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By JESSICA GUERRERO

MORELIA, Michoacán — Mexican politics have always been distinguished by their dynamism and unpredictability. Year after year, new political alternatives arise, new players emerge and new ideologies evolve.

The centralist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which for more than seven decades maintained control of the country’s presidency during the 20th century, finally succumbed to a desire for change when millions of Mexicans voted for the conservative National Action Party (PAN) in 2000, and since then, the alternation of parties in the country’s presidential seat has been constant.

However, it was not until 2012 that Mexican politics witnessed the birth of a new left-wing political party, the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), which generated a sociopolitical phenomenon never before witnessed in the country, attracting millions of voters from all social strata.

In just 10 years, Morena went from zero to winning the country’s presidency, to governing 20 of the 32 states of Mexico and to having a majority of seats in the national Congress.

The near-fanatical support of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has undoubtedly been a key factor in Morena’s rapid expansion throughout the country. Also, the creation of multiple welfare programs by the federal government has turned out to be a very effective strategy used by Morena to gain new voters, as well as to maintain the existent ones.

However, together with its success in the country’s politics, the party has had to face enduring challenges caused by internal conflicts among its militants that has been threatening the party’s stability in the last year.

The evident lack of unity and the prevalent individualism within Morena’s leadership have been the cornerstone of what today threatens the future and continuity of this party in coming years.

These internal conflicts in Morena came to public light for the first time in 2021, during the party’s internal elections to choose the candidates for the governors and local mayors elections that would take place that year.

Several Morena politicians who were running to become candidates accused the party’s leader, Mario Delgado intervention and direct imposition in these internal elections, reporting a blatant lack of transparency in the election process, favoring only certain politicians.

These events later culminated in the emergence of the first dissident faction within Morena, which in its first assembly, held in February of this year, did not hesitate to make public accusations against the alleged abuse of power by Delgado. Dissident  members expressed their concerns about Morena’s future given the current lack of unity within the party.

This division of Morena is occurring during in a key period for the party, just prior to the 2024 presidential elections, during which the future of the party will be determined.

Last week, Morena’s political elite, backed by the party’s leadership, presented the party’s presidential candidates for 2024 during a massive militant gathering that took place in the city of Toluca, the capital of the State of Mexico (EdoMéx). These three candidates are: Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico City Governor Claudia Sheinbaum and Interior Secretary Adán Augusto López.

Although this was an official event, allegedly open to all Morena militants, some of its most notorious members and founders, such as Ricardo Monreal, were not invited. This, understandably, triggered speculations and rumors of a possible party division in the run toward the 2024 presidential elections.

Despite Monreal’s well-known intentions to run as a candidate himself, this faction of the party. led by the party’s president Mario Delgado, evidently cut him off. Even so, Monreal reiterated his intentions to continue in the presidential race, wishing luck to the other candidates who, he said, have “artificially constructed their candidacies utilizing (political) power,” inferring an intervention of the party’s leaders in this internal election.

Likewise, Delgado said  that this militant event in Toluca could be considered a violation of Mexican electoral laws since holding campaign events outside the official campaign period is forbidden. However, he said that he would not file any formal complaint with the National Electoral Institute (INE).

Monreal also pointed out that exclusion often leads to division in any political party and that, contrary to popular belief, he said he felt proud to have been excluded this time. Finally, he also stated that, in order to preserve the presidency of Mexico in 2024, Morena would need the union of its members more than ever.

Although some of the militants who attended and organized the Toluca gathering claimed that Monreal was indeed invited, he insisted that he had never been even notified about the event.

Meanwhile, López Obrador addressed this issue in his morning conference on Monday, June 13, stating that all members of Morena have the right to participate in the electoral process and no one should be excluded. He called on Morena militants to include not only Monreal, but also other key party figures, such as Economy Secretary Tatiana Clouthier and Mexican Ambassador to the United States Esteban Moctezuma, who are also on the outs with some of the Morena head honchos, in any future event of this type.

As tensions between its diverse internal factions continue to spark, Morena, despite being the ruling political force in Mexico today, is reeling and cracking from within.

Like a mama hen, López Obrador has, from the beginning of his administration in December 2018, untiringly defended his party from detractors and opponents, championing it (rightly or wrongly) as the defender of the nation’s downtrodden. 

But now, it seems, that Morena’s greatest enemy today is Morena itself.

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