Mexico. The PAN (Partido Acción Nacional) government suffered stinging defeat in the congressional, governor and municipal elections on July 5, forcing party chairman Germán Martínez Cázares to resign. In Congress, the party’s mandate was reduced from 206 to 143, while the PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional) was the big winner and more than doubled the number of congressional seats. President Félipe Calderón thus gained an even greater majority in the Legislative Assembly. The turnout in the congressional elections was low, only 45 percent. PRI now also controls 19 of the country’s 32 states, while PAN has only seven. The PRI continued its successes in the October 17 state elections in Coahuila and Tabasco, where the party won both in most municipalities and in the state parliament.
According to countryaah, the government’s major defeat in July’s election was surprising in light of its resolute management of the pandemic of the so-called swine flu (A/H1N1) that erupted in Mexico at the end of April and then spread rapidly around the world. On April 29, President Calderón announced that restaurants, factories, markets, schools, universities – virtually the entire country – would be closed for five days in an effort to curb the spread of the disease, and Health Minister José Angel Córdova appeared on television every night. The World Health Organization WHO for the first time ever warned that the pandemic rate of spread was at level 5, the second highest level. Before the pandemic sounded, about 400 deaths related to the disease had been identified in Mexico.
Increasing crime was one of the government’s biggest problems during the year. In February, an assassination attempt was made on Chihuahua Governor José Reyes Baeza Terrazas, prompting the government to deploy more than 5,000 militants to improve security in Ciudad Juárez, whose mayor even had to reside in the twin city of El Paso, USA. Chihuahua is by far the worst hit state. During the first two months of the year, 381 people were murdered there, representing more than a third of all homicides across the country during the same period.
In October, Mexican and US authorities conducted joint action on both sides of the border against the most powerful Mexican drug cartel La Família, responsible for about half of the 180 tonnes of methamphetamine that is reportedly brought into the United States annually.
2000 PAN wins the presidential election. 70 years of PRI rule is broken
An electoral reform paved the way for the first clean elections in the country’s history. PAN eventually formed an alliance with the Green Party, and in a historic election, Fox was elected president of Mexico in July 2000. 70 years of PRI hegemony in power was thus broken. The coalition also gained control of both chambers of Congress. Fox declared that his government would be open to honorable people from all political parties, but at the same time he added that corruption “would no longer be tolerated in Mexico”.
Upon his resignation in December, Fox reiterated the promise to fight corruption, and he also pledged to eliminate economic inequality and provide education and health for the entire population. That same month, he appointed former Senator Luis Alvarez as his personal peace envoy to Chiapas. At this point, peace talks between the guerrillas and the government were suspended. As he had promised during his election campaign, he withdrew from the Native American villages a few hours after his accession. He further stated that the first bill he would submit to Parliament was one that would grant constitutional rights to the indigenous people. The guerrilla leader, subcomandante Marcos, agreed to resume negotiations with the government.
Fox declared in February 2001 that he would launch a national offensive against drug trafficking and organized crime. He also promised to reform the corrupt prison system. It happened just 5 days after one of the leaders of the drug trade in Sinaloa, Joaquín «el Chapo» Guzmán escaped from a high-security prison in the state of Jalisco – apparently assisted by prison staff.
From February 24 to March 11, a delegation of 24 Zapatists followed by 60 cars from Chiapas traveled to the capital to present the Zapatist demands to Congress: including legal guarantees, bilingual education, mass media that take into account the culture of the indigenous people and autonomy in the use of land and the customs of the people. After several readings, the parliamentarians approved a number of reforms of the law of the indigenous people (Ley Indígena or Ley de Cocopa). However, the EZLN rejected the reforms on the grounds that they in no way corresponded to the demands of the indigenous population, and at the same time, the EZLN declared that it withdrew from the negotiations with the government.
As the economy deteriorated in late 2001, the president’s popularity dropped drastically. He had not fulfilled his election promises, among other things. to create one and a half million new jobs. It was estimated that 9 million Mexicans worked in the informal sector, and although they did not pay taxes, they contributed 12.7% of GDP. In August, thousands of farmers undertook a national march demanding solutions for their sector, one of the hardest hit during the crisis. In the capital alone, 30,000 farmers demonstrated in front of the ministries of agricultural development, economy, taxes and agriculture.
In January 2002, the Supreme Court legalized abortion in cases where pregnancy was a consequence of rape, unwanted artificial insemination or where the fetus showed signs of genetic malformations. The decision elicited vastly different reactions. Mexico’s Episcopal Conference declared that passing a law was not the same as morally accepting it. For women’s groups, in turn, the decision was “important for women’s health and for their dignity.”
In May 2003, the Supreme Electoral Council fined DKK 90 million. US $ to the PRI for irregularities in its funding of the election campaign in 2000. The Election Council confirmed that the PRI had illegally received over $ 45 million. US $ from state oil company PEMEX. They were channeled into PRI through the PEMEX Workers’ Union. Still, the PRI became the great victor at the parliamentary elections in July of that year. PAN went back into the Chamber of Deputies from 207 to 155 seats, while PRI went up 15 seats. In addition, PAN lost the governor post in 6 states in an election where turnout only reached 40% – the lowest in Mexico’s history.
In August 2003, Amnesty International published a report on the abductions, rapes, tortures and murders of 370 women from Ciudad Juárez in the state of Chihuahua. The assaults had taken place over a ten-year period and had a systematic character. They revealed the threefold weak position of being a woman, poor and young in a patriarchal and abusive society. Despite international pressure, the Mexican state has made no progress in the investigation of the murders, but has in many cases delayed or sabotaged the investigation, conducted incomplete forensic investigations, falsified evidence and tortured to produce false confessions.
The WTO’s 5th Ministerial Conference took place in Cancun in September 2003. It was met by extensive demonstrations and protests and turned into a complete failure. The polarization of agricultural attitudes, access to non-food markets, and development led to the congress ending abruptly with a concise final document that did not touch on the issues that had otherwise been negotiated since July.