One thing that political parties want to “donate,” in a fit of remorse, for disaster reconstruction, is part of the money allotted to them by law to participate in the 2018 elections, and another thing is finding a recipient for it. How to reach the victims of recent natural disasters has become a Gordian knot for the Mexican political parties to solve.
Let’s face it, they are all willing to part with a share — each has a different percentage — of what’s coming to them from the National Electoral Institute (INE) budget, but the real problem is that the current political system is not built for that.
The most notorious act of public benevolence came from Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) president Enrique Ochoa Reza, who in a kind heart offered the 253 million pesos ($13.9 million) PRI has coming their way for the rest of 2017 to help the victims of the Sept. 7, 19 and 23 earthquakes victims.
The one problem at hand is that INE has a mandate by Congress to give this money to the political parties to spend as they will in democracy related issues. So who to give this money to for management and distribution among victims becomes a real problem with very dubious solutions.
The federal government though the Interior Secretariat’s (Segob) Civil Protection Agency has created the Natural Disasters Fund (Fonden), which is budgeted to help only certain parts of Mexico. In fact, Fonden specifically covers the needs of those in the poverty with aid for sustenance and home reconstruction.
Civil Protection director Luis Felipe Puente says that the money from the trust fund, known as the “Catastrophe Bond,” is to aid the victims in the states of Chiapas, the most affected by the Sept. 7 first quake, but that there are “zero pesos” for Mexico City victims, as they are not on the poverty-stricken list.
So with the Fonden resources out of reach, where is the money for the reconstruction of Mexico City going to come from?
PRI’s Ochoa Reza came up with the answer, which last week I labeled as having been cooked up in Dr. Frankenstein’s lab. The PRI president said that the money should be managed by another fund known as “Mexico Strength” or Fuerza Mexico.
Now, a funny thing happened to the Fuerza Mexico trust fund on its way to the charity market. It was initially conceived and put into effect by the Mexican government’s financing branch and bank Nacional Financiera. So in theory, this trust fund can receive the money political parties want to “donate” to help victims.
But there is a catch. This trust fund is managed by the top leaders of the nation’s private business institutions. The board of directors of Fuerza Mexico are among other business leaders: Juan Pablo Castañón, president of the Business Coordinating Council; Alejandro Ramírez, president of the Mexican Business Council; Manuel Herrera Vega, head of the National Confederation of Industrial Chambers; Vicente Yáñez Solloa president of the National Association of Supermarkets and Department Stores; and Marcos Martínez Gavica, president of the National Banks’ Association.
There are more, but that should be enough to see which way PRI is heading and who it supports, according to the array of leftist political parties and socialist thinkers who say it is these guys who were the first to profit from the disgrace of Mexico City victims. About the only condition PRI tags to the money is that “said trust fund must have citizens’ supervision.”
In all this, it was suggested that the money be returned to the Treasury and Public Finance Secretariat (SHCP) but that was deemed a bad idea from the start as the SHCP does not have a way to distribute those funds to those in true need, particularly in Mexico City.
SHCP announced that it would open the possibility for the money to go to non-government organizations (NGOs), but that is a moot point, because who would decide which NGOs benefit?
So there you are. For now at least three parties, PRI, Green Party and Social Encounter have decided to forego the money coming to them, but why?
Until there is a definite recipient — never mind an honest one — all this brouhaha of political parties giving money away smells like rotten fish.
Since when is too much money too much that you have to give it away? Not in my capitalist book!
But elections are coming up and in the eyes of Mexicans — according to the most recent polls — political parties are full of crooks. Maybe using catastrophe is a nice way to come up looking like the Good Samaritan.