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Mexico: U.S. Is Borderline to Third World?

By       Message Mark Biskeborn     Permalink
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"There is an arms race between the cartels," said Alberto Islas, a security consultant who advises the Mexican government on the current drug wars, as reported in the Los Angeles Times. "One group gets rocket-propelled grenades, the other has to have them."

Since January 2007, when the Mexican war on drugs was officially declared, more than 9,700 people have died in the conflicts, more than the official count of U.S. soldier causalities in Iraq.

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When looking at Mexico's history and its current economic and civil predicament, we gain insight into how our own American government is so vulnerable. Only our values and distinguishing principles designed into our system by its founders will save us. If we lose these, we fall into the abyss.

To some, comparing the U.S. to Mexico, or the Third World in general, sounds shocking. Yet, is this comparison really so far-fetched? With our constitutional form of government in jeopardy, the U.S. teeters on the edge of emulating Mexico's dismal style of democracy.

In my previous two articles in a series of essays examining the similarities between Mexico and the U.S.A., Mexico: a Theocratic Model for Republicans and Religious Morality Is Problematic, I consider how certain leaders in Mexico, as in so many countries south of the border, have seized political power through the use of the authoritarian religious traditions that are pervasive in the culture. More than ever in U.S. history, the Republican Party has pursued this model during the G.W. Bush administration's eight long years.

In the U.S. under the G.W. Bush administration, the Republican Party took a page from Mexican history and followed this same process as Mexico's leaders to:

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  • Bridle the Horses-Concentrate power in the executive branch.
  • Use Loopholes-Alter the U.S. Constitution for more control.
  • Leverage the Ol'Boy System-Diminish federalism in favor of executive power.
  • Burn the Bodies-Oppress the press and thus avoid transparency.


Bridle the Horses: President as King

During Porfirio Diaz's presidency, the time was ripe in Mexico's history to "bridle the horses." Diaz's phrase reveals his "all-encompassing program of political control and centralization," as historian Krauze explains in his book, Mexico, Biography of Power. In Mexico the liberal Constitution called for a "representative, democratic and federal Republic," reflecting the ideals of the U.S. Constitution. But Diaz flouted the Mexican Constitution and took control by diminishing the three branches of government and concentrating power in the executive.

As Krauze writes,

"To contain the overwhelming pressure, he would assert the sanctity of the presidential position more than any other twentieth-century President. He [Diaz] would speak...of the 'majesty of the office.' His concept of the position was almost explicitly theocratic....The new style of power took effect immediately...only pure and naked application of power."

As advisor to President G.W. Bush, Karl Rove could have written his playbook straight from the history of Mexican Presidents from Diaz to Calderon, from the 1960s to the present. What this sequence of Mexican presidents accomplished in more than fifty years, the Republicans did in eight.

The parallels are astonishing as explained in the Cato Institute reports by Gene Healy and Timothy Lynch:

"Unfortunately, far from defending the Constitution, President Bush has repeatedly sought to strip out the limits the document places on federal power. In its official legal briefs and public actions, the Bush administration has advanced a view of federal power that is astonishingly broad, a view that includes
    • a federal government empowered to regulate core political speech-and restrict it greatly when it counts the most: in the days before a federal election;
    • a president who cannot be restrained, through validly enacted statutes, from pursuing any tactic he believes to be effective in the war on terror;
    • a president who has the inherent constitutional authority to designate American citizens suspected of terrorist activity as "enemy combatants," strip them of any constitutional protection, and lock them up without charges for the duration of the war on terror- in other words, perhaps forever; and
    • a federal government with the power to supervise virtually every aspect of American life, from kindergarten, to marriage, to the grave.
President Bush's constitutional vision is, in short, sharply at odds with the text, history, and structure of our Constitution, which authorizes a government of limited powers."


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Like Diaz, Bush used religion to establish his sense of moral and political authority and was supported by American right-wing Christian groups, the progeny of extremists forged by the fundamentalism of Pat Robertson, Bill O'Reilly and his ilk.

Loopholes & Dirty Tricks-Alter the Constitution to Undo the Legislature and the Judiciary

In doing so, the Republicans weakened the values by which the U.S. distinguishes itself from the Third World. They used religious fundamentalism-superstitions-to replace rational thinking. They disregarded constitutional law which the president's sworn to protect. They ignored laws enacted by Congress with "signing statements" issued by President Bush. With these signing statements, Bush was able to interpret laws as he saw fit, thus further deteriorating the U.S. constitution. Over the last eight years, the Republican Party transgressed the Constitutional form of government for the sake of an ideological vision that included unbridled, free-wheeling capitalism.

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Mark Biskeborn is a novelist: Mojave Winds, A Sufi's Ghost, Mexican Trade. Short Stories: California & Beyond. Poetry & Essays. For more details: See Mark's stories on or wherever books are (more...)

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