I will be very interested to see what happens with this project for reform of the Federal Transparency Institute. I’m of the opinion that the push toward transparency (which I’ve experienced first hand in working with formerly classified archival material) has been the biggest and most meaningful shift in Mexican political culture post-2000. Democracy hasn’t meant a lot in terms of electoral practice, nor has there been a significant change in economic models, but there has been–or at least I perceive–a shift toward accountability and openness that has broad support and is now pretty firmly entrenched. Maybe I’m wrong, but a strengthened IFAI strikes me as a good thing, and I think Peña Nieto is simply reading the tea leaves on this.
Disgraced former governor of Coahuila and former Secretary General of the PRI, Humberto Moreira apparently has a new shameless trick: requesting a scholarship from the wildly corrupt SNTE teachers union to study languages abroad. Moreira, a former teacher, left Coahuila’s finances in ruins as governor, though managed to hide the scandal until after he had left office (though he successfully passed power to his brother). His shady dealings nevertheless caught up with him and he was forced to resign the leadership of the PRI. The request for a scholarship from a man who certainly does not lack for resources is so incredibly cynical that it boggles the imagination.
Source: Animal Político
It was hardly surprising that Peña Nieto’s inauguration this Saturday sparked protests across Mexico City, and it was only slightly more surprising that some of those protests turned violent. Two things have become painfully clear since then:
1) The police were woefully unprepared and did not act with great aplomb. The abuses and unjustified arrests that occurred seem to me less a signal of a repressive plot than a police force that was overwhelmed. Yes, the police acted reprehensibly, and apparently grabbed and beat anyone they could catch, regardless of involvement in any criminal action, but that is hardly a new phenomenon.* Nevertheless, the pressure is definitely on the new government to resolve this quickly and justly before it becomes the sort of human rights violation that was a hallmark of the old PRI administrations.
2) The reports and rumors of dirty tricks are credible. The first report yesterday that anarchist groups received 300 pesos to commit vandalism rings true, and suggests an effort to discredit the protests–an old PRI strategy to be sure. Hopefully it’s nothing more than an isolated incident and not an indication of what the next six years will look like.
* Studies of 1968 have argued that at the start of the movement, the police repression that helped drive the growth of the protests was not an organized effort from the upper echelons of government, but rather the chaotic response to a situation for which the police were wholly unprepared; see Ariel Rodríguez Kuri’s work.