May 5, 2006
This year's May Fifth celebration in Mexico takes place as relations between the giant neighbors are at their chilliest level in many years. To a large extent, this reflects disappointment with the results of NAFTA, as the economic liberalization has not yielded as much political liberalization as had been hoped for, and the entrenched political establishment in Mexico is very resistant to the kinds of reform that would facilitate the creation of enough new jobs for all the people. Nevertheless, there are many positive signs in Mexico, a country that has much to be proud of. Foreign relations tend to go through up and down cycles, and I would expect a gradual improvement next year, presuming that the U.S. Congress enacts new laws on immigration that erase the doubt in the minds of Mexicans.
To "celebrate" this occasion, I have updated the news chronology on the Mexico page, and have enhanced the map.
The celebration of the country's victory over French imperialism in 1867 is was spoiled by news of a violent clash between policemen and crowds in the town of San Salvador Atenco, just east of Mexico City. This was the same area where violent protests blocked the planned construction of a new airport in 2002. This incident began when police tried to street-side flower vendors, and for some reason the confrontation escalated out of control. A recent visit by Zapatista rebel leader "Subcomandante Marcos" may have been aimed at preparing the local radical farm workers to launch the rebellion. Six policemen had been taken hostage, and some had been cut by machetes. The motive of revenge on the party of police officers reminds one of Chicago in 1968, and it seems to be another example of the breakdown in respect for authority among many Mexicans. President Fox declared in anger, "No cause justifies breaking the law." See CNN.com. (Not even seeking a better life North of the Border?)