I don’t think this is what they mean when they say signaling is costly!

Ah, Harvard. The holy grail for Mexican politicians. From 1982 – 20012  4 out of 5 Presidents went to Harvard (de la Madrid, Salinas, Fox, and Calderon). The 5th, Zedillo, slummed it down at Yale. It says something about the parlous state of Mexican politics that current president EPN got his degree from ITAM in Mexico city.

So when Ivan Garza ran for mayor of Monterrey , a big part of his campaign was that he had the intellectual chops to have attended prestigious universities, Harvard chief among them.

He actually campaigned in a Harvard “varsity” jacket:


Would it surprise any of you to learn that Garza’s total exposure to Harvard consisted of a 4 day course on executive leadership? In effect, Garza paid $9,500 for his sweet jacket.

I am happy to report that Sr. Garza lost the election, to Adrian de la Garza of the PRI who earned his degree at the autonomous university of Nuevo Leon.



Losing the pura vida?

The Christian Science Monitor has a piece on Costa Rica that discusses the disenchantment that voters have about politics in general and the February elections in particular.

Polling firms report that 32% of the population plans to abstain from the presidential election because of anger over “corruption, a lack of leadership, insensitivity to the average citizen, and unemployment.”  While the article tries to spin this as a new phenomena, citing “a much deeper and darker alienation this time around,” abstention was at least that high in the last two presidential elections (35% in 2006 and 32% in 2010).

The current president, Laura Chinchilla, only has a 9% approval rating as voters blame her for a variety of ills ranging from “collapsed highways, dengue outbreaks, and other calamities.”


Johnny Araya, current major of San José, has the lead in the presidential polls but citizens aren’t too thrilled with him either.  Apparently, the infrastructure and security of the capital city has greatly deteriorated under his 12 year tenure and people are unhappy with “his personal lifestyle (including five marriages).”  Given that he has the edge in polling so far, I guess not everyone is unhappy with him, or perhaps they consider him the least bad option.




Add “Bad Winner” to Mugabe’s many, many faults


If I were to list Robert Mugabe’s faults, it would be hard to know where to start.  From this Africa Review article though, I apparently have to add “bad dresser” and “bad winner” to the list.  I can’t say about his outfits (and Kevin disagrees with me, proclaiming them “awesome”), but perhaps the bad winner part of his personality is coming to the fore because he knows he didn’t actually win.

First there was the pre-election reaction to comments made by the US:

“President Robert Mugabe on Thursday rebuked the “insane” US for criticising his push for elections without key reforms and told it to keep its “pink nose” out of Zimbabwe’s affairs. “America must be mad, absolutely insane,” President Mugabe, who is seeking to extend his 33-year rule.”

After the election, he had this to say about whether the election was fair and free:

“We are delivering democracy on a platter,” he said. “We say take it or leave it, but the people have delivered democracy.”

And in case the opposition didn’t get the message, he made it even more clear:

“The 89-year-old ruler, making his first public speech since he defeated long time foe, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, said his win was a victory against the West and their puppets. “Those who were hurt by defeat can go hang if they so wish,” said President Mugabe in a speech delivered during commemorations to honour the country’s liberation war heroes. “Even if they die, dogs will not eat their flesh,” he added. “Never will we go back on our victory.” [Note: this may be a translation error, but what is up with the word “even” here? does he think the opposition is immortal?]

Wow, very presidential.  Given the fact that he ran on indigenising more than 1,000 companies and re-introducing the Zim dollar, I’m not optimistic about the future of the Zimbabwean economy.