Better Get That Wall Built

By Mark Krikorian on June 11, 2008

A sobering short piece (from a May issue of Latin America Advisor) by George Grayson, a professor of government at William & Mary and one of the nation's top authorities on Mexico's politics (as well as a CIS board member):

President Felipe Calderón is whistling past the graveyard as the Mexican state continues to disintegrate to the point that the violence to date will pale in comparison to what lies ahead. The government, which has forfeited control over key sectors of society, is hemorrhaging legitimacy.

The venal SNTE union has colonized the public schools, thrusting Mexico into last place in reading, science, and mathematics among the 30 OECD members.

Meanwhile, the egregiously corrupt oil workers' union dominates Pemex. This impedes the monopoly's efficiency amid plummeting reserves and a legislative brouhaha over admitting private capital. Minions of self-proclaimed 'legitimate president' Andrés Manuel López Obrador are ready to use sabotage to keep foreign firms away from the nation's iconic black gold.

The 31 states, which PRI chief executives kept in thrall, gained emancipation when Fox swept to power in 2000. Jalisco's governor thumbed his nose at the Constitution by forking over 90 million taxpayer pesos to construct a church sanctuary.

His Veracruz counterpart has lavished funds on the Red Sharks professional soccer team. Mexico state's honcho has flaunted a ban on political TV spots by gorging the airways with self-promoting messages.

The nation's antiquated tax regime means that collections approach a puny 12 percent of GDP—on par with Haiti.

Then there is the ubiquitous violence exemplified by the unsolved murders of hundreds of women in Ciudad Juarez.

Overshadowing the street thugs are the powerful and organized cartels that are undermining an impotent and disorganized state. Drug-related deaths—2,275 in 2007—have soared to 1,186 through May 9. Calderón's pep talks are laudable but ineffective.

The mayhem visited on policemen gives him no alternative but to amplify the role of the armed forces in what is rapidly escalating from desultory skirmishes to no-holds-barred warfare.