OPINION

President of Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party Alejandro Moreno Cárdenas. Photo: Google

By RICARDO CASTILLO

These days, the political gossip churners in Mexico have a new favorite target: Federal Deputy Alejandro Moreno Cárdenas, alias “Alito” (short for Alejandro), who is the both the current president of the once-mighty Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI, which ruled the country without interruptions from 1929 to 2000), and the leader of the remaining 70 PRI deputies in the 500-member lower house Chamber of Deputies.

Moreno, a former governor of the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, is now desperately trying to salvage whatever little is left of his political career after several audio recordings — allegedly of him — were made public by current Campeche Governor Layda Sansores, a sworn political enemy of Moreno Cárdenas.

In the recordings — whose authenticity has yet to be proven and which Moreno Cárdenas has steadfastly insisted are fake and part of a National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party smear campaign against him — the speaker is heard making comments in which he allegedly admitted to committing acts of corruption, The speaker is also heard making threatening comments about the Mexican press.

Whether the recordings are authentic or not, they are getting a lot of media hype.

And Sansores is not the only one out to disgrace Alito.

Behind her are a considerable number of former PRI politicians, including the Murat family, father and son, José and Alejandro, both former governors of Oaxaca, who just a couple of years ago helped Alito leave the Campeche governorship to run for president of the PRI.

Alito’s desperation is evident. His Twitter account is full of posts both denying that the recordings are of him and maintaining that Sansores obtained them illegally.

The recordings are full of obscenities and trash talk, but that’s not the issue. The one phrase that has infuriated not only other PRI members, but the entire Mexican press corps is one in which the speaker uttered the following: “To kill the press you don’t use bullets, you can just starve them to death.”

Actually, the original recording was not all that secret since it was first revealed in an interview with journalist Carlos Loret de Mola, another favorite target of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and his leftist Morena party. But Loret de Mola repudiated the veracity of the recording.

Meanwhile, Sansores has ordered Campeche Attorney General Renato Sales Heredia to conduct a fiscal audit of all state accountings during Alito’s four years as governor. If incriminating evidence is found, Sansores has said that it will be used against Moreno Cárdenas in a court of law.

As a bit of background data, it should be noted that while Sansores is now a card-toting member of Morena, she was once a member of the centralist PRI and is the  daughter of yet another former PRI president, Carlos “El Negro” Sansores, who served back in 1975 during presidency of Luis Echeverria .

To make matters worse for Moreno Cárdenas, he is now being accused by some former PRI associates of having  used them as stepping stone in his rise to the PRI leadership.

Up until a few days ago, Alito was still talking about his ambitions to run for president on the PRI ticket in Mexico’s 2024 election. Some pundits viewed this as his rightful reward for having led the 70 deputy PRI block to vote against AMLO’s controversial  Energy Reform Bill, which would have prioritized state-run, carbon-based power sources over private clean alternatives.

Nevertheless, under Moreno Cárdenas’ leadership, the PRI has lost political ground. When he took up the party’s leadership, it still boasted 14 governorships, and now, previous to the June 5 election, the PRI political machinery, once known as “the steamroller,” is down to just four state governments.

And, if the polls are right, the PRI may lose two more governorships this month in the states of Hidalgo and Oaxaca. That’ll leave the PRI only with Coahuila and the State of Mexico (EdoMéx), which will hold elections for governor in June 2023.

And as if all this were not enough, Mexico’s National Electoral Institute (INE) announced recently that it is carrying out an investigation over “financial irregularities” in the Campeche state elections for governor by the PRI in 2021. In one of the contested audios, the speaker is heard saying that the party had “panhandled” funds for the election for businessmen.

But worst of all is the fact that Morena leaders had hoped to “negotiate” the support of the PRI deputies in order to obtain the necessary two-thirds majority pro its passage. Instead, Alito managed to aligned the PRI vote with that of the conservative National Action Party (PAN) and stop the bill in its track.

AMLO, not one to take resistance gracefully, was infuriated by the stoppage if the bill and declared all those who voted against it as “traitors to the nation.”

None of this bodes well for the political future of Moreno Cárdenas.

 

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