UNM professor John Ackerman. Photo: Yahoo

By RICARDO CASTILLO

The collective memory in Mexico may be short these days, but it was a long haul until Wednesday, July 22, to pick the four new National Electoral Institute (INE) councilors that just took over their posts.

Once the Chamber of Deputies approved the four from a choice of 20 pre-candidates, the storm was over and a political calm returned.

The final choice was the result of a tedious procedure that began last February with the selection of eight members of the honorary Technical Evaluation Committee (CTE). Except for some protest screaming from all the minority opposition parties due to the choice of National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) law professor John Ackerman, a National Regeneration Movement (Morena) activist who finally received a final shove from Human Rights Commissioner Rosario Piedra Ibarra. the process was basically smooth.

But the fight from the representatives at the Chamber of Deputies of the various political parties did not come easy against the majority Morena. The National Action Party (PAN), the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) and the Citizens’ Movement Party (MC) made sure that none of the new CTE members was a political party activist.

It all went well until the end, when Ackerman threw a temper tantrum because his candidate, an obvious Morena pick, Diana Talavera, was not among the final 20 pre-candidates.

Ackerman called the procedure “slanted” and as a result received a courteous letter from the rest of the CTE members letting him know that their picks were all non-partisan hopefuls.

Even then, Ackerman went to the Chamber of Deputies and complained to Morena Deputy Dolores Padierna, who raised a stink and 70 votes of protest against the potential candidates prior to voting day last Wednesday, July 22.

There was some debate within the ranks of Morena at the Chamber of Deputies, but, no doubt, the most outstanding voice was that of elderly Deputy Porfirio Muñoz Ledo, who warned the group of rebels led by Padierna and Ackerman against pushing for a Morena representative at INE. Muñoz Ledo decried their attitude and summoned them to drop the “coup d’état” mentality that entailed selecting councilors at the INE that favor one party over the others. This cooled off the rebellion.

After that mess, Morena leader Mario Delgado calmed the party majority down, asking them review the histories of each of the candidates with objectivity. At the end of the day, all political parties finally came to terms and the final four received a total of 399 votes, with five against and five abstentions, a clear majority.

Many afterwards resented all the trouble caused by “el gringo” (Ackerman was born in the United States, but is now a legal Mexican citizen, hence his political participation). Ackerman, however, did manage to help in the end to keep out of being pre-candidates some people who did actually have a political party slant and had participated, allegedly, in rigging elections in the past.

No doubt, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), often an acrid critic of some INE officials in the past, finally agreed with the appointments of the four new councilors, namely, Uuc-Kib Espadas Ancona, José Martín Fernando Faz, Carla Humphrey Jordán and Norma Irene Cruz Magaña, all who will serve through 2029.

“We want you to be impartial and to not pledge yourselves to political parties or the government in turn, and to respect the will of the people,” AMLO said during his press conference, the day after the choice.

AMLO also said that “the is a historical movement to leave behind as anecdotes such activites as ballot box stuffing, forgery. electoral fraud,the burning of valid votes, vote purchasing and voter busing.”

“Let those be things of the past  that new generations hear about  only from history books,” said AMLO.

That said, the Mexican stage is now ready to start the electoral procedure for the 2021 midterm elections, with 15 governor seats at stake and the full renewal of the Chamber of Deputies, plus thousands of municipal electoral posts. And for the 2022 “mandate revocation” election called by AMLO himself.

It isa relief to most Mexicans that clean elections can set the rule of government in the near future to start with, and hopefully, forever, starting as of  Sept. 1, when the INE flags down the beginning of the midterm electoral year.

…July 28. 2020

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