25 May 2008

Prelate's murder still haunts Jalisco

The Templo Expiatorio in Guadalajara

The News

Cardinal Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo went to the Guadalajara airport 15 years ago to welcome papal nuncio Archbishop Giralamo Prigione, who was coming to the country's second largest city to bless a furniture factory. But the two men never met.

Cardinal Posadas Ocampo, who was dressed in his usual clerical robes, was shot dead shortly after 5 p.m. as he stepped out of his car in front of the terminal.

A federal investigation said the prelate was inadvertently caught up in the crossfire of a shootout between the rival Tijuana and Sinaloa drug cartels, which were active in the Jalisco capital during the 1990s. Catholic officials reject the official explanation, however. They note that Cardinal Posadas Ocampo was shot at close range in an attack that also claimed the life of his chauffer and five others. No one has ever been convicted in the matter, although the investigation officially remains open.

The cardinal's death and the unresolved investigation have been long-standing sources of consternation in Jalisco, where the events of May 24, 1993 – and a massive explosion blamed on gasoline leaking into the sewer system barely 13 months prior – ushered in sweeping political and social change in one of the country's most fervently Catholic states.

"With the death of the cardinal, the government left a lot to be desired in its official explanation," said Mario Ramos González, a political science professor at the University of Guadalajara. "In the Catholic Church, there's still a lot of outrage."

Analysts credit the ascent of the National Action Party, or PAN, in the region to the general disgust with the inept government response to the 1992 explosions that flattened a five-kilometer stretch of a working class part of Guadalajara and killed at least 200 residents, and a Catholic backlash against the perceptions of a cover up in the investigation into the violent death of a popular prelate.

Agriculture Secretary Alberto Cárdenas, then the little-known mayor of Ciudad Guzmán, deposed the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, in 1994. The PAN, which tilts decidedly conservative in the region, later won consecutive gubernatorial elections in 2000 and 2006.

Columnist Jorge Zepeda, editor of the now-defunct Guadalajara daily Siglo 21 in the 1990s, compared the political impact of the explosions and assassination to the aftermath of the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, which gave rise to social movements and the left-wing Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD. But the shift in Jalisco went in the other direction, he added.

"The 1985 earthquake generated the formation of a civil society with distinct ideologies while in Guadalajara it was essentially a turn to the right," Zepeda said. "The cardinal's assassination generated a conservative militancy in defense of the church."


Speculation about what really transpired at the Guadalajara airport and who might be responsible for the cardinal's death is still rife in Mexico – even 15 years later. Theories on who might have carried out the cardinal's death range from narcotics traffickers to gunmen acting on the orders of senior politicians to the Masons.

Alfredo Araujo Ávila, a key hit man for the Arellano Felix cartel, was arrested in January and implicated in the Guadalajara shootout.

Cardinal Posadas Ocampo led an Archdiocese that was the base for narcotics trafficking gangs during the 1980s and 90s, leading to speculation that his criticisms - or relations with - might have sparked their wrath.

The Archdiocese of Guadalajara said the Araujo Ávila meant little as many Catholic officials consider the cardinal's death to be premeditated murder. Last week, the Mexican bishops' conference described the cardinal's death as "a state crime" and called on former President Carlos Salinas, who governed from 1998 to 1994, to produce more information on the matter.

Salinas has long been a polemic figure in the Cardinal Posadas Ocampo affair.

A new book by Guadalajara-area lawyers José Antonio Ortega and Fernando Guzmán – presently the No. 2 official in the Jalisco state government – alleges the former president made efforts to close the preliminary investigation.

They also allege that officials in the federal government are still hindering the investigation.

Salinas has denied any culpability in Cardinal Posadas Ocampo's death.

But the former president, according to a pair of reports by Ortega and Guzmán for then Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, was seeking the intervention of Pope Benedict XVI to have the death "not declared a state crime."

The report, which was obtained by the Excelsior newspaper last May, added that Salinas was also advancing the idea that "Freemasons and public servants of that persuasion" - Fernando Gutiérrez Barrios, who passed away in 2000, was mentioned by the lawyers - possibly ordered the cardinal's murder. The lawyers also noted that Cardinal Posadas Ocampo had been under surveillance in the days leading up to May 24, 1993.

One prominent Catholic leader during the 1990s disagreed, however. Luis Reynoso, a lawyer and the former bishop of Cuernavaca, quashed the conspiracy theories in a series of investigations in the late 1990s. Reynoso died in 2000, but his nephew recently released a book based on the bishop's investigations that insists the cardinal was in the wrong place at the wrong time and no proof of premeditated murder exists.


Salinas left office in late 1994, but during the administration of his successors – Former Presidents Ernesto Zedillo and Vicente Fox – the investigation "did not advance," according to the reports by Ortega and Guzman.

"There hasn't been any will on the part of the government," said Adelberto González, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Guadalajara. "Until now there hasn't been a single conviction for having the cardinal murdered."

Church officials insist they're not looking for revenge. Cardinal Posadas Ocampo's successor, Cardinal Juan Sandoval, said in a statement issued last week, "The church wants to know the truth – even so that we know whom to forgive.

23 May 2008

A little too close for comfort

A government donation in support of an Archdiocese of Guadalajara construction project raises uncomfortable questions about the separation of church and state in Jalisco.

David Agren
The News

Tlaquepaque, Jal. – In his 14 months in office, Jalisco Gov. Emilio González has seldom shied away from publicly expressing his Catholic faith, his socially conservative viewpoints, or even the cozy relationship he enjoys with the local archdiocese and its leader, Cardinal Juan Sandoval.

Priests from the Archdiocese of Guadalajara lead a weekly Bible study for the governor's Cabinet in his official residence, the Casa Jalisco. Last Spring, with Mexico City on the verge of legalizing abortion, González and Cardinal Sandoval made joint public statements against the initiative.

The socially conservative governor also objected to parts of an AIDS prevention program that would allow for the distribution of condoms to teenagers. He later questioned sarcastically if the government should also provide adolescents with "a six pack of beer … and a hotel voucher."

His antics and pronouncements drew criticism from some local commentators and opposition politicians, but little widespread outrage in Jalisco – one of the Republic's most conservative and Catholic states, a place where martyrs of the Cristero Rebellion are lionized, church-sponsored events are well-attended and the largest chain of pharmacies in the region only started stocking contraceptives earlier in the decade.

But then González handed over 30 million pesos of taxpayer money in late March for the construction of a massive Catholic sanctuary in the Guadalajara suburb of Tlaquepaque – and all hell broke loose.

Guadalajara residents took to the streets in protest and a record number of complaints – more than 6,500 – were filed with the state human rights commission. Calls for the governor's resignation also mounted.

González responded by making another 15-million-peso donation to a church-run food bank and acerbically telling his critics, "Me vale madre, [I don't give a f—k]," in a profanity laced speech at the check presentation banquet.

The donation – and González's previous antics – are a departure from the historically strict separation of church and state in Mexico, a concept championed since the Reform Laws of Benito Juárez in the 1850s and reinforced by the Constitution of 1917 and subsequent Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, governments.

But the separation encountered resistance in Jalisco and its environs, where the Cristero Rebellion – an uprising against anti-clerical laws that forbade Catholic officials from preaching politics from the pulpit, stripped the church of its rights to own property and banned prelates from wearing clerical garb in public – raged in the late 1920s.

It also spawned several Catholic-friendly political movements, including the National Action Party, or PAN, and a Sinarquista organization, which is currently being revived through a new party.

The church largely exited the political arena after the Cristero Rebellion and coexisted peacefully with the PRI for the proceeding decades.

But with the country gradually opening up, the abolishment of many anti-clerical laws in 1992 and the PAN beginning its ascent to national governance, the church became more assertive in social and political matters – especially in Jalisco, where the PAN claimed power in 1995 and has won three consecutive gubernatorial elections.

"The PAN has found the church – not trade unions and the civil parts of Mexican society – to be its main source of social support," said Ilán Semo Gorman, a history professor at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City.

"In almost every state where you have a PAN governor, what you're going to see is [the party] trying to reconstitute power on the basis of church orientation."

Analysts are at odds over exactly how much the Catholic Church actually influences the PAN, which is divided into pragmatic and religious factions nationally. Party president Germán Martínez – a close confidant of President Felipe Calderón – deposed the religious-conservative wing of the PAN by winning power last December.

Some experts say the religious-conservative wing still holds enormous sway on the state level in Western Mexico, leading to perceptions of church influence over the party. Others disagree.

"It's an aberration," said Jeffrey Weldon, a political science professor at ITAM, referring to the PAN's religious-conservative strains.

He said the party still mostly attracts followers who believe in the separation of church and state. Weldon added that close church-state ties are only found "in maybe half of the PANistas in the Guadalajara area and in certain parts of Guanajuato."

Still, that religious affiliation is the source of much speculation, particularly surrounding "El Yunque," or the Anvil, which is thought to be a secret and deeply Catholic and conservative society.

Gonzalez, according to the local media, is a Yunque member – a charge he denies.

But whether or not the Yunque exists is still up for debate.

"It's exaggerated. It probably exists in some kind of form, but I think it's mostly just a group of people that think similarly, much more than something that looks like the Ku Klux Klan ... or the Masons," Weldon said.

"It's usually more a brush that people are painted with than reality."

Gonzalez originally hails from Los Altos, a region of dry highlands northeast of Guadalajara known for tequila, ranching and blue-eyed inhabitants. It was in Los Altos that the Cristero Rebellion flared most forcefully, and to this day, monuments to martyrs like parish priest Toribio Romo, the patron saint of undocumented migrants, attract thousands of visitors.

In the 1930s the region produced the National Sinarquista Union, an anti-communist Catholic group that opposed the revolutionary rhetoric of then President Lazaro Cárdenas, who nationalized the oil industry in 1938, distributed large tracts of hacienda land to landless campesinos and declared that public education be free, secular and "socialist."

The PAN was also founded around the same time. It drew a Catholic following, but unlike the Sinarquistas, the PAN appealed more to urban, middle class and business voters, according to Alan Riding's 1985 book "Distant Neighbors."

González, now 47, began his political career with another Sinarquista group, the Mexican Democratic Party, or PDM, a regionally popular outfit during the 1970s that lost its official standing in 1990s. He even won the mayor's office in his birthplace of Lagos de Moreno for the PDM in the 1980s before drifting over to the PAN later in the decade, becoming state party president, mayor of Guadalajara and eventually governor.

But González only won the gubernatorial seat after waging a negative campaign that saw federal investigators appear on his opponent's doorstep mere days before the 2006 election, acting on a PAN legal complaint regarding the legalization of properties supposedly purchased as part of a money-laundering scheme. The investigation was later dropped.

And González, it was later revealed, had boasted of having another ace up his sleeve: support from the local archdiocese.

A U.S. consular document published last month in Público, a Guadalajara daily newspaper, reported that in 2005, González had bragged about having widespread church support.

"Emilio claimed that high-level church officials in Jalisco have committed that organization to supporting his candidacy," the document read. "Emilio claimed, the Church has committed its 3,000 priests in Jalisco to working for an electoral victory for both him and the PAN."

The Archdiocese of Guadalajara has denied supporting the González campaign and spokesman Antonio Gutíerrez said that Cardinal Sandoval enjoys good relations with politicians from all parties and levels of government.

The revelation of the supposed church support emerged just as the governor was defending his donation – which will eventually total 90 million pesos – toward the Sanctuary of the Mexican Martyrs, a project valued at 2 billion pesos. The governor has defended the sanctuary plan, saying that the site will promote religious tourism in Jalisco, which is already home to some the country's most popular pilgrimage sites, including San Juan de los Lagos, Talpa and the Basilica of Zapopan.

The money also went to a non-profit civil association responsible for raising funds for the sanctuary's construction – and not the archdiocese – he said.

And in spite of the protests and public outcry – a recent Grupo Reforma survey showed that 57 percent of respondents opposed the governor's actions – the donation came as little surprise to some local observers.

"We have a governor that is very conservative ... and a cardinal that believes religious values should be society's main values," said Víctor Ramos Cortes, a religious studies professor at the University of Guadalajara.

"With this governor, [the cardinal] has a very close relationship … which explains the donation."

That doesn't mean people are happy about where the money's going, however.

Guadalajara resident Mario Díaz, who says he attends Mass at least twice a month, is just one among many. "We don't have enough beds in the Hospital Civil, but the governor goes and gives 90 million pesos to the cardinal," he complained.

But backers of the sanctuary say it will improve local infrastructure like roads and drainage and will include social projects that include a soup kitchen, nursing school and public hospital.

Armando Martínez, president of the College of Catholic Lawyers in Mexico City, accused critics of being "hypocritical," noting that all churches are property of the state and that various levels of government have contributed toward the construction and expansion of the Basilica of Guadalupe – the world's most visited Catholic shrine – and renovations at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City.

Gutíerrez, the archdiocese spokesman, acknowledged the public dissatisfaction over the donation, and arguments that the money should be directed toward other community projects. But he attributed much of the resistance to the conservative nature of Guadalajara residents and an aversion to large construction projects.

"Guadalajara has a fear of large projects," Gutíerrez said.

"You have to realize that Guadalajara is a city with small buildings. Unfortunately, the Tapatío mentality is a mentality that there shouldn't be any big buildings."

Even with construction proceeding on the sanctuary, wooing the public – and investors – hasn't been easy, and probably won't be.

Signs lining the road up to the construction site, high up on the edge of the Cerro del Tesoro in Tlaquepaque, speak of the promise of the place.

"Being here is being with God," reads one sign near the sanctuary, which when completed, is expected to seat 12,000 and provide standing room for another 50,000.

Gutíerrez said the site would host Catholic events that currently take place at the local bullfighting ring and Estadio Jalisco, where the church hosted a 2005 service that beatified 13 Cristero Rebellion martyrs.

But investment hasn't been forthcoming. "Large sums of money aren't flowing in," Gutíerrez said, adding that the construction is being carried out with the help of in-kind donations from construction firms.

Ironically, Cardinal Sandoval actually might have alienated many of the business groups that have supported church projects over the years by telling a gathering of journalists last month, "There isn't a single honorable rich person, because working never made anyone wealthy … If that were the way to become wealthy, then donkeys would be the richest."

The cardinal later explained that he had been referring to the annual list of billionaires published by Forbes magazine, but business groups in Western Mexico rebuked the comments, pointing to Sandoval's penchant for rubbing shoulders with the wealthy and his frequent golfing excursions to an exclusive country club.

Ramos Cortes, the religious studies professor, said that many parish priests also privately oppose the project, but are afraid to voice their criticisms.

"All of the temples in the archdiocese have collection boxes so that people can collaborate in the project, but there have been very few donations," he said.

Ultimately, the construction of the sanctuary, investment in it or lack thereof, and public opinion could be litmus tests for religious power in the region.

The lack of donations and immense criticism of the Sanctuary of the Mexican Martyrs, according to Ramos Cortes, reflect a changing social dynamic in Guadalajara, which, while remaining solidly Catholic, is becoming less fervent in its zeal for religious meddling in social and political matters.

"The governor thinks that with this [donation] he's going to win over Catholics, but in my opinion, he's making a bad calculation," Ramos Cortes said.

"Catholics are gradually developing a more critical attitude toward the political maneuverings of the local clergy – and particularly this cardinal."

08 May 2008

Missionaries fill government void

Boy riding donkey

Missionaries fill government void

The News

SAN MIGUEL HUAIXTITA, Jal. – Trekking through the craggy region surrounding her home in this indigenous Huichol community in the northern part of Jalisco in early March, María Ramírez Muñoz stumbled.

She fell into a canyon and broke both legs. Six bed-ridden weeks in a thatched-roof hut with an intravenous antibiotic stuck in her right knee ensued, before she was finally airlifted, her husband Simplicio at her side, to a public hospital in Guadalajara.

Dagoberto Cirilo Sánchez, a pastor from the Seventh Day Adventist Church, had saved the day, flying her in his Cessna 206 to get the attention she needed.

Cirilo has his share of admirers in San Miguel Huaixtita, a settlement of 491 Huichol in Mezquitic, one of the 25 poorest municipalities in Mexico.

But he's also at the center of a brewing storm: While he provides medical services on a regular basis, fulfilling needs unmet by the state government, Cirilo also preaches his gospel to the Huichol. His presence – he's been coming to the area for 16 years, and every week, conducts worship services in San Miguel Huaixtita – unsettles some Huichol leaders, who mistrust outsiders and disapprove of the growing number of converts to Cirilo's faith, who tend to leave their Huichol ways behind.

Cirilo, a former Air Force pilot, understands their dilemma.

"Some people here really don't care for me," he said. "But having an airplane makes me somewhat necessary."

Missionaries in Mexico have long stepped in to fill a void left behind by inadequate government attention, and Cirilo is no exception. The conversion of indigenous people, too, has caused controversy among local communities since the time of the Conquistadors.

But his struggle with the Huichol is somewhat unique, in part because the Huichol customs being rejected by converts are hardly the most wholesome of traditions. Consumption of peyote and alcohol, for instance, are two rituals often passed over for prayer. The Huichol themselves are also engaged in a battle over their own customs.


Cirilo has also established himself in the region, making it difficult for the Huichols to simply kick him out. His plane, they admit, is essential in a region where overland trips to major centers can take days and basic services like power, telephones and medical care are considered luxuries.

His assistance, which includes medical flights, horticulture projects and programs that help Huichol youths pursue studies in Guadalajara, comes with few strings attached.

"We like him because been helping us out for so many years," said Simplicio López de la Cruz.

But his relationship with the Huichols is in jeopardy, as they come to see him as just another missionary who has come to steal their people and erase their history.

"What often happens is that the pastors leading these religious groups will invite the local people to permanently forget their customs and traditional ceremonies," said Samuel Salvador, a Huichol lawyer affiliated with the University of Guadalajara.

"[They are] ripping out the Huichol customs by the root."


The Huichol, like many other indigenous groups in Mexico, have long kept to themselves, maintaining the ways of their elders, and avoiding aspects of modernity not deemed absolutely necessary.

But modernity is creeping into Huichol territory, which covers northern Jalisco and parts of Nayarit, Zacatecas and Durango, thanks to migration, new roads and increased contact with outsiders.

The regular journeys that many Huichol men make to the lush agricultural regions of Sinaloa and Nayarit, where they labor for low wages as field hands in the annual coffee, tomato and tobacco harvests, are said to be contributing to culture clashes within the Huitchol themselves.

According to UNAM sociologist Sergio Sarmiento Silva, those who return from stints outside the region return having abandoned customs like wearing traditional Huichol costumes. They also import vices like alcoholism.

Not that the Huichol don't have their own home-grown problems.

In 2005, a Jalisco official who oversees domestic violence issues in the northern part of the state told the newspaper El Universal that "at least 90 percent of [Huichol] men frequently consume alcoholic beverages, and in addition, are violent with their wives," prompting outcry from Huichol leaders and defenders.

Many other elements of Huichol culture persist, too. The Huichol language is still widely spoken – especially among women – and traditional forms of governance are also carried out. The local shaman still advises an elders' council on who should be the next leader after having a peyote-induced vision.

Cirilo rejects accusations that he is trying to destroy Huichol customs.

"I only speak about Jesus Christ," he said. "If that's changing culture, I plead guilty."

He also said he feels no guilt over seeing Huicholes abandon the consumption of tejuino, a fermented corn beverage, and peyote, at traditional ceremonies.

"It's not like having a social drink … It's getting drunk for two solid days," he said. "Those that accept the Christian faith don't want to drink alcohol, don't want take drugs. Thus, they're automatically left out of the customs."

According to Cirilo, many converts desperately seek an escape from the influence of their local shaman, who they say threatens to inflict maladies like crops failures, scorpion attacks and failed pregnancies on converts.

"The Huichol culture is rooted in fear," said Cirilo, who has himself been cursed by numerous shamans over the years.

"So many Huichol are terrified of what the shaman will do to them."

Cirilo cited the case of the people of Aguafría, a hamlet in Mezquitic, as an example of rule through fear. Earlier this decade, the entire population converted to Seventh Day Adventism, and eschewed regular Huichol ceremonies.

In 2005, two slaughtered donkeys were dumped in Aguafría with a note that read, "You'll be next."

Shortly after, 46 inhabitants were officially expelled from the community.

Cirilo filed a religious discrimination complaint with the National Human Rights Commission, or CNDH, which recommended this month that the Jalisco state government take action against the aggressors and do more to compensate the expelled Huichol for their property loss.

[The Jalisco government] has always insisted that this is an agrarian issue," Cirilo said. "They have never accepted that this is an issue of religious tolerance."

The former inhabitants of Aguafría now live in near the Agua Milpa Dam in Nayarit state in conditions the CNDH has described as "deplorable."


In spite of their reluctance to embrace missionaries like Cirilo, local Huichol leaders recognize that current government programs go nowhere.

Reyes Carrillo de la Cruz, a local Huichol leader in Guadalupe Ocotán in the state of Nayarit, regards the federal Procampo farming program with disdain. Procampo allots each farmer a fixed sum for every hectare he owns. But according to Carillo, farmers simply spend their annual payment on beer.

Meanwhile, according to Carillo's son Diego, the government also fails to provide enough staff for the local primary school, and has given no support to establish a local fishery. The local federally funded health clinic is furnished with empty medicine cabinets.

Like it or not, these unmet needs open the door for missionaries like Cirilo, Diego Carillo said.

"The missionaries come with clothing, food and medicine," Diego Carrillo said. But when people convert, "it rips families apart." 

Cirilo knows where he stands, but plans to continue with the flights and sermons in the heart of Huichol country, even though his work is at times frustrating.

Simply delivering assistance, he said, can backfire. In 1993, he arranged the delivery of 20 tons of corn to San Miguel Huaixtita after the corn harvest was wiped out.

Unbeknownst to him, the town had used some of the money donated to their cause to enlist a team of mules to haul an enormous quantity of liquor into San Miguel Huaixtita.

The missionary woke up one morning to find some 1,500 Modelo beer cans littering the hills.

"What I spent on corn, they spent on beer," he recalled somewhat bitterly, adding that paternalistic projects simply don't work.

"Our method isn't to give things, but rather offer services," he said.

06 May 2008

On leftist party's birthday, two factions, visions, cakes

Rafael Acosta "Juanito"
Rafael "Juanito" Acosta shows support for the pro-AMLO factions of the PRD.

On leftist party's birthday, two factions, visions, cakes

David Agren
The News

The two candidates contesting the still-undecided Democratic Revolution Party internal vote, Alejandro Encinas and Jesús Ortega, marked the PRD's 19th anniversary by speaking of unity – an elusive objective during the party's oft-contentious leadership campaign and post-election fallout.

"We have problems, but that's not going to overshadow the anniversary of the PRD," Ortega told The News while celebrating at the Revolution Monument.

But the pair made their pronouncements at separate birthday bashes mere blocks from each other in central Mexico City, where card-carrying PRD members – and others simply accepting free junkets to the national capital – spoke ill of their opponents and even disparaged the rival celebrations.

"All of the traitors are over there," said Encinas supporter Rafael Acosta, pointing toward Ortega's celebrations.

Acosta, a self-described "social fighter," objected to the willingness of the Ortega wing of the PRD – known as "Los Chuchos" – to broker deals with the federal government, which many in the party consider illegitimate due to allegations of fraud in the 2006 presidential election.

"They're a bunch of sellouts … and trying to steal the [PRD] election," he added.

Differences over strategy threaten to split the PRD less than two decades after Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas founded the party, which has long been beset by infighting among its disparate currents.

And neither Encinas nor Ortega has been willing to entertain the possibility of stepping aside, even though the election, held March 16, has been plagued by allegations of vote tampering, improper campaigning and favoritism on the part of senior PRD officials.

The pair couldn't even agree on an interim leader as Encinas rejected the appointment of Guadalupe Acosta to the post by the PRD national council over the weekend.

Encinas, who was named the winner by a PRD committee last Tuesday – despite only 84 percent of the votes being counted – held a relatively modest party in the Colonia Juárez complete with birthday cake, yellow balloons and free T-shirts.

Rosalba Carmelita Cruz, who said she was previously offered giveaways of food and household items from the Ortega campaign, objected to the Chuchos' birthday bash.

"They're throwing a bigger party to attract more followers," she said.

"There's more of a party, more food, more giveaways."

Ortega feted the PRD anniversary at the Revolution Monument with bands, clowns and a demonstration by the masked men of the Lucha Libre. He also called for the Left to become more "modern" and "critical."

But many of the attendees, including Nezahualcóyotl resident Faustino López Benitez, appeared more interested in freebies and complimentary taco dinners than left-wing political discourse.

He confessed to boarding a bus earlier in the day at the urging of an organizer known as "the drunk" and after "a friend told me that it was the [PRD] anniversary."

When asked about Ortega and later Encinas, López Benitez responded both times "I have no idea who that is," while waiting for a plate of pastor tacos.

The lack of passionate support at the Ortega event allowed interlopers like Eligio Manuel Hernández to sell an estimated 100 straw hats with the slogan "¡Viva AMLO!" a reference to party stalwart Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who backed Encinas and raised the ire of Ortega by signing campaign propaganda deemed illegal by PRD election officials.

"Ortega's been brought in by [President Felipe] Calderón to trip up Encinas," Hernández alleged.
The elderly weaver also insisted that party members "get along fine" and would emerge united. But he wasn't sure how.