Primary School (San Miguel de Allende)

On July 1, Mexico will hold a general election to determine, among other things, who will serve as the nation’s president for the next six years. Election day comes as the culmination of three months of active public campaigning on the part of the various contenders for office who from the preceding February 16 through March 29 had been legally obliged to observe  a “quiet time” known as the veda electoral, comparable to the “quiet period” US businesses are supposed to observe between the time they figure out their quarterly profit and loss and the time the results are made public. As one publication described it []:

 “Thursday is the start of the so-called “veda electoral,” which is the period in the middle of a campaign [el periodo intercampaña] during which the precandidates for the office of President of the Republic cannot engage in any act of  proselytizing or debate under penalty of being sanctioned…

In these 43 days of the veda, the precandidates representing the divers parties and coalitions for the nation’s highest leadership position can take part in academic forums, be interviewed by communications media, or appear on news programs.

However, the party and coalition standard-bearers will have to be very careful not to engage in any politico-electoral propaganda or call to vote.”

As mentioned in a previous viabrevis posting (“Popepourri”), the rule concerning political propaganda and vote solicitation extends to pretty much all public media, including city walls, which are accordingly scrubbed of political advertising before the veda begins:

La Veda, 2012: No Proselytizing

The word veda is from the verb vedar (‘to prohibit, impede’) from Latin vetāre ‘prohibit, forbid’ from which both Spanish and Engish get veto—no relation to English vote or  Spanish voto ‘vote,’ which come from Latin vōtum ‘a promise, pledge, vow’ from the verb vovēre ‘to make a vow.’ But because life is full of things that are too good to be true and despite common spelling errors to the contrary, Spanish votar ‘to vote’ shares no etymological connection to its homonym botar ‘to throw away, dismiss,’ ultimately from a Germanic root meaning something like ‘hit, strike’(and the basis of English butt—as in to butt heads–and button, presumably something you push through a button hole).

So, who are the players that made it through the latest veda? The presidential candidates of the three major parties are:

  • Josefina Eugenia Vásquez Mota of the Partido Acción Nacional (PAN), the party represented by Mexico’s current president, Felipe de Jesús Calderón Hinojosa.
  • Enrique Peña Nieto of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI).
  • Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD).

The three are caricatured in the following cartoon that appeared in the Mexico City daily Reforma during the visit of Pope Benedict, which occurred during the veda. The speech balloon reads “¡¿And those altar boys?!”

La Veda, 2012: See and Be Seen

 Another hat in the ring (absent from the cartoon) belongs to Ricardo Gabriel Quadri de la Torre of the Partido Nueva Alianza (PANAL). More Ralph Nader than Ross Perot in both his politics and the percentage of the vote he is likely to garner come the election, Gabriel Quadri is something of a stand-out among the presidential hopefuls in that the press typically refers to him by his given name (Gabriel) plus his patronym (Quadri) without including his matronym (De la Torre), as in the daily electoral count-down published by the newspaper Milenio in which the other candidates are all identified by patronym plus matronym (a convention originally meant to show legitimacy of birth):

80 Days After the End of La Veda and Counting

To be sure, there is some variation in the names by which the media refer to the other three candidates, especially when it comes to conserving headline real estate: Andrés Manuel López Obrador is frequently referred to as AMLO while Vásquez Mota is often reduced as if by the magic of gender to her first name, Josefina. The acronym AMLO, like PAN and PANAL, has the advantage of being not only short but pronounceable. Whether the fact that amlo as a plausible word doesn’t have any semantic content beyond ‘the guy running for president on the PRD ticket’ is a plus, a minus, or of no consequence is not clear. For what it’s worth, PAN has on the plus side the fact that pan means ‘bread’—and what’s not to like about bread?—though on the minus side it also offers the potential, of which some antipanists have taken advantage in past elections, for somewhat vulgar détournement, viz: 

As for panal, while it means ‘honeycomb,’ the term can also mean ‘hornet’s nest,’ so perhaps it’s all a toss and all we can do is wait for the final tally on July 2.

And The Winner Is…