Friday, April 17, 2015

Today's Mexico City Headlines: Pardon me, boys. Is this the Chilpancingo station?

    As we’ve seen a lot here, El Universal likes to lead with exclusives based on its own interviews, or on numbers-gathering research, or on investigative reporting. Today’s one-on-one is with the Party of the Democratic Revolution candidate for governor of Guerrero.
    That state should be rough and ready for a PRD gubernatorial candidate, a savior from the left. It's the epicenter of anti-Peña protest. It’s mired in poverty, crime, violence. And it harbors a centuries-old resentment of the federal government, which is firmly in the hands of the PRI.
    Onto this scene rides Beatriz Mojica, on a PRD horse. She possesses the attractive combination of being a fresh, young (42) face, yet with a long track record of party service. Firmly rooted in the center-left, she seems ideally positioned to lead the rescue of Guerrero from the state capital in Chilpancingo.
    There is, however, something wrong with the picture. The PRD is already governing Guerrero. It has been since 2005. And by all accounts it’s made a mess of things.
    That would seem to take the sails out of a campaign based on the notion that Guerrero’s salvation lies with the PRD. But Mojica has a simple answer to that, namely that those guys who came before her were impostors. She’s the real deal.
    “The PRD has not been governing Guerrero," she said in the El Universal interview, "because our candidates were external, not from the left. This is the first time that the PRD in Guerrero has a chance to get to the governorship with a candidate that came up with the left, who knows the principles of the left and brings them with her.”
    She means that Zeferino Torreblanca, the first non-PRI governor of Guerrero since before the proto-PRI was founded in the 1920s, ran with the PRD and served as a PRD governor, but was not a member of the party. The same is true for his successor, Ángel Aguirre, who had actually been an interim governor of Guerrero previously as a member of the PRI.
    Whether voters make that inside-outside distinction as easily as Mojica does is iffy, especially since she served in the Aguirre administration. But she said more than once during the interview, “The people of Guerrero are giving the PRD another chance.”
    Then there’s the small matter of the disappearance and presumed murder of 43 students in the Guerrero city of Iguala last year, which took place not only on the watch of a PRD mayor and his PRD wife, but with their alleged participation as well. The PRD national president even come to town to apologize for inflicting the couple on the state. Is all forgiven?
    Mojica’s answer is in the El Universal headline: “Why would the PRD have to be forgiven by Guerrero?”
    Her point is that too much shouldn’t be read into the party affiliation of the renegade former Iguala mayor. “We’re more than two people in jail,” she said of her party.  
    Still, the association surely had to hurt the PRD, the interviewer implied. Mojica responded by resorting to an effective spinning tool that might be called the "seemingly significant non-sequitur."
    “Ayotzinapa wasn’t a blow for just a political party, it was a deep blow for all Guerrero residents,” she said, referring to the pueblo where the victims’ teaching college is located. “The blow was so deep that they had to change and allow for a female candidate. That wouldn’t have been possible before Ayotzinapa.”
    Another problem: The PRI, in alliance with the Green Party, has one candidate for governor, Héctor Astudillo. The center-right PAN has one, Jorge Camacho Peñaloza.
    But there are no fewer then three candidates on the left — Mojica with the PRD/Labor Party coalition, Pablo Amílcar Sandoval with Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s upstart National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party, and former Acapulco Mayor Luis Walton with the Citizen Movement party.
    Splitting the left-leaning vote three ways is a recipe for defeat. Her campaign has therefore issued a call for voters to ultimately choose the front-runner in the polls. Such a call reveals she's aware of the danger of a divided vote on the left. It also reveals her confidence that she'll be the front-runner.
    Mojica and her party better hope the voters go along with the idea. If not, the upshot of all that’s gone on in Guerrero over the last year — Fuera Peña signs and all — could be a return to power by the PRI.

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