Last Wednesday a group of senators belonging to the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) met to discuss the themes under consideration as of Monday, June 13, during the four-day “extraordinary period.”
As it turned out, the informal gathering turned out to be a revolt against President Enrique Peña Nieto’s recent bills sent to the Senate floor and what many considered to be bills perhaps in the right direction but at the wrong time.
In fact, the two bills hit the PRI during elections where it hurts the most, at the ballot boxes in 14 states where the people voted against the PRI and for other parties, particularly the National Action Party (PAN) which won seven of 12 states where there were elections for governor. Ouch!
The informal discussion was around two bills that are programmed to be discussed, and that now the PRI senators have cast aside. One of them is to increase legal marijuana possession from five to 28 (one ounce) grams and the other is the president’s proposal to legalize same-sex marriages and adoption nationwide.
Several senators considered that the marijuana bill could have had an impact among voters against the PRI. Many people oppose the increase proposed by President Peña and approval of the bill that may send a very bad message to the around 60,000 persons now in prison for carrying more than five grams. This, several senators thought, would be best to postpone discussion of this bill for the regular period that starts in September.
This, many consider, is bad news for those in prison, as there is a slim chance they’ll be released under the new ordinance, but apparently their hopes fizzled out.
Many others blamed the defeat at the polls on the president’s bill promoting same-sex marriages. It was stated that the president’s advisors duped him into sending the bills, as their presence on the Senate floor stirred up a hornets’ nest with the Catholic Church, leading an open campaign opposing the president’s proposal, which included street demonstrations in many cities.
In fact, there were open accusations against the Catholic Church for staging “an operation” to lure voters to cast a ballot against the PRI.
This accusation prompted the president of the Catholic Lawyers Association Armando Martínez to deny that the Catholic Church was breaking the law by mingling into politics.
“The law is very clear: The Church can’t do proselytizing prior to an election times; the Church has not done it.”
Yet there were many reports of priests calling for a “chastising vote” against the president’s party for proposing the same-sex marriage and adoption rights bill.
The bill that will be discussed, however, is the pending Anti-Corruption Law that would stiffen penalties against public and elected officials caught in corruption acts.
This bill was sternly opposed by the PRI Senate leader Senator Emilio Gamboa who was the leading cause of sending the Senate to carry out this four-day “extraordinary period” of sessions. Gamboa is still very much opposed to the bill for fears that it would bring about “a witch hunt” against many PRI politicians.
This position by Senator Gamboa brought him a huge amount of criticism and one cartoonist mocked him portraying him as a witch flying on a broom. At the gathering PRI senators agreed that postponing the vote for the Anti-Corruption bill also hurt them at the polls last June 5.
Also under discussion will be the bill to centralize police command in all states under one organization, eliminating police departments with a proven corruption record.
What was most unusual during last Wednesday’s gathering was the open criticism against President Enrique Peña Nieto for having blundered his proposal of marijuana and same-sex marriage bills.
Normally within the PRI, the president is untouchable but seemingly not anymore as the posture of the party is against the aforementioned two bills.
Under this new scenario, it is very interesting to see how Senator Gamboa will lead the PRI pack into the overtime extraordinary period.