The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

84° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Mailbag

    Mexico in Transition

    Courtney Smith’s assertion that the Mexican democratic reforms are a fraud is false, both in terms of specifics and generalities.

    Ms. Smith writes: “”[Mexico] is a nation that has little governmental transparency, lacks checks and balances and breeds fraudulence on all levels, making it one of the most corrupt nations in the world.””

    The Mexican political system is in transition and has been since at least 1997, when I lived there and met the folks who would later become my in-laws. The first step toward reform was making sure that the will of the people would be accurately reflected in the voting tallies.

    Has Ms. Smith visited a Mexican polling station on voting day, as I have? Is she aware that Mexican citizens must show a tamper resistant photo identification issued by the Mexican Federal Elections Commission? Is she aware that voters have their fingers dipped in UV ink after voting and that all voters have their fingers checked before voting? While irregularities do still occur (and will no doubt be the basis of her PRD’s attempts to overturn the latest results) the electoral mechanism in Mexico is superior to that of the United States.

    With respect to transparency, in 1997 when I first lived in Mexico, there simply was none. Having dealt with government officials on various levels there at the time, I can tell you that obtaining information about internal political processes – how budgets were determined, how and why parties chose their candidates – was impossible for those not “”connected.”” While I still don’t get as much internal political news as I would like these days, I do get much more and the situation now with respect to where the country was 10 years ago is vastly improved.

    And while corruption is still a problem, it is no longer as tolerated as it once was. In this respect, Mexico is ahead of the game compared to say, China.

    For Ms. Smith to declare that: “”The Mexican presidential election was not a machine of democracy – it was a deception of democracy”” is an insult to those Mexicans on every level of the political and social strata who have worked hard (and in some cases, risked and lost their lives) to fight 70 years worth of corruption, murder and disappearances to have a genuine civil society.

    Ms. Smith acknowledges: “”The ability for the newly elected official to bring about real change is further prevented by restrictions that are placed on lawmakers to run consecutive terms. Without time for elected officials to establish their own alliances, the clout of affluent interest groups only intensifies.””

    Indeed, but can the same not be said of the “”democracy”” we have in the United States or in any nation for that matter? In the US, we don’t have term limits for most of our legislators – and yet we have similar problems.

    And with respect to term limits, there are historical and cultural reasons while this is a trademark of the Mexican political system. Perhaps if Ms. Smith read a little more Mexican history (specifically about the period leading to the Mexican revolution) she would understand the historical rationale Mexicans have for imposing those term limits.

    Ms. Smith’s opinion regarding the Mexican elections is not only a rude insult to the people of Mexico but it displays a breathtaking level of ignorance about and arrogance toward Mexico that only well-fed North Americans can have.

    Matt Harmon

    Tucson Resident

    More to Discover
    Activate Search