For All Nails #194: La Reforma Política
by Noel Maurer
- From the official Spanish version of the Constitution of 1819:
"NOSOTROS, la Gente de México, a fin de formar un gobierno más perfecto, establecer justicia, afirmar la tranquilidad interior, asegurar la unidad de nuestros pueblos, proveer la defensa común y el bienestar general y asegurar para nosotros mismos y para nuestros descendientes los beneficios de la Libertad, estatuimos y sancionamos esta CONSTITUCIÓN para la República de los estados unidos de México."
- From a transcipt of President Moctezuma's vitavised address to Congress, 11 April 1975:
"Power corrupts but slowly. I need not mention the evils that could have been prevented had Alvin Silva been negated a second term. Even the gran Andrew Jackson remained in power too long. The temptation to build a camarilla rather than a legacy is one that only a santo can resist. We all back sainthood of course." (Laughter.) "But lacking the power of beautification, FN1 are you then in favor of the camarilla, Senator Keating?" (More laughter.) "If you cannot achieve what you want to achieve in six years, then it is time to give someone else a chance."
- From a private meeting between President Moctezuma and five senior members of the Progressive Party's assembly delegation, the Progressive governors of Guadalajara and Durango, and Senator Keating (P-México del Norte), 8 April 1975:
"Anyway, caballeros, if el Presidente is limited to one sexenio, it gives all of ustedes a better shot at the top job, no?"
- The text of the proposed Thirteenth Article of the Constitution of the Republic of the United States of Mexico:
"No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than once, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President for more than three years of a term to which some other person was elected President, shall be elected to the office of the President."
- From a speech of Representative Michael Danbury before a Progressive Party caucus in Ashton, California, 14 April 1975:
"A lot of verbiage to put before the main point, which is to give children the right to vote. Yes, Yucatán's voting age of 25 is a travesty. But 16! My son is sixteen, and I don't trust him with the keys to my loke, let alone a ballot."
- From a meeting between Secretary of State María del Rey and a group of Progressive Party leaders in Governor Rickover's mansion in Guadalajara City, 22 April 1975:
"What matters to El Popo is section 3. He has a bicho up his butt about that. As far as I can tell, he wants to try to insure that no one can use one clause in the constitution to justify violating another. Me, I'm not a lawyer, but Mayor Alvarez there tells me this is what comes of letting people practice law without a license." (Chuckles.) "So look. Section 3 doesn't matter to us, because it just plain doesn't matter. Section 4 doesn't matter to El Popo nearly as much. If you want the minimum voting age changed to 18, then I think I can get him to go along."
- From a meeting between Secretary of State María del Rey and President Moctezuma, 23 April 1975:
"María, you are a genio. Ask for a klick, get five hundred meters. Thank you. And thank you for other support for the package."
"You're welcome, Sr. Presidente."
"I can't stand in your way for the nomination now, Madame Secretary."
- The text of the proposed Fourteenth Article of the Constitution of the Republic of the United States of Mexico:
"1. National sovereignty resides in the people. All public power emanates from the people and is instituted for their benefit and on their behalf. The people have an inalienable right to peacefully alter or modify their government through regular and periodic elections.
"2. The will of the Mexican people is constituted in a representative, democratic, and federal Republic composed of free and sovereign states perpetually united in a Federation established according to this Constitution.
"3. The people exercise their sovereignty through the Federation, or the states, under the terms established by this Constitution and the charters of the various states. In no case may the actions of the Federation or a state government violate the stipulations of the this Constitution.
"4. All citizens have a right to participate equally in the free and peaceful selection of their government. Therefore, all citizens have the right to vote in federal elections, provided they are eighteen years of age or older and have never been convicted of a felony by either a state or the Federation or been otherwise disenfranchised in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution."
- From a meeting between Chief of Staff Chewy Enciso and President Moctezuma, 17 April 1975:
"'You can't pass a law telling people to respect the law.'"
"He said that?"
"Yeah, patrón, he did."
"That's what I thought."
"Well, you can pass a law telling people that we will be coming after you if you don't respect the law. We've had two tin-pot dictators spin temporary emergencies into decades-long vacations in Chapultepec Castle. If this gets even one wannabe to think twice in the future, it will have been worth it."
- The text of the proposed Fifteenth Article of the Constitution of the Republic of the United States of Mexico:
"1. This Constitution shall lose neither force nor vigor, even when acts of violence against the democratic system interrupt its observance. Should any public tumult or violence establish a government that acts against the principles sanctioned by this Constitution, as soon as the people recover their liberty the rule of this Constitution shall be re-established, and all laws and arrangements issued by the illegitimate government shall be judged, as will all those who cooperated with it.
"2. No person, organization, or group has the right to arrogate power to itself in violation of this constitution. Doing so constitutes rebellion or sedition. All citizens have the right to resist those who attempt to exercise public power outside the limits established by this Constitution.
"3. Neither Congress nor the Cabinet may vest extraordinary powers on the President or any other executive official, nor may it grant acts of submission or supremacy whereby the life, honor, or wealth of the Mexican people will be at the mercy of governments or any person whatsoever. Acts of this nature shall render those who formulate them, consent to them or sign them, liable to prosecution for treason."
- From a meeting of El Popo's kitchen cabinet, 12 April 1975:
Chewy Enciso: "Look, Popo, we all know it's a good idea y long overdue, but it draws attention to the race issue and that's not what we need."
Joseph Osterman: "It's a bad idea."
Andy Gendrop: "They're right, patrón. No one cares. The issue has been dead for more than fifty years. Why reopen old wounds?"
Immanuel Moctezuma: "Uh hhhuuuuuuuuh. I care. The text, as it stands, is in."
- The text of the proposed Sixteenth Article of the Constitution of the Republic of the United States of Mexico:
"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, shall exist within the United States of Mexico, or any place subject to the jurisdiction of the Federation. Nothing in this article shall be construed to interfere with the obligation of all citizens to serve their nation in times of need."
- From an editorial meeting at the Henrytown Mercury-Reporter, 14 April 1975:
Eduardo Nuche, reporter: "It's a fine reform. Great. Wonderful. What's not to like?"
Franklin Sterett, abogado: "Note section 3. The implication is that we're going to be hit by a demanda the second El Popo is out of office."
Kepler Peñaloza, editor: "Hey, Eduardo, we'll win any demanda, right?"
Eduardo Nuche, reporter: "As far as I know, I've told the truth y nothing but the truth, if not always the whole truth."
Franklin Sterett, abogado: "Then as long as you keep paying my salario, you've got nothing to preoccupy you."
Kepler Peñaloza, editor: "In fact, I hope El Popo tries something. It'd make good publicity."
- The text of the proposed Seventeenth Article of the Constitution of the Republic of the United States of Mexico:
"1. Private actions that do not damage the public morals or order, or prejudice third parties, shall be outside the ambit of the law.
"2. All citizens have the right to manifest their thoughts in written or spoken speech, and publicize them without prior censorship, although they shall remain responsible for any abuses committed during the exercise of this right in such cases as Congress shall establish by law. Such abuses shall consist only of damaging the rights of third parties, provoking the commission of a felony, or sedition under Article XV of this Constitution.
"3. Congress shall establish no law allowing the President of the United States of Mexico or other public officeholders of the States or the Federation to pursue their rights under Article XVII, Section 2, of this Constitution while they still hold public office."
- From a private conversation between Maria del Rey and her political advisors, 14 April 1975:
Man in gray suit: "How did you get him to agree to this? It's simply excellent!"
Maria del Rey: "It is good, isn't it?"
Man in blue suit: "It's more than good. The Progressive Party received 73 percent of the popular vote for President in '71 and almost 80 percent of the Congressional vote in '74. Under this formula, we'll get a little more than half of all public funding, with the rest split among five tiny little parties, none of which were ever more than Mercatorista fronts anyway."
Man in black pinstriped suit: "And no private non-party fundraising means that our candidates will be dependent on the Party for support."
Man in blue suit: "No worries about rebellions. Where would they go? New parties get no public money, and it would be hard for them to get donations from our supporters."
Maria del Rey: "You're right. It's more than good. It's superb."
- From a telephone conversation between a little man in a white linen suit and a man with a thick mustache, 2 November 1976:
Man with thick mustache: "Did you put him up to it? It's simply excellent!"
Little man in white suit: "Yo? I don't talk to the President. If I did, he wouldn't be backing that dumb bitch, would he?"
Man with thick mustache: "When you look at it, it's designed for what we talked about."
Little man in white suit: "It is? How?"
Man with thick mustache: "Have you read the fucking thing?"
Little man in white suit: "Stop jerking my chain, Bob. It's longer than the rest of the pinche constitution."
Man with thick mustache: "Snort. You should read it, tonto. The enabling legislation strictly limits donations from parties that take public money."
Little man in white suit: "By God, you're right. We'd all be bound by the same ceiling."
Man with thick mustache: "It's a pretty high ceiling."
Little man in white suit: "Not that high. It'd be a damned stretch. But I could do it, I could do it. With some help from my friends."
Man with thick mustache: "Still. It is a lot of money."
Little man in white suit: "But to beat that Godbedamned little puta? Might be worth it."
The President of the United States of Mexico, alone in his office with Chewy Enciso, both of them laughing hysterically, several times over the course of 1975 and 1976.
- The text of the proposed Eighteenth Article of the Constitution of the Republic of the United States of Mexico:
"1. The renovation of the legislative and executive power is realized through free, authentic, and periodic elections, under the following bases:
"2. Political parties are public organizations and the law will determine the specific form in which they will take part in the electoral process. National parties will have the right to participate in state elections. Only voting citizens may affliate themselves freely and individually with political parties. Political parties have the function of promoting the participation of the people in the public life of the nation and giving the people access to the exercise of public power, in accordance with their programs and principles and through the exercise of universal, free, secret, direct and effective suffrage.
"3. Congress will guarantee all political parties equitable access to the resources they need to carry out their functions. Congress will therefore establish laws regulating the financing of the parties, insuring that public funds distributed freely prevail over private money.
"4. Public financing for registered political parties will be used for the continuation of their permanent activities as well as those aimed at encouraging voting during election campaigns and will be authorized according to the stipulations of the law and this Constitution.
"5. Public financing for the permanent activities of political parties will be fixed annually, using the minimum campaign cost estimates calculated by the Federal Electoral Authority. One-third of the resulting amount will be distributed equally among the parties. The remaining two-thirds will be distributed in accordance with the percentage of the total vote the party obtained in the preceding federal election.
"6. Public financing for activities aimed at encouraging and obtaining votes during federal election campaigns will equal the amount of public financing for permanent activities that corresponds to each party.
"7. Congress shall fix spending limits for the political parties, establish maximum limits for contributions by their supporters and sympathizers, create procedures to monitor the origin and use of all private spending, and fix appropriate penalties for the violation of the law.
"8. Federal elections shall be organized and conducted under a public authority called the Federal Electoral Authority, which shall enjoy its own juridical personality. The Federal Electoral Authority shall be composed of a Council Superior, an executive office, technical support office, and vigilancia. The Council Superior shall be its supreme administrative organ and consist of an Administrator-in-chief, eight electoral consejeros, and non-voting representatives from every political party holding seats in the Congress of the United States of Mexico. The executive and technical support offices shall consist of personnel with the necessary skills and qualifications to organize and conduct elections. The dispositions of the electoral law and the statute authorizing the Federal Electoral Authority will regulate the working relationship of its personnel. The vigilancia shall consist of representatives of the federal political parties. Voting places shall be manned by citizens chosen by lot from the electoral list, excepting only active-duty military personnel.
"9. The Administrator-in-chief and consejeros of the Council Superior shall be elected, successively, by a two-thirds majority of the Assembly. Candidates for Administrator-in-chief and consejero shall be proposed by the respective party caucusses in the Assembly of the Congress of the United States of Mexico. In accordance with the above procedure, the Assembly shall also elect eight consejeros suplentes.
"10. The Administrator-in-chief and consejeros of the Council Superior shall serve for a term of six years, during which they may hold no other employment, office, or commission.
"11. The executive secretary of the Federal Electoral Authority shall be nominated by the Administrator-in-chief and approved by a two-thirds vote of the Council Superior.
"12. The Federal Electoral Authority shall be charged with monitoring the federal electoral list, which shall consist of all citizens above sixteen years of age who have never been convicted of a felony by either a state or the Federation or otherwise disenfranchised in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution. The Federal Electoral Authority shall also be charged with the printing and distribution of all electoral material, the preparation of the electoral journal, the counting of the votes, and the determination of the victor in all federal elections. Following every decennial census, the Federal Election Authority shall be charged with drawing the boundaries for Assembly districts, in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution. All sessions of any organ of the Federal Electoral Authority shall be open to the public.
"13. In order to guarantee the constitutionality and legality of the actions and decisions of the Federal Electoral Authority, a system of judicial appeals shall be established. The Federal Electoral Tribunal shall be the highest authority with respect to the decisions and actions of the Federal Electoral Authority. All sessions of the Federal Electoral Tribunal shall be public. The Federal Electoral Tribunal shall be composed of seven electoral judges. They shall elect one of their number to serve a chief justice for a period of four years.
"14. The Senate of the Congress of the United States of Mexico shall select the judges of the Federal Electoral Tribunal by a two-thirds vote of its members. Immediately after they shall be assembled in consequence of the first election, the judges, not including the chief justice, shall be divided into three classes. The offices of Judges of the first class shall be vacated at the expiration of the third year, of the second class at the expiration of the sixth year, and the third class at the expiration of the ninth year, so that one third may be chosen every third year. If vacancies should happen by resignation, then the Senate of the Congress of the United States of Mexico shall select a new judge by a two-thirds vote of its members.
"15. The Federal Electoral Tribunal shall be a court of first instance in: disputes regarding actions or decisions of the Federal Electoral Authority; disputes regarding elections for members of the Congress of the United States of Mexico; and disputes regarding the election of the President of the United States of Mexico. In such cases, the Federal Electoral Tribunal shall be charged with the final count of the votes for President, openly and publicly.
"16. The Federal Electoral Tribunal shall be a court of appeals in: Disputes regarding actions or resolutions that violate the right of every citizen to have an equal voice in selecting their government through free, peaceful, and secret voting; disputes between the Federal Electoral Authority and its personnel; and disputes regarding the actions of the competent electoral authorities in state and local elections, when such actions are judged to have potentially affected the substantive outcome of the election. In such cases, appeals to the Federal Electoral Tribunal shall only be allowed when the solicited reparation can be carried out before the legal date at which elected candidates shall assume the powers of office. The Federal Electoral Tribunal shall determine material sanctions in all electoral cases.
"17. Congress shall have the power to give the Federal Electoral Tribunal the power of appeal in other cases, to be determined by law. In all such cases, decisions of the Federal Electoral Tribunal shall be subject to review by the Mexico Tribunal.
"18. Whenever the Federal Electoral Tribunal shall decide the constitutionality of an act or resolution or the interpretation of a clause of this Constitution, such decision can be appealed by the President or heads of the executive departments to the Mexico Tribunal. In such cases, the Mexico Tribunal shall make the definitive decision concerning the interpretations or decisions of the Federal Electoral Tribunal."
SCENE: A man frantically shredding documents, while another man stands at the door shouting, 1 August 1975: "We've only got an hour to catch the next flight to Cisplatina! I've got the money, they've got no treaty, who gives a fuck! Come ON!!"
- Bill introduced to Congress on 5 May 1975:
"An ACT for the admission of the territories adminstered by the Office of the Caribbean of the Department of War of the Republic of the United States of Mexico as a full State of the Federation, to be styled 'Las Antillas'..."
- From a private conversation between the Secretary of State of the United States of Mexico and the Governor of México Central, 1 June 1975:
The Governor: "Déjame ver if I get this. I lose some of my tax base, but I also lose those damned pinche liberals."
The Secretary: "That's right."
The Governor: "In essence, I can buy less votos, but the opposition in my state --- fui! --- basically disappears."
The Secretary: "That's right."
The Governor: "Bueno, why shouldn't I be worried about four new senators from those pinche suburbs?"
The Secretary: "Because I'm going to nominate them. And then, once they're elected, they are going to depend on the Progressive Party, of which we are both loyal members, for their future. The political reforms will assure that."
The Governor: "Hah! How did you get El Popo to agree to all of this?"
The Secretary: "My charm, I suppose, Mr. Governor."
- From a private meeting involving a little man in a white suit and a rather larger but-still-shorter-than-average man who looks much younger than his age, 9 March 1977:
The little man in the white suit: "We run you where you're sure to win. And we fund you. Not that much, but how much will you need to win there?"
The young-looking man: "I need to talk to the President, you understand."
The little man in the white suit: "Por supuesto, joven! But think about it. Does that, uh, woman carry on his legacy?"
The young-looking man: "I still need to talk to him."
The little man in the white suit: "I understand."
- Bills introduced to Congress on 12 May 1975:
"An ACT to approve the transference of the following territories from the sovereign State of México Central to the Capital District..."
"An ACT for the admission of the Capital District of the United States of Mexico as a full State of the Federation, to be styled 'Jackson'..."
Forward to FAN #195: Historiae Virorum Illustrorum Novangliae.
Forward to 10 April 1975: Such Sweet Sorrow.
Forward to USM Politics: Notes from the Investigation (Part 2).
Return to For All Nails.