La Profesora Abstraída

Weblog of Michelle Dion, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, at McMaster University. My blog has moved to michelledion.com/blog. Visit my other website.

Saturday, July 30, 2005




It costs a lot to look this good, or does it?

In many ways, Mexican politics can be just as mundane as politics in the U.S. Remember the controvery over Clinton's furniture? And then I seem to recall people getting riled up about how much the First Lady spent on a haircut.

In the last few weeks, the amount spent by Fox's First Lady on gowns has been a topic of debate in the press. The President gets an annual budget for galas, clothing, and related expenses (budget line item 3825). Over the last several years, it has increased, reaching $955,000 pesos (US$87,000) in 2003.

I'm thinking that $87K isn't really that much for a First Lady, especially when a pair of Nine West shoes that cost $65 in the U.S. cost $125 in Mexico.

Since the First Lady is such a well-dressed woman, critics have claimed that the First Lady has spent much more than her allowance on clothing, and they want to know where the money is coming from. The Congress has decided to elminate or reduce her allowance, and one legislator said "Versace will miss her."

Martha's response to all of this attention? "I buy my clothes with money my husband gives me." This, of course, is the only appropriate explanation a Mexican woman could give for her spending habits, even if she was a successful woman before her marriage.

This isn't the first time the Foxes have been criticized for their spending. Shortly after taking office, legislators criticized how much they spent on bath towels for the Mexican equivalent of the White House. Maybe this is the greatest accomplishment of Mexican democracy. The opposition can demand transparency in Los Pinos expenditures on things like towels, gowns, and dress shoes.

Of course, in a country with wide disparities in wealth and crushing poverty in the countryside, it does seem in bad taste to spend so lavishly.

Recently, the Martha Sahagun donated about US$30K of her cast-offs to a charity for children with cancer.


posted by Michelle @ 7:22 PM,

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