Who’d think that a woman who President Enrique Peña Nieto put in jail four years ago may be the force that could do the greatest damage to him and his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)?
Several times you have read in this column that the “crown jewel” of the upcoming June 4 elections is the State of Mexico, where there are 12 million votes at stake, and that it is a priority for President Enrique Peña Nieto to win that election because not only is the State of Mexico his home ground, but it also represents about the only bastion of power left for PRI.
Well, and this is not gossip, last week former National Education Workers’ Union (SNTE) Elba Esther Gordillo, from jail, was called upon in the powerful Section 36 union in the State of Mexico to vote for Delfina Gómez for governor.
The announcement was made by Gordillo’s former henchman Rafael Ochoa Guzmán who called upon the 250,000 vote-strong Section 36 teachers to vote for the candidate of the National Regeneration Movement (Morena) for no other reason than “Delfina is a teacher.” An added danger in this is that teachers, an educated and political cadre, do get out and vote against PRI, if now needed.
This is a most odd type of political backing if you take into consideration that back in 2006, Morena leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) totally refused to receive backing from then-SNTE leader Elba Esther Gordillo claiming that if he did, “that would be like losing five percent of the gross domestic product in one day.”
Definitely from jail Elba Esther, best known in Mexico as “La Maestra” or The Teacher, has been brooding revenge not only against Peña Nieto but the entire political establishment he represents, particularly in the State of Mexico.
Elba Esther’s revenge against Peña Nieto might just be the straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of his lack of popularity. It is particularly significant because teacher Gorilla began her ascent with the leadership of Section 36 and as a member of PRI. By ordering her jailing, Peña Nieto might have brought some order and caused the government regain clout within the educational system, but overall that’s not the way politics work in Mexico, particularly nowadays when PRI is on the down slide.
One reason why it is said that Peña Nieto ordered the jailing of “La Maestra” was because she was opposed to his Education Reform and if Peña Nieto (and the nation) has had a migraine with the revolt of opposing union National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE), the majority SNTE with two million teachers in the government’s budget will break the president’s will.
The relationship between Peña Nieto and Elba Esther Gorilla is a long one as both made their political careers in the State of Mexico. Four years ago, the good advice to the president was not to proceed against Elba Esther putting her in jail. He paid no heed and what we’re seeing today is an unholy alliance between Elba and AMLO.
Unlike in 2006 when then presidential candidate AMLO sneered “La Maestra’s” support, this time when asked if the Section 36 of the SNTE union supported his political party Morena and its candidate for governor of the State of Mexico Delfina Gómez, AMLO did not hesitate when he said “let’s do it.”
In terms of the election, this means that the State of Mexico teachers, a powerful and influential force who have the power to influence parents, will go against PRI candidate Alfredo del Mazo and this blow will be very hard to deal with.
What is a fact nowadays is that President Peña Nieto has not been able to strike alliances beyond his initial and well liked “Pact for Mexico,” with which he pushed his Energy and Education reforms. Beyond that, he has not been able to strike alliances with abundant political foes.
On the contrary, from jail “La Maestra” is showing him the clout she still wields in the teachers’ union and throwing her political clout, even if from jail and in apparent disgrace. But pushing Section 36 to vote in block for Delfina and Morena might prove, if the move coalesces on June 4, to be the mortal blow Peña Nieto’s PRI is trying to eschew.
And worse still for Peña Nieto, Elba Esther Gordillo is now in an open Alliance with Peña Nieto’s worst “populist” nightmare, AMLO.
Peña Nieto is not “La Maestra’s” pet student of politics.