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Cablegate: The Tale of "Juanito" Tells a Larger Story About Prd

VZCZCXRO2877
OO RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #0015/01 0052227
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 052227Z JAN 10 ZFR
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9643
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 000015

SENSITIVE
NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MX PGOV
SUBJECT: THE TALE OF "JUANITO" TELLS A LARGER STORY ABOUT PRD
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MEXICO 00000015 001.2 OF 002


CABLE HAS BEEN RETRANSMITTED UNDER MRN MEXICO 32

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1.(SBU) Summary: Raphael Acosta, otherwise known as "Juanito," is a
charismatic political figure whose unique sojourn into Mexico City's
internecine political world has proven emblematic of much of the
Revolutionary Democratic Party's (PRD) dysfunctionality. Former
2006 PRD presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO)
propelled Juanito into the national spotlight during the summer 2009
elections when he requested Juanito fill in behind Carla Brugada
when the latter was disqualified by the electoral tribunal in her
bid to head one of Mexico City's largest boroughs, Iztapalapa.
However, after Juanito won the election, he proved unprepared to
give up his position as he had prior agreed. The petty, often
mean-spirited public dispute among opposing factions over this
matter has only reinforced the PRD's inability to heal old wounds
and put together a united front. End Summary.
Juanito Wins the Election, Refuses to Withdraw
--------------------------------------------- --

2. (SBU) Background: In the run-up to summer 2009 elections, the
Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) disqualified Clara Brugada, the
PRD's candidate for the presidency of the borough of Ixtapalapa,
Mexico City's most populous district, with a claim to the largest
city budget. (Note: Mexico City has sixteen boroughs," led by
elected "heads of boroughs." These officials report to the city's
mayor, Marcel Ebrard. The City Council, or "Legislative Assembly"
passes the budget and legislation. End note). The IFE declared
Brugada's victory in the primaries invalid due to electoral
irregularities.
3. (SBU) AMLO selected Juanito, a Labor Party (PT) leader and an
indigenous follower who had supported AMLO in past elections, to
replace Brugada in the election as a proxy candidate on the
understanding he would give the seat up if elected, allowing Mexico
City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard to name Brugada as Juanito replacement.
However, once Juanito won, egged on by his supporters and his
newfound fondness for the political stage, he refused to give up his
seat as originally agreed.
Ebrard Convinces Juanito to Step Down
-------------------------------------

4. (SBU) In the midst of great publicity, the simple, but
charismatic Juanito - known for the trademark bandana in the colors
of the Mexican flag he wears wrapped around his forehead and his
tendency to refer to himself in the third person - announced his
intention to assume the council seat representing the district of
Iztapalapa. Following a meeting with Mexico City Mayor Ebrard, only
days before his official swearing-in ceremony in September, Juanito
apparently decided to turn over his position to Clara Brugada. In
return for his concession, PRD contacts allege that Ebrard promised
to provide Juanito monetary compensation and employment for him and
his family in the city government. According to British Embassy
analyst Monica Jimemez, the federal government affords all public
servants the right to take short-term, temporary leave. Under this
regulation, Juanito "resigned," and Brugada began work as the head
of borough immediately.
Juanito's Return
----------------

5. (SBU) Juanito, though, clearly was not prepared to leave the
political scene quietly. Barely a month and a half after his
resignation, he decided to reclaim his position. Wishing Juanito
would just go away, twelve of city's fifteen heads of boroughs, all
supporters of AMLO, signed a letter to the Mexico City Legislative
Assembly requesting that it remove Juanito and reappoint Brugada.
The Legislative Assembly formed a special commission to study this
matter. However, the commission would have been unlikely to render
a decision before March 2010, and it would have found determining a
legal basis for ousting Juanito difficult.

Juanito Finally Pushed Off the Political Scene
--------------------------------------------- -

6. (SBU) Cutting short this drawn-out process and determined to
eliminate Juanito's claim to the Iztapalapa seat permanently, Clara
Brugada accused Juanito at a December 8 press conference of having
used falsified birth certificates to stand for political office and
with lying, or at least exaggerating, about his family history.
Brugada threatened to press charges unless he resigned. Before
becoming front-page news, Juanito had lived a modest life. Born one
of 20 children into a poor, indigenous family, Juanito may well have
purchased the birth certificate. (Note: Many poor Mexican families
fail to document births and later purchase a birth certificate as it
is perquisite to acquiring a national identification card and a host
of other documents. Generally, the government considers this a
minor crime and rarely prosecutes it. End note.) It is also
possible Brugada used her contacts in city government to manufacture
false documents in Juanito's name to undercut his legitimacy. An
outdated Mexican federal law says that all public servants must
present information regarding their family connections to the head
of their political institutions before their inauguration into
public office. Technically, Mexican law defines this as an
administrative offense, with a maximum penalty of dismissal.
Brugada clearly meant to cut Juanito out of the picture even if it
meant exaggerating the letter of the law.

MEXICO 00000015 002.2 OF 002

1.(SBU) Summary: Raphael Acosta, otherwise known as "Juanito," is a
charismatic political figure whose unique sojourn into Mexico City's
internecine political world has proven emblematic of much of the
Revolutionary Democratic Party's (PRD) dysfunctionality. Former
2006 PRD presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO)
propelled Juanito into the national spotlight during the summer 2009
elections when he requested Juanito fill in behind Carla Brugada
when the latter was disqualified by the electoral tribunal in her
bid to head one of Mexico City's largest boroughs, Iztapalapa.
However, after Juanito won the election, he proved unprepared to
give up his position as he had prior agreed. The petty, often
mean-spirited public dispute among opposing factions over this
matter has only reinforced the PRD's inability to heal old wounds
and put together a united front. End Summary.
Juanito Wins the Election, Refuses to Withdraw
--------------------------------------------- --

7. Juanito again met with Ebrard, who allegedly advised Juanito of
the legal problems he faced. Following this meeting, Juanito
resigned permanently. Ebrard immediately asked the Mexico City
Legislative Assembly to appoint Clara Brugada. The Assembly, though
some members previously voiced objections to Brugada in addition to
Juanito, installed her the following day by a vote of 46 to 16, with
one abstention.
8. (SBU) Comment. In many ways, Juanito's story is emblematic of
PRD dysfunctionality. AMLO defied his party's political structure
and the city's overarching electoral framework to push forward his
preferred candidate even after she had been disqualified. The fact
that he commands the loyalty of thirteen of the cities' sixteen
boroughs certainly strengthened his hand. Given the relative
importance of Iztapalapa, AMLO was determined to place his
hand-picked supporter in the borough and not countenance the
presence of a player as unpredictable and independent as Juanito.
Ebrard assumed a key role in convincing Juanito to resign and
persuading the Legislative Assembly to appoint Brugada. Though he
and AMLO represent the party's two most viable candidates for 2012
PRD presidential nomination, Ebrard appears determined to walk a
fine line between maintaining an informal alliance with AMLO and
gradually winning the support of AMLO's opponents within the PRD,
the Nueva Izquierda faction, for the 2012 candidacy.

PASCUAL

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