By RICARDO CASTILLO
The Last of the Sauri-ans
The first week of September in Mexican politics was raucous from start to finish. Here is a capsulated roundup of events:
It all started on Monday, Aug. 31, with the first vote at the Mexican Chamber of Deputies for the upcoming third and last year of the current legislature. Contending for the presidency were Dulce María Sauri Riancho for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and Gerardo Fernández Noroña of the Labor Party (PT). After a fierce head-on encounter between the two candidates neither made it on the first ballot; the election had to be postponed until Wednesday, Sept. 2.
On Tuesday, Sept. 1, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) delivered his second State of the Nation Address (Informe). with the expected reactions blasted by the conservative right and applauded by the left. There was not much new in the Informe.
The presidency of the Chamber of Deputies continued up for grabs on Wednesday, Sept. 2, with both the PRI and the PT pulling strings to attract more deputies to their side in order to gain the sufficient number of votes to be declared the “third majority.”
The PRI garnered four votes from the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), while the PT hire — at 5 million pesos a pop, gossip claims — two independent deputies, including Mauricio Toledo, an avowed enemy of Mexico City Mayor and top National Regeneration Movement (Morena) leader Claudia Sheinbaum. This pick did not sit well with Morena, whose members ended up voting in favor of the PRI candidate Sauri Riancho, now president of the Chamber of Deputies for the upcoming year until Aug. 31, 2021.
Prophets of doom are saying that this may have been the last time the PRI — once the almighty government fun political machine known after 70 years in power as the “Dinosaurs” — will lead the Chamber of Deputies since forecasts for the 2021 midterm elections are that the Saurian will soon be extinct.
On Thursday, Sept. 3, the Chamber of Deputies got back to legislating and the majority Morena part introduced a bill to amend Articles 108 and 111 of the Mexican Constitution. The proposed bill calls for narrowing down the power of the president in turn, making him susceptible to being charged and tried for major crimes such as corruption and treason.
This most important bill, introduced by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) himself, is a message to future presidents – up until now shielded from any legal suit – not to wield dictatorial powers during their mandates.
Then came Friday, Sept. 4, the longest day of the week. All day the National Electoral Institute (INE) discussed whether to give the green light to several new political parties to participate in the 2021 midterm elections. The standoff among the 11 INE councilors lasted all day, until, finally, at around 10 p.m., the announcement was made of those who were admitted, and those who were not.
The announcement was a cake adorned with a political cherry bomb. The new conservative political organization headed by former Mexican President Felipe Calderón and his wife Margarita Zavala, México Libre (Free Mexico), was turned down in a 7 to 4 vote.
Both Calderón and Zavala rose up in anger and on Saturday, Sept. 5, Calderón engaged in a Twitter war with INE President Lorenzo Córdoba, who claimed that he voted against the Calderón-Zavala party because the sources of “8.2 percent of the proven income” was “opaque,” a term used in Mexico for shady money.
Calderón and Zavala reacted furiously at the rejection, with Calderón calling INE’s Córdova “a liar” and Zavala screaming that they would challenge the decision at the Electoral Tribunal.
Whatever they do, however, is irrelevant as the INE’s decision stands.
The INE, on the other hand, gave the green light to the new Solidary Encounter Party (PES) to participate in the upcoming electoral fray.
Wow! What a political week in Mexico last week was!
Electoral Year Kickoff
The INE announced the initiation of the calendar of the 2020 midterm electoral period, starting on Monday, Sept. 7, and ending with the June 6 elections.
Registrations for federal deputies, governors and municipal mayors belonging to registered political parties will be held from Dec. 3 through Jan. 31.
Political campaigning will be permitted from April 4 through June 2, while Sept. 1 through February 10 will be the period for voter registration.
INE President Lorenzo Córdova says this will be the “largest” election in Mexican history, with 21,308 municipal, state and federal posts at stake.
The election will require establishing 164,550 polling booths, over 48,000 supervisors and over a million volunteer citizens to check out honest voting.
Upon presenting the full electoral program, Córdova said that regardless of how complex the procedure will be, “we have to be ready for it with, no room for improvisations.”
New Train Spike
The suburban train that operates in northern Mexico City will be expanded, with a new spike to the now-under-construction new International Airport at Santa Lucía, near the Teotihuacan pyramids.
Mexico’s Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (SCT) made official the 12.479 billion peso project that will stretch the suburban train for the airport from the town of Lecherías on Highway 57.
The project is a 23-kilometer-long link, which will include five stations, eight bridges for road vehicles and two train tracks.
The SCT said it will be ready by December 2022.
The electric train is to be operated, in concession, by CAF, the Spanish company now running the suburban train from Buena Vista, downtown Mexico City, to Cuautitlán.
Dollar remittances from the United States to Mexico grew for a third consecutive month up, to $3.532 billion in August, up 7.2 percent from the same period last year, the central bank Banco de Mexico (Banxico) announced.
Thus far this year, remittances have amounted to $22.821 billion, with Banxico forecasting that the yearend tally will be approximately $38.5 billion.
Mexico City will keep its orange status denomination in the covid-19 traffic lights safety ratings for yet another week, from Sept. 7 through Sept. 13, Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum announced on Friday, Sept. 4.
The mayor also announced that restaurants can now remain open until close at 11 p.m., while construction workers may now work on Saturday. Gyms are still banned from opening.
…Sept. 7, 2020