Thursday, June 20, 2024

Nuevo León political crisis abates, interim governor steps down

Normality is beginning to return to politics in Nuevo León: the state now has just one governor after two men laid claim to the job over the weekend.

Luis Enrique Orozco, who was appointed interim governor by the state Congress in a chaotic session last week and assumed the position at 12 a.m. Saturday, announced Monday that he was resigning.

Samuel García campaigning
Samuel García took leave of his post as governor to launch a campaign for 2024, but has now abandoned his plans to seek election after political turmoil in his home state. (Samuel García/X)

That left Samuel García – who became governor of Nuevo León in 2021, but requested six months leave to contest the 2024 presidential election – as the sole occupant of the highest political office in the northern border state.

García, a representative of the Citizens Movement (MC) party, announced in the early hours of Saturday morning that he was eschewing the leave period approved by the state Congress and returning to the governorship. He confirmed later the same day that he had decided not to pursue the presidency in 2024.

The Nuevo León Congress on Monday approved Orozco’s resignation as well as the revocation of García’s leave permit and his return to the governorship.

Orozco, who has links to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), told reporters early Monday afternoon that he was stepping down to ensure the “governability” of Nuevo León and avoid any confusion about whether the state had one governor or two.

Luis Enrique Orozco
Luis Enrique Orozco was appointed the interim governor of Nuevo León following chaos in the state Congress. He has now resigned his post. (Cuartoscuro)

The former deputy attorney general in Nuevo León was critical of the way he was informed of García’s decision to return to the governorship, saying that government secretary Javier Navarro – who advised him of the decision while he was holding a press conference early Saturday – failed to show even the slightest courtesy or respect for the position he occupied. However, he acknowledged García’s right to reassume his position.

García – whose hopes of installing Navarro as interim governor were dashed by a Friday night Supreme Court ruling upholding Orozco’s appointment – said Monday morning that he had spoken with Orozco and advised him of his decision to not take leave.

“We’re back, in fact I never left because I decided not to use the leave and by not using it I reassumed duties [as governor] first thing Saturday morning,” said the 35-year-old, who did indeed relinquish his position for a brief period to begin his campaign as the sole MC “pre-candidate” for the presidency.

García, whose official period of leave was due to start Saturday, stressed that he is the democratically-elected “constitutional governor” of Nuevo León, and, as if to add credence to that statement, told reporters he was off to a meeting with the United Kingdom’s ambassador to Mexico.

García, pictured here with his gubernatorial cabinet, returned to political duties in Nuevo León this weekend. (Samuel García/X)

“We’re turning a deaf ear to the PRI and the PAN, like a butcher to squealing pigs,” he said, referring to the two parties responsible for the appointment of Orozco.

“I don’t listen to them because I’m the constitutional governor of Nuevo León and we’re getting on with our work,” remarked García, who said Sunday that the two opposition parties sent him a letter outlining a long list of things they wanted in exchange for agreeing to allow Navarro to become interim governor.

He said Monday that he had decided to return to the governorship to ensure that the PRI and the PAN (National Action Party) didn’t embezzle any of the public funds his government has carefully looked after for the past two years.

Speaking at a public transport event in Monterrey, García rejected claims that he returned as governor to ensure that alleged corrupt activity on the part of his government isn’t uncovered.

Claudia Sheinbaum (left) and Xóchitl Gálvez (right) led García by a comfortable margin in the polls, although MC has announced its intention to replace García for the 2024 election. (MND)

The PRI and the PAN have been saying in recent days that “we’re hiding” something, but “there’s nothing to hide,” he said.

“We’re incorruptible,” García added before stressing that he couldn’t continue his quest to become president without an MC representative standing in for him as governor.

“… We always knew that … Congress wasn’t going to appoint someone from [the MC] team and we always said very clearly that we weren’t going to put Nuevo León at risk,” he said.

García – currently Mexico’s youngest governor – has not discarded his presidential ambitions, but rather put them on ice, saying Saturday that “2030 is very close” and expressing confidence that he will win the presidential election that year.

The results of a Reforma newspaper poll published Monday showed that his support among voters had increased to 14% from 12% in August, but he was still well behind leading 2024 presidential contender Claudia Sheinbaum on 46% and Xóchitl Gálvez on 25%.

Before the 2030 election comes around and García, and his influencer wife Mariana Rodríguez, have the opportunity to put their campaigning skills back into action, the governor has close to four years left to complete his term in Nuevo León.

Combating the water crisis the state endured in 2022 and attracting foreign investment have been among his priorities since he took office in October 2021.

While García has pulled out of the upcoming presidential contest, MC is still planning to field a candidate for the June 2, 2024 election. The party is expected to name that person in January.

Reports from Reforma, Milenio and El Universal 

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