'I am open to criticism': Pedro Kumamoto

The 25-year-old deputy from Jalisco that spent US$16,230 in his campaign says that there is another way of doing politics.
Jorge A. Mendoza / EL UNIVERSAL
11/06/2015
11:08
Raúl Torres / Corresponsal
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With 250,000 pesos (US$16,230), 25 years, a small team, many hours on the streets, hundreds of publications on social networks, a box of apples and the vote of over 51,400 people, Pedro Kumamoto beat political parties and became deputy of one of the most important districts of Jalisco. 

"I will make mistakes for sure, but I will always listen to criticism and I will remain the same. Nothing has changed, I still am the same young guy with a blue backpack that likes biking. There is another way of doing politics." 

The great-grandson of a Japanese that crossed the Pacific Ocean seeking to reach San Francisco but mistakenly landed in Chiapas, where he married a Tzotzil Indian, Pedro Kumamoto seems accustomed to impossible stories. Out of the six independent candidates who won in this election, he is the only one who has never been member of a political party and he does not seek to rule, but to make politics "as horizontal as possible." 

How much did your campaign cost? 

We spent 7,001 pesos (US$454) to finance the pre-campaign to collect signatures, so we decided that campaign donations should not exceed that amount. We spent 250,000 pesos in the campaign, of which 18,626 pesos (US$1,210) came from public financing and the remaining 230,000 pesos (US$14,943) from donations, many of them in kind. Some people donated us a box of apples and we still have some left. The campaign ceiling was 1.22 million pesos (US$79,651) and we beat political parties with 20% of that amount, which makes us think that political campaigns are very expensive.

What did you learn that could help you for what lies ahead?

The best shield you can have is to be clear about what you want and who you are. Being honest can be tricky sometimes, because some times holding out certain truths can be strategic, but that gives you a framework. The other thing is that we need the support and participation of people, so I ask people to keep supporting me. 

The citizens of the 10th district voted for you, but now there are now many others who look at you expecting something. 

It's not only the 10th district and participation goes beyond institutions. We know that injustice prevails, sectarianism, private interests over public ones, and we have to encourage participation both, in and outside the government. I am here because we know that from here we can make decisions, but decisions are also made outside and it is necessary to encourage that. Through participation we have to enforce my obligations, which are legislating for the majority, not only for the 10th district. If people support me I can influence the decision-making process. 

What about minorities? 

We have to legislate thinking on the majority but without transgressing the rights of minorities. That is the spirit and the human rights perspective in this candidature. We will fight for adding rights, not for decreasing them. 

Issues as regulating marijuana and marriages between same-sex people will be debated in the next legislature. What is your position? 

I am in favor of decriminalizing marijuana for medical purposes, and I am open to debate about its recreational use. About same-sex marriages the Supreme Court has already ruled in the sense, so we have to abide by. 

In theory, the parties discuss the agreements with other parties in Congress. With whom will you discuss proposals? 

With the nearly 52 000 people who voted for me and I want them to be demanding, to participate. The best I can do is to have one foot on the street and the other one in Congress. 

That means unveiling the way in which a few make decisions and vote in Congress... 

That is the goal and that is why I ask people to participate, to be ready to act and learn what has been hidden from us for so long. This will be a deeply divided Congress and they will need us to move bills, and when we present ours, they will not only be endorsed by deputies but by thousands of people, so we want them to join us so that the political cost of saying "no" becomes very high.

 

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