We should be greatly encouraged by the results of the election in Mexico in early July. If for no other reason, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) had been in power for 71 years, longer than any one-party rule in the world other than the Soviet Communist Party (74 years). It represents another defeat for a party of centralized government and protectionism and a mandate for more openness and deregulation. Granted, President-elect Vincente Fox’s mandate did not extend to complete control by his party of the Chamber of Deputies, but the reform message is clear and the inevitability of deregulation and privatization of which I spoke in a previous essay will be sustained by the need to be competitive in world capital markets. The left will resist, but it has been discredited and is in obvious disarray. Ironically, it was the policies of outgoing President Zedillo, including NAFTA, which fueled the fires of reform and made possible the smoothest, most democratic election in Mexican history. The new class of business leaders spawned by NAFTA will not go back to the hierarchical, top-down, patronizing system of old, and, with enlightened U.S. Presidential leadership, can now help President Fox make good on his commitment to a North American common market within 30 years. In the 1980’s, then Secretary of State George Schultz said that Mexico would be more important to the U.S. than the Soviet Union by the year 2000. For more reasons than one, he was right.
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