tv Discussion on Mexican Politics and Economy CSPAN August 10, 2015 4:18am-6:01am EDT
national book festival followed on sunday with our live in-depth program with former second lady and senior fellow at the american enterprise institute lynn cheney. now, a look at mexico's political and economic future with the former u.s. ambassador to mexico and political science professor from the mexico institute of technology. they discuss allegations of corruption within the mexican government and how the recent escape of the drug lord is an indication of the country's many challenges. this runs about an hour and 40 minutes. good morning. and thank you all for joining us today.
it seems like it wasn't too long ago when this was a lot of talk, at least in this city, about mexico's promise, mexico's moment. a new administration. a political pact among its main parties. and latin america's most ambitious and wide-ranging reform agenda that seemed to enjoy broad support. in fact, many important measures were enacted in a short period of time. lately, however, the news from mexico has been of greater concern. security and human rights issues, rule of law challenges generally have come to the fore. the disappearance of 43 students almost a year ago highlighted in dramatic fashion these persistent problems. last month, on july 11th, the cartel leader joaquin guzman "el
chapo" escaped from a maximum security prison, exposing what many see as systemic corruption and contributing to a loss of confidence in the government. corruption allegations have dogged president pena net toe and his administration. less than a week ago, last friday, in fact, mexican photo journalist ruben espinoza and four women were murdered in mexico. a stark reminder of the danger of being a journalist in mexico today. the pena net toe administration, which has three and a half years left in its term, is at a critical juncture. the president's approval level has dropped to 34%. its lowest point yet. although we should remember that in many other countries latin american leaders are roughly at that same level. despite some positive signs in the u.s. economy, hex co's growth is not taking off as was promised and as many expected.
this morning we will take a measure of the current situation and review possible political and economic scenarios over the coming months and years. will president pena nieto's slide in the polls continue or will he recover some ground? is there a chance that recent developments will be a wakeup call that will galvanize effective action to strengthen the rule of law in mexico? are the reforms producing positive changes for mexico? are they moving forward? or do they risk being stalled because of the salients of security and the rule of law issues? are u.s./mexico relations affected by the current circumstances? are the steps that either washington or mexico city should be taking to pursue a common agenda? lots of questions. this morning we are thrilled to have with us as our featured speaker dr. denise stressor and as a discussant, ambassador
james jones. full bios are available but let me say a few words about each. denise is one of mexico's most incisive, project neminent, hig respected comment daters and analysts. when she speaks and writes as she does so eloquently, people pay careful attention. she teaches political science, has authored many books, writes a column for "reforma" and writes for "processo." she has a very high profile in the mexican media, both tv and radio. she is also a personal friend for many years and someone who has been close to the dialogue. she, in fact, was here as a visiting senior fellow in the 1990s, contributed the mexico chapter to the third edition of "constructing democratic governance: a major dialogue project and initiative." and most recently spoke here at an event we organized on reproductive rights in latin america.
it's an enormous delight to have her with us again and we're very grateful that she's taken time from her busy schedule in washington to be with us this morning. after denise's presentation, we'll hear from jim jones who is currently chairman of minot jones global strategy and formerly served as u.s. ambassador to mexico, as well as a member for many years of the u.s. house of representatives. jim knows mexico extremely well and tracks developments very closely there. he participates in many dialogue activities and serves on the advisory board of our daily publication "the latin american adviser," copies of which are available to all in the back. i want to thank jim very much for agreeing to be with us this morning as well. after hearing from denise and jim, we will invite and encourage your questions and comments. look forward to a great, lively discussion. i want to thank all of you again for coming. we have a few friends here from the mexican embassy. thank you for being with us as
well. denies, i'll tu denise, i'll turn it over to you, thank you. >> thank you very much, michael. and the dialogue for hosting me. i feel that the dialogue and a home for me in washington. and i especially appreciate your reference to our friendship, which means a great deal to me. there was recently a widely circulated photograph that in my mind is a metaphor for the pena nieto government. it was a picture of the attorney general at the prison that el chapo's men had escaped from, a maximum security prison. and there she was, very nicely dressed, in high heels and a suit, peering down the hole from which el chapo had escaped from.
a hole that led to a 1.5-kilometer tunnel that has a motorcycle and air conditioning and you are probably familiar with the arc tech turl and engineering marvel that the tunnel was. and her peering into that hole signified a great deal. it was a picture that said more than a thousand words. it seemed to represent what is happening in mexico today. peering into the hole and looking at a mess. a very difficult moment. and perhaps some of you will say, well, this is just denise stressor being critical. however, i think what i'm saying today represents the consensus of most analysts in mexico. and represents the feelings that are captured in the polls of the
general population vis-a-vis the government, vis-a-vis political parties, vis-a-vis the presidency, vis-a-vis corruption. the peso is depreciating. and while there are many economic arguments to be made as to why that is occurring, please remember that in mexico, the parity of the peso vis-a-vis the dollar for most ordinary mexicans is a psychological metric of how the country is doing. and the fact that it is sliding at such a rapid pace is an indicator of the lack of confidence in the government and not just what is happening in international currency markets. the price of oil is down. as michael said, pena nieto's approval ratings are the lowest of any mexican president in the last 20 years.
roma uno, which was the first step in the energy reform which involved the licitation of potential oil fields proved to be a disappointment, not attracting the amount of energy excitement, enthusiasm, or bids that the mexican government had expected. it was deemed by many a failure, particularly in light of the very high expectations that the mexican government had created regarding energyreform as being the detonator of high growth in the country. so i think there are four is that i'm going to speak of that capture the current moment. inkpen tense, insecurity, and inequality, that are creating a general sense of a ship adrift, rutterless, and without a clear sense of who the captain is and whether or not he's in charge or actually knows where he's going.
starting with incompetence. the polls show it, and i, for one, take political cartoons very seriously. because they are a graphic expose of a mood, and sometimes they are much sharper than even a column could be. and how have mexican political cartoonists baptized enrique pena nieto? his image seems to matter more than the reality on the ground because he has a very, how would i call it? well, trump-like haircut. or even more eloquently, a mixture of the imagery of the present of the telemarketing of
the current presidency accompanied by the dinosaur vintage practices of the past. we've gone, and you can see this reflected in the international press coverage of mexico from delirium to disenchantment. to that the job was too big for him and the team of largely people from the state of mexico, that he had brought with him, or the old guard of the pri that doesn't seem to know how to adapt to current circumstances. now, if members of the pri were here and perhaps certain members of the mexican embassy who are here, if they feel comforted by the thought that the pri won the
midterm election, i'd like to say that it was -- it could turn out to be a appearic victory in so far as, yes, the pri won the midterm election, but if you look at the numbers, what are the numbers showing you? that the pri is losing votes at -- very quickly. that it would not have won the majority in congress it has had it not been for the alliance with the green party, and the multiple illegalities the committee committed throughout the election that remain to this day unsanctioned by federal lek troll authorities, the former efa that was the jewel in the crown of mexico's democratization and has since become a tarnished crown because what happened after the
transition in the year 2000 when we began to develop effective counter weights and checks and balances including autonomous electoral authorities, the parties discovered they didn't like this. they removed many of the elements that make electoral authorities independent and now you have an eni that is facing a huge loss of credibility because of the unsanctioned behavior breaking every electoral law and accumulating 600 million pesos in fines, all of this committed by the green party that as i said went unsanctioned. even though the pri won, the negative perceptions and the disapproval are growing. and what are analysts saying? that enrique pena nieto's project is showing limitations
that were there from the inception, but that many didn't recognize or understand. i think wooed by the 11 structural reforms that were quickly passed in the context of the pact for mexico leading to the sense that modernization was truly occurring, and that vision and that sense of moving forward at this point in time in mexico, is severely compromised, and the perception of most analysts is that the pena nieto's project was more about reconcentrating power in the presidency, in the pri, in the executive than it was about truly reconstructing the state. or reconstructing the way democracy works, or reconstructing the incentives by which political parties operate, or reconstructing the incentives
by which mexican capitalism works. so it was ambitious but i think flawed project. built on reforms that either came too late and i would say this about energy reform where i think we are four or five years too late in terms of opening up our markets. or reforms that were -- are being badly implemented or are insufficient as the case of telecome's reform or education reform, but i think the foundational problem was that they were built upon corruption and are being undone by corruption, because the idea was not to make the pie bigger. what we've seen now is that the project was to slice it up in a different way. that what was wanted was not real competition but rather state administered competition
that would continue to shore up mexico's system of crony capitalism just with other cronies, and that the project wasn't about combatting impunity but ratr taking advantage of it for this group that came. so there's a sense of malaise, of crisis, of social indignation, of ungovernability in which, yes, the pri wins, or did win the midterm but does not convince even after 11 structural reforms that have failed to take off. and when i referred to the depreciation of the mexican peso because we don't call it devaluation anymore or at least not now, many have argued this has to do more with what's happening with the american
dollar, et cetera, but a recent article in the financial times that did research on this topic, what did it show? it underscored what has been my intuition all along. it showed that mexican households are taking their money out of the country. people who have savings are buying dollars. yesterday the bank of mexico spent 200 million pesos trying to shore up the -- prop up the currency, because they know what it means for the mexican psyche. so -- and why are people converting their money? because they fear that there's an oncoming crisis that there could be a major devaluation, that we're going to end it in the way that many other pri ease ending because of the lack of
fiscal discipline and the accumulation of debt that this government has incurred in the first three years, because of the huge gap in government revenues and income as a result of the drop in oil and of a fiscal reform that it is insufficient to cover the gap. and a crisis brought on by what i perceive as a mismanagement of events that the government seemed unprepared for, that it has not shown -- that it knows how to confront in a way that displays willingness or ability to resolve deep-rooted kriess. some of which are con juk wall and others that we've been dragging along for a long time as corruption that's become more accent waited. so you have a place where the
military executed 22 people and there's now a recent report and investigation about this. then you have the 43 murdered students, and let alone the fact that 43 students were murdered. what it was revealed was to what degree corruption and crime had penetrated government institutions, because those responsible for what happened, at least in the official version that we have up to now, with the municipal president and the police and to an unknown degree, the military. and then you got the white house scandal of which i'm sure all of you have aware of. a scandal that had it occurred in the united states, had it been revealed that michelle obama owned a $7 million house
but that the title was in the name of a contractor who had won multimillion dollar bids by the obama administration and they would have been impeached or there would have been endless congressional investigation into that what is clearly a conflict of interest. and if you would like further details on this case, i know well because it cost someone a job on the radio, and i left with her as her collaborator, but i know how this story emerged. the investigation process, what the reaction was and how it's reacting now. in mexico is problem is that, and i always say this. conflict with interest isn't even a conflict. it's a way of live. it's the way things traditionally have been done.
in terms of government relations with contractors and politicians and with another key player in the mexican political system which is telavisa who owned the first house next to the second house that was built and she says she bought with a $10 million severance bonus because she was just an incredible actress, but the issue of conflict, and i say this in a satirical fashion, please. and this was followed by the revelation of the house owned by the finance minister that was purchased from the same contractor with the nonbanking loan at an interest rate of 5% when the going interest rate, and i know this because i was paying the mortgage on my own house, was 13%, and this is the finance minister, the person who is in charge of collecting taxes. the person who is in charge of
making sure that the budget is well spent. so imagine the perception of ordinary mexicans to find out that their finance minister was involved in the same sort of very shady or at least highly questionable relationships with the contractor. and then you get the executions of the military, growth estimates, they're lowered on a monthly basis by the bank of mexico and every other financial institution in the country, and then two weeks ago the presentation of a study that has had a great deal of impact in mexico on inequality in mexico with some startling numbers. put this all together, and
combine it with the fact that a friend and colleague who had fled vera cruz, a photo journ journalist fled because of threats and it's become most dangerous place to be a journalist. 15 journalists have been killed there in the past three years. he fled to mexico city speaking protection for the mechanism for protection of journalists. it's a sham. it provides you with allegedly a panic button but it takes them six months to determine if your case is urgent or not. in those six months, reuben was killed, and i spent friday afternoon with one of his friends, a political cartoonist who we are all trying to get out of the country. that's how things are.
so what has the response from lo s penos been? they feel misunderstood and that the criticism is from those who don't want reform. those who criticize them, they're against reform, that they don't want competition. that the opposition is from the interests that are being affected by the reforms, and in none of these cases that i've mentioned, the white house, the cancellation of the bid for the high-speed train, the escape of el chapo, there has not been a single resignation of a single member of the pena nieto administration or of the cabinet. in my mind and in the mind of many mexicans, it's at the very least what should occur. not only a resignation.
what does that occur? a recognition that mistakes were made. a recognition that the course has to be changed, that the buck stops here, that heads have to roll because if heads don't roll, then it means that what credibility does the term maximum security prison in mexico have when someone can build a tunnel and please reflect for a moment on how is it possible for a tunnel to be built over the course of a year in what is allegedly a higher supervised and controlled area, in a prison where they were digging from below and the hole was actually dug from above. so, yes, there was clearly complicity from the people at the prison, but one wonders as mexicans do, whether it was just that. whether it was just corruption
involving the prison system. or whether it's much more deeply ingrained and affects higher levels of government in mexico. all the way to the top, or at the very least the federal police or the military. what did pena nieto say about the escape? that he was deeply upset, that it was a regrettable indent, that it was an undignified incident and that every day he asked the minister, are you sure el chapo will never escape. so what did the escape do? well, it tarnished the government's reputation even more. it put the issue of government competence at the center of the public debate. it revealed deep institutional
weaknesses. not only of the prison system but of just security in general, and competence -- i mean, what does it say when a government cannot keep the most sought after criminal in the world today in prison? so -- and this is in the context of pena nieto's official state visit to france which he didn't cancel where he took along 441 guests and shortly after his wife appeared on the front cover of all of the -- like people magazine or "vanity fair," not even that level. revealing in the minds of many mexicans a profound insensitivity in the same week
of el chapo's escape, the imagery of the pena nieto administration is of him inaugurating things in france. what are the hypotheses, and i'm not an expert in security issues. i have friends who work on this, though. what do they say? well, the high boypotheses are l chapo was going to be extradited because you can't continue to run your business from a u.s. prison like you can from a mexican prison. the other idea was the mexican government didn't want to extradite him because he had too much information about how many people he'd been paying off in the government structure for the last 15 years. another idea is that he was set free deliberately so that he could actually regain,
reestablish the primacy of the cartel and end the violence because the violence does not come from stable cartels. the violence comes when the heads of cartels are either heired hei arrested or killed and infighting begins. the one thing i can can say, having no information to validate any of these hypothe s hypotheses, and i don't think anyone in mexico does in terms of independent analysts, the one thing i can say is that he's not going to be caught any time soon, if ever. the incident has turned the pena nieto administration into the butt of a thousand jokes. the first reaction was hilarity,
not indignation because for mexicans now laughter is better than the alternatives. i'll give you a sense of the flavor of the reaction or the jokes. that el chapo's company, the one that built the tunnel is the one that should be building mexican infrastructure. ports and tunnels and the metro that has been stalled for the last year due to problems in the construction process. so -- yeah. homicide numbers are down. that's true in terms of general insecurity. but you -- what mexico is witnessing is the eruption of instances of violence that have become uncontrollable, so perhaps people from the embassy would tell you yes, the homicide numbers are down. we should celebrate that, but then you get something that happened two months ago where the city was paralyzed for a day
due to infighting between the government and the cartels. or you get other instances like that. and the recent report i was alluding to, what does it show? what does the report say? that the mexican military has an order now to this morning as i was preparing my notes, i did not know how to translate this word. how would you say it? take on. civilians during the night and this is -- and this report includes official documents. these are the orders. in the minds of many, and at least in the minds of the mexican military, means to kill. it doesn't mean to apprehend and submit to the justice system for trial.
it means if you believe someone is a criminal, you kill him. that's the problem of having the military substituting for what is a dysfunctional police force. they are not trained or at least not trained well to deal with civilians in context of confrontation. the order is kill i don't recollect not apprehend and take to trial. for now the attention has been centered on el chapo, on who allowed him to escape, and i will make a bet with you. and if i lose, i will come back to the dialogue and i will take you all out for tacos. my bet is that the only people who will be found responsible for his escape will be low-level prison guards and prison administrators, and no one else. but the escape, and everything
surrounding it reveals a fundamental problem that this government and the other government didn't know how to deal with which is a nondeclared war on drugs because we don't call it that way anymore. we don't refer to it in that fashion anymore as a war, but it continues to be a war. a de facto suspension by the military in confrontations with civilians. and adversary drug cartels in my mind and in expert's minds, cannot be beaten. and this accompanied by the rising tide of criminality and violence that the war has produced. so i go to my second i, which is impunity. a month ago, a respected academic published a report called anatomy of corruption in mexico where she examined that
it is present in almost all transactions. there are 4 million acts of corruption in mexico committed on a yearly basis. corruption is ever-present in everyday life from the bribe you have to pay the person who collects the trash who works for the city government at the gasoline pumps where you're -- you pay more than what you get for. corruption present in the escape of el chapo and public goods whether it be spectrum or a high-speed train. corruption present in tax breaks for mexican companies. with increasingly negative consequences. i'm sure there are people here who would argue, that can't be the issue that's holding mexico back. look at china. there are countries that are
extremely corruption and they're growing. the problem is it's an emerging market that is competing for foreign investment with other emerging markets that don't have this problem. the problem of corruption that is also accompanied by the absence, the absence of the ruefurule of law, or the intermittent application of the rule of law. negative consequences in terms of slowing economic growth, foreign investment. in 2014 mexico obtained a score of 35 points out of 100 possible from transparency international. 90% of mexicans believe corruption to be a problem and 91% believe that all political parties are corruption. yet ordinary mexicans are also complicit. a predatory state generates a
population that is predatory. a state that dolls out justice in a discretionary manner leads citizens to take things into their own hands. and that's why i think the resolution of the casablanca will be a thermometer into whether this administration plans to take the corruption seriously or not. they have said there will be a report released in the next two weeks about whether or not there was a conflict of interest in that case or not. my third i inequality. i'm told that i have very little time, but this is -- add to this mix, as i said, the weakening peso, the lowering growth predictions, and then in the last two weeks, the report that
poverty in mexico had grown by two million people in the last year, and the report with numbers that are just mind blowing. 1% of the most wealthy in mexico concentrate 20% of the income. the wealth of mexico's multimillionaires grew by 32% between 2007 and 2012. the wealth of the 16 mexican multimillionaires on the top of the list represented 2 % of gdp five years ago. it now represents 9% of gdp. the four men in the first four places of their list, of that list, have made their wealth in sectors that involve public concessioned goods such as
spectrum and telecommunications and transportation. these are creatures of the state. rent seekers that have grown in power and influence due to poor regulation or excesses in fiscal privileges, leading to the perpetuation, and i've argued this before, of mexico's suboptimal capitalism accompanied by bad social policy. the institutionization of a permanent underclass of 50 million people, 23 million of which who do not have enough money to eat. understand why, then, there is a polarized violent society where six vosas, graves, six are discovered every day. one had become the most violent
municipality in the government and the government knew this. they knew this three years ago and no one acted. and this accompanied by a low-grade democracy captured by interest that put interest at their disposal. they cannot detonate economic growth due to the inability to create level playing field capitalism, despite the 11 structural reforms and growth that simply cannot occur in the context of the state that lacks the credibility, the institutional mechanisms to provide kwoit, transparency, regulation, accountability about the white house or any other issue. and how is this playing out politically and with this i will end. the pri continues to win under the circumstances i described. but what you see is a growing rejection of political parties and a crisis of representation. and that explains to you why an independent candidate who did
not come out of the fold of the parties won in mexico's most important economically speaking state where the rate of participation in a midterm election which is usually 40% grew to 78% because people believed that an independent candidate outside of the party system was the way to go because there's no longer any trust in the party's system as it works today. there is a growing disallusionment with democracy in mexico. and the sense that independent candidates could save us. there are only 127 independent candidates out of 16,000 that ran for election in this last election. and what does this mean for politics and the presidential race in 2018? two days ago, a poll came out with the following numbers.
at the head of the pack, numbers that range from between 25 to 29% of the vote. second place, mareita. the wife of the former president taking the hillary clinton route, trying to be a candidate for the national action party with 14% of preferences. and 14% for any pri candidate. what does this show you? they don't have a viable presidential candidate, and the winner of this crisis is the man who has built a political career as the leader of the opposition to the establishment. the anti-institutional leader who will make government corruption the centerpiece of
his campaign, and i leave you with this food for thought. the crisis is empowering a left that is provincial and tribable anti-global in markets and a political force described by one as conservative populism that is leading to what i agree with, his view -- we are not witnessing the emergence of a modern functional left with concrete policy proposes, a left whose incarnation we've seen in places like chili but not in mexico. what is my conclusion? an uncertain future, a country
of intense discussions over the functionality of our governance system and our democracy, bitter confrontations over public policy issues, the most recent being education. increasing violence. a dysfunctional democracy that is lacking in accountability, transparency and representativeness and that's why you see someone like elle blanco winning. corruption intransigence, intolerance that are deeply damaging our collective ship. i, for one, continue to remain on the ship and will continue to paddle but the impression that one gets from the government and from the parties at this point is a sense of the rearrangement of the deck chairs on the titanic and not a sense of clarity as to how we deal with
this crisis and resolve these problems and pull mexico out of the hole that the attorney general was peering into, and that, as i said, has become an embl emblemmatic feel for how mexicans feel for their country today. thank you. >> thank you very much, denise. now for a pessimistic view. just kidding. >> thank you, michael, and thank you for inviting me to comment on these remarks. dr. dresser is a very eloquent and harsh critic of mexico and the business and political leaders and has been ever since i first met her nearly 20 years ago, and i think such criticism is important even if i disagree with a good part of it.
what it hopefully will do is arouse the mexican people to actually take the government and their country in their own hands. that's something that has not been a part of their history up to this point. i have a different point of view about mexico, where it is now and where i think it's going to go. i have one of the advantages of having the long life. i've had a long history with mexico. going back 50 years when i was a young assistant to president johnson at the white house, and he asked me to go to mexico to set up his first trip there in 1966, and it truly was a third-world country. it was amazing. you talk about corruption today. well, it was really magnified in those days, and then 23 or 24 years ago, i became ambassador to the united states at roughly
the same time mexico decided to enter the world having joined just a couple of years ago before that the world trade organization in the final throws of negotiating the north american free trade agreement which really opened up mexico to the world. it was a country at that time with inferior industry, inferior businesses, and inferior form of government and democracy and has been transformed in many ways in the last 25 years. it clearly isn't at the optimum yet, but it is so different than what i discovered 50 years ago and even 25 years ago, that it is a different country. now, i'm not here to defend any individual or office holder in mexico or any institution that dr. dresser outlined with the various grievances, for am i here to defend in the most advanced democracy of the world,
the united states, the situation we have in the united states where one percent of our population controls an enormous disproportion gn disproportion at amount of wealth in the united states. i'm not here to defend the gun violence that happens all across the united states in california and louisiana and tennessee and new york and various states across this country. and we're not able, as a government, to get ahold on the control of the use of guns in our society. for am i here to defend political parties where justice in mexico, american people are fed up with the current state of our political parties, and show it in the polls. that leads to another one i'm not here to defend, the antics of donald trump who the american people have turned to because of their disenchantment with the
traditional political parties in the united states. all i'm saying is, both of our countries are going through similar throws of democracy, and i think both of our countries are going to come out of it just fine. i was actually -- when el chapo was released, or when we got out -- that was a mistake. when he got out, i was hoping we would get him here to washington and help us on our metro system which needs a lot of help from someone with his talents. i will say all the hypotheses that dr. dresser outlined are familiar because those are the same ones that experienced in mexico 20-some years ago when the then biggest drug lord seemed to be acting with impunity and one attempt to get
him was compromised within the pgr, and, there are, he got out. but when he was caught not too long after that, he was on a plane headed to houston. his mother must have been very athletic because he had both a texas and a mexican birth certificate, and the mexican government decided to recognize the texas birth certificate and to expel him, and to this day, he is in that maximum security prison in colorado. but those same issues were raised 20-some years ago and all i'm saying is you can get past those things, and i think the kind of public outcry helps to get you there. >> i thi i think also we have to recognize where mexico was 25 years ago and where it is today. 25 years ago it was one of the most closed economies in the world. it was one of the most closed
noncompetitive political systems in the entire world, and i think what you have today is one of the most competitive economic systems in the world in terms of trade, a country that has more free trade agreements with other countries than any other country. where you have a political system that clearly has its flaws still. but is competitive. and where the government can't intervene and basically pick the winners as i was speaking with someone who was an ambassador to a joint audiences and i was commenting in the 1994 elections we had a great deal to do with that, of having international observers and a lot of support from the u.s. government on their then-electoral system, and while the campaigns up until the election were still fraught with the problems of the past where
the government intervened with different kinds of resources, the fact is on the election day and on the conduct of the election, all of the international observers and the u.s. embassy said these were free and fair elections conducted on election day, and we also didn't have a media that was as competitive as it is today. if you'll recall, the mexican government either directly or indirectly controlled what went in the mexican press, and that is really not their ability to do that today. and one of the reasons we see things that are going on in gaerer row, for example, and other states of similar problems, is the fact that they're being reported, and similar things went on when i was ambassador but they were never reported. they were covered up, so to speak. so i think while things are
still not where we would want them, not where the mexicans would want them, the fact is that they're substantially ahead of where they were just 25 years ago. so where they have their greatest deficiency, and dr. dresser alluded to that in all of her comments, and that is while a first-world country needs an open, competitive political system, an open, competitive economic system, it needs a rule of law that their own people can have confidence in. and that's what mexico needs and must work on. they've made some strides forward with the election -- with the judicial reforms of 2008 which are supposed to be implemented fully next year. many of the states are way behind but we're hoping for progress on that. that's where mexico really needs help, because a rule of law with
sound institutions that can enforce a rule of law is what cuts into corruption, cuts into the kinds of things dr. dresser talked about, and that's, i think the major challenge for mexico today, and if you have a rule of law that people have confidence in, i think you will not have the same kinds of insecurity that exist in several of the states in mexico, and you will not have the kinds of corruption that exist in many states in many governments in mexico. i think also the open economic system and the more foreign investment that comes into mexico also helps to move in the direction we're talking about in the rule of law, because international investors, businesses, don't want to do business. for example, from the united states. where they're going to be subject to foreign corrupt prak
tigss act violations if they participant in a system that is not fair and open and transparent and honest. so the influence of foreign investors, i think is going to significantly help mexico. where do i see mexico going? they've made -- and this government, has made a great start with the reforms that occurred three years ago. particularly in the energy, particularly in education, particularly in labor reforms. the latter two of which still have to be implemented, two of the three at least have to be implemented well, and i think that's going to be a test that we need to look at mexico. how serious are they, this government in actually implementing the education reforms? education in mexico is whoafully behind. there are competitors in asia and elsewhere. it is a system that has just not performed up to the standards of
international education. that's a big test. on energy, i guess i'm not so concerned about the problems of the first round of auctions, because here you have a situation where they have no experience, basically, in how do you run an auction, how do you have a free market system in energy. this generation has never seen that. and so they're going to make mista mistakes along the way. the question is are they learning from the mistakes and will the next round be more fair and open, and if it is, you're going to see a lot more foreign investment as well as mexican investment. if it's not, it's a failure. i think it will be a success. i guess there's many more notes here i made of her comments. the fact that depacto broke
apart. that's inevitable. your not going to get three major political parties agreeing on everything as you go forward so the fact that you could get that done in the first year was remarkable, and it's knot remarkable or unusual that it would break apart, because each of those political parties want to have their own identity so they can go to the polls in the next election and try to have success. so i don't think that that's anything that's -- that we should be concerned about. i do believe there's another reform that holds promise of bringing, having a more representative government in mexico. and that's the reelection in the congress which is which has never been possible before. when you get a situation where you have to run for reelection, you have to present yourself to
the constituents who elected you one time, you want to show them what have you done for them? what have you done for them lately and during your time in office, and i think you're going to see a much more representative group of people elected to office as a result of that. we won't know because it just goes into effect, i guess, 2018, something like that, so i think that's something to keep our eye on. again, it's a positive move in reform in mexico. so i think it's very good to criticize what's going on, and on a constant basis, as dr. dresser has. i think that's good for a democracy. i think we also have to take a realistic view as to where the country was, where this has now, and where it's going, and i'm positive on that. >> thank you. >> why don't we try to -- why don't we take some questions and then maybe you can kind of, you
know, and then respond as the questions. we have about a half hour, and a lot of people there are a lot of issues. if i can ask you to identify yourselves, wait for the microphone. be brief. if you have a comment, don't disguise it as a question. just make the comment. let's start with jose. >> i'm a reporter from mexico. just a question on how you see the u.s. role-playing in all of this. it seems the obama administration is not saying that much about mexico these days. they seem rez ig nated in some ways. how are you feeling of where the u.s. could help or not on this. >> thank you. david, you want to -- >> thank you. david with princeton in latin america. one of the reasons i'm here.
anyway. >> princeton, reforma. >> exactly. >> can't escape it. >> given what happened to carmen, if you felt under threat of losing your job in any particular area that you're now working? >> thank you. we with have one right here and then we'll go to the back, and then we'll give it back to denise. >> hi. i am from mexico. my question is regarding civil society. i don't know what's the role of civil society in all this. it's been growing in mexico, and it's been very strong since pena nieto, but i don't know. right now, it has fallen a little bit, and i don't know. >> great. thank you. good questions. >> denise?
>> i'll take the first three questions, and i have a rejoiner to ambassador jones. i think your use of the world resigned is absolutely appropriate. i think the u.s. has given up on mexico. and what do i mean by given up? the obama administration has too much on its plate in terms of isis, in terms of dmomestic violence, i don't have to delve on the list. you're aware of it. and from what i sense, and from speaking to american officials in mexico, is that ever since the casablanca scandal erupted and pena nieto came here, the
obama administration made a deliberate decision to not involve itself. it could have take an stand. it could have alluded to conflict of interest issues. it could have alluded to corruption. it has decided not to do so. i believe that is a deliberate stance on the part of the obama administration. and this sense of disconnection, i think, has been and will be heightened by the escape of el chapo. because what was the first news to come out in the new york times? that government officials had immediately -- u.s. government officials immediately contacted the u.s. government offering assistance to help find him. drones and all sorts of intelligence and so on, and that the mexican government was not responding. so tie that to the hypotheses about el chapo's escape, and
you'll understand the frustration of the u.s. government regarding mexico's handling of el chapo and others. and there was a fascinating piece about how el chapo was actually captured with u.s. assistance but that assistance was never made public. so if, indeed, that was the case, and that was reported by someone from washington, if the u.s. helped capture him but it was presented by a triumph of the pena nieto administration, how does the u.s. feel now that he's escaped two weeks after the extradition request was put in. second question, do i feel pressured about losing my job? well, one of the things i always tell my students and anyone who is involved in the public debate in mexico is you cannot ever have just one job.
that makes you extremely vulnerable. i have five jobs. i'm a professor and columnist, i have conferences and i write books. if i'm fired from one, i have the others. in what ways have i felt pressured, and this has been very, very ugly. i was one of the advocates of the annulment of the vote in the midterm election. this is a position i had in 2009, and it was influential in 2009 because it led to an agenda of political reform that one adopted because it was so significant and the agenda for reform was reelection, and it was many things that became part of the political reform that they pushed through. why did it support it on this
occasion? because i don't see incentives for the party system to change. i was part of the movement that pushed something called tres detres. we called on every candidate to disclose his -- how do you call it in english -- your assets. that was one. the other was your tax return and the other was potential conflict of interest issues, because these three things are not required of candidates by law in mexico, in our wonderful democracy. we pushed and pushed and pushed. only 397 candidates out of more than 16,000 complied with the request. the other role that i was involved with as an activist was to get significants for the
national electorate to take away the green party. we managed to get together 175,000 significants which is the languagest numbrgest number change.org has gotten in mexico. nothing has changed. not eve an debate. but because i pushed it, what happened? the parties hated me and those who were pushing for it, because it exposes the party system. it says, don't vote. don't legitimize, instead of an staining, go and annul your vote. it shows content. and here's the agenda for what they want. after that, the threats came. death threats, a deliberate campaign on the part of the mexican left, those -- that was the faction that felt the most
vulnerable to the annulment of the vote. they're trying to present themselves as the anti- -- as the real opposition, and if we were saying annul your vote because there isn't a real opposition and there isn't a party that represents you, and so the most paradoxical thing of my entire career has been to feel the worst threats in my professional career and the worst campaign of efforts to discredit me because i charge for conferences. i mean, just go look on twitter. you'll see. and i am an american spy because there was a wikileaks that described a breakfast that i had with someone at the u.s. bz. on and on. the worst threats and worst campaign to try and get me removed from my multiple jobs
have come from the left. the role of civil society, that is my source of optimism. and here is my rejoinder to ambassador jones' comments. he said dresser's harsh criticisms. i would say they're realistic, and i would say who is being realistic here? because mexico is a country of many masks, and in 1966, i was three years old, but i have witnessed the changes of mexico, and i could list them, and they are significant. but the problem for me is that when i hear these arguments of oh, well, but, you know, at least they -- they're competitive in manufacturing, and they have competitive -- at least now they have competitive
elections, there's more media and they're revealing corruption even if they're getting killed for it, the it's like waving a red flag in front of a bull for me, because it's the argument of brdlomanos. at the very least we're better off than one. and that's what they said three days ago in mexico. headline, there are countries that are better off than mexico. well, i'm sorry. [ speaking in spanish ] . it's not the level of the ground. i'm not going to congratulate myself and the country, because what did people used to say yrve
welwell [ speaking in spanish ] . we have reformed and there have been many reforms. i lived as an adult through reforms that created many of the problems that we are dealing with now. reforms that were, at the time, were applauded, and were very poorly instrumented and contributed to cementing the system of crony capitalism that makes the economy uncompetitive because yes, there is competitiveness in manufacturing. look at every other sector. this is not my impression. these are the numbers that the world economic forum publishes on mexican competitiveness and we are falling behind time and again. so why can't we reform properly? why do we never achieve our full potential? why is it that with a privileged, privileged gree graphical locations, millions of talented hard working people who end up in this country, we move
sideways, time and again, because there isn't enough honesty in our diagnosis of the situation of the country, and when there's not enough honesty in the diagnosis, the solutions are not the appropriate ones and they're not as deep as they should be, and they do not take on the vested interests as they should. >> so why do i place my hopes elsewhere? at this point i do not believe that trying to influence the mexican political class to, on its own, adopt appropriate public policy reforms to benefit mexican citizens. that is not going to happen. it's not going to happen unless there's pressure from below, and in that agree with ambassador jones. it's time for mexicans to take their country and make responsibility for their country. it's very difficult for them to do so as a civil society because they lack the channels. i can get 175,000 significants
on twitter in a week. i can take this to every single congressman, and i will ignore the significants because there's no reelection, because there's no incentive to be connected to your constituent, because, yes, there's competition, but there's no accountability or representation. so yes, it's a democracy with competition, and it works very well for the parties because we adopted a system of public financing. their survival doesn't depend on the vote. it depends on a mathematical formula related to how many people turn age 18 every year in the electoral roll call. i call it a system of extraction without representation. and civil society is learning how to organize, but it gets tired. it gets tired because it mobilizes. it organizes. it petitions.
it lobbies, and change is very difficult to enact in a system that has been established to not represent people. [ speaking spanish ] . ambassador jones says, reelection. i was among many who pushed for reelection. and we got the reform, and what happened? look at the [ speaking in spanish ] . the parties set audiotape system of controlled reelection whereby they controlled the lists of who can be reelected. it's not reelection as it's viewed in the united states or as it works in other countries. it's another reform that was applauded and then badly instrumented. so it will not have the effect that we all wanted it to have, and this is what happens in mexico time and again. so, yes, i am -- i celebrate the fact that we have education reform. i celebrate the fact that at&t
is going to come to mexico. there will be advances for consumers as a result of telecoms reform. i can see those little lights. but those little lights are not enough, and i don't think it's fair to compare income concentration in mexico with income concentration in the united states, because here you have that level of income concentration, but you do not have half of your population living in poverty. and you have a substantial middle class that actually has political representation, and when citizens in this country organize a petition with 175,000 significants, they get listened to. or otherwise the bum gets tossed out and the problem in mexico is that we, with this electoral system and this party system, we cannot toss the bums out.
>> thank you. we're going to take a few more questions, and then i'm going to give you an opportunity to have a rejoinder to the rejoinder, and then we'll give the final word to denise. we want to end close to 11. let's go first to peter. >> primarily to denise, but i'd love to here jim jones an this as well. you said you had some optimism about, and sort of there may be, that means to me some realistic path out of this moras you described. can you trace out a few of the ste steps in what you might call the best scenario you can imagine, even if it's only 1% or 5%? what's a scenario that might in ten or 15 years lead mexico to sort of a better place, and tell me what country you might want
mexico to have as its objective. is it brazil? is it chilly? is it china? what's the objective. >> okay. thanks. let's go to the back. >> thank you. i am with epi. you recently wrote that mexican-used papers were shedding their investigative departments. what's the government's roll in this. >> thanks. yes, sir. >> i start with two disclaimers. i have only one job, so i have a stake on my personal capacity and my institutions. the second one is after listening to your second comments, my comment changed a little bit. but i believe that we mention cabs have the obligation to start a country our kids dream about. but sometimes i think we look at
a traditional culture. we look at everything from the center, the president, mexico city, and i wonder if how do we empower the communities? how do we empower the local societys? imagine what would happen in the municipalities instead of having a municipal president being formed by the party, which, by the way, those presidents report to the party and the society, if they are formed by the pharmacies, by the store owner or the professor who really care about the community?
better wishes of the mexican government, we really insisted that it be an open transparent election. the head of then the major civil society asked to see me and we visited. and he said what should we do next? i suggested to them that they ought to start a common cause which is john gardner started in the united states for citizens can petition all across the country their elected representatives and he slugged his shoulders and said they'll never listen to us which was a very discouraging thing. they're beginning to lissen. they're not where they should be. but the more you can stir up
civil society to get involved and express themselves the better future mexico is going to have. democracy and changing of lifestyle of years and years and centuries overnight just doesn't happen. so i think you have to stay after the government, stay after those who are implementing these kinds of reforms in order to see them happen as you want. and if they're not happening as dr. dresser said in the way she would like they are only partially there then stay after them to go the whole route. as far as the united states government taking a hands u off, i really don't see that.
it's not as public. i think that it would be a mistake diplomatically for the united states to jump in and start lecturing the mexicans this is the way you ought to do business. i'm not surprised that our the ment didn't chastise president any more than they don't chastise putin for some of the same things he's accused of doing in russia. so we have to be sensible when we have a diplomatic relationship. however, i think behind the scenes and below the spotlight our governments are working together very, very well on a number of things. how do we improve our borders? how do we integrate our economic resources? those kinds of things i think re going to adhere to to the benefit of the citizens in both countries.
so i don't think we have a hands off relationship. i think it would be well if our congress, our senate would onfirm roberta jacobson as our ambassador and the mexican government would appoint its ambassador to the united states. it's an important position in both countries and it needs to be there they need to be on the ground and i think would do a terrific job representing the united states and understanding the relationship very, very well. >> what would be the positive scenario and how would i envision it? i believe that many of the reforms on paper are things
that mexico needs. the problem -- and i am not for example i am not one of those people who believe that opening up the energy sector was bad idea. that's not it at all. i think many people are supportive of the reforms but are very fearful about their implementation and about what comes in the secondary legislation after the constitutional reforms are approved. and that's where you see the reforms being undermined at the level of impleltation and at the level of the secondry legislation. and i could give examples of this. so in order to avoid the reformist impulse from dying out, what would the government have to do? make sure that the reforms are not diluted by secondary legislation. and make sure that the implementation is pristine.
transparent. and accountable. and that would require the mexican government to do something it is very bad at which is regulating. and that's the reason why mexicans distrust the reforms. they distrust energy reform not necessarily because it's opening up the sector to private investment but because we've seen what opening up sectors to private investment has done in the past with poor regulation. it's just entailed the mass yoif transfer of wealth to private entities. why do i give that such a low percentage in terms of my prospect for the future? because we have not done this
well at all. and even more conservative analysts, who one would never accuse of being a harsh critic of mexico's governments in the past necessarily has said if you don't get good regulation -- nergy it's going to be once again. so for energy reforms to succeed it has to be regulated pristine transparent and truly competitive and not just a way of creating yet another source of rent seeking for the newest company that carlos just created. so where would i envision mexico if it did things well? what would i like it to be? well, i would like it to be like australia in terms of competition policy, across the board, that dismantled monopolies dismantled
bottlenecks and led to a 3% growth in g.d.p. after competition policy was enacted. if i was president that would be my first move. second issue you have to push forward political reform that actually empowers citizens and gives them effective mechanisms of representation and participation. because the ones they have today are absolutely farcecal. so i would like mexico to be like canada insofar as in terms of the representational nature of its democracy. or i would like it to be like chile in terms of its oral trial system and its rule of law system, which you are not going to get in mexico when u you have oral trials that i applaud and i am grateful to the administration for having supported the transition to oral trials. but if you don't reform the police, you're going to have great trials with people who have been unfairly arrested and
tortured when the case begins. so i would like mexico to be more like the u.s. in terms of the decouragization of marijuana. because we are fighting a war over substances that are increasingly being legalized in their main market, which is here. so the positive scenario for me would entail movement in those areas. and the supervision and implementation of reforms in the spirit in which they were nceived under the -- for mexico, which was the right one. we need to move this country .nd we need to turn it from on tion about newspaper investigative journalism.
why are they doing that? because they are being pressured. because after the casa blanca d the firing, the pressure increased. because there is a lot of cash flowing through the system given our system of public financing for parties. and a lot of that cash is being used to buy the media. and what you have seen in mexico since carmen was taken off the air is the virtual silence on many of the issues that i've raised here today that are not covered in the mainstream press and that are not covered in the radio. and you see people valiant to leave was forced because she did the investigative reporting on the federal police killing
civilians. and they told her to take her piece with her and leave. so she managed to get to put it on the air -- well, not even on the air. with the support of univision and the support of processo magazine. so what's happening to investigative journalism? it's being demoralized destroyed dismantled in the context of which the powers that be don't want more reporters tracking down whether or not the casa blanca of the first lady is going to be sold or not as she promised. recently, a u.s. journalist with all of the support of one of the major u.s. news outlets interviews me for a story on the casa blanca and says i sent one of my investigative people
to the public registry to see if indeed the house that the first lady promised to sell had been sold. and while she was standing in line, she got a call from the head of the office of communications of the presidency saying that she didn't have the credentials to be doing investigative journalism in mexico because her cv hadn't been formally presented. so when this journalist called she's told it was just a coincidence that we called your reporter today while she happened to be in line getting this information on the casa blanka. and this u.s. journal said to me that she said very uncomfortable coincidence. and she is told by the office of communications of the presidency you can't be out there doing investigative journalism on your own. everything that relates to the casa banka and the presidency
goes through us. you call us first. so that's what you're seeing. and that goes to the third question. which is i would urge everyone in this room to read article 19's report on the state of journalism in mexico. what does that report reveal? and the data is all there and all of the cases are there that a journalist in mexico is threatened or is killed. and why have you seen this spike? because of the confluence of corruption, organized crime, drug trafficking, and the way in which these three interact. 48% of the aggressions against journalists are committed by authorities. and the government says they are dying because they're covering drug trafficking and organized crime. but this reporter who left vera cruz, the threats were coming from the governor.
they weren't coming from organized crime. although one could say that yes they were. so it's becoming increasingly difficult to be a journalist in mexico. ambassador jones says there's competitive media. well, really? hen it has 85% market share? and 15%? and if you only got your political information from open television in mexico, you would think that you were living in a parallel country because you these ver hear about things. you wouldn't even know that these things had occurred. and people knew that these things had occurred when carmen was on the air around now they only know them through twitter or the rest of the social media or independent journalist whose are out there risks their lives and political cartoonist whose
are looking to how they can leave the country. how do we empower communities. i absolutely agree we are not going -- that's where the energy has to be focused and that's where i intend to focus my energieses in the next 10 years which is teaching citizenship and ways of participation at the local level. and i think one of the major transitions that needs to occur , that would spike that, that would be a catalyst for political participation at the local level would be if local governments and states were forced to collect tax which is they don't do now. so they have no incentive to be responsiblee responsive to their citizens. when that changes -- that's why i'm always asked. when do i think mexico will change in a dramatic fashion? it won't be because of me or others that are harsh in their criticisms. it will be when the country
runs out of oil. because that's what keeps the whole machinery going. and i hope that that happens soon and it's very politically incorrect to say so. but it would be the best thing that could possibly happen to mexico because it would force the government to collect taxes. and governments that collect taxes and citizens who are forced to pay them -- and i pay mine religiously because i always say i am buying the right to complain. i am buying the right to be harsh. and i have that right. is this on c-span? >> that's allowed. >> it's a disgrace. i mean, green party governor but plees remember this is a green party that has been expelled from the international coalition of green parties because it support it is death
penalty. it support it is life of bulls and circus animals. it does not support the life of humans. this is a party that accrued fines million pessos in for elect torl misconduct. it is a party that three days ago was revealed that the governors' mother is receiving millions of pessos of payments for being nomly the head of the government children's fund for the state. the governor is telegenic. he married an actress. he is following the marketing strategy. and i do believe that elect ral fraud was committed in the recent election and i do believe that the party over spent the legal limit for its electoral activities and that
it will never be sanctioned. because what's happened is with the reconcentration, with the elimination of the state you oral -- of the -- what have now is the concentrated national elect torl authority that doesn't know what's going on at the levels of the states in terms of irregularities. and even if it wanted to intervene all of these disputes -- when the green party was fined, would eliminate the fine. so what did the green party inaugurate in this election? in 25% of the green party's vote in this election. it inaugurated a little map for how you win the election. which is you break the law. it doesn't matter you accrue
millions of pessos in fines. some of the fines are removed by electoral authorities that are in your favor. and the others you pay with, with the public financing you get in your first year. or you take out a loan and you pay them. the thing is you win even if you do so cheating. and even if you then have to pay the fines. so the incentives to break the law for every party now are huge. and the green party has shown that you can do this and you won't lose your registration. so what you saw is going to be the road map for the pri and the green party in the 2008 president -- 2018 presidential election. >> on that note, i want to thank all of you for coming. i thank ambassador jones. this has been i think a
terrific session. it covered a lot of ground a lot of different points of view, a lot of different issues. we'll be following what happens and the different scenarios and hope for the optimistic one that at least i think sort of outlined a good road map. i think we should come back in maybe 6 months and how how far we're getting on that road. so thank you very, very much for joining us. [applause] >> on today's "washington journal" a look at the coverage of the 2016 presidential race. also politico reporter tony raum talks about funding for broad band expansion for rural areas. we take your calls and look for your comments on facebook and twitter. live every day at 7:00 a.m.
eastern on c-span. >> the national urban league recently hosted its annual conference in fort lauderdale, florida, focusing on fleecing, education and the 2016 election. among the speakers, reverend al sharpton. >> we are on the brink of a post obama era. we have had for seven years a black president and a black first lady and a black first family. whoever wins this election will be the first white in the history of this country to succeed a black president. we've never been there before.
so we need to see who is the ne that we feel is qualified to follow eight years of a president sensitive to us that come from us that will not turn around what he has began. we don't intend that when the black family leaves the white house that black concerns leave the white house with them. >> you can see more from the national urban league tonight. >> with the senate in its august break we'll feature book tv programming week nights and prime time on c-span 2. at the end of the summer look for
♪ >> this week on "q&a," kevyn orr, who served as emergency manager for the city of detroit, talks about overseeing the largest municipal bankruptcy in u.s. history. when mr. orr took over as emergency manager in march 2013, detroit faced a long-term debt of $18 billion, a housing market collapse, a pension crisis, and a serious decline in city services. mr. orr discusses what he did to turn things around and responds to some of the criticism leveled at him while he was on the job. brian: kevyn orr, from march 14, 2013 until december 10, 2014, you served as emergency manager of detroit. kevyn: yes. brian: why did you take the job? kevyn: i have been asked that a lot of times. i was a restructuring professional. detroit is 82% african-american, a city that had gone through several decades of decline. it was a city that needed restructuring. i initially was a little reluctant to take the job. i thought