THERE ARE AT LEAST TWO PERSPECTIVES ABOUT CARLOS SALINAS. FIRST --THAT THE
MEXICAN POLITICAL SYSTEM HAS BEEN THE SAME SINCE THE REVOLUTION AND SALINAS IS
ONE MORE AMONG OTHERS. THE OTHER PERSPECTIVE IS THAT CARLOS SALINAS CHANGED
THE SYSTEM A LOT. WHICH IS YOUR OPINION?
|Juan Sanchez-Navarro is a prominent Mexican business
leader and owner of Corona Beer.|
I am closer to the second opinion . Carlos Salinas introduced important
economic reforms into the country, following the rules and the same routes that
President de la Madrid did in the last two years of his presidency, this was
the plan that Mexico should have economically liberal politics. This is the
essential base of the Salinas economic plan, in order for him to do this he
joined up with the top people, especially with Doctor Aspe [Finance Minister
under Salinas]. In the first years they worked successfully, and they
made us believe that Mexico would no longer be an emergent or 3rd world country
but that Mexico would be part of the first world. And we would join
international organizations in order to participate with first world countries
that dominate and guide the world economy.
WAS IT OK UNTIL 1994?
During Salinas's regimen politics had a lot of problems, which made 1994 the
most critical and frightening year in the modern history of Mexico. It started
with a rebellion in Chiapas in the south east of the country. This rebellion
was completely unexpected, it was a surprise for all of us and it seems that
even the president was surprised. Then the awful year continued with the
murders of the top leaders of the official political party (PRI), one was the
candidate for president and the other one was the general secretary of the PRI,
this whole situation showed a deep and general corruption in national
No, this corruption started prior to 1994, but it was unmasked by the murders
and rebellion. These made possible a manifestation of unknown powers in the
corruption of the political system.
SALINAS DIDN'T REFORM THE PRI?
In a way I think that Salinas dedicated a lot of time to reforming the economy
and far less time to politics. And that became a weakness because the nation
began to demand a different political system instead of PRI. The PRI is a
particular political party without any possibility of democracy. And
overturning the PRI was never a central concept of his national politics.
DID THE RICH GET RICHER?
Overall I believe that is true, there was a major difference in the economic
situation of Mexico's social classes. The powerful got unimportant but rich
gains and there was a small diminution of income for the majority of the
WHAT ABOUT CORRUPTION?
What he inherited from his political party was not the best in terms of
political matters. In my own opinion corruption got to an extreme point where
the government was authoritarian and that led to a lack of democracy. Now
things have changed a little bit.
WHAT ABOUT RAUL SALINAS.
Raul Salinas took advantage of the situation of being the brother of the
president, and he took it to the limit in terms of enriching himself off his
influence in the regime.
AND THE SALINAS FAMILY?
I know them very well, his father was the Minister of Commerce. A very
intelligent man, very capable in economics but not very clear with the handling
of public funds. The mother was an extraordinary woman, very serious,
responsible. And her sons, some of them were good and the others not too
IS IT A CORRUPT FAMILY?
In a way yes.
WHOSE FAULT WAS IT?
The fault is of the whole system, it is a heritage that gets deeper in some
political aspects of Salinas times, but the whole system was based in the
existence of a unique political party that will always dominate the elections,
never done in a very clean way, always directing to a specific political class
the destiny of the country, and the people's voices were never manifested in a
This country has a long tradition of corrupt systems since colonial times. The
kings in Spain used to send representatives that would openly try to enrich
HOW DO YOU SEE MEXICO'S FUTURE.
If the transition toward democracy is successful, I can see a brilliant and
shining future for Mexico as long as we keep the essentials points of a free
economy and a fair integration with our neighbors, especially the ones that
live in the United States. Also participation in globalization, which is an
inevitable situation, will be helpful in transforming our country.
CAN YOU TALK A BIT ABOUT THE BANQUET. (A FAMOUS DINNER IN 1993 IN
WHICH CARLOS SALINAS WANTED TO ENRICH THE PRI'S COFFERS AND INVITED THIRTY OF
MEXICO'S RICHEST MEN)
I have to thank God that they did not invite me to the banquet! Because I
would feel very bad. It was a clear manifestation, I will say perverse,
between economic power and the national political system. By that time there
was a clear connection regarding economic matters between some businessmen, not
all, and the government. What has been discussed in political reform is the
financing of political parties, and this has to have a radical change.
They did not consider me rich enough because they thought that I was too open
regarding freedom of speech. I think there were other reasons like there were
people even richer and closer to the regimen than I was, I am very
IF THEY HAD INVITED YOU?
I would not accept the invitation because I would have to pay an enormous
amount of money which I did not have, secondly because I considered it a