MEXICO: SAME RECIPE SAME SUCCESS













One hour before the voting booths opened the candidate for Governor of Yucatan State measured me with a deep frown: "Of
course we will win," he hissed replying to what he obviously considered the stupid question of a rookie journalist. Then he added,
as if to give his statement the proper emphasis: "I will be elected with 98 percent of the vote."
Shortly after the voting booths closed in Yucatan that year the long-ruling Partido Revolucionario Institucional {PRI} of Mexico
announced its candidate for governor of Yucatan had been elected with a landslide 98 per cent of the vote.
That happened in the late 1960s when I worked for Reuters News Agency. This week I was sadly reminded PRI tactics
have not changed in half a century.
This month its candidate for president of Mexico proclaimed  victory to cheering sycophants, the usual rent-a-crowd below party
headquarters and the entire nation... even before voting closed.
Once again, as it has done for decades, Mexicos irrepressible PRI has bought another presidency, this time to the tune of
an estimated 370 million dollars in cash handouts, food vouchers and promises of a job, a mere peccadillo in expenses  
given that alone Pemex, the Mexican oil giant, has pledged open house from now on for foreign investors. Then there is
the expected deal with drug cartels in order to reduce the massacres which have cost the lives of 50,000 people as drug
cartels battle each other  and the military.
As always, and with a lucrative business deals beckoning, the most powerful nations headed by the United States, Britain and
Germany scrambled to congratulate the new president, Enrique Pena Nieto,  even though the results were still out and international
observers reported irregularities in more than half the voting stations and a recount for at least one third.
Observers found the PRI, and to a lesser extent other parties, sent children into the voting booth to check that those
voters remunerated one way or the other for their ballot had actually delivered to the right candidate.
Voters who had received cash or food vouchers had their houses or apartments marked with a red sticker. And there was
no shortage of voters openly admitting the PRI had canvassed votes by handing out cash among the millions of poor.
The attitude of many poor or jobless Mexicans was nurtured over decades as both the PRI and the opposition PAN failed to
improve living conditions busily lining their own pockets: All politicians are crooks so why not receive something for giving one of
the crooks your vote.
Six years  ago, I was in Mexico when a popular Manuel Lopez Obrador known as AMLO was defeated by one per cent of the
vote among claims of vast vote rigging, a result that caused more then a month of rioting among people convinced the leftwing
AMLO had been robbed of the presidency.
Obrador, who engineered a powerful leftwing coalition of three parties for the 2012 balloting  and whose policy ideas
match those of other popular leftwing leaders in Latin America has become once again the loser in the current elections.
 As a powerful and populous next door neighbor of the United States Mexico has about as much chance of becoming another
Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina or Bolivia as the European Euro has to replace the US dollar.
Not surprisingly the first to congratulate the "not yet" elected Mexican president was Barack Obama.
 Who then can forget the century old quip of Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz, still valid today: "Poor Mexico, so far from God and
so close to the United States."

Uli Schmetzer was a foreign correspondent for nearly four decades. He worked in Mexico for almost six years. He is the author of
Times of Terror, a journalists odyssey, Gaza, a novel, The Chinese Juggernaut and The Lamas Lover and ten short stories.  All are
available on www. amazon.com  in print or in ebook.