"El Desafuero," The Impeachment of Mexico City Mayor, Andrés Manuel López Obrador and its Political Implications
Congressman Juan José García
Congressman Victor Suárez
Congressman Pablo Franco
Congressman Adrián Chávez
As this seminar took place, the impeachment of Mexico City's Mayor, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, was in the process of being suspended as the federal government pursued a political solution to end the legal case for contempt of court against the mayor. The conflict had thrust López Obrador and his Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) into the limelight and raised their possibilities of competing successfully for the presidency in next year's elections (although the elections remained, at this writing, fourteen months away and highly competitive among several political parties). In a rare appearance in Washington, four members of the mayor's party spoke to a large audience about the significance of the impeachment process for Mexico's democracy and their party's platform on a range of major issues in Mexico and in U.S.-Mexico relations.
Juan José García, the PRD's legislative coordinator for international relations, spoke about the authoritarian inertias that remain in Mexico's political system and which became manifest through the impeachment process. However, he noted that the resistance from the PRD had been peaceful and generated an outpouring of support from civil society. He noted that the Mexican left had evolved over the years and now needed to respond to this support from civil society by developing an inclusive program for government that brought together different sectors of Mexican society. He observed that where the PRD has governed it has done so well and moved from being an opposition party to a party of good government. He predicted that a future PRD government would govern responsibly and inclusively. In relation to the United States, he noted that all treaties would be respected and the party would be open to dialogue with different sectors of American society. However, he argued that there should be more focus given in the bilateral relationship to social concerns that had not been addressed fully in bilateral discussions or in the North American Free Trade Agreement. Overall, Mexico and the United States would need to define areas in which they could find a common agenda according to the differing national priorities in each country.
Pablo Franco, a leading PRD legislator on labor issues, noted that the party needed to develop internal processes to allow different segments of the party to bridge their differences and create a unified platform. He argued that the party needed to turn away from the "politics of seeking power" to a "politics of citizens" that was inclusive of citizen demands. "We need to build a country," not just win power, he stated. However, he noted that the same logic of power was what had led the PRI and the PAN to join together to try to eliminate the mayor of Mexico City from the election by impeaching him. He urged the PRD to rise above this logic of just seeking power, which dominates the Mexican political class.
Victor Suárez, the leader of the National Association of Rural Commercial Enterprises, stressed that the impeachment of the mayor showed the weakness of Mexico's political process. "There is democracy as long as there is no questioning of the neoliberal economic model," he stated, arguing that the PAN and PRI had decided to block the mayor because of his leftist views. However, he noted that citizens had come out to the streets to defend democracy—not necessarily because they supported the mayor—which showed how much democracy matters to people in Mexico. He noted that a PRD government would stress the human side of integration with the United States and would seek compensation funds that could help spur Mexican development.
Adrian Chávez, a legislator who works closely on environmental issues in the Congress, noted that the PRD recognizes President Fox's gesture of reconciliation by suspending the legal case against the mayor. However, he argued that the country is in an urgent need of change and reorienting the government's priorities. He stressed that the current and past government's indebtedness through the bank and highway rescue program, corruption in the oil company (Pemex), and other forms of mismanagement had undermined the government's ability to invest in long-term development. A PRD government would make development a priority and would preserve fiscal integrity in the process.