July 2 2004

Commentary

Penultimate Warning

By Andrés Lozano

The protest Rally against insecurity and crime held in Mexico City on June 27, 2004, was society’s penultimate attempt to demand safety from authorities, their single legitimate purpose of being. One before last protest March, because the next demonstration may well be a nationally coordinated monster demo to kick them out of office. If elected officials do not start justifying their reason of being, the people will.

Do the public have the government they deserve? Yes, in the case of citizens with a chance to elect it. Prior to 2000, Mexicans had the excuse of suffering forced authorities, afterwards the evasion of ignorance. The same voting public that voted for the change at the executive level chose continuity at the legislative rank, legitimizing it for the first time ever. What was it expected to happen? The removal of half a tumor was selected hoping the kept back half stopped growing and withered away spontaneously. In politics as in medicine, these are false choices. Mexicans voted paralysis into office. There is no reason for complaint. Voting is not enough; wise choice is of the essence. Wavering ensues if the gas and brake pedals are simultaneously operated.

Aptly, Vicente Fox is criticized for silliness and lack of spine. It cannot be added to his flaws, though, the stagnation freely chosen by Mexican voters. In all likelihood, even with a working majority in Congress, he would have proven futile; gutlessness is his main trait. But with an elected fitful government, he has had an alibi for heading without leading: as irrelevant and decorative figure as monarchs in other places.

The possibility of an executive branch of one political persuasion and a Congress of another is a main feature of the American political system, the system of reference of Mexico. It happens that America is the oldest and most successful democracy worldwide. She can afford this luxury, since voters punish every other year members of Congress that willfully bridle government for partisan gain and every four, elected members of the executive branch. In the other hand, in the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and Germany the exercise of government can only occur with a legislative majority. Mexicans, as newcomers into democracy can afford luxuries spurned by experienced voters with a democratic tradition in the usage of liberty?

Is Mexico capable of avoiding the pitfall of an unprecedented despotism? Hopefully yes. The Rally is an exercise in the right direction. A forewarn that society has taken matters in her own hands. Reminders that elected authorities and appointed bureaucracy are servants, not masters of the people. Those politicians understanding the message will have potential. The protest march is a step forward, yet society cannot expect changes to occur in a vacuum, without close monitoring and participation. In the best possible sense, society must remain observant and assembled. It is the added coherence of each participant the one will decide how things finally turn out.

To expect the malefactors governing city, states and country will change after a protest march is expecting too much. The worst possible outcome of the demonstration would be that it only helped citizenry to blow steam off. Mexicans must come to realize that Mexico City’s mayor is an arsonist, whose political background is outside, not inside the law, that his henchmen are rogues, just as he is. Thus, organized crime streams from city hall and the mayor will not stem the flow, to curb his cronies. It is only appropriate he declared the Rally an exercise in alarmism, ignoring: language, meaning and reality.

The rally will be an everlasting success if mismanagers get scared upon the sight of a watchful society, assembled to take the following steps if its employees do not take heed. The demo, thus, is tantamount a stern rebuke issued by employers –the people- to the sluggish and inept “workforce” in the public payroll to mend their ways. For the good of Mexicans, no bureaucrat should ever feel smug and relaxed in office.

So far the outcome of the protest rally is an excellent one. Alone in Mexico City, somewhere between half a million and a million free citizens gathered in the greatest ever outrage manifestation voluntarily and perfectly disciplined to silently rebuke misgovernment. The participants profile is very clear: it is made up of taxpayers that can easily become tax withholders if bureaucrats do not understand their simple message. Property taxes detention, an excellent starting point. Again, this is the largest ever protest rally ever held in Mexico and it is indicative it was free, tidy and quiet. The next will be decided, disciplined and compelling.

Andrés Lozano alozanoh@msn.com

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