The Truth Will Set Us Free
The most important human value is freedom. But freedom can be gradually lost. This is why I admire youth from all classes who today are taking to the streets to defend freedom with elation, enthusiasm, courage, and respect for their fellow citizens (we have seen isolated cases that reflect the opposite, but they are not worth mentioning).
Those who thought that this was an apathetic generation have been surprised by the energy of these students, reminding us of the importance of the political and social life of our Mexico.
Around the world, young people are transmitting a message of dissatisfaction and discontent. The current situation is not easy for this generation of youth. Indeed youth unemployment has increased alarmingly worldwide and Mexico is no exception.
But the solution is not a welfare state. On the contrary, the global crisis is the result of irresponsible and populist policies that have wiped out the productive opportunities for generations to come. We will have to remain vigilant and denounce the practices that drive the state into bankruptcy and destroy job opportunities for millions of young people. Nor does government imposition resolve anything. The generation that is now expressing itself did not live through this, but in Mexico we have already experienced the results of these two false solutions.
I understand the demands of student groups in Mexico and am largely sympathetic to the message: education, freedom, truth, connectivity, and a voice in society. Students are seeking a dialogue with and response from the authorities and the media. The message has been heard.
I have given specific instructions for Azteca and Proyecto 40 to pay special attention to providing balanced coverage of political activity in our country. Through our networks we have numerous newscasts and opinion programs that carefully examine all the positions being expressed.
I have heard some politicians say that "the television companies impose their candidates." This statement is completely false; intrinsically, in law, and in fact.
It is inherently false because electronic media, specifically television, does not have that kind of power over the national consciousness. To say that the television networks "impose candidates" is equivalent to saying that citizens do not have the capacity to make an informed choice at the ballot box, and this is false. In fact there are numerous studies around the world that have refuted this absurd idea. This is the kind of reasoning that dictators preach to undermine democratic ideals and I cannot share it. I am sure that deep down the university students do not share it either. Interestingly, this argument is similar to that used by some people to minimize student movements by saying that "they’re being manipulated."
The premise is wrong in law because in applying electoral legislation, the electronic media are scrupulously audited in their coverage by election officials and even by civil society organizations to avoid partisan bias. Finally it is false in fact, as can be seen in the same media monitoring reports (today we have very precise information on the amount of time that each electronic media outlet devotes to each of the candidates).
But in addition to being false, this assertion is fraught with ill will on the part of certain political players in relation to the electronic media that refuse to skew their coverage to particular interests or to transmit their messages under conditions that are unacceptable and harmful to society. This is particularly true when these same political messages are unattractive to the population. This same ill will is shared by those who control some media with low circulation who seek to undermine the credibility of the electronic media to further their own commercial interests.
Our screens today are full of millions of political ads with empty messages. People are tired of the harassment by the political elite and rightly so. This is the result of a favorable electoral law, but one that at the same time is counterproductive for those who promoted it.
Contrary to popular belief, these ads were not put on the screen at the initiative of the electronic media. They were expropriated by the politicians based on the argument that we operate a state concession. But beware: we must never confuse the states interests with the interests of the political parties; they are different and in many ways counterposed.
On the issue of whether there should be mandatory simultaneous broadcasts of presidential debates, I say categorically that, beyond the commercial interests of the media, I simply disagree as a matter of principle. People have right to see debates if they so choose. In what sense does closing viewing options help democracy?
Mandatory broadcasts transmitted on all television networks hark back to dark times in our history. Freedom is the basic principle that should guide our actions, as I commented in a previous post. At the same time, this week I announced that we will transmit the second debate on Azteca 13, our flagship channel.
I would also like to remind you that, along with the willingness of young people to express themselves, the media are the most effective protection that exists against dictatorship. Undermining its credibility is in the interest of authoritarian politicians, as Paul Collier reminds us in one of his books.
Finally, allow me to offer three recommendations so that your voice does not lose the strength and clarity with which it has been expressed: (1) scrupulously maintain the respect that you have shown to others and strongly denounce those who urge the use of violence or the violation of the rights of others, including candidates, (2) maintain a climate of pluralism, listen to all voices and consider all the arguments, never close your mind, and (3) distrust the politicians who will surely seek by all means at their disposal to speak in your name, even if they are impartial and critical. If you do this, your movement will make a major contribution to Mexico.
University students: I respect your vision and I admire your courage. Your movement injects dynamism in this election period and the candidates will have to take note of this, and so must the media. Thank you for giving us hope for the future of Mexico and for taking to the streets with enthusiasm, elation, and respect for all points of view. There can be no freedom without fighting for the truth. That is the core value that guides the actions of Azteca and Proyecto 40.