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A political drag race?

15 May 2021

The road to political victory is, apparently, paved with good intentions. Mexico has done tremenously when it comes to gender parity in public office… half, or almost half, of both chambers of the legislature are women, as are the two second most powerful offices in the country after the President (Claudia Sheinbaum, the governor … Jefa de Gobierno… of Mexico City and the Home Secretary/Interior Minister … Secreteria de Gobierno… Olga Sanchez Cordero). Striving to recognize that gender inequality is not the only form of inequality in the country… and that gender is a more complex matter than just the binary traditional male/female split, the election rules in this country have what might be called affirmative action rules for party candidates, mandating not just that there be as many female candidates within a party slate as there are male candidates, but that the parties strive for (but fall a bit short) of LBGTQ+ candidates, indigeneous candidates and… from districts with a large Afro-Mexican contituency, Afro-Mexican candidates.

And there’s the rub. While perhaps among the Zapotecs, and a few other indigenous communities that recognize “two spirit people” (biologically male, but accepted as female) who fill several minority quotos … LGBTQ+ (although, given their sense of self, they are neither homosexuals, nor have they “adoped” another gender, but are what they are), findignous and… perhaps also filling a position for either the male or female slots on the ticket, the legal definitions of who is, or isn’t indigenous, or Afro-Mexican, or LGBTQ+ are largely a matter of self-idenification. Indigenous people are defined by those whose “uses and customs” are descended from those uses and customs of people who spoke a non-European languge prior to 1521… which, with some stretch, could include just about anyone, although it’s one of those things where, to paraphase a US supreme court judge who said he’d know pornography when he saw it, “we know whose indigenous when we see him or her. However, when El Financiero reporter Verónica Bacaz questioned PAN candidate Daniel Martínez Terrazas about his claim to a slot on the ticket as an indigenous candidate, he couldn’t name his alleged ethnic community (claiming only Nahuatl (which would be like saying “Slavic” when asked if you were Polish, Ukranian, Serbian, Croat, Russian, or from where in eastern Europe), claiming he couldn’t remember the name of his community but only that it was “someplace in Guerrero, I forget the name” and … for good measure, accusing Ms. Bacaz of racism… while induging in a few racial sterotypes himself.

An indigenous person does not have to be one meter tall and have a complexion of one color.

It gets even trickier (or the candidates do) when it comes to gender identification. Who is to say you are, or aren’t gay or lesbian? It’s all to the good that the state encourges otherwise qualified office holders to come out, but there have been any number of questions raised about the bono fides of some claims. And… rather amusingly… 18 would be candidates for the Fuerza de México party laid claim to LGBTQ+ and/or female seats, based on their say-so that they were transsexuals…basedon apparently just saying they were. Admittedly, not all trans* people can, or do change their birth certificates to their new gender, and no way the state can (or should) prevent you from changing your gender, it normally requires a bit more than a simple say so in a declaration when filling out a candidate application. In Tlaxcala, the state elections board was forced to defer to organized LGBTQ+ organizations to define who was, and was not, of the community.

So far, there have been no reported problems of “passing” (in reverse) for Afro-Mexican seats, which in some ways is a surprise. Mexico, like other former Spanish colonies, never had a “one drop rule” (where in English speaking nations, any direct African descent classifies one as African), but reje3cted such racial terms in the law at the founding of the Republic. And… while Afro-Mexicans as a whole are somewhere beteen 1.5 and 2.0% of all Mexicans (and Mexicans, on average have two or three percent African ancestry), the set-asides apply to “Afro-Mexican COMMUNITIES” which are majority Afro-Mexican… and encompass only a few Costa Chica towns, a couple in the State of Veracruz and the Moscogos of Coahuila… places where, basically, everybody already knows everybody.

SOURCE: Carmen Morán Breña, Paridad electoral con falsas trans en México. El País, 15 may 2021

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