The government needs to act. Fast!

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These have not been the best of days for the President. Difficulties
accumulate, the economy doesn’t improve and now there are protest
marches everywhere. The issue is not the horror of the killings,
although that’s what’s caused the current impasse, but rather the fact
that the government has been taken by surprise: as if it didn’t (and
doesn´t) understand what’s at stake.

The world is falling all
around it but the government has acted under a short-term, tactical
logic: to score points at the expense of the PRD; in his speeches, the
President does not assume responsibility for security: instead, he
solidarizes himself with the victims (taking five weeks to meet the
parents) not as the authority in charge but as if he were an NGO, a
non-government organization. He reminds one more of Fox with his “and
why me” than the calculating politician and expert political operator of
the recent reforms.

Days go by and the government doesn’t
respond or heed other voices. In contrast with the time of his
presidential campaign when he bent over backward to anticipate future
criticisms with an ambitious proposal in political matters (at least in
terms of making a strong media splash), today the government seems to be
clueless. This is the moment to set forth a distinct paradigm because
the true problem derives from that the two most important assets that he
possessed have been lost: the appearance of efficacy and the

For a year and a half, the government followed a
perfectly articulated script, with competent operators in all key
places, an effective communication strategy and an infinite capacity –by
whatever means available- for engaging the opposition and clasping
neutralizing interests to its bosom. Its impacting capacity of execution
met with applause even in the most cautious quarters of society. That’s
why its paralysis or incapacity of response today is so astounding,
which could lead to the protests proliferating, inside and outside of
Mexico. Not a very inviting scenario.

Iguala didn’t inaugurate
the problems. For months, diverse, ominous signs have been clear, which
were overshadowed by the process of passing reforms. Long prior to the
recent slaughters the economy showed signs of paralysis that the
aggressive fiscal stimulus hasn´t corrected but the debt is nonetheless
on the rise. Oil prices are in a downward spiral, threatening already
deteriorated governmental legers, and Europe warns of going into a
recession, if not deflation.

Although the security conundrum had
been suppressed from the media, the reality continues exactly the same:
extortion has become an everyday occurrence for small businesses (and
many bigger companies as well), abductions grow and theft does not
desist, even (above all) in the entity that the President until recently
governed. Impossible to turn a blind eye to this massive, albeit slow,
destruction of social capital. The killings reflect the disorder holding
sway in the country, the connivance between elected authorities and
organized crime and the total absence of a strategy for combating
criminality. Iguala is crucial because it wasn’t carnage among narcos:
there the State was revealed as a henchman at the service of organized
crime. Denying the reality is not a strategy. The President has to take

The reforms project was ambitious in itself. But up until
now, there’s been no more than a change in paper. Independently of the
new circumstances, the complexity entailed in implementation of the
reforms is enormous and, above all, calls for skills very distinct from
those that the government has deployed to date. It’s not the same to
negotiate with representatives or to buy votes in the Senate as to
confront mafias devoted to stealing combustibles or biasing contracts
inside government-owned enterprises. The former is political operation,
the latter, what’s called governing.

Impossible to minimize the
challenge that confronts the government and the country but that doesn’t
imply that there are no ways out. Perhaps the greatest of the
challenges resides less in the situation in the streets than in the
vision of the government. The current governmental thrust reflects a
vision that rejects the reality of the external world.  Although, for
example, the government actively promotes foreign investment, it doesn’t
give the impression of accepting the reality of a globalized world in
which communication is instantaneous and decision-making criteria are on
display for the entire world to see. The connection between protests in
Mexico City and in Rome is real and the impact on investors inevitable.
The government cannot pretend to be innovative and modern on the
outside while inside there are millions of Igualas a hair trigger away
from exploding. In a word, it’s impossible, in addition to futile, to
attempt to recreate the old paradigm founded on outsiders not seeing
what’s happening inside and insiders not communicating with those
outside. It’s urgent for the government to recognize the need of a new
paradigm of political development. As simple and as complex as that.

one expects the President to solve the problem of Guerrero in fifteen
minutes. What the population expects from the President is certainty and
a sense of direction, that is, institutions which allow Guerrero, and
the entire country, to enter into a dynamic of stability and
political-legal development that, little by little, would render
impossible, or at least exceptional, the existence of mass killings such
as those of Ayotzinapa. Such a vision would compel the dedication of
all of that extraordinary capacity of political operation to construct a
new institutional scaffolding and to oblige the key actors –starting
with the governors- to construct government capacity instead of simply
“getting by” in order to get rich, without any benefit for the
citizenry. This is the moment to act.

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Luis Rubio

Luis Rubio

He is a contributing editor of Reforma and his analyses and opinions often appear in major newspapers and journals in Mexico, the US and Europe (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, National Public Radio).