Baja Governor Term Extension Law Approved
By RICARDO CASTILLO
The Baja California state electoral controversy may have finally come to an end.
Late Tuesday, July 23, the Baja state congress met at the municipality of Rosarito Beach to confirm that the governance period for Governor-elect Jaime Bonilla Valdéz from two to five years is valid.
Early the next day, the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) in Mexico City threw out the case “for being notoriously not proceeding” on the constitutional controversies filed at the start of the week by the mayors of Tijuana and Mexicali against the extension.
This issue represents a major jurisdictional fight between a state congress and the federal Congress.
In the Rosarito Beach meeting, the majority of the state congress tackled two issues that may fully validate the governance period extension for Jaime Bonilla, who will be sworn in on Nov. 1.
The first issue was a direct answer to a demand from the Permanent Committee of the Union Congress (federal) which “exhorted” the Baja deputies to revoke the extension that had been approved by 21 out of the 26 voting members of the state congress last July 8. The deputies voted once again “unanimously” against the exhort challenging from the federal Chamber of Deputies at large.
Regarding the second item of the Tuesday night “secret” meeting, the Baja California Chamber of Deputies did not have to vote again on the extension because it had previously voted on the matter, and did not need a new vote. Simply, the deputies said, “it proceeds.”
Twelve hours later, the SCJ in Mexico City literally validated the extension by rejecting the suits filed by the mayors of Tijuana and Mexicali against the mandate extension. In its twitter page, the SCJ published the following notice:
“Constitutional controversies 269/2019 and 271/2019 were discarded due to notorious inadmissibility as they were promoted against acts that are not definitive since the respective decree has not been published.”
The Mexicali and Tijuana mayors claimed that they had not been summoned to state their point of view during the July 8 voting meeting, hence calling the vote “unconstitutional.”
What the SCJ said that bill, now-touted as the “Bonilla Law,” is not official since current Baja California Governor Kiko Vega has refused to publish the approved congressional mandate in the state’s official gazette in obvious disagreement with it. He may continue to refuse to publish it, in which case the majority in the state’s Chamber of Deputies can override him and run the mandate and make it official.
There were several aspects regarding the law that Mexico City media columnists consider shady: In their view, the meeting was held “in the dark” because it was not carried out in the state capital, Mexicali, but in a municipality, Rosarito Beach, because the bulk of the opposition to this move was centered in Mexicali.
Also, there is the fact that the first point of order in the Rosarito meeting was to relieve Deputy Eva María Vázquez from the presidency of the Political Coordination Junta and replace her with Claudia Agatón.
Vázquez summoned the press previous to the meeting to proclaim it illegal, but to no avail. She was easily ousted and replaced in what appeared to be a legal move, for now.
On Wednesday, July 24, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) washed his hands of the “Bonillazo coup,” claiming he “had nothing to do with it.” Asked whether this was “a rehearsal” for his reelection in 2024 as some of his most avowed political foes have claimed, AMLO said that he’d sign “before a notary public, I will not seek reelection.”
At the Chamber of Deputies, Deputy Tatiana Clouthier Carrillo, who promoted the “exhort” that the Baja California Chamber of Deputies withdraw from voting on the go-ahead for the mandate extension, said “These guys are going to hear my gun pop.”
The next move by the Baja California Chamber of Deputies to bring to an end this very real challenge to the federal authority by a state government will be to publish the mandate extension into law in the official gazette.
Once they do that, they plaintiffs may proceed, again, at the SCJ to request that their suit be deemed admissible.