Mexican Politics – A Tired Presidential Campaign

Since the main NotTheNews site is mainly about life in Merida, why not use this little-visited, un-read blog space, to vent about Mexican politics; particularly the upcoming elections for a shiny, new, president. All opinions represented herein are mine, and are in no way representative of BlogSpot, GeoCities, MSNBC, Sala de Fiestas D’Williams or El Niplito. They are the observations of a neurotic foreigner, nada más.

Shiny and new are of course, euphemisms, euphamisms or euphomisms (I like the first spelling the best, how about you?) since none of the contenders for president of this beautiful country are shiny or new.

Rather, they are dull and old. The same tired old slogans, promises, toothy grins and 3/4 shots looking ‘handsome’ on giant billboards around the country. There are 3 candidates in the running: Felipe Calderon (PAN), Roberto Madrazo (PRI) and Andres Lopez (PRD). In addition to those main characters, the play this time around includes a decent female candidate Patricia Mercado, representing some obscure political alliance and Dr. Simi, who runs a chain of pharmacies across the country; his marketing slogan (for the pharmacies anyway) is the same product, for less. This could probably apply to the political offerings of all the candidates in this federal election as well. Dr. Simi’s campaign tours include scantily-clad ‘Simi Chicas‘, models – they are called that in reference to his name and not to any possible simian resemblance on their part – who drape themselves around Dr. Simi and say very little, thus promoting not only the good doctor, but also women’s liberation and positive feminism, in that charmingly degrading way so common to Latin American third world countries.

I don’t, being the casual observer that I am, perceive any particular enthusiasm so far, with regards to any one candidate, beyond the usual paid-for-by-the-party fervor at public events where each candidate appears. There is no sense of renewal or hope, like there was in the 2000 election when Vicente Fox (PAN) drove the PRI out of the president’s chair after they had held that office for 70 years! 70 years! There is no sense of any excitement at all; in fact, there is a growing sense (again I am not a professional analyst, just gut feelings here) of apathy, total and complete discontent, discouragement, disappointment and dissatisfaction with the whole electoral process. I believe that voter abstention will be way up from the last federal elections, when Fox won.

Who will the shiny, new president be? One of these three:

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (PRD) – a mouthful of a name which the gringos will probably shorten to Andres Lopez – which doesn’t have the same regal ring to it.

AMLO (as he is abbreviated) is the governor/leader/mayor of Mexico City, the unmanageable, overpopulated, polluted and corrupt largest city in Mexico and official international municipal basket case and as such has been charged with causing all the city’s woes. It is ridiculous to think that any one man is responsible for the irresponsibility of 25 million citizens each of whom believes that it is their god-given right to do as they please, when they please, and to whomever they please at whatever time they bloody well feel like it. So please. As if anyone could restore order there. Jesus Christ himself would throw his hands up in despair and go back to the cross. Mexico City is a mess because the citizens of Mexico City have made it so. But I digress.

AMLO has a good chance of getting a lot of votes from the people he has helped, which are mostly the ignorant masses of the needy and the elderly (who are also needy) to whom he has generously (not out of his own pocket of course) and grandly distributed small tokens of … of… money. Despised by many who see him as a leftist Chavez-style threat, he is just a smooth operator, leading the PRI rejects in a style reminiscent of the past. One of his goals (‘get money’), apparently, is to maintain tight control over Mexican state industries like Pemex and the electricity monopolies. This is a popular concept in many deluded Mexican’s minds, who think that having their resources exploited, and being robbed, by their own fellow Mexicans with no accounting whatsoever is better than having it done by someone else. In their warped and fervently nationalistic brains, rather than having competition from three or four international firms vying for our resources and having our well-thought-out conditions met, it is better to have our giant, inefficient, bureaucratic, polluting Soviet-style enterprise (Por el Progreso de Mexico!!!!) (Un Pais Con Energia es un Pais con Futuro!!!) doing whatever the hell they want.

AMLO appeals to this kind of geopolitical mindset, the whiners who think life is unfair. The same ones who complain that the gringos are too hard on the Mexicans sneaking across the border and that they have RIGHTS por Dios.

Felipe Calderon Hinojosa (PAN) is the ruling party’s ‘gallo’. The ‘gallo’ is the rooster, and this is the one Vicente Fox’s party picked to run against the others. Said to be more of a follower of the PAN political doctrine (whatever that may be, other than ‘get money’), Felipe is seen as the only half-decent choice from a pack of really crappy candidates. He has changed his campaign slogan at least 3 times; which means that he is a) not thinking his campaign slogans through very well, b) not very consistent in his ideas or c) didn’t have enough money to pay for a decent campaign manager.

He seems to me, to be the middle of the road kinda guy, the ‘pan sin sal‘ (bread without salt) or ‘caca de paloma – ni apesta ni huele‘ (pigeon shit – doesn´t smell either way) candidate who will, by default, when those few voters who do go out and stand in line to vote (What for? they wonder), get the ‘voto de castigo’ which is the punishing vote. To punish the other, worse, candidates, the voters will punish them by voting for Calderon. A sad way to win but in the end (‘get money’) it works.

Roberto Madrazo Pintado (PRI) – the ancient, Triassic-era PRI has resurrected this dinosaur from the swampy depths of the political tar pits, who now touts himself as something new and fresh. Your grandmothers last weeks Depends are fresher than this guy. He stands for everything that was, and yet some people actually believe it (or, I suspect, are being paid handsomely and desperately, to say they do).

His vision (besides ‘get money’) includes the triumphant return of the PRI to power, while bitching and moaning about all the things the PAN is doing (and his party ignored and laughed off the same accusations when they were made by the PAN to the then-ruling PRI) and has shortened his campaign name from Roberto Madrazo to just Roberto. Roberto sounds more friendly don’t you think? Why, when you put it like that, I even forget what his last name was… ah yes, Madrazo. A ‘madrazo’ in Mexican slang, is a ‘hit’ as in a physical slap, punch, kick. If someone gives you a ‘madrazo’ then you have been hit. Does this have anything to do with the sudden name-shortening? I wonder.

There you have the short list of the fine fellows who aspire to Mexico’s presidency in the next federal elections. None have any original, novel ideas to help push what could still be a great country in the right direction. In my next attempt at political journalism, I will try to outline what I think are some important steps that a political candidate could try to undertake to move Mexico from the 17th century and it’s ‘Moon Over Parador’ feel to the year 2006.

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