Today is a big day in our sister city and all across Mexico. LaSanbe reminded us that Ley Seca was already in place in preparation for the Mexican elections. The recent violence in Nuevo Laredo is only predicted to get a little worse – taking the territory war amongst cartels aside, the upcoming election signals changes and with any change, the strategy for how to deal with the cartels differs.
Polls will close soon. Although it is easy for us on the US side to not give the elections much importance, border communities are interlaced with the Mexican economy and our future is also being determined by votes. Today we have the return of a special guest blogger, el güerito mas chulo del norte :), El College Buddy who lived in Mexico and keeps up with its shifts and changes.
Spoiler Alert. This isn’t a Dewey-beat-Truman moment and I don’t have a crystal ball but some things are as predictable as water being wet, this year’s Mexican electoral farce will see the return of the PRI to Los Pinos. The Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party) ruled Mexico from the time of the 1910 revolution.
In the year 2000, the PRI lost the presidency to the PAN Partido de Accion Nacional (National Action Party.) Many people in Mexico and around the world saw this as a new beginning for Mexico; there were great celebrations and for a while Mexico seemed to be in process of purging its demons. Unfortunately, having a party in power that didn’t rule with an iron fist created an environment that resulted in a game of brinkmanship among various criminal organizations. After 6 years of escalating violence and terror, it seems Mexicans have become nostalgic for the hidden corruption of days past. The current leading PRI contender, Enrique Pena Nieto, has the good looks and charisma of John F. Kennedy, and the ability to say things that make George W. Bush look smart. Mexican comedians everywhere will have six years of prime material.
Although there are two other candidates on the ballot, a majority of Mexicans polled are determined that their next president be someone charismatic, someone well-connected, someone who will eventually deplete the Mexican National Treasury of its funds. Talk to any Mexican national about poverty, politics, or even pollos, and you’ll soon realize that Mexico doesn’t pretend to be anything that it isn’t. This is especially true with politics.
The nationalistic pride of the Mexican people is always underscored with a heavy disdain for its politicians. Self-depreciation is as big a national pastime as soccer, and presidential elections are usually executed (no pun intended) with a national prohibition on alcohol sales. That temporary is somewhat curious as marking an election ballot would be a great sobriety test, the resulting lime shortage and millions of inebriated Mexicanos simultaneously singing “El Rey” as they lament their station in life might be somewhat of a distraction from the seriousness of pretending to elect their next national leader.
Reading Mexico’s news papers, watching interviews on Mexican TV and radio, Mexicanos admit, some with proud defiance and others sheepish chagrin, that the PAN doesn’t really know how to rule Mexico, while the PRI is an expert at ruling Mexicans. Under the PRI the only threat of serious violence on the ranchos were occasional Indian uprisings and teacher strikes. Cartels and other organized criminal elements existed in the shadows, away from the masses. Whatever the real relationship was with the government was, one thing is certain, the cartels of the north didn’t dare provoke their benefactors in Los Pinos and as long as the cartels remained in the shadows, leadership in Los Pinos returned the favor. Afterall, as PRI power-broker Carlos Hank González famously said, “Un político pobre es un pobre político” (A politician who is poor, is a poor politician.) The more things change, the more they stay the same.
But anonymous college buddy friend, if the tween one-hit wonder Rebecca Black supports Peña Nieto who doesn’t even know the minimum wage, why shouldn’t we?? I kid. Let’s hope for the best, the results should be in today since everyone is supposed to be stone-cold sober: