- In-Country Power
- International Power
- Military Strength
- Special Skill: Cartel Crusher
- Official Title: President
- Government: Established democracy
- Years Left in Office: To 2012; single term limit
- Political Classification: Center-right
- Education: BS in Law, MS in Economics, PhD in Public Administration
- Age: 56 (born August 18, 1962)
Felipe Calderón Facts and Information
Vamanos amigos! Time to head south of the border and find out about El Presidente down Mexico way…and that would be Felipe! Now, I must be honest here, Felipe is not really anywhere near being a player on the international scene, and quite frankly his power within Mexico is pretty weak as well. However, he is near the US, and that makes all the difference! You simply have to know who is leading the states on your immediate borders if you want to be a truly engaged and educated global citizen. And its now bad info to possess when you go down there for Spring Break either. But I digress…
Mexican President Felipe de Jesús Calderón was elected to a single 6-year term to the top office in 2006, which means he will be out of power in 2012 no matter what (Mexico has a single term limit on the presidency.) And what an election it was! Almost a re-play of the 2000 election in the US, the voting was so close that it had to be recounted, then decided finally by the Mexican Supreme Court, and the decision was hotly contested and disputed by almost everyone—just like the George Bush election in the US. I tell you this story because you should know that Calderón—just like former President Bush—still does not enjoy high approval ratings or popularity in his country. Which makes him kind of a weak leader.
And the similarities don’t stop there! Just like George Bush, Calderón is affiliated with a political party—the National Action Party (PAN)—that is mostly conservative organization with a tendency toward more neoliberal economic ideas. And just like George Bush, Calderón is extremely conservative when it comes to social issues like gay rights or abortion (he opposes both). In fact, if Calderón were to move to the US, he would certainly be a member of the Republican political party. However, unlike former President Bush, Felipe is highly schooled and trained for public service. So you can think of Calderón as essentially the George Bush of Mexico, except smart.
But let’s get to the goods: what do you really need to know about this leader? Calderón is a strong ally of the US, regardless of who is in charge. He was a strong supporter of George Bush, but is equally ready to work with the Obama administration. Calderón is a free-trade supporter, a fan of NAFTA, and is not opposed to embracing the natural leadership of the US in economic and foreign affairs. Mexico under Calderón will continue to support most, if not all, US endeavors on the global stage. The only US policy that Calderón vehemently opposes is immigration: back in 2007, Calderón openly expressed his disapproval of building a wall between the two nations. After the U.S. Senate rejected the Comprehensive immigration bill, President Calderón called the decision a “grave error”. He wants more economic interaction between Mexico and the US, including movement of people for gainful employment.
Other than that glitch, Felipe has opened his country to the US like no one ever before. He has allowed unprecedented access of his government to the US to work together on a variety of issues like security, crime, and drugs. What? Security? Why security? Because of crime and DRUGS dudes! Mexico has been spiraling out of control for years with drug violence, as multi-billion-dollar-making Mexican drug cartels have almost completely super-ceded the government, the police, and the army in terms of real power on the street. Drug money corruption is really bad inside the army and police too, which makes fighting these even tougher. That, and the fact that the cartels actually have more money and better weaponry than the government too. Its a bad situation that Felipe inherited.
Which is why Calderón is working closely with the US and others on intelligence matters, on fighting corruption, and strengthening the military/police. The US supplies money, training, equipment, and intelligence…probably because fighting drug cartels on the US border is a huge US problem too! Calderón is also a huge supporter of the Mérida Initiative (also called Plan Mexico by critics), which is a security cooperation between the US, Mexico, and the countries of Central America, with the aim of combating the threats of drug trafficking, transnational crime and money laundering. It makes sense to me, as the billion dollar drug industry affects all in the group.
But its this coziness with the US that has brought a bit of ridicule to Felipe, and kind of separates Mexico from other Latin American countries. Led by the leftists in Venezuela and Cuba, Mexico is sometimes mocked as a stooge to US imperialism. And Calderón’s embrace of free trade, NAFTA, and even FTAA set him quite apart from the more left-leaning, socialist movements across South America. His only real conservative friend in the neighborhood is President Álvaro Uribe of Colombia, another huge US ally and US aid recipient. This Mexico-Colombia axis is sometimes viewed as the only real counter to the Hugo Chavez-led Bolivarian leftist movement across the region. But they don’t got a lot of play right now either way.
On the world stage, Mexico is now being invited to the G-20 meetings, but other than that does not make a big splash on world affairs. Its economy is fragile, and shrinking. Its military is small and weak, and quite frankly it doesn’t need a big military given big brother up to the north. Who the hell is going to attack Mexico and raise the wrath of Uncle Sam? But it is still good for you to know Felipe, as his country’s issues in effect are US issues, wether you like it or not. Come on Calderón! Kick the cartels in the can!
Plaidcasts Involving this Leader
- The 43: Muchos Muerto in Mexico Nov 18, 2014
- Some Pointers on New Mexican President Peña… Jul 5, 2012
- US Screws Self at Summit of Americas Apr 15, 2012
- World Leaders Shake-Down in 2012 Jan 2, 2012
- Cool Calderon Bags a Barbie (part 2) Sep 4, 2010
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