Gabriela Cuevas is an MP for Mexico’s National Action Party. She has held various positions and had responsibility for youth campaigning during Vicente Fox’s successful presidential campaign in 2000. She founded a rural community project and supports work to help children complete their primary education. She is President of IPU’s Committee to Promote Respect for International Humanitarian Law.
Why are you in politics?
Because I think that at the end of the day we all want to make a difference in the reality we live in. It is an ideal that some people forget as they grow older, and other people forget while in politics—and there are other people who don’t forget about it and then that ideal becomes a vocation.
When did you decide to be actively involved in politics?
I was born with it. I was always very proactive. I became a member of the PAN (National Action Party) when I was 15, so it is something it started at a young age. The good thing is I still feel I have that vocation. During primary and secondary education I went to a religious school. The nuns would take us to do social work in nursing homes and health centres in poor rural areas, and what struck me most was the misuse of taxes taking place in one of them. I was very angry and unhappy about this, so I went back home and told my father we had to do something to change the way politics was working.
How do you keep that vocation alive?
The responsibility of bringing about change drives me to keep going. Sometimes it is difficult but there is always a goal to achieve; there is always a painful reality that we can change. Politics is a good tool—we only have to use it properly to obtain the right goals.
Frustration can be frequent, but the joy I feel at achieving goals is much more significant. Politics is more about the significance and scope of the achievements than about how difficult it was to obtain them.
Do you think politicians live in a bubble?
We politicians need to be much more in touch with reality. I don’t like seeing how many important decisions for people are being taken from behind a desk in an office, or without jumping out of the official car, from a very different reality from the daily life of millions and millions of people around the world. I try to get away to be near people, which is what motivated my political career in the first place. I try to talk extensively with people, and that implies listening a lot. If we shut ourselves in the politicians’ bubble we will only hear the voices of the privileged.
What would you do if you were not in politics?
I would go back to where it all began, and work in a civil society organization.