Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Oaxaca and Mexico City: Chaos reigns

Streets blocked, schools and universities closed, public transportation services suspended and violent demonstrations in front of the National Senate, all in the name of . . . what, exactly, I'm not too sure.

In Mexico City yesterday and continuing into today, we've got thousands of protesters marching in the streets and torching stuff in opposition to the new ISSSTE law. The ISSSTE is, roughly speaking, Mexico's social security system for government workers only. There is yet another system for private industry workers, I think. The state workers' system, like at least one other that I can think of offhand, is drowning in a sea of debt to its pensioners. More people being paid who don't work than there are payers to support them.

The new ISSSTE law, approved by the Chamber of Deputies and, in only a slightly modified form, also approved by the Senate, is an attempt to prevent the social security system from bankrupting the country. As is the norm, the protesters don't care. They want theirs and to hell with everyone else.

Having said that, the ISSSTE is, as are all of Mexico's bureaucracies, rife with incompetence and corruption from top to bottom. The new law will remove pensions from the control of the bureaucracy and place it in the hands of private investment funds. Now, instead of having his money stolen by corrupt bureaucrats, a Mexican governnemt worker can have his money stolen by already wealthy bankers and businessmen. Hooray!

The new law also raises the minimum retirement age to 64 from 58 years. For more info, see Ana Maria Salazar and Bloomberg.

In Oaxaca, the taxi companies and APPO and Sección 22 of the teachers union shut down the city. The taxi drivers are protesting the illegal issuance of permits and concessions to thousands of "pirate" taxis and "moto-taxis" as well as legal permits being suddenly declared "illegal". The transport secretariat in Oaxaca is yet another government bureaucracy rife with, well, you know the drill. Twenty thousand pesos or so will get you anything. Proper and timely legal documentation gets you nada.

APPO and Sección 22 are protesting, as usual, not having everything that they demand handed to them on a silver platter. And, oh yeah, the Juarez University faculty went on strike for a day to demand the firing of the veterinary school dean and a few others, as well.

Speaking of moto-taxis, have you ever seen one of these? They are as dangerous and unsafe a vehicle as has ever been allowed on the roads -- Mexico's or anyone elses. Here in Oaxaca just a month or so ago a 3 year-old fell out of one and suffered irreparable brain damage. To the best of my knowledge, there is not a single one of the thousands of these cheap, Chinese-made vehicles operating with a legal license, at least in Oaxaca.

Mark in Mexico, Pale Horse Galleries, for the finest in alebrijes, gifts, collectibles and Mexican art and crafts, A dangerous, cheap, Chinese made moto-taxi with illegaly issued permit.
Moto-taxi: cheap, Chinese-made and dangerous hell.

Please visit the Pale Horse Galleries online store
for art, gifts and collectibles -- all hand made
by Mexican indigenous artists.

TAGS: , , , ,

No comments: