By RICARDO CASTILLO
The celebration of the 80th anniversary of the founding of the once-Catholic-conservative National Action Party’s (PAN) 24th General Assembly over the weekend definitely came across more like a witches’ coven to demonize current President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and his National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party than an attempt to restore order within its own constituency and regain lost political ground.
Also, the main guest was none other than former Mexican President Vicente Fox, who everyone thought had been kicked out of the PAN for treason during the past election because he backed then-President Enrique Peña Nieto’s candidate for president, José Antonio Meade, and stabbed the PAN candidate, Ricardo Anaya, in the back. Fox seemingly forgot his misdeed also against former candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota, the PAN presidential candidate in 2012, as he claimed “I am and have always been a PAN member at heart, but I am not an activist.” Applause. And, of course, he is an activist and his worst nightmare is none other than AMLO, who surely this time will act presidential and will not respond to Fox with his famous “shut up, chatterbox” (“cállate, chachalaca” — a chachalaca being a noisy cackling bird of southeast Mexico) response.
Anaya was supposed to be the keynote speaker at the event in Mexico City on Saturday, Sept. 21, but on a last minute basis, he was a no-show so Fox ended up as the keynoter. The close to 4,000 leaders attending the assembly festooned and celebrated Fox’s usually colloquial speech-making.
Of course, Fox spent his speech talking ill about AMLO, calling him a “Messiah” and a man “who lies and cheats” and saying “we’re going to defeat the Fourth Transformation” (Fox used the crude term “darle en la madre” to mean defeat) among other niceties.
Fox took time to tell the PAN leaders that, “when it comes to dealing with the nation, there are no (party) colors. We all add up to be the nation. I am convoking all citizen forces. I have met with members of the PAN, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), with Los Chuchos (Jesús Ortega and Jesús Zambrano), leaders of what’s left of the Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD), with (Felipe) Calderón. We’re going to repeat 2000, stripping naked all the lies of this character.”
In short, Fox proposed bringing all opposition to AMLO and Morena together to regain lost ground in the upcoming 2021 midterm elections.
TCurrent PAN president Marko Cortés also delivered a speech at the General Assembly, claiming that the PAN will make a strong comeback in 2021 and giving attendees the pep talk: “We will win state governments and mayors offices, and form a new opposition majority in the Chamber of Deputies. We will push for the best men and women to lay down the groundwork for the production of the 2024 presidential election.”
And, of course, Cortés demanded that all PAN militants continue working against authoritarianism, centralism “and the democratic fragility that represents President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.”
Cortés also thanked Fox for attending the 80th anniversary of the founding of the PAN, saying “you are without a doubt a fundamental part of our history.” Indeed, Fox, as the first PAN president, was important in 2000, but currently, it is doubtful that he will have any impact among young PAN members other than as a memory of the party’s first major victory, which, back then, was the ousting of the PRI as the ruling party after 71 years in power.
The day after the PAN powwow, a Mayor Mexican newspaper (Excelsior) described the gathering as the “Losers’ Club,” pointing out that Fox is not the best spokesman for the PAN party since, in the end, he played dirty politics to impose Calderón in a plan of continuity of power for the party, leading to 12 years of economic stagnation for Mexico, including 2009, when the GDP dropped under Calderón by a 6.2 percent deficit. Indeed, that was a scary moment, which in the end favored Enrique Peña Nieto’s candidacy and the return of the then-much-hated (at least by PAN voters) and still very corrupt PRI.
But yes, old Fox did manage to inject some enthusiasm into the General Assembly of PAN which from now on has greater problems to solve, and that is for sure AMLO’s standing popularity which is at 70 percent much to the chagrin of PAN members.
But the road to the 2021 mid-term elections is wide open and from now on they have nothing to do than to achieve the potentially fantasy hope of realizing the dreams they voiced at the party’s anniversary.