While Fox's no-show is warranted — the U.S. is the only First World country that executes its criminals (even Turkey is considering banning the death penalty) — the Mexican president's paltry socio-economic policies, corrupt government, and human rights atrocities are penalizing his country's citizens.
Fox's economic "reforms" have done nothing for the 70 million Mexicans who live in poverty, 27 million of whom meet the United Nation's definition of extreme poverty — meaning they do not earn enough to buy food. Yet the media and big business apologists for Mexico's regime honor Fox much like they praised discredited Presidents Carlos Salinas de Gortari and Ernesto Zedillo, both now multi-millionaires.
The pro-Fox propaganda doesn't mention polls showing that his policies have disappointed millions of Mexicans who voted for him in July 2000, hoping for a change from 71 years of the PRI's lawless government. Nor does the Fox spin address the former Coca-Cola head's ties to big business or his kowtowing to U.S. corporations.
A study done by Laura Juarez Sanchez of the Universidad Obrera de Mexico (UOM) (www.uom.edu.mx) shows that more than 28 million Mexicans cannot purchase basic food items. While the cost of living increased 436 percent, minimum wages have lost 49 percent of their purchasing power.
"What Economic Recovery?," a May 2002 report by social researcher Raul J. Lescas, published by UOM reveals that during the first quarter of 2002, Mexico's internal debt increased 13 percent, to $87 billion. Coupled with the external debt of more than $78 billion, Mexico's total debt under President Fox has increased to nearly 27 percent of its Gross Domestic Product.
While American taxpayers continue to foot the bill for Fox's waywardness, U.S. government and big business are partly responsible for placing him in the presidential palace — and they are reaping the rewards for their puppeteering.
Fox's presidential campaign was a public relations scam developed by American political consultants including Dick Morris, an adviser to former President Bill Clinton. They packaged and marketed an image of a simple "hombre de la tierra," or common rancher, while in fact Fox comes from a wealthy family of "hacendados" whose vast business enterprises and land holdings made him part of Mexico's ruling elite.
Fox continues to borrow from the U.S.-dominated International Monetary Fund and World Bank to pay American corporations doing business with his administration. Last July he doled out $44 million — without any competitive bidding — to the Halliburton Corporation for oil drilling equipment. While Halliburton has received millions in U.S. taxpayers' subsidies over the years, the Dallas-based conglomerate formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney has earned billions in Mexico.
Fox's promised reforms were supposed to accompany the seismic change in the ruling party, but these have not happened. In his September 1, 2001, "reporte" or state-of-the-nation speech, Fox bragged about having changed the corrupt culture of government. Yet, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights reported last month that in Mexico "between 50 and 70 percent of federal judges are corrupt and susceptible to bribes from drug traffickers and corrupt government officials."
Fox cannot continue blaming all social problems on past presidents. A 2001 study conducted by the Centro de Investigación and Docencia Económica (CIDE), the Ford Foundation, and two non-governmental organizations gave Fox a low score of 5 out of a possible 10 in the way his administration manages and reports the use of public funds.
Economically, Fox's "reformist" plan is based on three principal strategies: Suppress all civic resistance, as he did in Cancún where his Federal Preventive Police bloodied hundreds of protesting students; attract more U.S. industry to Mexico by waiving labor and environmental protections; and export Mexico's desperate workers to the U.S. through his and President Bush's "guest worker" program.
Fox hypocritically "demands" U.S. Congress protection and blanket amnesty for the estimated 25 million Mexican workers living in the U.S., yet Mexico's labor policies (dictated by U.S. corporations) continue to force a massive migration. As if in recognition of the contradictions, this year Fox is building giant light towers along the border to guide those who become lost in the U.S. deserts.
In countless examples, policies like Fox's have been proven by Mexico's history to be self-defeating and dangerous. His focus on foreign investment instead of domestic development pushes millions of desperate Mexicans into menial jobs in the U.S. Most of these jobs don't pay a living wage or offer benefits, which creates serious economic problems that inevitably impact American taxpayers in subsidizing social services.
The Mexican military and judicial police continue to intimidate, kidnap, and execute indigenous people who happen to stand in the way of foreign investors clamoring for the natural resources on their lands. Fox doesn't prosecute the soldiers or police, and instead allows those abuses of power to go unchecked.
While Fox is right in protesting the U.S.' barbaric death penalty, his adminstration is rife with abuses and corruption; apparently he has neither the political or moral will to fix it.