Op-ed: Scenarios, by Luis Rubio

July 8, 2013

voting - ballot box 2By Luis Rubio, El Debate, 7/7/2013

“In a riot, as in a novel”, wrote Alexis de Tocqueville, “the most difficult thing is to invent the ending.” In this same book, Recollections, the astute French observer noted that “I am firmly convinced that chance can do nothing (without considering) antecedent facts, the nature of institutions, turns of mind, the state of mores are the materials from which chance composes those impromptu events that surprise and terrify us”. In the same fashion, the future of Mexican politics, and of the country, will be generated little by little as the result of the existing ingredients and of those added into the mix.

The first ingredient is without doubt the complex history that precedes us and that establishes inescapable frames of reference. For example, one peculiarity of the sort of authoritarianism that existed in the country is that practically no one in the political world recognizes or accepts it. The PRIists always believed the myth that Mexico was a democracy, which makes many of them inert to many of the changes that have occurred. Authoritarianism has not been discredited in many political sectors and many who exercised it (and who, in many instances, continue to be the instrument of its vices) do not assume it. The flip side of the coin is that democracy has become another myth to which bowing and scraping exists simultaneously with attempts to undermine it. The mechanisms for this objective vary, but the essence does not change: the attempt to recentralize the power, the multiple and renovated mechanisms of control, the manipulation exercised by the television networks, the unwillingness to overcome the de facto powers, the attack against the supposedly autonomous entities.

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Mexico’s middle class: Too bourgeois to bus tables

June 24, 2013

woman with shopping bags and credit cardThe Economist, 6/24/2013

OUR report this week from the Mexican-American border points out that Mexicans are becoming too bourgeois to cross illegally into the United States. These days they’d rather stay in high school than risk deserts, rattlesnakes, murderous bandidos and La Migra (as the gringo migration authorities are known) just to bus tables north of the border. In fact, according to an exhaustive report in May by North American experts, known as the Regional Migration Study Group, Mexicans are much more likely to have a degree before going north than they were seven years ago, and the number of years of schooling of 15-19-year-olds is now pretty similar to that in United States. If more educated workers emigrate, it raises their earning capacity, which gives them and their families even more chance of rising up the ranks of the middle class when they and the money flow back to Mexico. In which case, even fewer will need to go to el Norte. That is real progress.

In Mexico, however, many are reluctant to admit that the country has become a middle-class nation. This is partly because so much of Mexico’s historical narrative is about poverty; half a century ago, 80% of Mexicans were poor. It is also because, for armchair socialists, the ways of defining the middle class includes access to things that are often considered abhorrently American, such as those sold through chains like Walmart.  To them, it is almost as if those who cannot afford such trappings of middle-class life are somehow more authentically Mexican.

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Mexico’s Growing Middle Class is Good News for U.S.

June 17, 2013

woman shopping for water in big box storeABC / Univision, 6/14/2013

A new study on Mexico helps to explain the recent fall in Mexican immigration to the U.S. It suggests that Mexico is slowly becoming a “middle class country.”

The study by Mexico’s National Statistics and Geography Institute [INEGI] says that 42 percent of Mexican homes qualify as “middle class” while 39 percent of the country’s overall population falls into this social category. It also points out that at the turn of the century the middle class was only somewhat smaller, as it made up 38 percent of Mexico’s homes and 35 percent of the country’s inhabitants.

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TOMORROW: Watch the event LIVE

April 8, 2013

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Passengers on Mexican domestic flights have tripled since 1989 – #MexFacts

March 15, 2013

MexFact - Domestic flights

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Access to credit has increased Mexicans’ capacity to acquire motor vehicles: 20 million in 2008 – #MexFacts

March 14, 2013

MexFact - Vehicles

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Mexico, from a society with malnutrition to one with obesity – #MexFacts

March 13, 2013

MexFact - Obesity

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Despite greater social mobility, a significant gap exists between the rich and poor – #MexFacts

March 12, 2013

MexFact - Inequality

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NEW RESOURCE: In the Lurch between Government and Chaos: Unconsolidated Democracy in Mexico

January 9, 2013

mexican flagThe Wilson Center’s Latin American Program and Mexico Institute in coordination with the Migration Policy Institute are pleased to announce the release of a new report as part of the work of the Regional Migration Study Group:

In the Lurch between Government and Chaos: Unconsolidated Democracy in Mexico, authored by Luis Rubio.

Democratic transitions in Mexico and parts of Central America over the past two decades have tested the limits of the countries’ governing institutions.  During Mexico’s continuing transition away from one-party rule — which began even before the 2000 elections — the country has failed to overhaul the governing structures of the old regime, leaving behind weak institutions ill-equipped to handle modern challenges. Weak institutions offer a natural breeding ground for organized crime and corruption, which have become more entrenched. Organized crime has taken over key activities, noninstitutional actors such as drug cartels have become major players in society, migrants have moved in unprecedented numbers, and corruption at various levels of government and law enforcement has flourished.
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Enrique Peña Nieto’s ‘economy first’ strategy for Mexico would also help US [Op-ed]

December 6, 2012

Op-ed, Luis Rubio, Christian Science Monitor, 12/3/2012

Luis Rubio

Luis Rubio

Mexico confounds. If one watches the news, either here or in the United States, most of what comes out about this country is violence among the drug cartels. But if one looks at its economy, Mexico has become the largest trading partner of almost 30 US states.

President Enrique Peña Nieto, who took office on Saturday, wants to change that mismatch by putting the economy first, which will require addressing the onslaught of the narco mafia in a very different way from his predecessor. This new approach has great potential, including improved public safety, and is one that Mexico’s northern neighbor should also embrace.

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