Wednesday, January 31, 2007

AMLO put in place by tortilla protestors

For the past six months, AMLO has looked a lot like "Subcomandante" Marcos. No, Lopez Obrador did not take up smoking a pipe and wearing a mask, but after being rejected by the Mexican populace, AMLO ran around to existing local conficts and tried to pretend that he was leading them. When he was rejected by the courts, then by the polls, and then by the voters in his home state of Tabasco, he seemed to become more desperate.

A good example would be the Toluca outdoor market last fall. The municipal government has long tried to move the market in order to ease congestion. Most of the vendors represent marginalized microbusinesses. When Lopez Obrador first appeared at their demonstrations, there was some added excitement, but as things went on it became apparent that he was there to promote his cause, not theirs.

The poorer half of the Mexican populace has been focused on the proposed price hike of tortillas. This will become a textbook example of an economic Giffen Good.

Tortillas are such a staple in the diet of the poor, and still the cheapest commodity in that diet (even with the price increase), the increase will not decrease tortilla consumption, but only impoverish the poor even more so that they will become more dependent on tortillas, having to cut out other parts of their diet which were previously purchased as discretionary or "luxury" items. In short, the increased price of tortillas may actually increase the demand for tortillas.

In a recent street protest, AMLO was not allowed to speak. The local leaders of this genuine movement have figured out that the progressive cause in the republic cannot be held hostage to one man's delusions.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

another assassination

Yesterday, January 4, just before 8 PM, there was an apparent political assassination here in Acapulco. The newspapers are calling this an execution style hit, on Montealban street, in the downtown district of Fraccionamiento Hornos Insurgentes.

Jose Jorge Bajos Valverde was a local legislator. He was a PANista (uncommon for Acapulco), chairman of the finance commitee, and brother of state director of communication Cesar Bajos Valverde.

Jose Jorge Bajos Valderde was heading for an interview with a local radio station. He had parked his Toyota Rave and was preparing to exit when he was hit by a single rifle shot to the head, possibly at close range. A security guard at the radio station had heard the shot, and approached to investigate. At this time the assailants opened up with more shots from high powered rifles and automatic pistols before exiting on the busy Avenida Cuauhtemoc.

Here is a link to one local newspaper story.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

U.S. vs. Mexico elections in 2006

I apologize for being away for so long from this blog. My health has not been good, and I have been teaching in the U.S. This gave me a chance to observe first hand the November "midterm" elections in the country of my birth. I was pleased by both the process and the results.

Regarding the results, it is most apt to say that the Democrats did not win, the Republicans lost. In their dozen years in charge of the national congress, they became a perfect example of HOW NOT to behave in office. They forgot their initial agenda, the so-called "Contract with America" and behaved like career politicians. They were more concerned with the perquisites of office and soliticing funds for the next campaign. I see this corruption as the main issue, not the war in Iraq (to which the Democrats failed to provide a clear, let alone compelling, alternative strategy). As such, the Democrats have neither mandate or agenda (except, perhaps, to clean up the capitol).

Regarding the process, many elections were extremely close, being decided by a few hundred or a few thousand votes. Yet, there were no unreasonable calls for endless recounts, no obstructive demonstrations, no alternative candidates swearing themselves in to a fictious office. The Republicans lost, admitted it, and stepped down.

I was most pleased by the powers of discernment of the northamerican voters. In a state as blue as California Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was re-elected (at the same time that Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein won overwhelmingly).

In the year 2006, voters on both sides of the border showed no blind party allegiance, but a tendency to reward honesty and competence rather than rhetoric. May that continue.

May the defeated parties, the Republican and the PRD, be cleansed of self-annointed saviors who seek only their own self-promotion, so that these parties may be loyal oppositions in their positions of minority, and worthy opponents in the next cycle of election.

May the victorious parties, the U.S. Democrats and the Mexican PAN, seek a bipartisan course leading to reforms of corruption. Congratulations to Calderon and Pelosi, but also a warning. You won because the voters rejected your opposition, and if you reject the reforms on which you ran, the voters will reject your party in the next cycle of elections.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Los Angeles Times weighs in

The Los Angeles Times, never a friend to right wing causes, has published an editorial which should sting AMLO as much as Tabasco's voters did last Sunday.,0,5106147.story?coll=la-opinion-leftrail

"Voters in the southeast state, a stronghold of Lopez Obrador's leftist Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD, have delivered the following message to the former presidential candidate: Get over yourself. By a 10-point margin, they elected Andres Granier, the candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. This after Lopez Obrador spent three weeks campaigning alongside his party's candidate, Cesar Raul Ojeda. Before Lopez Obrador's meltdown last summer, Ojeda had been leading in the polls."

"Ojeda adhered to his political godfather, Lopez Obrador, signing off on his ludicrous claim that the national election was stolen."

" ... it appears that his party is the victim of one man's megalomania. If upheld, the results in Tabasco will be an encouraging sign that most Mexicans, even in Lopez Obrador's home state, now accept the verdict of July's presidential election."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Tabasco tragedy for PRD

I had predicted a PRI victory in Tabasco, but not a ten point landslide. The PRD is pleading "fraud," but that could not account for such a gap (especially when the opinion polls match the ballots). Whether or not some fraud took place, unfortunately, no one seems to be taking the PRD seriously anymore.

This is the real legacy of AMLO. His charges became ridiculous, and his antics so obviously self-serving. Now, a good party (and perhaps a good Tabasqueno candidate) are now not taken seriously. If there was one state where I really did not expect to see this, it was Tabasco.

“It seems to me to be a catastrophe for him,” said Raymundo Riva Palacio, a political columnist for the newspaper El Universal. “On his own turf, the political costs of the protests and the taking of streets has taken its toll in an election.”

Oscar Luis RodrÌguez, a fellow Tabasqeuno of the PRD said: “Andres Manuel has lost credibility.... Here Andres Manuel was born, and here he has been buried.”

Friday, October 06, 2006

eyes on Tabasco

The big question in Mexican politics today is how much AMLO's late summer antics hurt the long term prospects of his Democratic Revolution Party (PRD). All eyes are now on his home state of Tabasco, on the Gulf. On October 15 there will be an election for governor. Although Lopez Obrador won the state on July 2 with 57% of the vote, the PRD gubernatorial candidate is trailing in the polls, down by 9%.

Friday, September 29, 2006

some old myths are still around

Even as things have returned to normal in Mexico (notwithstanding Oaxaca) and as most international reporters and academics have endorsed the election procedures, it is frustrating to still see some international propaganda attempt to tarnish the results of the July 2 election.

Here is an example of an anti-globalist site in Canada.

"Divided Mexico: The Bankers’ Alliance Holds on to Power"
by John W. Warnock (September 27, 2006)

The first part of this long article is a fairly accurate historical description of (pre IFE) electoral fraud, followed by a one sided (but not inaccurate) view of the presidential campaign (e.g., bankers and business wanted Calderon to win). However, when discussing the post July 2 news, factual distortions abound.

"The two television networks, Televisa and TV Azteca, did extensive exit polls which indicated that AMLO had won, but they did not report the results."

and the conclusion is that this election was a redux of 1988.

Let's compare this analysis with a July 5 interview with Warren Mitofsky, published on the Pew site:

During the (first) ballot recount, Mitofsky was asked

"Do you think Calderón's current lead will hold up?

Right at the moment he is leading by just about the 200,000 votes I expect him to win by.

That's a thin margin, why do you think it will hold up?

Well look, there were two counts of the votes in Mexico. One is the preliminary count, which they put out on election night; the other is the real count, which has taken place over the past two days. In the real count, 99.5% of precincts have been counted and they show the same 200,000-vote lead they found in the preliminary count. And no one challenged the preliminary count -- no one said it was wrong -- so I expect the final count to mirror that.

Do you think the results of the exit poll will reduce chances of fraud in the recount?

This election commission is so squeaky clean, I don't anticipate fraud. There were international observers there who said this election was as clean as anything they had seen. The way the election commission works, is that it represents all the parties -- not just the major ones -- equally. They all have an equal voice, and they all got to inspect every last count that took place, at every polling place, at the 300 deputy districts where the votes were collected, and again at the national level. I don't see a whole lot of room for fraud.

So you think there is less chance for fraud in a Mexican election than in an American election?

I would think the Mexican system with its strong election commission that is uniform across the country would be better than anything we are doing in the U.S.

It is apparent that political extremists live by ideology rather than fact, and that certain events are too precious to be examined factually: Sacco & Vanzetti, the Rosenbergs. The actual determination of a trial or the count of an election is subordinated to the requirements for propaganda.