January 26, 2001


Commentary

Fraud is No Longer Permitted in Mexico: Tabasco is the Example

By Enrique Davis-Mazlum

The Federal Electoral Tribune (similar to the Supreme Court, but only decides on the legality of elections - Tribunal Electoral del Poder Judicial de la Federacion - TEPJF) nullified the elections for Governor of Tabasco held on October 15, 2000 which gave the victory to Manuel Andrade of the PRI (Institutionalized Revolutionary Party).

It is not the first time that questioning of fraud has been discussed in Tabasco. Elections in Tabasco have been the most controversial elections since 1994. Opposition parties tried to prove in 1994 that fraud took place during the elections for Governor in Tabasco. These parties did not receive the support of President Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988-1994) and Roberto Madrazo was declared Governor of Tabasco (1994-2000). Roberto Madrazo continued his term in office until 1999 when he asked the Local Congress for a leave of absence since he would run in the PRI Primary for the Presidency of Mexico. Madrazo did not win the Primary and returned to govern the State of Tabasco. After the PRI lost the Presidency on July 2nd to President Vicente Fox, Madrazo made it clear that he would seek the Presidency of his party the PRI. Having Madrazo as President of the PRI would only weaken the party and fracture it even more.

After the Local Electoral Tribune (TRET) ratified that victory of Manuel Andrade on November 9, 2000 and did not accept that in reality Cesar Raul Ojeda and ex-PRI Member, candidate for the PRD (Party of the Democratic Revolution) was the winner, the PRD appealed to TRIFE. And on November 17 the TRET turned over to TEPJF all the documentation presented by the parties that appealed the elections.

TEPJF nullified on December 29, 2000 the elections for Governor in Tabasco and determined that the Local Congress would designate an Interim Governor which would ask for special elections. Governor Madrazo took advantage of the situation (holidays) and asked the Local Congress of Tabasco to make changes to the Constitution of Tabasco, that would allow him to impose his Interim Governor. The Constitution said that an Interim Governor would govern for a minimum of three months and a maximum of six months, in which the special elections had to take place and was changed to a minimum of 18 months and did not specify the maximum nor the period when the special elections would take place.

The Local Congress of Tabasco called the meeting to order the evening of December 31st, 2000 and it did not have quorum to session, but if it called the meeting to order a second time and quorum was not present it can call to order a meeting with those Local Congressmen present. That is exactly what happened, the PRI called the special session to order excluding the majority of Local Congressmen. The PRI named Federal Congressman Enrique Priego as Interim Governor of Tabasco between 1:00 AM and 3:00 AM. By naming Enrique Priego Interim Governor, Tabasco had two governors, Roberto Madrazo who would leave office in about 10 hours and Enrique Priego who was also a Federal Congressman. That morning the new Local Congress of Tabasco which took office argued that Enrique Priego could not be designated Interim Governor, because he had not asked Congress a leave of absence from his duties as Federal Congressman.

On January 2nd, 2000 Local Congressman of the PRD, and PAN (National Action Party) named Adan Augusto Lopez (who was President of the Local PRI) as Interim Governor. This caused confusion once more, there were two governors in Tabasco. The PRD appealed the decision of naming Enrique Priego as Interim Governor to TEPJF and negotiations started between the three major parties (PRI, PRD and PAN).

Santiago Creel Miranda, Secretary of Interior and State headed the negotiations between the three parties and on January 10th an agreement was announced: 1) the Special Elections for Governor of Tabasco will be held on November 11th, 2001 and the Elected Governor will take office on January 1st, 2001; 2) all of the members of the TRET will change to guarantee fair and clean elections and 3) the TEPJF will decide if the naming of Enrique Priego was legitimate and until then he will be Interim Governor. This was the first successful negotiation that Secretary of Interior and State, Santiago Creel headed.

With this outcome even though Roberto Madrazo still wants to head the Presidency of the PRI, his chances are almost zero. The PRI needs to pick a leader who can represent the true values of what the PRI was intended for "Democracy and Social Justice", and not a "Dinosaurio" (dinosaur) which represents: corruption, old school, crime, etc.

Enrique Davis-Mazlum, attends ITAM in Mexico City, studying for his Masters in Public Policy and is the Assistant Director of Vortice: Analysis and Proposals of Public Policy Journal, davismazlum@hotmail.com

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