FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

An Historic Election in Mexico’s Industrial Center

by

Nuevo Leon opened up a new channel for democratization in Mexico by breaking the bipartisan lock on the state in an election that many describe as historic.This is the first time an independent candidate has won a governorship, only recently allowed under a new electoral law. The win is particularly significant given that the state comprises Mexico’s third largest regional economy.Although official final results are pending, Jaime Rodriguez Calderon–“The Bronco”– is the virtual winner of the governor’s office. In his speech to the media, his wife, his mother and a hundred supporters at the close of election day June 7, with the information from several exit polls that gave him a healhy margin of between 7 and 20 percent of the vote, he vowed that his government will give bipartisanship time off  in Nuevo Leon.Rodriguez called his election the start of the second “Mexican revolution” that will change the awareness and attitude of people in the country, and as an example that change can be made at the polls.

The rise of El Bronco 

El Bronco’s electoral campaign “is a watershed that can be considered a historic election,” said Cintia Smith, a researcher at the Department of International Relations and Political Sciences of the Tecnologico de Monterrey, in interview with the Americas Program.At first, many assumed that El Bronco’s candidacy would serve mainly as a symolic challenge to the major parties. But the charisma of the candidate and his history of leading the charge against organized crime as mayor of Garcia won many people over. As mayor, Rodriguez confronted the drug cartels directly and relied on a new model of citizen participation in the municipality located on the edge of the metropolitan area of Monterrey.From April to date, he carried out a vigorous campaign that bore no resemblance to the easy ride the official party of the Institutional Revolution (PRI) had six years ago in the governor’s race, although in many ways the current candidate, Ivonne Alvarez, had more recognition and fewer than the outgoing PRI governor  Rodrigo Medina.

There are three major differences between the two elections, according to Smith. First, this year the process of selection of the candidate within the PRI suffered from serious problems of lack of transparency and democratic mechanisms. This shortcoming–common to the major parties–left many state members dissatsified with Alvarez’s candidacy. When the list of candidates emerged within the party, the PRI leadership decided on a “unity” candidate (Alvarez), which in fact led to a split within the party. As a result, many PRI members in the state decided to vote outside the party. Certain sectors, including leaders of the PRI, also voted for El Bronco in reaction against Alvarez’s criticism of PRI members when the press disclosed damaging corruption scandals  before the elections.

Second, the emergence of digital networks has changed not only communications, but also campaigns. “Six years ago, Facebook, YouTube and other social networks were in their infancy,” Smith notes. El Bronco’s use of these networks significantly extended his reach.

Third, the crisis of insecurity in the state in the last six years of Medina’s PRI government had a political cost that was charged to the PRI-PAN bipartisanship that has governed the state over the past decades.

Rodriguez built his political career on building a grassroots base. As mayor of Garcia (2009-2012), El Bronco gave out his cell phone number to people in the municipality. Residents interviewed reported that he would personally answer calls informing him of points of illegal drug sales and movements of criminal groups. He later began to use social networks and establish systems of direct and conversational communications. This network-building networks was applied and extended when he collected signatures to get on the ballot and then during the independent campaign.According to a reading of the results and voter interviews, the message of the elections in Nuevo Leon is that citizens are sick of political parties and what they consider the poor choices offered to voters.

The other lesson is that even in the so-called “media-cracy”, money no longer controls all spaces of communication and information. Commercial mass media and Televisa could be at risk of losing advertisers as grassroots word-of-mouth campaigns on Facebook and others show results that rival the hyper-expensive television ads.

A Breath of Fresh Air to a Stagnant Political System

Lawyer and human rights activist, Talia Vazquez, traveled to monterrey to observe the elections. A Michoacan native and leader of the national self-defense movement of which Rodriguez was a part, she stated:

“This election gives a breath of fresh air to the whole country. It is a hope. I come from Michoacan, a state that is so injured, so tainted, and other states are the same like Oaxaca, Guerrero, Tamaulipas, Morelos, Veracruz, and even Nuevo Leon had a very violently time, and I think Jaime Rodriguez’s victory means that the polls can be a way out. If Jaime couldn’t compete and win, we’d have cut off hope because we’d only have bullets against a repressive government.”

“The fact that an independent candidate won against all odds-the laws, the media, an unscupulously dirty smear campaign–has accomplished this is a triumph of citizenship. Nuevo Leon is setting an example of courage and opens the way to the polls.”

Vazquez says that given personal characteristics of Jaime Rodriguez and the team around him, which includes Fernando Elizondo, renowned businessman, former interim governor and Citizens Movement Party candidate who withdrew his candidacy to support El Bronco, “people are going to notice a different way of governing in Nuevo Leon.”

At the campaign closing event, in response to direct query, Rodriguez promised to jail every public official found guilty of theft of public resources. He stated that he will order an investigation into the handling of public funds, potentially up to outgoing governor Medina.

The governor-elect also he said he will fulfill all of his campaign promises, including one regarding government spending on media by deaithorizing all expenses on advertising to promote public officials. The promise drew a huge round of applause from the crowd.

Later El Bronco repeated the vow before seven thousand supporters gathered to celebrate in the Macroplaza in front of the state Palace of Government to celebrate, who broke out with cries of “No Multimedios” (the main media consortium in the state).

Traffic police patrolled the area with, a measure considered by some participants as an unnecessary sign of government harassmen. They set up roadblocks and detours on the access roads, which prevented the arrival of more people at an unusually dark central square.

Alfredo Acedo is a journalist and contributor to the Americas Program

 

More articles by:

 Alfredo Acedo is a contributor to the Americas Program www.cipamericas.org on food sovereignty and climate changes issues, and Director of Social Communication and adviser to the National Union of Regional Organizations of Autonomous Small Farmers of Mexico

February 20, 2018
Nick Pemberton
The Gun Violence the Media Shows Us and the State Violence They Don’t
John Eskow
Sympathy for the Drivel: On the Vocabulary of President Nitwit
John Steppling
Trump, Putin, and Nikolas Cruz Walk Into a Bar…
John W. Whitehead
America’s Cult of Violence Turns Deadly
Ishmael Reed
Charles F. Harris: He Popularized Black History
Will Podmore
Paying the Price: the TUC and Brexit
George Burchett
Plumpes Denken: Crude thinking
Binoy Kampmark
The Caring Profession: Peacekeeping, Blue Helmets and Sexual Abuse
Lawrence Wittner
The Trump Administration’s War on Workers
David Swanson
The Question of Sanctions: South Africa and Palestine
Walter Clemens
Murderers in High Places
Dean Baker
How Does the Washington Post Know that Trump’s Plan Really “Aims” to Pump $1.5 Trillion Into Infrastructure Projects?
February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Mueller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
Sheldon Richman
‘Peace Through Strength’ is a Racket
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Taking on the Pentagon
Patrick Cockburn
People Care More About the OXFAM Scandal Than the Cholera Epidemic
Ted Rall
On Gun Violence and Control, a Political Gordian Knot
Binoy Kampmark
Making Mugs of Voters: Mueller’s Russia Indictments
Dave Lindorff
Mass Killers Abetted by Nutjobs
Myles Hoenig
A Response to David Axelrod
Colin Todhunter
The Royal Society and the GMO-Agrochemical Sector
Cesar Chelala
A Student’s Message to Politicians about the Florida Massacre
Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
David Rosen
Donald Trump’s Pathetic Sex Life
Susan Roberts
Are Modern Cities Sustainable?
Joyce Nelson
Canada vs. Venezuela: Have the Koch Brothers Captured Canada’s Left?
Geoff Dutton
America Loves Islamic Terrorists (Abroad): ISIS as Proxy US Mercenaries
Mike Whitney
The Obnoxious Pence Shows Why Korea Must End US Occupation
Joseph Natoli
In the Post-Truth Classroom
John Eskow
One More Slaughter, One More Piece of Evidence: Racism is a Terminal Mental Disease
John W. Whitehead
War Spending Will Bankrupt America
Robert Fantina
Guns, Violence and the United States
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Latest Insulting Proposal: Converting SNAP into a Canned Goods Distribution Program
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Zaps Oxygen
John Laforge
$1.74 Trillion for H-bomb Profiteers and “Fake” Cleanups
CJ Hopkins
The War on Dissent: the Specter of Divisiveness
Peter A. Coclanis
Chipotle Bell
Anders Sandström – Joona-Hermanni Mäkinen
Ways Forward for the Left
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Winning Hearts and Minds
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail