PATRICIA MOORE Chanting protestors at Governor’s Palace, San Luis Potosi, Mexico order and chief administrator of elections, a feature unique to Mexico among Latin nations. Then again, my observations suggest the dual role is not altogether inappropriate, given the fact that elections in Mexico seem intended more for social control than for popular influence on government. After observing other Latin American elections over the past seven years, it is hard to take Mexico’s seriously. In most Latin American countries, elections are run by a separate fourth branch of government. with institutional safeguards to prevent any group or party, from securing majority control of the electoral machinery. Never, in the course of witnessing elections in countries with independent electoral authorities, have I encountered any of the aforementioned irregularities. In last year’s Nicaraguan elections, for instance, the Supreme Electoral Council was composed of two magistrates selected by the ruling party, two selected by the opposition, and one considered impartial by both sides. This structure extended down to the precincts, each location had to be nominated by the opposition. The government was so confident of the cleanliness of the electoral process that it invited the United Nations and the Organiiavation teams. We all know the outcome: availing themselves of the secret ballot, a majority of Nicaraguans delivered a message they dared not confide to pollsters. Similarly, it is interesting to note that the only Mexican state not controlled by the PRI Baja California Norte is also the only state the PRI could not pretend to win in elections otherwise characterized by countrywide clean sweeps. As a result of my recent experience, I can now better sympathize with the Salinas administration’s reluctance to disclose poll-by-poll results nationwide, as well as its unwillingness to consider inviting UN and OAS observation teams for the 1994 presidential and congressional elections. It does, after all, have a lot to hide. ANDREW REDING Andrew Reding directs the Mexico Project of , the World Policy Institute, a public policy research and educational institute affiliated with the New School for Social Research in New York. . Bad Omens for U.S.-Mexico Free Trade Agreement With a Mexico-U.S. free trade agreement on the way, some workers in both countries are already getting a taste of what is in store. Just to take two examples: The giant British-based company Grand Metropolitan has moved 400 cannery jobs at its Pillsbury-Green Giant plants in Watsonville, Calif., to an impoverished town in central Mexico, Irapuato. It’s a heavy economic blow to the mostly Latina workers in Watsonville. They have launched a consumer boycott against Pillsbury-Green Giant and other Grand Met subsidiaries, including Burger King and Haagen-Dazs. Workers in Irapuato are making $4.28 a day, a step above the subpoverty minimum wage of $3.25, but still way below what they need to survive. The California workers, represented by Teamsters Local 912, have linked up with an independent union doing work in Irapuato. Both agree that the Mexican workers need higher wages. Meanwhile, Rainfair, a protective clothing company in Racine, Wis., is telling striking workers they’ll have to accept a contract with virtually no job security. In fact, the company has said explicitly that it wants the “right” to move to Mexico, where it can pay workers much less than the $6.60 an hour the Racine workers are making. The 136 Rainfair workers went on strike in June in part over the company’s demand that they pay 30 percent of health insurance premiums. Rainfair is only the second company in Racine history to use scab labor during a strike, according to the biweekly paper Racine Labor. The paper also notes that Rainfair is the beneficiary of low-interest loans from the city and state. LAURA MCCLURE Laura McClure writes for the Guardian This is Texas today. A state full of Sunbelt boosters, strident anti-unionists, oil and gas companies, nuclear weapons and power plants, political hucksters, underpaid workers, and toxic wastes, to mention a few. V P _GA1 -4 ‘ IIIV” .4eil ……1 ‘.. ‘V i i ii 1 , it 0 10i t. 44, .-id . 4:. ,””, , MO . -%7 .4YA ii4 1111P 4477 r ‘ ve, , Ati raiz; 77 BUT ,., DO NOT DESPAIR! ,I, -Lill TEXAS 1111server TO SUBSCRIBE: Name Address City State Zip $27 enclosed for a one-year subscription. Bill me for $27. 307 West 7th, AUSTIN, TX 78701 18 OCTOBER 18, 1991
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