ISIL Original Story Link May 2006 Newsletter
A New Hong Kong in Sonora State, Mexico?
by Vince Miller
Ricardo Valenzuela addresses ISIL's world conference in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (2002).
At ISIL's world conference in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in 2002, Ricardo Valenzuela told his story of how in September 1982, then-president Lopez Portillo "nationalized" the banking system of Mexico – including two banks of which Valenzuela himself was president. He recalled how soldiers of the Mexican army had barred him from his office and proceeded to seize all his assets. Just the year before, the government had stolen thousands of acres of choice cattle land in his home state of Sonora – the assets and properties that generations of his family had worked almost one hundred years to build.
All of this legalized plunder – which was distributed largely to political cronies – left the economy in shambles. And the condition of the poor became even more wretched.
It was at that point that Valenzuela became determined to devote his life to fighting this evil system. But it seemed an almost hopeless task.
Later attempts at political reforms and the establishment of some form of federalism resulted only in the creation of a caste of new feudal lords – governors – in charge of their small fiefdoms. Instead of the rule of law, there was just more tyranny, corruption and looting.
ENTER EDUARDO BOURS
Eduardo Bours, who just two years ago became Governor of the northern Mexican state of Sonora, is a maverick who has taken a courageous stand to transform the Sonora State into an island of sanity in Mexico – through serious market reforms.
Bours remarked in recent conversations with Ricardo Valenzuela, "Don't you think that privileged people like you and me – who were born among "the families", who got the best private education and graduated from the best universities in Latin America (to take a good job already waiting for us) should give something back?"
Bours' rise to prominence was a particularly rocky road. When he locked horns with the political establishment in Mexico, challenging the corruption and proposing massive market reforms, the political establishment (described as the "baby dinosaurs") pulled out all stops to destroy his political career. They hadn't imagined that Bours would have the character and audacity to defy them.
As a result, they spent $10 million in the primary to defeat him – but to no avail. After winning in a landslide vote, Eduardo Bours was the PRI's candidate for governor of Sonora.
The new generation of hardliners already in control of their party, panicked upon losing the primary – and were unable to negotiate any deals with a principled Bours. Unable to cover their tracks, they pursued their second option. They began to sabotage Bours' campaign by secretly supporting the opposition candidate from President Fox's PAN party. Then they proceeded to cut off any kind of government financial support for Bours' election – funds which were already allotted by the Mexican treasury for Bours' campaign (all major parties are subsidized – Ed.).
Bours had to face off against both parties – the PRI and PAN. He also had to go against the power of the State government: the governor who had the job of derailing him as a field marshal for PRI's national headquarters; the powerful Catholic Church – which had enjoyed an enduring partnership with the PAN (with hundreds of priests all over the State persuading members to vote for the candidate of the PAN). Bours also had to fight the The Imparcial, the only newspaper with regional coverage of the whole State – and its editorial-board members who were all involved in the elite catholic organization known as "Opus Dei".
But he fought with great determination and valor. He went out and faced all his powerful enemies – and when all the polls were closed election day, the powerful network Televisa declared Bours the victor (based on the trends of the exit polls). Immediately, TV Azteca also declared him the winner. At midnight on the day of the election, a new computerized government voting system (PREP) showed a difference of 13 points in favor of Bours. Mysteriously, the electronic system broke down.�In the morning, when Bours' supporters woke to celebrate, the new government's data showed a draw.
This started a long battle that resembled the 2000 presidential election in the United States. After several recounts, Eduardo Bours remained the winner. Challenging the results, his opponent, Ramon Corral, went to court. After months of legal wrangling in the State courts – and then the State Congress, Bours was again announced the winner. His opponent then decided to appeal to the Federal Courts, but on the day before the inauguration, Bours was declared the legitimate governor-elect and took the office the following day.
Eduardo Bours was inaugurated as the new governor at midnight September 12, 2003. In a very dramatic and emotional public statement, he unveiled his philosophy. He shocked the big political bosses of the PRI party who had come to Sonora for this special occasion, by clearly defining the role of a successful government.
He affirmed that the responsibility of a good government should be to protect life, liberty, property and to enforce contracts. He quoted Frédéric Bastiat who wrote almost 200 years ago, "the law has acted in direct opposition of its own purpose; the law has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was suppose to maintain; to limit and destroy the rights which its real purpose was to respect."
Bours then shocked his audience when he declared that the government is not a job-provider, nor the solution to all problems. He then called for the respect of property rights, national or foreign, as a way to promote economic development and to obtain a piece of the global pie in international capital markets. He asked the people from Sonora to realize and understand that the (socialist) era of revolutionary Mexico is now over, and it walks a new path. Politicians in the audience became nervous as he stated that he had made a commitment to the people to fight the rampant government corruption that had been a common denominator in Sonora for the last 12 years.
VALENZUELA REPRESENTS BOURS
Ricardo Valenzuala had been witnessing that entire process with some astonishment when Eduardo Bours called him to a meeting, the purpose of which was to ask him to act as a representative of the Governor at their office in the neighboring U.S. state of Arizona (to promote Sonora as the wave of the future in Mexico).
He eagerly accepted. He had known Eduardo for almost his entire life, and his assertiveness did not surprise him.
Bours stated that in this era of globalization, he wanted to set up a real professional outfit as a window for the Sonora province, not only for Arizona, but the whole USA – to promote free trade, international investments, an open door to the international capital markets, and in his words: "I want the business of Sonora to be business, which is the way to promote economic growth and prosperity for our people."
To quote Valenzuela, "I want to invite you to come to Sonora and have a front seat to witness our revolution, which I think is going to be pointing the path for the rest of Mexico. A revolution for freedom, liberty, and new ideas and business strategies, which we know will attract the international investor and help us to build, as governor Bours stated; �a prosperous land of opportunities with a foundation on liberty – not by the government, but for a new civil society and the rule of law.'"
State Capitol Building, Suite 176
1700 W. Washington
Phoenix, Arizona 85007, USA
Phone (602) 542-5035
Fax (602) 542-5050
Our thanks to Ricardo Valenzuela for providing ISIL with details and research materials for this article.
NOTE: Prof. Edgar Piña and his son Edgar Jr. of the Sonora region's Foro Libre thinktank were hosts for ISIL's 2002 conference in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
More recently Edgar and Ricardo held a conference in Hermosillo (in January, 2006). The star of this event was Roberto Salinas León (president of TV Azteca). They all seem committed to building a new "Hong Kong" in Sonora State. Mexico.