University of Chicago.
Chicago, IL, April 21st, 2012.
If there is to be a tomorrow in Mexico, we have to start by fixing our today.
If we are to build a future of development, welfare, and expectations of sustained progress for every Mexican, regardless of where she or he lives, where and in which family he or she was born, which is the activity she or he is dedicated to, present Mexico has to be completely rearranged.
The Mexico most Mexicans want for the future, for a very near future, and most fervently for the present, is a Mexico where the rule of law becomes real and effective for everybody, where every Mexican may live with dignity, free of want and with opportunities, where political institutions and practices, as well as the organization of society, may well be called and qualified as democratic.
We are living electoral times. Campaigns officially began on March 30th. What can we say about them?
For the first time one of the major parties, the PAN, the party now in government, is having a woman as presidential candidate. Some could think this fact is a sign of progressive positions. On the contrary, even if she hasn’t made public a comprehensive proposal, she has stated that if winning, her government would follow the current policies which concentrate wealth in the few, restrict economic growth, give no real priority to education and other social issues, and, in the case of organized crime, these policies show their failure with a dead rate of 1000 per month, over 50 000 assassinations during the present administration, an organized crime which becomes stronger as time passes and the territories controlled by it expand. If these policies were to continue the next six years, one should have to expect six more years of unbridled violence, a stronger organized crime, economic stagnation, growing poverty, and social deterioration.
The PRI has been insistently declaring they know how to rule (sabemos cómo gobernar), how to give right solutions to the country’s problems, but not presenting, up to now, a comprehensive proposal one could call a national project. The PRI candidate, it is true, has been making specific commitments (compromisos), offering to solve specific problems, where he has been campaigning. If Mexico were to have the PRI back in government, there are no signs to expect a different policy from that implemented in the thirty years of neoliberalism.
From the National Alliance Party candidate, who collaborated till the late 90’s with PRI governments in environmental agencies, and according to his proposals in the few weeks he has been in campaign, one should expect he will continue presenting his technocratic and conservative positions.
I am sure people would like to hear from the campaigning parties and candidates how, with which aims and with which instruments Mexico’s major problems may be solved, and people would surely like ideas and proposals becoming the center of political discussion. Maybe, in the already announced debates, we may begin to hear of serious proposals and commitments, and not only discussions on the images and messages with no content of television and radio spots, with which media bombards us by the thousands every day.
We know who the running candidates are, where they are campaigning and the parties or coalitions promoting their candidacies. PAN, PRI and PANal still do not make public their major campaign proposals.
The progressive coalition has advanced a programmatic proposal, to be surely enriched throughout the campaign, and this coalition’s candidate has been making public who would he appoint as members of his cabinet.
Mexican progressive forces are proposing a major change in our State policies, focusing them in the sustained improvement of the population’s living standards. The first step to make this possible, states the progressive agenda, is making the State recover its social responsibilities, so internal policies aim to overcome social inequality and exclusion, low or null economic growth, break dependency bonds, and, at the same time, tend to a full employment economy, to eradicate the causes of poverty, strengthen consumption capacity of the population and consequently expand internal markets, utilize natural resources with social, economic and environmental rationality, offer a high quality education, access to culture, guarantee present and future to youth, and progress to the whole of the population.
The axis of this project is a comprehensive fiscal reform, so there may be resources enough to invest in development and welfare, which may articulate with social security and labor reforms.
The possibility of giving a right solution to our problems depends, in a high degree, under which conditions Mexico inserts in the currents of globalization, how Mexico, in parallel with the effort of modernizing its economy and institutions, can deal with the existing confrontation between the major economic hegemonies and nations struggling for an independent development, and in the last instance, for a fair world order.
A fair relationship with the United States is a condition of fair internal development for Mexico.
Bilateral US-Mexico agenda is complex and diverse. As a main priority, we have to insist in a comprehensive migration reform, which must start by the recognition, by the US State and US society, of the valuable and indispensable contribution migrant labor from all over the world, Mexican in a high proportion, gives to the progress of this nation.
Mexico and the United States, mainly within the frame of NAFTA, have an intense economic and trade relationship, highly unbalanced in favor of the US, partly provoked by Mexican internal economic policies, which since three decades ago, following rigorously the so called Washington Consensus, resigned to stimulate economic growth, internal consumption, industrialization, and agriculture.
NAFTA, on the other hand, has generated important benefits for the three participant parties, but it has reached its limits. A new agreement, with a wider scope, has to be visualized. Since NAFTA was being negotiated in 1991, we proposed a wider agreement, a Continental agreement on development and trade, which would include every country in the region, and could consider, among other measures, the creation of investment funds with the purpose of eliminating economic asymmetries and social differences. If this were accepted, all free trade agreements in the continent, should have to be substituted by this continental pact.
An effective combat to international crime, particularly to drug trafficking, which is an important issue in the bilateral agenda, asks for a change in the strategies implemented up to now. More efficient intelligence services and better coordination between agencies of one country and the other are necessary. The same priority given to drug trafficking has to be given in Mexico to the combat of those crimes like kidnapping or extortion, which strongly affect and alter the life of common people. A more efficient following of dirty money and of patrimony product of crime is also necessary. And finally in this regard, Mexico has to substitute the Army by a civil police corps in the combat against drug trafficking.
Seen from the south, Mexico is considered very distant, even if Latin-American by its social roots and culture, it is seen as not interested and with no possibility of approximation to the south. It is considered a portion of the North American block, a country in a process of integration with the United States, a condition shared, according to those visions from the south, with Central America and the Caribbean.
Mexico’s participation in NAFTA may be seen as its economic integration to North-America, but regardless of positive or negative effects of NAFTA since it came in force, Mexico has not been participating in a real integration process, but in an increasingly subordinated absorption process, as it has left its markets free to be supplied by foreign producers and reinforced its role of main supplier of cheap and unprotected labor for the US economy.
The United States and Mexico have and will continue having in the future a very close and diversified relationship. This relationship has to be improved, so benefits derive fairly to both sides. Important groups and personalities in the US share this view, which has to be more widely accepted by public opinion in this country. Mexican progressive and democratic sectors have to be much more aware of the existence of these people and organizations, so actions in this regard may be promoted and coordinated with their similar in the US.
These are, succinctly and making emphasis on the democratic and progressive proposal, the positions held by the contending political forces in Mexico, facing next July’s election. Mexicans will have to decide whether they want six more years of economic, social, and political deterioration, or if they are in favor of a real and possible change, as is being proposed by the progressive and democratic forces.