Diego Fernández de Cevallos: «I have many things to regret, but nothing to be ashamed of»

His parents conceived him and National Action Party (PAN) at the same time and almost since then has been part of Mexican political life as a symbol of the right. The son of a PAN founder and the third of 15 siblings, he was born 80 years ago in Mexico City, although it is in Querétaro where he has his ranch and continues to ride horses. He graduated in Law from UNAM in 1964 and has combined his work as a lawyer with politics. Since then he has served as a tough and belligerent actor involved in all possible controversies, from the burning of ballots in 1988 to Ahumada’s papers. He was a deputy, senator and presidential candidate in 1994 against Zedillo and Cárdenas when they starred in the first television debate in the history of the country. In an interview with EL PAÍS in his office, he admits that he has lived «with great intensity» and that he «hates» López Obrador, but would do everything possible so that they would never «stab him in the back.»

Question. To start at the end, what do you think of the resignation of Santiago Nieto?

Answer. In sin they carry penance, because this ruffian was believed. As far as is known, Santiago did not commit illegality, but López Obrador, who is a poor man and a moralistic monk, has considered it an immorality.

P. The 4T does not forgive ostentation.

R. Indeed, it has given him a good image, before his faithful, not to accept what he considers ostentation in the public conduct of his officials, even though many are billionaires and continue to commit mischief. This is a ruler who is bathed in moral authority and teaches the world how to solve all kinds of calamities, although those in Mexico grow day by day.

P. Speaking of classes to the world, this week López Obrador proposed a project of «world brotherhood» in the United Nations Security Council.

R. It is a discourse of a priest, but of a poor parish, not even a cathedral. This rascal wants to explain to the world how to combat insecurity when we have never had so many murders before. He believes that the whole world should be at his feet and whoever does not do his will is corrupt, evil or neoliberal. It does not tolerate citizens, it demands faithful with «blind loyalty», who does not bow down at its feet is corrupt, evil and neoliberal. From thousands of recent cases, let us take the drug case: for three years he denied the shortage and said that the complaints were a perverse campaign against his government, while dying sick for lack of medicines. Suddenly, he feigns great indignation, slaps his hand, and says that he can’t take it anymore. shortage. It is the Tartuffe de Molière, a liar, liar, simulator, corrupt man. And I say Tartuffe because he is less strong than a ruffian.

P. What do you think of the appointment of Pablo Gómez?

R. I have known Pablo Gómez for more than 50 years and I consider him an intelligent and experienced man in politics, who is congruent with his ideas and knows how to dialogue and argue; we have substantial ideological and programmatic differences, but I think of him as a well-intentioned man. He has no proven ability when it comes to his new role, but I understand that he will be leading a large and professional team. I want it to do well and serve Mexico, not a gang.

P. Gómez is 75 years old, age is an asset in this cabinet, you would have a preferential seat.

R. Man (laughs), I’d be a kid in that scoundrel junkyard.

P. Do you recognize something positive in this government?

R. Yeah right. In all governments there is good and bad. In this, his speech has a lot of positive, like that «for the good of all, the poor first.» What is rickety and contradictory is in the facts, which are not sympathetic to his narrative. However, it must be recognized, for example, that it has maintained a certain balance in public finances, although it has squandered the multimillion-dollar savings it received from the «damn neoliberal governments.» In front of him is the opposition of several parties, somewhat reckless, that drags many burdens, that is trying to rejoin and that gives a fight in conditions, for the moment, unfavorable.

The politician and lawyer Diego Fernández de Cevallos.Gladys serrano

P. How do you see the current state of your party, the PAN, gives the impression that it is still on the canvas?

R. I do not see him on the canvas, but trying to overcome endogenous and exogenous problems, but I highlight the participation of the talented PAN women who deservedly occupy their places and not for simple reasons of sex. In addition, the opposition to the government is not limited to PAN, PRI, PRD and MC, it is on the conscience of millions of Mexicans, few of them affiliated with the parties. The opposition to the government is massive, much more powerful than the parties and it is in society.

Parties here and everywhere are justifiably undervalued. But politicians and rulers did not come from Mars, we are also the product of a sick society that tolerates lies and deception. And, in that landscape, few voices are raised with courage, and many continue to bet on this or another leader who will give us paradise. Always, as subjects, waiting for the Redeemer instead of strengthening our institutions and assuming ourselves as authentic citizens. This government is supported by the Army, drug trafficking and waste of the treasury.

P. In general, the right seems misplaced.

R. In these times talking about left and right is somewhat diffuse, confusing and anachronistic. For example: the university joint and fossil, who defined himself as a «social fighter», opposed the Free Trade Agreement with all his might and now signed it with great fanfare. He said that the Army would disappear, because it was an instrument of the right to massacre the people, and now it has it, with unlimited money, in all kinds of activities, however absurd they may be. All the tasks of this government are in the hands of the military or under its scrutiny.

P. Are you worried about the new role of the Army?

R. Yeah right. The Armed Forces deserve me respect and gratitude, but they should not be played with, and this government does so in two ways: on the one hand, it has them for all kinds of tasks and with unlimited public resources to build, administer and monitor everything. ; on the other hand, it subjects the troops and their officers to all kinds of humiliations, ranging from spitting, stones, running off, to being ambushed, tortured and killed in an unequal fight, in which it is up to them to bet on hugs and criminals shoot shrapnel from bullets. In a context of political putrefaction, violence, economic devastation and serious social disorder, the army can make decisions and assume tasks that correspond to the civil authorities. The military leaves their barracks easily, the difficult thing is that they return.

P. His name always appears as a saver between the right.

R. How will poor Mexico be that they turn to me! No, I am in the last and already brief stage of my life, certainly in the usual trench, but my duty is not, nor has it been, to promote myself to occupy positions and receive recognition, but to try to shake mainly the young, to participate fairly in public affairs. Mexico is a country of young people, and it is for criminals to obstruct their path and their future. What I have been will continue to be; of course I have a lot to regret, but nothing to be ashamed of.

P. Also his name appears behind all the conspiracies.

R. Why are they idiots. He who has nothing hidden cannot conspire. Point. When I was a deputy and senator, the only public positions I have ever held «never made» wealth declarations, but patrimonial displays. My properties are there because I have not stolen them, and everyone knows that I have gained them outside of politics, in my work as a lawyer. If he had not been a politician, he would be one of the richest men in the world, although perhaps only economically.

P. Do you like Chief Diego?

R. It neither goes nor comes to me. The origin is in the stage in which he was coordinator of the Senate. I had very good companions, such as Juan de Dios Castro, Felipe Calderón, Fernando Gómez Mont… It was a very heavy group in the Chamber and it was my turn to coordinate them.

P. Speaking of conspiracies, how much myth and reality is there in El Yunque?

R. Well, if they are not the devil, they smell like sulfur. The truth is that they exist, and are known, justly or unfairly, as the «Catholic extreme right.» They are within their right to live that life but I do not know the list of its members nor am I part of it. I cannot interact with a hidden organization.

P. Wikipedia says that it became the PAN in 1959.

R. No, long before, before I was 18 years old, at the same time that the National Action Party (PAN) was founded, I was sired by my parents. We were born almost at the same time. Since I was a child, I accompanied my father to the campaigns. Ever since I was a kid I used to climb the boxes of tomatoes to reach the microphone and harangue the young people.

P. What do you remember from that time?

R. It was tough and repressive to participate in politics. I have countless anecdotes and memories. One of them, from when they imprisoned me at 12 years old. I was studying in Guadalajara and in campaign times we young PAN members would post propaganda at night in the center of the city. The police arrested us and, as I was notoriously the youngest, the fierce police chief, Major Mendiolea, released me in front of my companions, but I did not agree to flee and leave them in those cellars. They released us the next day. Years later I met him again and he was already General Mendiolea. After amicably claiming that detention, we hugged each other.

The 'boss Diego' at the end of the interview, on November 9.
The ‘boss Diego’ at the end of the interview, on November 9.Gladys serrano

P. What was it like to do politics in the sixties?

R. We had to defend every vote, every box, every election. Everything was in the hands of the president and his secretary of the Interior, there was no INE, TRIFE or anything, the government did and decided at will. We defended our triumphs with the minutes in our hands; and we recognized our defeats: that is known to many, including that garbage that is Manuel Bartlett. What I did then I would do again. I have lived with great intensity and I regret the times that I have not been fair. But I think I have been able to smooth conflicts and differences, I have been defined in all aspects, but not intolerant or abusive. I hate this wretch who is destroying the country, [López Obrador], but if it were within my reach I would save him a back stab.

P. What do you remember of that 1994 television debate with Cárdenas and Cedillo?

R. As it was the first debate between presidential candidates, it had a strong impact. But I do tell you that a debate between three or more implies a huge challenge. The turns of the participations make it difficult to respond quickly and accurately. The best are between two. Defining its rules is not easy. In the preparation and organization of that event we participated: Esteban Moctezuma (PRI), Adolfo Aguilar (PRD) and myself (PAN). We take care not to cheat with cameras, focuses, timing and any third party interference. Only the order of the initial interventions was drawn. I proposed, and it was accepted, that three cameras be placed forming an equilateral triangle and in front of each one, the lectern of each candidate. None remained in the center or on the shore. They are details, but they can decide a lot.

P. What do you think of the controversy of the statue of Columbus and the forgiveness of Spain?

R. This revisionism and replacing statues is part of the times. All statues are made for others to come and tear them down. But they can throw away the statues, but they can’t change history. All these patients who are trying to deny an important part of their race and their blood are, simply, ill-born. Mexico is a fusion of bloods. But not even only Spanish but also black, French Chinese … And the indigenous also come from many bloodlines. How could 400 Spaniards be able to fight everyone if it weren’t for the fact that the indigenous people here were abused and run over. So I find it stupid and a sucker to keep fueling discord.

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