FT Latin America editor John Paul Rathbone has written another excellent column from Mexico City. This one made the regular pages of the Financial Times. He writes about his visit last Sunday to Mexico City’s Azteca football stadium to watch the finale of the PRI candidate’s campaign for president.
Among the 100,000-strong crowd, there were taxi drivers; wizened campesinos with the complexions of raisins; mariachi performers; families on a day outing; and well-fed men in well-cut clothes exuding a quiet air of entitlement from behind their wraparound sunglasses. These are the fat-cat union leaders, colloquially known as “dinosaurs”, who seem to get their claws into whatever public money is around and form the backbone of Mr [Enrique] Peña [Nieto]’s party, the Institutional Revolutionary party. The PRI governed Mexico for an impressively corrupt, uninterrupted 71 years until the 2000 election. Its defeat ushered in democracy but not the dinosaurs’ extinction.
That so many people came to the rally spoke of the PRI’s still impressive political machinery. Yet when I asked Pompeyo Hernandez, my neighbour in the bleachers, why he was there, he said: “The bus was free but I’m not going to vote for the PRI.” It made me wonder how powerful the machine really was.
John Paul Rathbone, “Greene was right: Mexico can gain power and glory“, Financial Times, 29 June 2012.
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The PRI will most likely regain the presidency in this Sunday’s elections. Has the PRI become more democratic, less authoritarian, less corrupt?. Mr Rathbone thinks that “transformation … is always possible…. Everywhere, there is always hope”. I am less optimistic.