|  DISPATCH: September 18||Silvia's Log|
The People Have Spoken... Finally!
A major historical change is underlying Mexico City’s politics these days - a change in the name of true democracy.Until 1997, one party - the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), (Institutional Revolutionary Party) - has headed Mexican politics. The president of the country has always ruled with a strong, centralized power, a tradition going back to the times of the last Aztec Emperor, Cuauhtemoc. The presidents of the PRI are no different.
Elections have almost always raised accusations of fraud and bribery, even intimidation and violence by the all-controlling PRI. Since 1994, President Zedillo has responded to the growing dissatisfaction with the PRI as citizens demanded real democratic change. He freed the body that organizes elections from government control and let it spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build an electoral process free from fraud. In 1997 the first elections under this new creation were held for more than half the seats in the Mexican "Congress," 6 state governorships, and the Mexico City mayorship. This last one is a particularly special case I want to talk about…
Since the Mexican Revolution in 1917, the mayor of Mexico City has been directly appointed by the nation’s president instead of being elected by the people. In 1997, President Zedillo opened the post of mayor, the "alcalde," to popular elections. Cuauhtemoc Cardenas of the opposition party, the Partido Revolucionario Democratico (PRD) won. It’s interesting that he is the son of a very popular ex-president of Mexico, Lazaro Cardenas. So the first elected mayor of Mexico City has the first name of the last Aztec emperor, and the last name of one of Mexico’s most popular presidents. And guess what else… his father was a member of the very political party that he is trying to defeat! Part of the reason for his father Lazaro's popularity was because he gave much land (ejidos) to poor people. (Read about the results of the ejido program in Monica's 9/13 update) Mexicans also appreciated that he took over oil companies that were owned by American and British companies so that Mexicans would get more of the money from their own natural resources.
Cuauhtemoc Cardenas was himself almost elected President of Mexico in 1988, but a mysterious "computer breakdown" occurred when the votes were being tallied. He had been well ahead of the PRI opponent, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, but ended up losing. Nevertheless, he is still dedicated to his cause and the PRD. Cardenas wants to improve public security and public services (especially water), tackle traffic problems and pollution, fight organized crime and police corruption, raise educational standards and salaries, and decrease unemployment. As Mexico City’s mayor, he also chooses the city’s police chief and attorney general, posts that used to be controlled by the president.
The governor’s job is not an easy one. The capital is increasingly unmanageable. Consider these statistics:
For more information, read the CNN article written when Cardenas was elected mayor.
|Basecamp . Trekkers . Making a Difference . Trek Connect . Guidebook . Calendar|