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Most of us here on MexiKos have had our attention riveted to what's been going on in Mexico since the presidential elections argued to have been tainted by fraud and manipulation -- most recently including a citizen's convention in the downtown which 'elected' the liberal-left opposition's candidate as the "Legitimate President".  But some of you might assume that it's just a nutty few diarists like us malcontents.  Believe it or not, a few genuine edumacated folks find something of value in these activities as well.

Laura Carlsen, Mexico City director of the International Relations Center's Americas Program:

...one has to have power to leverage power. Most of the millions who voted a second time for Lopez Obrador on September 16 have, for the most part, only the two feet they stand on for leveraging power. They believe that Calderon's PAN is the party of the rich and powerful. The government-in-resistance is their bid for a voice in a political system that has systematically excluded them.

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More from Carlsen's editorial, also my thanks to CounterPunch for bringing the editorial to my attention.  

I think there are two very valuable things about Carlsen's editorial comments.  One, a very simple yet significant thing, it's helpful for U.S. readers to realize that there are sane, smart, credentialed peoples who find much of value in what the hundreds of thousands or millions of protesters and often the leadership (including Lopez Obrador) have been aiming to do.  A lot of times people (especially in the pundit and editorialist classes) attempt to dismiss all of their arguments with caricatures and slurs.

Two, she clearly situates a lot of what has happened in a context.  It's a crucial thing, because you have to ask -- if you're curious at all -- why so many people have been spending so much energy on protests, encampments, and the like.  Is it really solely because they're unreasonable?  That they are paranoids?  That they are the thoughtless followers of personality cult politicians?  Carlsen finds that while the outcome of these mobilizations isn't clear, there is a clear logic to them.

These questions of reasonability are different than 'are they wrong' questions.  These activist thousands could be entirely reasonable, and proceeding on their own calculations of their interests and methods, and yet still could be harming their own interests or that of the nation.  That's a different argument, and it could apply to nearly any political movement.

Carlsen also helps to carry a discussion a bit further than focusing, like most articles naturally do, entirely upon the role of one or more political figures themselves -- i.e., Lopez Obrador.

[Edited] This is a highly contentious subject for many here. Some with opposing viewpoints have complained that their views have been silenced by the over-use of the troll button. In addition to suggesting restraint on its use, I would suggest to those who do not care for this viewpoint to not only comment negatively below, but to actively exercise one's rights at DailyKos to compose your own diaries -- perhaps the best way to present fully opposing viewpoints in the context which would most encourage their examination.

[Excerpted, follow link for full text.  I would quote the whole article, especially where Carlsen discusses the electoral fraud arguments, but full text postings are discouraged.]

FPIF [Foreign Policy In Focus] Column
Mexico's Two Presidents
Laura Carlsen, September 20, 2006
Laura Carlsen is director of the IRC Americas Program in Mexico City, where she has worked as a writer and political analyst for the past two decades. The Americas Program is online at www.americaspolicy.org.

On September 16, over one million people raised their hands in a vote to recognize center-left leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador as the "legitimate president" of Mexico. Gathered in Mexico City's historic center, the delegates to the National Democratic Convention (NDC) agreed to inaugurate their president on November 21 -- nine days before the inauguration of the officially recognized candidate, Felipe Calderon. This act of civil resistance ushered in a new stage in an electoral conflict that has developed into an all-out battle for the country's future.

...No matter what the outcome, the convention will go down in history as a defining moment in the nation's political development...

...After months of protesting fraud, the convention represented a change in direction. Amid the morass of unexplained discrepancies and manipulated results that have characterized Mexico's presidential elections, the distinction between the demand for a fair vote count and the need to redress deeply felt social wrongs has been subsumed into a general movement for fundamental reforms.

It would be a mistake to write off Mexico's post-electoral conflict as a battle between legality and sore losers. Mexico's current political crisis developed out of the lack of public confidence in an exceedingly tight and contested presidential election. The Electoral Tribunal's declaration of Felipe Calderon as the official winner on September 5 failed to restore credibility in representative government for three fundamental reasons: a bad count, a lack of transparency, and the belief of poor Mexicans that the new government will not represent their interests.

...The vast majority of the poor -- the core of the over 15 million who voted for Lopez Obrador -- do not believe that Calderon will hear them, much less represent their interests.

Part of the problem is Mexico's major obstacle to democratic transition -- the power of the presidency. Once elected, Vicente Fox, like his predecessors in the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), used presidential powers to force unpopular measures through the back door in the form of executive decrees.  Instead of limiting this power, Fox used it to consolidate neoliberal [note: in Latin American context, "neoliberal" means basically an extremist supply side economics / "free market" orthodoxy ideology] reforms.

Another problem is that Mexico's political system has few mechanisms of accountability to constituents.

Under this system, one has to have power to leverage power. Most of the millions who voted a second time for Lopez Obrador on September 16 have, for the most part, only the two feet they stand on for leveraging power. They believe that Calderon's PAN is the party of the rich and powerful. The government- in- resistance is their bid for a voice in a political system that has systematically excluded them.

...The civil resistance plan approved at the convention calls for protests at every public appearance of the "spurious" president, but also incorporates campaigns against the privatization of petroleum and electricity, as well as in defense of public education. The program adopted for the parallel government includes battling poverty and inequality, defense of natural resources, the right to information, an end to the privileges of the few, and profound reforms in national institutions.

Mexico's constitution sanctions the right of the people to exercise sovereignty beyond the institutions of the government. Article 39 of the constitution suggests that altering the form of government is not only an inalienable right but also an obligation when the institutions no longer operate in the public interest. The government- in- resistance claims that the nation's institutions have been manipulated through pseudo-legal and illegal ways to benefit a very small minority of the population. The poor have been left out. And now they want back in.

... Mexico was the laboratory for the U.S. strategy of free trade agreements based on open access to markets, favorable terms for international investment, and intellectual property protection. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiated in the early 90s [note:  begun under Carlos Salinas, who most certainly did steal the election] forced Mexico to compete with the world's wealthiest and most powerful nation and led to millions of jobs lost in national industry and small-scale agriculture.

Instead of examining the negative impact of NAFTA, the U.S. government has insisted on more of the same. It refused to renegotiate the agricultural chapter of NAFTA that calls for complete liberalization of corn and beans in 2008.

Calderon supports the liberalization, despite studies that predict a profound negative impact on approximately three million small-scale farmers.

Lopez Obrador has made the derogation of the NAFTA agricultural clause a constant, and much applauded, point in his recent speeches. While he supports NAFTA and open markets, he has also drawn up economic policies that reclaim the direct role of the state in generating employment, protecting strategic domestic markets, redistributing income by eliminating tax breaks for the wealthy, and guaranteeing a basic standard of living for those at risk--the elderly, single mothers, persons with disabilities, and small farmers.

The plan is far from radical, but it has drawn the fire of powerful business interests at home and abroad. The Bush administration would rather not have another defection from the ranks of economic orthodoxy at a time when much of Latin America shows signs of leaving the fold.

Following the official pronouncement of Calderon as president-elect, conservative analysts eagerly placed Mexico in the ranks of nations loyal to U.S.-style economic integration. With Mexico again assured as an unconditional economic and political ally, the "Pacific Axis" of Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Peru, and Chile seemed secured at its northern end.

But with the current divisions, the Mexican elections can hardly be hailed as a major ratification of neoliberal policies in the hemisphere. The political crisis also complicates the Bush agenda in areas of counter-terrorism, immigration, and drug trafficking, although the basic terms of cooperation will continue.

Even if Calderon were miraculously able to consolidate power over the coming months -- a scenario that looks increasingly unlikely -- a broad movement calling for major institutional reforms will be on the political scene for a long time to come. Whether as a parallel government, a grassroots social movement, a partisan opposition, or some combination, the movement will weaken the new presidency and strengthen hopes for a real and inclusive democratic transition.

Originally posted to el cid on Sat Sep 23, 2006 at 01:30 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  whoever invents a foolproof election system.. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ca democrat, epppie

      ...will be worldwide hero.  Even then, you have to deal with ballot box stuffing, vote suppression, and, worst of all, the insidious influence of money.

      The rich hate democracy, straight and simple.

      The simply CAN NOT win legitimately.

      They have to lie, cheat, and steal elections, whether here or Mexico or in Ukraine.

      The day will come when the ultra-rich will have to deal with a fair system...

      I pray for that day.

      •  or a corpse. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        epppie

        the problem isn't really a technical one, even though of course there are technical problems. THe problem is political. The ruling class needs a certain amount of wiggle room in the event that popular movements are able to effectively use the electoral machinery designed for the real purpose of legitimating their rule.

        "Tell no lies. Claim no easy victories" -- Amilcar Cabral

        by Christopher Day on Sat Sep 23, 2006 at 05:06:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The people of Mexico are fighting the battle (0+ / 0-)

      we should be fighting, if you ask me, or we should be fighting alongside them.

      a hope that may come close to despair

      by epppie on Sat Sep 23, 2006 at 08:21:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks, but remember that is a different context (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        el cid, epppie

        Mexico in 1982 was a lot like U.S. in 2006 when it came to its economy. The middle class was still a middle class, beginning a slide into poverty but still hoping that things were going to get better a few years in the future.

        Twenty years later, many of them have slid into the poor class, and the former poor live in extreme poverty.

        After putting up with this nonsense since the 1980s, people are willing to fight the way the are fighting down in Mexico.

        •  Different phases, same struggle. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          el cid

          Please note, I didn't say that  they are fighting for us.  Maybe they are, in a way, but they are (presumably) fighting for themselves.  But the process of economic and political domination is similar and interconnected, it seems to me.  

          If we worked together, the peoples of Mexico and the USA, we could resist such domination a lot more effectively, but most in America don't see that they have a stake in such a struggle (which is what I think they should see).

          a hope that may come close to despair

          by epppie on Sun Sep 24, 2006 at 09:08:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Against Spirit of DKos (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    epppie

    "By the way, let me remind all commenters that although news and comments and views are encouraged below, that you are still free to post your own diaries if you disagree with the views of the small number of us DailyKos members who have posted frequently on this subject from the U.S. and from Mexico."

    This "invitation" for comment seems to be intended to discourage critical comments.

    Really goes against the spirit of DKos.

    •  no, it has to do with specific complaints (6+ / 0-)

      Nearly every time I post a column, there's one particular whiner who claims that we are liars, dishonest, Stalinists, and Communists who prevent him from sharing his own opinion.

      In posting the perspectives I find interesting, I have no intention of silencing anyone else.  Someone who thinks I am completely full of sh** is welcome to keep saying so in the comments.

      But to go further and allege that I am part of some cabal who silences dissent is unreasonable.  I am no one other than a DailyKos member who posts his own diary.

      If you suggest a better way of phrasing the clear and obvious fact that my posting here does not silence you, then I will happily edit the diary to conform more to the"spirit of DKos."

    •  benefit of the doubt? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      el cid, epppie

      ...maybe el cid has gotten harassed about diaries regarding the mexico election?  

      i hear ya though.

    •  Really didn't seem so to me (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bronte17, moiv, mango, el cid, mariachi mama, epppie
      Seemed to be encouraging people who didn't want to be commenting strictly under the "umbrella" of this diarist, they could also assemble their own data and analysis of the situation in Mexico, as well as make comments here. Because diaries can be more wide-ranging than a comment, which usually address only a point or two. Struck me as a gracious invitation for Kossacks with a counter view to fully expound it.

      What's the anthrax terrorist doing for fun these days. September 18th marks five years of freedom.

      by Jim P on Sat Sep 23, 2006 at 01:52:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Did you not see that El Cid also (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hugo Estrada

      called for restraint in troll rating?

      a hope that may come close to despair

      by epppie on Sat Sep 23, 2006 at 08:08:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Credit Suisse (CSFB) Praises AMLO (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    brainwave, epppie

    Great job, El Cid.

    In the interest of certain lazy posters among us, who accepted the Dick Morris-orchestrated campaign against AMLO at face value, please find the following note from CSFB, where the assitant director of Latam, Lacey Gallagher, describes AMLO as a pragmatic, non-ideological person who understands economics.

    Please note that this has been posted before, but apparently some Bush Worshipping Calderon Sycophants lack the initiative to call it up.

    AMLO's economic policies mirror those of Prsident Clinton.  Those of you who dispute this are merely victims of an effective and FRAUDULENT (please see previous diaries) SwiftBoat Campaign.

    -------------------------------------------------

    http://mx.invertia.com/...

    ECONOMÍA

    (CSFB)CONSIDERA A LOPEZ OBRADOR COMO LIDER PRAGMATICO E INTEGRO

    Martes, 18 de Noviembre de 2003, 13h33

    Fuente: InfoSel Financiero

    NUEVA YORK, Noviembre. 18.- Andrés Manuel López Obrador es un líder pragmático, no ideológico, que denota una integridad evidente y que se acerca hacia la presidencia de México, consideró Credit Suisse First Boston después de haber entrevistado al Jefe de Gobierno de la Ciudad de México.

    En su reporte sobre México, señaló que López Obrador habló sobre temas clave para la Ciudad de México, en donde demostró un compromiso profundo y un amplio conocimiento de los detalles.

    Lo anterior, dijo, incluye la disputa con la Suprema Corte sobre un terreno expropiado, el programa anticorrupción promovido por su administración, y la inversión pública y privada para el mejoramiento del centro histórico.

    En el terreno de la política y la economía nacional, López Obrador enfatizó la importancia de un manejo equilibrado de la macroeconomía, con una política fiscal balanceada, un cumplimiento de la deuda y una inflación baja, como complementos esenciales de su enfoque de beneficio social, afirmó.

    more....
    ----------------------------------------------

    •  But, of course, it's beyond Lopez Obrador (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      epppie

      While it is true that certain right wing or generally hysterical comments about Lopez Obrador as a politician should be refuted, the discussion should also move beyond the views and actions of one particular politician.

      That, I think, is a major point of Carlsen's article -- that this isn't just about Lopez Obrador.  If it were, then that would mean that all those turning out and protesting have no agenda on their own, and that they're just there to follow him.

      It may turn out, for example, that one day there arises a dispute between Lopez Obrador himself and the movement which coalesced around him -- and it may so happen that the movement will be mature enough to follow its own democratically deliberated course, even if it's not the one which AMLO might choose.

    •  PatriciaVa (0+ / 0-)

      Do you live in Virginia, or your using Va is a just a coincidence?

      I live in Northern Virginia, and I thought it would be cool if you lived over here as well.

  •  RightWing Pol Goes after Human Rights Lawyers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    brainwave, epppie

    And some of you doubt that there are two sets of laws in Mexico, one for Centrists/Progressives, another for RightWingers.

    Apparently, Sec de Gobernacion (headed by an Extremist RightWing politician who has publicly stated that women belong in the kitchen, and who had his child's teacher fired because she used a book that he deemed "contra los valores de la familia), is going after a group of lawyers who are helping a victim of sexual abuse.

    The Sec. de Gobernacion is claiming that the lawyers entered Mexico under false pretenses.

    So, Dick Morris and Jose Maria Aznar can contribute to a FRAUDULENT election (foreign nationals are prohibited from engagin in the electoral process) without even a rebuke.

    But if you come to Mexico to defend the disenfranchised, and when the person that the allegedly hurt the disenfranchised as a Bishop with STRONG ties do Calderon and the PAN, all bets are off.

    Again, two sets of laws in Mexico.

    I urge Bush Worhsipping Calderon Sycophants to reconsider your support.  You have no idea how extrmist Calderon is.  He'll make Bush look like a moderate.

    ------------------------------------

    http://mx.invertia.com/...

    ZONAS - América del Norte - Mexico

    (INM) DETIENE A ABOGADOS DE VICTIMA DE SACERDOTE PEDERASTA

    Miércoles, 20 de Septiembre de 2006, 14h21

    Fuente: InfoSel Financiero

    MEXICO, Septiembre. 20.- Autoridades migratorias detuvieron a dos abogados y un activista civil que asesoran al joven mexicano que la víspera interpuso una demanda civil al Cardenal Norberto Rivera y a un cardenal estadounidense por encubrir al presunto sacerdote pederasta Nicolás Aguilar.

    El vocero del grupo civil que respalda al joven Joaquín Aguilar Méndez, Eric Barragan, dijo a la AP que la detención ocurrió momentos después de que concluyera una rueda de prensa de los abogados y el mexicano que asegura fue abusado sexualmente en 1994.

    more....

    ------------------------------------

    •  English coverage of same events (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PatriciaVa, epppie

      The above-quoted article referred to an incident mentioned in previous MexiKos diaries and described below from the San Jose Mercury News.  Needless to say, since these are criminal charges, each nation's guidelines regarding the treatment and discussion of various people involved ought to be considered:

      Mexico immigration detains lawyers tied to sex abuse case
      TWO CARDINALS PROTECTED PRIEST, VICTIM CHARGES
      By Lisa J. Adams
      Associated Press

      MEXICO CITY - Immigration authorities Wednesday briefly detained representatives of a man allegedly sexually abused by a Mexican Catholic priest, shortly after the lawyers alleged that the fugitive cleric was still celebrating Mass in Mexico.

      The alleged victim, 25-year-old Joaquin Aguílar Méndez, also told a news conference he has feared for his life and that of his family since he went public with his claims late last year.

      Aguílar Méndez, along with several U.S. lawyers and members of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, called the news conference to reveal details of a civil lawsuit he filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday, alleging that Mexican Cardinal Norberto Rivera and Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahoney conspired to protect Catholic Priest Nicolás Aguílar.

      One of Aguílar Méndez's lawyers, Minnesota-based Jeff Anderson, said the priest -- who has been formally charged in California with 19 felony counts of committing lewd acts on a child -- celebrated Mass on Sunday in Mexico's central state of Puebla.

      ``He has been serving Mass in three parishes in that area,'' he said. ``He's going to say Mass this Sunday.''

      Rivera spokesman Carlos Villa Roiz told the Associated Press that he did not know if Aguílar was in Puebla but added that, ``The church condemns this type of actions. I don't think any bishop would permit him'' to celebrate Mass, he said...

      •  A Double Standard (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        el cid, epppie

        El Cid, below you will find a note that more fully explains Abascal (Sec de Gobernacion) role in this affair.  Apparently, he is accusing the lawyers of extortion.

        Anything to repay the Bishop for his support of RightWing Calderon in the months leading up to the election.

        Of course, I must have missed Abascal's concern re: Dick Morris' stay in the Four Seasons, as he orchestrated the SwiftBoat campaign.

        -------------------------------------------

        http://mx.invertia.com/...

        ZONAS - América del Norte - Mexico

        (SEGOB) PREVE SANCIONAR A ABOGADOS DE AGUILAR

        Viernes, 22 de Septiembre de 2006, 8h52
        Fuente: InfoSel Financiero

        MEXICO, Septiembre. 22.- La Secretaría de Gobernación prevé sancionar a los abogados estadounidenses que estuvieron en México para dar detalles de la denuncia que presentaron contra el Cardenal Norberto Rivera en la Corte Superior de California.

        Lauro López Sánchez, subsecretario de Población, Migración y Asuntos Religiosos de Gobernación, explicó que su estatus migratorio de turistas, no permitía a los abogados desempeñar actividades profesionales.

        "Se recibió una llamada anónima, de la cual tenemos ya un registro, y era muy evidente la actividad profesional con fines de lucro, son abogados que están pidiendo dinero, entonces se fue a verificar.

        more..

        --------------------------------------

      •  They should accuse the cardinals of being gay. (0+ / 0-)

        In that case, I'm sure Rome would yank their chain in a hurry.

        a hope that may come close to despair

        by epppie on Sat Sep 23, 2006 at 08:15:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Govt Interference, Corn and NAFTA (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    el cid, epppie

    El Cid, Rogelio Ramirez (primary finance/economic advisor to AMLO) recently penned an op-ed on corn.

    Like President Clinton and Robert Rubin, Rogelio believes in the market, but realizes that government must intervene when the market fails.

    ----------------------------------------

    http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/...

    La tormenta sobre el maíz

    Rogelio Ramírez de la O

    28 de agosto de 2006

    P arte del privilegio de apoyar con la coordinación del programa económico de Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) fue atestiguar la ceguera de numerosos círculos de poder y de opinión frente a problemas nacionales y su rechazo sin bases analíticas a propuestas constructivas de política pública.

    Aun analistas con experiencia insisten que nuestro programa económico no es viable; o bien que siendo el diagnóstico correcto, sus propuestas representan un viraje al pasado en lugar de ver hacia el futuro y las oportunidades de la globalización. Esta postura puede estar bien en la teoría, pero en la práctica los lleva a la parálisis frente a problemas concretos. Un ejemplo que va a ilustrar lo anterior es la inminente desgravación del maíz siguiendo los términos del Tratado de Libre Comercio con América del Norte (TLCAN).

    Los criterios que se han utilizado en México para la política agropecuaria basados en modelos de comercio internacional libre de primera generación han exigido una fe ciega en el ajuste automático de la economía a la realidad de los precios externos. Según esto, si el maíz importado es más barato que el nuestro, entonces no hay que producirlo aquí. Se debe producir sólo aquello en lo que se es globalmente competitivo.

    En la realidad países como Estados Unidos subsidian y protegen con tarifas y cuotas a sus productores agrícolas sin que nadie los acuse de vivir en el pasado. Tampoco se ha comprobado ningún ajuste automático en el empleo cuando se reducen las tarifas a la importación. La experiencia de los productores agrícolas mexicanos de la última década ha sido la pérdida de empleo. Por eso es de esperarse que la desgravación por venir cause una pérdida adicional en las regiones que aún siguen produciendo. Otra parte de la experiencia es que los trabajadores desplazados de la agricultura no han encontrado empleo en otras actividades. Por el contrario, otras actividades, como las manufacturas, también registran desocupación desde el año 2001. Esta pérdida de empleo generalizada en la agricultura desde principios de los años noventa y en las manufacturas desde 2001 no fue prevista por los modelos de libre comercio ni por los arquitectos del TLCAN.

    more...

    ------------------------------------------

    •  Tortillas, ADM, NAFTA: Costlier, less healthy (4+ / 0-)

      Tortilla Spat
      How Mexico's iconic flatbread went industrial and lost its flavor
      By Tom Philpott
      GRIST Magazine
      13 Sep 2006

      ...Tortillas remain a staple of the Mexican diet; the average person consumes 10 per day, and the country's vast poor population relies on them for the bulk of their caloric intake. But since the early 1980s, the old process has undergone a rapid transformation.

      Before that time, neighborhood- and village-scale tortillerias (artisanal tortilla factories) bought corn at subsidized prices and transformed it into tortillas; they also sold masa for home production. (In rural areas, smallholders made the tortillas they consumed from their homegrown corn, selling the excess grain into regional markets.) Now, however, most tortillas in Mexico are made not from fresh masa, but rather from processed rehydrated corn flour. And tortilla consumption is slowly falling, its place being taken by white bread.

      Free-market champions tend to hail these developments as the result of free people pursuing their own choices unfettered by government control. In reality, though, large infusions of government cash and influence -- not the market's invisible hand -- powered the industrial tortilla's rapid rise.

      ...In the late 1980s, a small corn-flour manufacturer called Maseca struggled to find a market for its product. The company fancied its processed flour to be a more efficient base for tortilla production than traditional masa. The problem, Anthony DePalma of The New York Times reported back in 1996, was taste: Mexican consumers overwhelmingly preferred the sweeter, more robust flavor of traditional, masa-based tortillas.

      But Maseca's chief owner, Roberto González Barrera, was a personal friend of Carlos Salinas, the Harvard-educated PRI finance minister who gained the presidency in 1988 on a platform of free-market reform. Widely thought to have stolen the election -- a suspicion that has since been confirmed -- Salinas nevertheless enjoyed fame in the U.S. financial media as a Gorbachev-like reformer. Meanwhile, he ran the state like a private fiefdom, doling out favors for his friends like a Kremlin hack.

      González -- and his unpopular product -- counted among Salinas' chief beneficiaries. Carlos Salinas's brother Raul ran the federal agency that administered the government's long-time tortilla-support program. Under the program -- an effort to keep tortillas cheap while also keeping farmers and tortillarias in business -- the agency bought corn from farmers at a subsidized price, and sold it to tortilla makers at a lower price. To make sure the tortilla makers passed the bargain on consumers, the government put a price cap on tortillas.

      Under Raul Salinas, the agency began to manipulate the tortilla program to favor Maseca. According to DePalma, in 1990 Raul Salinas's agency "signed an accord with Mr. González in which the rules of the market were fundamentally changed. The agreement froze the amount of corn that would be given to traditional tortilla makers and declared that all growth in the market be filled by corn flour. At the time the only producers of corn flour were the government itself, and Maseca."

      Meanwhile, Maseca began offering to sell small tortilla makers equipment to switch from masa-based production to flour-based production -- and the government provided extra incentive. As DePalma reported, "Those [tortilla makers] who refused [to buy Maseca's equipment] were punished by the government, which sent them the worst corn and strictly limited the amount of grain the shops received. Hundreds of shops [went] out of business."

      As Maseca's corn flour gained market share, the company began to grab an ever-greater portion of the government's tortilla subsidies. By 1994, Maseca was drawing in $300 million in government cash -- 43 percent of its total revenues, DePalma reported.

      By 1996, Maseca had drawn the attention of Archer Daniels Midland, the world's largest corn broker. Itself no stranger to government largesse, ADM spotted a good business model from across the border, and bought a 22 percent stake in GRUMA, Maseca's parent company. Today, ADM's formidable board chair G. Allen Andreas sits on GRUMA's board of directors, as does the company's CFO, Douglas J. Schmalz.

      GRUMA now controls 70 percent of Mexico's corn-flour market. As NAFTA opened the Mexican market to cheap, highly subsidized U.S. corn and dismantled Mexico's support for its farmers, the price of corn in Mexico plunged, providing a windfall for GRUMA and despair for Mexican corn growers. Maseca now imports 30 percent of its corn for tortilla production from the United States, according to an Oxfam report...

      ...Thanks to his patrons in the Mexican political elite, GRUMA's chief executive, Roberto González Barrera, now stands atop a global tortilla empire with annual sales of $2.4 billion. (Amazingly, he also controls a major Mexican bank, Banorte, which Carlos Salinas delivered to him amid perhaps the most disastrous bank-privatization scheme in history.)

      Mexico's citizens, for their part, have gotten a consolidated tortilla industry, more expensive tortillas, deteriorating health as people abandon traditional diets, and a rural economy that can no longer support its farmers.

      As for tortillas themselves, according to my palate, the Maseca-based products that now proliferate throughout Mexico taste flat and dismal compared to the glorious masa-made tortillas that still flourish in some quarters of the nation. Generations of Mexicans will never taste them if Maseca's chokehold on tortilla production continues.

    •  I will translate the following quote (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      el cid

      En la realidad países como Estados Unidos subsidian y protegen con tarifas y cuotas a sus productores agrícolas sin que nadie los acuse de vivir en el pasado. Tampoco se ha comprobado ningún ajuste automático en el empleo cuando se reducen las tarifas a la importación. La experiencia de los productores agrícolas mexicanos de la última década ha sido la pérdida de empleo.

      The reality of countries like the U.S. is that they protect their agricultural producers with subsidies and protect with tariffs and quotas with no one accusing them of living in the past. Also, there is no evidence that there was an automatic adjusted to employment when import tariffs were reduced. The experience of Mexican agricultural producers in the last decade is one los employment loss.

  •  Actions Belie their Words (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tanya, epppie

    As some of you may recall, RightWinger Calderon last week asked that all the votes cast on July 2 be preserved.

    Yet, his buddies in the PRI/PAN voted against forming a commission that would safeguard all these ballots.

    Why do I bring this up?

    Because some of you are vulnerable to taking words from the PRI/PAN at face value.

    In Mexico, even moreso than here, observe what a person does, not what they say.

    If Calderon really wanted to safeguard the ballots, the PRI/PAN would have voted with the Centrist PRD.

    -------------------------------------------------

    http://mx.invertia.com/...

    ZONAS - América del Norte - Mexico

    (CONGRESO)NIEGAN PAN Y PRI CREAR COMISION RESGUARDO ELECTORAL

    Martes, 19 de Septiembre de 2006, 15h58

    Fuente: InfoSel Financiero

    MEXICO, Septiembre. 19. - Las bancadas de los partidos Acción Nacional (PAN), y Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), en la Cámara de Diputados rechazó crear una Comisión especial de resguardo a la papelería electoral del 2 de julio, como habia propuesto la fracción perredista.

    La diputada del PRD, Lenia Valia Batres propuso crear una Comisión especial para la vigilancia del uso y destino de la documentación del proceso electoral presidencial del 2 de julio, sin embargo, la negativa del PRI y del PAN de nuevo impidió su aprobación.

    La votación quedó en 294 por el no, 151 por el sí y 11 abstenciones; los votos en contra fueron del PRI, PAN y PVEM principalmente, las afirmativas fueron del PRD, PT, Convergencia y algunos de Nueva Alianza y las abstenciones de Alternativa y de algunos priístas.

    more...

    -------------------------------------------

  •  Elba Esther Gordillo (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    brainwave, mango, PatriciaVa, epppie

    the corrupt and powerful head of the Teacher's Union, may become a member of Calderon's cabinent, according to some rumours. Sorry no link for this, I read it earlier this morning but can't find the link.

    Also here is a partial list of the atendees at the Forbes conference El Cid diaried about yesterday

    Forbes Conferences reportó que los conferenciantes que acudieron a la reunión con los gerentes mexicanos fueron, entre otros: Luis Téllez Kuenzler, quien representa en México los intereses del corporativo de la energía y las armas Carlyle, y también aspirante a ser miembro del gabinete del próximo gobierno, así como Eduardo Solórzano, presidente y cómo no CEO de Wal-Mart México, la empresa estadunidense que se ha hecho con el control de la distribución de alimentos al menudeo en el país y que pronto recibirá autorización para operar un banco.

    La lista de conferenciantes, según la versión difundida por Forbes, se nutrió con invitados como: José Manuel Agudo Roldán, presidente de Su Casita Hipotecaria; Alfredo Elías, director general de la Comisión Federal de Electricidad; Fernando Chico Pardo, presidente del Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste; Eduardo Pérez Motta, presidente de la gubernamental Comisión Federal de Competencia, y Larry D. Rubin, CEO de la Cámara Americana de Comercio. No faltaron Carlos Slim Helú, presidente vitalicio de Teléfonos de México, y Mario Sanmiguel Garza, presidente de American Express México.

    http://www.jornada.unam.mx/...

    Here you see the real rulers of Mexico, who joined together at the Four Seasons in Mexico City to divy up the spoils.

  •  North American Union in development (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    epppie

    Check out this site and get back to me on whether this site is bullshit or whether there really is something going on that will render opposition to the "neoliberal" agenda moot.

    The Moe Sizlak Experience, featuring Homer Simpson.

    by lepermessiah on Sat Sep 23, 2006 at 06:21:22 PM PDT

    •  from what I can see, little evidence of SPP yet (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      epppie

      From what I can see, nothing suggests to me yet that there's a lot of concrete evidence that this Security and Prosperity Partnership represents a great deal more than the kinds of tripartite planning already going on.

      The problem is that few people understand how existing institutions like NAFTA and GATT are precisely designed to undermine sovereignty in favor of stateless international investors.

      And whether it happens under the name of a "North American Union" or the SPP or whatever, the servants of stateless capital fully intend to do everything they can to roll back the idea of a "Republic," where citizens choose their governments and laws, to one where investors and property holders choose all.

      That's what NAFTA was about.  That's what GATT is about.  It's about trying to throw up a blizzard of rules and regulations to make us think that we do not have the authority to rule ourselves in our own interest.

  •  I think this passage gives some perspective (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    el cid

    on the signifigance of the Bush administration's and the media's eagerness to crown Calderon.  It is from an Xnet commentary re. the Brazil summit in 2005:

    "
    The Bush administration’s most ignominious assault on the new democratic spirit in Venezuela occurred with a coup attempt in April 2002. After meeting with the coup conspirators in Washington for months before hand, the United States was the first and only government in the hemisphere to recognize the “golpistas” headed by Pedro Carmona, the president of the Venezuelan business association. Chavez was restored to power in 48 hours, thanks to a massive popular demonstration combined with military support, principally among junior officers and common soldiers.

    As in the lead up to the Iraqi war, the US media, including the liberal press, proved to be a conveyor belt for the Bush line on Chavez. While the coup was in progress the New York Times editorialized: “Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator.”"

    http://www.zmag.org/...

    a hope that may come close to despair

    by epppie on Sat Sep 23, 2006 at 07:59:38 PM PDT

  •  Calderon Heckled in Torreon - Tale of Two Events (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    el cid

    Another day, another antiCalderon protest, this time in Torreon, Coahuila (RightWing city)

    Centrists and progressives will not leave him alone, as they are tired of the economic mediocrity and socially repressive policies he hopes to impose.

    I've translated a few paragraphs from the following note.

    ------------------------------------------
    This visit was very different from his last one, which took place on June 16 during the campaign, when Calderon met his followers in an event to watch the Mexico World Cup match against Angola.

    At that event, there were cheers, euphoria, and incessant screams of “goal”, which Calderon shared with Adrian Chavez, former professional soccer player, with Virginia Tovar, the first woman referee in professional soccer and the bull fighter Jorge El Gilson.

    Yesterday, there were shouts, but of protest, by a group of 30 PRDistas against Calderon.

    The demonstrators, in their majority women, removed from their purses several posters and markers to rapidly produce several signs that they showed as Calderon arrived.  The signs read: “He who is not with the country is against the coutnry,” “Obrador President,” “Fox, traitor to Democracy,” “Effective Suffrage, no Imposition,” and “Count all the Votes”.

    -----------------------------------------

    ------------------------------------
    Una ´lluvia´ de huevos con un blanco errado

    Sergio Javier Jiménez

    El Universal

    Domingo 24 de septiembre de 2006

    http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/...

    ........Esta visita fue muy distinta a la anterior, el pasado 16 de junio, cuando Calderón se reunió con sus seguidores para ver el partido de la Selección Mexicana de futbol contra Angola, cuando estaba en campaña.

    En aquella ocasión hubo porras, euforia, gritos inacabados de gol, que Calderón compartió con Adrián Chávez, ex futbolista profesional; con Virginia Tovar, la primera mujer árbitro en el futbol profesional y por el torero Jorge de Jesús El Glison.

    Ayer hubo gritos, pero de protesta, que un grupo de unos 30 perredistas lanzaron contra Calderón.

    Los manifestantes, mujeres en su mayoría, sacaron de entre sus bolsas varias cartulinas y marcadores para hacer de manera veloz varios letreros que mostraron a la llegada de Calderón en los que se leía: "El que no está con el pueblo, está contra el pueblo"; "Obrador presidente", "Fox traidor a la democracia", "Sufragio efectivo, no imposición" y "Voto por voto, casilla por casilla".

    --------------------------------------

  •  Making Life Impossible for Calderon (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    el cid

    Thought I shared the following.  

    As you read the following, please keep in mind that the top paper in Mexico City, with a population of over 20M, has a circulation of not more than 150K.  Therefore, it is safe to say that most Mexicans get their news from Televisa and Azteca, two firms which, according to this opinion piece from El Pais (a paper which has been VERY critical of AMLO) have imposed a blackout on his events.

    Also, please keep in mind that if Calderon doesn't decide to do the right thing and resign his presidency before December 1, simultaneiously calling for new elections, there is no assurance that he will remain President for six years.

    Please recall what happened to De La Rua, in Argentina, when a series of economic setbacks forced his resignation.  

    ----------------------------------------

    http://www.yucatan.com.mx/...

    The objective is to make life impossible for Calderon.  Up until now, AMLO has succeeded in doing so.  The president-elect conducts himself between weakness an fear, and his daily activities are divulged at the last minute.  Despite his speeches which seek reconciliation, he has not been able to set the agenda during the period of transition.  AMLO has seized with his civil resistance the limelight in the print press, despite the blackout imposed upon him by the two major TV networks to all the acts of the leader of the PRD.  The protagonism of the loser, and the absence of the winner, coalesce into a never-seen horizon for Mexico, which maintains a polarized state of public opinion.

    --------------------------------------------------

    -------------------------------------------------

    Estrategia de insurrección
    AMLO, “presidente”

    Francesc Relea

    ........Se trata de hacer la vida imposible a Calderón. Hasta la fecha, López Obrador ha logrado el objetivo. El presidente electo se mueve entre la debilidad y el temor y sus actividades diarias salen a la luz pública en el último minuto. A pesar de sus discursos a favor del diálogo y la negociación no ha conseguido transmitir un mensaje claro de reconciliación ni ha logrado fijar la agenda en este periodo de transición. López Obrador le ha arrebatado con su campaña de resistencia el protagonismo en los grandes medios escritos a pesar del silencio que han impuesto las dos mayores cadenas de televisión a todas las acciones del líder del Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD). El protagonismo del perdedor y la ausencia del ganador configuran un panorama inédito en México, que mantiene atónita a buena parte de la opinión pública.— México, D.F. (Servicio de El País).
    -------------------------------------------------

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