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What’s Hugo gotta do, gotta do… with the flu?

3 May 2009

I’ve been meaning to write on the effect the flu will have on Mexican elections, but I hadn’t expected “spin” from the United States meant to bolster one of the parties… but I should have.

The Washington Post has an editorial today, that in a break with tradition, actually says Mexico is doing things right:

Mr. Calderón’s government is getting some credit for detecting the new virus relatively early, for quickly supplying information to international health authorities and for taking sweeping measures to contain the outbreak, such as shutting down most of the country for five days that began Friday. It’s a performance that contrasts sharply with China’s secretive and clumsy handling of its SARS and bird flu cases earlier in this decade, and it’s no surprise…

The dot, dot, dot is

…coming from a Mexican president with a record of courageously facing the country’s problems — as exemplified by his frontal attack on the drug trade, using tens of thousands of Army troops.

In other words, the WaPo is spinning a good reaction by the often-maligned public health care system and its bureaucrats to press for continued U.S. support for something not necessarily supported by the Mexican people or voters.

The WaPo, true to it’s traditions, can’t write an editorial without attacking Hugo Chavez of Venezuela (what he has to do with all this, I don’t know) and repeating the nonsense that AMLO was a creature of Chavez:

Mr. Calderón just barely won the 2006 presidential election over a leftist populist candidate backed by Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez. Mr. Chávez’s fondest ambition remains adding Mexico to his anti-American bloc. That the United States is failing to fully support a friendly, democratic and capable Mexican government is not only shortsighted; it is dangerous.

I am one of those foreigners who — like half of all Mexicans — thinks Calderon’s 2006 election was at least as dubious as George W. Bush’s 2000 election as president of his country.  As a Mexican resident, I’m certainly no alone in finding absurd the idea that Mexican democracy and Mexican anti-americanism  depend on a Venezuelan politician’s preferences.  The Washington Post still hasn’t wrapped its head around the idea that Mexico is not the United States, and that there are not two candidates in Presidential elections.  Obviously, there were two front runners, but it wasn’t a horse race.  The third largest “vote getter” was no-one.  If you count those that “voted Zapatista” by abstaining, Calderon got only 20 percent of the vote.  If you don’t count that, and you assume he actually did win, he still only got about a third of the votes.

If there was any “foreign influence” in that campaign, the most obvious people were those like Dick Morris and Rob Allyn, who were, at the very least, skirting the law, by working as “advisors” to the Calderon campaign.  Chavez may have expressed his druthers during the campaign, but it’s no different than Calderon having openly said he’d prefer John McCain’s election during the 2008 U.S. campaign.  Chavez, I’d note, was hardly the ony foreigner who would have preferred AMLO.

As to the “drug war.”  As David Agren noted in his comment on my post about the Senate approval of some narcotics reforms, all political partieis are on board with making reforms not backed by the “de facto President” and he’ll likely sign the bill into law.    And, opposition to the “drug war” runs to people like the Roman Catholic heirarchy, which is hardly a “Chavista-influenced” bunch.

Secondly, I’m not sure how competence in the public health sector translates into need to support financially a second issue which … ironicially enough…. is a security problem BECAUSE it is not being seen as a public health issue in the country that the Washington Post thinks should back a particuar action.

And, as to AMLO.  Anti-americanism, and pan-Latinism, has been a staple of Mexican political thought long before Hugo Chavez — at least since 1828, when the presidential campaign issues revolved around trade and investment with the United States.

I’m not even sure that AMLO was all that “anti-American” in his politics, or his presidental agenda anyway.  There was nothing specifically anti-American (more anti-Spanish, if anything) in his critiques of the banking industry, and his calls for investigation into the bank bailouts of the 90s.  While criticism of U.S. farm policy, and product dumping might be considered anti-American, it was more anti-NAFTA (or rather a call for amending NAFTA) and pro-farmer than anything.  Maybe the Washington Post was referring to AMLO’s campaign promise to move industrial development away from the U.S. border and to focus on trade with countries other than the United States (something most Mexican economists, and many others — including Vicente Fox — have also recommend).

Maybe the Washington Post just has a hard-on for Hugo.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 3 May 2009 8:52 pm

    The WaHoPo, I think, is really an organ of the State Dept., posing as independent. Operation Mockingbird never really ended. If those articles aren’t all written by CIA plants seeking to build support for a future coup or a dubious candidate by distorting everything they can get their hands on, I’ll eat my hat.

    That said, of course they’re gonna try to pin something ridiculous on Chavecito, even when it plainly has nothing to do with him. As the night follows the day, when something in Latin America goes wrong, they’re gonna trace it back to him with a logic so labyrinthine that even the Gordian knot looks like a breadstick by comparison. Therefore, Chavecito’s preference for AMLO = AMLO bad and a puppet of Chávez, Calderón (puppet of Washington, but shhhh, we don’t mention that) good. And since Calderón good, therefore Chavecito must be responsible for the flu outbreak…or anything else that tarnishes the reputation of their golden boy. (Like that losing proposition of a drug war, for example–betcha dollars to doughnuts they’re gonna claim they traced SOMETHING back to Venezuela…a rather large shipment of Peruvian cocaine, say.)

    Of course, the choice of the most conservative candidate was already written in the stars, so to speak. That’s why these toe-suckers and election-fuckers were down there to make sure that at the last moment, it worked out to a statistically unlikely “miracle” for their man, Calderón. Greg Palast did a terrific job of it with his report, “Florida Con Salsa”. He showed how AMLO was winning, and how there was blatant ballot-stuffing, as well as an unwillingness to count every ballot from every box. ¿Florida con salsa? Por supuesto. The only difference is that unlike Al Gore, AMLO never conceded, and therefore Calderón has to tread v-e-r-y carefully.

    I’m only surprised that they haven’t gone so far as to blame AMLO for the drug war’s failures or the flu, or both. Maybe they figure it’s best to pretend he doesn’t exist, so that nobody gets the “wrong” idea about who really won the election?

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