Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Has “Giuliani time” worked in Mexico City?

Last week an estimated 15,000 street vendors in Mexico City were forcibly removed to be relocated to anther part of the city. Despite claims of losing their businesses, the measure was done as Mayor Marcelo Ebard’s plan to “improve quality of life” throughout the city.

Four years ago former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani was hired as a consultant to lower crime in Mexico City. One of Giuliani’s main claims to fame as Big Apple mayor was promoting a “civility campaign” against jaywalkers, panhandlers, and street vendors. From an NPR report in 1998:

“(Mayor Giuliani’s) targets have moved from squeegee men, to jay walkers, to sex shops in Times Square, to taxi drivers...and now to food vendors. Some New Yorkers think the mayor is targeting immigrant groups out of national political ambitions... others say it's about time New York had a strong mayor who's unafraid to take charge.”

Since the implementation of “Plan Giuliani” some capitalinos have been unimpressed. Crime rates have diminished by about 8% though a 2006 safety report observed that the categories of murder, rape and robbery are 3-4 times greater than those indices in New York City or Los Angeles.

Ebard’s initiatives on street vendors seem to indicate that he has taken Giuliani’s advice to heart. Whether this means a significant improvement to daily life in Mexico City remains to be seen.

Sources- AFP, BBC News, New York Times, NPR, The Latin Americanist, Seattle Times, Overseas Security Advisory Council

Image- BBC News (Rudy Giuliani during a 2003 visit to Mexico City)

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