Friday, June 21, 2024

Left’s elder statesman voices his concern over economy, education, security

Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, a former presidential candidate and co-founder of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), has expressed concern about a range of problems affecting Mexico, asserting that no “concrete action” is being taken or being proposed to address them.

“I’m very concerned about the situation we’re living, the situation that the country is going through,” he said during a meeting with a cross-party group of senators on Monday.

“There are many things that concern me,” added Cárdenas, who was a candidate in the 1988, 1994 and 2000 presidential elections.

Among the 88-year-old’s concerns are insecurity, poverty, a lack of economic growth and insufficient government funding in a range of areas including education and health.

Cuauhtemoc Cardenas candidate for chief of Mexico government 1997
Cuauhtémoc Cardenas, right, in 1997. Cardenas achieved the PRD party’s first major election victory: mayor of Mexico City. Next to him is AMLO, president of the PRD at the time. El Ingeniero/INCIME

Cárdenas, who was governor of Michoacán in the first half of the 1980s and Mexico City mayor in the late ’90s, also cited social inequality as a problem. “We have a very high concentration of poverty [and] an economy that hasn’t grown for decades,” he said.

“… There is a matter than concerns me … and it’s that I don’t see in the political parties any serious proposal to seek solutions to the country’s problems,” said Cárdenas, son of former president Lázaro Cárdenas, who is best known for nationalizing Mexico’s oil sector in the late 1930s.

The party’s proposals are probably hidden away in their mission statements, “but they’re not in sight,” he said. “I don’t see any concrete action to address the serious problems that have been mentioned.”

Cárdenas said that criminal groups have used violence to seize control of yet more territory – a United States military official claimed last year that narcos control about one-third of Mexico – and charged that the government hasn’t invested enough to combat insecurity.

Children at primary school in Mexico City
Among concerns Cardenas raised at the meeting of senators: insufficient funding for education. SEP

The political veteran said last December that the state must retake territory controlled by organized crime in order to guarantee economic growth and social peace. At the time, he advocated “the establishment and expansion of [government] productive projects, schools, universities, clinics and technological innovation and work training programs in each portion of the national territory” where organized crime has a presence.

On Monday, Cárdenas was critical of President López Obrador’s plan to put the National Guard under the control of the army, asserting that it should remain under civilian command in accordance with the constitution.

“This doesn’t mean that a military man can’t participate [in National Guard operations] or be at the head of different [National Guard] programs, … as long as he’s in a civilian position,” he said.

The co-founder and former president of the PRD also spoke about the 2024 presidential election, repeating his belief that those who aspire to the presidency must make it clear why they want the nation’s top job.

member of Mexico's National Guard
Cárdenas was also critical of President López Obrador’s plan to put the National Guard under the control of the army. GN/Twitter

“The presidential succession game has been brought forward,” Cárdenas said, apparently referring to growing speculation about who the ruling Morena party’s candidate will be in 2024.

“I’m not concerned that the electoral situation is starting to move, but I am worried that those who have been mentioned [as possible candidates] or those who say they have an interest in reaching a representative position such as president are not telling us why they want to be president,” he said.

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Shienbaum and Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard are the leading contenders to become Morena’s candidate, while there is less clarity about who the opposition parties might put forward.

It appears likely that the National Action Party, Institutional Revolutionary Party and PRD will back a common candidate, choosing a presidential aspirant from a field that could include current and former lawmakers, party officials and state governors.

Cárdenas stressed that he wouldn’t vote for anyone who hasn’t articulated why he or she wants to be president.

“If we don’t know why they want to be [president], I, for one, will not give them my vote,” he said.

With reports from Milenio, Reforma, El Universal and Aristegui Noticias

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