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Hurricane Season at PRI

The odds against PRI and Peña Nieto are awesome but he still has the full power of the state to use against electoral foes
By The News · 13 of June 2017 08:41:44
PRI president Enrique Ochoa Reza, SAN MATEO ATENCO, ESTADO DE MÉXICO, 23MAYO2017.- El candidato por la coalición PRI, Nueva Alianza, PES y Verde Ecologista Alfredo del Mazo en compañía del presidente del Comité Ejecutivo Nacional del PRI, Enrique Ochoa Reza sostuvo un encuentro con liderazgos sociales, sociedad civil y vecinos del sector para dar a conocer sus propuestas principalmente en materia educativa, seguridad, salud y transporte. FOTO: RASHIDE FRIAS /CUARTOSCURO.COM, photo: Cuartoscuro/Rashide Frías

There’s rebellion, unhappiness and frustration at President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

First of all, under current party president Enrique Ochoa Reza, PRI stands accused of having used its old bag of tricks “plus new ones” to retain two of its last standing bastions, namely the governorships of Coahuila and the State of Mexico (Edo-Mex). In both places, the PRI “stole the election” using the powers that be of the federal government to aid in the electoral fraud. PRI may have retained the two states but the price to pay was very high and that may mean losing the presidency next year, hence the rebellion.

To begin with, last week there was a rebellion at the PRI headquarters of a group that doesn’t like the way things are going under Ochoa Reza and tried to overthrow him according to info from columnist and former PRI employee Héctor Moctezuma.

The coup failed and the “Luis Videgaray faction” managed to prevail in power, Moctezuma says. But it only comes to show that the rift that is about to come is already widening at the seams.

One of the main problems is that under President Peña Nieto, PRI stopped having national representation and came under control of the President’s clique made up mostly by State of Mexico politicians. This has caused anger and frustration in a party that in its glorious old days shared power as equally as possible among most players. Not anymore.

Another salient point is that very soon the PRI has to “choose” a candidate for the 2018 presidential election and in doing so there are several hopefuls who have let the President know they are game for “the succession” and want to be taken into consideration when the President makes the final pick or “finger pointing” as the old PRI lingo used to have it: “el dedazo.”

Whether “el dedazo” comes during or immediately after the PRI National Convention next August or not remains to be seen. But what is for sure is that during the past election, particularly in the State of Mexico, some of the potential candidates were appointed by President Peña Nieto to help PRI win the Edo-Mex elections by supervising meaningful districts and participate in federal government handouts.

Among hopefuls in the Edo-Mex “parade” were for instance Interior Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, Education and Health Secretaries Aurelio Nuño and José Narro, Tourism Secretary Enrique De la Madrid as well as several others that helped the President “put all the meat into the oven” (as the Mexican adage says, “toda la carne al asador”) to make the PRI administration look good.

Of course, inside the PRI, the ones who count may not be the above mentioned but the “acting vice-president” and current Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Videgaray, who is definitely the man Ochoa Reza responds directly to.

Incidentally, also potential hopeful PRI presidential candidate Luis Videgaray is playing to and regardless of his abundant number of critics, he is the closest man to President Peña Nieto nowadays. Yet his performance as “our man in the White House” is not seen with sympathy particularly by an entire nation who is praying to the Virgin of Guadalupe for Donald Trump’s impeachment. But for Peña Nieto Videgaray’s policy of détente has managed to put off Trump’s blatant unpopularity in Mexico. He may become the only U.S. president in modern times not to set foot on Mexican ground as president of the United States. Still, with this sore toe as a minus, do count Videgaray as the potential PRI presidential candidate.

Whatever is being cooked up for the August convention remains to be seen but it looks like an upcoming intra-party hurricane. The low ebb at which the Peña Nieto Administration’s popularity is at will definitely be one reason. Secondly PRI president Enrique Ochoa Reza may be bragging loudly about victories in Coahuila and Edo-Mex (not much to say about deafening defeats in Nayarit and Veracruz, the two other states with elections on June 4) but what PRI loyalists within are looking at is the low volume of votes and the fact that even in victory, the wins were by very narrow voting margins.

Definitely, and politics even in Mexico is not a one may show, President Peña Nieto and his PRI political machine don’t have an easy year coming their way. His objective is to keep a hold on the presidency and keep PRI at the helm of the nation.

The odds against PRI and Peña Nieto are awesome but he still has the full power of the state to use against electoral foes.