Thursday, October 11, 2012

In Zapata's land, the left's first governor

It may be a small state - it is only beat by Tlaxcala in being Mexico's smallest, and less than 2 million reside there - but for the left, winning the state of Morelos was very important for many reasons beyond the obvious. There is for sure the historical backdrop: Morelos was the land of the great Emiliano Zapata, who launched his agrarian revolutionary movement from the state and died there after a 1919 ambush.

With the left's victory in Morelos, it also won a state it has never held before. The state had already seen alternation in power - PAN ran it from 2000 until recently, in two generally terrible administrations. It is now the left's turn to show it can do better.

A few days ago, Graco Ramírez Garrido Abreu, a veteran on the left and a PRD founder in 1989, finally assumed as governor. While he was at one point the man who recruited AMLO to the PRD - AMLO only ditched the PRI when he failed to become its Tabasco governor candidate - the relationship between "Graco," as he is often referred to, and AMLO is quite abysmal, especially since AMLO's hysterical mobilizations against an imagined privatization of PEMEX in 2008.

With Graco's call for dialogue with Mexico's soon-to-be president, Enrique Peña Nieto - repeated in his inauguration speech - it was hardly a surprise that AMLO did not show up. PRD founder Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas did.

First on his agenda seems to be to carry out what he often brought up during the campaign: A purge of the state's police forces, many of whom are generally regarded to be turning a blind eye, to say the least, to the drug "cartels" * in the state. Next, to "certify" a new force, which he promises to do by the end of 2012.

(Another point: The left governs Mexico City, Morelos, nearby Guerrero, Oaxaca, and finally Tabasco (AMLO loyalist  Arturo Núñez). The geographic concentration is notable in itself , but for governance and inter-state cooperation it may also be a boon. Expect some major pronunciations here soon).

Graco Ramírez plantea diálogo con Peña Nieto. El Universal, Oct. 2, 2012
Certificar policías este año, ofrece Graco. El Universal, Oct. 10, 2012

* I am happy to note The Economist's style change to put "cartels" in quotation marks. As the news publication duly notes, the murderous drug gangs are hardly price-fixing cartels, but bloody competitors. I think that's a pretty good compromise between keeping a flawed term that is nevertheless in very common use, yet still noting its incorrect usage.


  1. I'm not so sure "imagined" is the correct adjective for PEMEX privatization schemes, in 2008 or now. Whether they succeed or not, they are hardly imaginary.

  2. There are for sure plenty of forces who do seek the privatization of PEMEX, no doubt about it, but I think we might be talking of two different things here. The 2008 reform - not the first initiative presented by Calderón, but the subsequent modified legislation that had plenty of input from the left and even AMLO's own advisers(!) was not privatizing - even Cárdenas said so, and backed it. AMLO then "consulted" the masses who went on to try to block, by physical coercion, the final vote, which was passed by all but nearly a handful of legislators. Thanks for reading, A

  3. I very much agree with your rejection of the word "cartel" to describe what are essentially mafia groups. Apparently the term was created by US authorities to describe the Medellín and Cali "cartels" down in Colombia way back. Mexicans generally referred to such groups as "clicas" or "bandas" until the word "cartel" came into vogue - but they are, as you've said before, mafia.