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Jaqui White has excellent sources in Mexico. Here is an assessment of the presidential candidates:
" At the bank, we have a talk with Carlos Elizondo, one of the leading political analysts in Mexico, every three months, and we just had the latest talk last week. In his opinion, Bartlett is indeed a very long shot to obtaining the nomination from the PRI, let alone winning the 2000 elections. The reason behind his visibility is that he has been campaigning for some time, while the serious contenders from the PRI (mainly Labastida, the Secretario de Gobernación) has kept a lower profile until now.
Elizondo nevertheless expressed an interesting point; traditionally, the different sectors within the PRI would wait until the designation of the official candidate and then rush to support the winner. This year the alliances are being made beforehand, and it seems that Labastida is by far the leading candidate; barring some extraordinary event, he should emerge as the winner.
I specifically asked Elizondo if he saw Bartlett as a threat, to which he replied the following: the members of the PRI are very similar to the communist party members of the old Soviet Union, they are basically apparatchiks and as such are extremely conservative. Bartlett's biggest handicap is that president Zedillo hates him, so the PRI will not risk losing the presidential support during the elections (federal spending, help with logistics, etc.) by nominating an enemy of Zedillo; without the full presidential machinery, the PRI would likely lose the elections.
On the other hand Bartlett cannot join an opposition party as he carries to much baggage (mainly the '88 elections and his alleged ties to drug-dealers). As to whether Bartlett could split the PRI, this again goes against the PRI's survival instinct: a divided PRI would most likely lose to the opposition next year, and the worst scenario for Bartlett, as well as for all sectors of the PRI, would be to have either Cárdenas or Fox as president. In Elizondo's opinion, the main issue for the PRI is to present a candidate who is not a technocrat; Labastida seems to be the clear choice."
My comment: It is very difficult for an outsider to assess popular feeling toward candidates. In the United States, people assumed that Gorbachev was a hero in Russia. The election is of great importance for the United States, and so is therefore the attitude of candidates toward this country.
It is significant that the candidate should not be a technocrat, i.e. a U.S.-trained economist like Zedillo. They are like the científicos who advised Porfirio Díaz. They were far better than the revolutionaries who overthrew Díaz, but that did not win them popularity.
Ronald Hilton - 03/22/99