Skip to content

¿Informe o deforme?

31 August 2010

On Wednesday, Felipe Calderón will present his “State of the Union” (informe) to Congress and the Nation.  Up until the Fox Administration this was done live and in person.  Beginning with Carlos Salinas, Congress began expressing the will of the people — a bit of rudeness towards el presidente being an important step towards democratization.  By the time Fox came to office (and Vicente Fox had his own history of creative disruption when he was a Senator from Guanajuato — famously parading around the chamber with ballots on his ears to protest what he was hearing about stuffed ballot boxes ), the disruptions had become an art form … something sadly missed when Calderón — who wasn’t even sworn into office in front of the Congress, as Presidents always have been, for fear of disruption (and a reminder that his “election” may not have been as cut and dried as he liked to pretend) has managed to turn the Informe into “Informercials” … a written report with some videos and exciting theme music.

Which may outline the President’s goals and meet the legal requirements of his report… but doesn’t tell us much of anything about the State of the Union.  While TV and radio are always full of government propaganda, the Presidency has lately spent their propaganda budget on a series of advertisements for the Presidential info-mercial… Ana Lourdes Cardenas of the El Paso Times, looks at the message, and the reality.

… here is a summary (in italics) of some of Calderon’s messages in those ads:

After facing the worse economic crisis last year, Mexico’s economy is in the process of recovery. In a period of six months this year, the government created half a million jobs.

What the commercial doesn’t address is that the unemployment rate in Mexico is still very high (5.7%) and just in July; 2.6 million people lost their jobs. The commercial also doesn’t discuss the existence of seven million young people who are called “ni-nis,” a Spanish nickname for those who don’t study, don’t work (ni estudia, ni trabaja) because there are not enough job opportunities for them. Many of those young people have become potential recruiters of organized crime.

As never before, the government is weakening the strength and structure of organized crime through historical seizures of drugs, money and weapons. Besides that, Mexico has a professional well-equipped and trained federal police force.

"The deliquents have neither morals nor scruples ... but we can top that!"

–Violence has spiked up because the cartels have been affected by the government’s war on drugs.

Really?  Is that the explanation for the recent assassination of two mayors and a candidate for governor in the state of Tamaulipas, the execution of 72 migrants and the increasing violence in Monterrey, Cuernavaca, Veracruz, Acapulco, Sinaloa, Nayarit, Torreón and many other cities and states in Mexico?

–The construction of infrastructure –especially highways and roads–has opened opportunities for education and health to rural and indigenous communities, reducing levels of poverty.

There are no numbers to measure how the new infrastructure is impacting levels of health and education. A highway does not necessarily open the doors of a university of high school.

Ms. Cardenas, writing for a U.S. newspaper, has to play that “on the one hand, on the other hand” game called “editorial balance.” She credits Calderón with being honest enough to say that “we’ll have more violence before we can see a light at the end of the tunnel.” but makes the assumption that everyone sees the same “common enemy” and that — with Presidential elections in 2012 — Calderón “only has one more year to change the fate of the country and to convince us that the country is not screwed up yet.”

I don’t think the country is  “screwed up”… the administration may have “screwed up” along the way.  But twisting the message to fit the hole the administration is digging itself into is no way to straighten things out.  It may be messy and dirty, but digging out of that hole is going to require an honest discussion of alternatives and national priorities.  Democracy deserves more than carefully crafted info-mercials and informes that don’t inform.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Frank permalink
    31 August 2010 2:27 am

    “What the commercial doesn’t address is that the unemployment rate in Mexico is still very high (5.7%)”


    The unemployed mexicans should cross the border to the U.S. where the unemployment rate is very low.

    • 31 August 2010 11:48 am

      What would be considered “part time” work in the U.S. is considered as employment in Mexican calculations. Any job that’s done regularly — even if regularly is once a week for an hour or two — is considered employment here, but not in the U.S: making the numbers here always appear lower than countries that use different standards. For Mexico 5 percent is very high… probably equivalent to 15 to 20 percent unemployment using U.S. parameters.

  2. 31 August 2010 5:10 am

    Ay,ay,ay… the presidential infomercial producers should hire someone like Gabi Vargas who could (at least) help them put a more inspiring spin on the content. I actually sat through the last one and came away from it more confused and frustrated that when it began… it was a masterful example of how to say nothing and yet manage to contradict yourself on nearly every point. Not much new under the sun…

Leave a reply, but please stick to the topic

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: