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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Calderon’s Pursuit of Developed Nation Status and Why it is Denied

Calderon’s Pursuit of Developed Nation Status and Why it is Denied:
Chivis Martinez Borderland Beat
 Corruption, The Drugwar, Impunity and Inequality are Primary Factors
While addressing the US Chamber of Commerce last spring, Mexican President Felipe Calderon pitched the strength of the Mexican economy which he says experienced a growth rate of 1.5% CDP per year over the past two decades. It is his position that Mexico should leave the list of developing nations and join the ranks of developed countries.
The Good News
A recent study reveals a fast growing middle class, rate of birth is now within the numbers of developed nations dropping from 7.2 in the 60s to an average now of 2.3.  United States has an average of 2.3.  Another plus is that Mexico’s system of higher education (university) is expanding. Worth noting however is that this has been achieved in the private sector. Schools such as Tec Milenio, offers  a more affordable education and has expanded to 40 satellite campuses across the country.  Additionally, infrastructure is increasing at a commendable rate.
Nogocios, a business publication reports that 100k students graduate with engineering degrees each year.
Modernization of railway and harbor infrastructure has increased 175% since Calderon has been in office.
Indicators are in place that the Mexican economy will experience consistent growth as it forges into the near future. 
An article published in Foreign Policy suggest that the global community will do well shifting its focus toward the TIMBI nations.  “M” being Mexico.  The article goes on to predict the TIMBI nations will outpace BRICS in short time.  The Mexican economy should be as large as Russia and Spain by 2020 and larger than Italy by the year 2030.
The Bad News
Looking beyond economic indicators policy makers warn that the positive economic outlook must be in context of  how it applies to the nation as a whole.. According to The Economist, Mexico’s teachers union, composed of 1.2 million members, is the most powerful union in the country and has been cited as a determinate political force.
Critics say the union is to blame for Mexico’s dysfunctional educational system, a casualty of hard-fought and expensive legal battles that have been staged to protect out-of-touch, ineffective teachers. It is imperative that Mexican policymakers develop a system of laws and regulations capable of addressing the needs of workers as well as the general public in becoming a functional economy.
Economy does not make a developed nation alone.  The most damaging factors that has affected Mexico’s pursuit of Developed Nation status are corruption, the drugwar, and inequality.  In a nation in which  law and order is so absent that the solving of crimes are in the single digit percentile, with a corrupt system of justice, rampant corruption in politics, an education system that excludes 60% of its children, and a gross lack of security for its citizens, it is clear that Mexico has its work cut out for them.
In addition to poor test scores, international inspectors uncovered gross corruption in the international educational testing in Mexico.  Among the finding were “certain” children were to remain home during the testing.  Other school submitted the tests of female students foregoing male students.  Selected schools bypassed and even with tampering Mexico’s scores were at or near the bottom.  It is no wonder that the Calderon government ordered the test scores destroyed.

Mexican teachers do not have to be certified and when only one third passed proficiency tests the union deemed that acceptable citing, "you don't have to know how to do something to teach it".

There is no parity in public education.  Impoverished children may or may not receive an education.  Sometimes a travelling teacher or videos teachers sub for a live person.  Rural schools have a huge and rapid turn over as teacher are to stay at the school during the week, however without facilities to sleep, cook, or bathe teachers soon leave.  The  education is suppose to be free, but there is no such thing there are charges that in effect exclude impoverished children the beginning of a life of marginalization.

La Tuta's ID, click on to enlarge
To those that say, Mexico cannot afford to do better, if that is the case, and I do not agree, but less say it is the case, then divide equally and budget for what can be afforded.  That aside, Mexico can afford better, get rid of the teachers union, a union that pays funds to any teacher no matter the circumstance, La Tuta, leader of Knights Templar, was paid a salary until last year even though he had not stepped into a classroom in a decade and was a wanted criminal.

Tax structure in Mexico is almost non existent, one must be established from go, with this in place funds for a sound educational and health system can be established.
Below are points as published in the Washington Hemisphere Report.
Dysfunctional Public Education
Mexico’s education system, which consistently receives low ratings by international indicators, must also endure reforms. According to a Reuters report by Anahi Rama, 5 percent of Mexico’s GDP goes to education. While this allocation is proportional to those made by other developing countries, corruption renders much of this input largely ineffective. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in comparing education across 65 industrialized countries, ranked Mexico 46th in reading, 49th in mathematics, and 51st in science.

While 10 percent of U.S. students are able to complete the advanced math section of the OECD’s International Student Assessment exam, only 0.07 percent of Mexican students are able to do the same. Aside from low scores, graduation rates in Mexico pale in comparison to those in the United States. According to Reuters, Mexican public schools graduate only about 45 percent of secondary school students, while nearly 75 percent of U.S. high school students graduate.

Although Mexico’s constitution guarantees access to education for all citizens, it hardly guarantees quality. A skilled labor force is imperative to sustain Mexico’s economic growth, and while post-secondary education in Mexico looks to be on the rise, primary and secondary education still requires vast improvements. If Mexico is to secure a large, skilled labor force, salvaging public education will prove an essential policy initiative within the coming years.
PISA Scores 2011 (click to enlarge)
Income Inequality
Currently, Mexico’s income inequality is among the worst in the world. According to an OECD report published in 2008, Mexico ranks second in economic inequality among the 34 OECD nations, experiencing a level of disparity slightly less than that of Chile. The average income of the wealthiest 10 percent of Mexicans was around 26 times higher than the average income of the poorest 10 percent of Mexicans. Moreover, what is considered “middle class” in Mexico is certainly not comparable to the middle class in the United States, as Mexico’s middle class receives relatively low wages. For example, as noted by the Washington Post, Mexicans working for U.S. auto companies earn about 10 percent of what their American counterparts make.
Adding to the gap in income distribution is the propensity of top income earners to monopolize the economy; 40 percent of Mexican businesses remain “uncompetitive,” ultimately antithetical to the functioning of a market economy. For example, Tellcell, the telecommunications conglomerate owned by the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim, now finds itself in a legal battle after facing anti-trust allegations, a common feature of Mexican business environment.
Reuters
Security
In light of persistent cartel violence, security arguably remains the most important concern for the majority of Mexicans. Mexico has been entirely unsuccessful at controlling violence within its borders, failing repeatedly to combat the cartels. The drug-related death toll, which has climbed above 50,000 since 2006, can be ascribed to the decision to militarize efforts to combat the drug cartels, made by former President Vicente Fox and sustained by Calderón’s administration. The militarization of Mexican security efforts has also resulted in mounting human rights violations.
According to the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), the number of complaints against  the military has mounted dramatically, from 182 in 2006 to 1,230 in 2008, of which only 37 have seen daylight in the justice system. Underlying problems include the immense financial resources the drug cartels are capable of consigning to the struggle (estimated to be between USD 30 billion and 50 billion), lack of alternative employment, and the ineffective collaboration between Mexican and American drug policy. Regional heads of state have argued for alternative drug policies, such as decriminalization, even if they may not align with Washington’s heavy-handed approach to the drug trade.
Latin American nations recently demonstrated increased solidarity in pushing alternative policy solutions at the Sixth Summit of the Americas. Whether they be less militarized approaches to combating the drug trade or decriminalization, Mexico needs to heed the advice of its neighbors and remedy its failing militarized approach.
MIER: Cartels warned citizens to leave or be killed (top) displaced citizens in San Miguel shelter become emotional while listening to my speech. We learned those that presented themselves as helping the Mier people, the mayor and his family, with held donations and they never were given to Mier refugees.  We were thrown out of the shelter when were refused to leave donations.  We gave our donations to each family personally...from the parking lot.  (Reuters & Chivis)
Corruption
Likewise, Mexico needs to address its failure to uphold the rule of law, as widespread corruption still prevails in many sectors of public life, including the police force and gubernatorial offices. In Mexico, government and corruption seem to be synonymous. Transparency International’s Bribe Payers Index concluded that, in 2010, an estimated USD 2.5 billion in bribes were paid to police officials throughout Mexico. Importantly, the chain of corruption does not end at the local level. Julio César Godoy Toscano, a congressman with ties to the notorious La Familia cartel, was caught with USD 2 million in his bank account from “unknown sources.”
As previously mentioned, Mexican businesses also participate in rampant corruption, not only to co-opt labor unions but also to influence public figures. In a Transparency International study analyzing 28 economies in which firms were most likely to bribe officials, Mexico ranked third behind China and Russia. Few were surprised when Wal-Mart was accused of bribing local officials to win land contracts and gain permission to open stores early. Although the Calderón administration has made some efforts to fight corruption, they have proved insufficient, and the lack of transparency and accountability plaguing Mexican governance requires considerable redress.
Ousted from PRI leadership by charges of gross corruption
Conclusion
As Mexico marches down the road to developed-nation status, several factors will critically hinder Mexico’s progress unless promptly addressed. Rather than focusing solely on improving traditional economic indicators, such as GDP, Mexico’s government should pursue policies that will provide a foundation for more equitable, transparent, and sustainable economic development.

Washington report on the Hemisphere; Council on Hemispheric Affairs, PISA, UNOC, Human Rights Watch; Justice in Mexico Project Trans Border Institute Report "Armed with Impunity"