“It doesn’t matter to me if Mexicans make fools of each other;
what I will not tolerate is that Mexicans do it.”
The world remembers the 2000 U.S. presidential election, with its hanging chads, overvotes, undervotes, and esoteric attempts to “discern the intent” of the voter. Irregularities people thought did not and could not happen in the United States were happening and coming into public view. Imagine my embarrassment, as an American living in Mexico since 1991. Only four months earlier, on July 2, 2000, Mexico had held her presidential election. In contrast to ours, the Mexican election went smoothly and resulted in a peaceful change of regime, after 71 years of one-party rule. It was the first peaceful regime change in Mexican history.
The American media were—and still are—largely focused on Vicente Fox, the winner of the 2000 election, who took office five months after being elected. The real story, however, goes much deeper than the election of one candidate.
The saga is told in Opening Mexico: The Making of a Democracy, by Julia Preston and Samuel Dillon, two Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters for the New York Times. Their book is certainly worth reading, both for seasoned Mexico-watchers and those who...