The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) ruled Mexico since 1929 til 2000. The men who founded that party based their political ideals on democracy, justice, equality, distribution of wealth and a constant fight for the Mexicans’ well being. Somewhere in the process, their ideals and goals were overthrown by an indulgence of power and privileges. As an official party and few to none political competitors, PRI enjoyed of continuity for their projects. Some were realistic and achievable (social stability, strengthening the oil state company), other were unrealistic (relying on local economy and oil reserves against international competitors). It can be agreed that in their way, somewhere between the late 60s and the early 80s, those in charge lost social ground.
Even among them, regardless of sharing the power that the perfect dictatorship was giving them (term coined by Vargas Llosa), there were some breaks happening. An old, traditional/paternalist wing of the PRI suddenly had to face the internationally educated technocrats (following a neo liberal approach aligned to Reagan’s “Corporate America” model). The paternalist model followed since the 40s til the early 80s was unsustainable due to a lack of internal reinvestment and little interest to open to the international market. The technocrats proposed to open Mexican industries to foreign investment, privatization, free trade agreements and diminishing subsidies to the most essential (but also most fragile) industries in the country. This model, attractive in the short term, was formalized with the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement in the early 90s; rushed by the Salinas’ administration. The ‘perfect dictatorship’ drifted smoothly from a revolutionary and social approach to a neoliberal, very individualistic, model. This model has been very beneficial, (don’t get me wrong) amazing results, great revenue, long term return of investment, never ending business opportunities… but only for a few individuals.
In 2000, Mexican democracy brought the right wing party into power, the National Action Party (PAN). It seemed that those few, benefited by the neoliberal project, will have to postpone their plans of investment.
Only twelve years were those neoliberal dreams put on hold. Mexicans reinstated the PRI (1st of July, 2012), they chose stepping back in time, following the belief that “we are used to be screw over by these guys, why risk it?”. Maybe this was a reasonable option for some, as choosing a ‘socialist’ alternative would have revealed that face of Mexico that they don’t want to see. A very poor Mexico, unbalanced, raped, unattended, starving, forgotten, full of filthy, dirty, brown looking Mexicans reaching their hands for a little help.
It’s a shame. Some say that nations have the government that they deserve. I disagree, Mexico doesn’t deserve the government that will be leading them for the next six years. Time will tell, it’s Mexicans’ duty to look closely, to question, to challenge, to judge their government. And maybe, the ghosts of those men who founded PRI will whisper some of their political ideals of democracy, justice, equality, distribution of wealth and a constant fight for the Mexicans’ well being to Mexico’s new head of state.
Did I also mention that during those 70 years, those who were against the PRI faced repression, imprisonment and/or death?