Mexico's presidential elections occur every six years, marking
periods known as "sexenios." This year, in addition to electing the
president, voters will choose all 128 Senators (six-year terms) and
all 500 members of the lower Chamber of Deputies (three-year
terms). Moreover, they will choose governors in two of Mexico's 31
states and cast ballots for state legislatures and municipal
offices in nine states and the federal district of Mexico City.
These elections are the first to occur under sweeping electoral
reforms enacted during President Ernesto Zedillo's administration.
They will be the first to be administered by an autonomous Federal
Electoral Institute (IFE) and culminate more than a decade of
electoral reform since 1988 when a purported computer malfunction
and questionable vote tally scandalized the election of President
Carlos Salinas Gortari.
So far, the dominant campaign topic is electoral honesty-whether
the PRI, which has governed Mexico since 1929, will refrain from
manipulating the elections; whether Mexicans can accept change
should the ruling party lose; and who can best continue political
reforms already in progress. Candidates have also debated how to
compete in the global marketplace, how to improve Mexico's
workforce through education, and how to make Mexico's legislative
and judicial branches of government more independent of the
executive. On U.S.-Mexican relations, some candidates have proposed
new agreements on labor and migration as well as better cooperation
on fighting crime and drug trafficking.
CARLOS HEREDIA: Good morning,
everyone. I would like to thank Steve Johnson and The Heritage
Foundation for this opportunity to share with you some ideas about
the impact that elections in Mexico may have on U.S.-Mexican
First of all, let me tell you that the
core of the U.S.-Mexico relationship in the past few years has
been, as you know, trade and financial issues. The continuity of
that priority will depend on who gets elected.
candidate of the Alliance for Mexico [an alliance that includes the
Partido de la Revolución Democrática], Mr.
Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas has very clearly stated that our
priority is Mexico and Mexicans. It is not to please Wall Street.
It is to nurture our domestic market to promote micro, small, and
medium Mexican companies, to enhance the possibility of Mexicans to
participate in a vigorous economy at home.
is not to say that we advocate an isolated economy at all. It is
just getting our priorities right. In the past 18 years, the
priorities have been mistaken, and our economic policy has sought
to be on good terms with the international financial institutions
and financial centers rather than creating more opportunities for
Cárdenas aims to recreate the sense of a national community.
We want to give that a lot of interest, a lot of priority. We want
to emphasize the sense of a national community. Our nation has
grown increasingly polarized, both in economic and political
20 percent of Mexicans that are at the top, in terms of the
distribution of income, are 30 times richer than the 20 percent
that are in the lower echelons. At the same time, in spite of the
progress we have made in terms of the political system, it is still
a challenge to have free, fair, democratic elections.
believe we have a general counsel of the IFE [Federal Electoral
Institute] that is reliable, but the farther away you go from the
urban areas into the slums, into the rural areas, then vote-rigging
and vote-buying is still an extensive practice. We have to stop
that so as to make sure that the free will of the Mexican people
will be represented in the economic policies and the social
policies that whoever gets elected will promote.
for the relationship with the United States, the U.S. government
has made it clear that it can work with whoever gets elected. But
it is also very clear that what they are aiming for is a continuity
of the financial policies that have been in place, at least during
the last three administrations.
is why I take interest in the contrast that there is between the
remarks of people like [former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury] Bob
Rubin and [current U.S. Secretary of the Treasury] Larry Summers,
who pronounce the Mexican economy in good health, and [Attorney
General] Janet Reno and the INS [Immigration and Naturalization
Service], who say we need more money, more people deployed along
the border of the same country whose economy is supposed to be
doing very well.
Thousands and hundreds of thousands of
Mexicans try to migrate northward. NAFTA was supposed to help stem
this migration and create jobs for Mexicans at home so as to
prevent them from coming to the United States. The number of
Mexicans here in this metropolitan area in Manassas, in Arlington,
in Manhattan, is unprecedented, and that begs a question.
question is: What are the policies that best serve the interest of
the Mexican people? Our answer and Mr. Cárdenas's answer is:
policies open to the world but that have the priorities right. And
the number one priority for us is to create opportunities,
education, jobs in Mexico, at the local level, at the regional
level, at the national level.
believe that delivering for Mexicans will make us stronger and will
put us in a better position to have a very vibrant, friendly
relationship with the United States, both at the executive level,
president-to-president, and at the congressional level. We just had
the 39th inter-parliamentary meeting with the U.S. Congress, and it
was highly productive.
that is the message Mr. Cárdenas sends. Our priority is the
Mexican people, the welfare of the Mexican people, and to create
opportunities for the Mexican people. Thank you.
CARLOS SALAZAR: Good morning to you
all. I would like to thank The Heritage Foundation and Steve
Johnson for organizing this historic event. I would like,
also, to thank you for being here, because I know you have your own
presidential election, and you still have time to hear about what
is happening in Mexico.
here to tell you that Mexico can be much better than it is today. I
represent the PAN, Mexico's oldest and largest pro-democracy
is PAN? According to a U.S. scholar from the World Policy Institute
in New York, the PAN is anything but radical, but it proposes
democracy. Honest elections and rule of law are nonetheless
revolutionary in a country accustomed to corruption, electoral
fraud, and one-party rule. In other words, the PAN advocates what
Americans are fortunate to take for granted.
the 2nd of July, we will have the opportunity to choose between
more of the same 71-year policies of corruption, fraud, and
economic stagnation or a true democracy of rule of law,
transparency, and economic freedom advocated by the PAN, its
presidential candidate Vicente Fox, and most Mexicans. The PAN is
Mexico's democratic alternative, and it is known for good
you know, our candidate, Vicente Fox, is tied, and even ahead, in
most opinion polls with the candidate of the PRI, a former
secretary of government who is in charge of the secret police and
political police of Mexico. Fox will have the first legitimate
government in generations. Legitimate government is the first step
in working towards a solution for Mexico's many problems, and we
will need a lot of work to overcome a sad legacy left behind by the
does this legacy include? According to the World Bank, Freedom
House, Transparency International, and other organizations, real
wages in Mexico are the same as they were in 1970. Mexico has twice
the child malnutrition rate as South Africa and Brazil. Yet Mexico
also has the fourth largest number of billionaires in the world,
who mostly owe their fortune to their government connections.
Mexico has one of the most underfunded
health care systems in Latin America--even lower per capita than
Peru, Nicaragua, and Bolivia. Mexico is one of the most restrictive
countries in terms of freedom, according to Freedom House. Mexico is
one of the most corrupt nations on Earth, tied with Senegal, China,
survey of 67 countries by the World Bank, Mexico was the most
restrictive place for new business creation. All 22 past communist
countries, and 20 African countries, fared better in that survey.
Mexico has one of the poorest countrysides in Latin America. In
fact, Brazilian, Paraguayan, Syrian, South African, and Iranian
farmers have more tractors per capita than Mexican ones.
one adds the amount of money that is known to have been stolen by
the PRI since 1970, it is $128 billion. That would be as if a U.S.
politician had stolen $3 trillion since 1970. Mexico also has the
highest overall amount of domestic capital flight in Latin
highly encourage all of you to visit the Web site, www.PRILEGACY.com, to see how
devastated Mexico really is. This is at the World Policy Institute
of New York.
Could all this be because Mexico also has
the longest-ruling one-party system in the world? While Mexico
today suffers from Africa-like conditions, there is no reason why
Mexico cannot become the next Spain, the next Czech Republic, the
next Poland. According to the Technological Institute of Monterrey,
which is the Harvard of Mexico, the states governed by the
opposition are the best-managed states in Mexico, despite all of
the obstacles we have to face.
main points are, first, economic freedom: PRI represents only
macroeconomic stability with very restrictive micro. I would like
you to remember what happened with Ceausescu in Romania. They had
very healthy macroeconomic indicators. On the other hand, this was
one of the most oppressive dictatorships of the last century.
Second point: emphasis on human capital.
Illiteracy actually increased in the latest PRI sexennial.
the third one: rule of law. The PAN will end the culture of
impunity. Vicente Fox will lead Mexico into the 21st century with
prosperity, hope, and freedom.
FRANCISCO GUERRERO: First of all, I
would like to thank Stephen Johnson and The Heritage Foundation for
the kind invitation. It is always good for democracy to discuss and
analyze different points of view. Particularly, I am glad to share
this experience with Carlos Salazar and Carlos Heredia from the PAN
and the PRD.
we all know, Mexico and the United States are holding presidential
elections this year, and independent of the result, both countries
will continue the path of cooperation and free trade in the future.
This event is a great opportunity to understand the context in
which political parties in Mexico are competing and to determine
the effect of their policies on the bilateral agenda.
prior to explaining the position of my party, in terms of the
bilateral relation, I would like to speak a little bit about the
context in which these elections are happening. As you should know,
Mexicans have overcome the economic crisis of 1994, and towards the
end of the Zedillo administration, we are searching for ways to
ensure that economic crisis will not appear in the years to
is important to remember that NAFTA has emerged as a powerful
market that drives economic development in the region. And it is
important to remember as well that under the PRI government, NAFTA
was encouraged and defended against other political forces who did
not believe in this idea.
political scenario in Mexico has changed dramatically in recent
years. The opposition holds 11 governorships and, within Congress,
continues sets of equilibriums that produce new checks and balances
within this body. We have to recognize as well that we have a new
role of the media, which is particularly interesting at this
moment, and that elections are being organized by the IFE and
qualified by TRIFE [the Federal Election Tribunal], which I believe
give us a certainty that we will have clean elections this year.
Nevertheless, despite all of the advantages of the "new" Mexico, we
have to recognize that we still have to fight against poverty and
a year ago, the PRI took the historic decision to hold open
primaries to elect its presidential candidate. Francisco Labastida
was elected on November 7 with the participation of almost 10
million Mexicans. It is important to say that the PRI was the only
political party that used these procedures, which meant that any
citizen with voting credentials could vote, even if he didn't
belong to the party.
Francisco Labastida is a democratic
candidate who is running now against other parties with the
strength of an open process and the support of millions all over
the country. Francisco Labastida, our presidential candidate, is
politically positioned in the center and is using his political
experience to guarantee a viable and mature project that will put
people in first place among any other considerations.
is very complicated to explain his political platform in five
minutes, but I will try to summarize very briefly the main aspects
of his political campaign.
First of all, we believe that we have to
continue with economic growth and job opportunities. In this sense,
NAFTA is an essential part of this strategy.
Second, we believe in more and better
education. PRI has been always a promoter of education, and we keep
working this issue.
Third, we believe that we should invest
more in people's lives, which means to increase the quality of
living of many Mexicans around the country.
- Fourth, we believe in equity and access to
personal development of opportunities.
Also, Francisco Labastida stands for an
open fight against corruption and power abuse. He is the only
candidate that has disclosed his personal assets. As an honest man,
he has a popular reputation as a politician who has lived a clean
Going particularly to the bilateral
agenda, since the overlapping administrations of Presidents Dwight
Eisenhower and Adolfo Ruiz Cortines in the 1950s, the inaugurations
of the U.S. and Mexican presidents have coincided every 12 years.
The synchronism offers both incoming leaders an opportunity to
reevaluate relations between their countries and to outline future
believe, and Francisco Labastida believes, that North America is a
strategic region for Mexican national interests and, therefore,
relations with the United States and Canada are a foreign relations
priority. Through NAFTA, we have become partners in one of the
biggest and most successful economic areas of the world. Our
bilateral agenda includes a myriad of issues at the domestic,
regional, and global levels that must be addressed through a
respectful and constructive dialogue in order to make the most of
the current trends and opportunities that this unique relationship
that sense, we have four particular objectives.
First, we believe that we should endeavor
to strengthen mutual trust, consolidating and improving the
institutional mechanisms for dialogue and cooperation that we have
developed over the past few years, particularly NAFTA.
Second, Mexico should strengthen the
mechanisms to protect and support Mexicans who immigrate and live
in the United States.
Third, it is vital to promote greater
comprehensive and conditional economic and political cooperation,
with respect for each other's sovereignty, to make the most of the
opportunities stemming from globalization while minimizing its
- Finally, it is important to promote a
better understanding of each other's culture and identity among our
government, private, and academic sectors and--more
importantly--between our people.
These objectives will be fundamental for
reducing the negative stereotypes that effect our relationship.
CARLOS HEREDIA: The position of the
PRI vis-à-vis the Mexican community in the United States is
very clear. They voted "no" to the right of Mexicans to vote in
presidential elections abroad, and they voted "no" in the House,
and they voted "no" in the Senate, so they ultimately blocked the
opportunity for Mexicans living abroad to vote in these
Cárdenas has been very consistent in the past few years in
saying we need to incorporate immigration, labor, mobility into
NAFTA. Some people will say that won't fly in the U.S. Congress
right now. Ultimately, we are bound to include the exports of
Mexican manpower in any kind of comprehensive economic agreement
that we may have in North America, and that will take us on a route
on which Mexico will be more competitive internationally by having
a vibrant domestic market.
Finally, I would like to make it clear
that Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas is leading the race in
Mexico City, according to the poll issued by Berumen Associates a
couple of days ago, which is the best informed electorate in the
country. We are leading the race for the gubernatorial election in
Mexico City. We are leading the race for the presidential election
in Mexico City.
CARLOS SALAZAR: I think there is no
doubt that the relationship between Mexico and the United States,
and also with Canada, is very important. But we have to be very
clear on this. If Mexico does not do its own homework--that is to
say, if we don't have rule of law, economic freedom, honest
elections, if we don't have a true democracy--this relationship is
not going to improve, because it affects all of the issues of the
bilateral agenda: trade, crime, drug trafficking, and
the most important thing in Mexico is to have a government which
has the legitimacy and the will to change and to do our homework,
and the PRI has not the legitimacy nor the will.
FRANCISCO GUERRERO: Because of time
constraints, I would just like to focus on two comments made by the
representative of the PAN that I believe are extremely negative in
a way and do not correspond to reality.
First of all is this Africa-like
comparison that he makes with the data of an international
organization. I think that everybody who has been in Mexico knows
that Mexico is not close to these examples that he has used. I
don't see Mexico with the same eyes that he is looking at the
country. I don't agree with that view. I think it is unacceptable,
and it is unrealistic.
second thing that I would like to point out is that not only Carlos
Salazar, but even Fox during the debate, keeps saying that he is
ahead in opinion polls. Francisco Labastida is ahead in more than
25 opinion polls, and although in some polls--some of them made by
Fox--he is ahead, the comparison between 25 and 2, I think, is
clear. So I think it is a shame that he comes to this event to
spread this kind of information.
JOURNALIST PANEL QUESTIONS
DOLIA ESTEVEZ: My first question is
for Mr. Guerrero from the PRI. Francisco Labastida has said
throughout the campaign that if he wins the election, he will not
tolerate corruption in his government. But how can people believe
him when we recently saw the way he brought back some of the most
questionable people in the PRI?
referring to the old guard, to the group called the "dinosaurs,"
who he has reached out to and who are very well known, both in
Mexico and in the United States, for their questionable personal
reputation. By reaching out to these individuals, is he not sending
the wrong message?
DR. GUERRERO: First of all, as you
have mentioned, Dolia, one of the main points in Francisco
Labastida's agenda is to fight corruption. I wouldn't like to
direct the discussion, particularly, to particular persons. You
have mentioned some people.
MS. ESTEVEZ: I didn't say any
names. I just said--
DR. GUERRERO: I wouldn't like to
refer, particularly, to persons. I would like to refer to public
policy, and the public policy that Francisco Labastida is defending
is that when he was the governor of the state of Sinaloa, he fought
corruption in a frontal manner. He will continue to do that when he
becomes the president of Mexico.
Second, in relation to this discussion
between the new PRI and the old PRI, I do not believe that the PRI
can be qualified in this moment as new or old. The party is unified
now, and we are working together, young people, old people, mature
people. And the main objective at this moment is to win the
election. So in the party you can see the coexistence of different
currents of different ages, particularly between people who have
more experience and people who are not that experienced, but at
least who are giving, at this moment, young blood to the
MS. ESTEVEZ: My next question is to
Carlos Heredia. Despite what you just said, most polls indicate
that Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, the PRD candidate,
continues to trail. That is to say, that Fox and Labastida are
pretty much, in most of the polls, pretty close.
question to you is: Do you agree with many analysts and people,
even in your own party, who think that on July 2nd, the PRD voters
should vote for Fox to get rid of the PRI's control of the
presidency? If your answer is no, can you tell us why?
DR. HEREDIA: Thank you for your
question, Dolia. Of course, I do not agree. We represent an
alternative, a progressive alternative that has been built over
time in Mexico, and we are advocating transparency. We are
advocating actually a market-led strategy. That may sound
the biggest scandal in the Zedillo administration, the Fobaproa, the PRD has
been the only one that has worked for transparency. The PRD did not
approve of the conversion of $100 billion of private liabilities
into public debt, and our alternative is to introduce transparency
into the system, to make the system accountable.
alternative has been built over a number of years. We keep pushing
for it, working on it. Come July the 2nd, we trust that Mr.
Cárdenas is going to be in a much higher percentage than he
is right now, and the trend has begun to change. He is going up in
said, we're leading the presidential race in Mexico City, which is
the most sophisticated electorate. So the answer is, we are going
to go ahead with a campaign that advocates a strong economy for
Mexicans, transparency, accountability.
MS. ESTEVEZ: My third question is
to Dr. Salazar. Vicente Fox has blamed 71 years of PRI rule for the
unprecedented levels of drug-connected violence and corruption we
have in Mexico. I suppose a lot of people would agree with him.
what is he proposing to start reversing that trend? In his speeches
and policy statements, there is very little to make one really
believe that he has policies to counter such a problem in
DR. SALAZAR: First of all, we have
to realize that we have some role models--countries that have come
from stagnation and dictatorship--and these countries have proved
that it is possible to defeat all this tradition, all the legacy
we're going to receive. So, for example, Estonia and the Czech
Republic, Poland. In the same way, we're going to change.
the first thing is that we have to have democracy. What we have to
realize is, democracy and good government is going to bring
accountability. Then we have to have rule of law. We need to have a
true independent judiciary power, and we have to reform the police,
all the police forces. Through this, through democracy, we will
have the tools to start in changing all the tradition, all the
legacy that we are going to inherit from the PRI.
LAURENCE ILIFF: This question is
for Francisco Guerrero. For the first time in the campaign, Mr.
Labastida has recently admitted that the PRI could lose on July 2nd
after 71 years in power. My question is: How did the ruling party
get to this difficult situation? What is it going to do to get out
if you could, please talk a little bit about the end of the new
PRI, the end of references to the new PRI, and the return of people
like Manuel Bartlett, who is accused of stealing a 1988 election
from the opposition. Thank you.
DR. GUERRERO: Well, again, we keep
referring to particular persons. I understand that the purpose of
this meeting is to discuss public policy in relation to the United
States. But since you want to talk about the new PRI or the old
PRI, I will have to repeat the same answer that I gave to
Personally, I have been a member of the
PRI for 17 years. I am 34 years old, so I don't consider myself as
old. In the party you can see people from all ages, people who are
very experienced, people who are younger, and all of us have the
same goal. The same goal at this moment is to win the election, to
win the majority in Congress, to conserve our majority in the
Senate, and the most important thing now is that we have the
opportunity to tell people what sort of policies Francisco
Labastida is putting ahead.
think it is a false discussion to put the PRI in terms of old or
new. I think the real discussion now is that the PRI is defending
its political points of view, according to their experience of 71
years governing the country and the good and the bad things that we
have had in the past.
think that the balance that Mexicans are having about the political
campaign of Francisco Labastida is not referred to in this
discussion that we're having about new and old. I think that the
important thing now is the party is united, and within the party
all the forces are welcome.
Personally, I have a good relationship
with all the members of my party, old or new, and I think this is a
false debate, as I was saying. The important thing now is that
Francisco Labastida is ahead in the polls and that we are going to
win the next election.
MR. ILIFF: This is for Mr. Heredia.
Last year, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas was negotiating an
opposition alliance to topple the PRI. Now that he failed to reach
the alliance, and failed to move to the center, he seems to be
taking more of a hard-core leftist viewpoint toward economics and
wonder if you could talk about what that means for U.S.-Mexico
relations and what that means for globalization. Is Mr.
Cárdenas going in the wrong direction?
DR. HEREDIA: Mr. Cárdenas is
going in the right direction, Laurence. Let me tell you that we
negotiated in good faith an alliance of the opposition in August
and September of 1999. We proposed a citizen council or an election
of the presidential candidate of the opposition. It didn't work
mandate is a mandate that has to do with the needs of Mexicans, and
I believe that a top issue for the United States in the next few
years will be governance in Mexico. Mr. Cárdenas proposes an
economy that will help family farms, micro, small, and medium
businesses in Mexico become competitive.
are not advocating an economy that will just trickle down the
benefits from big corporations through a handful of individuals. We
are going to work on an economy that becomes competitive by
enhancing the education, the human capital of our people, of our
businessmen, of our workers.
MR. ILIFF: This is a question about
the character of Vicente Fox. In recent weeks, Vicente Fox has come
under increased scrutiny for what his foes call inconsistencies and
untempered populism. In the United States, he hints that he would
privatize the national oil company [PEMEX], and in Mexico he denies
the April 25th debate, he pledged to take up the causes of Mexico's
neglected minority groups, even while questioning Mr. Labastida's
manhood with politically incorrect epithets, and he has promised an
astounding 7 percent yearly economic growth. Which is the real Mr.
Fox: the populist or the realist, the politically correct or the
DR. SALAZAR: Let me tell you
something. I think, first of all, that Fox is a well-grounded
person. He has lived in the countryside of Mexico. He has been very
successful in the private sector--he worked at Coca-Cola. And he
has been also very successful as a politician, as a congressman,
and also as governor of Guanajuato. So he knows the different
Mexicos we have.
don't have only one Mexico. If you travel and you go to the
countryside, you visit the campesinos, or you visit the cities--for
example, Monterrey or Mexico City--you will find that Mexico has
very different Mexicos, and we need a president who is able to
address to all these different Mexicans first of all.
the second thing: I think Fox is changing the way the politicians
have been working in Mexico for several years. The PRI has been
using lies, so they are very surprised to find someone who speaks
with the truth, and he is charismatic. He has a way to communicate
to Mexicans that they understand.
the other, regarding PEMEX: I think there is an article by the
magazine Proceso in which they clarified that the words of Vicente
Fox in New York, when he was addressing the American Society, were
used partially by the PRI in a spot in Mexico. So if you read all
the article that was published by Proceso, you will find that there
is no contradiction.
PRI is trying to represent Fox as someone who is not consistent,
but the thing is that they are very afraid that for the first time
in 71 years, they have a real candidate who can defeat the PRI.
TOM GJELTEN: I think that a lot of
people in Washington would be disappointed if no one asked a
question about drugs, since this is the number one controversial
issue between the United States and Mexico. So, for Dr. Guerrero:
How much farther will the Labastida government go than its
predecessors, if at all, with respect to cooperation with U.S.
interested specifically in extradition. Would your government be
willing to extradite drug suspects to the United States, more than
have been extradited so far? Also, what policies would your
government follow with respect to DEA [Drug Enforcement
Administration] agents operating in Mexico, whether they would have
diplomatic immunity, whether they would be able to search Mexican
boats, and whether they would be able, in any circumstances, to
DR. GUERRERO: This is an
interesting question, because you have mentioned the drug problem
between Mexico and the United States, and we have to find ways to
solve it in a more rational manner, and that includes not only
Mexico, but as well includes the United States. I think that so far
the cooperation has been good, and we have had some results in this
particularly, I would like to emphasize that Francisco Labastida
was governor of the state of Sinaloa, which in the past has had
serious problems with drug trafficking. So perhaps he is the only
candidate who really understands and knows in his own person. He
has lost dear friends, thanks to the work that he has put forward
in order to attack drugs.
think that we should increase and improve the level of cooperation
that we have had in the past, particularly in this field. And
Francisco Labastida, because of his experience, I would say he
would be tougher against drug lords because he has had experience
of fighting them in his own state.
MR. GJELTEN: Dr. Heredia, I'm going
to follow up a little bit on Dolia's question. Your economic
program put you at the opposite end of the spectrum from the PAN,
and yet you share with the PAN a political agenda, which is to
dislodge the PRI. If your party has to choose between promoting
economic policies that differentiate you from the PAN or
cooperating with the PAN in order to dislodge the PRI, which of
those agendas has the higher priority?
DR. HEREDIA: Thank you for your
question, Tom. Our top priority is to associate ourselves to
cooperate with the Mexican people. We have a very clear platform.
It is well-known to Mexicans. We feel that we are moving forward
the interest of Mexican families.
to the extent that other parties coincide and that we will have a
proximity, I, for one, think that alliances are important. That's
why we negotiated in good faith in the poll. What will happen from
now until July the 2nd, we don't know.
too, believe that we need a transition for democracy in Mexico. We
don't have true democracy in Mexico now. Mr. Cárdenas has
been probably the key figure in Mexican politics during the past 12
years, the most attacked by the system. Mexican democracy has moved
forward, to a great extent, thanks to what Mr. Cárdenas has
done in the past 12 years.
me tell you that I believe that the race in the last few weeks will
increasingly become Cárdenas and Fox. Why? Because Mr.
Labastida is simply more of the same, and it will become a dead
heat in the end. I am telling you this because we are looking at
the trends, and the government and Mr. Labastida are in a panic
Finally, I would like to get just ten
seconds on the former question. The PRD is for globalization, for
globalization of a living wage, for globalization of the right to
people for work, for globalization of what we have heard in
Seattle, in Davos, in Bangkok, right here in Washington, D.C., the
right of a parent to earn a living, decent wage to support a
MR. GJELTEN: Dr. Salazar, I want to
ask you about your expectations with regard to the Clinton
Administration and your campaign. How do you feel about the
position that the United States has taken or not taken with respect
to your campaign? Are you satisfied that the United States is
remaining neutral? And, in particular, if Mr. Labastida were to win
with fewer than 5 percent of the votes, what would you expect of
this administration with respect to their viewpoint on that
DR. SALAZAR: Regarding the
relationship between Mexico and the United States, I think there
has been, for several years, a kind of tacit or explicit support
from the U.S. government to the PRI. And I think in the past this
happened because there was not a real alternative in Mexico.
think now things are changing. I think in Mexico we have a true
alternative to the PRI, so I don't think that the U.S. government
is going to support a party that wins through fraud. I don't think
they are going to receive the support from Mexico.
the other hand, I think now the opposition in this case, Vicente
Fox, has the stability card, the one that the PRI has been using
for several years. Because if you see all the polls, all the young
people, all the educated, all the small- and medium-sized
entrepreneurs are supporting the opposition, mainly Fox and the
rest, Cárdenas. But no one else is supporting the PRI, only
the machinery of the PRI that works in the countryside, where the
people are hungry, where the people have fear.
what Vicente Fox is saying is that the PRI needs to win with a very
big margin, because otherwise the young people from the urban side
will not accept the result, because they know that they buy the
elections or they steal the elections. We trust the IFE, but the
IFE has a limited jurisdiction.
don't trust the PRI. We don't trust Labastida, and the government
of President Zedillo, because, as you can read in yesterday's New
York Times, they have been trying to stop the campaign of the IFE
to promote a free and secret vote. They have been stopping the work
of the commission at the Chamber of Deputies, and they have been
treating very badly the opposition candidates on television.
DR. SALAZAR: In July 1997,
President Zedillo was asked by the Chicago Tribune why
Mexico has so much corruption. He cynically answered that this is
the fault of the Mexican people and our cultural tradition.
here to say to Mr. Zedillo that the corruption Mexico suffers is
the fault of those who have failed to overturn the illegitimate
one-party state. Mexicans in the United States have proven Mr.
Zedillo wrong. When given a chance, Mexicans do well.
PRI has neither the legitimacy nor the will to end its highly
lucrative one-party regime, unjust social system, and crony
capitalism. The PAN does have the legitimacy, the will, and the
proven leadership to bring democracy, prosperity, and justice to
the Mexican people.
as the international community was crucial in all those successful
transitions we have seen in the last century, so our friends who
want democracy for Mexico will be crucial in July. We ask you to be
vigilant, to strongly denounce any irregularities, to remember that
silence is equivalence of complicity.
America cannot once again find itself on
the wrong side of history. Mexico will not be a stable and reliable
partner without a legitimate government, not a one-party system
that relies on fraud and fear to remain in power at all costs.
true democracy in Mexico will foster better relations with the
United States and will form the basis for a win-win relationship.
Only through democracy, rule of law, and economic freedom will the
three countries of North America be able to face the challenges of
the region--especially in trade, crime, and immigration.
would ever have imagined that a poor man from the countryside would
become the president of South Africa? Who would ever have imagined
that a country who suffered many years of oppressive Soviet rule
would be so economically prosperous as the Czech Republic is
a country on the southern border of the United States will have the
opportunity to become the next success story of our times. Fox is a
bridge to what has been unknown in 71 years in Mexico: democracy,
rule of law, economic freedom. Thank you very much.
DR. HEREDIA: Let me tell you that
when the opposition has won in Mexico, it has been in spite of the
PRI controlling the federal budget. And this is not just any
election. This is the mother of all battles. [PRI-ist labor leader]
Fidel Velázquez said, "We came into power by fire power. It
will take firepower to dislodge us."
There is too much at stake: too much
money, too much cronyism, too many deals. Those who are associated
with crime and corruption are not going to go away easily, so we
are part of a movement of democratization.
Cárdenas has been pushing for democratization since 1987. He
will continue working for a better Mexico, and a better Mexico
means opportunities for Mexicans at home, an economic policy that
is driven to enhance the opportunities of Mexican children, our
young people, our families to have better education, to create jobs
do not believe that trickle down will do it. We do not believe that
the Washington consensus will do it. We need home-grown policies.
And to the extent that we nurture our domestic market, our family
farms, our micro, small, and medium businesses, we will become
competitive in the international scenario.
U.S. government has been a passive ally of the status quo, of the
establishment in Mexico. How will it behave this time around we
don't know. We have said we can work with anybody who is elected,
but we know that the powers that be, the Fortune 500 companies,
want continuity of a policy that favors them and benefits those
companies on Wall Street. We want policies that benefit our
Finally, the election on July 2nd is the
opportunity to introduce political modernization in Mexico. You
cannot have so-called economic modernization without political
modernization. Cárdenas has been advocating transparency,
the rule of law, accountability in the Fobaproa case. His message
is very clear: Democracy works.
DR. GUERRERO: I have to say first
that Francisco Labastida, in contrast with Vicente Fox, is a center
politician. He is mature, he is experienced, and he is honest. The
opposition should not feel afraid of losing. Of course, they're
going to lose, but they have to remember that everybody is
seem to be scared of what's going to happen, because we are going
to have international observers. The election is going to be the
most observed election in history. I think that is a guarantee of
having a clean election.
only that, they have recognized the good works of IFE. I would hope
that Fox recognizes TRIFE as well. We have to remember that when
Fox didn't get a good resolution from TRIFE a few months ago, he
called them pigs. I don't know if you remember that. That is the
kind of language that this candidate uses.
because everybody is watching, we should be sure that this election
is going to be for the good of the Mexican people. Carlos Salazar
and Carlos Heredia keep repeating that we don't have full
democracy. They keep saying that democracy is only the result of
the efforts of the opposition. They keep forgetting that all the
legal reforms that the PRI advanced, sometimes by itself, were the
result of the democratic conviction of the PRI.
would like to say something that for me is essential. When the
opposition wins in the governmental level, the PRI accepts the
result. We expect from the opposition that they accept the future
defeat, whether it is by 1 or by 20 points. This is essential for
Vicente Fox is a right-wing populist who
needs interpretation. That's dangerous. When you talk to someone
and you need re-explanation of what he said, it seems that he is
not reliable. And in politics, to be not reliable, I think, is a
big defect that could be dangerous for the country.
said, Fox needs clarification every ten minutes. I could add, in
order to understand Fox, you need some sort of interpreter that
keeps telling you that "He is not saying this, but he is really
saying this." And you have to read and read and read again what he
is saying. I think that that is very, very dangerous for the
can move from the left to the right in seconds. Imagine a
Republican saying that he is center-left. Imagine a Democrat saying
that he is right-wing. Fox said a few months ago that he is
center-left. I leave the rest to your imagination.
Winning in a democracy is not a matter of
margins. You can win by 1 percent or you can win by 20 points, and
this is something that has to be taken into consideration. If there
are complaints about how clean the election is, they must be
presented and resolved according to the rule of law. The important
thing is to strengthen democracy and to move on in the bilateral
me just finish with this: Let's recall that NAFTA was possible
thanks to the PRI. If we had followed the path of the opposition,
we would not have changed from adversaries to partners, and I think
that that is something that has to be taken into consideration when
analyzing the bilateral agenda.
Finally, on July the 2nd, the PRI will
prevail, not only because of its candidate, but because it has the
best political offer. Thank you very much.
STEPHEN JOHNSON: Thanks to our
participants for sharing their views and for giving us a window on
this very important contest for the Mexican presidency, and also
for the window on Mexican politics in general.