Tuesday, June 27

Corruption in Mexican politics

"Millions of poor Mexicans have been threatened with exclusion from health care and social assistance programs if they do not vote for various [political] candidates ... Others, mostly in rural areas, have been given cash payoffs of $40 to $60 for their votes, a tidy sum in a country where the poorest families subsist on less than $4 a day," writes Manuel Roig-Franzia in yesterday’s Washington Post ( Dirty Politics 'Ingrained' in Mexico)

Roig-Franzia reports that coercion is so pervasive in Mexican politics that it could swing the outcome of the July 2 election. Yet the article also cites informed opinion that corruption is slowly being rolled back in Mexico; many Mexicans are fighting hard for genuine democratic elections and they intend to keep up the fight.

One of the Mexicans interviewed by Roig-Franzia observed, "In a democracy you have to fight for democracy every day."

That Mexican gets it; why don’t more Americans get it with regard to their southern neighbor?

Pundita believes that the most effective solution to illegal Mexican immigration is for the US government to use all available means to encourage genuine democracy in Mexico. That’s because I am looking at what is best for Mexico and for America’s long-term interests. Yet too many Americans are only concerned about obtaining dirt-cheap labor. So they throw their energy into debates about which immigration bill is ‘fairest’ for Mexicans.

Hello, what’s fairest is that Mexicans live in a prosperous democratic nation -- one that doesn’t have to send its citizens to perform menial labor in another country for coolie wages. But Mexico can’t prosper until grossly corrupt government and election practices have been stopped.

Much of the battle simply revolves around getting information to more Mexicans about how corruption works against their best interests. So I’d like to see more of America’s concerned citizens do the right thing, the fair thing, by channeling their concern for Mexico’s downtrodden into programs that are actually best for Mexicans. That’s what it means to be good neighbor.

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