By RICARDO CASTILLO
It is not the intention of this column to involve you, the reader, in Mexican politics. Yet, unavoidably, the subject at hand is indeed at the very heart of Mexican politics.
Last week, two political coalitions issued their lists of “candidates” to become “pluri-nominal” senators to represent them in Congress. The moniker pluri-nominal candidate is a mere formality since whoever ends up with the nomination will definitely end up occupying a seat in the 128 exclusive Senators Club for the upcoming 2018-2024 six-year term as proscribed in the Mexican Constitution.
Among the “nominees” – if you want to call them that – were three who stick out like sore thumbs in different political parties coalitions. In no particular order of importance, the now-for-sure senators – they do not have by law to campaign or even get votes – are current Mexico City Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera, who has been postulated by the National Action Party (PAN), and two others, Mining and Metal Foundries Union boss Napoleón Gómez Urrutia and former PAN President Germán Martínez.
It must be said that there are some 30 additional nominees to pluri-nominal candidacies, but the reason why these three stand out is that their stormy political lives and controversial postures and rifts — even with those who assigned them as “faithful” senators — make them controversial. And with these nominations, they will – without any shadow of a doubt – end up in Congress.
Their stories are so sorted – each has written and published their own autobiography – that going into details would be relentlessly fruitless. Nevertheless, their cases are mindboggling to anyone even slightly informed about Mexican politics. So the following is a summary of their political histories which are very much on every Mexican’s lips these days since they all are men in distress and for whom the nomination for “pluri” (as known in Mexican jargon) is an inflated lifesaving rubber tire in a rough sea.
Mexico City Mayor Mancera is at the top of the list. He’s the most notorious – or should we say, noteworthy – of the bunch because he is currently in power and at the helm of the government of one of the world’s largest cities.
A question at hand among earthquake-battered Mexico City residents is: What’s worse, the tremors or Mancera? The answer is easy: Mancera.
Miguel Ángel has been a deception to those who voted for him – yours truly, included – back in 2012. He won by a landslide 67 percent of the vote. He’d done a good job as the city’s attorney general. But once in power, he aligned himself with the so-called “real estate mafia,” made up of many businessmen who are out to grab a profit at any cost, should authorities allow it.
But aligning with profiteers in a socialist city such as Mexico City was not his only fault. As a good attorney general he became the worst nightmare for the abundant number of crooks robbing around the city, but as mayor he slackened and street crime, as well as police corruption, grew at an exponential rate. Mexico City residents were left wondering: What happened to our great cop?
In any case, most Mexico City pundits agree that the Senate seat fits Mancera’s best wishes just fine because, once in Congress as of next Sept. 1, he will not be charged and prosecuted for the alleged crimes he is committing nowadays such as the “disappearance” of the 7.9 billion peso fund allotted by President Enrique Peña Nieto to the city to aid last Sept. 19 earthquake victims whose buildings collapsed and have spent this past bitter winter sleeping out on the streets. As a member of Congress, Mancera will not have to answer questions as to where the aid money went. For all those who voted for him, he is now not just in disgrace, but the very personification of disgrace itself. Desgraciado! Yet, he’ll be safe in Congress, thanks to his PAN buddies, a party, to which he never belonged to. Mexican politics, anyone?
Second in line of this commentary is Napoleón Gómez Urrutia. Now, his mother’s last name, Urrutia, must be included because Napoleón is the son of Napoleón Gómez Sada, who led the very powerful Mining and Foundry Workers Union and. in an act of sheer nepotism. Ole Napo made his son the inheritor of this veritable gold mine.
I know this for a fact, because my father and both grandfathers were miners. though not union members. But neither was Urrutia. He was fed with a silver spoon and studied economics both at the National University and in England, and in the Mexican government, he was the head of the Mint House – our infamous money printers – for 12 years. When his dad – I did interview him – passed away, Urrutia inherited the gold mine union.
Ah, but that’s just the beginning of the story. Under the Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderón administrations, the attacks on him by both presidents were brutal. The straw that broke the camel’s back, though, was a mine disaster in my personal hometown of San Juan de Sabinas, in the state of Coahuila, in the mine called Pasta de Conchos (Conchos River pasturing grounds), where 65 coffins made of bone still lie underground.
Gómez Urrutia was then charged with a fraud against miners due to the sale of the copper mine of Cananea in the State of Sonora, right along the Arizona copper line, for which the union received 55 million greenbacks. He was accused of stealing that money – lists of all money transfers are available – and charged with fraud.
Gómez Urrutia claimed innocence, but he knew the fundamental rule in Mexican politics: When in Mexico, if the president is you enemy, thy name is mud. He sought exile in Canada, where the government covered for him under a special political unfair persecution status and not only gave him residency, but eventually made him a Canadian citizen.
This is where things get baffling because who has more credibility, discredited presidents of Mexico like Vicente Fox, Felipe Calderón and now, Enrique Peña Nieto, or the Canadian government? It’s an open question, but knowing how Mexican presidents act as political persecutors when the suckling is fat, I don’t have to wonder. I trust the Canadian government.
National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador is questioned as to why he gave Gómez Urrutia an exit to a protected return to Mexico, and López Obrador answered, “like me, he is a persecuted man.” In whatever scenario you want to put it, from now on, just with the Morena nomination for “pluri” senator, Gómez Urrutia will enjoy freedom in his homeland. As a legal observation, it must be said that there are no outstanding arrest warrants against the miners’ union leader.
Last, but most baffling, is the appointment also by AMLO’s Morena of Germán Martínez for “pluri” senator.
Back in 2006, I was a voting booth official and, of course, was extremely well versed on who those who’d try to influence us would be. Naturally, as a proponent of honest democracy, I am against vote-buying by parties and any of the old tricks the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) dictatorship used to use to stay in power.
At my booth in Mexico City’s Colonia Roma back in the 2006 presidential election, the name of Germán Martínez popped up now and then as he issued “recommendations” to the citizen-oriented booth panels He would have liked to influence us and have people vote for Felipe Calderón, who, in my booth — and I still believe everywhere else — ended up a close runner-up, but not a winner. After Calderón was named president, Germán Martínez was oozing with joy for his victory against AMLO, who he then called “a threat to Mexico.”
Well, what do you know? Now Germán Martínez has been nominated by Morena’s AMLO as “pluri” for the Senate. Definitely, AMLO is following the forgiveness path of the Messiah as Germán giving absolution to someone who was his worst enemy.
Germán Martínez was the conservative National Action Party president until the mid-term elections of 2009. Those elections were indeed a political earthquake for the PAN, and definitely for Germán Martínez, who, at the time, had no other choice than to resign in sheer electoral defeat.
For the past nine years, Germán Martínez has been out of the political spotlight and now he reappears protected by his once-upon-a-time foremost enemy: AMLO. Bless my soul!!!
To conclude, about the only thing for sure is that the aforementioned awesome trio will enjoy, as of Sept. 1, constitutionally dictated impunity or “fuero” (to use the Spanish word).
After all this mishmash, I have to confess, I don’t understand Mexican politics, just in case you were feeling like you were the only one left in bewilderment.