By RICARDO CASTILLO
Three issues are beleaguering the ongoing Mexican presidential election.
One is the approval by the Electoral Court of the candidacy of now-fifth competitor Jaime “El Bronco” Rodríguez as an independent candidate on the presidential electoral ballot. Second is the 70th birthday party of former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari last week, and, finally, third, the apparent demise of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s handpicked Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) presidential hopeful José Antonio Meade Kuribreña. The three apparently different events are deeply linked.
The admittance of a fifth candidate into the presidential ballot sheet was another battle between the National Electoral Institute (INE) and the Federal Court for Electoral Issues that has divided opinions among observers. The fact is that the INE had denied registration of Rodríguez’s entry on the grounds that he had presented several hundred thousand fake signatures backing his nomination. The Federal Court dictated in a split 4-3 vote that the INE had violated his rights because it denied him the right to a hearing.
In the finest jihadist praying style, El Bronco – still governor of the northern Mexican state of Nuevo León – wrote in his twitter page: “God is Great.” Be that as it may, he will be listed in the upcoming election as the fifth candidate.
Still in the courtroom is another potential candidate, Guerrero State Senator Armando Ríos Piter, who nicknamed himself as “The Jaguar” and who was also ousted by the INE as a candidate for having presented fake signatures backing him up. We’ll have the Electoral Court’s resolution on that matter no later than April 22, and then we’ll know if “The Jaguar” joins “El Bronco” and the “Lizard Fish” (Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or AMLO) in the electoral presidential candidacy fauna.
Since you read in the initial paragraph that I would talk about the 70th birthday party of former president of Mexico Carlos Salinas de Gortati – who masterminded the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – let us say that it was not a mere happy birthday celebration.
As the main guest of honor was non other than President Enrique Peña Nieto, and needless to say, a whole bunch of Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) militants. The one reason for the reunion that nobody in his or her right mind believes is that these guys met to sing “happy birthday” to Salinas de Gortari. The fact is that things are going very wrong at their alma mater PRI and the undeniable situation was evidence in that something went awry in the party.
Since the Salinas de Gortari birthday celebration and the registration in the presidential ballot sheet of “El Bronco” came nearly in tandem, several pundits smell foul play on the part of Salinas and Peña Nieto regarding the upcoming election. For one, it is a well-known fact that Salinas de Gortari backed “El Bronco’”s candidacy for governor of Nuevo León and that he may have had some influence into pushing the electoral court to register him to create “a wedge and a projectile” to help pigeonhole the potential advantage AMLO currently has over all the other presidential candidates.
Also at the Salinas de Gortari’s birthday party in the garden of his Mexico City mansion, hearsay has it, was the “inevitable” discussion was over PRI presidential candidate José Antonio Meade Kuribreña known in the high power inner circles as “Pepe Toño.”
Terror has already stricken in the hearts of these birds of a feather. The phantom of losing the presidential post is not an opera character. It is very real. For the uninformed regarding Mexican politics, it is a well-known deed that Salinas de Gortari, who is still said to be one of the mastermind of the PRI, absolutely hates the guts of AMLO. Surely, seeing AMLO elected would send him out puking in his lovely garden. Even more, AMLO is threatening all former presidents with denying them their hefty pensions and leaving them without the 12-man military guard squads in charge of protecting them.
Indeed, political distress may be on the road for the Institutional Revolutionary Party. Last Monday – several days after the Salinas de Gortari birthday party – the daily, very pro-government newspaper El Universal published the results of its latest electoral poll, putting AMLO in the lead with 43 percent, runner-up Ricardo Anaya of the conservative National Action Party (PAN) in second place with 31 percent, and “Pepe Toño” Meade in third place with 21 percent. Lagging way behind is independent candidate Margarita Zavala with 7 percent of the voting preference. In upcoming polls, we will see the name of “El Bronco” included but, from the perspective of this writer, he will not get more than 2 or 3 percent of the vote.
These numbers, which have held steady over the past months, are an omen of the shape of things to come in Mexican politics.
Most definitely, the PRI is not ready for this and expect the party members to behave like pirates under siege, wielding all kinds of weaponry to salvage their booty.