miércoles, 11 de abril de 2012

Democracy afterwards

Pursuing his own purposes, nineteen century Mexican dictator, Porfirio Díaz, declared once that Mexico wasn’t ready for democracy; in consequence, he must rule the country until the right moment for the time of the transition. At the end of his dictatorship amid several social rebellions and general disorder along the country, the old general told to the American journalist James Creelman, in an interview for The Pearson's Magazine, that the country was ready for democracy. Of course, Díaz was just bragging because the country was about to burn in a set of revolutionary explosions north and south, east and west. It was the beginning of Mexican revolution. After that, the country gained everything but democracy. Instead, Mexican citizens obtained the perfect dictatorship (Nobel Prize Mario Vargas Llosa dixit) of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Revolutionary Institutional Party) or PRI by his Spanish acronym.  There were seventy years of an authoritarian regime, full of corruption, inefficiency and disdain for the citizens.
A century later, Díaz's asseveration unfortunately has proven to be right: there are not enough conditions to such a system to be fruitful in Mexican soil. Let me make my point. It is not because there aren’t formal institutions like political parties, a federal office in charge of elections, a central management of secret ballot, a national deputy office to survey, investigate and punish irregularities along elections time, and so on. The problem is much more deep and disturbing: there is no majority of citizens to the level of the quest. Because democracy is much more than regular voting, long and expensive campaigns and a mass media blast of spots, news and comments. Mainly, it is a state of mind. It’s a belief-to-action process which central concept is commonwealth. In the age of globalization, citizenship means solidarity with the other unknown. In other words, the capacity to imagine personal situations far beyond our own ones: thinking about extreme poverty, indignity, human exploitation, discrimination; environmental damage, senseless waste of natural resources, urban degradation, and so on. In a word, democracy requires a well informed and sensitive citizenship.
PRI legacy: '68 students massacre.

And Mexico lacks of such a citizenship. Certainly there are some places where people with high labels of education or political consciousness, or both, tries to be aware of the actual state of the nation, promote civil actions to defend their rights and uses different media to influence peacefully other persons in matters like avoiding corruption acts, follow the law and exercise the civil rights everywhere, anytime. One of those places is Mexico City and its urban class. By that, it’s not rare that a liberal party has ruled the town since late nineties, winning three elections in a row by a clear majority of votes. Regarding to this, in a recent poll, Mexican prestigious newspaper, Reforma, found that 55% of the City’s citizens would vote for PRD for Mayoralty and 45% would chose the same Party for Presidency (considerig that there are another three political options). This numbers reveals an inclination for a historically different option in the political life of the country. PRD (Spanish acronym for Democratic Revolution Party), has achieved remarkable political goals in Mexico City laws such as gay marriage legalization, abortion as a legal election for women (restricted to the first twelve weeks of gestation) and an effective separation of governmental affairs from the powerful Mexican Catholic Church intervention.
No matter what, two and a half months before the Federal elections to vote for President, there is a pervasive movement in the country wishing a restoration period with the return of the old authoritarian party that emerged from the Mexican revolution eighty years ago. This party, as the prominent Mexican analyst Roger Bartra has said (his essay on the matter “La hidra Mexicana”, could be seen in Spanish in the next link: http://www.letraslibres.com/revista/convivio/la-hidra-mexicana), haven’t changed its modus operandi. After losing two Federal elections in a row against the rightist PAN (Spanish acronym for National Action Party), the way its politicians are, and its authoritarian and currently corrupted socio-political practices are the same than two or three generations ago. “It is not –says Bartra- that the PRI is turning to the past, it is the past. They cannot return to the past because they never left the past”.

PRI legacy: former President José López Portillo (1976-1982) and one of the worst national bankruptcies.

Bartra’s thesis is that there is a certain orphanage syndrome in a lot of Mexican people and now is exploding in the form of a restoration will. Surely this is true. But there’s another essential factor in the formation of the shocking desire of millions of Mexicans for the return of PRI to drive the nation’s destiny. There is a pervasive ignorance in the majority of Mexican citizens. From humble workers to successful entrepreneurs, entire sectors of society haven’t read a scholar or novelistic book in their entire life. Basically, Mexican people are "educated" through television soap operas, low class funny shows, pro-governmental and biased newscasts and a battery of catholic clichés concerning the form of family, restricted sexuality and traditional genre roles. This TV-directed pseudo education operates like a reinforce of uncritical conservative thinking; that is, the Mexican kitsch that covers most of the national interactions.
Within this framework lies an intellectual blindness that blurs actual reality shapes. Millions of persons in Mexico simple cannot see the real configuration of a political party like PRI. They are blind to the essence of its failure, then and now: that it’s a socio-political formation that is anchored to the past; its way of work, to manipulate people, to spare corruption, to be a one thought organization, to enjoy itself in the national kitsch and a voluminous etcetera, are perceived as good qualities, according to a supposed Mexican reality, exceptional in world history.

PRI legacy: former President Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988-1994) and 2012 presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto: old and new forms of corruption.

But the truth is far different. The kind of formations that the Institutional Revolutionary Party represents are common to the most questioned political parties around the world, named Communist Party of North Korea or Cuban Communist Party. The time of this kind of organizations is over by now. The social system worldwide has mutated into a complex, fast and multi-dimensional entity that cannot be apprehended with monolithical decisions, vertical structures and unipolar thinking. Hence, PRI is an evolutional anomaly. Its form could not fit the present form of the world.
Sadly, the majority of electorate is not to up to level of this reality. In the eternal dispute between conservative and progressive forces, the first ones are winning the battle. It will take an entire generation, maybe two, to invert this situation. Meanwhile, in the short time, there will come a dark period of restoration with the disgraces that come with a major failure in the wrong match between an absurd relic of history and the high requirements of our perplexing world system.

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