Magazine article The American Conservative

Looking out for Numero Uno

Magazine article The American Conservative

Looking out for Numero Uno

Article excerpt

While the country's poor flee, Mexico's elite take care of themselves.

MEXICO CITY-A watchword of Mexican politics is "Show me a politician who is poor and I will show you a poor politician." In accord with this adage, many Mexican officials enjoy generous salaries and lavish fringe benefits. Even as they live princely lifestyles, they and their fellow elites pay little in taxes and refuse to spend sufficient money on education and health care to create opportunities in Mexico-a country that abounds in oil, natural gas, gold, beaches, fish, water, historic treasures, museums, industrial centers, and hard-working people. Rather than mobilizing these bountiful resources to uplift the poor, Mexico's privileged class noisily demands that Uncle Sam open his border wider for the nation's "have nots."

Consequently, the power brokers have excoriated President George W. Bush's October 2005 proposal to admit temporary workers for up to six years. Deputy Antonio Guajardo Anzaldúa, a member of the left-wing Workers Party and chairman of Chamber of Deputies' Committee on Population, Borders, and Migration Affairs, savaged the initiative as "linking workers with employers without offering them a route toward legalization." He also criticized "the heavy fine" that would be levied on participants who would be ineligible for American citizenship.

Guajardo's colleague Eliana García Laguna, a stalwart of the leftist-nationalist Revolutionary Democratic Party (PRD), shrilled that the threat posed by Bush "hurts and injures the interests of Mexicans who for various reasons must leave our country." And Heliodoro Díaz Escárraga, leader of the Chamber of Deputies and a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), stated that it "is totally anachronistic to impose penalties on our migrants or erect walls as if we were in the Cold War." Meanwhile, the legislature's bicameral Permanent Commission lambasted U.S. immigration policy as "racist, xenophobic and a profound violation of human rights."

Members of President Vicente Fox's National Action Party (PAN) have joined the chorus of self-righteous criticism. They applauded an early January 2006 joint declaration by Mexico, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and six Central American countries pledging their opposition to treating migrants who illegally cross into the United States as law-breakers.

This statement neglected to recognize the mounting support of American citizens for curbs on unlawful entries. A Fox News poll conducted in April 2005 found that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe that undocumented immigration is a "very serious" (63 percent) or "somewhat serious" (28 percent) problem for the United States. Sixty percent of respondents to an ABC News/Washington Post survey favored erecting a barrier at the border; only 26 percent disapproved. In addition, Mexico's nomenklatura never mentions the 1 million legal immigrants whom the United States admits each year.

Mexico's establishment also keeps quiet about the salaries and benefits that its members receive. Private-sector executives are especially secretive. Thanks to Forbes magazine, however, we know that Mexico leads Latin America with ten billionaires, including telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helú, the world's third richest person with $30 billion. And an increasing amount of data is available on the earnings of public officials. The numbers show that Mexico's governing class is enriching itself at the country's expense, with exorbitant salaries and bountiful perks. Remember, these are "official" figures. Most politicians have ingenious ways of fattening their bank accounts.

The salaries of top Mexican government officials match or exceed those of comparable figures in Europe and much of the rest of the world. President Vicente Fox ($236,693), for example, makes more than the leaders of the U.K. ($211,434), France ($95,658), Canada ($75,582), and most other industrialized countries (POTUS earns $400,000). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.