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Vazquez Mota hopes feminine touch can win over electorate

December 6, 2011

I went down to the FIL this week to see the two candidates most likely to win next year’s presidential election. First up, the female underdog and slightly less boring of the two: Josefina Vaquez Mota.

In a campaign appearance thinly veiled as a book presentation, Josefina Vazquez Mota underlined her presidential credentials at Guadalajara’s International Book Fair (FIL) on Tuesday afternoon.

Favorite to win the National Action Party (PAN) nomination, Vazquez Mota is on the verge of becoming the first female presidential canadidate from a major party in Mexican history.

Under Mexican law, official campaigning cannot begin until February, so Vazquez Mota made the high-profile appearance under the pretext of promoting her new book “Nueva oportunidad: Un México para todos” (New Opportunity: A Mexico for everyone). National frontrunner Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), who officially registered as a candidate this week, will also talk at the FIL on Saturday.

Put together for campaign purposes, Vazquez Mota’s book consists of 22 interviews with the likes of Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla, former Spanish Prime Ministers Felipe Gonzalez and Jose Maria Aznar, and even former Real Madrid soccer star Emilio Butragueño.

At the presentation, Vazquez Mota outlined her strategy against organized crime, based on what she had learned from speaking with former Colombian presidents Cesar Gaviria and Alvaro Uribe. Both agreed that “negotiations with organized crime was the worst” course of action, while it was necessary to go after the cartels’ profits, follow the money trail and bring the guilty before law.

“People started to believe them when judges and politicians linked to organized crime began to fall, and that’s what we need to do in Mexico. There must be no more predilections or privileges,” she affirmed.

Her references to “politicians involved” in drug trafficking were likely a ploy to remind the public of the endemic corruption and collusion between politicians and criminals throughout the PRI’s 71-year reign. She also described Mexico as a former “authoritarian state,” implying that it will return to be one if the PRI win next year’s election.

Vazquez Mota also sought to use the occasion to broaden her appeal to the left, speaking sympathetically of peace activist Javier Sicilia, who has been one of the fiercest critics of President Felipe Calderon’s militarized security strategy.

The panista also stressed her admiration for powerful women on both sides of the political spectrum, such as the neoconservative former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Chile’s former Social Democrat President Michelle Bachelet, both of whom she interviewed for the book.

She spoke at length of her conversations with the latter, who warned her the press “are going to ask you things they would never ask a man, like ‘how many kilos do you weigh?’ or why ‘do you comb your hair that way?’”

Vazquez Mota also recalled Bachelet’s advice that “if you become president, never fall in the temptation of putting on a moustache to govern. Be yourself and govern like a woman.”

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