Allied with the governing PRI, the party has little to say about deforestation or climate change and critics call it a family firm ‘bordering on organised crime’.
In much of the world, green politicians struggle to shake off the impression that they are impossible dreamers whose lofty principles would be unlikely to survive the grubby and cynical world of politics.
This has never been a problem in Mexico: leaders of the country’s Green party have regularly been accused of corruption, selling political favours – and of showing no interest in environmental issues. In 2009, the party ran an election campaign calling for the return of the death penalty.
Now the Ecologist Green Party of Mexico faces record 180m peso (£7.9m/$11.7m) fines for breaching electoral campaign rules amid growing anger over its tactics ahead of midterm elections in June. More than 96,000 people have signed an online petition demanding that electoral authorities withdraw the party’s registration after it flooded the country with political advertising before the campaign period officially began.
“These false greens have caused major damage to the party political system, the electoral authorities and democracy,” wrote political analyst Jorge Alcocer in a widely shared recent column.
Alcocer accused the party – often seen as a vehicle for the family of its founder Jorge González Torres – of putting its political clout at the service of powerful commercial interests, such as the country’s TV networks.
“They have taken a family business to an extreme that borders on organised crime,” he wrote. “Their sale of favours has bubbled up like foam.”
Arturo Escobar, the party’s congressional leader, said the vitriol was triggered by fact that the party has more influence than ever before thanks to their alliance with President Enrique Peña Nieto and the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.
“The intellectuals don’t like us because they don’t know us, and if damaging lies are repeated often enough they begin to sound true,” he told the Guardian. “And they don’t like us because we are allies of the president and because we have good relations with the TV networks.”
The PRI’s vote seems set to dwindle in the June elections, thanks to a credibility crisis triggered by the country’s weakening economy and security crisis – and the government’s own litany of corruption allegations.
But if the Greens prove able to pick up support from that disaffected electorate, the government could still obtain a working majority in Congress. Opinion polls currently give the Greens their first realistic shot at obtaining over 10% of the vote.
Their electoral strategy relies heavily on remarkably slick and well-targeted political advertising that offers apparently easy solutions to major problems, and rarely has much to do with environmental issues.
The party is proposing to combat the dismal standard of state school education by making computing and English classes obligatory, and to offset insufficient health services with state-funded vouchers for medical treatment in private facilities. It has given no indication how such policies would be funded, but has promoted its manifesto by distributing thousands of store discount cards and backpacks filled with school supplies emblazoned with the party logo.
Defending the strategy, Escobar said: “We are the second biggest Green party in the world, after the Germans, so we have to defend the whole range of issues affecting the population.”
Of the infamous 2009 campaign slogan calling for “Death to Kidnappers”, he said: “It is true that the European Greens would never support the death penalty, but they don’t live in Mexico.”
Environmentalists say the party has never shown much commitment to pushing a broad green agenda, and has largely limited its activism to occasional initiatives such as a recent ban on circus animals.
“We don’t see them working on the big issues facing Mexico, such as deforestation, climate change or the contamination of the rivers by industrial waste,” said Raúl Estrada, communications director for Greenpeace Mexico. “The policies they support are incongruous.”
Certainly, the party’s best-known figures have shown little interest in environmental issues, and are better known for their involvement in a string of scandals.
In 2004, Senator Jorge Emilio González, the 43-year-old son of the party’s founder, was filmed apparently negotiating a $2m bribe to help secure permits for a new hotel complex in Cancún. He later claimed that he had been attempting to expose corruption.
In 2011 a Bulgarian model plunged 19 floors to her death during an allegedly wild party at a Cancún apartment which local media said belonged to the González family. No charges were ever brought.
During a popular TV chatshow in 2007, he was stumped for an answer when asked about government plans to introduce genetically modified corn. Pressed to respond, he said: “What we have to do is work on birth control.”
Another prominent party member, Manuel Velasco, is now a national household name and is often mentioned as a potential presidential candidate, thanks to huge levels of promotional spending and his regular appearance in society magazines with his pop-star fiancee.
Velasco – who was recently filmed slapping an aide in the face during a political event – has since 2012 been governor of Chiapas, Mexico’s poorest state. During his time in office, he has done little to address problems of deforestation and poverty in the state.
“The Greens concentrate the bad elements of Mexican politics and take them to an extreme,” said political analyst Jesús Silva Herzog. “There are sinister figures in all the big parties, but there are some respectable ones too. I cannot think of a single respectable figure in the Green Party.”
Source | http://www.theguardian.com