|Mexico’s 58 million registered voters are now happily ensconsed in Washington computers (out of a total population of 100 million). Practically all Mexican adults over age 18 are registered voters, as the “IFE” electoral card is more sacred than a driver’s license.
How did the Atlanta company obtain the info? By dangling US $250,000 in front of lowly-paid bureacrats in Mexico City, that’s how. Some 2,000 workers had access to this database, but no one in Mexico City is talking.
Investigations have been launched. Journalist are on the case. Ordinary citizens are outraged. But the local culprits will never be caught. The scandal, however, provides insight into the complex Mexico-US relationship.
A year ago, 66% of Mexicans had a positive image of the US. Today that figure is 24%, reduced not only by the large-scale invasion of personal privacy and national sovereignty but also by the Iraq war, opposed by an astonishing 99% of Mexicans and by the Mexican government, including President Vicente Fox, who had been considered (until the war) a close friend of George Bush.
Virtually no Mexican was convinced that the threat from Iraq was imminent, and the absence of solid evidence of weapons of mass destruction more than a month after the war only further confirms suspicions that the war was about imperial ambition. (Perhaps having been attached twice by the US swayed opinion - a historical fact lost to Americans but drummed into every Mexican schoolchild.)
Yet Mexicans are savvy enough to pin the latest invasion of privacy on the Bush administration. Mexicans know, either first-hand or through relatives living in the US, that the US is complex and divided. Simplistic anti-Americanism is not common. Bill Clinton, for example, who visited Mexico City on May 1, was greeted with wild enthusiasm by Mexicans across the political spectrum, even by an audience of 10,000 left-leaning university students. For better or for worse.
Administrations and scandals come and go, but the steady encroachment upon privacy (and personal dignity) continues. The names, birthdates, and addresses of 58 million law-abiding Mexican citizens will never be erased from the hardrives of the office of “Homeland Security.”
|Big Brother Gets Bigger: Reaching South of the Border
By Andrew Bosworth
“So far from God, so close to the United States.” This addage about Mexico goes back nearly a century to ex-dictator Porfirio Diaz, and it still rings true today.
The US government employed a proxy, an Atlanta-based company called People’s Choice, to purchase the largest data base available on Mexican citizens. The names, birthdates, and addresses of
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• Big Brother Gets Bigger: Reaching South of the Border
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