By KELIN DILLON
As Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) National Regeneration Movement (Morena) continued to ramp up the pressure on Mexico’s autonomous electoral organization the National Electoral Institute (INE), a number of aspiring candidates to the INE – most of which have close ties to both Morena and the AMLO administration – achieved record-high scores on the INE knowledge exam, according to results released by the INE’s Technical Evaluation Committee (CTE) on Wednesday, March 9.
The INE knowledge exam covers topics such as constitutional law, governmental law, electoral law and human rights as a test to determine which candidates are qualified to serve at Mexico’s independent electoral authority.
Bertha Alcalde Luján, sister of the AMLO administration’s labor secretary, daughter of the former Morena Political Council president and current commissioner in the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks (Cofepris), reportedly answered 74 out of the exam’s 80 questions correctly at the time, though her legal background is concentrated in criminal and not electoral law.
Maday Merino Damián, who formerly served as the president counselor of the Electoral Institute in López Obrador’s home state of Tabasco, also purportedly scored 74 answers correct on the 80-question exam.
For the men’s candidates, Morena Coordinating Advisor to the INE Jaime Miguel Castañeda managed to achieve the highest score in the INE exam’s history, answering 79 of the test’s 80 multiple choice questions correctly.
Reforma opinion columnist F. Bartolomé added insight to Castañeda’s potential new role at the INE during his Thursday, March 9, column, writing that it seems “difficult for Castañeda to keep the defense of the INE or the national democratic system in mind, since he himself participated in the drafting of the infamous ‘Plan B’ electoral reform,” which controversially contains a number of provisions crafted to curtail the institution’s autonomous power.
“The most curious thing is that the hordes of the AMLO administration are inflamed with the tale of the payouts of Lorenzo Córdova and Ciro Murayama, but Jaime Castañeda himself, when he first left the INE, pocketed a not-inconsiderable sum of 870,000 pesos,” revealed Bartolomé’s column.
Castañeda’s score was followed by the Secretariat of Finance’s Deputy Federal Prosecutor for Amparos Armando Ocampo, with 78 correct answers; Mexico City Electoral Institute Councilor César Ernesto Ramos Mega, with 77 correct answers; and the Federal Prosecutor’s Office Deputy Federal Prosecutor for Financial Affairs Arturo Ramsés Ruiz Cazares, with 77 correct answers.
Now, the candidates will face additional interviews to determine if they are the correct fit for the role of INE councilor.