Monday, March 26, 2007
What Are The Most Serious Problems Mexico Faces?
José Enrique Vallarta Rodríguez
February I attended a seminar on Mexico that featured a number of academic specialists on Latin American affairs. And during one of the analysis sessions a scholar was asked what, in his opinion, are the most serious
and urgent problems Mexico faces?
response was simple: “The inequitable and unjust distribution of wealth, and [the need] to break with the history of
bad guys (“chicos malos”¹) always winning in Mexico.”
response was simple but true. For example, one can look at the early March issue
of Forbes magazine that lists the personal fortune of Mexican businessman Carlos Slim at US$49 billion, up US$19 billion
from last year. Slim is in third place on the billionaires list, after Bill Gates
and Warren Buffet.
inequitable distribution of wealth in Mexico is evidenced by Slim’s fortune that has increased greatly since his acquisition
of the government-owned national telephone system, Teléfonos de México, in 1990. While
a part of his money comes from growth and improved services, a significant amount is from his taking advantage of a lack of
landline telephone tariff regulations in Mexico — and today Mexico’s telephone services are the most expensive
in the world.
Slim has diversified into other areas of investment over the years, in Mexico and elsewhere, which besides increasing his
fortune creates jobs and brings money to the nation. But too, in recent times
he has received considerable support and incentives from the Mexican government in order to increase his patrimony, which
is incongruent with the below poverty level lives and marginalization 50 million Mexicans suffer.
the phrase “the chicos malos always win in Mexico,” the specialists were referring to the poor caliber
of government officials we have had to suffer with throughout history. And history
shows us that the majority of those who have governed Mexico, with some honorable exceptions, can not only be characterized
as inefficient and poor administrators, but too as corrupt and non-nationalists insofar as they have used their positions
to enrich themselves, their families, and small groups of beneficiaries. They
have forsaken national interests and the Mexico people.
President Felipe Calderón and his administration must take actions to compensate for the inequalities in wealth and income
distribution in Mexico, while at the same time fighting corruption. And perhaps
some of the following proposals should be considered.
8. Establish improved social compensation systems for the public
and private sectors.
9. Establish public policies for income redistribution as a
means to strengthen social security, with unemployment insurance included.
10. A strengthening at the constitutional level of transparency, and in the rendering of accounts
by officials in the three branches of government.
11. Political reforms, including fewer political parties; shorter campaign periods, with less
money allocated; unified electoral calendars; free access to the media; a second runoff round in the presidential election;
a referendum every two years; and a cut in the presidential terms from six to four years.
Reelection, for one additional term, should be allowed for the president, deputies and senators.
21st Century must be one of opportunities, success and prosperity for Mexicans, while doing away with chicos malos
who always win.
malos: pejorative slang for government officials, politicians, “juniors” (political heirs), and/or patronage
network recipients who, real or perceived, loot Mexicans of their national patrimony.
José Enrique Vallarta Rodríguez,
a MexiData.info guest columnist, received his doctorate in Mexican Electoral Law from the National Autonomous University of
Mexico. Mexico City-based, he has worked for the Federal Electoral Institute. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.