Liliana Rojero has had a passion for politics since she was 13 years old. Today, at 35, she is putting that passion to work. As the secretary of community outreach for Mexico’s ruling party, the Partido Acción Nacional (PAN), Rojero is responsible for creating programs to engage a new generation of PAN voters. Over the next three years, she aims to spread PAN’s reach and, ultimately, help it win the 2012 Presidential election.
Rojero, a native of the state of Chihuahua, learned about political commitment from her parents—former state election monitors who instilled in her the values of democracy, transparency and participation. Observing how officials from the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) blatantly manipulated election outcomes—she and her mother would sometimes find ballots “mysteriously” filed by dead voters—led Rojero to see her participation in the democratic process as a duty. During a hotly contested governor’s race in 1986, she was inspired by watching her teachers and neighbors take their political protests to the streets and capitol. “I saw what freedom and their votes meant to them,” she recalls.
Hoping to bring the political process to all Mexicans, Rojero has campaigned tirelessly for the PAN—the PRI’s principal rival. She has held various party posts, including youth action secretary, state coordinator for universities and national director for women’s political promotion.
Prior to becoming secretary of community outreach, Rojero served as the executive secretary of Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres (National Institute for Women), an agency with a $585-million budget dedicated to eliminating discrimination against women and promoting their participation in federal and local politics. She designed and implemented federal policies to provide equal opportunities for women and help them exercise their rights more fully. Democracy, she believes, cannot flourish without women’s full political participation.
Rojero continues to work toward bringing all citizens into the political process. She created Redes Ciudadanas, a citizens network that aims to mobilize voters at the local level, involving them in environmental causes and issues of security, family health and economic empowerment. In a country where popular cynicism and pessimism toward politics is all too common, Rojero hopes to inspire Mexican citizens to engage more with their representatives. “Political parties for too long have not put people front and center; rather, it has been about self-serving interests,” she says.
Rojero is also currently leading a grassroots effort to engage PAN party members at the local level by forming working committees that relay voters’ concerns and expectations to PAN candidates. The goal is to generate political capital—and votes—for the PAN in the run-up to the 2012 election.
While pleased with the program’s success, Rojero is far from complacent. She is convinced that Mexico must do more to bring all citizens into the political process. And though currently focused on PAN’s upcoming campaign, she dreams of one day becoming Mexico’s foreign secretary. If appointed, she says, she hopes to use the office to demonstrate that Mexico’s future as an economic power depends on eliminating discrimination by age, ethnicity and gender.