Electing a new president won’t solve Mexico’s problems

Mexicans must use their indignation as fuel for collective action that strikes at the root of the nation’s problems, which cannot be solved merely by replacing one president with another, an author and journalist said.

“I think the problem is focusing everything on the presidential election. Believing that in 2018 all of (Mexico’s) problems will be solved with a change of president,” Diego Enrique Osorno said in an interview with EFE.

The 36-year-old journalist made his remarks in the border city of Tijuana, where he presented the latest edition of his book “Oaxaca sitiada” (Besieged Oaxaca).

He first wrote the work a decade ago to tell the story of a 2006 uprising in that impoverished, largely Indian-populated state against then-Gov. Ulises Ruiz.

That protest movement, which had begun in May of that year with a teachers’ strike, was crushed by thousands of federal police and troops in November 2006 but not before a score of people – mostly Ruiz opponents – had been killed and the demonstrations had caused millions of dollars in lost tourism revenue for picturesque Oaxaca city.

Ruiz had been accused of rigging the 2004 election that brought him to power and became even more reviled when police used force to break up a sit-in protest by teachers in the main square of Oaxaca city.

The uprising occurred “precisely at a time when we had the sense that we were already experiencing a new democratic era and there would be no more authoritarianism,” Osorno said.

But those expectations triggered by the victory of Vicente Fox of the conservative National Action Party (PAN) in the 2000 presidential election, a triumph that brought an end to the decades-old, largely unchallenged hegemony of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), were shattered when people realized the persistent authoritarianism and corruption in places like Oaxaca.

“Over the long run, I wouldn’t have imagined that that corruption and that authoritarianism that existed in Oaxaca would be so commonplace in Mexico,” Osorno said, alluding to the large number of governors who have been implicated in corruption cases in recent years.

Referring to civil liberties, the author said there was no doubt that people are more able to question and denounce those in power today than 20 or 30 years ago.

Even so, he said that more Mexican reporters than ever before are being killed for exercising those rights.

Osorno also referred to the widespread outrage over the May 15 murder of Javier Valdez, a veteran, award-winning journalist known for his coverage of organized crime, saying that there is an increasing level of determination to “transform the pain, the wrongs that people have experienced throughout the country, into organized indignation.”

He noted that several journalists have proposed setting up spaces for dialogue in June with the aim of “doing something collectively.”

A lot of ideas have been discussed, including the establishment of an international mechanism to supervise investigations of heinous crimes and corruption, the author said.


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