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Cablegate: More Compromises for Government, More Problems for Pan

VZCZCXRO3162
OO RUEHNG RUEHRS
DE RUEHME #0520/01 0440201
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O R 130158Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0471
INFO ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/CDR USNORTHCOM PETERSON AFB CO
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 000520

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
SIPDIS
WHA DAS JACOBSON, DIRECTOR LEE
NSC O'REILLY AND RESTREPO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL MX
SUBJECT: MORE COMPROMISES FOR GOVERNMENT, MORE PROBLEMS FOR PAN

1. (SBU) Summary: With the resignation of his PAN party
credentials, Fernando Gomez Mont, the Secretary of Government
(SEGOB) and Senior Minister in the GOM, sent ripples through a
governing party, still recovering from its electoral defeat in last
summer's congressional elections. Official sources, including
Party President Cesar Nava, confirm Gomez Mont will remain at SEGOB
for now. This continued tenure may afford Calderon new found
political space to work out compromises with the opposition on a
range of critical issues but it leaves the PAN in considerable
disarray. End Summary.

2. (SBU) On February 10, Fernando Gomez Mont, Secretary of the
Government (SEGOB), suddenly resigned from the governing National
Action Party (PAN), surprising political observers. Although he
currently remains in his cabinet post, Gomez Mont's resignation
from the party appears to stem from internal PAN disputes over his
efforts to reach a deal with the resurgent Institutional
Revolutionary Party (PRI) to pass reform legislation next session.
These efforts allegedly were undercut by Party President Cesar
Nava's efforts to ally PAN with the leftist Democratic
Revolutionary Party (PRD) in gubernatorial elections in order to
defeat the PRI. Gomez Mont's resignation reveals significant
fractures within a party that had previously been better at keeping
its problems under wraps. Gomez Mont will likely seek to use the
veneer of his new found "independence" to forge compromises on the
President's legislative priorities, including political reform.

Secretary of the Government: A High Level Post
--------------------------------------------- ------------------

3. (SBU) The Secretary of the Government is generally considered
the second ranking person in the Mexican government after the
President. SEGOB oversees internal political issues, ensures the
government's compliance with constitutional rules, coordinates the
national security and civil protection apparatus, and manages the
Executive's relationships with Congress, as well as with state and
local governments. Mexico's intelligence agency, immigration
service, and many other critical domestic institutions are
subordinate to SEGOB. Gomez Mont presents the President's bills to
Congress, advises him on domestic issues, and serves as his main
liaison with all the political parties.

Gomez Mont: Popular Long Time PANista
--------------------------------------------- ----------

4. (SBU) President Calderon appointed Gomez Mont to SEGOB after
the death of his predecessor, Juan Camilo Mourino, in November 2008
(reftel). Prior to his appointment, he worked as an attorney for
his private law firm, Z????nser Esponda y Gomez Mont. His family has
long ties to Mexican politics; his father, Felipe G????mez Mont, was
a
PAN founder and ideologue. Gomez Mont's official career in
politics began when he became a member of the PAN Central Committee
and later Federal Deputy in 1991. He quit his position on the
PAN's Central Committee in 1995 to open his law practice and went
on to serve as an advisor on judicial and electoral issues in
President Ernesto Zedillo's administration. In his private law
practice, Gomez Mont defended some controversial figures, including
the brother of former President Carlos Salinas and Rogelio
Montemayor, a former director of Mexico's oil agency, PEMEX.

5. (SBU) Gomez Mont is generally well-respected in public and
private circles, and is regarded as pragmatic, effective, and
even-tempered. Although most of his career was in the private
sector, many political observers considered him a potential PAN
candidate for president in 2012. His recent move to resign from
PAN comes as a surprise to observers who have long considered him a
political pragmatist more than a hard-line ideologue.

Internal Conflicts Revealed by Resignation
--------------------------------------------- -----------

6. (SBU) Gomez Mont's resignation from PAN was both unexpected
and damaging to the party. Although his letter of resignation

MEXICO 00000520 002 OF 002


cited "reasons I cannot reveal due to professional discretion,"
speculation immediately centered on Gomez Mont's dissatisfaction
with PAN-PRD electoral alliances being discussed in Durango,
Oaxaca, Puebla, Hidalgo, and potentially other states. These
alliances aim to unite ideologically opposed parties to defeat
their common political adversary, the PRI. Despite Gomez Mont's
strong vocal opposition, the PAN's Central Committee has already
approved alliances in Oaxaca and Durango.

7. (SBU) Although Gomez Mont has always been a committed member
of PAN, his opposition to the alliances stems not only from
conflicts over philosophy, but also his efforts to work with PRI to
pass legislation in Congress. Gomez Mont apparently had reached a
deal with PRI leaders, that if PAN did not form alliances with PRD
and other smaller leftist parties, PRI would work with PAN to pass
legislative priorities. As soon as PAN announced it had approved
the alliance in Durango, PRI called foul and called off all work to
cooperate with PAN. Quitting the party is probably the result of
Gomez Mont's dissatisfaction with his party's decision and the
awkwardness he found himself in negotiating with the PRI.

8. (SBU) Due to his close relationship with Calderon, it is
likely the President knew of Gomez Mont's intention to resign.
Several political analysts have even suggested Gomez Mont's
resignation could provide him a veneer of neutrality that should
help him negotiate in better faith with PRI on the President's
legislative priorities, including political reform. Clearly Gomez
Mont can no longer be considered a viable presidential candidate,
directing political accusations that would have detracted from his
effectiveness. Of course, it remains to be seen whether PRI will
regard him as genuinely independent or accept his anticipated
overtures to continue negotiating compromises on key legislation.

PAN Faces Challenges Moving Forward
--------------------------------------------- --------

9. (SBU) Although he is a major national figure, Gomez Mont does
not lead a wing of PAN. Nevertheless, his resignation reflects
poorly on PAN and illustrates the problems the gubernatorial and
state congressional alliances have created within the party. This
is a difficult moment for PAN; Nava told the Ambassador that there
is a debate between those who see the Government Minister's role as
principally a channel between the party and president, while others
view the Secretary as a vital cabinet member with a substantive
portfolio who should have more independence from the party. Nava
also noted that the party is concerned that Gomez Mont's
resignation will complicate party support for the President during
this election year.

10. (SBU) Opinion is divided as to whether Gomez Mont's departure
is imminent. An analyst from the Center for Research for
Development (CIDAC) told Poloff that Gomez Mont is Calderon's best
cabinet member and speculated Calderon would be hard pressed to
fire such a capable ally. Despite press reports predicting Gomez
Mont's immediate departure from SEGOB, it is unlikely --though
possible-that he will leave the Secretariat in the immediate
future.

11. (SBU) Comment: Gomez Mont's resignation reflects serious
divisions within the PAN over its alliances with PRD. It will
place Party President Nava under even greater pressure to project
the kind of united front the party needs in the upcoming election
cycle. The coming days should reveal whether Gomez Mont intends to
resign from his post as Government Minister; in some significant
ways, that resignation would represent a greater blow to Calderon's
administration. More likely, Gomez Mont will try to use his
resignation to his advantage to negotiate more effectively with the
PRI, and to push for transparency and accountability in the
gubernatorial elections this summer. Ironically, if Gomez Mont is
freer to exert pressure for a transparent political process, it
would bring the most scrutiny on PRI states since they hold most of
the governorships up for election. Whether or not Gomez Mont leaves
SEGOB, Post highly regards him as a capable Secretary and effective
interlocutor who has a positive relationship with the Mission. End
Comment.
PASCUAL

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