Finding that we weren’t being heard by the current powers-that-be, lead me to becoming involved in their replacements in the hopes that the new powers-that-be would take La Yacata into account.
2012 was a big election year here. The president of México was elected, his term is every 6 years. The governor of Guanajuato was elected, his term is every 6 years too. The president of Moroleón was elected, his term is every 3 years. The president of Moroleón is really an alcalde (mayor) but they think much of themselves here and I guess the term president sounds more important than alcalde (mayor).
The election campaigning begins May 6th, after Méxican labor day (May 1) and The battle of Puebla (May 5) and lasts until midnight of election day (July 1). It can be compared in no way to election campaigns in the U.S.
The political parties that were represented in Moroleón’s local elections were: PRI (Partido de la Revolución Institucional), PAN (Partido Acción National) PRD (Partido de la Revolución Democrática) PT (Partido de Trabado), PVEM or more commonly known as el Verde (Partido Verde Ecologista de México) and Nueva Alianza.
PRI has a bad reputation as a political party nationally as they were in power so long (71 years). PAN is known as the party of the people with their slogan ‘algo DIFerente.’ PAN has various DIF (Desarrollo Integral de la Familia) programs, such as ‘un techo digno’ that provides roofing materials for those who need it, ‘una casa DIFerente’ that provides building materials for families in need to construct their own houses and other worthy programs providing becas (scholarships) and ‘dispensas para la tercer edad’ (food packet handouts for the elderly). Locally, there isn’t much support for the other parties, although PRD came out strong in Moroleón this year. Nueva Alianza is the party of the teacher’s union here in México, but I don’t know much about the other parties, except that the PT candidate for president for Moroleón was Chuchi. I didn’t understand how someone of such questionable character could run for president. When I asked, no one seemed to think that he would win, but said that the candidates are all given money for their campaign, motivation to run even if there is no chance of success. That made me angry. Here he was getting money for doing nothing and I was doing all sorts of activities and not getting paid for any of them. Which one of us was the taruga (blockhead) anyway?
My mother-in-law was a staunch support of PAN in previous years and it served her well. She was able to get a cushy job at Los Areas Verdes (the local zoo park) cleaning the bathrooms and charging for their use (3 pesos per person) when R2 was the PAN president several years ago. When R2 finished his term, she was able to transfer to another job through the presidencia (town hall) as a street sweeper. She also was able to qualify for ‘una casa DIFerente’ which my husband and my father-in-law built in La Yacata. So PAN was her party of choice.
Unfortunately, the accident with the police officer put a damper on her campaigning and I was asked to step in as her replacement. I had no idea what I was in for.
I was given 200 questionnaires to have the people of La Yacata fill out for the gubernatorial candidate Miguel Marquez Marquez. I had thought to just have the colonos (associates) just fill them out at the next junta (community meeting) however as the majority of property owners can not read or write, that wouldn’t work. So we started by sending Super Prez’s secretary to homes to see if she could get some of them filled out. Again, this was time consuming as the questionnaires asked for all family members names and relationships, occupations and problems in the community. The problems section was easy to fill out. We wrote the same on each one. We asked that we be allowed to connect to the water and sewer lines, have electricity and if applicable (meaning the property owner was a woman) be allowed to construct a DIF house. The secretary managed to get about 50 filled in. However, Marquez Marquez was coming to town so we were on a time constraint and I filled in the other 150 myself based on the information we had collected from the colonos (property owners).
The next aspect of campaigning was the rallies. This was comprised of a stroll through an assigned section of town with the local candidate, knocking on doors, giving out t-shirts, shaking hands and kissing babies. Well, I just had to stroll and the candidate did the other parts. I was given a t-shirt and hat and met up with the other PANistas (PAN supporters) at a different assigned place each night. Each party was given a different area to stroll, none of them overlapping, so that there would be no confrontations. At the end of the stroll, the leaders would be given the next day’s meeting place that we were instructed not to tell outsiders to prevent sabotage.
So my son and I strolled, in place of my mother-in-law. We strolled with 80-year-old viejitas (old ladies) in rebozos (shawls) and the one-armed bicycle rider. We were announced by sound cars with a catchy jingle for Paco (the PAN candidate), matracas (wooden noisemakers that turn on a handle), and conch shells. Yes, conch shells. You wouldn’t believe the noise they make. The first night I laughed so hard I nearly peed myself. I was sure that I had been trapped in a wrinkle in time. This was the 21st century, not the 1940s.
Another afternoon, I had to work, so I missed out on the PAN march but happened upon the PRI-Verde march. The two parties had combined their forces at the local level and backed the same candidate. What a difference! The PRI-Verde supporters were riding in the back of newer model pick-ups lead by a group of cheerleaders. It needn‘t be pointed out that nubile young girls beat crones in rebozos (shawls) any day. The streets were packed with people out to see the show.
Another day, I ran across the PRD marchers. They were mostly on foot, but their give-away shirts were awesome. Quality work and the brightest egg-yolk yellow.
And not to be left out, I accidentally came across a PT meeting as well. Chuchi was there with his 5 supporters, sitting in the park. I pointed and laughed as I passed in a form of psychological torture. I hope he had nightmares!
A third aspect of my role of campaigning was giving out t-shirts, hats, bags, stickers, and lonas (tarps) all marked with the PAN propaganda. This was the easiest. I gave them all to my husband’s family. They wore the shirts and hats. The kids pasted the stickers. They used the lonas (tarps) to shade the kitchen area. Everybody was content.
One day, coming home to La Yacata, I was astounded to find PRD propaganda painted all over La Yacata. I called Super Prez to see if he had authorized the painting. He hadn’t. I called el taxista to see if he had authorized it. He had, but only on his own cabaña (cabin), not on the La Yacata pump house. The way it was painted, under the sign Los Colonos de La Asociacion de La Yacata, A.C made it look as if the associates were all supporting PRD. Since we were to have a junta (community meeting) that Sunday, I didn’t want to cause any political disputing just when we were all getting organized, so I had the PRD section whitewashed over.
Towards the end of May, Marquez Marquez, the PAN gubernatorial candidate was coming to Moroleón. We had hoped to speak with him personally about the problems in La Yacata. So, el profe, el taxista, R and myself went to the shin-dig they put on. It was disappointing, to say the least. I hadn’t thought to have anything written up to give his secretary, so when we were presented, I didn’t have anything to leave for him to look over. Super Prez was supposed to be there as well, but he only made it to the front door and was called away by work. I was disappointed in that, because he really should have been the one to present the information, not me, however later I found out that he had been invited to the private breakfast for Marquez Marquez in the presidencia (town hall), so our case had been heard after all.
The day after this lunch, it was my turn to take the 8 pm to 8 am shift with my mother-in-law. There aren’t enough hospital personnel to care for patients, so a family member is required to be with the patient 24 hours a day. Her daughter had been there during the week, but needed some time off, so her other daughter-in-law G and I took turns over the weekend. My mother-in-law was conscious and alert for the first part of my shift and so I regaled her with what I had been doing in her stead and gossip about the other supporters. During the night, however, she took a turn for the worse and died 2 days later.
Her wake was attended by about a hundred political supporters. Of course, there were attendees from PAN, Paco and his crew. They sent a large corona (wreath) of flowers. Super Prez, R and R2 came as well. Super Prez sent a large corona (wreath) from La Yacata. R and R2 brought their condolences and papers to sign about the demanda (lawsuit) from Chuchi. The presidencia (town hall) sent a large corona (wreath) of flowers and many of her co-workers were there. The PRD candidate sent a bouquet with his name on a ribbon (which I thought a little tacky) and coffee and sugar. There were even some PRI-Verde supporters but to my knowledge no PT. I saw Chuchi when I went to buy my own flowers and gave him a mean face. It was all I could do.
June’s campaigning was more of the same, but I had little time to spare, so my participation was minimal. I went to a few meetings and agreed to be a motivadora (motivator) on election day. All official campaigning must cease by midnight on June 30. There is to be no alcohol sold either until midnight July 1, but it’s always possible to find someone that will risk imprisonment to sell beer.
So my role as motivadora (motivator) involved me going to the homes of a group of people who were supposed to be PAN supporters and encouraging them to go and vote. In return for my work, I was to get $100 gas voucher. I was given a black bracelet that I was supposed to wear but told I should not wear any PAN colors or propaganda. But then, I was told that I shouldn’t even wear the black bracelet since there is to be no active campaigning on election day. Well, truth be told, I felt like I had done more than my share of campaigning. Besides, I was not even eligible to vote yet, still being in the process of applying for my citizenship. I went to the PAN headquarters in the morning, picked up my list, the bracelet, and breakfast and went back home. I wasn’t going to risk being thrown in the bote (jail) for campaigning illicitly. I did notice on the drive there that the PRI-Verde headquarters was open and had a crowd of people, so mentioned it when I got to the PAN headquarters. They called the authorities and had them close the PRI-Verde’s doors.
I went back to the PAN headquarters at in the afternoon for my lunch and was asked to stake out the voting center nearest my home for irregularities. So my son and I took our lunch and ate in the park across from the voting center (which was a kindergarten). I was supposed to report anyone who seemed to be buying votes or pressuring those in line. I was supposed to receive $100 pesos on my phone to make those calls, however, the secretary misread my phone number and someone else got my phone card. My son and I stayed until we finished our lunch and then went home.
Peña Nieto, PRI, was elected México’s president. His FaceBook campaign was a success.
PAN candidate Marquez Marquez was elected governor. We had high hopes for assistance from that quarter, however, national funds have been cut by PRI, including my son’s beca (scholarship), so it looks bleak.
PRD won in Moroleón, and gave positions to Chuchi and el contratista chueco (the crooked contractor) in the presidencia (town hall). This really got my goat. I’m not exactly sure what Chuchi’s position is, however, the contractista chueco (the crooked contractor) is in charge of electricity permits in Moroleón. That will teach me to put my faith in earthly man.