Cablegate: Queretaro Boasts Prosperity, Combats Intolerance

DE RUEHME #3282/01 3102249
R 052249Z NOV 08



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary. The state of Queretaro located some 160 km
northwest of Mexico City boasts a pleasant climate, a rich
historical tradition, and a growing economy. The state's
governor proudly told visiting Deputy PolCouns that Queretaro
typically grew several points above the Mexican national
average attributing much of the state's economic success to
his efforts to attract new investment in the aeronautic
sector. Of course, the state's wealth favors the young and
educated, prompting more marginalized segments of the
population to migrate to the U.S. in large numbers. Several
civil society representatives complained that the state's
engrained conservative traditions have fostered intolerance
of groups considered out of the mainstream or undesirable.
Given Queretaro's conservative reputation, PAN looks to
retain its foothold in the state in the upcoming 2009
elections. End Summary.

Tapping into the World of Aviation

2. Queretaro Governor Francisco Garrido Patron boasted that
his state's economy regularly outgrew the rest of Mexico by
1-2 percentage points. He attributed much of the state's
success to his efforts to attract new investment,
particularly by Canada, in the aeronautic sector. The state
had founded a university geared towards training engineers
and other specialists who would go into this field. He also
believed the creation of an international airport had proven
a draw for international firms.

Those Who Can't Build Planes Walk North

3. Jose Gonzalez Ruiz, a local Deputy to the Queretaro State
Congress, spoke of his humble origins as a small time farmer.
PAN had effectively made progress into gaining the support
of this population segment, which traditionally favors PRI,
by building roads, hospitals, and schools in long-neglected
communities. Nevertheless, many of these communities
remained marginalized, lacking decent job opportunities.
Notwithstanding the capital's prosperity, many rural
communities had lost upwards of 25 percent of their
population to migration to the U.S. Gonzalez Ruiz said that
he often found himself attempting to accommodate requests for
financial assistance from local residents seeking to bring
back the remains of their deceased relatives from the U.S.

Fighting Intolerance

4. Bernardo Romero, a philosophy teacher at la Universidad
Autonoma de Queretaro described the state as a bastion of
social and political conservatism. He had been disturbed by
an organized attack earlier in the year on emos -- adolescent
youth characterized by long straight black hair that they
wear off to the side and tight jeans and t-shirts who are
fans of punk music and celebrate their emotional
expressiveness -- by large numbers of the state's youth. The
police mostly watched as the emos came under harsh verbal
attacks and some physical abuse. Romero was gratified when
capital residents held a relatively large demonstration
several days later promoting tolerance. However, he argued
against the facile conclusion that the state had overcome its
tendency toward intolerance. Instead, he described state
government efforts to "transplant" poor, indigenous street
merchants from center city squares to the city's margins. He
also maintained that the state's courts favored the rich with
the police often constrained from investigating reports of
domestic violence when women would decide to withdraw their
complaints. According to Romero, the Catholic Church
remained one of the most influential institutions in the
state and demonstrated a clear bias in favor of PAN given its
conservative credentials.

Spared Narco-Violence

5. Public Security Secretary Jose Manuel Oganda Perez
described how Queretaro's capital which goes by the same name
had grown from some 100,000 27 years ago to over one million
today. He was generally pleased with law enforcement
cooperation among state and municipal police. He cited
migrants who often engage in criminal activity upon returning
from the U.S. as one of his major concerns. State Attorney
General Juan Martin Granados Torres was similarly thankful
the state had largely been spared the violence affecting
other states remarking there had been only five narco-related
killings over the last four years. Some commentators,
however, suggested cartel leaders take advantage of
Queretaro's peaceful reputation by sending their families
there to live in relative obscurity. Both Oganda Perez and
Monica Gonzalez Pasillas, a senior representative from the
state's Human Rights Commission, spoke of the commission's
efforts to provide the police with human rights training.

6. Comment. Queretaro boasts a mild climate, a proud
historic tradition dating back to Mexico's war of

MEXICO 00003282 002 OF 002

independence, relative tranquillity and an economy that
aspires to be modern. However, some commentators worry the
capital's clean and prosperous veneer obscures a variety of
social and economic ills including intolerance of outsiders
and neglect of rural communities. PAN enjoys the support of
the Catholic Church and the state's moneyed class suggesting
it should fare well in the 2009 elections.
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