Espero estar del lado incorrecto de la historia – Por Carolina Cruz Garza

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(English version below) Julio 2, 2018, Monterrey, N.L.

Desde chica, siempre me ha interesado la historia. Leo vorazmente sobre la historia del siglo XX particularmente la de Europa. Estudié Relaciones Internacionales por ser la carrera más afín a este interés. Al leer sobre la Revolución Francesa o la Segunda Guerra Mundial, siempre me imagino cómo sería vivir esos momentos históricos; me imagino en los zapatos de alguien que estaba del lado “ganador” de la historia. En los zapatos de un luchador revolucionario o de alguien que desde la resistencia se opuso al régimen de Hitler, o albergó a una familia judía.

Hoy, con el resultado de las elecciones de México, espero estar del lado “incorrecto” de la historia. Soy regiomontana, parte de una clase “privilegiada” que tuvo un punto de partida de mucha ventaja sobre el promedio de los mexicanos. Somos una familia unida, con oportunidad de dar la mejor educación y oportunidades a sus hijos. Tuve el privilegio de estudiar en los mejores colegios y universidades y de viajar y aprender diferentes idiomas. Sin embargo, en mi familia también se nos ha enseñado el valor del trabajo duro, de la dedicación y del esfuerzo. Nos enseñaron a no asumir nada y trabajar para merecer. Cuando le llamaba a mi abuelo los domingos siempre me preguntaba “¿Qué estás haciendo?”- si mi respuesta inmediata no era “Trabajando”, me decía “Hay que trabajar… ¡También comes en domingo!”.

Por eso soy parte de los millones de mexicanos que creemos que tener un líder con educación y conocimiento del mundo, con visión amplia y realista de nuestra realidad económica y de nuestra posición en el mundo, nos ayudaría a continuar por el camino del crecimiento económico (aunque fuera poco a poco). Soy parte de los millones, que quizás por los últimos 18 años, hemos votado por el “menos peor”. Soy de los millones de mexicanos que queremos creer que México progresa a pesar de sus gobernantes y gracias al esfuerzo de los millones de mexicanos que se levantan cada día a trabajar honestamente para sacar a sus familias adelante, en la iniciativa privada.

latin_americax_worldxs_leftist_leaders_support_mexicoxs_amlo.jpg_1718483346Hoy soy parte de los mexicanos que nos despertamos sorprendidos a un nuevo México.  No nos sorprende que haya ganado AMLO las elecciones y nos da gusto que el proceso democrático se haya llevado a cabo con relativo orden y una amplia participación ciudadana. Como todos los mexicanos, ya estamos hartos de la corrupción, la impunidad, la inseguridad, y el statu quo. Lo que sí nos sorprende y nos preocupa es el poder que hoy tiene AMLO y Morena en sus manos, porque como muchos mexicanos, no creemos en un mesías, y no olvidamos el pasado.  No olvidamos también los muchos movimientos que comenzaron por este mismo camino y la historia nos comprobó que al final fueron devastadores para el pueblo.

Hoy más que nunca me levanto con ganas de seguir trabajando y luchando por este México ideal. Mientras espero estar en el lado “incorrecto” de la historia, no me quedaré esperando. Seguiré trabajando para hacer cumplir este México que soñamos. Hoy más que nunca debemos mantener la guardia alta. No olvidemos que “El poder tiende a corromper, y el poder absoluto corrompe absolutamente” (Lord Acton, Inglaterra). No dejemos que todo ese poder que ayer los mexicanos depositaron en Morena, se vuelva un arma en nuestra contra.

Hoy espero que AMLO, Morena y México me pongan del lado incorrecto de la historia, pero no me quedaré esperando. No dejaré de trabajar por el bien de mi país, de mi ciudad y de mi familia y los invito a hacer lo mismo. Sigamos adelante, apoyando donde haya buenas ideas y resistiendo activamente donde no.

Carolina Cruz Garza es es Lic. en Relaciones Internacionales con maestría en negocios europeos. Es mexicana, esposa de un mexicano y orgullosa madre de tres niños mexicanos. Carolina es consultora de negocios en materia de gestión del cambio y comunicación.

I HOPE TO BE ON THE WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY, By Carolina Cruz Garza.

July 2nd, 2018, Monterrey, N.L.

 

Ever since I was a small girl, I’ve always been a fan of history. I particularly love to read about 20th century European history. I studied International Relations in university because of this personal love for history.

When I read about the French Revolution or World War II, I always imagine how it would have been like living through these historical times. I imagine what it must have felt like to be on the “winning” side of history and I put myself in the shoes of a courageous revolutionary, a member of the resistance against Hitler’s regime or one of the brave people who harbored Jewish families during the Holocaust putting their own lives at risk because they knew it was the right thing to do.

After witnessing the results of Mexico’s 2018 presidential elections, today I hope to be in the “wrong” side of history. I come from Monterrey and I am part of a “privileged” class with much more than an upper hand versus the average Mexican citizen. I am part of a tightly knit family which has been able to give its kids access to quality education and opportunities. I’ve had the privilege of studying in the best schools and universities, I’ve traveled around the world and enjoyed learning different languages. While I don’t deny having this privilege, I am also part of a family which teaches the value of hard work, dedication and effort. I’ve been taught never to assume anything and to work hard to deserve what I achieve. When my grandfather was still alive, I would call him on Sundays and he would always ask “what are you doing?”… If my immediate answer was not “working, grandpa”, I would be met with an emphatic “You should be working even if it’s Sunday. You still eat on Sunday, don’t you?”

I am one of the millions of Mexicans who believe that in order to further our economic development, we should have a knowledgeable leader, with a developed world view, a wide vision and real understanding of our economic reality and our role in the global stage. I am one of the millions of Mexicans who, at least for the last 18 years, have voted for “the least worst candidate.” I am one of the millions of Mexicans who want to believe that Mexico can advance despite its government representatives and thanks to the efforts of millions of Mexicans who wake up every day and pour their hearts out to keep their families afloat, doing honest work within the private sector.

Today, I am one of the millions of Mexicans who woke up in amazement and facing a new version of Mexico. We are not amazed that López Obrador won and we’re actually grateful and proud that we went through a relatively peaceful electoral process with ample civic participation. Like all Mexicans, we are fed up with the rampant corruption, impunity, insecurity and status quo. What is amazing and quite frankly, worrying, is the amount of power that López and his party Morena, now hold (having locked in large portions of the upper and lower house of Congress). Like many Mexicans, I don’t believe in the messianic presidential figure and I don’t forget the past. I also don’t forget about similar “movements” which went down similar paths to the one being drawn by López and which resulted in devastation and misery for the people.

Today, more than any other day, I woke up with a will to keep working and fighting for a better, even ideal Mexico. While I hope to be on the “wrong” side of history, I don’t intend to wait for it. I will keep working for the Mexico we’ve dreamed about and want for our children. Today, more than ever, we need to keep our guards up, lest we forget that “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord Acton, UK). It is our responsibility to ensure that all the power that a voting majority of Mexicans gave to Morena yesterday, does not become a weapon against our country.

Today I hope López, Morena and Mexico place me in the wrong side of history, but I don’t intend to wait for it. I will not stop working for my country, my city and my family and I hope you don’t either. Let’s keep moving forward, providing support to good ideas and actively resisting bad ones.

Carolina Cruz holds a masters in European Business and a BA in International Relations. She is a Mexican woman, married to a Mexican man and the proud mother of three Mexican kids. Carolina is a business consultant specializing in Change Management and Communication.

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The Credibility Vacuum: Mexico’s 2012 Presidential Race

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Here is a link to my latest article on AQBlog, titled “The Credibility Vacuum: Mexico’s 2012 Presidential Race” , published on Nov 28th, 2011. Please feel free to visit and comment.

Here is a verbatim copy of it in case you prefer to read it on my personal blog, though I recommend actually going to the site because of additional content, other blogger’s articles, etc.

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No matter the outcome, Mexico’s next president will not have the needed credentials to effectively run this country and neither will the majority parties that compose Congress. Mexico’s political system has entered a credibility vacuum.

These first lines sound fatalist but the real intention here is to prepare and alert the Mexican citizenry of the ever-present need of their active involvement in placing the country on the right track. It has always been simplistic to leave this up to the government and now more than ever, it will be futile to think they would be able to at a federal level.

The 2012 presidential race in Mexico will have three relevant frontrunners: Enrique Peña Nieto (PRI), Andrés Manuel López Obrador (PRD) and if the most recent polls stay the same until February, Josefina Vázquez Mota for PAN.

Vázquez Mota is facing an upstream battle. Of the three, she is the candidate with the least experience, the least media exposure and she has never occupied a publicly-elected government position. Moreover, she carries with her allegiance to a party which in the eyes of many, has failed to capitalize on the democratic transition. The political cost of Vicente Fox’ dormant presidency and Felipe Calderón’s war on drugs-related fatalities puts her in the worst position to win the race. Recent state elections in Estado de México, Coahuila, Nayarit, and Michoacán where the PRI came out victorious, foreshadow PAN’s likely inability to maintain the presidency after 2012. On the off-chance that she could pull it off, Vázquez Mota would govern with a PRI-majority Congress, which most likely would hinder her ability to put forth any relevant changes (same as what happened to Vicente Fox). Vázquez Mota may be the right woman for the job, but she’s in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Though López Obrador’s abandoning of his divisive rhetoric from 2006 gained him a second attempt at the presidency from leftist parties (against my forecasting, I might add), today his flip-flopping positions make him the least credible candidate. His impeachment when he headed the Mexico City government, his irresponsible indebting of the city for his populist gains and his sketchy financing for the past five years make his track record and his current platform incompatible. Moreover, those with a bit of memory will not forgive his utter disregard for the rule of law during the last post-electoral period. 

In the last elections Calderón was able to beat López not because of votes for the PAN candidate but because Calderón was perceived as the “useful vote” for people who wanted to keep a radical López out of the presidency at all costs.  Ironically, with the PAN’s current weak position and López’ confrontational delivery toning down, in 2012 he will likely be the recipient of many anti-PRI votes, possibly enough to get him to power.

If this is the case, Mexico will have yet another demagogue as president; one who has promised too much to too many divergent interest groups in order to try to get a critical mass of support; he will face a real challenge in being able to deliver. His bold statements on creating “a Republic of Love,” getting the armed forces off the streets in six months and creating 4 million jobs in six weeks have been called irresponsible by respected analysts. Add to this the fact that like Vázquez, his every move would most likely be blocked by a PRI Congress.

The third player is Enrique Peña Nieto, the custom-built candidate from the PRI. Called out by López as a “junk-food candidate,” he currently has the favored standing position to win the presidency, though it will most likely end up being a very close race.

Peña’s slick young look and his recent marriage to soap opera star Angélica Rivera equate the couple to the Ken and Barbie of Mexican politics. But what does Peña represent? For one, the return of a party where over 70 years of absolute rule is considered by many the root cause of the current organized crime proliferation in the country. PRI has been gaining ground at a state and municipal level under the banner of “we did know how to govern” and “we controlled (co-opted) the narcos” because citizens have not been able to grasp the benefits of a transition in power and they are tired of the war on drugs.

Related to this, President Calderón has been candid in warning Mexico of the possibility of collusion between drug lords and the PRI should they regain power. As recent allegations of organized crime intrusions favoring PRI in elections in Michoacán show, Calderón’s warnings may not be so far-fetched. Peña Nieto’s candidacy is also tainted by the fact that he will run under a coalition with the PANAL (Partido Nuevo Alianza) supported by Elba Esther Gordillo, president of the SNTE, the combatant teacher’s union and one of Mexico’s most despised political characters.  Rumors of Carlos Salinas de Gortari backing Peña’s candidacy and accusations of Peña’s involvement in the death of his first wife, Monica Petrelini, also warn us of the return of the PRI of old. In addition, TV media moguls and other oligarchs will side with Peña Nieto in order to push him into Los Pinos.

In laymen’s terms Mexicans will have a choice in 2012 to vote for the woman who can’t win, the demagogue who can’t deliver or the pretty boy with shady friends.  In Mexico we are used to voting for the lesser of evils but this time it might be the hardest choice of all.  Given the current scenario, the real challenge will be for the rest of the relevant actors (private enterprise, NGOs, special interest groups, media, universities, trustworthy state and municipal authorities, etc.) to build and achieve progress in spite of the credibility vacuum at the top of the government… and hope for a better race in 2018.

*Arjan Shahani is a contributing blogger to AmericasQuarterly.org. He lives in Monterrey, Mexico, and is an MBA graduate from Thunderbird University and Tecnológico de Monterrey and a member of the International Advisory Board of Global Majority—an international non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of non-violent conflict resolution.

Return of the Divider: López Obrador Kicks Off Again

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Here is a link to my latest article on AQBlog, titled “Return of the Divider: López Obrador Kicks Off Again”

http://americasquarterly.org/node/2403 , published on April 20th, 2011. Please feel free to visit and comment.

Here’s a copy of it:

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Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) refused to accept defeat in the 2006 Mexican presidential race, causing chaos, dividing our citizenry with messages of hate and tolerating violence from his supporters. But it seems Mexico is ready to give him another try at the top seat of government.

When he ran in 2006, López Obrador was able to rally together practically all leftist factions and political parties. However, the election aftermath and López Obrador’s shift toward extremism caused many of his supporters to abandon him and to look for a more rational social discourse.  López Obrador’s current inability to maintain consensus even within his own political party is one of the main reasons why today the Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD) is a weakened organization and keeps juggling with on-and-off alliances with its offspring (Partido del Trabajo, Convergencia, Partido Social Demócrata, and other small political parties).

Since the PRD would not institutionally carry him, López Obrador recently created a new platform, called the Movimiento de Regeneración Nacional (National Regeneration Movement), or Morena for short, which coincidentally translates to “dark-skinned woman” and is a reference to the Virgen de Guadalupe (Virgen Morena). Through Morena, López Obrador is once again appealing to the disheartened lower classes and sowing seeds of division with over-simplified, anti-business messages.

Though it is certainly true that in Mexico a huge gap between rich and poor continues to exist, it is a distortion of reality to wholly blame the private sector. For one, the government is not broke, nor does it lack the resources to spearhead development initiatives. For another, it significantly taxes the private sector. Money is there, but political will is absent.

Here’s the truth: In select industries, the Mexican private sector is taxed at a rate of up to 50 percent of its income. Yet business groups are arguably the largest promoters of development today, not just through creation of formal employment but through partnerships in large infrastructure projects, as well as promoting education and establishing corporate social responsibility programs (often more efficiently managed than most municipal budgets). Private enterprise is also one of the few captive taxpayers in a country where the informal sector amounts to approximately 25 percent of our economically active population and many government officials get automatic tax exemptions.

So what is Morena telling Mexico? Through its website, the party is accusing 16 Mexican businessmen of being personally responsible for what it calls “the national tragedy.” Among the named culprits are Ricardo Salinas Pliego from Grupo Salinas, Dionisio Garza Medina from Grupo Alfa, Emilio Azcárraga Jean from Televisa, Grupo BIMBO CEO Lorenzo Servitje, FEMSA President José Antonio Fernández Carbajal, Cemex CEO Lorenzo Zambrano, and Carlos Slim Helú, who heads Grupo Carso. 

Andrés Manuel López Obrador purports to offer “proof of responsibility” for this supposed tragedy by listing the approximate monetary values of the companies led by these men. Let me say that again: AMLO’s proof of these men’s participation in what he calls the national tragedy is the fact that they are able to run companies successfully and collectively provide employment to more than half a million people directly. Of course, López Obrador fails to mention the companies’ contributions to the economy and urban development, the benefits they provide their workers and their efforts to positively engage communities.

Morena’s hymn sings, “The Right must not alter the results of the elections. In order to avoid their frauds all we need is to organize against them.” It goes on to say “National Regeneration Movement: peaceful until the end.” But in Morena’s homepage we see an endorsement of the Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas, an electrical workers’ union that has perpetuated violent conflict in Mexico City, including recently setting cars on fire, sabotaging the city’s electrical infrastructure and beating up Comisión Federal de Electricidad employees who took their jobs after Luz y Fuerza del Centro was dissolved.

At a time when what we need most is unity behind a constructive nation-state project, the return of the divider is a hard blow for our future and an irony of our political present.

*Arjan Shahani is a contributing blogger to AQ Online. He lives in Monterrey, Mexico, and is an MBA graduate from Thunderbird University and Tecnológico de Monterrey and a member of the International Advisory Board of Global Majority—an international non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of non-violent conflict resolution.