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Party animals

22 January 2009

Among the many “political animals” in Mexico (the mapuche — “raccoon” — who is the dirty trickster who buys votes and stuffs ballot boxes being the most pernicious), the grillo (grasshopper) is the most common.

grasshopperGrillos are the professional pols who switch parties like most of us change underware.  While there are those like the late Gilberto Rincón Gallardo — who campaigned as a Communist, a Socialist and PANista at various times in his career — who would work with any party that would further their own agenda  (disability rights, in Rincón’s case) there are also those with their own political machine that the parties want to co-opt.

Normally, these grillos don’t hop that far from their base.  On the left, where there are more parties to chose from, it’s not unusual for a disappointed PRD primary candidate to run for office from Convergencia, or vice-versa.  And, as the smaller parties have shaken out over the years, and the larger parties have split or had purges, some — like former PRI Central Committee and teachers’ union boss Elba Esther Gordillo — more or less become “rent a factions”.  Gordillo’s PANAL is supposedly a labor party (which would logically make it a member of a leftist coalition), but is willing to lend its support and candidates to PAN.  Likewise, the Green Party (which hasn’t been that “Green” of late) was originally part of Vicente Fox’s “Alliance for Change”, but — disappointed with their failure to gain secretariats under Fox, became permanantly attached to PRI.

grasshopperAnd, finally there are those grillos who have their own organization AND their own agenda.  Rubén Mendoza Ayala was a PRI politico, who — like many others during the “democratization” process left the dominant party for one of the more ideologically based ones:  in his case, the more conservtive alternative, PAN.  Mendoza has had a relatively successful career as a PANista, cumulating in his candidacy for State of Mexico Governor in 2005.  Though he lost to PRI’s up-and-coming star (and early favorite for 2012 presidential candiate Enrique Peña Nieto and the campaign was marked by irregularities (Vicente Fox’s wife, Marta Sahaguen was accused of involvement in dirty tricks which included death threats against an Elections Board official), the state as a whole leans towards PRD.

However, with the leftist party’s problems, PAN has had hopes of gaining the most populous state in the Republic, and kept Mendoza on ice.  He was presidente municipal of the suburban community of Tlanepantla (“suburb” being something of a misnomer for a city of 700,000) where he built his own state-wide organization, the Civil Council.

PAN, in line with classic “neo-liberal” thinking tried to privatize trash collection and sell off some city park property to developers in Tlanepantla.  Mendoza, needing something for the Civic Council to do, opposed these moves, which is the rationale for his expulsion.  He is going over to PRD, with the express purpose of being the next PRD candidate for state governor.  This doesn’t sit well with everyone on the left.  They’d love to control the state government (and undermine PRI’s Peña Nieto), but don’t completely trust Mendoza and his Civic Council groups.

grasshopperConvergencia, which partnered with PAN in the 2005 state election, and is now partnered with the Workers’ Party (PT) and PRD in   fractious on-and-off leftist coalition.   They may put up their own Gubenatorial candidate in 2010 from the Lopez Obrador faction of the coalition.  Which would leave PRI likely to retain state control, even with a minority victory.

Yeidckol Polevnsky Gurwitz, presently a Senator and the PRD gubenatorial candidate in 2005 may again run for the office. She fared worse than expected, in large part due to a questions about her birth (Polevnsky owes her Polish name to a fraudulent birth certificate that was meant to cover up a family scandal) — which Mendoza and his organization were happy to exploit. A rematch could be ugly. Expect an outbreak of raccoons and grasshoppers in the State of Mexico.


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