By RICARDO CASTILLO
Mexican democracy has its own mysterious ways, but at the moment, it is working just right to suit the vote of the ladies. Women are now at the helm of both houses of Congress.
On Aug. 31, Mónica Fernández was elected as president of the Chamber of Senators. And on Thursday, Sept. 6, Laura Rojas got elected by a majority as the new Chamber of Deputies president.
What’s really extraordinary about their respective elections is that both had ominous and powerful contenders. At the Senate’s ruling majority National Regeneration Movement (Morena) political party, Senator Martí Batres wanted to repeat one more year as president. He was, however, toppled by an internal Morena political party movement that led Fernández to the presidency for a one-year term.
Then came the advent of Laura Rojas, a long-standing member of the conservative National Action Party (PAN), as president of the Chamber of Deputies.
Both arrivals were preceded by political schisms within the Morena party. At the Senate, Martí Guardarrama – Senate president from 2018 through 2019 – battled desperately to stay at the helm of the Senate against floor whip Ricardo Monreal, who led Fernández to the presidency. Batres threw a temper tantrum, alleging fraud, but in the end, Fernández won out and is now at the helm of the Chamber of Senators.
A similar event occurred at the Chamber of Deputies. Now former-Deputies President Porfirio Muñoz Ledo wanted badly to stay in charge of the presidency for one more year. But unlike in the Senate, in the Chamber of Deputies there is a rule since 2007 that the leadership should be for only one year, giving the majority party the first shot at the post, while the runner-up in the past presidential elections (PAN, in this case) was to have the presidency for the second year.
As a matter of fact, Muñoz Ledo was reelected by majority by the Morena party deputies to be president of the Chamber of Deputies for one more year, but the mandate was contended by the PAN minority since it was indeed, as dictated by law, their turn to run the politically influential post. PAN deputies doggedly fought for it and finally won.
By the way, just like Martí Batres at the Senate, Porfirio Muñoz Ledo threw a temper tantrum over not being reelected and having the seat awarded to the conservative PAN, but his last words to all the Morena deputies at the Chamber of Deputies presidency were vulgarly offensive, making reference to the maternal heritage of the entire body of deputies. (Mind you, I’m not going translate that, but it only goes to show the frustration of an officer who did not get the backing from his alleged political party (Morena) peers. It also shows that in Congress, there are traitors everywhere, particularly in these dangerous political times, when a politician tries to hang on to a dear position. Batres and Muñoz Ledo are good examples of the fact that democracy in Mexico is working out for the ideological diversity of all parties involved.
As for now, President of the Chamber of Deputies Rojas got what she wanted – the Chamber of Deputies presidency – but not without a struggle. Early in September, she was posted as a candidate four times – including last Sept. 5, when she was overwhelmingly defeated – to finally come out the victor after Porfirio Muñoz Ledo announced – under stiff pressure from Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) – that seeking reelection is bad news for the modern version of Mexican democracy.
In any case, Rojas is a young woman, 43 (I hate telling a woman’s age because many women hate you when you do). She’s an experienced legislator since she was a senator for six years and has been with the National Action Party since 1993.
A side comment on Rojas is that she belongs to a group within the PAN known as the “Bravo Boys,” led by former party president Luis Felipe Bravo Mena (1999-2005), a resilient conservative branch belonging to the ultra-Catholic conservative branch of Mexican ideology, encrusted in yet another PAN branch known as the “Anvil.”
In a recent interview with Milenio newspaper, however, she did not list herself as a conservative.
“The truth is that I’m everything except a conservative,” she said. “At the PAN, I believe I am the left of the right wing. I’m a politician who believes in reproductive right (meaning abortion) and the sexual rights of women. I am a woman who believes that love is love and I have no problem in supporting same sex marriages.”
Inside Mexico’s Congress, the time for Mexican machos is clearly up, and bossy women are in. And I thought I’d broken free of my mother’s domineering.