Monday, December 27, 2004
Mexico’s gaggle of 2004 newsmakers
‘Tis the season for the summing up, for looking
back on who did what in Mexico in 2004.
Almost since its inception Time Magazine has
chosen a Man of the Year, which in due course evolved into Person of the Year. For 2004, Time selected George W. Bush. Time’s
central criterion is the person’s (or group’s) status as a newsmaker, leaving the reader to determine whether
the newsmaker is “good” or “bad.”
It’s tempting to select a Person of the Year
in Mexico. But because there is so much competition this year – so many people made so many different kinds of news
– this columnist decided it would be appropriate to divide the competition into categories, allowing each winner to
bask in the glow of his or her own spotlight.
By the standards and criteria thus established, here
is the 2004 list.
We’ll start with the “No es cierto”
(“That’s not true!”) Man of the Year. This is awarded to the person who made the most blatant denial in
the face of facts presented. Many people issued public denials this year, but there is no serious competition for this award.
Rene Bejarano, former majority leader of the Mexico
City legislature, easily earned the distinction when, during an interview on national television, he watched a video of himself
stuffing cash into a briefcase and his pockets and then, without hesitation, said “No es cierto!”
Bejarano’s wife, Dolores Padierna, is also
up for special recognition. She wins in the “Stand By Your Man Woman of the Year” category. Along with Bejarano,
she steadfastly maintained his innocence in the face of evidence to the contrary, and provided him with all of the spousal
support a man in his situation could hope for.
This year’s Video Star of the Year winner is
Jorge Emilio Gonzalez, a.k.a. “Green Boy.” The Green Party leader treated television viewers to a truly incredible
scene captured by video camera.
In it, viewers watching the evening news saw him
negotiating a US$2 million kickback in return for subverting his party’s ecological principals by promising to arrange
a go-ahead on a Cancun real estate project with dubious environmental effects. There was serious competition for this award,
but Gonzalez gets the nod because he successfully convinced a judge that he was only acting.
For the “Most Plotted Against by his own Reckoning”
Man of the Year, the hands down winner is … wait for it! … Andres
Manual Lopez Obrador! During the last 12 months and even beyond, Mexico City’s mayor has accused an impressive
array of individuals and groups of plotting to derail his political career and thwart his presidential ambitions.
A partial list of those accused at one time or another
includes: President Vicente Fox, the National Action Party (PAN), the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the U.S. Central
Intelligence Agency, and former president Carlos Salinas. And the truth is, for all we know maybe there is a plot!
The Perpetual Presidential Candidate of the Year
is Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, who despite obtaining an ever-smaller percentage of the vote in successive presidential elections
is giving every indication that he is ready, willing, and anxious to subject himself to voters for a fourth time in 2006.
This year’s Almost Presidential Candidate of
the Year is Marta Sahagun, wife of the incumbent Vicente Fox. Sahagun backed away from her unannounced candidacy only after
the resignation of one of the president’s closest confidantes, Alfonso Durazo.
In his resignation letter, Durazo described her ambitions
to succeed Fox – and Fox’s apparent complicity – as “committing the original sin of the PRI,”
and said it was distracting Fox from completing the agenda of the current administration. After the letter was made public,
Sahagun felt constrained to wait more than a week before saying she had decided not to run, and even now there are hints that
the issue isn’t quite dead.
Mexican President Vicente Fox spent much of 2004
proposing legislation to a recalcitrant legislature. Among the bills he proposed, only to have them stalled or rejected, are
energy reforms, fiscal reforms, justice reforms, labor reforms and, most famously, the 2005 spending estimates. In recognition
of his efforts to resolve the nation’s problems through legislation, Fox becomes the Rejected Suitor of the Year.
There were many other newsmakers whose distinctive
actions were worthy of recognition, but the individuals listed above are, in the opinion of this columnist, the most deserving
Kenneth Emmond is a freelance journalist, economist,
and market consultant who has lived in Mexico since 1995. He is a graduate of
Carleton University School of Journalism in Ottawa, Canada, and has a Master's degree in economics from the University of
Manitoba. He has worked with The Canadian Press and United Press and in a professional
capacity with Canadian Pacific Railway and The Winnipeg Commodity Exchange. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.