November 10, 2006
The Mexico City assembly has passed by a vote of 43-17 a measure that would allow "same-sex couples to register their union with civil authorities, granting them inheritance rights and other benefits typically given to spouses." It does not sanction gay marriage, however. Mayor Alejandro Encinas is expected to sign it, but there are sure to be legal challenges. See CNN.com. Mexico has a much more secular tradition than most other Latin American countries, so the opposition of the Catholic Church in this matter is not necessarily decisive. It is quite a contrast to the constitutional amendment just passed in Virginia, which would forbid recognition of any such civil union. It will be fascinating to hear debates on which of our two countries is more socially progressive!
UPDATE: President-elect Felipe Calderon of Mexico met with President Bush today, and both men agreed on the need to cooperate on border issues. See BBC. The sad reality is that effective action by the two neighbors depends on the extent to which each president has "breathing room" on the domestic front. The fact that both presidents are under extreme pressure from political opponents makes it unlikely that the leaky border problem will be fixed any time soon. Why should leftist parties in Mexico agree to market-oriented reforms that would undermine their political power when they know that unemployed Mexicans can get jobs in the United States? And why should Democrats in this country agree to urgently needed reforms in labor laws when they know that illegal alien workers who are exempt from such laws can pick up the slack?
Former President Alejandro Toledo is being investigated on possible corruption charges, and his wife Eliane Karp is a prime suspect. Toledo entered office with very high approval ratings, but he ruined it by feckless administrative practices and rampant nepotism, appointing several of his relatives to government positions. See BBC. Many Latin American presidents divert public attention from their own problems by charging their predecessors with corruption, and unfortunately they are guilty as often as not. In this case, the initiative seems to come from Congress, not from President Garcia's office. Toledo was a huge disappointment, but I tend to think he was not particularly corrupt, just weak and naive.
According to the Tico Times, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias was pleased by the Democrats' electoral victory, saying it shows the American people are against the war in Iraq and against the proposed wall on the Mexican border. Perhaps the United States should offer to help build a wall on Costa Rica's northern border to keep out all the illegal immigrants from Nicaragua! After Daniel Ortega takes over the government again, the number of people leaving the country in search of jobs is sure to increase.