A break with the past
A former executive of Coca Cola, Mr Vincente Fox, was elected President of Mexico on July 2, ending 71 years of rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). However, Fox's neo-liberal National Action Party (PAN) failed to win a majority in either house of the Mexican Congress and will have to form a minority government dependent on the support of one or other of the two main opposition parties — the deposed PRI or the centre-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Although the policies of the former PRI governments appeared to pose no threat to US interests — adherence to NAFTA and unrestricted free trade zones in the north of the country convenient to the US border, military action against the left-wing Zapatista guerrillas in the south, and subservience to IMF and World Bank dictates on economic policy — there were increasingly signs of independence from US domination. This was evident in Mexico's position over Cuba, its hostility to the US over the question of Mexican workers attempting to seek work in the USA, and to the aggressive action of the US during the Mexican currency crisis. The defeat of the PRI by Fox's PAN was greeted with elation on Wall Street. In Mexico City, the Mexican stock market surged 6.1 percent. Aggressive policies Fox has announced an aggressive policy of defence of NAFTA and the demolition of the remaining barriers to imperialist "transnational investment" in the country. The barriers had already been significantly lowered during the last three PRI presidencies, but clearly not lowered far enough or fast enough to suit Mexico's US masters. At the same time the new President has promised to "better the lot" of the millions of poor workers and farmers who traditionally supported the PRI. How the new President is going to do that while supporting the policies which have impoverished millions in Mexico as well as in many other countries, remains to be seen. Cuahtemoc Cardenas, the presidential candidate of the left-centre PRD, condemned the victory of Fox as a "disgrace for Mexico". However, on the positive side, the one-party regime of the PRI is gone. The weakening of the links between the PRI-controlled pro-employer labour unions and the government party should be a spur to the growth of the small but vigorous independent unions. Mexico may now see the re-emergence of the mass movement and the revolutionary traditions of the Mexican working class. Despite coming a poor third in the presidential race, the Party of Democratic Revolution easily retained the government of the capital, its candidate being returned as Mayor of Mexico City.