Sunday, November 6, 2011

Governor Ortega for President?

Yucatan’s Governor Ivonne Ortega says that the time is ripe for Mexico – a country long associated with “machismo” and male–dominated politics – to elect a female president. Ortega, a member of one of the country’s three primary political parties, made her impromptu comments earlier this week during a press interview. Ortega belongs to the (PRI) Institutional Revolutionary Party, which ruled Mexico for over 70 years until it was finally ousted from the presidency in the 2000 elections. But PRI still controls both the State government of the Yucatan and the City of Merida, and Ortega is a friend and a close political ally of Merida Mayor Angelica Araujo Lara.

“Mexico is ready to have a woman for president,” said Ortega. “Mexicans recognize that times have changed and that ability is far more important than gender,” she added. Ortega is the only female governor in any of the 32 Mexican states, but several cities have female mayors, including Aguascalientes, La Paz, Merida and Toluca. At least four Mexican women politicians have had presidential aspirations, although none advanced to the stage of actual candidacy. Mexico’s next national elections will be held in 2012, when the six year term of current National Action Party (PAN) President Felipe Calderon Hinojosa comes to an end. Some female politicians in both PAN and PRI have expressed interest in mounting a bid for the presidency. Mexico’s third major political force, the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), is led by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who was narrowly defeated by Calderon in 2006 and who still claims he is the “legitimate president of Mexico.” PRD has no announced female presidential candidates, but it is widely believed that Obrador will run again.

Although Ortega gave no clue as to whether she’s interested in the presidency herself, an open letter published this week by a PAN activist criticizes the Governor’s PRI colleague across the street in City Hall, Mayor Angelica Araujo Lara, for claimed failures on every front during the Mayor’s first full year in office. With a heading of “Time’s up, Architect!” (Araujo Lara is an architect by profession), local PAN leader Magaly Cruz Nucamendi traced a history of alleged shortcomings by City government across the board. “We’ve had enough of crumbling roads and infrastructure, street lamps that don’t work, trash everywhere, decaying parks, street vendors on the rise, the City’s failure to pay its own suppliers and contractors on time and above all, the lack of transparency and accountability in public affairs,” wrote Nucamendi. “What happened to your promise of adding 35,000 jobs to the City’s economy, of wiping out extreme poverty, of reducing bus fees (for students)? What does the Shakira concert have to do with any of those issues?”

“Running a great City like Merida involves a lot more than just building things”, added Nucamendi, who predicted that the controversial planned underpass in north Merida, on which construction is imminent, would be the Mayor’s “political grave.” “Governing a City involves listening, planning, professionalism, transparency and the inclusion of many competing opinions in the decision-making process. We had doubts about your ability a year ago due to your inexperience in public administration and your lack of knowledge about municipal affairs,” she said, and above all, “due to your lack of commitment to citizens.” Araujo Lara resigned her seat in the Mexican House of Representatives, where she had represented the Yucatan as a PRI federal deputy, in order to run for Mayor as the hand-picked PRI candidate in 2010. “How did it serve us to have you as our legislator?,” asked Nucamendi in her letter.

By Edward V. Byrne for The Yucatan Times
July 11, 2011

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