For seventy-one years, Mexico was ruled under the PRI, Or the Institutional Revolutionary Party. The PRI, set in place by Plutarco Elias Calles, was a single party system. This authoritarian style rule controlled Mexico’s politics on the national, as well as the state levels. It was not until 2000 that the PRI lost presidency. Vincente Fox won the election, marking the official transition of Mexico into a democracy. For the first time in seventy-one years, Mexico existed under the PAN, or National Action Party. Unfortunately, there were challenges right from the start. Fox realized how difficult it was going to be to bring about the changes that he had promised to the people of Mexico. The first challenge to this democratic rule was simply the lack of experience. Fox and his administration had no model to go off of. Additionally, Fox lacked the close relationship with his party that PRI parties once experienced.
Following Fox’s term came the second National Action Party President, Felipe Calderon. One of the greatest challenges to democracy during Calderon’s term was the increasing cost of fighting the war on drugs and organized crime.
From the outside looking in, Mexico’s democracy appears sufficient. Proper elections take place, citizens vote, and “all the needed democratic institutions are in place.” (Schedler 10). However, the threat to democracy was abundantly present due to the drug war and organized crime. This drug violence still exists as the biggest challenge to democracy in Mexico. This “internal warfare” (Schedler) may not be classified as a typical attack on a political system. However, “the practical effects of the criminal violence that they wield can be just as damaging to the democratic integrity of elections as the political violence that openly antidemocratic ideologues might employ.” (Schedler 10).
The violent crimes seen in Mexican society reveal the inability of the Mexican state to protect its people. The countless acts of torture, kidnappings, and murders that take place are bad enough, but the way Mexico handles these horrible crimes is equally as disappointing. Not only does Mexico seem indifferent to these attacks, the state appears unable and even unwilling to do anything to improve the situation.
Statistics from the Journal of Democracy state “According to figures collected by Human Rights Watch, between December 2006 and January 2011, Mexican authorities attributed about 35,000 homicides to organized crime. Of these, 2.8 percent led to formal criminal investigations, 0.9 percent led to formal criminal charges being filed, and 0.06 percent led to firm convictions.” (Schedler 12). The lack of punishment is only letting this crime persevere. Additionally, Due to the 74 journalists and media-support workers killed in a five-year span, studies have listed Mexico as one of the most dangerous places in the world for media personnel and reporters. (Schedler)
Putting myself in the position of an innocent Mexican citizen, I would be disappointed in the democracy of my country, but more importantly I would be terrified for my safety. A democratic government should, if nothing else, provide public safety.
This epidemic of violence that has taken over the democracy of Mexico has finally resulted in citizens longing for the relatively peaceful country that existed in the years before the PAN replaced the PRI in presidency.
Flores-Macías, Gustavo. “Mexico’s 2012 Elections: The Return of the PRI.” Journal of Democracy: 128-41. Print.
Schedler, Andreas. “The Criminal Subversion of Mexican Democracy.” Journal of Democracy: 5-18. Print.