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Cabinet shuffle to fends off zombies

8 September 2009

ZombiesAheadWhere in English, we might refer to the Calderon Administration as a “lame duck presidency”, one Mexican analyst has started using the phrase “presidencia zombi”… dead prez walking.

Perhaps, but by making key concessions in the first week of the new PRI Legislature, the Administration appears to be willing to submit to radical surgery that may leave it weakened, and maimed, but still viable.

PAN, like the Republican Party north of the border, has come to rely heavily on a religious right “base” to turn out the vote.  As happened in the United States, this has ended up costing the party in general elections, but unlike the Republicans, PAN is showing signs of being willing to jettison the narrow interests of that base in return for a chance to maintain more than a regional dominance.  Eduardo Medina-Moro Icaza — a stalwart in the piety wing of the party, and said to have close ties to the shadowy Catholic fascist group, El Yunque, is out as Procuador General (Attorney General).

As is common in Latin America, disgraced officials who still have political clout are often given diplomatic posts.  Medina-Moro is being transferred to the foreign service:  where he is assigned will be an indication of how far out of power he — and el Yunque — are.  A posting as consul in Presidio Texas or Ambassador to Paraguay would mean something very different than, say, a posting to the OAS or the United Nations.

His probable replacement (Ana Maria Salazar remembers that this is one of the few cabinet posts requiring Senate approval) by Arturo Chávez Chávez, who served as undersecretary of human rights in the Secretaria de Gobernacion and was the Fox Administration’s negotiator during the 2006 Oaxaca crisis indicates that the Administration is being forced to reconsider its “mano duro” (hard hand) policies.

Long time PEMEX director Jesús Reyes Heroles is also being replaced, by Juan José Suárez Coppel. As the maternal apellado indicates, he is a member of the old Mazatlán mercantile family. His own background is as a corporate executive with a number of large Mexican businesses (Banamex, Televisa, Groupo Modelo) before moving to PEMEX as Finance Director.  This may indicate further attempts to turn the paraestatal into a straight business operation.

Alberto Cardenás Jimenez, the Secretary of Agriculture, is also leaving.  Another ultra-rightist, Cardenás — like Calderón — was another Fox cabinet member, and again like Calderón was a PAN primary candidate for the Presidential election in 2006.  Cardenás´replacement is the Fox cabinet’s last Agriculture Secretary, Francisco Javier Mayorga Castañeda .  Unlike Cardenás, whose background is in party politics, Mayorga has spent his entire life working in agriculture — his father was a rancher, and the secretary designate´s own career has been as an agricultural economist and bureaucrat within state and federal agricultural agencies.

Cardenás was widely derided for once suggesting “Pan Bimbo” (white bread, specifically that made by Bimbo) was an acceptable alternative to tortillas and for his seeming indifference to rural affairs.  However, it was the Procampo scandal, in which federal loans and grants for small farmers were going instead to wealthy farms (and even narcotics kingpins) that made his survival in the cabinet unlikely.

There is nothing unusual about major cabinet changes at the three year mark (after the mid-term congressional elections), but given the need to avoid becoming a zombie presidency, I expect that hacking off the far right extremities may only be the first cuts to be made.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Bear permalink
    8 September 2009 11:33 am

    That “Pan Bimbo” remark certainly shows the disconnect between the Oligarchy and The Children of the corn.

  2. GunDog permalink
    9 September 2009 9:19 am

    Presidio, TX: population 5,000 and frequently with the hottest temps in the state. What a gem!

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