The student movement that surged earlier this month -- opposed to concentration of power in the media and, to a lesser extent, the PRI candidacy of Enrique Pena Nieto –- appears to have dissipated somewhat.
But it has led to some serious name-calling among the pundit class.
For background on the movement, here’s a story I did last week.
Near the center of the latest controversy is Jorge G. Castaneda, a former foreign minister and arguably one of the better-known Mexicans in global circles, perhaps because of impeccable English and a clear writing style.
Castaneda has argued in several places that the students in the streets have amorphous aims that don’t really touch on concrete social or economic matters.
“This is much more Occupy Wall Street than Arab Spring. They aren’t trying to topple a dictatorship,” Castaneda said on the Hora de Opinar debate program on Foro TV.
In a separate column (in Spanish, see here), Castaneda comes down hard on young Mexicans who confuse what appears to be the likely outcome of the election (Pena Nieto wins) with their own wishes, believing that the opinion polls are part of a plot designed to thwart the desired outcome. He described some of the university students as “lacking in the political culture that one would expect in such a privileged group.”
“Wow, they are nuts,” he concluded.
An American law professor in Mexico City, John M. Ackerman, lashed out at Castaneda in a column in La Jornada, accusing him of “intolerance and elitism” and adding this:
“Students may not remember well the corruption and ineffectiveness of the PRI government, but they suffer daily the ravages of media manipulation and electoral opacity. They are not ready for another six years with a president of questionable legitimacy who has no social support or political will to fully resolve major national problems,” he wrote (Google translation).
Ackerman accused writer Enrique Krauze (who he said has an advisory role at Televisa, the monopolistic network that is a target of student wrath) of not having credibility to comment on the student demands.
Sadly, Castaneda’s comments have drawn much harsher commentary on Twitter, where critics have called him “Nazi” and worse. Making matter worse, both Krauze and Castaneda have Jewish heritage.