Jun 17, 2011

Building a Civil Society: Mexico's challenge has to do with traits of its citizens

OpEd by Jorge Castañeda, a professor at New York University, former foreign minister of Mexico, and the author, most recently, of "Mañana Forever? Mexico and the Mexicans."

Mexico's challenge has to do with traits of its citizens - latimes.com: "Mexicans are far too comfortable choosing the route that avoids conflict, even when it results in appeasing forces that shouldn't be appeased. Take, for example, a poll conducted in late May, which showed that half of all Mexicans believe Calderon should cut a deal with the drug gangs instead of persevering in his war. One can disagree with the way that the unwinnable and excessively costly war on drugs is being fought, but it's nevertheless worrying that half the country believes an alliance between the government and criminals would be preferable.

A willingness to make deals with criminals attests to another deeply ingrained Mexican trait that I deal with in my new book, "Mañana Forever? Mexico and the Mexicans": an extreme disregard and lack of respect for the law. A recent poll carried out by Banamex and Fundación Este País asked respondents whether they thought citizens of Mexico respected its laws. About 49% said rarely or never, and only 6% replied always. The rule of law does not really exist in Mexico today, in big and small matters alike."

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