Mexico Political Reviews
A lot has happened in Mexico in recent years. Andrés Manuel Obrador, who was elected new president in 2018, has pledged to fight both poverty and the growing violence associated with criminal groups in the country. Whether Obrador can really help to improve Mexico’s capacity and development remains to be seen. Latin American groups are currently working to update the country pages to provide a more up-to-date description of the political and social developments in Mexico. In the meantime, please read this article from 2015.
The abduction of 43 student teachers in Ayotzinapa caused the media to turn their eyes on Mexico in the fall of 2014. Close ties between the power apparatus and criminal groups were revealed. Nevertheless, little has been done to improve the human rights situation in the country.
The 43 teachers from the school in Ayotzinapa in the state of Guerrero was taken by police on the night of September 26, 2014. Since then no one has seen them. Most of the questions in the case still remain unanswered, but the Attorney General has tried to close the case. The parents of the students and the school are pushing to launch an independent investigation, with support from national and international civil society. The fall of 2014 was marked by massive demonstrations nationally in support of the family members of the 43 missing, and for those over 100,000 who have disappeared in the last 10 years in the country. The case also received great attention and support internationally. During 2015, delegations of students from the Ayotzinapa Teachers’ School, family members and human rights lawyers traveled around several countries in Europe, the United States, and in South America to gather support for independent investigation requirements.
Ayotzinapa has grown in size as the government’s responses were marked by aloofness and attempts to close the case. The effect has been the opposite and the demands of Ayotzinapa have become broader and more structural. Getting an independent investigation that can build on the fact that top-level politicians are involved in killings, violence, drugs and abductions has become fundamental to those gathered around Ayotzinapa. At the same time, there is also a real fear that the case may be swept under the rug, forgotten and that the 43 students become part of the growing statistics of abducted and killed without explanation. Ayotzinapa is the case that could turn the development of Mexico in recent years.
“Mexico is a giant mass grave and controlled by an anesthetist,” wrote the independent journalist collective Subversiones from Mexico after interviewing Don Mario, the father of one of the abducted students from Ayotzinapa. In Mexican and international media, the so-called “drug war” dominates and its consequence. According to the nationwide newspaper La Jornada more than 250,000 people have been displaced since 2006. The drug cartels have made several areas in the country unlovable. Particularly hard hit are the northern states of Sinaloa and Tamaulipas, and during the last five years there has been a very negative development in the Michoacán and Guerrero states further south in the country. The Tlachinollan Human Rights Center reports, along with several others, about 23,000 displaced persons, between 2006 and 2014. The figures are apparently too low.
Responsibility for the development of violence lies partly with the PAN government (Partido Acción Nacional) and Felipe Calderón. Calderón, who was elected president in 2006 with promises to settle drug trafficking in Mexico. The promise of frontal attacks was totally unsuccessful and the violence really escalated. The settlement of the big cartels has led to the formation of new small and large groups, and the mix with the state, the military and the police has become more involved.
Alliance shifts in the wake of PAN’s election owners (2000 and 2006), the party’s alleged favoritism of the Sinaloa cartel, and a situation where security institutions have been infiltrated by criminal interests, have led to a destabilization of drug trafficking and a regular war on political, economic and territorial control. In many Mexican cities, it has sometimes become commonplace to wake up to malnourished corpses hanging in public places. Mayors, journalists and police are threatened with death.
There are currently 88 criminal organizations registered in Mexico that control the purchase and sale of drugs. All in all, it is estimated that the profit on trade is around $ 39 billion annually. It’s not just the drug cartels deal with. People, especially paperless migrants, organs and weapons are also included in the trade. In addition, the cartels take greater territorial control, and for example require payment from bus drivers, small farmers and shop owners. This means that today’s drug war cannot be separated from the civilian population.
The 2012 election – Dinos return
Prior to the 2012 election, it was either Andrés Lopez Obrador of the PRD (Partido de la Revolución Democrática) or Enrique Peña Nieto of the PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional) who wanted to step down for the win. PAN and the party The Greens each posed with their own candidate, without giving significant resistance to PRI and PRD. PAN’s popularity declined after 12 years in power and the Mexican people asked for a course change after years of chess-driven security policy.
Both PRI’s and PRD’s candidates are well-known political figures in Mexico. Lopez Obrador, or Amlo as he is called by his supporters, is best known for a stiff election defeat in 2006 and the role of the front figure for the opposition in Mexico. For several years, Amlo has helped build a popular movement around a party that represents workers, some unions, students and the middle class. However, in the four states where the PRD has had state governors, the party has not been able to show a significant change in policy, and Amlo has failed to convince the younger voters.
Peña Nieto, former state governor of the state of Mexico, became known as the PRI’s political prince prior to the election. The PRI is called the dinosaur or simply dino at the crowds and is Mexico’s oldest party. PRI put the ties to power for 71 years, a period in Mexico characterized as the “single dictatorship” or “perfect dictatorship”. The PRI was behind the dirty war in the 70’s when activists and students were abducted, tortured and killed. Democratic and open political organization was then impossible.
Of the social movement, Peña Nieto was best remembered as the one responsible for one of the hardest repressions of organized resistance in recent times. In 2006, he sent 2,500 specially trained policemen into Atenco, Mexico, to strike down the People’s Front in Defense of the Earth (FPDT). Over 200 arrested, 26 women sexually tortured by police, two killed and five foreigners deported
The political climate ahead of the presidential election was marked by massive demonstrations against Peña Nieto. “We don’t want Nieto!”, It was shouted from the crowds in several major cities in Mexico. They were against Peña Nieto, but not for another candidate. Despite the widespread public mobilization ahead of the election, it was finally PRI and Peña Nieto who resigned the election victory. Nieto was taken into oath on December 1, 2012. All first day, street battles broke out. Political arrests and violence were used to break down opposition to PRI and President Nieto. Civil society warned of the consequences of getting PRI back in the position of power. Only twelve years passed from the lost position of sole ruler until they returned.
During the election campaign, the PRI promised to launch seven economic reforms in Mexico according to Countryaah. All the reforms have created great discussions, both within Congress, but not least on the streets. Two major reforms in particular have been the basis for major protests: the education reform and the telecommunications and broadcasting reform. It has been heavily mobilized against the latter because it fears greater surveillance on the Internet. The amendment allows for the storage of personal data without informing the person being monitored. The law will also allow you to access and block content on websites. This is precarious in Mexico where the press is already under severe pressure, organizing criminalization and political arrests are used as a means to overcome critical voices. Independent media, both online and radio, is growing in Mexico,
The educational reform, which will, among other things, open up for national tests, has met a lot of resistance especially in the rural South. People believe the reform and education system in Mexico favors a standardized and centralized education that does not take into account the over 60 indigenous languages that exist in the country, and the unfair distribution of resources to schools. In rural areas, teachers face completely different challenges, such as schools without electricity and toilets, or malnourished students. When teachers gathered for protest in the fall of 2013, they literally met a wall of tear gas. The government would only negotiate with union leaders, who were largely negotiable, at the expense of teachers’ demands. This created divisions and once again showed how PRI uses the “hard” and the “soft” hand as a strategy in the negotiations to break down the organization and protest.
From hero to executioner
A portrait image of Mexico’s president graced the cover of Times magazine February 24, 2014 with the headline Saving Mexico. The Times considered Nieto an outstanding president after one year in power. His government had apparently caused a decline in the rate of violence, and initiated remarkable social, political and economic reforms. Furthermore, Time magazine wrote that investors and global economic forces had opened their eyes to Mexico. They cited Nieto’s optimism for the future and claimed the success was due to a powerful alliance in the National Assembly.
Inflation occurred in caricatured versions of this front page. “Slaying Mexico”, where the president is portrayed as an executioner, is the most popular along with “Selling Mexico”. Peña Nieto has gone from being a small international star to crash landing with Ayotzinapa.
Peña Nieto’s government is in its worst crisis with the Ayotzinapa case. The case is a picture of the distance between the centralized PRI regime and the real situation in the more peripheral states. Not necessarily peripheral in geographical distance, but peripheral in terms of economy, security and political under-representation. In areas such as Guerrero, Michoacán, Oaxaca, the political opposition to the ancient dinosaur PRI has historically been most organized, and thus the repression and attempts at divide are also strongest here.
It is not just the political star of the PRI that has fallen. All political parties in Mexico are struggling to maintain credibility after corruption is revealed. It took PAN the 12 years the party was allowed to sit in power. The PRD has gone from being in opposition and partly to the left’s hopes, to now having to account for the killings and disappearances of the students in Guerrero, where the PRD has both the mayor and the state governor. The mayor sits in jail with his wife, accused of ordering the assault on the students, and the state governor has to step down. Furthermore, several of the PRD politicians come from the PRI as there is almost inflation in the fact that power-seeking candidates in the political parties are running in the direction of popularity is greatest.