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Column 050905 Thompson

Monday, May 9, 2005

 

Could a newcomer win the Mexican presidency?

 

By Barnard R. Thompson

 

During the campaign of Mexican President Vicente Fox, especially in the months just prior to the July 2, 2000, elections, the “Amigos de Fox” (Friends of Fox) businessperson, industrialist and financier motivated support organization was maybe even more important to Fox’s ultimate triumph than his National Action Party, the PAN.  And one of the billionaires who was especially active in the organization was Alfonso Romo Garza, a Monterrey businessman and agro-industrialist who now seems to have his own eyes on the presidency of Mexico.

 

In recent months Romo has quietly yet increasing been putting together his political plan and gathering backers to the project, that in late April was publicly introduced as “Citizen Option” (Opción Ciudadana).  The immediate idea is to have a platform and short list of presidential candidate possibilities ready by October of this year, with enough organizational clout and personage status to interest a duly registered political party in some type of coalition candidate arrangement for the 2006 Mexican elections.

 

An even shorter list would seemingly shrink down to an Alfonso Romo candidacy.

 

Although Romo has not started his personal efforts nearly as far ahead of the 2006 elections as did Fox for 2000, or followed the U.S. model of a certain cacahuatero from Georgia in the 1970s, there is still time on the electoral calendar.  So the hope now is to forge a grouping similar to the “Alliance for Change” that carried Fox to victory.  That was an alliance of the officially registered PAN and Mexican Green Ecological Party, along with the off the books Amigos de Fox.  As to forming an actual party, while Romo says there is no such goal said possibilities would appear to depend on what can be gained with existing parties — or maybe for 2012?

 

But a Mexican election will not be won by running on the ticket of some rinky-dink small party or as a fourth option, and at this time the Romo group would be hard-pressed to place their candidate on the ticket of one of the three major parties, especially the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) or the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD).  Ideologically their best bet would appear to be the PAN, but that possibility also seems remote.

 

Alfonso Romo [56], an agronomic engineer, founded Pulsar International in 1981.  A holding company that among other entities included a stock exchange, insurance company and cigarette making, the group subsequently expanded into biotechnology and seed production.  As mentioned earlier, he was active in the Amigos de Fox, and after Fox took office in December 2000 Romo became a leading proponent of Mexico’s regional development and integration Puebla-Panama Plan.

 

On April 28, in Mexico City, Romo officially unveiled Citizen Option.  The proposal is to bring distinguished Mexicans together to further draft a plan and platform that can become a national project.  The goal is to find realistic means in order to create sufficient growth opportunities for each and every Mexican, “a development that would accord our country a position of privilege in harmony with the great nations of the XXI Century,” Romo states.

 

In coming weeks the proposal will be fine tuned through eight regional symposiums, where Mexico’s most urgent sectoral issues will be addressed in order to define a national agenda for coming years.

 

The plan is also to bring together many of Mexico’s brightest and most influential intellectuals, businesspersons, citizens and politicians.  As well, it is hoped that a number of those people will be asked to join the next president’s cabinet, regardless of who might win in 2006.

 

And the sizable known list of people whom Romo has already brought into his camp is impressive.  There are big name cabinet ministers from past administrations, along with ex-members of the Fox government.  Too, there are a number of well-known entrepreneurs, professionals turned politician, and result-oriented politicians.

 

Getting back to Mexico’s federal requisite of registration for a particular party’s candidate to run for office, reports are that Romo has been talking to the relatively new Convergence Party.  Yet again, even though its make up includes a number of experienced changeover politicians this small party alone has no chance to win the presidency in 2006.

 

But could it join a coalition and might an Alfonso-come-lately become an alliance candidate?

 

The answer is no in all probability, yet it is interesting to note that Manuel Espino, the president of PAN, recently said that his party wants “citizen candidates” for 2006 — candidates who are not necessarily members of the PAN.

 

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Barnard Thompson, a consultant, is also editor of MexiData.info.  He can be reached via e-mail at mexidata@ix.netcom.com.

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Ing. Alfonso Romo Garza