Mexican politicians fight over ‘Claudia Card’ | national


The next Mexican presidential election is still more than two and a half years away, but a potential candidate – the mayor of Mexico City – is already accused of cheating.

The controversy began last month when the government of Mexico unveiled new “scholarship” cards that offer 1.2 million preschool, elementary and secondary students up to $ 24 a month for meals and other supplies.

The cards have been around since Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum introduced them in 2019. His opponents are not happy that his government has promoted them by holding assemblies with parents who are heavily focused on paying homage to him.

What started them was the speech of a senior federal education official at one of these events. After congratulating the mayor as the children’s champion, he told parents that the teachers called it the “Claudia card”.

Opposition parties have filed complaints with two electoral monitoring institutions, accusing the mayor of illegally using public funds for self-promotion – a long tradition in Mexico despite attempts to eradicate it.

There are “electoral rules which establish a level playing field for all candidates” and “as Claudia Sheinbaum campaigns three years in advance, she is breaking that tie,” said Angela Avila, who represents the Party of the democratic revolution before the National Electoral Institute.

Kenia Lopez Rabadán, Senator of the National Action Party, held a press conference to say that it would only be fair to “also put Claudia’s name on everything that this government does not do well”.

“We should talk about (…) the homicides of the government of Claudia, the disappeared from the government of Claudia, the femicides of the government of Claudia,” she declared.

Sheinbaum denied the charges, telling local media that the only thing she approves of is the right to education and that “it’s not about trading support for a vote.”

His chief of staff, José Alfonso Suárez del Real y Aguilera, told the Los Angeles Times that the mayor had expressed no desire to run for president and that the head of the Federal Education Authority in Mexico City had makes a momentary “failure” when using the words “Claudia Card”.

What really bothers critics, he said, is “the fact that we are making the right to education universal and free in our public school system.”

Election authorities said they had no jurisdiction to investigate the matter and referred the complaints to audit agencies.

“We did not find that it would affect an election because we do not have an election,” said Bernardo Valle Monroy, a senior official at the Electoral Institute in Mexico City. “We are very far from election time.

Political candidates in Mexico have long been accused of everything from handing out gift cards to enticing voters with cheaper tortillas.

Agents of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which ruled Mexico for seven decades, were arriving in poor communities to install power lines just before the elections.

Vidal Romero, a political scientist at ITAM University in Mexico City, said payment cards are a “propaganda tool” that helps citizens see how resources are transferred to them and gives them a clearer idea of ​​how to vote .

As for student charge cards, experts have said the way they’ve been promoted is ethically troubling to say the least.

“There is a very fine line between a government exerting its resources and using social programs for personal gain,” said Beatriz Camacho, analyst for Civic Alliance, an election monitoring group in Mexico. “On the one hand, Claudia can say that it’s social policy to give money to these kids, and she’s right, and on the other hand, how much does she call it ‘the Claudia Card’ to strengthen its image in the long term? “

Mexico City media noted that the latest version of the map is white and cherry red, quite close to the colors of the mayor’s political party, Morena.

As to whether any laws have been broken, Horacio Vives, a former adviser to the National Electoral Institute, said that Sheinbaum’s name is not on the map, it is “a border situation”.

Luis Carlos Ugalde, former president of the Federal Electoral Institute, said Sheinbaum should denounce the statement by the education official.

“I think there is no doubt that this is a strategy that benefits him politically,” he said.

Sheinbaum, who holds a doctorate in energy engineering, became the city’s first elected female mayor in 2018. Among her accomplishments is the expansion of Wi-Fi access throughout the city, which recently set a record for the city. world of the most free access points in an urban network. .

But his recent tenure has been dominated by the pandemic and the collapse of a subway viaduct in May that killed more than two dozen people.

Protected by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, she is already considered one of the favorites in the presidential race of 2024. She recently attended the investitures of women governors in the states of Baja California, Guerrero and Colima, which some political observers saw it as an attempt to strengthen its national profile.

The “scholarship” cards, which can be used in various stores around the city, are popular with parents. The controversy over Sheinbaum hasn’t changed that.

“The honest truth is that I don’t mind, but in this city people interpret everything wrong,” said Carlos Rodriguez, an Uber driver whose 9-year-old son has already received the new card. “I know this card is not from her personally.

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