The time has come for Enrique Peña Nieto’s first formal “crucial moment”. However, when the President delivers his first annual State of the Union address, his administration will not be the only thing that’s assessed, but also the tenure of federal legislators, particularly his party’s political operators. On a strict sense, the approval of Constitutional changes regarding education and telecommunications shouldn’t be taken into account during these first nine months; it was an issue that the Congress had dealt with, mainly. When former President Fox uttered the phrase: “the President proposes, but Congress dictates”, he was only partially right. Once Legislative Power “dictates”, the Executive Power has to exercise that which gives it its name: to execute. How have President Peña’s policies been executed, not the ones derived from reforms and that are not even regulated, but those related with solving the country’s problems, whether inherited from other administrations or not?
1-Teachers’ protests: a debate about rights. Ever since President Peña presented his education reform project in December 2012, several sectors of the teachers’ union have beginning to mobilize. Mexico City inhabitants – along with students left without classes, other cities’ residents all throughout the country that have found their own private space occupied and a part of the budget “destined” for protests – are those who have raised their voices the loudest in order to show their discomfort for the intromission in their daily lives due to these protests (from the city’s monumental traffic jams to roadblocks in the Autopista del Sol highway). The apparent contradiction of Constitutional rights expressed in Article 6 (freedom of expression) and Article 11 (freedom of transit) certainly comes to mind, though no one has been able to find a mechanism to reconcile them. Nevertheless, there are two questions, whose answer may seem more relevant: how can “the streets” stop being an option (without the need of repression)? Are claims fair?
2-The “bestialities” of migrants’ movements within Mexico. The humanitarian drama, personified by the massive migrations, appears in several regions in the world. The case of the Central America – United States connection throughout Mexico is one of the cruelest ones. The recent derailment of “La Bestia” (The Beast) – the nickname of freight trains that go through the route from Tapachula to Lechería, known to “move” several thousand illegal immigrants from Mexico’s southern border to the country’s central zone – has again exhibited a minimum part of the horrors of “Mexican hell”, the complex ordeal for several people just before reaching the “U.S. purgatory”, in search of a better life. The tragedy occurred in the early morning of August 25th will momentarily put the media spotlight onto this phenomenon, just like it happened with the clandestine mass grave of San Fernando in 2010. What are the responsibilities of the Mexican State in the face of these events?
3-An alluvial (of criticism) is flooding (the Mayor of) Mexico City. The problem of everyone that aspires to rule Mexico City, and not only Miguel Ángel Mancera, is massive protests – almost always emerging from federal conflicts – and the various angles such as coordination with federal authorities, procedure of police operations and respect for human rights (of protestors and residents alike) that it presents. However, unlike other local Governors, Mancera faces other conflicts and scandals such as the massive kidnapping/murders happened in the Heavens After nightclub, the corruption of some of his borough leaders, the delay in public infrastructure, among others. Without avoiding his full responsibility in each one of these cases, but also considering his post’s challenges and, especially, powers, what is the line that divides caution from lukewarm response for the Mayor of Mexico City?
4-The touring State of the Union Address. The Presidency has announced that Enrique Peña will give a speech on Campo Marte, on the occasion of the report about the “general state that public administration holds in the country”. It’s been eight years since the last time that a President went to the Legislative Palace of San Lázaro to give the aforementioned address. Several euphemisms such as “cancelling the Day of the President” or “avoid confrontation” have been used in order to prevent the President from facing the implicit trouble (ever since the 2006 post-electoral conflict) of addressing Congress. Regardless of whether it’s useful or not the Presidential presence in the headquarters of the Legislative Power, it is not a minor issue that one of the heads of a Union Power is virtually hindered from assisting to one of the other Power’s house and is assumed as something normal. Is this not an “institutional disease” whose “symptom” is the not-so-irrelevant “touring” of the address?
Human Rights in Mexico: everybody talks about them but only a few actually pay close attention. This week will hold two crucial events on the matter: Firstly, the Supreme Court of Justice is starting the debates about the judicial hierarchy of international treaties over the Constitution on human rights. Secondly, the Senate’s legislative commissions will analyze secondary legislation of the Constitutional reform approved in 2011. Both events are linked and it will be important to follow them closely with the intention of not making the Court’s resolution oppose the discussion held in the Senate (whether it happens at the Reforma street headquarters or any other venue). Likewise, the debate regarding the secondary legislation of the 29th Constitutional article referring to the suspension of guarantees and the conceptualization of “grave disturbance of public peace”.
Antonio De la Cuesta