By RICARDO CASTILLO
The rumblings of an upcoming war at Mexico’s National Electoral Institute (INE) began to be heard loud and clear a week ago.
The reason behind the potential political warfare is that the INE held an impromptu reelection of its secretary general when it should have waited until April, when four of the 11 councilors will finish their terms and four new ones will replace them.
But INE President Lorenzo Córdova Vianello allegedly jumped the gun and went ahead, pushing for the reelection of Secretary General Edmundo Jacobo Molina, who ran uncontested.
The candidates for the four posts were just filing their letters of intent before the Chamber of Deputies, since it will be the deputies who select them.
That’s the legal way things are supposed to be done, as stipulated in the Mexican Constitution’s Article 41, which states that the election of the councilors is “a matter of state” and a congressional responsibility.
The reelection of Molina is seen by many as “a coup” by INE President Córdova, who is being attacked for pushing the reelection as a way to protect his back – and reputation – when the new councilors come in, since Jacobo is seen as his “crony.”
Jacobo got to keep his post by a vote of eight in favor and three against.
The problem for Córdova is that, certainly, with a National Regeneration Movement (Morena) majority in the Chamber of Deputies, the selected new councilors will be tilting their sympathy scale away from Córdova, as all will be Morena, if not militants, at least sympathizers.
In the Constitution’s perspective, all INE councilors should be objective and true democrats, as the institution is “autonomous” and rules itself, except for the selection of the board of 11 councilors.
The plurality with which the Chamber of Deputies selects them should be enough to guarantee a political balance at the INE so that it can organize elections without any preference for a particular candidate or party and serve as a fair political umpire.
There were several immediate reactions to the reelection of Molina.
First of all, there were suspicions that Córdova mismanaged the humongous budget allotted to the INE by the Chamber of Deputies to run the institution on a permanent basis and organize the upcoming 2021 midterm and2024?presidential elections.
For year 2020, the INE received a 5.6 billion-peso budget.
Jacobo’s reelection suggests dirty play.
The first stone against Córdova was cast by councilor José Roberto Ruiz Saldaña, who criticized Jacobo’s reelection as “a legal fraud, since Córdoba advanced it two months from April 3, when the new councilors would have been sworn in.
Ruiz Saldaña accused Córdoba – face to face – of “not being democratic, as you claim” by extending Jacobo’s now-12-year mandate to 18 years.
Ruiz Saldaña said: “It is not proper for someone who claims to be a defender and even a theoretician of right and rights to propose this scandalous legal fraud. It is not dignified for someone who claims to be the INE president councilor to bring into a session a matter of extreme importance simply out of political considerations. At least, president councilor, have the brave heart to not do what you’re doing today in the name of democracy, in defense of the INE and the law.”
Ruiz Saldaña was proposed by the Green Party and has not been a Morena militant.
One day later, Public Function Secretary Eréndira Sandoval congratulated Ruiz Saldaña “for your courage and dignity.”
Then, on Sunday, Feb. 9, there was a protest outside the INE facilities against Lorenzo Córdova, with a few hundred people calling for the INE president councilor to be jailed.
the protesters also called for a “political trial against Lorenzo Córdova for infesting the INE with corruption, disrespect for the Constitution and a cover up for the ‘Borolas’ with his frauds.”
(Note: Borolas is the nasty nickname used by cartoonists against former President Felipe Calderón – also called “fecal”. “Borolas” was the nickname of a famous 1950s comedian.)
An El Universal cartoonist pictured Córdova dressed with an oversize military uniform Calderón is often portrayed with and the quote ‘aiga sido lo como aiga sido’, a Mexican misspelled and mispronounced phrase used by uneducated persons to say “be as it may have been,” which was used by Calderón when asked what he thought about being “the spurious” president AMLO accused him of being for his one nose victory over AMLO in the 2006 election.)
Writer Pedro Miguel wrote that “if the indignation in Twitter becomes mass demonstrations, peaceful and well-organized, surely Lorenzo Córdova will soon be working in the taco shop that is across the street from the INE.”
There was at least one reaction of concern stemming out of the Mexican Employers Confederation (Coparmex), warning that there is a “weakening strategy” behind the attacks against Lorenzo Córdova, as well as Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) intention of reducing the budget to political parties, hence to the INE.
“Mexican democracy may be pushed backwards decades” should this happen., the confederation warned.
Coparmex is presided over by Gustavo de Hoyos, an acidic critic of AMLO.
Registration at the Chamber of Deputies for those who want to become the four replacing councilors opened this week.
The rest is history in the making.