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Column 101005 Andrade

Monday, October 10, 2005


A moneyed pact and Mexico’s future


By Enrique Andrade González


The most financially powerful individuals in Mexico met as citizens on September 29, at the Castle of Chapultepec, to sign an accord called the “Pact of Chapultepec.”  Headed by Carlos Slim, the wealthiest man in Latin America, other participants included Banorte bank owner Roberto González, Televisa chairman Emilio Azcarraga, Ricardo Salinas Pliego of TV Azteca, and a host of others.  In all, according to some commentators those who signed the national unity pact represent 98 percent of Mexico’s wealth.


In the presence of intellectuals, the media and show business personalities, other important adherents were community groups, non-governmental organizations and public policy associations such as the Chapultepec Group.  All of who signed in favor of unity, the rule of law, national development, investment, job creation, better education and improved healthcare.


The event was a statement of power vis-ŕ-vis the State and its institutions, a political message without politics.  Basically what was said: we are united around a project; we are going to support those who fly these flags; and he who would be the next president of Mexico will have to follow and take these lines of action.


Of course no one is against jobs, development and investment, however the problem continues to be how can such needs be met?  The nation’s most influential businesspersons and industrialists have made their wishes clear — what they want is more private sector involvement in Mexico’s economy and politics, so as to create jobs but too so that they can protect their investments.


The rule of law is also something everyone wants, but to who was this message aimed?  For this point is more in defense of something that already exists than a hope for the future like the other demands.


But this particular message has a specific target, and the bull’s eye is Andrés Manuel López Obrador.


The entrepreneurs are worried about law and order in the future, considering the possibility of López Obrador, who will be the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) candidate, winning the presidency of Mexico in 2006.  This because the PRD candidate, with his impatience to become president, is prepared to do whatever it takes to win — even if that means weakening Mexico’s institutions and its rule of law.


It is said that the country is in a political transition stage comparable to a growing child’s adolescence — a time without a clearly defined future, a period when events can bring about uneasiness and cause change.


Those in business and industry see this particular period of Mexico’s incipient democracy as a difficult time in the life of the nation.  A time when national political parties and representatives of the powers of government are more concerned with the game of democracy than in gaining national objectives.  So they have spelled out a route to follow, and furnished a manual for growth.


President Vicente Fox was not invited to the ceremony, a message that brings his past and present leadership into question.  Furthermore, this is a demand for an end to government inaction, and a call for a course of action to be set immediately.  And it is a message to members of Congress, as well as state governments.


While the signers of the pact have identified their subjects of interest, they still have not indicated how their goals can be accomplished.  As well, they have not addressed other issues of national priority importance such as migration, fiscal reform, political reform, retirement and pensions, etc.  Clearly the subjects of the accord relate mainly to private enterprise, and not governmental policies or general social matters.


Regarding public opinion, a Milenio newspaper survey showed that most Mexicans do not identify with those who signed the pact.  The proposals are not those of the public at large, with many suspecting the entrepreneurs are more interested in their own economic interests than those of the people.


However much of what is being called for in this message is needed.  And it is a clear call that should be taken up by the presidential candidates and the different political parties, all of whom should be proposing mechanisms to gain the positive and needed goals.


As well, business and industry should initiate clear actions that would show their willingness to truly participate.  This with policies and actions such as the avoidance of mass layoffs, respect for workers’ rights, better salaries, and job creation so that the unemployed can find work and stay in Mexico.


Only then might the people back the Pact of Chapultepec.



Enrique Andrade, a Mexico City-based attorney and business consultant, writes a weekly column for MexiData.info.  He can be reached via e-mail at enriqueag@andradep.com.