AMLO outside the Senate, Monday, October 26

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

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mexico: On the Verge of Collapse?

Apocalyptic predictions about everything from dimes to donuts abound on the internet, and are often worth about a handful of the former or a dozen of the latter. But if the country in question is Mexico, and the year in question 2009, the only risk involved in making forecasts would be to understate the case. Things are, indeed, dire. How dire? Let's take a look.
  • The peso has tumbled to 15.30 pesos to the dollar, a 50% devaluation in six months. The Mexican Central Bank continues to auction off dollars in an attempt to halt the slide that has so far done nothing more than, arguably, slow it down somewhat, and - no argument needed - make a fistful of currency speculators even richer. At the moment, the Central Bank is sitting on reserves of 80 billion dollars. At the current rate of hemmorhage - about a billion a week - that's 80 weeks before Mexico becomes another Argentina. And the worst is yet to come, economically speaking, for the second half of 2009.
  • Narco-violence increases and disseminates itself, unabated, making a mockery of the idea that the state "holds the legitimate monopoly on violence." The Mexican government has effectively lost control of large swathes of territory - and not only on the northern border - where the drug cartels run the show, charge taxes, and operate their own mechanisms of justice (the death penalty being the preferred form of punishment).
  • And even if the government had the monopoly on violence, it would still not be "legitimate." Half of Mexico - and growing - considers Calderon to be an illegitmate imposter in office, installed via electoral fraud and maintained there through the mass media and the propogation of fear in the form of "his" drug war (L'État, c'est moi.). Over 8,000 Mexicans have lost their lives in this "war" since Calderon took office - doublt the amount of American soldiers killed in Iraq in six years. The result? To turn the drug cartels - bad enough as they already were - into para-military organizations, armed to the teeth with the American weaponry that inevitably finds its way into their hands.
  • The Mexican government is top-heavy in the extreme, with a non-existent separation of powers. In 2009, more than half the budget is going to paying the disproportionate salaries of the bureaucracy. Just to give an example, the members of the Supreme Court have just raised their salaries to 347,647 pesos base salary per month, plus bi-weekly bonuses, vacation bonuses (50% of ten days of their salary for each vacation period), a Christmas bonus of 40-days salary, two vehicles at their disposal, free cell phone and wireless internet use, a food budget, life insurance, retirement pension and health insurance. The President of the Court, Ortiz Mayagoitia, and Mariano Azuela, the Senior Member (he who plotted the desafuero of López Obrador with Vicente Fox), also receive special other perks, including three, tri-monthly bonuses of an extra month's worth of salary each. The collective cost of all of this is practically 10 million pesos per Justice per year; at 11 Justices on the Court, that's 110 million pesos annually. This is the same Court, mind, that ruled that the journalist Lydia Cacho was not tortured, threw out the case for abuses in Atenco, and refused to hear the appeal of the 2006 election, despite being constitutionally empowered to do so. This same week, the Federal Electoral Institute had to reverse course and cancel its planned 45% salary increase for its councilors in the face of bristling popular opposition.
  • Meanwhile, according to INEGI, 890 Mexicans are currently losing their jobs every 24 hours. Mexican exports are down 30% this year, falling to a historic low, despite the weak peso making the goods half as cheap. Inflation, meanwhile, continues to rise due to consequently more-expensive imports and the increases in electricity, natural gas, gasoline and diesel, the last of which has transport workers demonstrating and striking across the country.
  • The Pentagon comes out with a report putting Mexico in the same category as Pakistan in terms of potential failed states, a State Department report this past week lamented the country's excreable human-rights record, troop reinforcements are sent to Texas to protect the border, and, as of this week, the number one shareholder in the National Bank of Mexico is now...Uncle Sam!

Put all of this together and stir, then add a pinch of the legislative elections set for this July, elections which Calderon & Co. have been trying to interfere in and rig in any way possible over the last three years and which nobody except the candidates themselves seem to have any faith in as a mechanism of democratic governance, and you see why the odds of imminent collapse in Mexico, unless drastic action is taken (but by whom?), is an ever more-real possibility.

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