Last week, I had the good fortune to see a presentation given by Ms. Josefina Vazquez Mota, who was the 2012 presidential candidate of the National Action Party in Mexico.
Ms. Mota won her party’s primary election last February, winning grassroots support to beat Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party. Despite an overhaul of her campaign team, divisions within the party were one of the main reasons for her loss to Nieto.
Notably, Ms. Vazquez Mota has declared that she will not negotiate with organized crime gangs. In line with her party’s position, she opposes abortion but does not support the “criminalization” of women who seek abortion services.
On the difficulties of her campaign:
On one of her visits to Tamaulipas, one of first the states she won, state authorities warned her not to go due to the level of violence. But that was the very reason, she said, that she felt she had to go. She also pointed out that “every time a woman gets told no, it’s likely that she’ll go do exactly what she’s told not to do.” A group traveling to meet her there was threatened by local crime rings and forced to get off their bus. They continued their journey by foot.
On party politics:
In response to a question about the divisions within her party, she shared that former President Vicente Fox of the National Action Party notified her that he withdrew his support for her candidacy the night before one of the major presidential debates. She elaborated that this was his personal decision, but did not go into the details.
On fiscal reforms:
She will support any educational and economic reform that is recognized as beneficial, but there must be a dialogue to criticize such policies as well. She criticized her opponent Enrique Peña Nieto and other politicians of the PRI for failing to disclose the specifics of their public assets.
Vazquez Mota believes that there must be a two-pronged solution to the violence in Mexico.
“Silence worries me,” she declared. She continued to explain that prevention was an important step, which would be achieved through education and reconstructing family values. When she was the Secretary of Education, she was shocked to find that subjects like civics and ethics were banned from primary and secondary schools. According to Ms. Mota, developing a stronger justice system is of course, also key. Because of rampant corruption and impunity of organized criminals, there is no such thing as equality before the law.
Although she’s not running in the next presidential elections, she’s still working to strengthen the National Action Party.