Tuesday, May 30, 2006

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The fix ain't in

There's probably some truth in the adage "power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely", but when one has to deal with a three (or four, or six or eight) way split between alliances, parties and factions, it's hard to figure out who has the power -- except, as you'd expect, the guy with the money... in this case, Fox. Who isn't a candidate. El Finanaciero en línea (English "News" section) Mexico City, May 26.- The pulse in México's presidential race quickens. As recent polls show again a widening gap between Felipe Calderón and his nearest chasers, the two trailing incumbents unlocked horns and intend to prove the Federal government has played a hands-on role in the race. Tossing aside hard feelings dating back 10 years, when they ran for the Tabasco State government, Roberto Madrazo overtly advocated a joint effort with Andrés Manuel López Obrador in order to derail a fixed election. Together, the Institutional Revolutionary Party's (PRI) candidate said, they could curb the Fox administration’s all-out drive to put Calderón in office. Should they fail, Madrazo proposes a last-ditch move to stop Fox: quit the election. Outwardly, López Obrador --running for the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) -- has played hard to get. He sticks to his lines, insisting the president's split-personality does not benefit the nation's pursuit of democracy. In a recent letter, though, López Obrador told the president that performing his duties as México's chief executive officer and seeking reelection at the same time, grossly impairs the ability to fulfill his responsibilities as the country's head of state. The PRD camp dislikes the idea of a merge. Senior campaign managing officers responded that an alliance of this sort is highly unlikely, considering ideological differences. The truth is, however, that these two parties share political genes. The PRD budded from the PRI. In fact, with the PRI's technocratic faction in self-ostracism, these parties' DNA may look the same. The bottom line in Madrazo's proposal is that a PRI-PRD alliance is the only effective device to stave off a crushing defeat. Otherwise, the embattled candidate forecasts, the huge flood of TV and radio advertising, paid time in talk shows plus doctored opinion polls, will wash them away. Madrazo has placed hard figures on the foreground to produce a clear picture of the situation. He said the Federal government spent, during the past two months, over 1.3 billion pesos in advertising to prop up the position of ruling National Action Party's (PAN) candidate, Felipe Calderón, and has set aside earmarked a similar allocation for the climaxing stage of the race. Such outsize expenditures which, Madrazo charges, are siphoned off the nation's treasury, jeopardize Mexico's democratic development. From his viewpoint, the chilling prospects of the next president being elected by means of TV advertising schedules and opinion polls are real. The Madrazo-López Obrador personal feud is a well known political affair. In 1996, they disputed the State of Tabasco gubernatorial seat. Backed up by the late Carlos Hank González, and the Atlacomulco political powerhouse, Madrazo won. López Obrador challenged the election outcome and produced, to no avail, overwhelming evidence of illegal campaign expenditures. (Then) President Ernesto Zedillo had to take back his decision to unseat Madrazo. Instead, he was forced to remove Esteban Moctezuma from the Secretary of Interior and give the big job to Emilio Chuayfett, a rising member of the Atlacomulco group. López Obrador and Madrazo may not settle this account, for the time being. Both have covered a great deal of political ground and presently may decide to reconcile their pressing priorities. To begin with, freeze President Fox's rampant promotion of Felipe Calderón's candidacy. Next, reverse the trends in voting intention that surveys have reflected over the past eight weeks. More important, to respond efficiently to advertising that savages their political character. Along this line, Madrazo's electoral ally in his party's ticket, has come across with a public exposé that cracked the walls of the PAN's war room. Quite unexpectedly, Senator Jorge Emilio González, chairman of the Mexican Green Party (PVEM), revealed to the press that President Fox himself had tried several times to talk him out of his electoral partnership with Madrazo. According to González's public statement, Fox recommended that he wise up because "he (Fox) was prepared to do everything he could to obliterate Madrazo's and López Obrador's presidential endeavors." Should the story be solid, the president messed around with the law and might fall through the cracks. Nicknamed the Niño Verde (the Green Child), González quoted Fox as saying the PRI runner was undependable while López Obrador represented a peril. "Therefore, the right move for him to make was to defect from the PRI-PVEM coalition and switch to Calderón's winning team". In exchange, Jorge Emilio told reporters, Fox offered top-level cabinet posts for the Green Party in the eventual Calderón administration, "but he had refused the barter". Instead, he blew the whistle on the president. Though the Office of the Presidency has not released a formal response on the issue and Fox brushed it off as an impossible piece of gossip, Jorge Emilio has said to have proof and be ready to attach it as evidence in suits opposition parties are fixing to file. The PRD already did it. Also, the young senator has assured he is prepared to cooperate with a legal inquiry should it be opened and, if needed, to testify in a prosecution room. His display of courage and commitment should help not only restore but bolster Madrazo's regard for his ally's loyalty. In particular if he reflects on the Green Child's fast professional background which Madrazo knows thoroughly. His associate's political career shows he's a deft wheeler-dealer who can sail through troubled waters. Early last year, González was caught in what he called a frame. He was video taped doing business allegedly involving a two-million dollar bribe. He toughed it out and returned stronger to his legislative work. He made sure not to get mad, but to get even. Seemingly Green Child has. Gonzalo Olvera


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