May 17, 2005 [LINK]

Zorro se mete la pata*

President Fox of Mexico chose a bad time to insult folks of African descent in this country, saying that people from his country who sneak across the U.S. border are only filling jobs that "not even blacks" would do. Aside from implicit racism -- which is perfectly normal in much of Latin America -- his comment highlights the logical fallacy that often arises in political debates: falsely construing people's rational behavioral adaptations to faulty public policies as indicative of individual moral weakness. You know, polemics over welfare dependence and all that. For market-oriented gringos like me who held out high hopes for his presidency, Fox has been a big disappointment. One must be careful when using the Mexican word often translated as disappointment, decepcionado. When Bush said he was disappointed in Mexico's lack of support for U.S. policy against Saddam Hussein in 2003, it caused a big public uproar in Mexico, because decepcionado connotes lack of trust.

Inside Mexico, the biggest recent news is that corruption charges against the mayor of Mexico City, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, have been dropped, meaning that he will be eligible to run for president next year. He is popular and widely expected to win. Now that Fox's conservative National Action Party is in decline, the big question is, What will the old guard Revolutionary Institutional Party do about Lopez Obrador and his rising Party of the Democratic Revolution?

* Translation: "Fox puts his foot (in his mouth)"