He came into power promising to refresh Mexican politics to the beat
of his Coca Cola franchise. He arrived at Los Pinos presidential residence with
his cowboy boots, trying to put a firm foot on shaky terrain. But one thing
is handling a company and making campaign promises and another is the art of
knowing how to make politics.
Vicente Fox brought the Mexican right wing into government after several
decades in the shadows.
However, six years have passed and Mexico hasn't been able to move forward.
The highly touted changes have gone against the interests of the vast majority.
The promises of seven percent economic growth rates during the six-year period
are nothing more than a joke now in political circles. Today, the poverty that
he promised to eliminate compromises the future of millions of citizens.
The situation of the indigenous people, that he proclaimed would be a priority,
continues to be shameful. High unemployment rates and emigration from the rural
Mexico multiplies to reach more than five million people as a consequence of
the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Dung the term of the present government the minimum wage increased by barely
80 cents of a US dollar, but the President's salary soared from 10,000 to 16,000
dollars a month.
While retirement is a dilemma for most Mexicans because they lack social security,
Fox is proposing to increase the pension to which he is entitled at the moment
of leaving office.
And as to the corruption he promised to combat, there is nothing to say because
his family has clearly used power to its advantage. The scandals of the very
expensive towels bought for the Los Pinos residence, the super expensive designer
clothing of the first lady, the shady businesses of his sons, together with
the fabulous meals at the presidential residence and the family trips paid for
from the nation's budget, were news throughout his years in office, as the visible
side of a terrible social phenomenon.
A recent poll by Transparencia nternacional (International Transparency) showed
how more than half of the Mexicans questioned admitted having offered bribes
in order to "avoid problems with the authorities."
The media reports daily on how little by little the drug czars are taking over
the nation and how they frighten Mexican society, already hard hit by violence.
Estimates show that up to 15 million firearms could be in the hands of Mexicans.
The country's foreign policy, first handled by Castañeda and now by
Derbez, has been the area of the worst performance of the Fox administration.
Far removed from any previous policies formulated by Benito Juarez, the Estrada
doctrine and the previous foreign affairs ministers, the present Mexican government
has turned into a proxy of US interests and a factor of confrontation within
the Latin American context.
A chain of wrongdoings, arrogant attitudes and betrayals have marked its relations
with the rest of the region and acted as a political boomerang. He failed at
the Mar del Plata Summit as the spokesperson for the Free Trade Agreement of
the Americas, and his attacks on the governments of Argentina and Venezuela,
that brought him a resounding reply by Kirchner and the solid blow from Chavez,
who described him as a "lap dog of the empire," continued with his
recent intervention in Bolivia before the inauguration of Evo Morales, who replied
sharply and directly to him.
Far from any Latin American unity objectives, previously a principal of Mexican
politics, the Fox administration refused to accept the Venezuelan proposal of
widening the reach of the San Jose Pact to supply oil to nations of the region,
and he has also refused to give a boost to the full membership of Mexico in
the MERCOSUR trade agreement.
Nevertheless, his US partners concede few favors to the Mexican rancher. The
refusal to accept any immigration agreement, the inhuman and degrading treatment
of Mexican émigrés, and the huge and offensive wall that is been
raised at the border are trod upon by a government that promised to resolve
that crucial problem during its mandate.
Other events in recent months that further deteriorated the image of the Fox
administration were the Sheraton Hotel affair, the intimidating visit of the
CIA chief to demand more control at the border, and the aggressive statements
by US intelligence czar, John D. Negroponte.
The actions of Fox and his cabinet have demonstrated that above national sovereignty
and the Constitution, are the business deals reached with Halliburton and its
Kellogg Brown and Root subsidiary (with Cheney as the go between) valued at
1.22 billion dollars. If servitude is a source of business, Fox and his friends
have no problems with that.
Just a few days separate us from knowing who will be the next president of
Mexico. There are many hoping for a change in the direction of the country.
It is hard to imagine six years worse for Mexico than the first six of the 21