The coronavirus epidemic that affects Mexico has caused, in addition to the economic and social effects due to social distancing policies, a series of difficulties to conduct the country's most important affairs in both Houses of Congress.
And is that, due to the health emergency, both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate suspended their plenary sessions from the end of March and, beyond an untimely session in the Upper House to pass the Amnesty Law, they have not met since then.
With the month of April also ended the regular session and in early May The Permanent Commission was installed, the body made up of deputies and senators that is in charge of handling the pending issues of Congress during the legislative recess.
However, the epidemic of COVID-19 also prevented that several pending issues could not be discussed or modified in the plenary sessions of both Houses, and issues such as the legalization of marijuana and the approval of the missing laws for the entry into force of the T-MEC (Free Trade Agreement between Mexico, United States and Canada) remained in the pipeline.
That is why, in recent weeks, different parliamentary groups have ensured that they are prepared to meet in person during an extraordinary period, which can only be called by the qualified majority (that is, two thirds) of the 37 members of the Permanent Commission, 19 deputies and 18 senators.
The senators of the PAN (National Action Party), the main parliamentary opposition of the ruling Morena, who also has the majority in Congress, they don't refuse to meet. This was stated to Infobae Mexico the senator Josefina Vázquez Mota, member of the Political Coordination Board (Jucopo) of said legislative body.
On the contrary, we are convinced that Congress must assume its responsibility and play a much more active role in the crisis we are going through as a country.
For the PANists Two conditions are needed: one on the health side and the other on the political side: comply with all measures to avoid the risk of contagion and agree on an agenda with all parliamentary groups to prioritize the discussion of the various proposals that have been presented to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Let us remember that the accomplishment of an extraordinary period implies the displacement of the senators from their entities, as well as the presence, at least, of parliamentary support, protection and cleaning personnel in the Senate facilities, which contravenes the recommendations of healthy distance and the least possible mobility"Explained Vázquez Mota.
For this reason we have insisted that the technical and legal conditions be created to be able to hold virtual sessions
The possibility of meeting virtually has been discussed unofficially in recent months, facing the challenges of the health situation in Mexico. And, although it does not have enough support, there is even a section of Morena that does not rule out the idea of being able to meet remotely, as the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation already does (SCJN).
"Given this situation we live in, I believe that an alternative for a new world in which we are adapting to live could be considered and analyzed," he told Infobae Mexico Senator Ernesto Pérez Astorga, from the Economy Commission.
"With the technologies we have, I think that yes, it should be done remotely, there are all the technical elements to be online on a computer"You can even use devices to register the fingerprint and verify identity," added the legislator.
The first step was taken by the Permanent Commission itself, which this Wednesday he had a virtual session for the first time in his history
On the political level, Vázquez Mota, who was a presidential candidate in 2012, stressed that, in search of a consensus of issues for an eventual extraordinary period, they should be "very careful not to take advantage of this health crisis to try to approve initiatives contrary to the Constitution that promote a greater concentration of power and margins of discretion for the president. "
The former secretary of Public Education referred to the controversial proposal of the president Andrés Manuel López Obrador to be able to reallocate budget resources during economic emergencies, a measure that would take away an exclusive power from the Chamber of Deputies and that it was strongly criticized by the opposition.
In fact, the president's proposal, which Morena sought to quickly legislate, generated the consolidation of the entire opposition block to Morena, something that has been seen on few occasions since they achieved an overwhelming electoral victory in 2018.
The legislators of the PAN, PRD (Party of the Democratic Revolution), PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) and MC (Citizen Movement) announced on May 1 the formation of the "Parliamentary Containment Group" to avoid at that time the call for an extraordinary period that would allow Morena to discuss and eventually modify the Budget Law.
And it is that the sum of the opposition legislators results in 13 members, against the 24 legislators accumulated by Morena and her allies, the PES (Social Meeting Party) and PT (Labor Party). Mathematics plays against the ruling party: 25 votes are needed to issue the call for an extraordinary period.
This forces Morena to negotiate with the opposition a clear legislative agenda that takes into account the requests of the PAN and the rest of the Containment Group to achieve an extraordinary period. For this reason, last week, Ricardo Monreal, coordinator of the Senators of Morena and president of the Board of Political Conciliation (Jucopo) of the Upper House, winked at the opposition.
"We are going to agree on a number of initiatives that we are discussing, plural, not only those presented by Morena or the Executive can be discussed."Said the also president of the Board of Political Conciliation (Jucopo) of the Upper House.
We will see a package of opinions or initiatives that are pending to be resolved by Congress and that are essential at this time to face these devastating effects of COVID-19
Monreal raised before Jucopo, in a meeting held remotely, that, in case the epidemic of COVID-19 allows it, celebrate this extraordinary period "towards the third or fourth week of June", when it is expected the maximum peak of contagions has passed.
However, if lawmakers manage to overcome their political differences, they will still have an unforeseeable obstacle: the advance of the COVID-19 epidemic. The Valley of Mexico, which includes the country's capital and the metropolitan area, is one of the red spots for infections and is expected to remain so until at least mid-June.
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