Increasing Decentralization Stirs Disquiet in Mexico

Increasing Decentralization Stirs Disquiet in Mexico

MEXICO CITY -- Lower house lawmakers convened into the wee hours of the Revolution Day long weekend, Nov. 16, to approve the spending portions of Mexico's 2010 budget, which had been bogged down by demands for increased spending on the beleaguered rural economy from campesino groups linked to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

The campesino groups got most of what they asked for, but according to the subsequent media spin, the PRI's 19 state governors emerged as the real winners in the budget process -- the first since the PRI and its ally, the Green Party, won control of the lower house in the July 5 mid-term elections.

The governors received funding for highways and public works projects such as plazas and charro rings -- the outdoor arenas that host Mexican-style rodeo events. Conveniently, they also extracted more money for states staging gubernatorial races in 2010 -- as well as for the populous state of Mexico, whose governor, the PRI's Enrique Peña Nieto, is the early favorite for the party's 2012 presidential nomination. The governors even secured concessions that loosen some of the accountability for funds flowing to the state and local levels, where discretional spending can be the norm and transparency is often lacking.

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