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Presiding genuises?

27 April 2010

Presidents, real and fake, ex-presidents, potential ex-presidents and presidential wannabes all in the news lately.

  • Real president of the United States Barack Obama praised fake President of Honduras, Pepe Lobo “for his leadership in his first

    Fake Prez and Blondaleeza

    months in office in promoting national reconciliation and restoring democratic and constitutional order in Honduras.”  Fake President Lobo is so well-respected he was given a fake award “that is given only to personalities such as former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Henry Kissinger and personalities over the years to highlight his struggles to achieve peace in the hemisphere.”  In other words, anyone who speaks to the World Trade Association of New Orleans.

It appears President Lobo’s means of “promoting national reconciliation” and “his struggles to achieve peace in the hemisphere” mostly take the form of no news (reporters) is good news.

  • In Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, who managed to somehow ram through a quasi-legal way of allowing him to run for a second term (which, when done by referendum and constitutional process in neighboring Venezuela is labeled a “dictatorship) but couldn’t quite pull off stacking the Supreme Court to let him run for a third time, hand-picked Defense Minister  Juan Manual Santos as his successor to both the Presidency and the continued “war on drugs (and the Colombian people).”  Against all expectations, the Colombians are looking at an unlikely alternative, former Bogatá mayor Antanas Mockus.  Most polls show Santos in the lead, but not by enough to prevent a run-off election and Mockus winning a run-off.  And Mockus’ polling numbers keep going up.

Lula wears a beard, Lugo wears a beard, why not...

Mockus is an intriguing candidate.  A child mathematical prodigy, Mockus — the son of Lithuanian immigrants  was a Mathematics and Philosophy Professor who made his political bones as a university rector (and became a national figure when he mooned an unruly campus audience).  As Bogatá’s mayor, he used the massive funding thrown at the city to create an illusion that all was well in the country to… well… create the illusion that all was well in the country.  Still, it did make for a better quality of life and his Green Party candidacy is about as close to a viable leftist alternative to the present regime  as you’re likely to find in Colombian electoral politics.

Hmm... wonder how I'd look with a beard. Might work.

Back in Mexico, or rather in Chicago, Presidential wannabe (and another capital city mayor known for “quality of life” and crating the illusions that all is well — although not for showing his butt in public), Marcelo Ebrard,  zeroed in on the United States’ failure to control the arms trade to Mexico.  Tying the “drug war” and border problems into his own urban programs (he was specifically talking about scholarships and assistance programs for high school students) — in a speech to other North American urban leaders — is plain good politics.  It puts him just enough in opposition to the United States and the Calderón Administration to open the discussion of alternatives without being as confrontational as his political mentor, Andres Manuel López Obrador was.  And is.

Decisions, decisions...

Which brings me to Gómez-Mont.  I can’t vouch for this, and sometimes trying to figure out the Mexican political leadership is like trying to determine who was up or down in Stalin’s cabinet by their position on the May Day parade stands back in the late 194os, but something seems to be going on.  Gómez-Mont broke with PAN, but not with the government a while back, and seems to be open to criticizing the United States for their failure to control the arms trade in much the same terms as Ebrard.  He’s started to suggest the need for more “social services” in cities like Juarez, and is starting to express some doubts about the militarized  approach to the “War on Drugs”.   I could see him as a fusion candidate in 2012 if the left-right fusion tickets do well in this July’s governor’s elections and PAN — which doesn’t have any particularly viable candidates in the offing — were to back him as a candidate for one of the smaller parties, like Convergencia.

The other possibility, and one that is total speculation, is that the movement to force Calderón from office is larger than I’ve thought.  I’d assumed the “Renuncistas” were mostly underground, or just on-line, but I’ve noticed that opposition to the “drug war” has grown spectacularly — not just from the usual suspects like PRD deputies .. but from the PRI and even the military.  Fierce criticism of Calderón himself — for the rising bloodbath resulting from the “drug war”, the stalled economy, the mishandling of public statements, are starting to be aired even by the generally pro-administration television news casts.  With the United States starting to also admit that the Calderón approach hasn’t worked, it could be a signal that an administrative changes that didn’t result in economic or political change would be acceptable to them.  If Calderón were forced from office, Gómez-Mont, being a rightist, but technically not a PAN member, would be a logical interim president.

Latin American elections (especially in U.S. dominated countries like Mexico and Colombia) are never a sure bet.  About 2004, it was assumed that Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador would kick Santiago Creel’s ass to the curb in the 2006 election.  In Colombia, Anteus Mockus — while promising to continue the “anti-drug war” may be insufficiently pro-U.S. and I expect all kinds of charges that he’s pro-Chavez or a dangerous lefty to start circulating.  Here in Mexico, not really expecting a surprise like an interim presidency to shake everything up, the safe assumption is that the presumptive PRI candidate, Mexico State Governor Enrique Peña Nieto will be the next president.

At this point he is sort of the default candidate, no other strong PRI candidate being mentioned.  However, Peña Nieto was damaged by the negative publicity surrounding the recent Paulette Gebara murder case, and I’d expect both PRD and PAN leaders to start attacking the governor.  And, over the next two years anything can happen.

Marcelo Ebrard seems to be losing support from the far left, but may be holding onto the middle.  Ebrard, one needs to remember, came from the PRI originally, and — if there is a right-left coalition ticket, could be fighting with Gómez-Mont to lead it.  Or, as the default leader, a PRD-PT-Convengenia ticket, similar to the Lopez Obrador’s “Benefit of All, First the Poor” movement.  If Lopez Obrador (who is still has a sizable following and powerful political machine) goes along with it.

This look just doesn't work

I can’t see Gómez-Mont getting back into the good graces of PAN.  One possible candidate, that no one seems to notice, is Margareta Zavala, Mrs. Felipe Calderón.  If you think about it, it makes perfect sense.  She’s not controversial, nor hated by any particular wing of PAN.  She’s anti-abortion and conservative Catholic, which makes her

I lost 70 kilos! Ask me how!

acceptable to the social conservatives, would be expected to follow the same economic policies pushed by the business wing that backed both Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderón… and, unlike Marta Sahagun de Fox doesn’t bring a lot of negative baggage (except her husband, but there’s no getting around that one) like crooked sons from a previous marriage or shady “charities” with her.  She’s getting a lot more press than usual, and I don’t think it’s just because Michelle Obama dropped in for a chat.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 27 April 2010 7:22 am

    Doh! What about Noriega? Off to France for trial. A busy week for ex-presidents.


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