Former Mexican President Felipe Calderón. Photo: Google

By RICARDO CASTILLO

Although only one out of seven new applications for registration as a political party was accepted last Friday, Sept. 5, by Mexico’s National Electoral Institute (INE), that does not mean the quest for registration is over for those dissatisfied with the decision. The only party admitted for registration was the Solidary Encounter Party (PES).

Three of the six rejected would-be political parties have said that they are going to challenge the INE decision before the Electoral Tribunal of the Judicial Branch of the Federation (TEPJF).

The noisiest of the three, thus far, is no doubt the Liberty and Democratic Responsibility Party (which goes by the moniker México Libre, or Free Mexico) and whose leader remains to be defined.

Former First Lady Margarita Zavala said she is the leader, but over this past weekend the one taking the bombardment for the failure of recognition was her husband, former President Felipe Calderón, who has actually been acting as organizer, promoter, spokesman and front man for the organization.

The one thing the couple seems to agree on is that they will challenge the decision at the TEPJF, headed by Judge Felipe Alfredo Fuentes Barrera.

The group’s request to be accepted as a political party was rejected by the top guns at the INE, the president, Lorenzo Córdova Vianello, and the secretary general, Ciro Murayama.

The two INE leaders claimed that both Zavala and Calderón were warned since August 2019 that they could not use the paying and collecting app known as Clip to receive funds from donors. But Zavala and Calderón went ahead and used the app to garner funds, even though one of the warnings the app announces to users in Mexico is that it may not be used to receive political funding.

The problem with the app, said the INE officials, is that the source of funding cannot be tracked, and 8.2 of the total funding Free Mexico received came from it. Hence the refusal to register it as a party due to this “opaque” source of money.

A final statement by the INE officials to turn down the registration request was that they had already fined México Libre with 2.7 million pesos and the group still went on using the Clip app.

That is the officially registered charge against México Libre. However, this being Mexico, there may be a second cause for mistrust.

Ever since former President Calderon’s top security officer, Genaro García Luna (and two top officials working for him) were arrested in the United States and charged with aiding and abetting the drug-dealing Sinaloa Cartel in smuggling tons of drugs from Mexico, a shadow was cast over his reputation. Was he also receiving money from the drug runners?

Needless to say, Calderón has attempted to defend himself to the hilt and thus far, his name has not popped up in the case, but the fact remains, he was García Luna’s boss.

It must be said García Luna is charged but not convicted in his trial in a Brooklyn Federal Court, but still, just the fact that the U.S. Attorney General went ahead and filed charges casts a shadow on the former president.

Plus, the fact that current Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), in a statement made Saturday, Sept. 5, from his Tabasco farm near the Palenque ruins, took the occasion to sling mud on Calderon’s image by accusing him of being a corrupt politician and suggesting he “summon his friends from yesteryear,” including the business chambers, led by Claudio X. Gonzalez, the television stations and the media in general to help him get out on the street to protest (against the registration denial) peacefully. AMLO said that if Calderón believes that there is no justice in Mexico, he should go abroad (the old “love it or leave it” ploy).

AMLO went on to say: “Calder{on could go to Washington because the (Calderón-friendly) Organization of American States (OAS) is there, but I would personally not recommend he go to New York, where the United Nations Organization is located, but so is García Luna. But, yes, he could go to Washington to visit his OAS friends to see if they can help him, but I hope he keeps on fighting.”

AMLO finished his anti-Calderón tirade by saying that the INE decisión to deny him registration “is a victory for the people of Mexico.”

“The conservatives don’t want to understand there is a change in mentality,” he said. “Public opinion is powerful.”

Of course, AMLO refrained from inviting Calderón, who he considers an archenemy, to visit him at his farm.

About the only thing the Calderón-Zavala couple have going for them is the fact that the rejection decision came by a split 7 to 4 vote, which means that at least four INE councilors believed that they had met all the requisites to get the much-desired political party registration.

By the way, AMLO and the leftists are not the only ones happy about the INE decision not to include México Libre in the upcoming elections.

The conservative National Action Party (PAN) accepted the INE decision as final, “whether we like it or not,” as put by PAN’s current president, Marko Cortés Mendoza. Rumor has it that while the Zavala-Calderón couple was promoting México Libre registration, the PAN was carrying out a massive phone campaign to plead with registered members to return to the fold.

For the PAN, it was a clear fact that if México Libre had received its registration, it would have cut into its vote at least by half. Calderón won the presidency in 2006 with the PAN’s full backing, but later he and his wife Margarita eloped from PAN due to political differences with new leaders and the 2017 loss of presidential candidate Ricardo Anaya, who still keeps his henchman Marko Cortés at the helm of the second voting power in the nation.

Two more rejected parties have claimed they will file suit with the TEPJF. One is the Progressive Social Networks, headed by Fernando González, son-in-law of former National Education Workers Union leader Elba Esther Gordillo, who spent five years in jail during the Enrique Peña Nieto administration.

Also suing will be union leader Pedro Haces, whose Social Force would-be political party was turned down.

In both cases, the INE councilors denied registration because the groups had been fined before (along with México Libre) for “opaque” income reporting.

Certainly, the issue of registration will be in the Electoral Tribunal’s hands, but, for now, these would-be parties will not participate in the 2021 midterm election.

That alone is a political coup d’grace.

…Sept. 8, 2020

 

 

 

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