by Laurent GUERBY
Fri Jun 30th, 2006 at 06:38:19 PM EST
THE MORNING NAFTA
By Julio Huato
[Even MaxSpeak is outsourcing. We are pleased to offer this post by Julio Huato of CUNY.]
Enrique Krauze's op-ed in the New York Times ("Bringing Mexico Closer to God," June 28, 2006) about Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mexico's leftist presidential candidate, reveals more about Krauze's conservative outlook than about the true prospects of a López Obrador administration. Lacking substantive facts, Krauze mixes a few casual remarks with his own personal impressions to project the ghost of "messianic populism" onto López Obrador's future presidency.
But the main threat to Mexico's fragile democracy is not a ghost. It is, instead, the brutal reality of the country's social inequality. Twelve years after NAFTA was implemented -- official sources attest -- almost fifty percent of Mexicans still live in poverty. Measures of wealth dispersion are dismal, comparable to those in Brazil, Haiti, and sub-Saharan Africa. Many Mexicans are under the impression that Felipe Calderón, the candidate of the right, "has failed to convey real concern for Mexico's poor," as Krauze puts it, because he has no actual concern for Mexico's poor.
There can be no political stability in Mexico and -- therefore -- lasting growth without narrowing the gaping economic divide between the rich and poor. López Obrador's redistributive policies promise to be effective without disrupting private ownership and markets; not only compatible with the growth of the economy but actually growth inducing. Wall Street seems to have grasped this. Joydeep Mukherji, Standard & Poor's specialist in Latin America, recently told CNN en Español that foreign investors' real concern was Mexico's ability to grow in the long run, which depended on stable social conditions, and dismissed short-term turbulence should López Obrador win. [...]
The "free markets" credo and the "pull-yourself-by-the-bootstraps" moralising of the PAN lack popular appeal. Backed by the financial and political muscle of prominent businessmen with strong conservative leanings, to the poor, this discourse smacks of hypocrisy -- doublespeak where helping the rich at public expense becomes a "stimulus to private investment" and helping the poor turns you into a "populist." Aware of this, Calderón's campaign strategy defaulted to fearmongering, saturating the airwaves with negative messages. [...]
Anyone with knowledge of Mexico politics?