The First Couple of Mexico has been in the news lately, both in ways that I'm sure they rather not be. I'll talk about Marta Sahagún de Fox, the First Lady, because -after all- etiquette requires ladies first:
The evolution of Marta Sahagún de Fox, from succesful campaign manager, to mediocre presidential spokeswoman, to active presidential wife has been fascinating, especially in a country as socially conservative as Mexico.
The most recent chapter in Marta Sahagún's career began last week when the Financial Times reported that Vamos México, the charitable foundation Sahagún heads, had only given one-third of all the money it had raised to other charities. With another third of that money spent on overhead, that left 50m pesos in donations unspent and unaccounted for.
The FT article (sorry- it's a subscription link now, and I don't have a subscription!) implied that some of the unaccounted for valuables were jewelry and clothes that Ms Sahagún may have worn in the 15 months the foundation has been open. The FT also suggests that business contributions (such as a $2m contribution by the largest shareholder in the bankrupt Estrella Blanca bus company) may have been motivated to buy political influence with the administration.
Needless to say, Sahagún has denied the accusations, pointing out that charities often need large endowments to succesfully operate. Over the weekend the PRI caucus in the Senate recommended that the Hacienda (Treasury) and the SFP (an anti-corruption watchdog set up by Fox) investigate Vamos México's finances.
As a side note: in many ways this is all kabuki theater in preparation for 2006, in which Sahagún is being discussed as a candidate to succeed her husband, the current President Fox. Given that she has never held elected office, that Fox is currently conisdered a weak president, and consequently the PAN is in many ways on the defensive, at this point I'd call her a long shot.
However, the left-wing La Jornada made an interesting suggestion last week: the fight for the second most powerful position in Mexico -mayor of Mexico City- could be contested between three women in 2006. Those women are: Sahagún for the PAN, Rosario Robles Berlaga -former acting Mayor after Cuautehmoc Cardenas resigned to run in 2000- for the PRD, and Sen. María Moreno Uriegas for the PRI.
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