Friday, February 11, 2005

The next Mexican President will be corrupt

The New York Times ran a profile of Roberto Madrazo, the man who will most likely be the PRI's candidate for president. The PRI, by the way, ruled Mexico for 70 years before its reign was broken in the last elections. Many claimed that Mexico had finally matured into a modern democracy. But unfortunately things haven't gone according to planned. Now President Fox is considered a failure, and his pathetic performance has resulted in the resurgence of the PRI's popularity. Here we see that Madrazo is not the cleanest guy in the world...
Mr. Madrazo's reputation, like his party's, is tarnished by accusations of fraud and betrayal. In 1995, he was accused of spending more than 60 times the legal campaign limit - an estimated $70 million to win the election for governor in his home state, Tabasco.

A chorus of political analysts, like Denise Dresser of the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico, warn that he is exactly what he says he is not: an old-school "antidemocrat" who draws power from desperate masses more concerned about jobs, schools and hospitals than malfeasance. And at least seven current and former governors from Mr. Madrazo's own party - most of them from the industrialized north - formed an alliance to stop him from becoming the PRI candidate, saying he represents the hard-line party bosses known here as "dinosaurs."

This reminded me of a vastly more entertaining account of Mexican politics, in particular the recent videoscandals that have rocked the nation. It also reminded me that the other man who might be president is really not much better than Mr. Madrazo.
Four years into Mexico's newly minted electoral democracy, all is not as it should be with the body politic. One indication is that the host of the most influential news show in the capital is a clown. Another is that the clear front-runner in the unacknowledged race for the next presidential elections in 2006, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the mayor of Mexico City, is currently embroiled in a scandal that first saw light with a secretly filmed video released in March.
Lopez Obrador, by the way, is still the front-runner for the presidency, and if he doesn't get it, it looks like Madrazo will. What a choice, for a country that supposedly graduated into the ranks of modern democracies with its historic election of current President Vicente Fox.

But on to more juicy stuff. Brozo, the clown of the influential news show mentioned above actually broke the scandal in a brilliant way. Here is the story of how the video, starring René Bejarano, the Karl Rove of Mexico city's mayor, was shown:
By a most unusual coincidence, René Bejarano himself was being interviewed that morning, in his role as Legislative Assembly leader, in the Televisa studio next to Brozo's. Bejarano was asked to step over to Brozo's set, and then in some perplexity sat down to watch what the clown warned him would be "a missile." The tape was then played all over again.

A small picture inset on the screen allowed us to peep in real time at Bejarano, poker-faced, realizing that he had been set up, first by the man who was being shown handing him money, and now by Brozo. We saw him watching himself stuffing money into his pockets, watching his career, his life, his reputation, go up in flames. "What is this, René, what is this?" Brozo roared at Bejarano, his wig waggling, a finger aloft. Live, Bejarano identified the man with the blacked-out face as the businessman Carlos Ahumada Kurtz—a darkly handsome Argentine-born businessman, we would find out later. He declared that the money was not a personal bribe but a campaign contribution offered by Ahumada. "Don't make an asshole out of me, René, please!" an angry Brozo interrupted. Bejarano mumbled a few other wobbly explanations, offered several times over to renounce his right to congressional immunity, and then we went to the station break.

Well, at least it isn't boring...
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