MEXICO CITY -- Could the next mayor of Ciudad Juarez be an ass?
Chon the Burro is being promoted as a candidato for the border city’s top job in next month's election. Farther south, Morris the Cat is a “candigato” in the city of Xalapa, gato being the Spanish word for cat.
Mexicans fed up with their corrupt and ineffective politicians have mounted tongue-in-cheek campaigns in several cities to get out the vote for their pets or other friendly animals. Election officials are not amused. But the public seems to like it, if we are to judge by the buzz in both social media and the Mexican press.
As of Wednesday morning, Morris, a black-and-white kitten, had more than 130,000 “likes” on his Facebook page, where he promises to do nothing more than rest and play, “like all the other candidates.”
Morris’ campaign slogan: “Tired of voting for all those rats? Vote for a cat!”
There are, of course, so many possibilities. We might suggest: Vote for MEow!
The cat’s city, Xalapa, is the capital of Veracruz, one of the most violent and troubled states in Mexico. Long controlled by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, its governments are notoriously corrupt, drug cartels have been battling in the streets, occasionally dumping headless bodies, and nine journalists or media workers have been killed in the last 2½ years.
As for Chon the Burro, he complains on his Facebook page that the other candidates are refusing to debate the serious issues of the day. He claims a longer history in politics and says this isn't the first time he’s run. However, as far as we can determine, he has never won.
Morris and Chon have gone viral, and their campaigns are inspiring others. This week, another contender emerged in the city of Oaxaca: “Titan, the CANdidate” -- can being a Spanish word for dog.
The phenomenon combines two of the strongest currents in Mexico these days: deep disgust with traditional politics and a mega-explosion in the use of social media. But this is Mexico, and now the conspiracy theories have also begun to circulate.
A seemingly innocent, amusing campaign promoting pets really just helps the ruling party, columnist Julio Hernandez argued in the leftist newspaper La Jornada. “To divert popular anger toward ineffective options just weakens possibilities of real change,” he wrote, questioning who was really behind Morris, Chon and their campaigning cohorts.
The pet postulants are not deterred. Morris’s page Wednesday declared: “We are all Morris!”