Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Mexico's political system

There was a lot of press coverage recently about a referendum in which the overwhelming majority of people voting in Mexico rejected the idea of privatization of the oil industry.

While the debate about the oil industry's future is a really big deal, the referendum is not.

This, however, is a big deal for the government and the regime.

Mexican military losing drug war support

"OJINAGA, Mexico – This hardscrabble Mexican border town welcomed 400 soldiers when they arrived four months ago to stop a wave of drug violence that brought daytime gunbattles to its main street.

"But then the soldiers themselves turned violent, townspeople say, ransacking homes and even torturing people.

"The frustration boiled over this week. More than 1,000 people marched through the streets carrying signs begging President Felipe Calderón for protection from his own troops.

"Ojinaga, across the Rio Grande from Presidio, Texas, is not alone. People in cities on the front lines of Mexico's battle against trafficking say they are increasingly frustrated with military tactics – a shift in opinion that threatens to undermine Calderón's nationwide crackdown...

"A poll published June 30 by the newspaper El Diario of Ciudad Juarez found that only 18 percent of those living in Juarez completely approved of the army's presence. Two months earlier, the number was 65 percent. The poll, by Confirme, had a margin of error of 5 percentage points...

"A $400 million drug-war aid package just approved by the U.S. Congress does not require the U.S. to verify that Mexico's military is respecting human rights, as many American lawmakers and Mexican human rights groups had insisted.

"The requirement was dropped at the insistence of Mexican officials, who said it would violate the country's sovereignty..."

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