The quest for the presidential nomination at the conservative National Action Party (PAN) got fully underway last week with pre-candidate and former first lady Margarita Zavala and current Puebla state Gov. Rafael Moreno Valle declaring they’re in the run.
The one difference between the two is that while Moreno Valle is still in office, he can’t officially promote himself. That, however, is not the case with Margarita Zavala. who this week and the next will be in the state of Chihuahua.
Margarita’s current game plan is to take advantage of the sympathy shown to the PAN by voters who recently elected former deputy Javier Corral Jurado as Chihuahua state governor. And surely Margarita will be on first row during the swearing-in ceremony to be held this coming week.
Though Zavala took an apparently large leap forward in her race by attending the U.S. National Democratic Convention where Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders for the nomination, her appearance in Cleveland was widely criticized and she was immediately labeled as “The Mexican Hillary.” Although if we must say the truth, there is no comparison between the two former first ladies. They have two different stories.
In fact, just this past Friday Margarita was in Ciudad Juárez at a restaurant called Nueva Central when a man from another sitting at another table stood up and shouted:
“Calderón and his wife are not welcome in Juárez.”
Her husband, former President Felipe Calderón, stands accused of unleashing a war against organized crime that has produced at least 80,000 deaths as gangs — upon seeing that the federal government had annihilated any opponent — barged into their territories to finish off the government-punished gang thus unleashing a brutal war fully sponsored by the U.S.-supported Merida Initiative. Ciudad Juárez — a bastion for gangs — was particularly hit hard by Felipe Calderón’s war.
Immediately after the man shouted that the “royal couple” was not welcome, dozens of other people eating in the restaurant applauded.
It must be said that a few persons in the restaurant — a noteworthy minority — approached Margarita for a selfie.
Margarita’s hopeful nomination candidacy faces other hurdles. The main one is current PAN President Ricardo Anaya, who has also shown interest in being the candidate but has not fully launched his hat into the ring. Yet, most analysts agree that at present Anaya stands a better chance of winning the nomination than Margarita. He’s young, articulate and in power.
But Ricardo Anaya may not be his main opponent. Last month, in boasting that she could easily beat National Regeneration Movement (Morena) candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has now been running since he lost the 2012 election to Enrique Peña Nieto, claimed that she was López Obrador’s worst political foe. Immediately, López Obrador answered: “I am not her worst foe; her worst enemy is her husband Felipe Calderón.”
In fact, in the Ciudad Juárez incident Margarita Zavala realized this and told reporters following her electoral trail that, “people will begin to know me as I am and also for the decisions I have made both in the private and the public sectors, and of course, the new challenges I expect to overcome thinking about our nation. I do not want to be labeled as the wife of former Mexican President Felipe Calderón because we are different persons and I will seek to erase that stigma to demonstrate and convince people that we are not the same person.”
Calderón has been pushing for her candidacy and even openly attacking López Obrador but most observers agree that no help to Margarita will be the best way to help her as he stands accused nowadays of hitting the bottle heavily and of being an incorrigible lush. There would be nothing wrong with this, were he not vying for his wife’s candidacy of the PAN nomination.
In short,”The Mexican Hillary” doesn’t have it easy as she’s trekking uphill on a muddy path her husband left behind for the hopeful who would like to be Mexico’s first woman president.