By RICARDO CASTILLO
Three curious things happened during the first week of Mexico’s 64th Congress with the Green Ecologist Party of Mexico (PVEM) known for short as the Green Party.
The Green Party, or whatever’s left of it, is now administered by former Senator and now-Deputy Carlos Puente, who during the introduction of the new parties last Sept. 1 at the Chamber of Deputies, spent all his time praising the great job President Enrique Peña Nieto had done during his six-year term. That is not one of the peculiar things that happened last week, but it was an expected thank you/farewell to the president’s now-moribund Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) for nearly 12 years of protection under its sheltering wings. he PRI today is a mere shadow of what it once was.
The first of the PVEM’s two funny actions came on Tuesday, Sept. 3, during the first official meeting of the Chambers of Deputies and Senators. At the Senate, plurinominal senator Manuel Velazco Coello requested and was granted permission to return to the state of Chiapas to finish the three months he’s got left as state governor there. This was and is a most unusual move as it is the first time in Mexican history that a politician is both a senator and “substitute governor” (in the statement, Velazco Coello proclaimed that he will be substituting himself). Very odd.
But the Green Party, also nicknamed the “grasshopping party,” announced a second maneuver, which was that five of its deputies were still within party ranks but had all decided to vote along with the majority National Regeneration Movement (Morena), led by President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO).
Up until then, Morena had 247 votes in the 500-member Chamber of Deputies, but with the allegiance of the five Green Party deputies, its voting ranking moved to 252, giving the National Regeneration Movement a clear majority.
To many political observers, the Green Party vote for Morena was more than suspect since the PVEM had been with the PRI for years, and prior to that, with the National Action Party (PAN). The apparent trade off smells fishy, fishy, fishy.
During the past presidential election, the Greens supported candidate José Antonio Meade with all they had and went down along with the PRI. In fact, up until Tuesday, Sept. 4, the party boasted 16 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, but now it is left with 11 votes.
But the political tradeoff between Morena and the Green Party is not unwarranted. Be it as it may have been, the Green Party won the Chiapas governorship through the candidacy of Rutilio Escandón Cadenas, who will be sworn into office on Dec. 8. What saved this political scenario was the fact that the Greens ran a different candidate from that of the PRI, who lost the governorship election handsdown.
Before going back to Tuxtla Gutiérrez – state capital of Chiapas – Velazco Coello defended his return, claiming that the state constitution allowed for such a convoluted maneuver. What he did not say is that he amended the state constitution to suit his fancy and he will now finish his term as governor on Dec. 7 at midnight, as the law mandates.
Did I say that there was three funny things that the PVEM had done? Yes, so here’s the third one, which has to do with machismo in the state of Chiapas, where Indian women still walk behind their husbands carrying the children and a stack of wood for a fire for a meal that she will definitely cook.
Mexican electoral law demands that at least 50 percent of each political party candidates be women. They all complied and so did the PVEM.
This particular statute, however, has brought a new phenomenon to Mexican elections, which pundits have nicknamed “Juanitas.”
Juanitas, a loving diminutive moniker applied to women named Juana, are women who, after running for a public post and winning the support of the popular vote, end up selling their posts to their substitutes, who inevitably are male and usually appointed – in this case – by the state governor.
The final count of Juanitas who won their election was 35, out of which 25 were for municipal mayors and 10 more for different posts in city councils and state assemblies. They have all resigned – some say they were forced to – in favor of their male partner substitutes.
It must be pointed out that this is an illegal move under the Federal Electoral Law, but there is no question as to the fact that Gov. Velazco Coello has full control of the Chiapas State Electoral Institute, so it was bound to happen.
Something else that may happen now regarding the national Green Party is that the National Electoral Institute (INE) is in the process of cancelling the PVEM’s registrations as a political party in accordance with Mexican law, which demands that a party must get at lest 3 percent of the national vote to keep its registration. The PVEM only received 1.8 percent. We’ll see what gives in the near future.
The PVEM coordinator at the Chamber of Deputies, Arturo Escobar, said that the party’s move to award Morena five seats for a clear majority was “a cheap price to pay” since the Green Party is now “meaningless” in the Chamber because “neither 16 nor 11 represent anything” to influence any piece of legislation and the party’s main objective is to push for the construction of five cancer specialty hospitals around the nation, a project with which Morena sympathizes.
But the unequivocal result of this tradeoff is that Morena is now an undisputed majority party and, though it is still short of the two-thirds majority needed for constitutional changes (which are not in store for the next three years in AMLO’s agenda), Morena can now be called a moniker used in the past exclusively for the very corrupt PRI, when it controlled the imminent majority: “The Steamroller.”