By ALEJANDRO ENVILA FISHER
The president of Mexico’s conservative National Action Party (PAN), Marko Cortés, was recently faced with the dilemma of having to choose between being the key to the party’s transition in a post-Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) Mexico or watching the it surrender its last semblance of political relevancy after having been severely battered in the 2012 presidential race.
He chose the former.
Cortés’ appointment of Jorge Romero Herrera as the new minority head in Mexico’s 65th Congress suggests that he clearly is not up to the task of leading the party into the 21st century and is incapable of spearheading an opposition alliance against AMLO’s leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) in 2024.
If just half of the rumors about him are true, Romero Herrera is the proof positive that political corruption is not the exclusive domain of either the centralist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) or the country’s old political bosses.
A self-proclaimed “PANista” to the core, Romero Herrera represents everything bad about the party.
His “public service record” includes — according to his “friends” and also his enemies — a dubious roster of questionable activities, from influence peddling and the improper dispensing of licenses and construction permits in the Benito Juárez mayor’s office to the internal manipulations of the party’s member registry.
It was Romero Herrera who, from the moment he first took the reins of the PAN in Mexico City, propagated its corrupt selection of leaders and candidates, based not on democratic practices, but rather on personal interests and internal power struggles.
And as if all that were not enough to show that Romero Herrera is an eminent threat to the party, it was revealed by journalist Leticia Robles de la Rosa on Friday, Aug. 13, in an expose published in the daily newspaper Excelsior, that, during his stint as a member of the Mexico City Congress, he had conspired with the likes of Labor Party (PT) Deputy Mauricio Toledo, who was just stripped of his immunity earlier this month due to accusations of corruption during his time in public office from 2012 to 2018 and is now hiding out in Chile to avoid persecution.
Romero Herrera is Cortés’ henchman, and will not only be the source of his political downfall, but of the party in general.
Cortés, a native of Michoacán who has always been unpopular among true PANistas and who couldn’t even legitimately win a candidacy in his own state, has survived the political storms of the past thanks only to the shelter and guidance afforded him by former Interior Secretary Santiago Creel Miranda.
Cortés also benefited from the PAN debacle following the demoralizing political defeat of the party’s 2018 presidential candidate, Ricardo Anaya, who lost the race in a Morena landslide victory.
That resounding defeat led to the creation of a fragile alliance of the PAN, the PRI and Mexico’s left-leaning Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) in 2021 that catapulted Cortés to unprecedented political heights when the party won a punishment vote against the AMLO administration by the middle classes, who the Morena leader constantly insulted.
What Cortés never admitted — nor seemed to understand — was the fact that the revolt of Mexico’s middle classes against López Obrador and Morena was not inspired by the PAN, but by a disgruntled society that resented the current administration.
In other words, the PAN won seats not because of what is had done or promised in its campaigns, but simply because it was the only viable alternative to an offensive Morena and a discredited PRI.
Cortés would be wise to remember that in the world of politics, the whims of the people can shift quickly and unexpectedly, and more so when those whims are simply an expression of anger against an incumbent government.
In appointing Romero Herrera as the congressional minority leader, Cortés has blatantly abandoned the basic principles of his blue-and-white-bannered party and has opened himself up to the ire of his former protector, Creel Miranda.
Rule Number One in Mexican politics is not to court unnecessary enemies.
With a single act, naming Romero Herrera to a post he is unequipped to handle, Cortés has written his own political death sentence.
Unfortunately, he has also condemned the PAN to a premature demise.
ALEJANDRO ENVILA FISHER is a lawyer and professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico’s (UNAM) School of Law. He directed the political magazine Cambio and Radio Capital for 15 years. He also founded and directed GreenTV, a cable television channel specializing in sustainability and the environment, for five years. He has been a commentator and host for various radio and television shows and has written political columns for the newspapers El Día and Unomásuno, in addition to publishing articles in more than 20 regional newspapers in Mexico since 1995. He is the author of the books “One Hundred Names of the Mexican Transition,” “Chimalhuacán, the Empire of La Loba” and “Chimalhuacán, from Lost City to Model Municipality.”