February 1, 2011
The year 2010 is now behind us. The arrival of a new calendar year often brings with it reflection upon the year which has just passed.
In the case of Mexico, what happened in 2010?
The ongoing drug cartel war raged on, with 15,000 killings this year. That’s more than ever before.
The drug war was one of the topics commented upon in the U.S. diplomatic dispatches released by WikiLeaks.
In the quoted cables, not originally intended for public consumption, U.S. and Mexican diplomats and officials asserted that the Mexican government’s campaign against the drug cartels was lacking a clear strategy and that there is a turf war between Mexican security agencies. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was concerned with how the stress of it all affects Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s “personality and management style.” Mexico’s corruption and low prosecution rate were discussed and the Merida Initiative was said to be cobbled together too quickly to be effective. The Mexican Army was reported to be too slow, risk-averse and not taking advantage of intel received from the U.S. On the other hand, the Mexican Navy received high marks in its performance. Overall, though, the assessment of the Mexican cartel war in WikiLeaks was not positive.
Nevertheless, there was good news in Mexico on the job creation front. In calendar year 2010 there were 850,000 jobs created in the formal economy. This is significant and hopefully can be sustained. It’s been estimated that about a million Mexicans enter the work force annually. As of 2007, the report was that a third of the new job seekers entered the formal economy, a third entered the informal economy (which isn’t taxed) and a third emigrated. The 850,000 figure thus goes a long way towards closing up the employment gap in Mexico. That’s good news indeed.
Illegal aliens from Central American countries which are poorer than Mexico continue to cross Mexican territory with the goal of arriving to the U.S.A. In 2010 the government of Mexico deported 70,000 illegal aliens, 93% of them from Central America. Many illegal aliens were robbed, raped, kidnapped or killed by criminals, sometimes with the collusion of Mexican officials. Amnesty International released a scathing report on the situation entitled “Invisible Victims: Migrants on the Move in Mexico” which describes a major humanitarian disaster. In the month of August, 72 illegal aliens were massacred at one site, apparently by the Zetas, in northeastern Tamaulipas state.
During the year 2010, the world’s attention was drawn to the spectacular rescue of 33 trapped miners in Chile. In Mexico, this brought back bitter memories and an unfavorable contrast with the disaster at the Pasta de Conchos mine in northern Mexico, in 2006. The contrast, however, wasn’t entirely fair, as they were two different kinds of mines and two different types of mine disasters. The Pasta de Conchos situation, however, had been very poorly handled. Be that as it may, mining is still, in the 21st century, a dangerous occupation.
Same-sex marriage, legalized by the government of the Federal District (Mexico City) in December of 2009, came into effect in March of 2010. The law was opposed by the Mexican federal government. The dispute went all the way to the 11-member Mexican Supreme Court. The Supreme Court upheld the Mexico City same-sex marriage law as being constitutional. It also decreed that same-sex marriages performed in Mexico City are valid marriages throughout all of Mexico, though the court did not require Mexican states to perform their own same-sex marriages.
In the world of sports, Mexico’s soccer team competed in the World Cup in South Africa, heavily covered by the Mexican media. The Mexican team was eliminated in the second round. The Spain team finally won the Cup, defeating the Netherlands 1-0 in extra time (overtime).
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The past year also saw the retirement of Mexican Lorena Ochoa, the world’s #1 woman golfer.
And, in the year 2010, Mexico celebrated its dual Independence Bicentennial and Revolution Centennial. The Bicentennial celebrated the beginning, in 1810, of the movement which became the Independence movement. The Centennial celebrated the beginning of the Mexican Revolution in 1910.
What does the year 2011 hold in store for Mexico?
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Allan Wall recently returned to the U.S. after residing many years in Mexico.