11 December 2009

Adios Juanito

Casa de Campaña
Juanito's campaign office and home in Iztapalapa

Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard finally snookered Rafael Acosta, the vendor-turned-politician better known as "Juanito," by forcing his departure from the borough chief's office in the capital's most populous borough, Iztapalapa.

His unceremonious departure ends a colourful political run for the headband-wearing antihero, whose ascent to the top job in one of the country's most populous jurisdictions was both improbable and unseemly.

The mayor proposed that Clara Brugada - the Andrés Manuel López Obrador loyalist that the electoral tribunal disqualified from the July 5 borough chief election - take over in Iztapalapa. Brugada had governed in Iztapalapa for 59 days until Juanito ended a leave of absence in late November. He later fired her as judicial director after taking his office. (Taking a leave of absence fulfilled a promise he made during the election campaign, when he lent his candidacy for the Labor Party (PT) to Brugada.)

Media reports say that Juanito met with Ebrard earlier in the week, when he was presented with evidence showing that he had supposedly registered for the election with a false birth certificate. Juanito apparently used that false birth certificate - unwittingly or not - to obtain an IFE voting credential and CURP identification. How the mayor and Clara Brugada obtained the documents is still unknown, although officials in the capital were quick to also produce evidence that one of Juanito's closest collaborators failed to declare her full net worth while she held a position in the PAN-run borough government of Miguel Hidalgo.

Juanito apparently quit upon learning that he potentially faced up to eight years in prison - double for being a public servant - for the local and federal crimes of using false documents.

He told Radio Formula on Dec. 11 that the PT handled his documents for registering as a candidate in the July 5 election. But Juanito denied that the prospect of prison motivated his departure - and suggested that the PT lost his original document. Instead, he said, he left because of "the problems that were taking place every day in Iztapalapa.

"When I was a candidate, I wanted peace and quiet and if I wasn't personally well received, I prefer to step aside so that for someone other than Clara Brugada."

Brugada's supporters had surrounded the Iztapalapa borough offices and had hindered access to the building at times last week.

Ebrard has proposed that Brugada take over again in Iztapalapa. The Mexico City Assembly still must approve his proposal, but the PRD is divided over her return. The factions loyal to López Obrador and the PT only have 32 of the necessary 34 votes, according to the Reforma newspaper. The PAN, PRI and Green Party all want nothing to do with Brugada.

Seven members from the PRD's New Left faction hold the balance of power, but it's uncertain if they would back Brugada. Iztapalapa, of course, had been the main power base of the New Left and its Mexico City lieutenant, Sen. René Arce.

Ironically, Arce's ex-wife, Silvia Oliva, was defeated by Brugada in the PRD primary. Later, the electoral tribunal overturned Brugada's primary victory and named Oliva the candidate. López Obrador and Brugada extracted their revenge, however. They co-opted Juanito's campaign and ousted the Arce clan from the Iztapalapa borough government. Why the New Left members would now do any favors for Brugada is uncertain - especially with Arce on the brink of leaving the PRD.

No comments: