Enrique de la Madrid has become the second most important person for Xóchitl Gálvez, the presidential candidate of the Fuerza y Corazón por México coalition. After renouncing his presidential aspiration, the 61-year-old PRI member now has the task of coordinating the work to build the flag-bearer’s national project. The coordinator is clear that some public policies instituted by the Government of the president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, are immovable, such as social programs. He regrets that these supports for different sectors of the population are untouchable due to the lack of economic growth in the country that has made citizens dependent on these resources and therefore, they cannot be touched. The document will have to be informed by the opinions and experience of experts in charge of more than 29 thematic tables prepared by the training, but also by citizen contributions. In her campaign, he says, the candidate will leave behind the persuasive speech about a country “on fire” to champion a future of the middle classes.
However, there is also clarity in what must be changed in the self-proclaimed fourth transformation: the demilitarization of the country, a fundamental educational reform, tearing down the so-called new Mexican school, the disappearance of the IMSS Bienestar to build a universal health system and a growing economy. There are four axes that will be the basis of Gálvez’s campaign promises starting March 1, when he officially starts his campaign. Sitting in his study room, protected by his two pets Milka and Ponchito, De la Madrid feels proud of his PRI past and present, but of the one that identifies him: “The PRI that gives good results for the people”.
Although he will have to wait for the work of security experts, for the coordinator the demilitarization of the country does not necessarily imply removing the Army from public security tasks, in his case a gradual return to the barracks. What cannot be negotiated is taking away the powers that the current Government granted to the Armed Forces to manage assets that are outside the objective for which they were created. The Mayan Train, the Dos Bocas refinery, Tabasco, the Felipe Ángeles International Airport (AIFA) and customs, among others.
Son of former Mexican president Miguel de la Madrid, the former Secretary of Tourism knows what it is like to be in power, he recognizes the failures and successes of his party. He is focused on delivering a project that vindicates the policy and contains all the demands of citizens with ideas that are “simple, understandable and credible.” He will be in charge of that in the coming months together with the team designated by the candidate with experience in all areas that will have to organize and develop the area that corresponds to each one. For the coordinator, he considers that he is in charge of the second season of the document that must reach the nation’s project if the numbers change and Xóchitl Gálvez obtains the victory on June 2.
Ask. What is the challenge in coordinating the tables?
Answer. Our tables must collect people’s opinions, at the same time provide feedback to the candidate and take the work of the experts as a reference, and take into account other similar exercises that have been done, which are our starting point. But we must not forget that this is a campaign. And you have to communicate few ideas, simple, understandable and credible. The government plan is for when you win. Right now it’s the campaign. We all have to nourish the narrative of the candidate and the candidates, of the things that are important to people.
Q. What should be changed about the policies applied by President Andrés Manuel LópezObrador?
R. We fix what half works and what doesn’t work we change. In general, we all agree that social programs have unfortunately become an instrument that you cannot play. And why can’t you touch it? For a very sad reason, because given the lack of economic growth and opportunities in this country, for many they have already become a means of survival, of subsistence, and you can’t play with that. This Government, given the poor results it has given in general, the only thing that is useful for the people is its social programs. But they work because if you don’t have an education, a good job, a good salary and price increases are permanent. We are not going to play with that, we cannot put those social programs at risk. What is also true is that they are not enough for families to get ahead.
Q. Does eliminating social programs represent a political cost?
R. The most important thing is to generate the conviction that Mexico can move forward. I liked Xóchitl’s reflection on naming things. We want a country of middle classes. And what is that? It is doing what we have to do so that there are no Mexicans in misery, hungry. Input. How are we going to help 11 million Mexicans escape hunger and misery? It is reducing poverty to a minimum and also trying to reduce opulence. That is a country of middle classes. No misery, no hunger and conditions to prosper. That is the proposal we want and aspire to in a country of middle classes. What she (Xóchitl Gálvez) says very well is that social programs are not the solution, but we are going for more. This Government has Mexicans in survival mode.
Q. Is it necessary to rebuild the country as they have warned?
R. For the vast majority of the population, the country is not necessarily on fire. It is the first thing we must recognize. We should not try to insist to people that the country is on fire, no, it is better to work on things, whatever is useful stays. We have to get out of survival mode to go into improvement mode. For many Mexicans, the possibility of getting ahead has died. The eleventh commandment of the 4T would be you will not improve. We are a country where you work a lot, it is very expensive to live and at the same time we produce little and earn little. So you have to have a series of policies that allow us to have tools to produce more and make what we produce worth more.
Q.What needs to change from what has been established by this Government?
R. Since this Government has specialized in destruction, the list is very long, I focus on what is important. Security, the policy of ‘hugs not bullets’ ended up becoming a license to kill. In terms of health, we have lost four years of life expectancy. Education is in a critical situation. I don’t know if PISA is neoliberal, what I do know is that this Government is criminal. Today Mexico has one and a half million fewer people enrolled in school than it did six years ago and we have fewer teachers than we had five years ago. And they already told us that we went back 20 years. So where is the logic of a Government that says the poor first and takes away their most powerful tool?
Q. Does the security issue include the demilitarization of the country?
R. Security is not the same as demilitarization. We had mistakenly involved the military in the issue of security, because the argument was that we did not have municipal and state police. This Government already loved the military thing. He likes that he is building the Felipe Angeles International Airport (AIFA). Hey, the AIFA turned out very well for you, why don’t you try the Mayan Train? Hey, you did great on the Mayan Train, why don’t you skip customs too. Now an airline! With all due respect, at what time did they give us the coup d’état? We are a democratic government and its antithesis is a military government. The militarization of the country is a mistake.
Q. Wouldn’t the National Guard be demilitarized in your proposal?
R. I do not think so. But these are issues in which the experts at the security table will help us, I don’t want to get ahead of myself. What we need is for it to be very clear what the different responsibilities are at the security levels. What happens to the municipal police? What is the issue of the state police? What is the role of the National Guard? What would be the role of the Army? A National Guard in the hands of civilians doing security work is not the same. The military part has many very good things.
Q. In terms of Health, should the IMSS Bienestar disappear and return to Seguro Popular?
R. It is impossible to merge health systems overnight. A type of service provision has to be achieved where you, as a Mexican, know that you are going to have access to health services. The goal we want to reach is a universal health system, where access to health is no longer linked to labor issues. It doesn’t matter if you are in the private sector or in the government or in a state, that should not mark your health status. Surely we are going to have to transcend the idea of Popular Insurance.
Q. Is it necessary to reform the educational system?
R. Nobody knows what the Mexican school is about. A true review is required on the issue of education, a reform. Mexico should start doing more pilot tests on many issues and not want to change the ship from one side to the other.
Q. How to have a budget to implement all these measures? Without money, any promise is failed.
R. Carlos Urzúa will be there, he knows something about public finances, but also about those of this Government. What we need is an economy that grows much more, will generate more jobs and more taxes, and note, I am not talking about raising taxes, I am saying that if you have a company that earns 100 pesos and pays 35 pesos in taxes, then the Government receives 35 pesos. What you have to generate is an economy that grows more so that these social programs weigh less over time, because you cannot remove them in the short term.
Q. How will you prevent the PRI’s past from affecting Xóchitl Gálvez?
R. First of all, I am Mexican, I am a citizen, I am interested in the interest of my country. I have a partisan affiliation that I do not deny and that has also helped me. Now in this coalition it is important that people from different parties are represented. There is a PRI that I identify with and another I don’t, I identify with the PRI that gives good results for the people and that is the one that I would like to champion. The PRI has had, like everyone else, its good parts and its bad parts, but I know the PRI from the results.
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