Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Today's Headlines: The power of giving in

Maybe they realized they were coming off as soft on corruption. Maybe they were feeling the heat from a critical press. Or maybe they recognized a lost cause when they saw one.
    At any rate, PRI deputies backed down Tuesday and agreed to support language in proposed anti-corruption legislation that gives the Senate ratification power over the president’s choice for the top corruption investigator. That means the bill creating a National Anti-Corruption System will probably be voted on after all in a matter of hours by a committee and then the full lower house. From there it goes to the Senate.
    EL Universal, which on Tuesday scolded the PRI’s previous intransigence on the issue with a blaring lead front-page headline and a scathing editorial, relegates its coverage of the party’s change of heart to a bottom left-hand corner slot, under the head “PRI gives in, anti-corruption law advances.”
    Milenio and Excelsior lead with it however, and both share with El Universal the language of “giving in” (ceder). Milenio puts it this way: “PRI gives in: reaches accord with AN and PRD on anti-corruption law.” (“AN” is not a typo; it’s headlinese for the PAN, or the conservative National Action Party. But for some reason the P is never left off PRD or PRI.)
    The PRI itself used the verb ceder, spinning it as  self-congratulatory. “Somebody had to find room for prudence, and that was the PRI, the largest group in the Chamber,” said Héctor Gutiérrez de la Garza, the party’s vice-coordinator of deputies. “The PRI ceded so that a National Anti-Corruption System can exist.”

Excelsior, Milenio and EL Universal all give their No. 2 slot to the Vatican’s response to Mexico’s complaint about Pope Francis’ use of the term “Mexicanization” to describe out-of-control drug-trafficking violence. They all presumably saw the same statement, but the first two play it as a defense of the pope (“What the pope said ‘was not a political opinion’” and “The intention was not to stigmatize Mexico”), while El Universal sees a retreat (“After Mexico’s complaint, pope backtracks.”).
    These little one-sided spats, born of hyper-sensitivity, are embarrassing enough in the best of cases. But this one, just as with the February 13 UN report on forced disappearances in Mexico, enhances the administration’s image of being more concerned with defending itself against perceived slights than in facing reality.


There’s no front page follow-up to the news yesterday that environmental protection officials confiscated more than 100 animals from a private zoo run by a Puebla legislator named Sergio Gómez Olivier. That’s not surprising, since only one paper fronted it yesterday. But the story has struck a chord with the public, and it’s not a favorable one for the state deputy.
    Gómez was quoted as saying he has had legal permission for 20 years to run the zoo, which has the status of a Management Unit for Wildlife, or UMA. The issue, then, has to do with the treatment of the animals, scores of which are large predators, including bears and a variety of wild cats. According to the officials, the animals were kept in cages that were not only too small for them, but stacked on top of each other. The lack of room and appropriate surroundings led to violent behavior, they said, and many of the animals displayed wounds.
    So what happens with Deputy Gómez? Will he face charges? Where are the animals that were taken away? Where will they wind up? And what about the hundred or so left behind? Will we find out? Or was this story a one-off made-for-media show arranged by Profepa?

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