Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, March 25, 2013

Agreed: Mexico's president is new, maybe

Journalists seem to agree that President Peña Nieto is not acting like previous presidents. Oh, except that maybe he's acting like previous PRI presidents.

How do your students evaluate this analysis? How does the Mexican political system (regime and politics), as described here, differ from the systems in the other countries your students are studying?

New Leader Taps Mexican Discontent to Press Agenda of Change
It is [a] well of popular frustration… that President Enrique Peña Nieto has tapped in a series of attention-getting moves that he promises will “transform Mexico” and accelerate growth in an economy that has expanded too slowly to lift the country out of the developing world.

He has promised to bring competition and more government oversight to the telecommunications market… Also in the president’s sights is the giant media company Televisa, which dominates broadcasting through four networks… And his government has jailed the boss of the teachers’ union, the largest in Latin America…

It remains to be seen how any of the changes will turn out; Mexico has a long tradition of bold, finely shaped laws that are ultimately watered down or simply not enforced. The telecommunications proposal passed one chamber of Congress late Thursday and is now headed to the Senate.

But it seems clear that Mr. Peña Nieto has banked substantial political capital and bolstered his popularity, which may add momentum to thornier changes he plans, including opening up the state oil monopoly, long a source of national pride, to private investment…

Those who remember the autocratic ways of Mr. Peña Nieto’s party, which governed Mexico for more than 70 years but was then ousted from power for 12, see a presidential power play that may yet deliver results, but with less space for those who disagree.

“His goal is to reshape the power of the presidency,” said Sergio Aguayo, a political analyst at the Colegio de México. “Not to the level it used to be, because that is impossible. But he is a true believer that Mexico needs a ‘presidentialist’ system.”…

Mexico president: Judge my anti-violence strategy in a year
President Enrique Peña Nieto, faced with a gruesome one-day toll of 29 suspected organized crime-related deaths in his country, told reporters Wednesday that Mexicans should give his anti-crime strategy about a year before judging whether it is working.

“In a year, we will be able to take stock, to take measure ... and I think that we will be able to see favorable results, a noticeable reduction,” said Peña Nieto...

Peña Nieto... inherited a bloody war against Mexican drug cartels that claimed at least 70,000 lives in the previous six-year administration... The new president has adjusted the strategy of his predecessor, promising to focus more on the crimes that affect ordinary people. He also plans to create a new “gendarmerie,” or paramilitary police force, to patrol the most dangerous parts of the country.

But that new force will not be operational for a number of months, at least, and the Mexican military remains deployed within its own borders in an effort to keep the peace and help the country’s often-hapless police forces combat the cartels...

The death toll Tuesday showed, once again, that the criminals will not wait...

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