Mexico's shame

Georgie Anne Geyer:

Funny thing about Mexican President Vicente Fox's visit to the American West last week: It didn't turn out as one would have expected.

The tall, lanky, laconic “presidente,” who seemed to offer such hope to Mexico when he was elected five years ago, started out in Salt Lake City with the usual emotional cries for “fairness” and “decent treatment of our people.” But before his visits to Washington and California were over, it was clear that the background music to the old show had changed dramatically.

Fox was greeted by some of the best in the American intellectual community with an honesty about his abundant failures that has not been seen before. A brilliant paper by professor George W. Grayson of the College of William & Mary, widely circulated before the visit, laid out Mexico's shame:

President Fox makes $236,693 a year, more than the leaders of France, the United Kingdom and Canada; Mexican congressional deputies, who serve only a few months a year, take home at least $148,000 a year, plus a $28,000 “leaving-office bonus” at the end of the term. Meanwhile, Mexico collects taxes equivalent to 9.7 percent of GDP, a figure on a par with Haiti; there is painfully little to spend on education and health care, which means there is no social mobility and little job opportunity.

Professor Grayson ends his paper with: “U.S. leaders and the American public have every right to insist that Mexican officials act responsibly, rather than expecting that their neighbor to the north will shoulder burdens that they themselves should assume.”

In short, Mexico is so corrupt, so oligopolistic, so rotting inside with the privilege of the rich that it has to send its poor and its potential political activists to another country. And on top of that, it tries to blame the United States for its own failures.


The same week of the Fox visit, for instance, The New York Times ran a stunning article headlined “Some in Mexico See Border Wall as Opportunity.” It quotes men such as Jorge Santibanez, president of the College of the Northern Border, saying: “For too long, Mexico has boasted about immigrants leaving, calling them national heroes, instead of describing them as actors in a national tragedy; and it has boasted about the growth in remittances as an indicator of success, when it is really an indicator of failure.”

Other prominent Mexicans were quoted as saying, for instance, the formerly unthinkable: that a wall would be the “best thing that could happen for Mexico”; the “porous border” allowed “elected officials to avoid creating jobs.” And former Foreign Minister Jorge G. Castañeda, who always took a tough line toward the United States, writes in the Mexican newspaper Reforma that Mexico needed “a series of incentives” to keep Mexicans from migrating, including welfare benefits to mothers whose husbands remained in Mexico, scholarships, and the loss of land rights for people who were absent too long from their property.


Perhaps Mexico can supply the labor for the wall at below the prevailing wage.


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