Thursday, April 30, 2015

Today's Mexico CIty Headlines: Never mind

One of those days when one headline after another surprises. Starting with this one, leading Excélsior’s front page: “DF reform will have to wait.” La Jornada’s version,  also its leader: “Chamber sinks DF reform.” Reforma’s top head: “DF reform slowed.”  Milenio: “PAN blocks DF reform.”
    It wasn’t just the conservative PAN that blocked final passage of the reform in the Chamber of Deputies a day after the Senate approved it. Morena, Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s nascent party that’s challenging the PRD for left-of-center stature, also refused to support it, as did several minor parties.    
    The derailing was unexpected, because the parties had pacted its passage in advance. The PRD was furious at the betrayal, while the ruling PRI’s attitude seemed to be “whatever.” It went along with the delay, which took the form of shipping the bill out to committees.
    The on-the-record justifications for the last-minute shelving of the reform was its magnitude. “It’s absurd to think that a bill that implies such a profound reform of the constitution should be voted on tomorrow,” a PAN spokesperson said.
    Political jockeying is a more likely explanation. The PRI wants the DF back, whatever it's called. Morena wants to move in on the PRD, which has dominated Mexico City politics since 1997. The PAN doesn’t want to be on the outside looking in.
    The specific sticking point is probably the make-up of the committee that will negotiate a local constitution for the new entity. Only 60% of its members will be chosen by Mexico City residents in a special election. The rest will be appointed by the Senate, the Chamber, the president and the current head of the DF government.
    The PRD surely figured it would get the bulk of the elected members as well as the DF head’s picks. The PRI, in turn, would get more than its share, by virtue of its control of Congress and the presidency. Which explains why the other parties killed the bill.
    “Killed” isn’t really the right word. There will be an overhaul of the Federal District. But it probably won’t happen until a new lower house of Congress is seated later this year.


El Universal is the only daily that doesn’t lead with the DF reform development. Instead it goes with “SFP: Revealing conflicts of interest optional.” That wording gets more interesting when you compare it with La Jornada’s No. 3 front-page head: “Declaring potential conflicts of interest obligatory: SFP.”  This is why it’s fun to have more than one daily newspaper in town.
    The two heads may not be as contradictory as they sound. The difference is in the words “declare” and “reveal.”
    La Jornada quotes Virgilio Andrade, head of the watchdog Public Function Secretariat (the one President Peña Nieto asked to be investigated by), as saying that all executive branch officials, from the president on down, must declare potential conflicts of interest along with their declaration of assets.
    But he also said in an interview with El Universal that the required declarations need not be made public. In fact, they won’t be revealed without permission from the submitting official. So public servants now have the opportunity to appear as though they’re hiding something even as they’re declaring it.

Then there’s this from La Jornada: “Trife takes away Ebrard’s candidacy: ‘It’s an outrage.’” Trife’s a nickname for the TEPJF, the electoral court. Marcelo Ebrard, you’ll remember, is the former Mexico City mayor of presidential timber who was denied a candidacy for a congressional seat by his party, the PRD. He got in at the last minute by snagging an at-large candidacy with the small Citizen Movement party.
    Now he doesn’t even have that. The Trife majority held that he had sought nominations from both party’s at once, a no-no. Ebrard, and one of the Trife judges, said he went for the MC candidacy only after he failed with the PRD.
    By the way, it was Ebrard who used the word “outrage” (atropello), not one of the Trife judges. He said the move was precipitated by the PRI through the Green Party, and promised to pursue legal avenues to reinstatement.

A three-day holiday weekend starts tomorrow, a fine time to indulge in more life-affirming pursuits than looking into news headlines. See you Monday.

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