López Obrador Shifts Gears at Monterrey Speech

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Here is a link to my latest article on AQBlog, titled “López Obrador Shifts Gears at Monterrey Speech
, published on Oct 12th, 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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In an unlikely stop in his pre-campaign trail, Andrés Manuel López Obrador made a quick visit to the industrial, private sector-intensive city of Monterrey last week. This is hostile territory for López, since the state of Nuevo León has not traditionally sympathized with the leftists parties with which he has associated (PRD, PT, Convergencia). His visit gathered around 1,200 middle- and upper-class listeners. Some were supporters, but most were just curious as I gathered from the low intensity of response to applause moments during the event.

His message was somewhat different from his usual populist rhetoric. The radio and TV spots, as well as his speech in Monterrey have all toned down. Wearing a slick suit and tie (as opposed to his usual more down to earth Guayaberas) and talking to the business community, López portrayed himself as a modern leftist, blaming the media for showcasing him as an “enemy of the wealthy.” One of his new soundbites states “I am not against businessmen. I am against wrongfully accumulated wealth.” López is not clear about what he means when he says that wealth is wrongfully accumulated, but he did mention a couple of specific targets as culprits: large media corporations Televisa, Telmex and TV Azteca and the PRI and PAN bureaucrats.

 López accused Televisa and TV Azteca of controlling the news, limiting his exposure and pushing PRI’s Enrique Peña Nieto as their candidate in order to maintain control of Mexico. In his words, Peña Nieto is “the candidate of the power monopoly.”

While López is definitely right in saying that mainstream media in Mexico is biased, this bias holds true for both media that love and loath him. In this sense, he is no more a victim of the media than any other politician. He’s just become less effective at wooing most of them. You don’t see him complaining about all the media coverage he used to get when he headed Mexico City’s executive and knew how to play the media’s game.

Moreover, he really can’t blame newspapers and TV for having a tarnished image. Because it wasn’t the media that blocked Mexico City’s Paseo de la Reforma or kidnapped Mexico City’s Zocalo (Main Square) to install the famous National Democratic Convention after López decided that a majority vote against him meant that someone had stolen the election. At the time he called this “peaceful civil resistance” and in all fairness, he did send out messages to his followers asking them not to fall into any type of provocation that would lead to violence… but creating chaos and blocking business? No problem!

López’ post-2006 election antics were undoubtedly a political mistake. In a poll by EL UNIVERSAL 71 percent of Mexicans disagreed with López and the PRD’s attempt at blocking Calderón from accepting the presidency in the Mexican Congress. Nobody likes a sore loser and everybody hates a sore loser who gets in their way and paralyzes a city. And yes, most people disagree with López creating a fantasy “legitimate government” and taking a monthly paycheck from obscure sources over six years in order to keep campaigning for 2012, making him an intricate part of that “putrid system” he so vocally opposes.

During the recent event in Monterrey, López cynically defended taking a city hostage as a means to control the rage of supporters after “Calderón stole the election.” His pitch is that millions of people were ready to take arms to defend his “legitimate government” so he had to do something. I guess walking away and accepting facts was not in the cards. When did organizing blockades of banks and other businesses—costing a city millions of pesos in damages and commercial transactions lost—and causing chaos in highways and main streets become an appeasement tactic? Fact: in 2006, López showed his rabble-rouser face and most of Mexico didn’t like it, so now he’s changing up his game and telling a different story.

In Monterrey he attacked Televisa, TV Azteca and Telmex of wrongfully accumulating wealth, but he went on to say that they should be allowed to accumulate more of it by letting Telmex enter the TV business and Televisa explore going into VoIP, because “that promotes open competition.” He also said that if he reaches the presidency, he “will not expropriate anything or anybody. What we will have, is more competition.” This is an unlikely sales pitch from somebody who within the first five minutes of his speech called neoliberalism “a policy of greed.”

It is obvious that López is once again trying to reach out to non-hard line supporters and undecided voters from the center-left, center and center-right ideologies, as he claims that the “MoReNa movement” he heads is inclusive and welcomes all schools of thought and creed. During his speech he also called for more efficiency and competitiveness in the energy sector. That’s a real hard sell coming from him. López cannot be the appeasement, open market and competitiveness candidate and at the same time attack economic liberalism and support the legally extinct but still combative SME (Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas), one of the main sources of incompetence in the energy sector. Mr. López, you can’t have it both ways.

In his closing remarks, López’ proposals included putting young people to work, combating corruption, better coordination between military and police forces, better coordination between federal and state authorities, and alleviating poverty. All important issues, yes, but do enough people believe that López is the one who would actually solve them? Within the political left, Marcelo Ebrard seems a more likely candidate. And even in the unlikely event of him regaining the people’s trust, López is a little late in the game to shift gears. Plus, his clunker might have taken too big of a beating in 2006 to catch up.

*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.

Ventana de 30 días

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Publicado en EL NORTE, 20:54 hrs. [comentarios personales entre corchetes]

Monterrey,  México (6 septiembre 2011).-  El Alcalde de Monterrey, Fernando Larrazabal, aceptó solicitar licencia a su cargo por un periodo de 30 días para que se investigue el caso de la entrega de dinero de representantes de centros de apuestas a su hermano Jonás Larrazabal.  [Es sólo un mes… ojalá se aproveche para esclarecer muchas dudas que tiene la ciudadanía. Si no se logra nada en este periodo, el Edil volverá diciendo “ya ven, no había nada” cuando todo apunta a lo contrario]

Luego de una reunión sostenida esta tarde con el líder nacional del PAN, Gustavo Madero, se tomó esta decisión que también incluye a Miguel Ángel García Domínguez, Secretario de Desarrollo Humano del Municipio de Monterrey. [La verdad es que debería de abarcar a su equipo directo. La decisión del PAN de sacar del reflector sólo a los que ya han pescado primera plana, demuestra que más que buscar la verdad se está trabajando en apaciguar al cuarto poder] 

De acuerdo a un comunicado del partido, la solicitud de licencia se hizo extensiva también al Gobernador de Nuevo León, Rodrigo Medina, de extracción priista para que al igual que lo hará Acción Nacional coadyuve de esta forma a darle mayor transparencia y combate a la impunidad en el caso del incendio del Casino Royale. [Por más se pudiera abogar que Medina ha sido ineficiente e inefectivo en la lucha al crímen organizado, a él no lo han pescado en videos recibiendo cajitas de NEXTEL con lana o saliendo de reuniones con los implicados… todavía (o si lo pescaron ha podido hacer que no se ventile en los medios. La solicitud de licencia por parte de AN a Medina es politiquilla y un intento de tratar de repartir la mierda con la que se siente manchado ahorita el PAN. El PRI y el PRD  han hecho lo mismo en otras instancias… iluso pensaba que Acción Nacional no se bajaría a ese nivel]

“Se le pide al Gobernador del Estado que también solicite licencia para que se aclaren las eventuales responsabilidades de sus subordinados, en acciones de posible corrupción e ineficiencia de los órganos de seguridad pública y protección de su Administración”, establece el comunicado.

La decisión de Larrazabal se da luego que el Comité Ejecutivo del blanquiazul votara de forma secreta para que Gustavo Madero, líder nacional de ese partido, pidiera al Alcalde regio la separación de su cargo y evitar un golpeteo político en contra de la institución. [Entonces no es tanto que Larrazabal esté pidiendo licencia, sino que su Partido se la dicta. Seamos claros al respecto]

De acuerdo a fuentes consultadas, que estuvieron en la reunión, se solicitó que Gustavo Madero tuviera un encuentro con Larrazabal en el que le planteara esta decisión que fue propuesta principalmente por el diputado Javier Corral, el senador Javier Camarillo y ex legislador Juan José Rodríguez Prats.

La decisión de Larrazabal y García Domínguez se da luego que esta mañana el Presidente Municipal dijera, después de una reunión de Cabildo, que se mantendría en su cargo pues las acusaciones son simplemente un chantaje del empresario Sergio Gil, propietario del Casino Red, ya que la autoridad municipal le ha aplicado la ley a su establecimiento por no cumplir con todos los requisitos. [¿En serio? ¿les han aplicado la ley? Estaría bien hacer inspecciones de dichos establecimientos para ver si es cierto… Estoy seguro que nos toparíamos con varias sorpresas como las del Casino Royale].

La renuncia de funcionarios de gobierno NO es la solución. Tal vez sea un mal necesario para aplicar la justicia y procurar un espacio en que la legalidad vuelva a tener el lugar que debería en cualquier país que presume gozar de estado de derecho, pero si Larrazabal vuelve o no, si lograr sacar a Rodrigo Medina… no hará nada en torno a sanear los procesos y el sistema social que hoy está roto.  Por lo pronto, está a prueba durante 30 días… en ese inter, busquemos soluciones REALES a los problemas de verdad, a los que están mucho más enrraizados que un gobernante en turno.

Quick note on ‘Casino Royale’

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Dear readers,

As most of you already know, today is a very sad day for the city of Monterrey and the whole of Mexico. Since yesterday, some of you have asked me whether or not I was going to write about the Casino Royale massacre for Americas Quarterly.

While at first it was hard to do so, given a state of numbness I believe I had to go through in order to process it, I have written a piece on this subject and sent it to AQBlog’s editing director (just a couple of minutes ago).

I will let you know via Facebook and Twitter when it goes online.

Thank you for your interest. Other www.arjanshahani.wordpress.com content will go on as planned.

Keep you head up.

A powerful, sad but true article on Mexican media under fire

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This topic has been looming around in my head for some time now. Though I am not a media reporter or journalist, the story hits home due to my editorial blog participation with Americas Quarterly.

I must admit that I’ve even censored some commentary and skewed away from particular stories in order to protect myself and my family and I don’t even discuss specifics in any of my blog posts (in part because I don’t have them, but also because I like to discuss the challenges more from a systemic point of view than going after particular cases).

I don’t get paid for my words in AQBlog, I participate voluntarily because it is my way to try to contribute to the path my country should be taking on different subjects, including the rise of violence and insecurity. Self-censorship due to fear is a VERY real situation in Mexico right now, and it is not at all unfounded.

I seriously recommend reading the full article, of which I provide an initial excerpt here:

(Reuters) – After a news report detailing the capture of several members of Mexico’s ruthless Zetas drug gang ran on television in the northern city of Monterrey, the reporter’s phone rang.

“My job isn’t to warn you, it’s to kill you. If you carry on with this, we’re going to run into each other,” the anonymous voice warned just days after the story aired.

“They knew everything about me, where I lived, how many kids I have and their names,” said the journalist, who asked not to be identified by name.

For the last two years, northeastern Mexico’s Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas states have been ravaged by bloody battles between rival drug gangs and horrific massacres of migrants. But don’t expect to read much about it in the local media.

Reporters in large swathes of the country now censor their own coverage, fearful of reprisals by ruthless drug gangs and corrupt police on their payroll.

Read the full article here.