Budget Debate Sparks Chaos in Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies

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As Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies debated over potential changes to the country’s Income Tax Law on Tuesday, Oct. 19, particularly concerning areas that would cause civil society organizations (CSOs) to receive less donations, differences between the in-power National Regeneration Movement (Morena) and opposition parties resulted in a number of unprofessional situations, including deputies turning their backs and heckling one another.

When Margarita Zavala, currently deputy and wife of former President Felipe Calderón, stepped up to speak on the Income Tax Law, Morena deputies shouted allusions to a lethal 2009 nursery fire during her tenure as first lady in an attempt to prevent her from speaking. Following requests for order, the Morena deputies turned their back on Zavala, the first time this has occurred since Mexico’s 61st Legislature more than a decade ago.

“That is what they are doing to the people of Mexico: turning their backs,” said Zavala. “And they are turning their back on social organizations, which are necessary for solidarity because it works from the principle of subsidiarity and because it builds the common good.”

After Morena’s blatant disregard for Zavala, her fellow deputy Melissa Vargas accused the Morena officials of committing political violence based on her womanhood.

“Turning your back on a woman whose position is being made invisible is called political violence based on gender, and it needs to be stopped and for there to be sanctions in this regard,” said Vargas. “I don’t understand why Morena is so afraid of women when they take the stand. There is only violence.”

Once Morena Deputy Petista Gerardo Fernández Noroña took the podium, the attacks against Zavala only increased, as Fernández Noroña took the opportunity to harshly rub the deadly nursery fire in the former first lady’s face once more, rather than debate the issue at hand, resulting in members of Morena’s opposition, the National Action Party (PAN), to then turn their backs on their fellow deputies themselves and ignore the Morena speaker.

Eventually, Citizens’ Movement Deputy Jorge Álvarez Máynez came to Zavala’s defense once more when he took the stand to speak.

“We all have the right to debate among equals, I can debate with Margarita Zavala about her ideas, career, about her arguments, but tell a woman that she is at fault because of what her husband did, that is gender violence, even if the perpetrator does not like it,” said Álvarez Máynez.

Controversy continued late into the night and early into the morning, as the Chamber of Deputies continued to debate the Income Tax Law, with confrontations continuing and even escalating into shoving matches between members.

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