"Orange People: A Brief History of Transnational Liberation Networks in East Central Europe," Demokratizatsiya, Winter 2007.

The idea for this article arose at Oxford University, when PhD students Alisa Voznaya and Nadiya Kravets hosted me to speak about trans-national liberation movements in East-Central Europe. Because it was shortly after the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, somewhere along the line it occurred to me to call these agitators (many of them my friends) “Orange People”—the name of the presentation and the subsequent two articles. The first was for STAIR (St. Antony's International Review). The second is an expanded version later published in Demokratizatsiya. The aim of the article was to expose the string that unified all the main revolutions in the Soviet and post-Soviet area. Even participants of those revolutions were somewhat surprised to see that indeed there was a common string and a “one degree of separation” from other epic events. During research, even I was surprised. I had a hunch, since I noticed before how many key players from the region knew each other personally and in the most unexpected ways.


Transiciones: La experiencia de Europa del Este (Buenos Aires: CADAL / CEON / Pontis, 2005).

This book, probably the first academic monograph in Spanish on the post-communist transitions in Eastern Europe, was published by three leading research centers, from Argentina, Miami and Slovakia. I oftentimes call it a “scholarly user’s manual” of transitions, and it is meant for the Cuban and Venezuelan reformers that will come to power one of these days soon. Now they cannot plead ignorance if they mess up their transition. In fact, the goal of introducing the book to the Cuban dissidents has worked, as reported by this article in the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza. The book was dedicated to three fallen heroes of transitions: Galina Starovoitova, Yuri Schekochikhin and Manuel Clouthier. It covers the main issues that a new democratic leader will face in a typical post-communist or post-authoritarian transformation, including political, economic, institutional, social and other reforms. It attempts to dispel an abundance of myths about these transitions, and uses concrete case studies (I tend to concentrate on both extremes—the successes and the failures) to shed light on these concepts. The book follows the philosophy that democratically elected leaders—far from their usual “wimpy” image—can do a lot if they put their mind to it, certainly more than dictators can.

Este libro explora las lecciones de las 32 transiciones en el antiguo bloque comunista eurasiático en gran detalle. Sus 464 páginas hablan sobre el porqué de las diferencias tan pronunciadas del desempeño en estos países —porqué algunos fueron tan exitosos (como Estonia y la República Checa), mientras otros cayeron en el estancamiento, guerras civiles y corrupción (Yugoslavia, gran parte de Asia Central, Rusia, Belarús, etc.). Más que un ejercicio académico, el libro puede servir como un “manual de usuario” de aquellos que quieran liderar futuras transiciones en el mundo hispano-parlante. Se recomienda que se comience a leer por el capítulo 3, “Lecciones,” para luego seguir con los capítulos 1 y 2 —que son más técnicos y probablemente difíciles de entender para el que apenas empiece con este tema. Agradezco a Orlando Gutiérrez del Directorio Democrático Cubano por haberme insistido que escriba este libro, y al director de relaciones internacionales del PAN Edgar Rodríguez por haber sido el primero en comentarme “creo que tienes el suficiente material para escribir un libro.”


"Як знов провалити реформи: короткий курс для прем'єра з командою" ("How to fail again at reform: A short course for the prime minister"), Ukrainska pravda, 27 December 2007.

When Yulia Tymoshenko became prime minister for the second time in Ukraine, it occurred to my colleague Dmytro Potekhin and I to write an ironic article on how the Orange forces should mess up their chances for the second time. The article was published in the internet edition of Ukrainska pravda and provoked many responses. Dmytro took care of responding to them.


 “The Centrality of Elites” / “La importancia central de las elites en el desempeño transformador de Europa Post Comunista”

This has been one of my most celebrated articles. It was originally written for the tenth-anniversary issue of Demokratizatsiya, which was supposed to be scholarly but opinionated (perfect for me). Here, I argue that the success and failure of the post-communist transitions can be explained almost exclusively by whether those that end in power after the collapse of communism held office in the previous system or not. That is what I call the “iron rule” of the transitions: The more the former communist nomenklatura participates in the post-communist reality, the worst the country does. Too obvious for scholars to come out and say outright (though that is beginning to change).

Moreover, I also associate the behavior of these elites not with ideology, but with the psychopathic or antisocial personality disorder. Because the original Bolsheviks and their Cheka recruited heavily from hardened convicts, it seems obvious that they ended up with many antisocials among their ranks, a philosophy of abuse which they spread through Russia and other countries they conquered. This explains why essentially all the violent fascists and illiberal nationalists in the post-communist lands once faithfully served the communist parties in their countries. Antisocials can change ideological colors quickly as long as they can continue abusing others—which they certainly did where they remained in power.

The article was translated into four other languages and published in Miami (I include the Spanish version here as well), Estonia (by a journal called Akadeemia), Bulgaria, and Moldova (by the newspaper Flux).


“Belarus Will Soon Be Liberated,” Interview with Stanislau Shushkevich, Demokratizatsiya, Winter 2004.

Shushkevich is a historical figure, a nuclear physicist who almost accidentally became involved in politics and ended up as Belarus’s first leader. He is also surprisingly unassuming and down-to-earth, not only risking his freedom by challenging the current dictatorship, but also having to earn his living by teaching physics part-time in Poland. In other words, the contrast with his successor Alyaksandr Lukashenka could not be more pronounced. I had the honor of inviting him to Washington and Toronto in November of 2003 to participate in celebrating ten years of the journal. While there, we had this fascinating interview, where he speaks about his time as Belarus’s leader, his current activities as a democracy activist, but also about the intrigues surrounding one of his most famous accomplishments: the official dissolution of the USSR at the Belovezha forest in western Belarus. A case study in coincidences, Shushkevich was with us on the 40th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. As a young student of nuclear physics in Minsk, because of his English-language skills, Shushkevich had been assigned to teach Russian to a young American called Lee Harvey Oswald. Scholars and activists studying the current Lukashenka dictatorship oftentimes ignore what came before. Shushkevich in this interview illuminates the many challenges in governing Belarus, with a parliament almost entirely dominated by communists and with vague powers he was forced to share with a prime minister whose only goal was to cancel the country’s independence. Shushkevich later joined Demokratizatsiya’s editorial board.


“Georgia, Moldova and Bulgaria: Dismantling Communist Structures Is Hardly Extremism,” Interview with Irina Sarishvili-Chanturia, Iurie Roşca and Philip Dimitrov, Demokratizatsiya, Spring 2004.

The three leaders had come to Mexico for the annual congress of the Christian-Democratic parties. I already knew Dimitrov, the Bulgarian Havel, but it was the first time I met the Moldovan Roşca and Sarishvili-Chanturia, a Georgian democracy activist and political figure. It was an interesting conversation the three of us had, contrasting the bare-knuckled (but wise) Roşca with the more avuncular and academic Dimitrov. All agreed on some basic things, namely that the naïve diplomats and political figures of the Western countries had many misconceptions that clouded their judgement of the post-communist transitions—among them, seeing anti-communist forces as somewhat of a threat to stability and institution-building. They speak about what they would do differently if they could start all over again. Sarishvili-Chanturia went on to help Shevardnadze during the Rose Revolution, that’s the last thing I know of her. As for Dimitrov, that day he started a friendship with Roşca, and has come to his aid on numerous occasions after that. When Roşca became vice-chairman of parliament, the EU funded a program to bring foreign specialists of transitions to Moldova. Iurie chose Mart Laar of Estonia, and Dimitrov. It makes sense, since Moldova is a late transition, and Bulgaria is (perhaps besides Slovakia) the most successful of the late transitions (when Dimitrov’s party returned to power in 1996-97 and turned the country around). Yes, it all started in Mexico!

 “En Europa del Este —Cambios funcionales: Reforma o ruptura,” en Memorias del Seminario Internacional sobre Transiciones Políticas (México, DF: Partido Acción Nacional, Fundación Popular Iberoamericana y Fundación Robert Schuman, 2002), pp. 102-9.

Este libro es una compilación de las pláticas dadas en un seminario especial durante la reunión en México de la Internacional Demócrata del Centro / Internacional Demócrata Cristiana en noviembre del 2001, de la cual fue anfitrión el PAN y donde participaron varios líderes de Europa del Este —incluyendo mi gran amigo Philip Dimitrov de Bulgaria, con el cual compartí un panel. Mi intervención habla brevemente sobre las lecciones de las transiciones, y ya entonces di la luz amarilla sobre lo que se venía aconteciendo en México. Agradezco a Jorge Ocejo y a Edgar Rodríguez Rudich por haberme permitido participar en este distinguido seminario.


«Избави, Господи, Россию от бюрократов» Literaturnaya Gazeta, 21 October 1992, p. 15.

This article, published thanks to my great late friend Yuri Shchekochikhin, speaks of the corruption and bureaucratic mess it takes many people to obtain a visa from the Russian consulate in Washington.


“China: The Next Japan? An Economic Superpower on the Rise" The International Voice, 12 September 1988

I can rightfully claim that I predicted China’s meteoric rise (and for the right reasons) back in 1988! Though I don’t normally “do” China, it was obvious that the reforms in the country would propel it into a new era. All one has to do is benchmark the country with Taiwan to see what Chinese can do with some economic freedoms. That trip to China was very rewarding. My father participated in a large conference of foreign businesspeople and took the rest of the family along. Back then, the Chinese government was very eager to impress these potential investors and actually granted us use of the Great Hall of the People as the conference venue. Many governors and mayors showed up at a special cocktail event at the hotel. Being only 19 years old, the best way to break the ice with them was to ask them to sign their names on a map of China I had, on top of the area they governed. That map must be worth something now.


 “Preface” to Dismantling Tyranny: Transitioning beyond Totalitarian Regimes by Ilan Berman and J. Michael Waller, editors (Oxford, UK and Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 2005), pp. ix-xi.

Berman and Waller asked that I write a brief introduction to their book on case studies (Russia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Nicaragua, Lithuania, Poland and East Germany) on the reforms (and lack thereof) to the communist political-police structures inherited by the ostensibly new regime, and written by both academics and those who participated in the reforms. (The compilation had been published before in a special Demokratizatsiya issue.) With Waller I collaborated since years ago on studying this topic and assisting reformers in Eastern Europe that sought to implement these reforms, including some of the authors of this compilation. Georgie Anne Geyer in the Chicago Tribune (6 January 2006) wrote a review about the book.

“Conceptos básicos sobre el control y supervisión de los servicios secretos en una democracia y en una transición a la democracia,” en La gestión de la seguridad en tiempos de transición militar, Enrique Obando, editor (Lima, Perú: IDEPE, 2002), pp. 131-148.

El libro fue compilado por un destacado especialista peruano en el tema de reformas militares y de inteligencia, que coincidió con el reciente colapso del régimen autoritario de Alberto Fujimori. La conferencia que organizó en Lima atrajo a cientos de académicos, especialistas, militares y representantes de las principales fuerzas políticas compitiendo en las elecciones que se aproximaban. Los otros panelistas hablaron sobre reformas a las instituciones militares, pero mi intervención fue sobre los sistemas de inteligencia, ya que Fujimori y su asesor Vladimiro Montesinos habían creado una especie de policía política en el Perú. (Agradezco a Christopher Sabatini del National Endowment for Democracy por haberme juntado con IDEPE.) El diario El Comercio mencionó brevemente la conferencia.


“Servicios Secretos, Constitucionalidad y Transición en Europa del Este,” capítulo en libro por publicarse, Enrique Obando, ed., Lima, Perú: IDEPE.

Este documento es una continuación que profundiza lo dicho en el primer libro de Obando, citado arriba.


“On the Path to Reforming the KGB: Proposals and Projects,” Demokratizatsiya, Summer 1992

This is a synopsis of a closed-door panel held in Washington at the journal’s initiative, which was the first in a series of meetings and conferences that snowballed into an important attempt to study and reform the KGB’s successors. Several important people participated in these meetings, including famed Russian investigative reporter Yuri Shchekochikhin, former CIA director Bill Colby, and several U.S. intelligence reform-and-oversight experts such as J. Michael Waller, Morton Halperin (main architect of the U.S. Freedom of Information Act), Louise Shelley, Diane Dornan (expert staffer of the House Select Committee on Intelligence), Victor Yasmann, etc.

In November of 1992, another conference was organized at Moscow State University, which brought together several Russian specialists together with U.S. specialists. This project was later merged into the “KGB: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow” series of conferences organized by Sergei Grigoryants, which took place mostly throughout 1993 (including one in October 3rd, just blocks away from where tanks were storming the Russian Supreme Soviet building). These historic conferences attracted the leading reformers in Russia (Aleksandr Yakovlev, Tatyana Zaslavskaya, Vadim Bakatin, Sergei Kovalev, etc.) as well as leading international specialists (Jaroslav Bašta, Lagle Parek, Colby, Yasmann, Waller, etc.). Several compilations were published of the proceedings, as well as occasional bulletins and newsletters.

But after several violent incidents against Grigoryants and his family (including the murder of his son), and the political routing of the democratic forces in parliament (such as Lev Ponomarev and Gleb Yakunin) advocating reform and oversight of the KGB’s successors, much of the Russian initiative dwindled. Those that continued with the project were Halperin’s former colleague at the ACLU, Kate Martin, who after participating in one of Grigoryants’s conferences in Moscow decided to establish her own center dedicated to assisting the transition countries on issues of secret-service reform and oversight, based at the Center for National Security Studies in Washington; and Waller, who, together with Yasmann, is perhaps the main expert on the KGB and its successors, and authored a book on the subject, Secret Empire: The KGB in Russia Today (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1994), in addition to organizing several events, training and exchanges for Russian Duma deputies on secret-service reform and oversight. My masters thesis at the Harvard Davis Center for Russian Studies was also on the subject.


“Russia's Borderline Personality," Demokratizatsiya, Spring 2008 and «????a??? ???????? ?a?a????a», Ekonomicheskaya politika, October 2006.

Saying that Russia is neurotic is bound to raise some eyebrows in snooty circles, unless you are Churchill, Kennan or Tyutchev. Growing up with two psychology buffs as parents, by osmosis I became aware of the different theories on personalities and personality disorders. Later it hit me that Russia behaves quite similarly to what’s known as the Borderline. It was so obvious, I was surprised that a search did not reveal other attempts at comparing the two. Reading an article that appeared in the Russia in Global Affairs journal, I knew I had my chance at cross-comparison when a scholar dissected there the four “civilizational specifics” of Russia, which happened to match almost word-for-word the clinical diagnosis of the Borderline. Originally, it was to be published in a Russian journal but its editor recanted out of respect for the Kremlin (or so he politely said). But unbeknownst to me at the time (I found out almost a year later), another prestigious Russian journal had published it. The article caused some waves—but as usual, not with the scholars (who did not like it at all), yes with the policymakers. The legendary former dissident in Estonia and now member of the EU Parliament Tunne Kelam suggested that its conclusions should serve as the basis for the EU’s relations with Russia.


"A New Cold War?" A National Review Online symposium, 8 December 2008.

President Obama could make a serious mistake if he does not keep a few things in mind when dealing with the Kremlin.


"Russia’s Darkness at Noon," online symposium by FrontPage Magazine (www.frontpagemag.com), 22 July 2005

In this forum conducted by Jamie Glazov, we explore Putin’s regime. I am actually more optimistic about its prospects (for falling, that is) than some of the other participants. However, it was hard to disagree openly with Richard Pipes and Dick Morris. As I mention in the symposium, their historical significance towards Russia did not escape me. “Pipes was instrumental in bringing down the Soviet empire, when he was advisor to Ronald Reagan. Morris was key in preventing a victory by the ‘national Bolsheviks’ in 1996, by advising Yeltsin’s team on his re-election campaign.” While speaking about how unlikely heroes can appear out of nowhere to overthrow a regime, as they did with the Soviet Union, I do add a word of caution. “After all, Gorbachev was in the Kremlin, not an insecure and violent little man as there is today. But also unlike then, this time the Russian democratic forces are ready to govern the country.”


«Является ли прошлое Мексики российским настоящим?: Жизненный цикл «идеальной диктатуры» », in Социально-экономическая трансформация в странах СНГ: достижения и проблемы (материалы международной конференции) (“Can Russia’s Present be Found in Mexico’s Past?: The Life Cycle of a Perfect Dictatorship,” in The Socio-Economic Transformation in the CIS: Achievements and Problems [Proceedings from the International Conference]) (Moscow: Institute for the Economy in Transition, 2004), pp. 291-310.

This book was published by Yegor Gaidar’s institute in Moscow (IET), and my chapter (an expanded version of a speech given at a conference organized by the IET in September 2003) explores the similarities and differences between Mexico’s long-ruling PRI party-regime, and Vladimir Putin’s also one-party managed democracy. (Coincidentally, my speech was given just as Putin announced the cancellation of popular elections for governors.) Mexico’s “perfect dictatorship” does share many elements with Putin, and the history of its demise may give us lessons on how Putin’s regime will come to an end as well. At the conference, I got to sit in the same panel as Gaidar, Vladimir Mau, Anatoly Chubais and former Armenian Prime Minister Hrant Bagratyan, reminding me of that Sesame Street song “One of These Things Is Not Like the Others.”


«Пο пути ли России с Путиным?» Voice of America Russian service broadcast to CIS countries, 7 November 2005

In this interview broadcast to the former-Soviet space by VOA’s Washington-based Ina Dubinsky (I was in Santiago, Chile, speaking by phone—globalization at work), I argued that Putin is more and more confused and reacting to events, showing great fear, while dismantling democratic institutions and engaging in more aggressive behavior abroad. I was trying to reflect what was discussed at our panel on contemporary Russian politics at the AAASS conference in Salt Lake City just days before, with Peter Rutland and Gordon Hahn. Christopher Marsh and Nikolai Petro also participated in the radio broadcast. When asked who the next Russian president would be, I said that if Galina Starovoitova were still alive, she would have been. This was my second of (so-far) four interviews for VOA.


“The Perestroika of Demokratizatsiya,Demokratizatsiya, Winter 2005

This introduction to that issue speaks briefly about the history of the journal, its people, and where it is going.


“The Correlation between Healthy and Ill Forces Is Not in Our Favor,” Interview with Tatyana Zaslavskaya, Demokratizatsiya, Spring 2005.

Probably one of my better interviews. Zaslavskaya was one of the key architects of perestroika and the democratization of the Soviet Union. She pioneered the art of public-opinion monitoring in the USSR and linked it to the political struggle underway, as the founder of the legendary VTsIOM. Here, she debunks a few myths most Sovietologists had, namely that she had a close cooperation with Gorbachev and other reformers in the USSR. Paradoxically, even if they benefited from her findings, the cooperation was minimal according to her, and she had to constantly fight for every little concession. She speaks about what compelled her into this line of work, her trajectory, opinions about the changes, etc. One of the most touching aspects of the interview is her personal opinions on Gorbachev and what he contributed. Zaslavskaya is not too optimistic of the future, saying that it is difficult to see the mechanism that will propel Russia out of its current state.


“Gorbachev Steered Things in a Constructive Way,” Interview with Pavel Palazchenko, Demokratizatsiya, Spring 2005.

Pavel Ruslanovich Palazchenko is familiar to those following Soviet and even post-Soviet affairs even superficially, as he is always by Gorbachev’s side in the main international summits and conferences, as his translator, advisor and confidante. In fact, I have noticed that Pavel is so familiar with Gorbachev’s line of thinking that sometimes his translation runs ahead of Gorbachev’s statements. Always accessible and friendly, Pavel has an intimate wealth of information and anecdotes about the main international negotiations involving the USSR and Gorbachev specifically, which he shared in his book My Years with Gorbachev and Shevardnadze. In this interview, Palazchenko elaborates on Gorbachev’s ability to convince his critics on the necessity of the painful reforms that were implemented and of the dramatic and sudden change in the USSR’s foreign policy orientation—disengagement from foreign provocations, drastic cuts in armaments, the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, and the reunification of Germany—which in many ways reflected a certain moral principle in the Soviet leader.


“From Brezhnev Doctrine to Sinatra Doctrine,” Interview with Gennady Gerasimov, Demokratizatsiya, Spring 2005.

In the debate as to how the Brezhnev Doctrine ended, most Sovietologists agree that of Gorbachev’s inner circle, it was Yevgenny Ambartsumov the first to chronologically declare it “dead” in an open way (Gorbachev himself had done so numerous times but at closed meetings). However, the most memorable by far was the always funny Gerasimov, who coined the term “Sinatra Doctrine” when asked what the Brezhnev Doctrine would be replaced with. He was of course referring to the Crooner’s song “I Did It My Way”—in the same spirit as Soviet policy towards the fast-collapsing East-European regimes in 1989. Here, Gerasimov shares with us many interesting insider views on what transpired in those dramatic moments, though I get the feeling a definitive interview with him has yet to be conducted. He criticizes Soviet leaders for not having pushed out the empire sooner (including withdrawal from Afghanistan), and also speculates that Russia cannot continue playing the empire card, even in Anatoly Chubais’s “liberal” variant. All that Russia should do in foreign policy is “more Sinatra.”


“Putin Represents an Imperial Course for Russia,” Interview with Grigory Yavlinsky, Demokratizatsiya, Winter 2004.

Yavlinsky represents three things in Russia: a liberal, social-democratic project; a permanent critic of how the reforms were conducted after 1991; and tenacity in his struggle. Here, he lays out for us in this brief interview what Putin represents and what he would do to change that legacy. Mainly, he agrees with the general observation that renewal of cadres during a transition is the most important step to reform institutions and the state. That interview appeared in the same issue with one of the best articles published in the journal on Putin’s regime, by Mikhail Belyaev, which speculates that Putin’s project may not be sustainable in the medium term.


“Putin: Consummate Illiberal or Embryonic Anti-Liberal?,” Demokratizatsiya, Winter 2004.

This brief introduction attempts to summarize what the journal’s authors have written about Putin. (Never mind the huge typo, as a managing editor thought that the “I” in the Mexican party PRI stood for “Industrial” and wrote accordingly. How embarrassing.) An evolution is noticeable, which was the topic of our AAASS panels in 2004 (Boston) and 2005 (Salt Lake City). Originally, authors were willing to give Putin the benefit of the doubt, although some did raise caution. Later, authors were basically unanimous on Putin’s authoritarian tendencies, but divided as to whether they were a means to an end or an end in itself. The current consensus however, is that Putin has gone beyond what was needed to impose order or restructure the state, and seems to be pursuing authoritarianism for no obvious reason than a compulsion to centralize power in himself.


“Yuri Shchekochikhin: A Tribute,” Demokratizatsiya, Winter 2004.

Yuri was Russia’s leading investigative reporter, and also participated actively in the democratic movements since perestroika. A truly fascinating character, and a good friend. He was also a member of the editorial board of the journal, and even published in our first issue a long interview with Gorbachev, the last one he gave as the Soviet leader. Yuri died of mysterious circumstances while investigating a KGB-connected business.


Book review of Russia’s Revolution from Above: Reform, Transition, and Revolution in the Fall of the Soviet Communist Regime, by Gordon M. Hahn, in Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty Research Institute.

I think it was Ašta Banionis or Don Jensen at RFE in Washington that asked me to write this book review. Good thing, since I learned quite a lot from Hahn’s theory of revolutions, namely the complex power play between regime hardliners, regime moderates, opposition moderates and opposition hardliners. Indeed, the Soviet revolution can hardly be explained otherwise. I have used this framework on numerous articles and it has sharpened my thinking about how to help bring about change in other contexts. Later I invited Hahn to participate on our panel on contemporary Russia at the AAASS in Salt Lake City in 2005, where he spoke about the Islamic challenge in Russia. Hahn had also written a number of excellent articles for Demokratizatsiya, mostly on federalism issues and later, one on the Islamic threat in Kabardino-Balkariya, as well as putting together a special issue (Spring 2005) on perestroika. I have the feeling one day he’ll become the executive editor of the journal.


“A Tribute to Galina Starovoitova,” Demokratizatsiya, Winter 1999.

Galina was the mother of Russian democracy. A pioneering activist for human rights and a truly decent person who never wavered from her principles, she played a key role in the democratic revolution witnessed in the Soviet Union then in Russia. As a member of the editorial board of the journal and a very good friend of mine, I wrote this brief tribute to her.


“Soviet Domestic Politics and Collapse of the Outer Empire, 1989,” Demokratizatsiya, Spring 1999.

The collapse of the Soviet outer empire was a dramatic event of historic proportions. However, because the collapse of the Soviet Union itself and the process of transition began shortly thereafter, many facets of the 1989 events remain under-studied. This article carved an odd niche in this debate, as apparently nobody else before it had realized that (1) the domestic events and changes in Soviet politics were perhaps more significant to the Soviet reaction to those revolutions than were Gorbachev’s policies; (2) the outcome of those revolutions enjoyed a surprising elite acceptance in Moscow, especially in the perestroika institutions such as the Congress of People’s Deputies; (3) Gorbachev actually was often criticized for being too conservative vis-à-vis those changes; and (4) perestroika and democratization had largely emasculated the personnel and institutions that could have led Soviet policy in a different direction during the 1989 revolutions in the outer empire. However, the most controversial hypothesis of the article (to which a Harvard professor literally yelled at hysterically when I floated it in class), was that Gorbachev may have benefited politically (at least in the short-run) from the quick demise of the allied regimes to the west. While Gorbachev indeed played a major role in respecting the people power in the Soviet satellite states, those critics in Russia today that accuse him of having “abandoned” the USSR’s socialist allies and “allowed” their regimes to collapse, would do well to consider the facts presented in this article.


“Bad Light on Strobe,” National Spectator, June 1998.

A brief letter to the editor, discussing what was wrong with Clinton’s Russia advisor.


“Is it Power or Principle? A Footnote on the Talbott Doctrine,” Demokratizatsiya, Spring 2000.

A long synopsis of what was wrong with Clinton’s Russia advisor, seen through the prism of a particular incident when the Russian democrats approached Talbott with an important request that would not have been problematic for him, yet he refused. The Clinton Russia policy was the reverse of that of the first Bush. While Bush Sr. did not assist the Russian democrats when they still had a chance and were in power (Gaidar’s government), Clinton and Talbott generously supported Russia, but only the former communist apparatchiks that replaced Gaidar. This article was abstracted in Russia Reform Monitor and widely distributed. Its editor mentioned to me that many high-ranking government officials that did not agree with Talbott responded positively.


“Gorbachev and I: A Summer Meeting,” The Harbus, 16 September 1996.

This playful essay was for the student newspaper of the Harvard Business School. Its editor had gone around asking people coming back from their summer vacations what they had done. “Consulting” and “investment banking,” were the typical answers. “I had a meeting with Gorby!” Now that was unusual. Notice the picture above, the striking resemblance that my father has with Gorby (the birthmark is artificial). In the picture below, I am showing the first picture to the real Gorby. I just saw Gorby again for his 75th birthday in March of 2006, ten years after that other meeting. Although I also saw him in 1998 in, of all places, El Paso, Texas, where he and his translator Pavel Palazchenko and I had a nice chat in Russian. Surprised, Gorby commented how young my Mother, who was also there, looked. That was a nice birthday present for her.


“Yeltsin Misread the Elections,” Interview with Galina Starovoitova, Demokratizatsiya, Spring 1994.

Probably the best interview to appear in the journal. Of all the epic figures that appeared thanks to perestroika, perhaps no other was more beloved than Galina Vassilievna Starovoitova. When this interview was conducted, reform in Russia was seriously backtracking. She had already played the key role in liberating Russia from communism, and was in Washington doing research on issues of national self-determination. However, she followed developments closely, and her views on contemporary Russian politics, as always, were lucid and almost prophetic. Galina speaks of the reasons for the backtracking of reform after the red-browns captured the State Duma in late 1993. Yeltsin, in his Marxist material determinism training, did not read the results of those elections correctly, which in Galina’s opinion were not a revolt against reform (as Russia was seeing some economic progress), but rather the moral and ideological vacuum that resulted from the collapse of communism, and from insufficient leadership. We also dwell into the lack of reforms to the KGB (which may have been the main factor that claimed her life in November of 1998), the perennial disorganization of the Russian democrats, issues of federalism and national self-autonomy. The resolution of the latter, she mentioned at the end of the interview, were “my dream and my goal.”


“Include me out of Buchanan’s last battle,” The Washington Times, 19 June 1991

A letter to the editor reprimanding Pat Buchanan’s op-ed suggesting that the Bush, Sr., administration move against Gorbachev. I defended Gorbachev as the continued guarantor of democracy in the USSR, almost exactly two months before the hardline coup attempt against him.


“Gorbachev—Still Our Best Bet,” The Washington Post, 4 August 1990

A letter to the editor reprimanding an op-ed suggesting that the Bush, Sr., administration move against Gorbachev. A lot of analysts in the United States that understood the situation in the USSR only superficially did not realize that Gorbachev was (wittingly or otherwise) really the main guarantee that the then-embryonic democratic movements in Russia, Ukraine and other key republics could continue developing. A move against Gorbachev at that time would have been completely premature, as many of the key figures and institutions that resisted the hardline assault a year later were not sufficiently developed by mid-1990. Only Gorbachev could continue the reform process in the USSR, and it was not clear why critics in Washington were stirring against him.


?eši, sv?t vás práv? te? pot?ebuje Hospodarské noviny, 16 October 2008.

This article talks about my favorite subject: How the Czechs and Slovaks have had a disproportionate impact worldwide, without even realizing it. It was written in a major Czech newspaper on the eve of the Czech presidency of the European Union, to counter the growing feeling that the country was not ready for such a job. While the French, Russians and others insist pathologically (and absurdly) imposing their views on others, the Czechs have precisely done just this, largely unaware and by accident. Did you know: That the best president Latin America has had in its contemporary period had Czech origins? That Turkey’s first leader learned some of his most enlightened policies from the Czechs? That the Czechs could have prevented the Bolshevik capture of Russia? That the Russian reformers (both during perestroika and the post-Soviet ones) were largely inspired with Czech ideas? That most of the anti-communist revolutions mostly have their roots in the Czechoslovak Prague Spring? That the most noted symbol of globalization was founded by a Czech-American? Don’t worry if you did not know: Most Czechs are just shocked to learn of these facts too.


 “Czech Mate,” The Harvard Crimson, 27 February 1998

In honor of the Czech hockey victory over Russia at the Nagano Olympics, the article reminisces about the complex relation between both countries. When recalling the Prague Spring action channels that influenced the Soviet perestroika, I was surprised at how many there actually were. I concluded that Russia needed to lose to the Czechs for their own good.


Sloboda! Czechoslovakia’s Road to Freedom (Mexico City and Washington, DC: Frente de Afirmación Hispanista, A.C. / American University Journal of International Affairs, 1991)

The Czechoslovak “Velvet Revolution” is probably the main catalyst that propelled me to study the transitions in Eastern Europe. My Czech-American grandfather had always said that one day Czechoslovakia would again be free, a theme that was always present in the family. I will never forget that November night in 1989 when in my dorm room at American University in Washington, I heard that my ancestral homeland had been the latest domino in that magical year. Somehow, I got a hold of some of the main architects of that revolution, and they agreed to write essays for this book, chronicling their thoughts and reflections. Among them is Martín Mejstřík, the student leader (now senator) who decided to join the dissidents that November 17th, sealing the fate of the communist regime. The book project also led me to a great figure of the East European reforms, Jiří Hájek, Dubček’s foreign minister and who kept fighting after the Soviet tanks ended the Prague Spring. He authored Charter 77, got a playwright named Václav Havel involved in politics, kept alive the Czechoslovak Social-Democratic Party (which is a key reason why the communists have not returned to power in the Czech Republic)—oh, and also wrote the preface for Sloboda (the word means “freedom” in Slovak—this language was used because the book was dedicated to Dubček). Another contributor was the indomitable long-time dissident Karel Srp, who gave one of the more original contributions to the book. Srp demonstrated more clearly than anyone the power of music in those anticommunist transitions. He used the spontaneous language of his beloved jazz to organize dissidents, which landed him in prison numerous times, even before Charter 77 was founded. However, this trend continued with practically all anti-communist revolutions and protest actions from Estonia to Moldova to Slovakia, as they ubiquitously use rock and jazz to inspire the troops and provoke the communist and post-communist officials, who loath the spontaneous spirit of these American genres. A particularly insightful contribution (in the form of an interview) was given by the famed and never-dull writer Arnošt Lustig.


“The Democrats Must Cooperate,” Interview with Iurie Roşca, Demokratizatsiya, Fall 2004.

Contemporary Moldovan politics cannot be understood without Roşca’s key roles, from founding and leading the Moldavian Popular Front, to losing (then sharing) power to former Communists during most of the 1990s, to becoming the hardened opposition to the Communist government since 2001, to sharing power with them conditionally since early 2005. In this interview before the March 2005 general elections, Roşca, who is only in his early 40s, speaks about how the complex geopolitical game around the separatist enclave of Transnistria was defeated, about his plans for the future, and about how the opposition can cooperate to defeat the Communists. Though he then criticized the other main opposition party Moldova Democrată for planning to enter a post-electoral coalition with the Communists, in a Machiavellian master stroke, Roşca after the elections provided the Communists the extra votes they needed to elect their president but in exchange for passing key reforms in parliament, of which Roşca became the deputy speaker with broad powers of reform. Roşca later gave the journal another interview (Fall 2005) where he speaks about Moldova’s “Orange Evolution” (my term!) and how it is being reformed after this conditional agreement with the Communists.


“Interview with Dumitru Braghiş,” Demokratizatsiya, Fall 2004.

The former prime minister of Moldova and co-leader of the Moldova Democrată “centrist” alliance (composed mainly of those who formed the governments in the 1990s) speaks about his vision for the country a few months before the 2005 general elections.


Dan Dungaciu, “Un candidat pentru lobby,” Lumea (Bucharest), No. 137 (September 2004), pp. 42-3.

The Romanian political analyst and specialist on security issues conducted this interview in Moldova in August of 2004. Owing to my assistance to the Moldovan democratic forces in their drive to integrate into Western institutions, we explored the strategic issues concerning a possible attempt by Moldova to join NATO and the EU, on Moscow’s meddling, Transnistria, on local politics and the players on both sides of the struggle for that small country’s soul.


“An Almost Decisive Year,” Transitions Online, 2003 Annual Survey on Moldova, 15 April 2004.

The prestigious TOL—the inheritor of the old RFE/RL archives that later became the Open Media Research Institute with Soros money—invited me to write their annual survey on Moldova. The highlight of the survey, of course, was the whole “federalization” drama and its debacle that November. The roles of NATO, the EU, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, Moscow, Washington, Romania and Ukraine on the fate of this small and vulnerable country are also explored, as are the economy, social issues and the difficult situation with the media.

Unlike Slovenia or the Czech Republic, which have become “boring” stable democracies, studying Moldova is never dull. The Economist once quipped that “Moldova is not a forgotten country, because it was never remembered in the first place.” But being the poorest and most corrupt country in Europe, with a breakaway region occupied by a gangster regime backed by an illegal Russian military base, hopelessly provincial politics and Molotov-Ribbentrop style foreign conspiracies against it (not to mention the prettiest girls in the world), it really is a wonder why more people are not focusing on this country.


“Moldova’s Imposed ‘Federalization’,” Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty Research Institute Online (www.regionalanalysis.org), 23 November 2003.

The article explores popular and elite opinions in Moldova on the issue of “federalization.” It really boggles the mind how U.S. diplomats continued to push Moscow’s plan despite its overwhelming unpopularity at large. With the elites, this author interviewed numerous party leaders of all stripes, and their opinions varied from cool to outright hostile to the project. The article went to press (actually, to cyberspace) just as the Kozak memorandum was unveiled, and it predicted that “The implications of this agreement are as of yet unclear, but massive protests will probably result in Chisinau to prevent its implementation.” One massive protest numbering 50,000 forced the communist president to back off from the Kozak plan, changing everything in Moldova after that.


Olga Buciuceanu, “Moldova de azi aminteşte de Mexicul sub dictatură,” Ţara, 18 October 2002, p. 2.

Also reports my talk at the Christian Democratic headquarters about Moldovan politics and what the country can learn from other transitions.


Tatiana Istrate, “Doar prin adevăr putem cuceri un viitor mai bun,” Flux, 18 October 2002, p. 2.

This article in Moldova’s leading daily (which sympathizes with the democratic opposition) was based on a speech I gave at the headquarters of the Christian Democratic People’s Party in Chişinău.


Liliana and Tatiana Istrate, “Trebuie să credem în puterea de a cuceri viitorul,” Flux, 25 October 2002, p. 6.

This long interview in Moldova’s leading daily was mostly about transition experiences, about good governance and what democrats should do when they come to power. The Moldovan democrats it seems—because of their long struggle and involvement in every parliament since 1990—already knew the main lesson that I was speaking about. Namely, that power by itself is not immoral, and it should be wielded without hesitation by the new democratic forces to dismantle the extra-constitutional legacy of the past and that way give a chance to the new democracy to develop.


“România este cel mai potrivit candidat care poate face lobby pentru R. Moldova în structurile internaţionale,” Flux, 3 September 2004, p. 6.

After Moldova made an important breakthrough in November of 2003—when President Voronin rejected the Kozak memorandum and essentially broke with Putin—the geopolitical game changed considerably. Most of the interview had to do with the so-called “federalization” project, about Washington and NATO’s views on Moldova, about the chances of the democratic forces in the March 2005 elections, about the upcoming Ukrainian and Romanian elections and what they mean for Moldova, etc. When I told them that the first thing the democrats should do in Moldova upon winning the elections is to declare OSCE ambassador William Hill a persona non grata, the reporters and others in the café where the interview was being held burst out in applause. (Hill is widely considered to be rooting for Moscow’s interests at the expense of Moldovan independence and Westernization attempts.)


“Legitimizing ‘Kaliningrad II’?” Transitions Online (www.tol.cz), 19 December 2003.

This article explores in-depth the “federalization” issue in Moldova. First, it looks at the bizarre U.S.-Moscow-OSCE triumvirate to crack Moldova as a unified state, de-facto recognize a group of gangsters ruling a sliver of Moldova with Moscow’s illegal military base, and still tell the world it’s all in the interests of democracy and conflict resolution. Then it looks at the failure of this once seemingly inevitable geopolitical scheme, when President Voronin rejected it after the Kremlin made a tactical error in introducing the “Kozak memorandum,” provoking a massive outpouring of Moldova’s citizens into the streets and, for the first time, widespread international condemnation of the project. The article more than anything attempts to raise questions to the premises used by the OSCE and the U.S. State Department to back Moscow’s power game in Moldova. This author is intimately familiar with the whole issue, and its real, detailed history has really yet to be written. But this article is a beginning.


Kertu Ruus, “Mart Laar—visionäärina kuulsam välismaal,” Äripäev, 25 November 2005, pp. 8-9.

This Estonian business magazine wanted to do a story on the legacy of Mart Laar, their former prime minister and widely considered the most thorough and successful post-communist reformer. The magazine happily based a large chunk of its story on what I wrote to them (though my name now was “Alfredo”) and the pictures I sent, which is fine considering that I have gotten to know Mart and his family very well since we first met in 2002. Sometimes it takes an outsider to recognize talented people in your own vicinity. A key quote here: “Mart Laar is not a poet or a Don Quijote, but a manager—which is what these transitions need.”


“Just Do It,” Interview with Mart Laar; and book review of Laar’s Little Country that Could, both in Demokratizatsiya, Fall 2003.

For further reading on the Estonian transition, I recommend the special issue of Demokratizatsiya (Fall 2003) edited by Mel Huang, which explores most aspects of Laar’s management style. That issue includes my interview with Laar, as well as my book review of his book Estonia: Little Country that Could. (Laar in 2005 joined the journal’s editorial board.) In the interview and book, a clear-headed understanding of managing a transition emerges. Laar’s pioneer government was successful in many ways, but the main and innovative ingredients of success, and what he taught us about transitions, are three: (1) De-facto lustration, (2) unique economic reforms and (3) drastic geopolitical reorientation.

In retrospect, the changing of elites was the most important factor that permitted the implementation of the other reforms that had a tangible effect on the population’s welfare. While the Czechs mired themselves in controversy with their (very necessary nonetheless) law on lustration, the Estonians followed a de-facto lustration that was both less controversial and more effective.

In the economic reforms, Estonia combined justice with efficiency in its privatization program, by adopting the best elements of the Hungarian and Treuhand models on the one hand, with the Czech voucher program on the other, while avoiding the pitfalls of both. Also, the flat tax has been a runaway success, and other countries have emulated it with also successful results.

Geopolitically, Estonia also taught the world how a country can escape geography and destiny, and reorient itself dramatically. From near total dependence on Russia for trade, today trade with that country is less than 4% of the total. Estonia’s drive to join the EU and NATO are epic stories in and of themselves. Since Laar visited Miami and has taken a leadership role in training the Cuban democrats for their coming transition (as he did with the Yugoslavs, the Ukrainians, Georgians, Moldovans and others before their transitions), I also include an article that came out in a Miami magazine (Ideal) about Mart’s visit there.


"Cuba está lista" / "Cuba Is Ready"

When the communist regime falls in Cuba, I’m putting my money there. Of the common denominators shared by the successful post-communist transitions so far, Cuba has all of them (except for one). In other words, all that Cuba needs is the liberation. Even if they have a pathetically managed transition (as with Romania after 1996, Mexico after 2000 or Nicaragua after 1990), that will be infinitely better than what they have today. But there is a big chance that Cuba will be a star transition, can dramatically reinvent itself, and return to the relative prosperity it enjoyed before 1959. Originally, the piece was written at the behest of Agnieszka Gratkiewicz of the Lech Walesa Institute for their “Solidarity with Cuba” website. Later my friends of the Directorio and of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung published it in a book on the future of Cuba.

Cuando caiga el régimen comunista cubano, inmediatamente invertiré ahí. De los denominadores comunes compartidos por las transiciones pos comunistas exitosas, Cuba tiene todos menos uno. En otras palabras, lo que necesita la isla es una liberación, aunque la transición subsecuente sea torpe como las fueron en México luego del 2000, en Nicaragua luego de 1990 y en Rumania después de 1996, ya que aun una transición de este tipo es infinitamente mejor de lo que tienen ahora. Sin embargo, hay una probabilidad muy grande que Cuba llegue a representar una transición estrella, que reinvente al país, y que regrese a la prosperidad relativa que disfrutaba antes de 1959. Originalmente el breve articulo fue escrito por invitación de Agnieszka Gratkiewicz del Instituto Lech Walesa para su pagina Internet “Solidaridad con Cuba.” Luego, me invitaron los amigos del Directorio y de la Konrad Adenauer Stiftung para un libro sobre el futuro de Cuba.


"Latin America and European 'Soft Power' Geopolitics," European View, June 2008.

Not only will Cuba reinvent itself with a successful post-communist transition, but it can also reinvent the rest of the Hemisphere. Whereas for the past half century the island has been an active and passive propagator of political disease, inspiring and funding countless antisocial networks everywhere, a successful post-communist Cuba could similarly become an example of reform for the rest of Latin America. Chile and Costa Rica need some company as the “good kids” of the Hemisphere. The essay argues that the EU could play its part, since sending the Castro brothers and their “achievements” the way of Nicolae Ceausescu and his equally impressive achievements, it will be directly beneficial for the EU’s democratic and geopolitical cohesion and goals. Galina Fomenchenko, a star of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and now at the European People’s Party, was very kind to invite me to publish this article among those of very renowned people. Yet another case of “one of these things is not like the others.” The Argentine think tank CADAL later translated the article into Spanish.

Una vez liberada, Cuba podrá no solo reinventarse ella sino también al resto del hemisferio. Mientras ya cinco décadas Cuba ha sido un pasivo y activo foco de infección política, al financiar e inspirar a redes antisociales en todo el mundo, la isla igualmente puede convertirse en un ejemplo de reformas exitosas para el resto de Latinoamérica. Después de todo, Chile y Costa Rica necesitan compañía como los “niños buenos” del hemisferio que son. El articulo también sostiene que la Unión Europea puede jugar un rol, ya que despachando a los hermanos Castro y sus “logros” igual que se hizo a otros déspotas y los suyos, llegara a ser benéfico para la cohesión y metas democráticas y geopolíticas del viejo continente. Le agradezco a Galina Fomenchenko, antes líder cívica juvenil en Ucrania y ahora líder juvenil del Partido Popular Europeo, por invitarme a escribir entre tan prestigiosas figuras. Otro caso para la colección de “una de estas cosas, no es como las otras.” CADAL en Argentina publico una versión en español también.


"The Transitional Menu," Cuba-Europe Dialogues, No. 3 (2007).

Nikola Horejs of the People in Need civic group in Prague insisted that Latin American countries also have things to teach the Cuban transition, and that we should not always look at East-Central Europe for lessons. This was a case of globalized role reversal—a Czech telling me to look into my own backyard. And yes, Nikola was correct, there are many lessons. But as I conclude the brief essay, Latin America mostly should be used as a case of what not to do. The Lech Walesa Institute (courtesy of Agnieszka Gratkiewicz) also published this article, including in Polish.

Nikola Horejs del grupo cívico “People in Need” en Praga, insistía que las transiciones latinoamericanas también aportaban lecciones para Cuba, no solo las de Europa centro-oriental. Fue algo irónico que un checo me estuviera instigando a enfocarme en mi propio hemisferio. Nikola tenía razón, aunque mas bien las lecciones resultan ser negativas. Cuba puede aprender qué evitar cuando viendo hacia el sur. El Instituto Lech Walesa (cortesía de Agnieszka Gratkiewicz) también publicó el articulo en varios idiomas.


“Manual del perfecto ex comunista en una Cuba liberada” (dibujos / comic book)

This 12-page comic book depicts the main lessons of a typical post-communist transition, mainly the pitfalls usually suffered by reformers that come to power and do not exercise it properly. It is a fun read and even easier to copy its simple black-white format, in the samizdat spirit.

Este folleto de 12 páginas ilustradas resume las principales lecciones de las transiciones, los peligros y principales problemas de estas. Es fácil de leer y distribuir, en el puro espíritu del samizdat. Tambien fue publicado por el Instituto Lech Walesa.


"Por delante de los centroeuropeos: El borrador de Todos Cubanos y las trampas de las transiciones pasadas," Dialogos Cuba-Europa, No. 1 (2007), and "Ahead of Central Europeans: Draft of Todos Cubanos and the Traps of Past Transitions," Cuba-Europe Dialogues, No. 1 (2007).

Las fuerzas alternativas de Cuba se reunieron en uno de los mas serios intentos de acercamiento y unidad, para plantearse la inevitable transición cubana y el futuro de la isla. A sabiendas que activistas democráticos pueden ser excesivamente soñadores y conciliadores (además de confundir las habilidades necesarias para una liberación, con las requeridas en la etapa siguiendo esta), me sorprendió lo sólidas que estaban las conclusiones, especialmente en lo medular. Pero qué inapropiado sería no encontrarle algo deficiente, y es lo que hice. Nikola Horejs, el editor del boletín, añadió en el titulo que los disidentes cubanos están mas avanzados que sus homólogos en similares etapas de las liberaciones de Europa del Este. Tiene razón, ya que estos estaban preparados para liberar a sus países, pero no para gobernarlos (aunque lo hicieron bien sobre la marcha). En Cuba, están preparados para ambos procesos.

Cuba’s alternative political groups sat down to discuss common ground on the impending transition and after. Knowing that many democratic activists can be dreamers and excessively conciliatory (in addition to confusing the skills needed for liberation with those needed for the post-liberation phases), I was pleasantly surprised at the level of mature thinking that went into this document. But it would be inappropriate to not find anything worth commenting about, which is why I gladly accepted to do so when asked. Nikola Horejs, the editor of that bulletin, added in the title that the Cuban dissidents are better prepared than their East European counterparts at the equivalent stage in the struggle. And he’s right. The latter were prepared to liberate but not really to govern their countries (although they did fine learning on the job), whereas the Cubans are preparing to do both.


“Desmantelando el ‘Capitalismo de Nomenklatura,’” documento entregado al Centro de Estudios para una Opción Nacional (CEON), Miami, 2003.

Una gran preocupación entre los que siguen la situación cubana, es la preponderancia desde los años ’90 de lo denominado el “Capicastrismo,” o la creación de un capitalismo de Estado en Cuba donde los funcionarios del régimen se hacen capitalistas para así darle supervivencia al régimen, y para crear una reserva de “represión líquida” para cuando este se colapse, así poder influir en la política con millones de dólares acumulados durante la era “comunista.” Dichas preocupaciones son contestadas en este breve documento, sobre los principales pasos a seguir para poder desmantelar dicho Capicastrismo cuando se de la oportunidad. Está basado obviamente en otras experiencias similares en Europa del Este, ya que varias de ellas son lo denominado “transiciones tardías,” donde la nomenklatura ya se había auto-privatizado la economía del país antes de perder el poder político. En ese sentido, el caso cubano no es único y puede aprender de otras circunstancias.


“Observaciones sobre el ‘Documento de Trabajo’ presentado por el CAIPV,” documento entregado al Centro de Estudios para una Opción Nacional (CEON), Miami, marzo del 2004

Las fuerzas opositoras cubanas congregadas alrededor del Partido Cristiano de Liberación, emitieron un detallado “Documento de Trabajo” de lo que planean hacer con su transición cuando llegue —los cambios políticos, económicos y sociales que implantarán. Al analizar el documento, me di cuenta que los demócratas cubanos tenían una idea bastante clara de los retos y desafíos a los que se enfrentarán. Sin embargo, hubieron algunos detalles que faltaban por mencionar o elaborar. En este documento, escrito para el Centro de Estudios para una Opción Nacional (CEON) en Miami, se elaboran dichas observaciones.


“Transition from Communism: Lessons Learned, Challenges Ahead for Cuba,” Conference proceedings, Cuba Transition Project of the University of Miami, 9 November 2004

In these brief remarks at the conference in Miami, I ventured to speak a bit about how to liberate a country from communism (although I usually speak of what comes after, but they are already quite familiar with that), citing the advice from three tyrannosaurus rex of liberations: Mart Laar, Philip Dimitrov and Marek Kapusta.


“Economía de mercado con justicia," notas de grupo de trabajo sobre las futuras reformas en Cuba.

Estos documentos son el resultado de varias mesas de trabajo que incluyeron a especialistas sobre temas contundentes para la próxima transición cubana, incluyendo a Carlos Alberto Montaner, Jorge A. Sanguinetty, Carlos Saladrigas, Martha Beatriz Roque, Carmelo Mesa-Lago, J. Roberto de Miranda Hernández, Frank de Varona, Arturo Pino, Ernestino Abreu Horta, Leopoldo B. Nuñez, entre otros. El problema es que no recuerdo cual de estas versiones fue la final, así que incluyo las tres: Versión uno (creo que este es un borrador), versión dos, y versión tres.


"Mexico, Heal Thyself," by Jason Lee Steorts. National Review, 17 July 2006.

Somebody recommended to somebody else who recommended to Jason Lee Steorts to interview me for this article. Without even realizing that I was “on the record” I blabbered on about how deficient and pathetic Mexico is behaving towards itself and internationally. Well, the fact that I was not arrested here means that Mexico’s governing elites are thankfully just that—pathetic. But not (yet) worse than that.


"Calderón's Challenge," The Journal of International Security Affairs,

The ever-talented Ilan Berman edits an Israeli journal on national security, and invited me to write on the prospects for the new president, Felipe Calderón. Then, Calderón was showing already some deficiencies, but overall had been criticizing Vicente Fox for all the right reasons, so there was some hope. Alas, Calderón ended up repeating many of his predecessor’s silly mistakes and then some. My hopes were not very high to begin with, even stating here not to expect another Mart Laar or John Bruton (of the Irish and Estonian miracles, and not in that order), but even those low expectations are not being met. Mexico never misses a chance to miss a chance!


"Mexican Democracy Resists Obrador", The Americas Report, 24 August 2006.

When he lost the presidential election, the hard-left candidate launched a wave of protests and boycotts to attempt to gain the presidency extra-constitutionally, but Mexico's institutions somehow weathered the storm.


"Mexico: Will This Domino Fall?" The Americas Report,

During the tense moments before the presidential election of July 2, 2006, Nancy Menges of the Americas Report asked that I write on the consequences of a victory by Felipe Calderón. I speculated that since he had suffered first-hand the blatant support by Venezuela and Cuba of the radical leftist candidate (that came close to defeating him just days later), Calderón would probably be more willing to ally himself to the democrats of the Hemisphere against the illiberal forces. In fact, he manifested this willingness to the PAN leadership at that time. However, Mexican foreign policy under Calderón became little different than if the leftist had won. He openly embraced Chavez and Raul Castro, even apologized for their “mistreatment” under the prior administration. He moved against the chairman of his party when this one criticized Chavez at a conference in Caracas. So the result was worse than the worst-case scenario I wrote about, which was simply to continue Mexico’s ambivalence towards this clear and present danger.


"Castañeda's Legacy for U.S.-Mexico Relations," Occasional Paper No. 14, Center for Security Policy, Washington, DC, October 2006.

Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy kindly published this essay, to counteract the generalized idea that the poor relations between the United States and Mexico after the latter’s transition to democracy were entirely Washington’s doing. In that unnecessary series of missteps, central roles were also played by Vicente Fox and by his foreign minister Jorge Castañeda. Gaffney also published an article on this topic in the Washington Times. In addition, a summary of the Backgrounder was also published in their Americas Report, when it was reported that president-elect Felipe Calderón was also considering Castañeda for a cabinet post.

One of the most idiosyncratic yet venomous figures of Mexican politics has been Castañeda, son of a Soviet agent working for Joseph Stalin and another presumed agent of the Cuban regime. Because he positioned himself as a “leftist intellectual” he became popular with some key American journalists and scholars, and that exposure abroad bred a boomerang effect in Mexico, where he also enjoyed exposure. Sensing the demise of the ruling regime, he began to cooperate with the democratic forces which, not knowing better, appointed him as foreign minister in late 2000 when they won power. This choice was fateful, as the Republican victory that same year in the United States would ensure that Washington did not take Mexico seriously. Castañeda had for many years cooperated with terrorist groups in Central America, and was no friend of the Republican specialists on Latin America. Whereas President Bush declared Mexico to be his main foreign priority, Mexico’s continuous provocations (such as withdrawing from the Rio Treaty) ensured that 9-11 was the perfect excuse to diss the petulant adolescent and focus somewhere else. Critics in Mexico as well as the United States did detect a wasted opportunity, but no report on Castañeda reflected the full picture of his legacy. (Later it was discovered by investigative journalists at the daily El Universal, that Castañeda had worked for Cuban intelligence many years. Well, duh!)


“Mexico’s Wasted Chance,” The National Interest, Winter 2005-6.

The editors of TNI summarized it as “How Vicente Fox squandered his revolution and what it means for the future.” Having inspired much hope in 1999 and 2000, President Fox proceeded to become perhaps the worst transition leader in modern times (maybe besides Yeltsin, Constantinescu and Chamorro), in the tradition of his role model Francisco I. Madero. His main sin was to jump in bed with the criminal elements of the dictatorship he overthrew, making his presidency almost indistinguishable from that of his predecessors in tangible terms. The article also explores the unfortunate reasons that led to the Fox-Bush split, namely the latter’s endorsement of Fox’s opponent three months before the Mexican election, a decision engineered by Condoleezza Rice and Robert Zoellick and which had lasting consequences for both countries. The future is not very promising either, as Mexico’s unreformed, pro-Castro and illiberal Left is gaining ground while the main liberal party, the PAN, seems to have been compromised by the cozy PRI system which it refused to dismantle or at least reform. “Developmentally, if not politically, Mexico will remain in the Third World for decades to come.” A few outlets in Mexico spoke of the article, mostly favorably (those that didn’t said it was too light). The syndicated columnist Mona Charen in The Washington Times mentioned the article while arguing that Mexico has no incentives to reform.


Georgie Anne Geyer, “Wasted Chance Is Fox’s Legacy,” Delaware Voice, 8 December 2005, p. A 19.

Geyer, a widely read syndicated columnist and quintessential foreign correspondent who focuses (like me) on “what works” in the different countries, wrote this piece which appeared in a host of papers including the Chicago Tribune. I remember religiously reading Geyer’s articles in the Washington Times on the Soviet events back in the late 1980s and early 1990s (actually, a full front-page article of her from that time is on display at the Gorbachev Foundation exhibit in Moscow), and never imagined that she would quote me in one of them! I first met her when she came to Fox’s inauguration back in 2000, courtesy of our common friend Herman Pirchner of the American Foreign Policy Council.


“Dejó Fox en manos de Luis Echeverría los mandos de las policías federales,” El Heraldo de Chihuahua, 6 de abril del 2006

Este artículo elabora un incidente que nos indica quién es Vicente Fox. Al ser advertido de que su nuevo secretario de Seguridad Pública había estado involucrado en un intento de extorsión en 1972 que acabó con el “suicidio” de la víctima (el dueño de un pequeño museo), Fox respondió que “eso fue hace treinta años, seguro ya habrá cambiado.” Más tarde, figuras claves como Ramón Muñoz y Martha Sahagún admitieron que esta figura había sido parte de un “pacto,” presuntamente con Luis Echeverría, para dejar en manos de este las policías federales —de donde el ex presidente deriva su poder extra-constitucional.


“Exhortan a empresarios a ‘adueñarse’ del PAN,” El Heraldo de Chihuahua, 2 de abril del 2006

El PAN no actuó como debió haberlo hecho al ver que su presidente se rodeaba de figuras del previo régimen y abandonaba su plataforma reformadora. En una plática en Chihuahua ante la coparmex, exhorté a los empresarios de aquella agrupación, que saben administrar y que por lo general tienen una visión de lo que necesita el país, a quitarle el PAN (que es el único vehículo reformador que tiene México) a los líderes que mal-administraron la transición y no supieron retar a Fox y a los priistas y oligarcas con los que se rodeó al llegar al poder. La coparmex (Confederación Patronal de la República Mexicana) es un gremio que luchó desde tiempos de Echeverría para retar las políticas estatistas, regresivas, izquierdistas y destructivas del régimen priista. Uno de sus líderes, Eugenio Garza Sada, fue presuntamente asesinado por Echeverría, según la revista Impacto (número 1231, 3 de octubre de 1973), la cual fue cerrada por el régimen más tarde. Qué irónico que un ex policía que hacía trabajos sucios para Echeverría en los años ‘70 quedó al mando de las policías federales bajo Fox, luego de un pacto (ver artículo “Dejó Fox en manos de Luis Echeverría…”). Los líderes de coparmex hicieron lo posible por “vertebrar” la transición, por corregir a Fox y por aprender de otras transiciones, pero sin resultado.


“Falló Fox al rodearse de priistas,” El Heraldo de Chihuahua, 1 de abril del 2006

El hecho es que Fox se rodeó de priistas, y no los usualmente referidos como civilizados y tecnócratas, sino con varios ligados a las épocas más nefastas del régimen anterior. Esto lo hizo conscientemente. En este artículo se especula las razones. Un hecho no muy bien conocido es que Fox (por lo menos durante la campaña) tomaba antidepresivos. A través de estos, los priistas que rodeaban a Fox luego de la victoria de julio del 2000 y atendían sus asuntos personales, pudieron haber jugado con sus antidepresivos, cambiándole la dosis o simplemente sustituyéndolos por otros medicamentos para debilitar al presidente. La intervención química en la política no es inusual. A Boris Yeltsin se lo hicieron, y a Viktor Yushchenko también (él sí lleva las cicatrices en la cara). Con tantos miles de millones de dólares de por medio, que es el “negocio” que es México para estas elites priistas, uno no puede descartar cualquier tipo de intervención extra-constitucional para frenar esta potencial amenaza llamada Fox. A final de cuentas, a Fox le cambió la personalidad, perdió la voluntad y parecía estar mareado o “dopado.” De los que lo conocíamos desde la campaña, parecía otra persona. Varios de nosotros lo notamos. Algún día se sabrá la verdad.


“¿Es rescatable la transición mexicana?,” Entorno, enero del 2005, pp. 22-9.

De todas las organizaciones civiles que hicieron posible la resistencia al priismo (especialmente desde los años 70) y luego la victoria de Fox, la coparmex (Confederación Patronal de la República Mexicana) se destaca por su lugar especial. De hecho, el mismo Fox surgió de la coparmex al igual que su maestro Manuel Clouthier, como tantas otras figuras clave. Es por eso que el hecho que la revista oficial de la coparmex publicara este artículo, fue en sí una gran llamada de atención a Fox y su equipo. Gracias a la rama de Puebla (Herberto Rodríguez y Alejandro Pellico), la coparmex me había invitado varias veces a hablarles sobre las transiciones post-comunistas, tanto en Puebla, Oaxaca, Chihuahua como en México DF, ya que se tenía una preocupación de cómo se venía desarrollando la transición mexicana. Luego el editor de la revista me escribió para contribuir un artículo—aunque la primera versión fue rechazada por ser demasiado crítica (aquí hubiera sacado por primera vez el problema de la farmacodependencia de Fox, aunque eso tuvo que esperar). El apocalíptico arte de la portada nos demuestra el contenido del artículo, pero más que eso, el golpe que la alma mater de Fox le dio a ese hijo errante.


“Experiencias de las transiciones de Estonia y Lituania,” Kratos, primavera del 2003, pp. 19-22.

Lo interesante de este artículo no es lo que dice (lo usual), sino donde fue publicado—nada más ni nada menos que en una de las revistas oficiales del PAN, especializada en llegarle a los funcionarios panistas en el gobierno. Analiza las diferencias importantes de dos países que comenzaron muy semejantes en 1991, Estonia y Letonia (hubo un error en el título durante la redacción y se puso Lituania en vez), pero que sin embargo han tenido desempeños muy disimilares desde entonces. La clave parece haber estado en que Letonia heredó los funcionarios del previo régimen, mientras Estonia empezó con gente nueva en el gobierno comprometida con un cambio radical. El artículo termina diciendo “Sin embargo, lo cierto también es que se perdió la oportunidad de re-inventar a México de una forma dramática como González reinventó a España y como Laar reinventó a Estonia. Lo único que todavía se puede influenciar es el nivel de mediocridad de nuestra transición.” El artículo es parte de mi colección “se los dije,” publicada en una revista de las fuerzas que pusieron a Fox en el poder. La otra es la que apareció en la revista de coparmex, Entorno, y un artículo sobre estas ideas escrito por otra persona, que salió en la revista del PAN La Nación.


Dana Milbank and Mary Beth Sheridan, “Bush-Fox Friendship Serves Both,” Washington Post, 3 September 2001, p. A1.

Sheridan, who served as a correspondent in Mexico during the campaign, wrote this story about how the bilateral tie between Fox and Bush had evolved more than a year after Fox’s victory. In this front-page article, she includes the aforementioned April 7th endorsement that caused animosity between both leaders, and cites some of the material I had sent her on our attempt to get Bush’s advisors to reverse or correct that decision. (The talks and emails that Carlos Salazar and myself exchanged with Rice and Zoellick before July of 2000 remained basically the only communication both campaigns had.) However, her impression was that Fox had forgiven Bush for the spat, a view that was discarded a week later when Fox was the only Latin American leader not to offer any assistance or even condolences to the United States for the September 11 terrorist attacks—a consequence, perhaps, of Fox’s continuing resentment for Bush’s unfortunate meddling in Mexico’s election, but which essentially buried whatever leverage the Mexican president once had over his American counterpart.


“La transición, ¿más de lo mismo?”, capítulo en Sobreviviendo las pe-penas en transición, en Rosa María González de Sarabia, editora, (México, DF: Llave Maestra, 2002), pp. 203-12.

Este capítulo en el segundo libro de Rosi sobre el nuevo régimen mexicano, explora las razones del fracaso de Fox y la transición mexicana. Analiza el papel que jugaron cuatro altos consejeros del presidente, los cuales coincidieron en dejar básicamente intacto el previo régimen, aunque por diferentes razones.


Dos visiones para el triunfo, de Jaime Gutiérrez y Marcos Bucio (México, DF: Miguel Ángel Porrúa, 2005).

Gutiérrez, quien fue pieza clave de la célula estratégica de la campaña foxista (donde fuimos colaboradores) encabezada por Juan Hernández, escribe este libro junto con un autor que había sido cercano al candidato del PRI, con el fin de contrastar ambas campañas. Gutiérrez habla a gran detalle en un marco académico y analítico sobre el posicionamiento de Fox, y especialmente sobre el papel que jugaron los asesores Rob Allyn y Dick Morris. Estoy agradecido a Gutiérrez por también haber mencionado mis contribuciones a la campaña. Aquí incluyo sólo las páginas donde aparezco.


Enidh Álvarez, “Deterioro de la transición, dicen Amigos de Fox,” Milenio Diario, 5 de diciembre del 2002, pp. 1 y 6.

Este artículo analiza el libro Sobreviviendo, citado anteriormente, y refleja el descontento de los ex colaboradores de Fox con la nueva administración y con la transición. Cita mi análisis sobre los cuatro altos consejeros de Fox que ayudaron a descarrilar un posible éxito de la transición —por cobardía, ignorancia, u otras razones.


Sara Ruiz, “Irrita a foxistas leales arribo de ‘oportunistas’,” Reforma; Ivonne Melgar, “Reclama ‘infantería foxista’ consolidar el cambio político,” Reforma, 9 de septiembre del 2001; y Alberto Aguirre, Ernesto Núñez e Ivonne Melgar, “Cuestionan foxistas propuestas incumplidas,” Reforma, 2 de julio del 2005.

Tres artículos que reflejan el desencanto con Fox por parte de sus colaboradores de campaña. Uno, sobre el libro de Rosi Sobreviviendo. Otro, sobre el primer libro Pe-Penas. El tercero, sobre una carta que firmamos algunos ex colaboradores de campaña en el quinto aniversario de la victoria electoral. Lo interesante es que varios de los signatarios trabajan con Fox en Los Pinos… bueno, ¡se puede decir que sí hay una diferencia importante con el previo régimen! Siguieron trabajando ahí sin ser perturbados, que yo sepa.


Alejandro Envila Fisher, “Séptimo día: ¿conexión texana?”

En este artículo se habla por primera vez en México sobre la hazaña de utilizar las controvertidas encuestas de salida en la elección de julio del 2000, las cuales después de todo estuvieron organizadas por nosotros. Esta fue una pieza clave de la victoria aquél día, ya que le ató las manos al régimen priista de usar el fraude. El artículo (que tuvo acceso a operadores clave de la campaña) elabora la red de vínculos que hicieron esto posible, de Rob Allyn (ergo, la conexión texana), Dick Morris (que fue el que tuvo la idea), la firma Penn Schoen Berland (que le había hecho encuestas a Bill Clinton), Juan Hernández (el principal operador de Fox), etc. Aunque yo preferí tener un bajo perfil en la campaña (por eso mi apodo, “El Invisible”), este artículo por primera vez expuso el papel que jugué en este capítulo de la estrategia de campaña.


“La transición en peligro,” Reforma, 30 de marzo del 2002.

De todos los artículos críticos de Fox, este es el que causó más eco—ya que se publicó en el principal periódico de la Ciudad de México, y creo que también en sus filiales de Monterrey y Guadalajara. Un panista lo citó en La Nación, la revista oficial del PAN, para regañar a los líderes supremos por no haber seguido la lustración del gobierno que se heredó. En una reunión de los altos mandos de una secretaría de gobierno donde yo estaba presente (por accidente), discutieron ese artículo sin saber que su autor estaba en la sala. Apareció en la primera página del boletín de recortes de prensa que se le manda a la Presidencia —¡y también en el blog oficial de esta! (quién dice que no tenemos tolerancia en México.) El editor del Reforma que lo publicó, Lázaro Ríos, luego me dijo que habían recibido muchas reacciones positivas sobre el artículo. Lo que me extraña es que no guardé un ejemplar físico del periódico.


Alan Zarembo, “Fox combate la corrupción con mucha timidez, dicen expertos,” El Universal, 22 de abril del 2002, p. A1.

Este artículo está basado en el reporte de Newsweek citado anteriormente.


Alan Zarembo, “Rotten to the Core,” y “Podrido hasta la médula,” Newsweek International, 29 April 2002.

Zarembo, Newsweek correspondent during the Fox campaign, asked if Mexico was hopelessly corrupt, as there was no sign of progress under Fox. My intervention in the article was to talk about the “window of opportunity” that all such democratic breakthroughs provide, and how Fox missed his. Newsweek published the article in both its English- and Spanish-language editions. By then, Fox’s failure was evident, and the silence to our warnings was deafening. Though Newsweek is sold all over the world, only a friend from Cyprus emailed me to say he’d seen me quoted.


Froilan Meza Rivera, “Rechazó Fox en el 2000 a 50 diputados entreguistas del PRI,” El Heraldo de Chihuahua, 16 de noviembre del 2002, pp. 1 y 17.

En una visita a Chihuahua para hablar ante la coparmex y la USEM, se me hizo esta entrevista donde hablé sobre un dato crucial de la transición, antes no muy bien conocido: cuando Porfirio Muñoz Ledo, operador político aliado de Fox y ex presidente del PRI, llegó al presidente electo con la noticia que 50 diputados priistas recién electos estaban dispuestos a cortar con su partido, formar una fracción independiente y votar con el PAN y el Verde Ecologista (entonces aliado) para darle a Fox la mayoría en la Cámara de Diputados —a cambio de concesiones menores. Pero esta oportunidad la dejó pasar Fox, cuando le dijo a Muñoz Ledo que les informe a los priistas que se queden en su partido, ya que “necesitamos un PRI fuerte y unido para mejor negociar con él.” Esto me lo había dicho Muñoz Ledo en una plática que tuve con él en Roma, y fue confirmado por otras figuras que estaban presentes en las pláticas entre él y el entonces presidente electo Fox.

Básicamente, este dato anuló el pretexto usualmente dado por simpatizantes del presidente y por el mismo Fox, de que no pudo haber provocado demasiado al viejo régimen ya que no contaba él con mayoría en el Congreso.

Aparentemente esta noticia se difundió en más diarios también, pero nunca obtuve copias de ellos.


“Crimen organizado: Lecciones de Europa del Este,” Proceso, 17 de diciembre del 2001.

En Proceso (creo que nomás en su versión internet) también luego se publicó otro artículo donde yo colaboré sobre el nexo del crimen organizado con el poder en una transición mediocre, comparando Europa del Este con México. El entrevistado, J. Michael Waller, experto en asuntos de seguridad global y distinguido sovietólogo (que escribió el principal libro sobre la KGB post soviética) menciona que hay tres ingredientes básicos para prevenir que un gobierno de transición caiga en manos de la mafia: depuración de los órganos existentes, libertad económica y voluntad política. Sin embargo, en México el gobierno de “transición” no se distinguió por ninguno en particular.


“Lecciones para México en Europa del Este,” Proceso, 1 de julio del 2001, pp. 36-7.

Aquí se dividen en dos grupos los países de Europa del Este: donde regresaron los ex comunistas y donde no. Explora las razones del porqué de estos fenómenos. Aunque la administración de Fox no escuchaba las advertencias, varios otros ya comenzaban a darse cuenta que algo no estaba bien. Como se trata de una revista de gran circulación, recibí varios comentarios de ex colegas de campaña y del partido, todos positivos (pero tristes).


“Castañeda’s ‘Zero-Sum’ Diplomacy towards the United States?,” paper distributed to key U.S. government officials, 2002-04.

This paper expands on the Washington Times article, taking a closer look at Castañeda’s past and where he was likely leading Mexico. Since Castañeda was never popular with the Republican officials handling relations with Mexico, it was widely read and distributed in that small but key group. The article was actually going to be published as a backgrounder at the Hudson Institute in Washington by Dr. Constantine Menges, but just then Castañeda resigned from office, and Constantine also turns out had been suffering from a terminal illness and passed on shortly thereafter. Constantine, the NSC official in charge of Latin America during Reagan, was a good friend of Mexico and was deeply concerned about the turn of events after 2000. The paper may have contributed to de-mystifying Castañeda among some officials in Washington, as they more clearly understood his troubled psychology and may have changed their view of him from an enemy to just a troubled, pathetic soul trying to gain power at all costs.


 “Jorge Castañeda’s Evolution,” The Washington Times, 6 August 2001.

Castañeda was a long-time communist agitator who drags a long tail of damning articles calling for all kinds of anti-American and pro-Soviet activities, including destabilizing the U.S. economy and retaliating against the U.S. civilian population in Mexico, and regularly exchanged insults with Republican officials in Washington. Of all of Fox’s mistakes, this one really showed the level of masochism of our first democratic leader, as Castañeda became foreign minister of Mexico. Another of my “Cassandra collection,” as this article came out less than a month before Castañeda noisily pulled Mexico out of the hemispheric mutual-defense pact, exchanged insults with the American deputy secretary of State in charge of Latin America, and convinced Fox to embarrass President Bush at a White House ceremony. When the September 11 attacks came just after that Three-Stooges visit to Washington, Fox lost whatever leverage he had had with Bush. Although Castañeda was Fox’s most unpopular secretary, ironically, the main criticism against him in Mexico was that he was too pro-American. If Al Gore had won the presidency in 2000, things may have turned out very different for the bilateral relation, as Castañeda is highly popular with Democrats.


“Las lecciones para México de las transiciones a la democracia en Europa comunista,” Bien Común y Gobierno, agosto de 1999, pp. 52-61.

En la revista oficial del PAN en México, casi un año antes de las elecciones históricas, se publicó este artículo gracias al director de asuntos internacionales del partido Carlos Salazar, el cual en marzo había sido anfitrión de mi plática sobre el mismo tema en el CEN del PAN, donde atendieron varios jóvenes panistas que ahora son leyendas, entre ellos Gabriela Cuevas, Rogelio Carvajal y Enrique Treviño. También gracias a este artículo llegué en contacto con la coparmex, ante la cual di varios discursos sobre transiciones gracias principalmente a sus líderes poblanos Herberto Rodríguez Rigordosa, Alejandro Pellico y Jorge Espina. Es interesante cómo entre algunos círculos democráticos y panistas mexicanos quedaron muy claras las lecciones de las transiciones, pero con los demás (la mayoría) era como hablarle a una pared (una pared que sólo sabía persinarse al oír los retos de una transición).


Julián Sánchez, “Buscan ‘dinos’ infiltrarse en el gobierno,” El Universal, 12 de agosto del 2000, p. A6.

“Es necesario frenar la presión que existe para que Vicente Fox incluya a las viejas guardias y redes que pretenden infiltrarse en la próxima administración, pues de no hacerlo se desvirtuará la transición y México se convertirá en otra Ucrania o Rumania, donde el crimen organizado estará a la orden del día […] Si esa infiltración tiene éxito en México, los grandes negocios continuarán haciéndose desde el gobierno y no por fuera...” Esto lo dije apenas a un mes de la victoria electoral, porque ya desde entonces notábamos los que participamos en esa campaña cómo Fox había puesto a varios operadores del previo régimen a controlar su nueva oficina en Reforma 607 (su oficina transitoria), y ellos daban preferencia de acceso al presidente-electo a sus colegas, y no a los que pusieron a Fox en el poder. Parte de mi colección denominada “Cassandra,” por la figura de la mitología griega, que podía predecir el futuro pero con la maldición que nadie le creería.


“Las transiciones en los países post comunistas,” Itinerario, noviembre del 2000, pp. 4-6.

Esta revista, que aparentemente se trata más que nada de poesía, por alguna razón me invitó a reflexionar sobre los acontecimientos de Europa del Este —y como ven, me pusieron en compañía de un payaso… ¿Qué habrán querido insinuar con eso?


Fox speech “Mexico: The Next Success Story of Our Times,” delivered at the Fortune 500 Forum in Austin, TX, sometime in August of 2000

As Fox’s speechwriter for most of his English-language speeches, it was necessary to find some catchphrases. And there was no better one than the title of this speech, which he apparently also delivered at the Davos World Economic Forum later. Several critics recently have reminded Fox of his broken promises based on these speeches. I wrote in there that “that there will be a radical, noticeable difference between my government and that of the previous regime.” How embarrassing. I also include some of the media coverage of the event, both in the prestigious Mexican daily El Economista as well as in the Austin newspaper.


“Modelo de una transición exitosa de un estado uni-partidista a la democracia: Lecciones para México de 30 transiciones en los países de Europa del Este y Asia Central.”

Este documento fue circulado justo después de la victoria electoral a varios de los asesores del presidente electo y del PAN, donde habla de los pasos a tomar para salvaguardar la victoria ciudadana. Así que nadie me puede decir que no hice el intento. Cuando se los empecé a entregar, es cuando me di cuenta que los asesores del derrotado candidato del régimen eran los que había asignado Fox a controlar el acceso a él.


Artículos variados sobre celebración de victoria electoral en Washington.

La prensa mexicana cubrió la visita que hicimos Carlos Salazar, Ana Cecilia Oliva y yo a Washington justo después de la victoria electoral para hablar de lo que es el PAN. Al contrario de lo que fue la campaña electoral, ahora sí llenábamos auditorios. Una cosa interesante es cómo Jorge Castañeda se puso histérico cuando averiguó sobre nuestro viaje, ya que empezaba a querer monopolizar las relaciones internacionales de Fox. Salazar pronosticó que las relaciones con Cuba se iban a poner difíciles por tratarse ahora de un México democrático. Castañeda y Fox lo contradijeron públicamente. A fines de cuenta, Salazar tenía razón, y Castañeda y Fox se vieron envueltos en un conflicto abierto con Fidel Castro, a pesar de todos los intentos de apaciguamiento por parte de los demócratas mexicanos.


“Los Internacionales,” capítulo en libro Pe-penas de una casa de campaña, Rosa María González de Sarabia, editora (México, DF: Llave Maestra, 2000), pp. 242-51.

La señora González —o Rosi como la conocíamos en la campaña de Fox— fue una de las piezas claves en la victoria democrática del 2000. Luego de la elección, ella se dedicó a dos tareas principalmente: agradecer a los voluntarios de las redes ciudadanas de “Amigos de Fox” (las cuales fueron esencialmente hechas a un lado por el presidente), y ser cronista de esta épica victoria ciudadana. En Pe-penas, Rosi invitó a los que trabajamos en la casa de campaña de Fox, y a mí me tocó el capítulo internacional. En este, hablo de los 14 viajes a Washington en pro de cabildear por el “candidato de la democracia,” las aventuras y las intrigas de aquella ciudad en torno a la elección mexicana, y sobre quien ayudó y quien perjudicó la campaña y la lucha por la democracia en México. Por razones de espacio, parte del artículo no se publicó en Pe-penas. Es por esto que aquí también incluyo el artículo original e inédito, donde se explora a más profundidad el papel que jugaron los asesores extranjeros Rob Allyn, el legendario Dick Morris y el legislador e intelectual italiano Rocco Buttiglione. Descanse en paz Rosi, esa gran amiga, colega y figura histórica.


Documentos variados sobre el “lado oscuro” del candidato priísta Francisco Labastida Ochoa.

Una de mis tareas en la campaña de Fox fue hacer investigación sobre los múltiples crímenes del candidato del régimen. No fue difícil, ya que habían varios artículos en la revista Proceso de cuando Labastida fue gobernador en Sinaloa, de secretario de Gobernación, y desde que desempeñó otros cargos. Esa información la escribía en documentos y artículos que mandaba a EUA y se publicaban en algunos medios prestigiosos como el Washington Times y la revista Insight bajo el nombre de otros autores, los cuales hacían modificaciones interesantes para un auditorio norteamericano y revisaban los datos que les mandaba. Una vez publicados en EUA, entonces entraban en acción dos grandes personajes de aquella campaña—Ana “Person” García y Darío Mendoza—los cuales ayudaban a vertebrar el “rebote” a México. Una vez que salían los hechos contra Labastida en EUA, algunos diarios en México se atrevían a publicarlos también, cubriéndose la espalda con el hecho de que ya era “información pública.”

De particular orgullo fue un memorando llamado “Labastida: Candidato de la ilegalidad,” el cual fue convertido en un anuncio particularmente fuerte (gracias a Dick Morris) en contra del candidato del régimen, mostrando escenas de muertos en la calle, represión, narcotráfico, con la sobrevoz diciendo irónicamente “así que no tuvo naaaada que ver con …”

J. Michael Waller, especialista sobre temas de Rusia pero también de Latinoamérica, fue particularmente efectivo en alertar a Washington sobre Labastida, pero también Bill Gertz del Washington Times. Waller tomó un largo artículo que escribí sobre Labastida que preliminarmente nombré “Drugs, Fraud, Violence: Mexico’s Putin Has It All,” en base a los artículos del Proceso, y lo convirtió en el famoso “The Narcostate Next Door.” Más tarde Waller, para darle un giro político al asunto (ya que Clinton fue particularmente acomodadizo con el PRI), tomó más datos y publicó “Mexican Candidate Hires Clinton Team,” el cual traducimos para poder difundirlo en México (“Candidato mexicano contrata a equipo de Clinton”), y lástima que no guardé los artículos periodísticos que lo citaron.

Algo inesperado fue una graciosa carambola que uno de aquellos artículos provocó en México. Waller insinuaba que “un documento oficial del PAN” fue el que acusaba a Labastida de narcotraficante. Mientras entrevistaban a Labastida por radio, el locutor hizo referencia al artículo, pero mencionando que fue Luis Felipe Bravo Mena, el presidente del PAN, el que hacía la acusación (como un juego de teléfono descompuesto). Labastida en pleno radio perdió la calma e histéricamente gritaba contra Bravo Mena, diciendo que lo iba a demandar penalmente, etc. Justo después, y todavía sin enterarse Bravo Mena de lo sucedido, Vicente Fox le habló a la sede del PAN para agradecerle que por fin se había enfrentado al candidato priista tan abiertamente. Esto altercado accidental se reflejó en dos artículos del periódico Reforma, donde se demuestra algo interesante. Primero, Labastida en su histeria confesó algo de forma freudiana, acusando al PAN de ser el que solapa al narcotráfico, insinuando que en Sinaloa el PAN le ató las manos, etc. Dos, Bravo Mena en el otro artículo intenta desasociarse de aquél altercado, negando que esté armando expedientes (que era cierto). A pesar de eso, el PAN (no sé quién) sí se enfrentaba a Labastida directamente, con anuncios en el periódico que rebotaban la información que se publicaba en Washington.

Ni hablar, Bravo Mena nunca quiso solapar un artículo que escribí en contra de Labastida, para publicarse en el Washington Post bajo su nombre. De hecho, en un viaje a Nueva York dejó de hablarme por insistir que deberíamos de atacar al candidato priista. En vez, la senadora Layda Sansores, la cual había roto con el PRI (y cuyo padre había sido presidente de aquél partido), y lideraba una valiente batalla frontal contra el régimen (que le condujo a desmantelar un centro de espionaje) con gusto le puso su nombre al artículo, llamado “Aura of Illegality Surrounds Mexico’s Ruling-Party Candidate.” Desafortunadamente, el Post nunca lo publicó. Este artículo es interesante, ya que habla de un incidente poco conocido que involucró a Sansores directamente contra Labastida, lo cual habla del género de aquél régimen. A pesar de toda la ayuda que Sansores le brindó a la campaña foxista (fue el senador panista Francisco X. Salazar el que la convenció de unirse), Fox la descartó, como a varios otros aliados de la izquierda liberal que lo apoyaron en su momento.

Eso sí, a pesar de la prostitución de Fox, fue infinitamente mejor a que llegara Labastida al poder, como se puede apreciar en estos documentos.


 “"Prosperity, Hope and Freedom: The Economic Program of the Alliance for Change,” document distributed in Washington and New York during the Fox presidencial campaign. “Prosperidad, Esperanza y Libertad: El programa económico de la Alianza por el Cambio,” documento distribuido en Washington y Nueva York durante la campaña presidencial de Fox.

Necesitábamos desesperadamente un programa económico (aunque fuera general y básico) para mostrar en Estados Unidos, en las reuniones que teníamos Carlos Salazar y yo en Nueva York y Washington, ya que siempre pedían uno. El que era el economista semi-oficial de la campaña, Luis Ernesto Derbez, no escribía uno a pesar de todas nuestras peticiones. Ya después de la décima vez de pedírselo, Carlos me encomendó a mí escribirlo, y así se hizo. Escribí la versión en inglés, que fue distribuida debidamente en las juntas. Como pueden ver, la versión en español nunca fue terminada por los azares de la vida. Creo que fue una de las razones por las cuales nunca hubo buena química con Derbez después de eso—pensó que le estábamos tratando de quitar su huesito.

In retrospect, I realize that I wrote Fox’s economic program! Well, for the campaign that is. In Washington and Wall Street they really could not understand how we could differentiate ourselves from the “pro-market” PRI. After repeating a hundred times that “they are like Mobutu, we are like Havel,” we decided something had to be written down. We asked the campaign’s economist, Luis Ernesto Derbez, to write one, but he never did despite all our nagging. So Carlos Salazar asked that I write it, which I did. We had this bulky document to hand out at our meetings now. I think it was quoted in a newspaper somewhere. In reality, nobody cared because we were not supposed to win anyway.


PAN Platform, written in 1999, amended in 2000

We needed a much simpler document to hand out, to basically educate Washington and Wall Street as to what the PAN is. Actually, when Carlos Salazar and I went to Washington in March of 1999, it was the first time the PAN had sent an official delegation to Washington, which I found incredible. Carlos was actually also the first director of international affairs of the party. The PAN just had never bothered to sell its cause north of the border—even though, ironically, the PRI and the illiberal-leftist party (PRD) accused the PAN of constantly being in touch with the Gringos. There was not much I could rescue from official PAN documents, as they are full of verbose statements that make no sense in English, quotes from their patsy founders (which they love to quote anyway) and a complete lack of information about some important issues. So the language in this PAN platform was simple, practical, very “American,” and in line with broad liberal-right philosophy, which could be easily extrapolated to the PAN case. I later learned that the new people at the PAN had lost this platform and they were distributing in Washington documents in the old style—verbose and boring. C’est la guerre.

By this time, we were also distributing a sleek flier about Fox and his proposals, easy-to-read (despite some typos—not my fault!) and professional looking.


Fox article: “Economic Freedom, Not Crony Capitalism for Mexico,” submitted to The Wall Street Journal (never published).

To raise Fox’s profile, we wrote this article for The Wall Street Journal and had Fox sign it. The Latin-America editor there, Mary Anastasia O’Grady, who I assumed would jump at the opportunity to publish it, hesitated. She unfortunately never said “no,” but kept telling us to change this and change that, before we gave up in disgust. A few days after the electoral victory, she calls asking if she could publish it finally. We said “no gracias.”


“Mexico: A statistical evaluation of government performance” / “México: Una evaluación estadística del desempeño gubernamental,” research project in cooperation with Andrew Reding of the Americas Project of the World Policy Institute, New York, April 2000; proyecto de investigación, abril del 2000

This compilation of hard data from many sources is a damning condemnation of how the PRI had misgoverned Mexico for 71 years. Working together with the prestigious Mexico specialist Reding, who in a 1996 World Policy Journal article had presaged Fox’s victory (my name was not added to avoid links to the Fox campaign), this collection of hard data in both languages compares Mexico’s performance on a host of vital areas with another three comparable Latin American countries of similar income per-capita. Mexico comes out as the loser in most of those vital rankings, which include everything from healthcare to corruption to education to economic freedom. For practicality, we bought the URLs “prilegacy.com” and “prilegado.com” to facilitate the distribution of these statistics, and they certainly traveled around the world. After shooting them off to friends and colleagues, I got back several times emails from third people asking “You have to see this!!” This data retains its relevancy today, as Fox essentially continued with the prior regime’s legacy. According to several of the organizations that collect this data, Mexico has actually worsened under Fox.

Esta compilación de datos duros de varias fuentes fue un duro recordatorio de cómo el PRI había hundido a México durante sus 71 años de gobierno. En cooperación con el prestigioso académico norteamericano Reding, que en 1996 había pronosticado la victoria de Vicente Fox en un artículo, compilamos esta suerte de datos duros comparando a México con cinco otros países latinoamericanos de similar ingreso per-cápita anual (mi nombre no fue añadido para no vincular con la campaña). México en casi todos estos parámetros importantes —que incluyen salud, corrupción, educación, libertad económica, entre varios otros— sale rezagado en comparación con estos otros países similares. Para facilitar su difusión durante la campaña presidencial del 2000, compramos los sitios web “prilegacy.com” y “prilegado.com,” y estos le dieron la vuelta al mundo. Después de difundirlos, me llegaron varios correos de otras personas sugiriendo que leyera “estos datos tan alarmantes,” etc. Estos datos mantienen su relevancia aun hoy, ya que Fox decidió continuar con dicho legado del PRI. Según varias de las organizaciones que copilan los datos citados aquí, México en varios de estos rankings se ha deteriorado bajo la presidencia de Fox.


“Estados panistas: Los mejores administrados,” memorando para la campaña foxista basado en el libro La competitividad de los estados mexicanos, 1999 (Monterrey: ITESM, 1999).

Este memo también incluye otro abajo llamado “Sinaloa de Labastida: Mediocridad.” Resulta que los estados mexicanos que estaban gobernados o habían estado gobernados por el PAN eran los que más favorables datos (según cifras oficiales) presentaban en los parámetros que pueden ser influidos por el gobierno estatal. Esto demostraba que el PAN sí sabe gobernar, y lo había hecho bien. Esto pone en duda el argumento del presidente Fox de dudar sobre su partido, en vez dejando el personal del viejo régimen en los puestos claves, por cuestiones de “experiencia.” Varios de los que nombró habían sido gente de su derrotado contrincante, el cual había sido un gobernador bastante mediocre en Sinaloa, según dichos datos federales publicados en el libro.


Documentos de adhesión a la campaña

Jaime Gutiérrez en su libro Dos visiones, recuenta varios anécdotas sobre los esfuerzos de adherir gente de otras corrientes políticas a la campaña de Fox en 1999 y el 2000. Esa fue una de mis ocho tareas en la campaña, aunque hice poco. Una de las cosas que sí hice fue crear un escándalo dentro del PRD con dos documentos publicados. Uno en la revista Proceso (que escribió mi amigo Nikolai Zlobin), exhortando al PRD unirse a Fox para así desmembrar al PRI luego de una victoria electoral conjunta. La misma Amalia García Moreno, la entonces presidenta del PRD, me dijo en un restaurante llamado el Bellinghausen (no sabía que yo trabajaba para Fox) que ese artículo causó “gran polémica” dentro del PRD, pero que no se haría dicha alianza porque el PAN era “fascista” o algo así. El otro documento que causó polémica se publicó en el corazón del PRD, La Jornada, donde uno de los fundadores de aquél partido, Baltazar Ávila, se sumó a la campaña foxista (via MIMEXCA en California) y promovimos aquello para que otros hicieran lo mismo. De hecho, tal fue el disgusto con la cúpula del PRD que algunos de los que firmaron aquel desplegado luego se retractaron y firmaron una carta en el mismo periódico pocos días después deslindándose. Otro anécdota del que habla Gutiérrez en su libro fue cuando de alguna forma operamos él, Dick Morris y yo (ni recuerdo cómo) una estrategia que culminó en un distinguido perredista publicando en La Jornada un apoyo a Fox, diciendo lo lógico: la izquierda mexicana se beneficiaría más con Fox en el poder que con el PRI. A pesar de todos los riesgos que tomó Baltazar por la campaña, Fox luego rehusó a darle un cargo en el gobierno.


Fox speech “Mexico and the United States in the XXIst Century: A Partnership of Democracy and Hope,” delivered before the California Senate, Sacramento, sometime in March of 2000

This speech has an unusually interesting history. Castañeda had originally written the speech that Fox was to give before the California Senate in Sacramento in May—a meeting organized by our friends from Mimexca, an organization of Mexican migrants sympathetic to Fox. However, the former communist could not resist practically declaring war on the United States with that speech, threatening to use “all available means” to challenge the United States and its “cruel” immigration policies (the California Senate does not control immigration policy). So Martha Sahagún asked me and Carlos Salazar to write a new speech, on which we worked all through the night. Fox delivered this nice, “touchy feely” speech before the Senate, speaking about cooperation, brotherly love, Mexico’s future, etc. One Senator even cried—she had never felt so proud being part Mexican. But… a lady working with us in the campaign accidentally handed out copies not of my speech, but Castañeda’s, to the Mexican reporters gathered there covering the event. The next day, the Reforma paper accused Fox of “chickening out,” of threatening to give a rabble-rousing speech but then backing off at the last minute. Worse, a PRI commercial quoted Reforma, and further accusing Fox of the usual—selling out to the Gringo imperialists. I sank in my chair at home when I saw that commercial. But in the end, there was no visible damage done to the campaign. I thought, “if the PRI is picking on Fox for something so trivial, that means the man has no dirt on him at all!”


Fox speech “One Step Away from a New National Project in Mexico.”

I have no idea for what I wrote this speech or when (or if?) Fox even delivered it. I’m not sure if my mental lagoons regarding that campaign come from a normal process of forgetting, or what psychologists call “blocking.”


“La Revolución liberal mexicana: De Flores Magón a Cárdenas,” en História de la Revolución Mexicana, Diego Abad de Santillán (México, DF: Frente de Afirmación Hispanista, A.C., 1992), pp. 589-616.

El Frente de Afirmación Hispanista, dirigido por Fredo Arias de la Canal, hizo una re-impresión del libro clásico de Abad de Santillán. Como apéndices, incluyó un ensayo suyo y un trabajo mío que había escrito para mi profesora Louise Shelley en American University para una clase comparando las dictaduras uni-partidistas soviética y mexicana. Dicho ensayo me llevó a estudiar la Revolución Mexicana, dándome cuenta que había sido una revolución social noble y liberal cuyas causas principales —que se enumeran como cinco—, fueron desviadas por Lázaro Cárdenas cuando creó el Estado uni-partidista y el estatismo económico. La anulación del poder legislativo, la creación de latifundios estatizados en el campo con fines de control electoral, la emasculación del poder judicial y la libre sindicalización, la coerción a la empresa privada, el régimen uni-partidista y el fraude, son legados de Cárdenas y no de los arquitectos intelectuales de la Revolución Mexicana —el anarquista Ricardo Flores Magón siendo el principal de ellos, junto con el liberal Francisco I. Madero, entre otros—.


"Immigration and Usurpation: Elites, Power and the People's Will," Center for Immigration Studies Backgrounder, Washington, DC, July 2006.

This was a follow-up to the first Backgrounder for the Center for Immigration Studies.


“Politics by Other Means: The ‘Why’ of Immigration to the United States,” Center for Immigration Studies Backgrounder, Washington, DC, December 2003. Translated in Russian as «Политика иными средствами: Большое ‘почему?’ иммиграции в Соединенные Штаты».

This study is based on the conversations I had with about 50 U.S. congressmen and senators on the issue of immigration (out of the 80 legislators that I met while representing candidate and then president-elect Fox). What struck me from those talks was the overwhelming support for legalizing the millions of undocumented workers and even increasing the flow of immigrants from Mexico (45 out of the 50 held such views). I noticed that they could be segmented into four groups, all of which agreed on increased immigration, but for different reasons. I used economics and political-science tools to interpret the disparate views expressed by these legislators to the author.

What compelled me to write this 16-page study for the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) was an appearance in CNN that I saw by chance, of a CIS official speaking of his research suspecting that elite opinion on immigration does not match popular opinion. My unique vantage point (as an official representing a foreign entity, namely Mexico), however, adds a small building block to the understanding of elite-constituency relations on the controversial immigration issue in the United States.

The article was for some unknown reason also translated into Russian by a think-tank tied to then supra-governor and former Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko.


“Resinas Sintéticas” (A, B and C cases), Harvard Business School case studies, HBS Press, Boston, MA, 16 November 2000.

HBS Professor Lynn Paine in 2000 established a new second-year class called Managing Across Cultures, which explored the management issues that arise with today’s reality of increased globalization. As she had been my Ethics professor back in 1994 at HBS, she remembered the comments I would make in class about the cross-cultural issues of management, so after a chance letter I sent her explaining a management dilemma, she thought to also write a case on the cultural issues of doing business with the United States. It is centered on how Resinas Sintéticas, a Mexican company and successful exporter, was facing numerous issues when attempting to expand its markets (for rosin-based chemical derivatives) in the U.S., against a U.S.-based competitor that was then a near-monopolist. Professor Paine then directed her research assistant to prepare the case, which involved this author as a player. (Only later did I realize what a tremendous honor this is, as HBS acquaintances would marvel at how someone like me could “make it” into an HBS case. Recently, The Economist called this the “holy grail” of management imprimaturs). The gist of the case is that indeed there are some interesting cultural issues when doing business in the U.S., and understanding these cultural issues is necessary also for the top managers of large U.S. corporations that may be losing out on opportunities because of the “agency problem” and other issues that blind some of their subordinates from embracing globalization and non-U.S. suppliers—which could be the key between success or failure in today’s global market.

The class lasted 4 years (I attended two or three sessions to help discuss the case, one I missed at the last minute because of the passing of my aunt) until Professor Paine was assigned a greater responsibility to lead HBS’s ethics drive in the wake of shaken confidence in corporate America. I recently mentioned to Professor Paine that if one day she revives the class and still assigns the case (its discussion was indeed fun but a bit controversial after all), she may want to add a “Case D,” as the U.S.-based monopolist essentially collapsed due to its egregious behavior (partly discussed in the case) and Resinas Sintéticas’s competitive efforts.

(Please contact Harvard Business School Publishing to obtain full copies of the cases—here I only display the first page of each one.)


“Час менеджмента” (Management Hour) concept report and proposal for project.

For years, we have attempted to get Russian television to show a program to de-mystify business and encourage entrepreneurship for the average Boris. Incredibly, there was never such a thing after the Soviet collapse—all TV is politics, entertainment, sports and maybe random issues like cooking or housekeeping. The program would include snippets of Western management videos together with interviews with Russian managers. The goal was to do for Russian entrepreneurship (which polls show is seriously lagging) what C-SPAN did for American politics—de-mystification and a spirit of “hey, I can do that!”

HBS Professor John Quelch, a leading authority on international marketing who later served a few years as the dean of the London Business School, agreed to provide some material he had prepared for U.S. Public Television, on the role marketing plays in our everyday lives. There was enough there for maybe six months of “Chas Menedzhmenta,” if it ever got off the ground.

However, after four or five years, there is still no significant progress on television (however, recently we are talking about starting it as a radio program, which makes a lot of sense) for several reasons. One of them is that every time we were close to an agreement (first with ORT, then with NTV, then with TVTs), the Kremlin wiped out the top management of the TV station with which we were negotiating and there went all our contacts.

Other reasons are Russia-specific, namely that the TV stations are not very convinced that this will make them money, that Russia does not need to learn anything from the West, that they may be afraid to change content since the Kremlin would react, etc.

Since this is a non-profit project for me, anyone that would like to plagiarize it is welcome, as long as someone helps to wake up that business-wary society.