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Mexico City

Many comments have been received on Cathie Pani's account of the organization of Mexico City. Several have pointed out (as I did), her confusion regarding Santiago Creel. We have selected the comments of David Crow of the University of Texas:

"Several clarifications to Cathie Pani's most informative note are in order. Although Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas was the first democratically elected mayor of Mexico City, his successor, Rosario Robles, was not elected. Rather, as the local Secretaria de Gobernación (next in line for the mayoralty under federal law), she substituted for Cárdenas when he stepped down at the end of 1999 to mount his disastrous presidential campaign. Also, referring to the precinct heads (or jefes delegacionales) as "mayors"--an appellation Mrs. Pani mistakenly imputes to Santiago Creel--is confusing and misleading: confusing, since it duplicates the title commonly used for the executive of the entire Federal District; and misleading, because the legal attributes of jefes delegacionales are much more restricted than those of mayors in proper municipalities. (Fairly detailed maps of Mexico City's political demarcations are available at the Federal District Electoral Institute's web site:

Current mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrader (a veteran lefty activist originally from Tabasco (which will hold state elections sure to be marked by controversy this Sunday, August 5) is the second democratically elected mayor of the D.F. Of the 16 jefes delegacionales, seven belong to the PAN and nine to the PRD. The PRI won none of the 16 delegaciones, nor did it win in any of the capital's 40 districts for the local Legislative Assembly.

In recent years, a movement to make the Federal District Mexico's 32nd state has arisen. Some of the movement's adherents, in fact, already refer to Mexico City as a "state", to its mayor as "governor", and to its constituent precincts as "municipalities"--hence, Mrs. Pani's reference to precinct heads as mayors. Unfortunately, such terminology obscures a painful and absurd reality of Mexican politics: namely, Mexico City and the over nine million inhabitants who live within city limits are still largely subordinated to the federal government. The Congress of the Union legislates the basic statute that controls key aspects of political life in the Federal District, including its organic structure, capacity to contract debt, and special fiscal relationship to the Republic. Clearly, the 1996 political reform--which provided for direct election of mayor in 1997 and of precinct heads in 2000, and broadened the legislative purview of the D.F.'s Legislative Assembly--was an enormous advance. But the final democratic leap is full statehood for Mexico City.

Regarding the Legionaires of Christ, Mrs. Pani is entirely right in signalling the group as preeminent in academic and entrepreneurial spheres (although the University of Anáhuac isn't regarded as on a par with other institutions, both public and private, such as the Colmex and the ITAM). The Legionaires, called "Millionaires of Christ" by some wags, represent the same conservative (some would say reactionary or even neo-fascist) interests as the Opus Dei, and probably have roots in synarchism. The Jesuits, on the other hand, embody Christian humanism at its finest and do, in fact, run a highly regarded institution of superior studies: the Universidad Iberoamericana.

As for Tepito, it is a barrio located in Colonia Guerrero, if memory serves; as a mere neighborhood, it wouldn't show up on any political map of Mexico City. Its main markets of fayuca (contraband or pirated goods, mostly from the U.S. and quite often stolen) are located along Eje 1 Norte "Mosqueta", not far from Metro Guerrero on Line 3. "

Ronald Hilton - 8/4/01