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This December 1st 2014 marks two years since Enrique Peña Nieto became President of Mexico. It has been two years that the main problems facing the Mexican people have worsened : violence, insecurity, impunity, corruption, repression, inequality, poverty, abuse of the powerful, privileges to a minority and exclusion for most.
The data speak for itself (www.oecd.org) :
According to recent data (2011-2014), 3.9 % of people in the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report having suffered an assault or theft during the past 12 months. However, there are important differences between countries. Rates of Canada, US, Japan, Poland and the UK are below 2 %, but reaching more than 6 % in Chile, Israel and Belgium, and 12.8 % in Mexico (it is the last place in the OECD rating).
In the homicide rate (average number of homicides per 100000 inhabitants), Mexico ranks second to last with 23.4 homicides (Brazil is the last place with 25.5) (1).
In the total score on the security issue (from 0-10), Mexico ranks last in the OECD with a rating of 0.4, while Brazil is the penultimate place with a rating of 2.1 (the first is Japan with 9.9).
On the revenue Mexico ranks third from the bottom of the OECD with a rating of 0.7, above only of Turkey (0.6) and Brazil (0.1). In household disposable income (the one who earns a family in a year, after taxes), Mexico ranks second to last place with $ 12850 (Brazil ranks last with $10310).
In the overall rating on education Mexico is in last place with 1.2 (after Brazil with 1.9). In the table of the percentage of graduates of upper secondary education between 25 and 64 years, Mexico has a rate of 36.3 %, up only from Turkey and Portugal.
In other areas the rating of Mexico is : housing 3.7 (place 33 of 36) ; environment 4.5 (place 33 of 36) and health 5.0 (place 31 of 36).
Mexico has been part of the OECD for 20 years, and in these two decades has not left the last two or three places of the table in the main items measured by this organization, and the situation has remained the same in the two years in office of president Peña Nieto.
These data demonstrate that after 26 years of neoliberal governments (if we start counting with the government of Carlos Salinas de Gortari in 1988), most of the Mexican population has not seen any improvement in their standard of living, safety, education, health, income, housing and environment. At best, it has remained stagnant for a quarter century, which is said to have been behind compared to other countries. Two and a half decades lost for most of the people of Mexico.
Economic growth in Mexico is insufficient (the first year of the reign of Peña GDP grew 1.1 % and this 2014 will be 2 %) (2) to give decent jobs to most of the population, and currently 60 % of the economically active population works in the informal sector ; in addition, according to the OECD, the risk of falling into poverty in Mexico is one of the highest within the organization, because while only between 9 % and 11% of the population of OECD countries fall into this risk, for Mexico the percentage is between 19 % and 21 % (Report All aboard : making inclusive growth possible). For its part, the World Bank has noted that poverty in Mexico affects 52 % of the population, a percentage that has not changed in the last 20 years.
However, the 2014 census for billionaires who makes the Swiss bank UBS (UBS Billionaire Wealth and 2014) (3), Mexico was ranked at number 21 among 40 countries with the highest number of billionaires. Adding the resources of the 27 individuals and families considered in the study, together with a combined fortune of 169 billion dollars (14% of GDP in Mexico) ; in addition the number of billionaires rose from 22 in 2013 to 27 in 2014 (an increase of 23 % when the economy does not grow above 2 % per year).
Peña Nieto’s government maintains the economic policy that has been implemented in the country for a quarter century, which favors the concentration of economic growth in a minority of plutocrats, who have enough power to decisively influence the political process and therefore the kind of policies that are implemented in the country.
The governments of the PRI and the PAN (4) who have ruled over the last 30 years, have begun welfare policies toward the poor, so that poverty does not overflow uncontrollably, through programs such as "Solidarity" (Salinas), "Opportunities" (the PAN governments) and now "Prospera" (Peña). None have decisively impacted the lives of the majority of the population, and conversely, other policies related to economic policy (removal of subsidies on energy, increased VAT and withdrawal of the state in education and health, leaving the market cater to growing segments of the population in these areas) have nullified the few benefits of such welfare policies.
With regard to corruption, according to Transparency International (Transparency.org), 52 % of the population in Mexico considers that in the last two years has increased "a lot" corruption in the country, and another 19 % considers that has increased. Also, 90 % believe that the police are corrupt, 87 % believe that officials and public servants are also, 91 % think so of leaders and leading representatives of political parties and 80 % of members of the Judiciary.
Here it is worth mentioning that the greatest corruption scandal just give out in the country in the month of November 2014, when CNN in Spanish reporter, Carmen Aristegui, through her website Aristeguinoticias.com, announced that president Peña’s wife, former actress of the T.V. consortium Televisa, Angelica Rivera, owns two properties valued at more than $7 million in one of the most expensive areas of Mexico City (Lomas de Chapultepec), and that in one of them had just built a huge mansion (now known as "the White House of las Lomas") (5), through the construction company TEYA belonging to GRUPO HIGA, owned by businessman Juan Armando Hinojosa Cantu.
Cantu Hinojosa’s companies were during the government of Peña Nieto in the State of Mexico (2005-2011), the most favored in public works contracts (almost 2 billion dollars), and during the presidential campaign of Peña Nieto, Hinojosa Cantu rented his private planes to Peña for his travels.
Cantu Hinojosa and his HIGA Group was the group associated with China Railway Construction Group, a Chinese company that won the contract to build the fast train between Mexico and Queretaro, with an estimated investment of more than 50 billion pesos ($3600 million), being the only company that was registered in the public bid for the concession to build the railway.
Shortly before traveling to China to the APEC Summit, Peña Nieto revoked the concession to the company, since it was learned that it was about to be released information about the properties of his wife, and the relationship of these properties with the construction company of Cantu Hinojosa.
Following this scandal, the president’s wife, Angelica Rivera, who was an actress for 23 years in Televisa (before marrying Peña Nieto in 2010), was forced to disclose the country, through television, how she acquired these expensive properties.
The explanation was that Televisa paid a "settlement" of her contract for 88 million pesos ($6285000), and thus was able to acquire her first property in Las Lomas ; while the second, which is on one side of it, she is buying it to the construction company TEYA in monthly installments (until now, she has paid 14 million pesos).
The "explanation" of Mrs. Rivera (who made it in a scolding tone and "outrage" because her integrity was questioned) was a disaster, because in Mexico everyone knows that Televisa came to "rescue" Peña Nieto, and that the quid pro quo with Hinojosa was evident, who many believe "paid" the contract award of the fast train (and perhaps earlier contracts in the State of Mexico, or other future ones under President Peña presidency) with the mansion.
In any case, if Televisa "paid" that fabulous sum to an actress who nobody in Mexico consider her one of the most famous and important of the country (the highest sum Televisa paid for a multiyear contract went to Gloria Trevi, and only were 8 million pesos) (6), it was not for services rendered to the company, but as part of the "buy" that this company made of the services of the new husband of Mrs. Rivera (as described in detail in the film of recent release, La Dictadura Perfecta -The Perfect Dictatorship-, where the filmmaker Luis Estrada describes how a large television consortium in Mexico manufactures the candidacy of a corrupt and mafia governor, and takes him to the presidency of the Republic).
With regard to violations of human rights, the government of Peña is now being questioned nationally and internationally, as was the one of Calderon Hinojosa (2006-2012).
The involvement of governments, police and members of the armed forces with organized crime has reached intolerable levels, even for a very condescending and permissive Mexican society on this issue, as the case of the 43 students in the rural normal Ayotzinapa (7) that were kidnapped by municipal police of Iguala and Cocula (state of Guerrero) and delivered to the cartel hitmen known as Guerreros Unidos, to be tortured and killed, was the straw that broke the camel and sparked nationwide protests and protests from international organizations and NGOs around the world.
Also the Tlatlaya (State of Mexico) event has impacted heavily on the government of Peña Nieto, since in June 30, 2014 a group of military massacred 22 young in a cellar of the municipality, arguing that they were criminals.
At first both the state government and the federal government, supported the version of the Army, that the youth died during a "confrontation" and the much discredited National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) endorsed this version.
However, it had to be a US magazine, named Esquire, who took statements from several witnesses, which revealed what had really happened : an execution by the Army battalion who participated in these events. It was only then (September 2014) that the case was resumed by the Attorney General’s Office and the CNDH, leading to the arrest of 7 military who participated in this massacre.
Both cases, the Ayotzinapa-Iguala and the one of Tlatlaya, and the one of the "white house of Las Lomas" have cornered the government of Peña Nieto, who has started to react violently to the just demands of the Mexican society, not only for clarify and punish these acts of impunity and corruption, but to change a rotten system that only serves the interests of politicians and business groups obscenely rich, who do not care about the fate of the majority of Mexicans.
Thus, Peña began to change the narrative about the demands of the people for justice (8), to the condemnation of "violent" groups of hooded men, whom during demonstrations by the case of Ayotzinapa, burned public buildings in Guerrero, Michoacán and Oaxaca and set fire to the front door of the National Palace in Mexico City (these persons could be professional provocateurs paid by the same federal government).
Thus, Peña Nieto and his cabinet members (Secretaries of the Interior, National Defense and the Navy) and the head of government of the Federal District (the Maxico City Mayor), have been trying to turn the situation, noting that the real problem is "the violent groups" who do not want peace and attack the rule of law.
They accuse them of trying to "destabilize" the government, and hence them being the main threat to the country ; when the vast majority of the population has been demonstrated peacefully and is demanding a thorough clean of a corrupt political system, linked to the drug cartels and promoting a "crony capitalism", where only those close to political power and the small group of plutocrats who dominates the economy (with their transnational allies), have all the privileges and guarantees, while the people suffer from poverty and repression.
On November 20, (the day the start of the Mexican Revolution is commemorated), thousands of people, families, young, old, women and children marched peacefully to the Zocalo (main square) of Mexico City, demanding justice for the 43 Ayotzinapa missing.
After the demonstration, when there were still several thousand people in the Zocalo, hundreds of federal and Mexico city police attacked the crowd, without provocation, beating and abusing all people in their path, with the obvious intent to terrorize protesters and give a lesson to the people who want to express their dissatisfaction and complaints.
Eleven people were unjustly arrested and have now been imprisoned in distant prisons of Mexico City, which is triggering a new movement for their release. A large group of intellectuals and personalities are starting a movement to demand their release and punishment for the authorities responsible for this brutal repression.
Peña Nieto and Miguel Angel Mancera (head of government of Mexico City) (9), have pointed out that the actions of the authorities were “correct” and they do not think to rectify.
So the government response is hardening, because it has no substantive responses to the demands of the population, and although these days Peña will propose the signing of a "pact" to the legality and the rule of law (one of several that have been signed in recent years and have remained on paper), the reality is that his government has demonstrated its repressor mood, tarnished by corruption, abusive and subordinate to Mexican billionaires and large transnational corporations, which will deepen the great national problems and eventually will cause a violent awakening of the dispossessed of Mexico.
Rolando GARRIDO ROMO
(1) Although Brazil is not part of the OECD, there is an agreement to include statistics in studies of the organization.
(4) Revolutionary Institutional Party (center-right) and Action Nacional Party (right).
(5) “The design of the residence was in charge of Mexican architect Miguel Angel Aragones and his photos are still exhibited in www.aragones.com.mx, entitled Casa La Palma.The blueprint of the house is available on the website archdaily.com, bearing the logo of Aragon and located on the street Sierra Gorda. They also show a date : October 2010, a month before Peña Nieto and Rivera got married "(Aristeguinoticias.com)
(7) See State Crime in Iguala, Guerrero (Mexico), by Rolando Garrido, article appeared in The Vineyard of the Saker (Vineyardsaker.blogspot.com) last October 18.
(8) Recall that in Mexico, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI.org.mx), crimes go unreported and unpunished reach 95%. That is 95 out of 100 crimes in the country go unpunished.
(9) Linked to the leftist and discredited Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), who postulated and sheltered the mafioso mayor of Iguala José Luis Abarca and his wife Maria de los Angeles Pineda, and the ousted governor of Guerrero, Angel Aguirre. Mancera is linked to a group of businessmen who control public works of the Federal District, which have been enriched with concessions such as the imposition of parking meters in thousands of streets and with contracts for building works, poorly made in the roads of the city ; also they have managed to change the "land use" of residential areas to build malls and office buildings. Just 26 November PRD founder and three-time presidential candidate (1988, 1994 and 2000), C. Cárdenas resigned from the party for all these scandals.