Was the celebration an omen foretelling the death of a political party?
The event went by almost unnoticed last Thursday Cinco de Mayo. At the World Trade Center in Mexico City members of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) gathered to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the 1989 foundation of the first real bona fide left-wing political party in the nation.
It came as no surprise, however, that the PRD’s founding fathers, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas and Porfirio Muñoz Ledo did not attend the ceremony. Also noticeably absent was former Mexico City mayor and twice presidential candidate for the PRD Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who splintered with the ruling “tribes” to form his own political party called National Regeneration Movement or Morena.
For that matter current Mexico City mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera did not show up to the event even though it was the PRD who backed him to win his current tenure. I’m told that Mancera sponsored the festivity but was warned by the National Electoral Institute (INE) to stay aloof from partisan politics.
On the absentee list were also current PRD governors for Michoacán Morelos Silvano Aureoles and Graco Ramírez, respectively, both of whom notified the PRD leaders that they were busy putting out minor local political frays in their own states.
I could continue with the list of those not present, which as it turned out is a lot longer than those in attendance, although the governors of the states of Oaxaca and Tabasco, Gabino Cué and Arturo Nuñez attended the anniversary ceremony.
Prominent former PRD members Rosario Robles, Alejandro Encinas and Marcelo Ebrard, all ex Mexico City mayors, were noticeably absent.
One thing is for sure. All the absentees were personally invited by current PRD president Agustín Basave and at the hall where the gathering was held the photos of several of them were hanging on the stage.
What’s happened within the PRD to have all of its prominent politicians who won elected positions turn their back on it?
Most agree that the “tribal” system with which the PRD operated since its foundation was both the source of its success and now of its demise.
The PRD was founded immediately after the 1988 presidential election which Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas always alleged he won but was robbed of by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate and later president Carlos Salinas de Gortari.
Cárdenas ran on a coalition of multiple left wing organizations. After the election Cárdenas and Porfirio Muñoz Ledo managed to keep the groups together 10 months after the 1988 election with the registration of the PRD.
One objective was to bring all communist oriented political ideologies under one umbrella. During the 1980s there were at least a dozen of left wing political organizations in Mexico. They kept a distance from each other because some were Marxist-Leninist, others Trotskyite, others Christian Socialists, and so on.
When they coalesced into the PRD each group kept their own ideological shade from deep red to light pink and became known as “the tribes” and because the PRD was a democratic institution, their voice always was taken into consideration by the leaders.
But as the PRD gained political prominence as of 1997 when Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas won the Mexico City mayoralty the tribes gained a lot of power within, to the point that afterwards it has governed Mexico City ever since.
The now absentees at the celebration, however, just walked away from the PRD because of what everyone has said was “the dictatorship of the political currents.”
There were moments such as in 2006 when the PRD presidential candidate López Obrador lost the presidential race by less than a one percent to Felipe Calderón. He ran again 2012 and was runner up to current president Enrique Peña Nieto.
But as of 2012 many within the PRD have just walked away from its ranks including López Obrador who went on to form Morena, a party that now has a majority of seats at the Mexico City Legislative Assembly, seats once held by the PRD.
Sure enough in his keynote speech PRD president Agustín Basave defended the survival of the party.
“The prophets of doom have announced the PRD’s imminent death several times. There have been political forensic medics who have carried out an autopsy while the party is still alive. But here we are alive accompanied by our old friend: adversity.”