Saturday, November 6, 2010

The tale of Baja California Sur: All hell is loose as politics come full circle with governor candidates

Baja California Sur will elect its new governor on Feb. 6 next year, and the processes of choosing candidates for the various parties has been extremely tumultuous and provoked a range of schisms within PRD, which governs the state. The intense internal battle within the left on a national scale has contributed directly to the party's turmoil in this state election. which for the PRD has as much with 2012 as it has to do with Baja California Sur. 

The deadline to register electoral coalitions expired this weekend, and the final make-up of electoral coalitions and their candidates is notable: Sudcalifornia para Todos (PRD y PT), with Luis Armando Díaz as its candidate; Unidos por Baja California Sur (PRI-PVEM), with Ricardo Barroso Agramont, and Alianza es Contigo (PAN and Partido Renovación Sudcaliforniana [PRS, a local party), with Marcos Covarrubias Villaseñor. 

Notably, Convergencia in the end did not join the PRD and PT but will presnet its own candidate. The lack of a common candidate among the three parties on the surface appear to make no sense; in other places, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has much influence over PT and Convergencia, has forbidden the parties to join with PRD if the PRD also want to include PAN, yet this was not the case in Baja California Sur. Yet as both national PRD President Jésus Ortega and Secretary General Hortensia Aragón complained, the election is really about who will control the left ahead of 2012. Again, AMLO will rather see the PRD lose than have it elect a candidate identified with his opponents within the party, yet here he didn't even have the excuse of a PAN alliance to provoke the break-up of the left. 

Politics has really come full circle in Baja California Sur. A quick look at the PRD's internal turmoils is quite instructive here. The state went to the PRD after Leonel Cota Montaño, a prominent PRI politician, failed to clinch his party's nomination for governor and jumped on board with the PRD. After Cota stepped down to later become AMLO's hand-picked national head of the PRD, the PRD kept the state with the election of  Narciso Agúndez Montaño as governor in 2011. Make a note of his second last name. 

When it came to electing PRD's new candidate for governor as well as for key cities and municipal districts, all hell broke loose. Due to much infighting between the supporters of Agúndez Montaño's former interior secretary and favored successor, Armando Díaz, and Marcos Covarrubias, the PRD's National Political Commission, a sort of an overseeing council of elders that is of recent origin and includes representatives of all the major factions in PRD, decided to cancel plans to decide candidates by polls, and the PRD's state council was charged with designating candidates. When they not surprisingly failed to come to an agreement, the party branch leader
Adrián Chávez Ruiz asked the CPN to designate candidates, which drew loud protests from Covarrubias who threatened to leave the party. Notably, Leonel Cota Montaño, despite being governor 1999-2005, wanted to now become mayor of tourist paradise and money cow municipality of Los Cabos, yet when it became clear that he would not be designated candidate, the PRD's former national president loudly ditched the party 

The PRD's CPN finally designated Luis Armando Díaz as candidate, and in a move that admittedly smacks of nepotism further placed Narciso Agúndez Montaño, brother of the governor, as candidate for Los Cabos, and former senator Ricardo Gerardo Higuera for La Paz. 

Yet the story hardly ends there. Even though Ortega controls the party's national executive committee and not the CPN, 
Cota loudly accused Ortega of "treason" and criticized the state government for promoting Armando Díaz as its candidate, declaring the worst that could happen to the state would be a candidate of continuity with the style of Narciso Agúndez. Irony of ironies: It was exactly Cota Montaño, with AMLO's blessing,  who imposed Agúndez Montaño, his cousin, as the left's gubernatorial candidate in 2004. 

More: Cota Montaño left the PRD to join none other than the Green Party (PVEM), which is truly Mexico's most cynical and opportunistic party. As local PRD deputy Víctor Castro noted, the PVEM is not only rightwing, but also an ally of PRI, the supposed arch enemy. Even AMLO expressed his displeasure with Cota's choice of new partner. 
Then, Cota announced that he would be candidate for mayor of La Paz rather on the party label of Convergencia - a party with very little presence in the state, but which would now see an influx of the supporters of Cota. As Milenio observed, this PRD rupture was fully sanctioned and supported by Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Cota's sister, to add, is currently mayor of La Paz.

And there is even more: Marcos Covarrubias, former mayor of Comondú. who had loudly attacked his own party for treason and inconsistency and what not when it cancelled the poll, resigned from the PRD to join... the PAN! The party announced last weekend that it had successfully recruited Covarrubias as its candidate. Many other key PRD members are reported to have left the partyPRI, for its part, with the PVEM declared its candidate to be Ricardo Barroso Agramont, the leader of the party's state branch

It is hard to decide who deserves the price for blatant opportunism in Baja California Sur, a place where politics appears to have come full circle. While the current governor may succeed in imposing his former interior secretary as the next governor, Armando Díaz has had to fend off accusations of ties to the narcos, propelled by hardcore anti-PRD commentators such as Ricardo Alemán, who openly accuses Díaz of being a narco. The PRD, in turn, responded that the party is convinced Díaz has no narco ties, and asked the federal attorney general, PGR, to make public whether he is under any kind of investigation. 

As for the race, due to PAN's and AMLO's maneuvers, my bets are on the PRI, though it remains wide open, and as recent events serve to demonstrate, in la política sudcaliforniana, nothing is remotely certain. 

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