Thursday, October 28, 2010

¡Qué alguien me explique! Why did AMLO senators vote against the tobacco tax?

Yeidckol Polevnsky, Rosalinda López, Josefina Cota Cota and Francisco Castellón Fonseca are four of the PRD senators who on numerous occasions have professed their loyalty to Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and among a group of PRD and PT senators who most recently declared they would back AMLO as a presidential candidate.

Two days ago, however, when the Senate ratified the proposed rise in 7 pesos - a mere 50 U.S. cents - increase in tobacco taxes per cigarette pack, the four legislators voted against it - the only ones from the PRD to do so.  In addition, three Convergencia senators, a party that also has declared its ultraloyalty to AMLO, did the same - Ericel Gómez Nucamendi, Francisco García Lizardi and Eugenio Govea Arcos.
From the Partido del Trabajo, ostensibly diehard andresmanuelistas, its senate coordinator Ricardo Monreal abstained from voting, while his PT colleague Javier Obregón Espinoza voted in favor.

Why? Why on earth would these ostensibly "radical" politicians vote against raising the tobacco tax?
¡Qué alguien me explique!

a) Is it that AMLO is particularly pro-smoking?
b) Can it be that these "radical" senators are really corrupt opportunists, bought and paid for by the tobacco industry?
c) ????

You make your pick.


  1. Yann Kerevel10/28/2010 3:54 PM

    I've been wondering the same thing, it makes no sense to me.

    But the raise in price is more like 56 cents, not 8.

  2. You're absolutely right - posted too quickly. Many thanks for correction.

  3. Um... mayber they're smokers, or they represent tobacco-growing districts, or see a consumption tax on one of the few luxuries available to the poor as a regressive tax (which all consumption taxes are).

    Or, maybe, just maybe... "radical" (and I question whether AMLOistas are "radical")isn't the same as U.S. style "liberalism" and the mistake is thinking of Mexican political labels as somewhat equivalent to U.S. ones...

    Perhaps you're expecting a situation where the social controls on personal behavior have political labels (anti-pot = R, anti-tobacco = D, etc.)when they don't in Mexico.

  4. A few alternative scenarios indeed, but I'm not convinced about the vote being against consumption taxes. For one, sales taxes/VAT etc are indeed regressive, but there is a big variable here: If the revenue will be used for redistributionary causes or not. Moreover, regarding cigarettes, it is my impression in at least Mexico City that the poor buy counterfeit/smuggled cigarettes a-la-Tepito in any case. Although I think you are absolutely right regarding political labels that don't transfer I still smell a rat regarding their vote.

  5. It's extremely unlikely that more than a few people in the country (or even in Mexico City) are going to make a special trip to Tepito when they can buy cigarettes at the corner abarrotes, or at Oxxo. Contraband cigarettes that I've seen are mostly exotic U.S. brands, retailing well above the rate for even higer-priced Mexican brands. Most smokers (including myself) buy by the pack (although I buy cartons when I can) and many neighborhood places still sell by the individual cigarette (at prices well above the price per cigarette for a pack).

    At any rate, what's troubling is the assumption that a deviance from the party line (assuming a higher cigarette tax is the party line) "es un complot".

  6. No, it certainly may not be a "complot." But to return to my original exhortation as to exactly why so many of the AMLO-senators, and not one of the other left legislators, voted against the tax...¡Qué alguien me explique!

  7. Yann Kerevel11/01/2010 6:21 PM

    Have you seen this?

  8. Many thanks - it's quite noteworthy indeed, and will certainly warrant its own posting.