In the US such assertions are usually in the bailiwick of conspiracy theory. And there remains the question of whether Lopez Obrador, if he is told he lost, will accept that or will bring people into the streets to contest the election.

Most of us in Gringolandia don’t understand Mexico’s politics. At all. Or don’t care. But for those who want the quick, pre-election course, there’s William Finnegan’s a wonderful article in the New Yorker, Crime, Drugs, and Politics in Guadalajara.

Though he’s writing about the apparent contradictions between seeing Guadalajara as a cultural center and its being at the same time a city dominated by the narcos, his observations generally fit most of Mexico. In focusing on this contradiction and noting the pantallas (the screens) that shield motivations in Mexican government, politics, and crime, he joins in non-fiction the novels Los minutos negros (the Black Minutes) by Martin Solares and No habra final feliz (No Happy Ending) by Paco Ignacio Taibo II. The takeaway: when institutions are corrupt, and they are clearly so in Mexico, it's scary, you never know who’s really in charge, you don’t know whose toes you may have stepped on, so you don’t know really why things are happening. In the worst case, bad things are happening to you or your family for reasons you don’t quite fathom. Or they happen and nobody knows why.

All of the candidates say that they will do something about the War on Drugs that has left so many dead. What they will do remains quite murky. Everyone agrees that things will have to change. How things will change remains a question without a firm answer.

Put another way, will the Government take the army off the street and just make a deal with the cartels that stops the killing? Or are the cartels at this point so much stronger than the Government that no acuerdo of this kind is possible?

The simplest, most important question about the election: will Sunday's vote move Mexico toward an end of the killing, or will it just fuel more of it?

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