Seminar with Governor Manuel Angel Nuñez Soto, Governor of Hidalgo
On Monday June 7, 2004, the Mexico Institute hosted Manuel Angel Nuñez Soto, the governor of the Mexican state of Hidalgo, who was introduced by former Ambassador Jim Jones. Governor Nunez Soto ran succesfully for public office in 1997 and became a congressman. Two years later he became governor. Recently, the governor has announced his campaign for the Mexican presidency in 2006.
According to Nuñez Soto, the state of Hidalgo attracts about 1.5 billion annually in foreign direct investment, 50,000 new jobs have been created in recent years, and the state is a leader in the creation of new infrastructure, especially universities. Governor Nuñez Soto and his administration have worked to create a safe state where the laws are enforced, corruption is reduced and tolerance is an objective.
Nuñez Soto argued that the quest for the consolidation of Mexico's democracy continues and that Mexico has undergone dramatic transformations in the last two decades. The "lost decade"of the 1980's with its endemic macroeconomic problems has been replaced by fiscal prudence, price stability, and relative growth. However, the governor expressed concern about a potential backlash to the neo-liberal policies enacted by recent administrations, and stated that Mexico needs to move forward with fiscal reform that would be aided by strict enforcement of the rule of law. He expressed his opinion that the necessary changes have not come about because of the deadlock between the Mexican Congress and the presidency, which was partially due to Mexico's lack of parliamentary tradition and partially due to a lack of clear leadership in the presidency.
Governor Nuñez Soto explained that the newfound freedom of the legislative branch after the virtual dictatorship of the PRI has come with no previous experience and this is compounded by having no single party in a majority. He expressed urgency in having to make the necessary changes to make Mexico more competitive by saying that the "political players need to understand that fundamental changes must be made." Part of his critique of the current Fox Administration is the governor's belief that Fox has failed to communicate the complex problems in simple terms, and mentioned the recently deceased former President Ronald Reagan as an "example on how to relay complex problems in simple terms."
The governor then went on to explain the systemic changes that must be made to Congress in order to make it a better functioning body. Since there is no re-election for members of Congress, no incentive to vote for or stand behind issues seem to exist, members do not learn to compromise. Additionally, members of Congress do not answer to constituencies and when they do act they are often ill-advised. Governor Nuñez Soto urgently called for the professionalization of the Mexican Congress beginning with the creation of an institution like the General Accounting Office in the United States. He explained that major reforms are utterly indispensable, and that "little will accomplished with no energy reforms" and "juridical reforms" as a start for improving Mexico's competitive position.