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.

1 comment:

Babs said...

Geez, if you changed the names to Obama and Clinton it could be the same mess that's going on in the Democratic party - except they aren't eating tacos!