Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Michoacán: Government Secretary says reconcile with drug gangs

A quite notable lack of harmony from the Michoacán state government: The Government Secretary, Rafael Melgoza, suggested that the drug gangs should "reconcile" with the people and community.
Also these people who are engaged in this illegal activity have to reconcile, it sounds bad to express this phrase, but they need to reconcile, they must reconcile these illegal activities that they perform  with the interests of peoples and communities."
Shortly thereafter, the state government, led by Leonel Godoy, sent out a press bulletin distancing itself from what was said by its Government Secretary, essentially the second in command of the state government.

Mexican political parties: They've cost 37 billion pesos since 2000.

Since the coming of democracy in Mexico in 2000, the costs to Mexican taxpayers of financing the country's political parties have been close to 37 billion pesos, Centro de Documentación, Información y Análisis of the Mexican congress reports.

* In this period, nine parties disappeared, despite receiving 1.9 billion pesos in subsidies
* PAN has received around 10, the same as PRI, while PRD has received 5.7 billion.

However, minor parties receive a disproportionately high amount: The Green Party, which has absolutely nothing to do with environmentalism but is a franchise party at the service of the highest bidder, has received over 3 billion pesos. PT: 2.5 billion pesos, and Convergencia 2.2. PANAL of Elba Esther Gordillo received almost 1.2 billion pesos, despite existing only since 2006.

It seems to me the state subsidy to parties is in quite a few cases perverted by minor parties who are in it primarily for one reason: To get their hands on this money. This is about as far away from the original goal as possible, namely to further democracy by ensuring a plurality of party options. I strongly support state subsidies of parties, but this is undermining the entire practice.

State level changes 2008-2010 show rising poverty in PRI states

Here's a graphic from Milenio that shows 1) the  number of social program beneficiaries (Oportunidades, 70 y más, Empleo temporal and Liconsa), a proxy for the number of poor, 2) the percentage of poverty in the poorest states, and the most interesting, 3) the change in poverty rates from the crisis in 2008 until 2010 - not all states had more poor, but those run by the PRI tend to have the worst numbers, with exception of PAN-run Guanajuato. See graphic:

Oportunidades spending doubled under Calderón

Amidst all the talk of rising poverty figures in Mexico, here's one case where I think Calderón deserves credit:

The highly successful conditional cash-transfer program Oportunidades saw its budget double from 2005 to 2011 - it jumped from 28 billion to 57 billion pesos. This is truly impressive.

While no magic bullet to end poverty, Oportunidades has proven vastly succesful in terms of enrolling more children in school, making sure they stay there, and improving nutrition for infants and children, among other gains.In Mexico it now covers almost 6 million households, or 29 million people. Most live on the countryside,  and not in the big cities.

There is a reason why this has been copied by so many other countries, most famously in Brazil's Bolsa Familia.

Graphic from El Universal of its component parts: