By PJRC correspondent Alci
The era of Felipe Calderon has officially come to a close in Mexico, leaving in its wake 60,000 dead from the Drug War and increases in unemployment and poverty (two realities no doubt helping fuel the conflict itself). After an uneventful week during which Calderon closed his tenure by calling for Mexico to change its name from “The United States Of Mexico” to just “Mexico,” a secretive late night ceremony at Los Pinos saw the presidential sash handed to Enrique Peña Nieto, the winner of the July elections, whose victory signals the return to power of the PRI party. But as Peña Nieto ascends, so do new social movements, student organizations and political parties driven by grassroots activism.
The shifting scene was evident December 1, during the inauguration as hundreds – including the #YoSoy132 student movement – protested in Mexico City’s streets, some going so far as smashing bank windows and throwing Molotov cocktails at police. Only a few days prior, Peña Nieto’s former opponent Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) presided over the first national congress of his new party, MORENA (Movement For National Regeneration), which he hopes will soon overtake his former party, the PRD, as the authentic, popular alternative for Mexican voters. When AMLO welcomed the ambassadors of both the United States and Cuba, this provoked a spontaneous eruption of applause and chants of “Cuba Si! Yanquis No!” During Peña Nieto’s inauguration, AMLO led a peaceful march protesting the return of the PRI to power, denouncing corruption and calling for a new Mexico.
Peña Nieto’s cabinet consists of an assortment of technocrats mostly trained at US colleges such as MIT, having the same cut as the technocratic regimes that have taken power in Italy and Greece. Already Nieto is promising to “liberalize” the national oil industry, PEMEX, and has cut deals with the opposition in Congress to “modernize” the education system. As for the Drug War itself, no clear plan has been presented – even after meeting with President Barack Obama in Washington before his inauguration, Peña Nieto was vague about what course he would take. Peña Nieto has a mandate to de-escalate the military offense against the cartels, but is expanding a new “gendarmerie” by 35,000 and continuing promises of police and judicial reform.