Zavala and Anaya: divisions in the National Action Party. Zavala and Anaya: divisions in the National Action Party.

Center-right party faces deep divisions

Former first lady and 2018 presidential hopeful quits National Action Party

Simmering divisions in Mexico’s center-right National Action Party (PAN) came to a head yesterday when a longtime member — and a former first lady — announced her resignation.


Margarita Zavala quit the party she has belonged to for the past 33 years, further deepening divisions among party members.

Zavala, wife of former president Felipe Calderón, cited undemocratic leadership, an unclear selection process for candidates for next year’s presidential election and a silencing of the party base as reasons why she decided to quit the party but stressed she was leaving “without bitterness.”

She is now expected to run as an independent candidate in next July’s election, the first to allow candidates without party affiliation to run for president.

In a video she posted to Facebook, Zavala strongly criticized the national leadership of the party but while she has clashed previously with its national president, Ricardo Anaya, she didn’t refer to him explicitly.

The PAN is the only political force that has held the presidency apart from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) since 1929 and broke that party’s uninterrupted 71-year stranglehold on power by winning the presidency in 2000. It held the top office for two consecutive terms until 2012.

In announcing her resignation, Zavala said the party’s leadership had imposed “antidemocratic decisions that we criticized so much in the PRI” and “cancelled the internal democratic life [of the party] and citizen participation.”


The PAN will contest the 2018 election as part of a coalition officially announced last month that includes the leftist Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) and the Citizens Movement party.

Called Citizens’ Front for Mexico, Mexico City Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera is considered a frontrunner to be its candidate although there have also been suggestions that it could be Anaya.

Zavala said that while she was leaving the party before she knew how the candidate will be chosen, “the law obliges me to do so” because if she didn’t, she would be prevented from participating in the electoral process. The deadline to register as an independent candidate is fast approaching.

“For two years I asked for a transparent, democratic and clear method [and] that citizens be heard [before] making a decision. I asked for it in public and in private, I asked for it at the Permanent Commission, in writing and on video, [and] the answer was always evasive,” she said.

However, she also said, “I’m leaving without bitterness” and “I have only words of gratitude for PAN.”

Anaya responded to Zavala’s decision in a video he uploaded to his Twitter account. He called the decision a mistake as it would only benefit the incumbent PRI and “the PRI doesn’t deserve another chance because it has failed Mexico.”

He also said that the process to select a candidate was subject to a time frame determined by law that couldn’t be modified by political parties.

“The candidacy to which she aspired is not yet decided . . . .” he asserted, adding that “the PAN as a historical institution is bigger than any of us as individuals and the Citizens’ Front for Mexico is strong and stable . . . .”

Zavala’s announcement has brought simmering, long-held, internal tensions within the PAN to the surface, and prominent party members agreed that it was representative of a schism in the party.

PAN senator and former state governor Ernesto Ruffo compared her exit to pus coming out of an abscess, raising the ire of Felipe Calderón who responded via Twitter that “Ruffo expresses very well the intellectual level, moral stature, level of debate and democratic tolerance of what remains of the PAN.”

But other PAN politicians regretted Zavala’s decision and held Anaya responsible for fractures in the party.

Senator Ernesto Cordero said just prior to Zavala’s announcement that her decision to quit would leave the party with a depleted vote of no more than 280,000.

“Margarita is going to take the votes and Anaya will be left with the structure of the party,” he said, making it clear who he believed was to blame and what the result for the party would be.

“. . . Anaya is denying the PAN the opportunity to return to governing Mexico in 2018.”

Several past and present PAN senators lined up to criticize Anaya’s leadership and hold him responsible for Zavala’s exit.

“All this is nothing more than a new expression of a policy of extermination and exclusion that Ricardo Anaya has led as national boss of the PAN,” said Javier Lozano, a former senator for Puebla.

Next year’s election promises to be an interesting battle, as the frontrunner in the polls is neither from the PAN nor the PRI, but the left-wing firebrand Andrés Manuel López Obrador, former mayor of Mexico City and former leader of the PRD and a previous presidential candidate, who now leads the party called Morena.

Those polls have shown the PAN in second place and the PRI in third.

Source: Milenio (sp), El Universal (sp)

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  • michael

    Mexico has some tough choices in the future. Let’s hope the people chose wisely and not elect a dinosaur for president.

  • From South of the Border

    Your right Michael, Mexico does have a tough decision to make. The decision is does Mexico want to look like Venezuela in a few years or does Mexico want to continue to grow and become a first world nation. This choice means electing anyone except Lopez Obrador. Obrador is equal to President Maduro of Venezuela, but on steroids. If Obrador is elected the foreign companies in Queretaro, San Luis, and the rest of the country will close their factories here and move elsewhere in the world. Obrador is a threat to democracy and civility. He will promise the world and deliver a shattered Mexican economy and MASS unemployment. Companies go where they can make a profit, if they don’t think they can they will abandon ship as fast as possible.
    I call on all the major parties to put their differences aside and come together in a grand coalition and back one person for president, so that they can crush Obrador once and for all. Believe me I have made Mexico my home and I want to see my home grow and prosper, but Obrador will crash the economy with his leftist craziness similar to what people see in Venezuela and also in Bolivia. Do we want a rich and prosperous future for the country we all love, well anyone, but Obrador. Viva Mexico!!!!!

    • I’m no fan of the incompoop AMLO, but I think your worries are excessive. Venezuela’s government structure is, I’m guessing, far different from Mexico’s. When the PAN’s Fox won in 2000, I expected major changes. What happened? Not much of anything. Venezuela depends on military and police repression. Not much of a history of that here, and I doubt the military brass is fond of AMLO. But, that said, let’s hope AMLO continues his record of losing the presidency.

      • gypsyken

        Claiming that the government of Venezuela “depends on military and police repression” strongly suggests that you have never actually visited the country and are only mouthing right-wing propaganda. The violence in Caracas has been sponsored by the U.S., and the fact is that most of the people who have died in it have died at the hand of right-wing protesters, not the police or military.

        • From South of the Border

          Gypsyken.. Your leftism is where the bias is not Zapata or myself. By the way I lived in Colombia for a number of years as a teacher and visited Caracas and other areas of Venezuela and even a few years ago government forces were throwing people in prison, because they wanted change. Your so called democratic community councils in the barrios. These councils aren’t democratic in any way shape or form they are directly appointed by Maduro’s government similar to such councils in Cuba so much for democracy.
          First you don’t know me from Adam so let me give you a clue. In the U.S. I was a language teacher of English, German and Hebrew. I taught at a major private language school in Boston, Massachusetts. My father was an electronics mechanic my mother a housewife typical working lower middle class to middle middle class. My fathers highest pay ever was $42,000 g a year in his last 2 years working. Not exactly well to do would you say. Myself here in Mexico I work at a language school in San Luis and I teach English and Hebrew online. My average income is between 22,000 and 23,500 pesos a month or in dollars 1,170 and 1,260 a month comfortable in Mexico, but not exactly wealthy. Your perceptions of me are wrong, but I’m not surprised. Left wingers seem to see what they want to see, not what is actually there. I teach many people who work in the factories in San Luis Potosi engineers making between 25,000 and 30,000 pesos a month or 1,350 to 1,600 dollars a month. Good pay for Mexico, but not again exactly rich. These engineers and their families are scared to death of an AMLO presidency, because they know the companies they work for will pull out of Mexico the minute someone like AMLO is elected they won’t make the mistake of waiting around while their factories are confiscated like what happened under Chavez and Maduro in Venezuela.
          In the U.S. I made about $40,000 a year again not exactly a fortune. I am just educated enough to know economics and I know that the economics of Chavez and Maduro is a plan for failure. I’m not a rich person, but I know that wealth doesn’t come from leftism and I know that AMLO shows all the signs of a Chavez and Maduro. It is true that the major parties here in Mexico are corrupt and everything else you said Gypsyken, but at least in the last 20 to 25 years, because of NAFTA the Mexican people have been able to pull themselves up slowly. There are a lot of people millions of them who work as engineers, Managers and other positions in cities all across Mexico San Luis, Mexico City, Queretaro etc. where people are moving up slowly, but they are making progress. I know many of these people, because I have taught them English and German with a once in awhile Hebrew class as well. These people won’t vote for AMLO, because they want the future to be bright and AMLO scares them to death.
          One last thing, I have met about 2 dozen Venezuelans here in Mexico all have the same story of having their livelihood taken from them through the policies of Chavez and Maduro. One friend of mine came to Mexico 4 years ago as an engineer today he owns 2 cars and runs an Uber service. He drives one car and gives another person a jobas a chofer with the other car. He makes 32,000 pesos a month comfortable, but not rich. He had a small machine shop in Caracas and the government closed him up, because he was competing with a government owned factory, so much for democracy and property rights. I could add 4 or 5 more stories to the one from my friend Cesar, but this is getting to be a long reply. Leave it say you are wrong about me and you are either lying about what you saw in Venezuela or you are just a dupe for Maduro.
          I have been on the ground in Venezuela I have met Venezuelans here in Mexico and the story I’ve told is the truth. I also know many friends who work hard for a living here in Mexico and they don’t want their lives upended by AMLO and his leftism similar to Chavez and Maduro. You can take your leftist KOOL AID somewhere else I’m not buying into it neither are many Mexicans who know better.

          • gypsyken

            I see no need to reply to this rant about “leftist KOOL AID” except to note that (1) being a teacher obviously doesn’t guarantee that one is actually educated or informed, including on economics; (2) that the anti-Chavez Venezuelans who left Venezuela are, of course, like the anti-Castro Cubans who left Cuba; and (3) that I have observed what the community councils in Venezuela (and the Committees for Defense of the Revolution in Cuba) actually do, and that is only approached by the increasingly rare town meetings in the U.S. Also, I do believe that Amlo would have been president of Mexico if his election had not been stolen from him, and I reiterate my hope that he will be elected.

          • From South of the Border

            Ken, You don’t need to answer about leftist kool Aid, because you just are soaked in it!! Freedom is indivisible, if you can steal or confiscate one persons wealth such as my friends Cesar you can do it to any one including you or will you be part of the confiscation squads one of the few who will be able to keep their money as in Venezuela and Cuba. By the way you never answered my assertion that these councils are appointed by the government. If they are then they are in no way like the New England town meetings near Boston where I lived there it id direct democracy by all voters who come to the meeting. You also, have no answer to my explanation that I’m not rich, but unlike you I don’t want to steal other people’s money. I have a cousin who went to college graduated as a vet. He went into business for himself recently retired worth over 2 million. He earned every dollar he made working all sorts of crazy hours, but of course you would have Maduro or Castro confiscate his money. One thing i have noticed that it is usually the leftists that are the well off or rich. It is funny in the states someone like Bernie Sanders is a millionaire many times over, but they want to tax people into the poor house. As my dear departed Mother and Father used to say nothing is free, but the air you breath, so nothing is free. Even the so called free health care in some countries it has to be paid for one way or another usually like in France 78% top rate tax or in Cuba where people live miserably on $20 or $30 dollars a month. In Venezuela don’t tell me the stores aren’t empty, because I was in Caracas a month ago helping my friend Cesar get his mother out of that hell hole. You see you can lie to people who don’t know any better, but I’ve been on the ground very recently so your lies are as easy as pie to see through.
            Well, This will be my last communication with you Ken after awhile talking to a brick wall becomes useless.

          • gypsyken

            In comparing members of Venezuela’s community councils and Cuba’s Committees for Defense of the Revolution to New England town meetings, I was referring to the significant local powers that they have. Of course, members of Venezuela’s councils are Chavistas and members of Cuba’s committees are members of its communist party, but there is nothing irregular about that. Do Trumpsters appoint non-Trumpsters to wield power? (Consider the gerrymandering that Republican politicians have done to extend and preserve their power.) Your conservative ideological ignorance is demonstrated by your false claim that Bernie Sanders is “a millionaire many times over.” The net worth of Sanders and his wife is estimated to be something like $800,000 ( Of course, health care cannot be free; it must be paid for. (I was a health care provider.) But the fundamental difference between health care in European democracies (and in Cuba) and in the U.S. is that in the U.S. health care is not provided to relieve suffering or cure disease, but to make as much money as possible. I know that some store shelves in Caracas have been emptied by producers who are withholding products in order to encourage the right-wing opposition from whose assumption of power their profits would benefit. I am, by the way, a proud democratic socialist, and as Jeremy Corbyn is showing in the U.K., and has already been demonstrated in the European social democracies that provide their citizens with a much better quality of life than the U.S. does, democratic socialism is the future! (I doubt that you are even aware that the authoritarian theocratic government of the U.S. recently voted against a U.N. resolution to abolish the death penalty for adultery, homosexuality, apostasy, and blasphemy, indicating that it approves execution for the punishment of such “crimes.”)

          • softunderbelly

            Where could I begin to respond to you? I guess I’ll dive in here.
            First of all, although you may claim to be a “proud democratic socialist” in reality you are nothing more than a Communist who is looking for cover using the label “democratic socialist”. Please don’t try and refute this. I’ve lived too long to accept BS from bullsh!ters. And frankly, all that the left offers is that. And more of it. Your last statement (in parenthesis) underscores that. What ELSE was in that UN resolution that propelled the US to vote against it?
            Perhaps it was this:
            Nauert said the U.S. was “disappointed” to have voted against the measure, but did so because of “broader concerns with the resolution’s approach to condemning the death penalty in all circumstances.” You also don’t mention that the Obama administration ALSO voted against a similar resolution, perhaps for the same reason.
            Now as to the reason for the empty shelves. There are millions of Venezuelans rummaging through trash bins searching for edible food. Is it because the stores are empty? Or could it be because the economy has been destroyed by Maduro and before him by Chavez. Could it also be because the Maduro government has begun to confiscate food stocks to have LOYAL Chavista groups do the distribution? It is NOT “some” store shelves as you say but WHOLE stores that are empty. And it’s not your blindness that doesn’t allow you to see this but your political viewpoint that does not allow you to speak the truth. In fact, in your world, the truth is dangerous as it is in Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, China and perhaps the current Russia.
            I could go on but it is so depressing to try and refute EVERY ONE of your statements. You’d have thought that we had gotten past all of this after the Gorbachev era. I guess not.

          • gypsyken

            If your ability to access and accept facts were not impeded by your closed-minded conservative ideology, you could consult an enormous number of sources to distinguish the differences between democratic socialism and communism, both of which are versions of socialism. I am not, however, insulted by being called a communist, and sometimes, dismayed by the opposition to economic democracy voiced by conservatives, i think that communism may be the necessary version. I would only be insulted by being called a neoliberal, neoconservative, or free-market capitalist.

            You may not know that the U.S. is the only so-called “Western democracy,” appraised by some (though certainly not by me) as the “most advanced” country in the world, that still uses the death penalty. That puts it in the esteemed company of countries such as Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, China (the only country that executes more prisoners than the U.S. does), and, of course, the apartheid state of Israel. Even Russia has had a moratorium on executions since 1999, while the would-be dictator of Turkey, much admired by the monster who currently occupies the U.S. White House, proposes to reinstate them in order to execute his opponents. According to you and other conservatives, the U.S. voted against the U.N. resolution to protect the right of such paragons of democracy to put people to death. I don’t consider that to be an admirable reason.

            The fact that the Obama administration also voted to protect the death penalty has nothing whatever to do with my condemnation, in concert with that of most of the member states of the U.N., of such action. You apparently assume, mistakenly, that I viewed Obama and his administration as admirable, which again reveals your closed-minded conservative ignorance.

            Your conservative bias leads you to accept the reason for empty shelves in Venezuelan stores given by the free-market capitalists who oppose the country’s government. I give more credence to the reports of investigators such as Abby Martin, whose “The Empire Files” is broadcast on Free Speech TV. Her videos have shown some Caracas stores will full shelves, including with paper products other than diapers, which manufacturers have withheld in order to foment discontent. You probably have not heard of her, since I am quite sure that she is never mentioned on Faux News.

            Your point that the truth can be dangerous is well taken. That is why, I believe, that truth is in such short supply in the voices of the white supremacist fascist monster that currently occupies the U.S. White House and his supporters. They prefer to use what they call “alternative facts.” A new book, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” by a group of psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health experts includes the fact that the monster has a solipsistic view of reality, in which reality is only what he wants it to be in order to satisfy his malignant narcissistic needs. Objective truth, therefore, has no meaning to him. You should consider if you suffer from the same impairment.

        • Ken, are you an acquaintance of Sean Penn?

          But really, Hillary lost. It’s time to move on.

          • gypsyken

            I am not a Democrat and I was not, and am not, a supporter of Hillary Clinton, but she would have been an infinitely better president than the monster who occupies the White House.

    • gypsyken

      I assume that you’re well-do-do, From South of the Border, since a “rich and prosperous future” under the PRI or PAN is only for the wealthy and their corporations, just as it is under Republicans in the U.S., and under them Mexico will remain one of the most unequal and corrupt countries in the world, just as the U.S. is. The fact is that the reduction of poverty in Venezuela, and bringing education and health care to people who never had them before, is why the corporation-controlled government of the U.S. has always opposed the Bolivarian Revolution and Chavismo and provided financial support to their right-wing opponents, resulting in violence in the streets of Caracas. Having actually visited Venezuela, I have seen that the community councils in every barrio represent democracy that is only found in town meetings in the U.S.

  • She should start a new party. GÜERA.

  • gypsyken

    The PRD and Movimiento Ciudadano have totally discredited themselves by affiliating with the right-wing PAN (which would be like the U.S.’s Green Party affiliating with the Republicans), so the split in the PAN and the running of an independent presidential candidate will hopefully increase support for Moreno and at last put Amlo in office–if the PRI doesn’t manage to steal the election again.

  • alance

    Centuries of corruption are hard to overcome in one generation. Fox and Calderón are proof of this. They were all talk and no action. Calderón’s war on drugs was a total failure and increased corruption and violence tenfold. That is quite an accomplishment.

  • Helen Keller’s Best Friend

    Build the wall quickly and have it filled with leftists and cement.