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MEXICO: The PRI



The Hoover Digest (01, No.1) has an article by Alberto Diaz-Cayeros, Beatriz Magaloni and Barry Wsingast, entitled "Before the Fall", explaining how the PRI managed to hold onto power in Mexico for seven decades. An important factor in its fall was its reputation for corruption. For most people, this was just hearsay, but a long time ago I had an opportunity to see it first-hand. In Madrid I entered a restaurant for lunch. Since it was crowded, I was seated at the same table as a man who looked more nordic than Spanish. We chatted, and he was Mexican. He told me his life story. He said he was from la Huasteca, and had grown up poor. (Are there fair-haired people in La Huasteca?). He used to ride horses bare-back. He joined the PRI and become one of its bosses. He was traveling around Europe with his mistress, who had gone off to visit the Escorial, in which he has no interest.

He wanted a drink, and got the waiter's attention by picking up a bottle and using it as a whistle. The shrill sound got the attention ot only of a waiter but of all the people at nearby tables. He asked for a scotch. The waiter offered him one made in Spain. He demanded the real thing, and got it, the expense be damned. He described at length his life as a PRI leader, making it clear that he had been involved in illegal deals and phony elections. When I expressed my disapproval, he replied curtly: "The others were on top for a long time, and now it's our turn. Anyhow, I have made enough of a confession (speaking as though he were talking to a priest). Y ahora, vamos a hablar de putas." An interesting lunch.

Ronald Hilton - 3/31/01


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