AMLO outside the Senate, Monday, October 26

Worker's Party Deputy Mario di Costanzo Tears Apart Carstens Economic Plan

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Kidnappings and Congress

Back in the sunny old days of 2006 when only Oaxaca of among the 32 states seemed to be on the verge of social collapse, a political joke made its rounds. A rich kid says to his friend, "Boy, I really hope López Obrador wins the election this year." The friend, incredulous, responds, "Why?" And the friend explains: "Because my daddy said that if he wins, he's going to take us all to live in Miami!"

Now its 2008, and the rich are going to Miami. And to Houston. And to Spain. And not because of López Obrador, but because they are no longer safe from kidnappings wherever they go, whatever they do to protect themselves. 13-year old Fernando Marti, son of a wealthy businessman, is kidnapped and killed even though he was traveling in a bullet-proof car with escort and bodyguard and even though his father paid the kidnappers a six-million dollar ransom. Police are alleged to have been involved. María de Jesús Delgadillo, 27 years old and ten weeks pregnant, is kidnapped in the State of Mexico when she goes out to visit friends, is kidnapped and held four days, 150 thousand pesos is charged for her release but she is killed anyway. An ex-police office is arrested in relationship to the case. In the state of Jalisco, an anti-kidnapping agent is arrested along with six accomplices for the kidnapping, extorsion and execution of a family; in Baja California, a series of anti-kidnapping agents are under investigation; in Ciudad Juárez, the federal police arrested a city police officer along with five accomplices for allegedly being part of a gang of kidnappers. Here at home in Oaxaca, a network of delinquents made up of police and members of the gang "Los Zetas" are being accused of a number of kidnapping and killings. Kidnappings in 2007 were up 35% over 2006, and it is estimated that for every reported kidnapping, of course, two or three more go unreported. According to a study at the Tec de Monterrey, approximately 400 professional kidnapping gangs are currently active in Mexico. A true growth industry in a time of decling profits.

Meanwhile, Congress is due to reconvene on the 1st of September, and besides considering whether or not to get tough and raise the penalties for all those kidnappers (useless if they are never caught, useless if the police who are supposed to catch them are involved in the first place, useless if the gap between rich and poor continues to rise), the issue of oil privatization will be right back on the front burner. Stalled in the spring due to public demonstrations, the oil privatization measure has been repackaged and rechristened as the "Beltrones" proposal, for the PRI senator proposing it. A close look at the list of ingredients, however, proves that the products are pretty much the same, and where not the same, even worse. Though this new and improved bill has been touted as a compromise which removes the most objectionable of Calderón's original proposal, turns out that ol' Senator Beltrones (himself a top name on the DEA's list when he was governor of Sinaloa for alleged involement in drug activities) copied his buddy's homework: 28 of his bill's 49 articles were copied directly from the original proposal. The privatization of exploration and development would proceed apace, but now the "sharing" of national oil profits would not only occur with private companies, but with the Mexican states (dominated by PRI governors the likes of Mario Marin and Ulisses Ruiz), as poor PEMEX would find itself being divied up into a series of decentralized, state-level companies, all financed with public capital. These chopped-up PEMEX companies could then contract out the construction of refineries, etc. and clearly, in the future, be simply bought out outright: much easier to sell off a series of small regional companies on the sly than one, big, prominent national entity. In fact, the bill specifically provides, in the future, for the "desincorporation of the descentralized organizations...without being bound by the Federal Law of State-Owned Entities" As El Fisgón points out, that is code for privatizing in parts once the protests die down. The war shaping over this issue for the fall should prove to be very interesting, indeed.

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