Saturday, December 31, 2011

AMLO's red herring

AMLO proclaims that in 2012, his electoral movement will have more people covering ballot boxes than ever before, in order to avoid a fraud and an outcome as in 2006, "when they falsified the things."

I find this quite a red herring, for several reasons., Most obvious, five and a half years later, there is NO EVIDENCE AT ALL of a widespread and systematic fraud at the ballot boxes in 2006. But there's more:

1) It assumes that as long as AMLO's coalition doesn't have any representative at the ballot box, this will automatically lead to a fraud, meaning, not only would all the other party representatives be in on the fraud, but also the local electoral representatives responsible for the ballot station and the citizen representatives chosen by double-blind ballot to oversee the election. This is an enormous leap of (lack of) faith, especially as there is no evidence that this really has happened on anything close to a wide and systematic scale.

2) In 2006, AMLO insisted on using his "Citizen Networks" as ballot box observers, in many places even displacing the PRD, yet on election day many didn't show up. If there truly was fraud due to a lack of AMLO representatives, he is to blame himself for this. When will we hear any self criticism for this?

3) If there truly was fraud in 2006 at the ballot boxes - that e.g. the local representatives colluded with the other parties to remove ballots from the boxes, etc - how could this ever be proven? That is, if this is how the supposed fraud of 2006 was carried out, no recount would ever make the slightest difference.

For sure: It is very important that AMLO's coalition does manage to have representatives, as they are allowed to by law, at every station. But in order to avoid the errors of 2006 in 2012, more than a bit of self criticism is here in order.

Last-minute entrant for Dick-of-the-Year award: Extorting the poor

Yet another contestant: Juan Ignacio Yáñez Yaber, a promoter for the anti-poverty program Oportunidades in Mexico City. In the Ixtapalapa delegation, Yáñez was just caught on tape, in a sting operation, demanding 5,000 pesos as a bribe to sign up eligible participants for the program.

Trafficking in poverty to abuse and extort people of few resources in order to have them added to a program they are entitled to? It's a strong last-minute contestant for Dick-of-the-Year award.

(National Coordinator Salvador Escobedo of Oportunidades promises zero tolerance for such criminal acts, and  there is, in a sense, a positive spin to it - it should not surprise that functionaries try to seek bribes; what is notable is that in this case, they actually got caught for it).

Friday, December 30, 2011

Tiger in the street. Yes, a tiger.

This short news piece from Saltillo, Coahuila is just worthy of being translated in its entirety:
Deborah, a Bengal tiger was found roaming the streets at night of the Colonia República Oriente, which caused a mobilization of police and civil protection. According to reports from the authorities, around midnight yesterday, a wild animal was said to roam the streets of the city, and police found Deborah in the intersection of Oaxaca and La Madrid, crouched in the bushes.The owner of Deborah, Richards Rodolfo de la Garza, said the animal took off after thieves opened the ​​250 square meters area where she was staying as they were committing a a robbery of his office located at 441 Calle Chiapas.

Peña Nieto's shot at speaking Nahuatl. A bad idea

Kudos for the attempt at showing the indigenous community in Huejutla, Hidalgo, some respect by attempting a line in Nahuatl, the "language of the Aztecs." But beyond the good intentions, it was a bad idea:
He ventured to give thanks in Nahuatl. However, he failed to say "thank you very much" (tlazkamati miaka), and instead said tlaxkali miaka ("many tortillas.")

Michoacán: Morelia elections annulled, possibly entire state elections

Mexico's electoral tribunal TEPJF's (specifically its regional branch in Toluca) annulled PRI's victory in the mayoral race held past month in the state capital Morelia.

The argument: The illegal live television coverage of campaign closing of gubernatorial candidate Fausto Vallejo, and a boxing match where one of the fighters wore shorts with PRI's logo - forbidden according to electoral rules.

Officially, difference between PRI's Wilfrido Lázaro Medina and PAN's Marko Cortés Mendoza was only 2000 votes, or 119, 941 to 122, 258. Now a rematch will need to be held.

PRI, as one may imagine, is not happy about the verdict, and strongly suggests pressure from president Calderón , who it notably took a month to recognize the victory of Vallejo as governor.

Now, given TEPJF's reasoning, the PRD demands annulling the entire state elections, pointing to narco interference but also that of President Calderón himself. PAN also demands the governor election cancelled. I really doubt that, as it would be quite extraordinary, but then again, we live in extraordinary times.

There is already one problem: Morelia will for sure need to run new elections, but they are not cheap - and the state electoral institute does not have money for another extraordinary election.

(On another note, the Archdiocese of Morelia comes out pretty strongly against the recent governments of the state, particularly that of Lázaro Cárdenas Batel (2001-07), essentially accusing him of not having been prepared at all for the job and exercised it poorly).

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Death in apartment B19 ruled "suicide": Galina Chankova Chaneva and Niño Verde

25-year old Galina Chankova Chaneva was a young Bulgarian female who came to Mexico from Amsterdam on April 1, 2011. 24 hours Twelve hours later, she apparently decided to commit suicide from the 19th floor of a luxury apartment connected to the Mexican Green party and above all the "Niño Verde," Jorge Emilio González Martínez.

This, according to the state prosecutor of Quintana Roo, who just ruled that González had nothing to do with her death.

While plenty of reports suggested the apartment belonged to "Niño Verde," Elizabeth Regina Díaz appared as the presumed owner. She just happens to be the wife of his private secretary. As Reforma dryly summarizes,

"The Attorney stated that it was investigated whether  Díaz  was the "Niño Verde's prestanombres [strawman] strawmen, because this aspect was not part of the investigations."

Here is her picture, via Animal Político. A report from Terra.com strongly hints at human trafficking.

PAN "social worker" probably gets Dick-of-the-Year award

A last-minute dark-horse candidate in Mexico's Dick of the Year award: Carlos Talavera Leal, head of the important social program Oportunidades in Uruapan, Michoacán, who in public Facebook posts referred to poor indigenous women as "smelly" and that "hygiene is not for them."

Talavera is a member of PAN and was a supporter of the bid of president Calderón's sister to be governor of Michoacán a few weeks ago.

His contract with Oportunidades will not be renewed in January. That's something.

Update: He was also just fired for what remains of the year. And here, a screen shot of part of the Facebook page - it speaks for itself:

Guess which Mexican party laments the death of Kim Jong Il?





From the obituary:
The Workers' Party of Mexico regrets the death of our comrade Kim Jong Il, leader of the North Korean people, who with great wisdom who led the North Koreans on the path of peace and economic, political, social and cultural development.
A comrade of wisdom, indeed. This is truly preposterous.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Who murdered PRI's federal deputy?

Imagine the scenario: A U.S. congressman is abducted along with an assistant. They are found dead by farmers two weeks later, their bodies decomposing.

Two men are arrested and confess to the murder; they are are also in possession of a huge amount of cash that they declare was the payment for the hit job, and also provide them with cars. Their contractor, they say, was a mayor from the dead congressman's party.

How hard should it be to prove or disprove their story? How likely is it that the mayor would simply continue in office and that the investigation would pretty much come to a standstill?

This appears sadly to be the case in Guerrero, where PRI mayor Willy Reyes Ramos is signaled as the man behind the murder of PRI federal deputy Moisés Villanueva de la Luz. As El Universal reports, the murder remains unresolved, almost four months later.

Monday, December 26, 2011

AMLO documentary: "0.56% ¿Qué le pasó a México?"

The documentary "0.56% ¿Que le paso a México?" deals specifically with the 2006 elections, and was recently showed on Milenio TV. You can now see the the entire movie here on Youtube.

It's definitely more on the pro-AMLO side, but far less so than the ultra-propagandistic "Fraude," and therefore worth a watch. Quality is not superb, but more than decent.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

PRD to choose 2012 Mexico City mayor candidate by poll - of sorts

The PRD will decide its 2012 candidate for Mexico City mayor by a poll, like it decided its 2012 presidential candidate. The poll will have efectos vinculantes or loosely "binding effects" on the PRD state council, which still holds the final word - which sounds a bit of a catch.

"External candidacies" will also be allowed - so as not to leave out Miguel Ángel Mancera, the attorney general and  increasingly rumored to be the favorite to succeed Ebrard, as well as the rather unlikely candidacy of Porfirio Muñoz Ledo, who left/was kicked out of the PRD more than a decade ago.

The candidate will be officially ratified Feb. 11 or 12, when the council is scheduled to meet to digest the result of the poll.


Now, off to filet migñon and copious amounts of tequila - happy christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Unemployment in Mexico, 4.97 percent

President Calderón boasts on Twitter that unemployment in Mexico is 4.79 percent, "the lowest of the OECD countries." Well, as El Universal points out, and represented by this graph, that's still quite a bit more than when he came into power.

Enrique Krauze, by The Nation

Be sure to check out The Nation's take on Enrique Krauze and his new book in English, "Of Saints and Caudillos."

Love or hate him, or maybe somewhere just right in between, Krauze is one intellectual force to be reckoned with. The article, by Jorge Volpi, does an excellent job in explaining why.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Very recommended Economist 2011 Democracy Index report

A strongly recommended read is The Economist Intelligence Unit's report "Democracy Index 2011: Democracy under stress," which as its title indicates indexes the world's regime according to various factors (Electoral process and pluralism; Functioning of government; Political participation; Political culture; and Civil liberties) to determine, simply put, how democratic is each country in the world.

Download here.

Mexico's position is 50 - exactly the same as last year. It is immediately above such countries as Argentina, Bulgaria, and Croatia, and scores somewhat high in functioning of government, yet low in political culture. Mexico is also noted for deterioration in media freedom.

The report notes, for the region as a whole,
Flawed democracies are concentrated in Latin America and eastern Europe, and to a lesser extentin Asia. Despite progress in Latin American democratisation in recent decades, many countries in theregion remain fragile democracies. Levels of political participation are generally low and democraticcultures are weak. There has also been significant backsliding in recent years in some areas such asmedia freedoms.
The lowest score (167th place) of any country?
Hint: It is where Kim Jong went from ill to dead.

The highest score: Norway. Yes, I am proud.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

PAN leaves the Clouthiers out in the cold

Manuel Clouthier, commonly known as "Maquío," was the PAN's 1988 presidential candidate, and a very decent man - he actively joined the possible yet defrauded winner Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas in denouncing the fraud, until his own party quieted him down and made deals with president-elect Carlos Salinas.

His family, from their stronghold in Sinaloa, has continued in politics (Maquio died in a mysterious car crash in 1989): Both his son Manuel and his daughter Tatiana have been active in the PAN.

Yet they have been highly critical of Calderón's armed onslaught against the drug cartels and the manner in which is being fought. That is likely the main cause why Manuel was recently rejected as a senate candidate for PAN for 2012, despite his very significant political weight in Sinaloa.

The fight has been long brewing with the PAN, and a break with this emblematic neopanista family with its party seems very imminent: Don't be surprised if in a few weeks we'll see Manuel Clouthier Carrillo as a candidate for AMLO's 2012 coalition. 

1.7 million houses left with dirt floors

As a recent editorial in El Universal points out, the Mexican government's program of piso firme, or hard floor, is of extreme importance: Where the program has implemented - that is, where the federal government has helped construct cement floors in poor houses - parasites have been reduced with 78 percent, diarrhea with 49, and anemia with 81 percent.

This as very real, and extremely important gains, as they particularly affect children.

There are 1.7 million houses left, and El Universal rightly calls for completing this project before the end of 2012. With Calderón increasingly eager to leave a "legacy" that goes beyond the utterly failed "drug war," here's at least one chance to leave a lasting mark.

Morelos: PAN governor's christmas present for himself

Marco Antonio Adame Castillo (PAN), despite making a hefty sum as Morelos governor, awarded himself an aguinaldo, essentially an extra month's pay as christmas bonus, of cool 300,000 pesos.

That's about 22 times more than that of a worker in his government.

Adame explained he would use the bonus for "family development."

I am sure he will.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Jorge Emilio "Niño Verde" González and the dead Bulgarian in Cancún

Jorge Emilio González Martínez, until recently president of the Mexican "Green" party PVEM (after succeeding his father in this sultanistic enterprise which is not a Green party as we know them elsewhere), is an utterly failed "politician" who have absolutely no interest in politics, ideology, or programs, as has been amply demonstrated by his, to put it mildly, undistinguished trajectory in public service.

His world is the world of holidays to Disneyland and New York City, sports clubs, extreme consumption, and partying. He is most recently in deep trouble for exactly the latter, after a party that was held in his huge luxury department in Cancún, where a young Bulgarian woman, Galina Chankova Chaneva, "fell from a window" this past April. As investigative reporter Lydia Cacho has confirmed, González tried to kill the story and denied it was even his apartment, yet Cacho states that he was indeed present, and called the governor of Quintana Roo to try to quiet the whole affair down.

Regardless: Now PRI, in "partial alliance" with the PVEM (which means that in some of the 300 single-member districts of Mexico, they will field common candidates, as well as for some Senate seats), has the guts to put forth Jorge Emilio González as its candidate for Senate for Quintana Roo, paired with ex governor Félix González Canto, reportedly under investigation for corruption.

Even Jesús Martínez, who was the first governor of the state in 1975 (it only became a state in 1974), has come out against the alliance, which he calls "shameful." Other members of PRI have also criticized the proposed candidacy, pointing out that González, once nicknamed the "Green Kid," a term now used ironically, is more famous for scandals and corruption than his legislative achievements.

One thing bears pointing out: If elected to the senate, both the Gonzálezes would have six years of immunity for prosecution.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

AMLO's future cabinet: Ebrard as Interior Secretary, de la Fuente, Education

AMLO is taken the time and liberty to declare the names of desired members of his future cabinet:

Marcelo Ebrard, Interior secretary
Juan Ramón de la Fuente, Education secretary
Rogelio Ramírez de la O, Finance secretary.

Very, very solid names. Quite bold to declare them in this manner and not without risks, but might very well pull in some votes.

Cherán votes to ditch elections in favor of "usos y costumbre"

The village of Cherán in Michoacán, where its mainly Purépecha indigenous inhabitants have since March taken up arms against illegal loggers and organized crime, and in the process kicked out its PRI mayor, voted  two days ago to  ditch elections, in favor of the system of "usos y costumbres" used chiefly in indigenous areas in Oaxaca, and in a few areas in Sonora.

Usos y costumbres are a traditional and pre-hispanic - and mightily complicated - means of selecting leadership and solving conflicts. Yet they are not without their critics. There is often no semblance of a secret vote, and often women are left out of the equation, as office holders as well as voters.

Cherán is the only municipality to introduce them in Michoacán, after a roughly 4841-500 vote that was recognized by the state electoral institute. Yet as much as Cherán's anger with political parties unable to solve their problems is understandable, I don't really see the usos y costumbres as a panacea for anything.

I will be off to Paracho the coming days, the "world capital of guitars," to by me a nice Vihuela, and hope to stop by Cherán, unless the situation is too tense.

In this Cristiada-mass time... Grabman's Gorostieta and the Cristiada

Many of us are awaiting with dread the new movie "Cristiada," about the 1926-9 conflict, an armed uprising of catholics against a strongly anti-clerical Mexican state.

Dread, because it appears the this will be a very distorted and pro-cristero portrayal of reality - in other words, a very political movie, yet of the reactionary kind. The trailer for the movie strongly suggests so: To dramatic images of churchgoers being massacred, we are told that "When the government outlawed faith... the faithful became outlaws." Oh, dear. "Based on a true story," the trailer boldly claims. One might add, "Only the facts have been changed to protect the innocent."

For a quick, entertaining, enlightening, and, most importantly, even-handed read on the Cristiada and particularly Enrique Gorostieta Velarde, a general hired to be the leader of the rebellion, I recommend Richard Grabman's Gorostieta and the Cristiada: Mexico's Catholic Insurgency 1926-1929. It proves a quick and accessible overview and background to the event, and seeks to hone in on Gorostieta himself  - a highly ambitions army officer that, irony of ironies, had long been considered an anti-clerical and possibly atheist. Keep that thought in mind as you watch the trailer. Yet what motivated him to join the rebellion, then? For one good and highly readable attempt at answering this question, which appears to have been the author's motivation, you can check out Grabman's book.

It is a very useful antidote to what appears to be a very, very flawed film, whenever it will be released.

(available now as an e-book here, or here, it costs less than a beer)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Art. 24 reform: Everyone's going overboard, especially La Jornada journalists

Where to begin: Two days ago, the Chamber of Deputies approved the reform to Article 24 of the constitution that will now allow religious organizations to carry out acts of worship in public, rather than being restricted only to religious houses of worship, according to existing legislation.

The change has elicited many strong reactions, and understandably so. Given the historic role of the church in Mexico, as well as its often pernicious influence on current politics (many of them noted in this blog), one should be wary of anything resembling an attack on the secular state in Mexico.

Already, strongly secular PRI senators such as  Francisco Labastida and María de los Ángeles Moreno said they will vote against the legislation when it comes to the senate.

Yet as far as I can see, the main reasons why the PRI, PAN, and most of PRD voted in favor for the legislation was simply for Mexico to abide by its international obligations stemming from having signed the San José Agreement on Human Rights. Pro-secular NGOs, however, are worried that the legislation means far more than this.

Let that debate continue.

Yet here the nuttiness starts. La Jornada on its front page declares that the Chuchos, or the social democratic wing of the PRD (long known for its pro-secular attitude, pro grays, pro women, pro abortion, etc), agreed to vote for the legislation in return for Guadalupe Acosta Naranjo, a federal deputy and member of the chuchos or (more formally Nueva Izquirda) presiding the Chamber of Deputies for the coming legislative session. The claim is repeated ad nauseam in a rash of articles in the newspaper by the same two journalists, Roberto Garduño and Enrique Méndez, such as here and here. .

But where is the evidence that this is the case, other than the claims of a few of their PRD and PT fellow legislators who merely say that is so?

I've said it before: La Jornada, once a highly venerable, respected, extremely important newspaper, is becoming a caricature of itself due to its ridiculous biases and distortions of reality: You can't repeat as "fact" a highly incendiary claim just because you are opposed politically to the group stating it. 
Seriously. At no point do they even mention the San José agreements, but merely throw in the PRD group in what they call "attack on the secular state." There's more than a bit of irony here: Where was La Jornada, when gay groups, human rights group, pro choice groups, women rights group, etc, were pleading with AMLO in 2006 to take up their cause, as he had promised, in his presidential campaign? When AMLO personally blocked the vote on gay unions as Mexico City mayor? Not a word from La Jornada, which from the early 2000s on appeared more an AMLO mouthpiece (or EZLN, depending on the conjuncture), than the  serious newspaper it once was.

Speaking of nutty journalists: Some "catholic reporters" - unclear from what newspaper - brought with them a priest to "bless" the press room. Yes, to bless the Chamber of Deputies press room.

And of course, the criminal thugs of the Mexico Archdiocese - criminal in their numerous cover-ups of child-raping priests and pedophiles on all levels  - could not resist the temptation to use their favorite word, the F-word.

F for Fascist. Hugo Valdemar Romero, the spokesperson of sorts for the church, said in response to critics of the legislation that "it is incomprehensible that some parties of a fascist style continue to view this as a violation of the Constitution, as a violation of the secular state."

Leave it to Valdemar, who have always gleefully enjoyed pouring gasoline on fire,  to tack the label "fascist" to democratic political parties. Self-projection, much?

Friday, December 16, 2011

14 months late, Mexico's Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) complete

It's about damn time. At last, the Chamber of deputies came to an agreement to appoint, with the required 2/3 majority, the last three IFE councilors ahead of 2012. None voted against; a handful of PT legislators abstained.

They are:
* Sergio García Ramírez, former attorney general, and judge at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

* María Marván Laborde, Ph.D from New School, now with the federal IFAI (institute for access to information and data protection)

* Lorenzo Córdova Vianello, Ph.D, law expert and researcher at UNAM.

This is excellent new, met with near unison approval from the various legislative leaders, as well as IFE president Leonardo Valdés. It's embarrassing, though, that it took the Chamber so long to get to this, and only under intense pressure from the federal electoral tribunal (TEPJF).

IFE squashes a horrid proposal from two of its councilors

Marco Antonio Baños and Alfredo Figueroa Mantuvo, IFE councilors both, proposed to IFE's general council that IFE should extend its authority to monitor opinion programs in the media to make sure the treatment of political candidates of the shows are "equitable."

Thankfully, IFE squashed the initiative, which strikes me as truly insane, and far beyond the mere practical details of deciding what is "equitable" treatment of candidtes: What on earth makes them think that IFE is entitled to decide what is "fair" treatment in the media? It is hard to think of a similar extreme and truly frightening attempt at overreach with authoritarian overtones.

While Marco Antonio Baños is known for his erratic behavior, I expected differently from Alfredo Figueroa, who I found to be a very reasonable man when I interviewed him for an hour a little while back.

Both are considered very close to the PRI, despite the nonsense of IFE councilors supposedly having no party sympathies. Yet for them to try to turn IFE into an organ exercising editorial control of political programs on television - I actually did hold that to be beneath them.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Peña Nieto is not the lady of the house, we now know.

There is something truly pathetic about playing the victim when you screw up like Enrique Peña Nieto has done very publicly the past days. It is also a sign things aren't going your way. Why not at least try to laugh it off, and show that he is not just the scripted puppet incapable of independent thinking and improvisation that his opponents accuse him of being?

Yet Peña Nieto instead plays the victim, and even suggesting there might be more "inaccuracies" in the future.

Word.

He then preceded to not know the minimum wage in Mexico nor the price of a kilo of tortillas nor the price of a kilo of meat, responding that "I am not the lady of the house."

Yes, because only women buy tortillas and meat.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Quote of the day: Carlos Fuentes on Enrique Peña Nieto,

Fuentes dixit:
"This señor has the right not to read me. What he has not the right to be is president of Mexico due to his ignorance, this is what is serious. Not that he has not read a book of mine, but that he shows his ignorance. He is a very ignorant man."

The dead students in Guerrero

It seems prudent to withhold judgment on who is to blame for what happened in Guerrero two days ago. What is abundantly clear is that it should never have happened in the first place: Two students dead and more than a dozen wounded following a highway protest.

It was hardly the first time students from the Ayotzinapa teacher school in Guerrerohave been blocking the Autopista del Sol, the highway running from Mexico City to Acapulco, Guerrero. Yet it is the first time it turned deadly: "Someone" - state police, federal police, provocateurs - fired upon students and graduates of Escuela Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos who were demanding reuctions in tuition as well as guaranteed teaching jobs after graduation.

Dramatic videos have been released by the Guerrero state government, eager to put the blame on federal police, that also clearly seems to show the students torching a PEMEX gas station.

Yet the federal police have responded forcefully, claiming rather that the shots were fired by Guerrero state police in civilian clothing.

Governor Ángel Aguirre Rivero fired his attorney general, Alberto López Rosas, as it became clear that it contrary to his early claims, video recordings showed that the state police was fully armed. Aguirre also fired the secretary and sub secretary of public security, Ramón Almonte Borja and general Ramón Arreolaos respectively, to "facilitate the investigation."

Students who torch a gas station can hardly be expected to treated with kid gloves. I would never defend what appears to be, from the video images released, the beating and kicking of captured students, though it should also be pretty clear that if you block a highway and then torch a gas station with Molotov cocktails, the encounter with the police is not likely to be pretty.

But gunning down students - firing your guns at a civilian crowd that in no case appears to be a physical threat to the safety of the officers - is a criminal act for which the guilty parties, whoever they are, must be made to pay. This should never have had to come to this.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Leonel Cota, after a 360 turn, does another turn - back with AMLO

One of the more unprincipled and opportunist characters in Mexican politics, Leonel Cota Montaño, is now back in AMLO's fold, the former governor of Baja California Sur apparently seeking a seat at the federal Chamber of Deputies.

This is the same Cota who was once a member of a far left Trotskyist outfit, then joined PRI, then ditched it in 1999, then became pliant and handpicked  PRD president 2005-08 under AMLO, then left the party, seeking candidacies with 1) The Green Party, 2) PANAL, and 3) back to.... PRI!

They all rejected him.

Even AMLO reproached him for this.

And now, appearing at the Movimiento Ciudadano's candidate registry as a re-re-re invented AMLO loyalist, attacking PRD under the leadership of interim president Acosta Naranjo and then Ortega, 2008-11, for having abandoned AMLO, and even accused the PRD of having taken advantage of AMLO in 2006.

Such brazen rewriting and distortion of very recent history must really assume that people truly have no memory.

René Bejarano, he's like the wind

The powerful René Bejarano, head of various clienteles of pseudo-social movements and a long-time collaborator of AMLO, said he will keep a very low profile so as not "damage" the 2012 presidential candidate.

Rather, Bejarano says, he "will be like the wind, felt but not seen."


Many will remember Bejarano from the 2004 video scandals. He spent a time in jail while his wife Dolores Padierna became nominal head of his party faction within the PRD, the IDN.

The mafioso-like utterance aside, for the sake of AMLO's reputation, and to be sure, for that of the PRD, let's hope he sticks to his word.

AMLO registers, PRD left out in the cold

This Friday, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) registered, in three separate events, with the three parties that are carrying his candidacy as presidential candidate in 2012. He even color coordinated his ties: Yellow for PRD, orange for Movimiento Ciudadano, and red for the Workers Party (PT).

Yet the three events were markedly different. For the PRD event, the party to which AMLO technically still belongs - though the past years he has been busy campaigning for its opponents on the left - the ambiance was quite austere. Reportedly AMLO had asked for a low-key event, and in any case, there were significant absences - not Ebrard or Cárdenas, or Jesús Ortega or Héctor Bautista, heads of NI and ADN respectively, two major party factions long critical of AMLO's influence over and effects upon the PRD. Nor Armando Ríos Piter and Carlos Navarrete, heads of the PRD's legislative groups.

And no wonder - just days ago it became clear that NI and ADN were practically excluded from his campaign team, which includes very few people from PRD in general. It read essentially as a who-is-who from 2006, leaving the team from the last presidential contest virtually intact.

AMLO now called for unity - hardly a moment too soon, having been the biggest source of controversy, disunity, and internal fights for the past five years in the PRD. Party President Jesús Zambrano did his part, calling for "Viva López Obrador!" at the event, which was very much an act of protocol compared with the other two - MC and PT - with thousands of attendees, music, and general festivities. AMLO even showed up there with his entire family, four children and spouse Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller.

AMLO's love and peace, in short, does not appear to be extended toward his critics in the PRD.

In that sense, nothing appears to have changed.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Calderón gets specific on narco interference in elections

Having warned several times in speeches and pronunciations this week of the infiltration of the narcos in Mexico's elections, it was about time for Calderón to get specific, and yesterday he did: According to the president, in the state of Michoacán, candidates in 50 municipalities were forced down by the narco. Notably, they were from all three parties - Enrique Peña Nieto had complained earlier that Calderón was targeting the PRI for electoral purposes.

Here is a graphic from Milenio:
Milenio

PAN's candidates get destructive

It's getting nasty. Ernesto Cordero, who is at least to me the most unlikable PAN precandidate in recent memory, launched a full-frontal attack on his party comrade  Josefina Vázquez Mota, dismissing her role as leader of the PAN's parliamentary group. He also said she didn't know anything about "public policies." Vázquez Mota in return launched an equally harsh attack, claiming Cordero didn't do a good job at the secretariat of Social Development, and blaming him for the rise in poverty in Mexico. Ouch! What a back-fire type of attack, as it most implicitly is an attack on the Calderón government's policies.

Cordero even accused her of "lying."

Less than 7 months left, and nasty infighting increasing among PAN's candidate, at a time when both PAN and PRI has a clearly defined candidate - it is hard to think of a worse starting position ahead of 2012.

The Guardian on U.S. guns in Mexico

While there is nothing particularly new in the report, the Guardian's backgrounder take on U.S. guns being smuggled to Mexico is absolutely worth the read, as it is an excellent, succinct summary and a good update for many.

Greg Sánchez now wants to be a senator

Gregorio "Greg" Sánchez, remember him? He was gubernatorial candidate in Quintana Roo in 2010, but was arrested by federal authorities on accusations of links to organized crime and for illicit enrichment.
Last August he was released from prison, though charges have apparently still not been dropped.

He notably spent the time writing 125 hymns to the lord - why of course, Greg is also a preacher and a born-again christian.

And now.. he wants to be a senator from Quintana Roo, running on the label of the Workers Party, the PT, which apparently backs his bid, as does AMLO.

Indeed the lord does move in mysterious ways.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Two out of three ain't bad: Ebrard's approval rating

The approval rating of Mexico City mayor is, according to an El Universal poll, 66 percent. In fact, the mayor has never been more popular. What a pity AMLO bested him for the 2012 candidacy - this is truly a politician with broad appeal.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Peña Nieto and the bible

Enrique Peña Nieto's failure to even name three books that have "shaped him" has gotten a lot of attention, and rightly so. Jesús Ortega, leader of the social democratic faction Nueva Izquierda within the PRD, has a notable take on the book Peña Nieto did mention as having inspired him, the christian bible:
Is it of any significance for the country that the bible is the primary book for Peña Nieto and the other candidates for President of the Republic? Of course it is, and in my opinion in a negative sense.
I understand that for someone who aspires to be a minister, any theological text is certainly indispensable for their vocational education and training and morale. or any rabbi, deep knowledge of the Torah is essential, for the ayatollahs the full knowledge and even memorization of the Qur'an is essential and, in the same way, to Catholic bishops or ministers Christians, the bible must be the essential text for preaching. 
Yet for the head of state of a secular, democratic republic of law, while the study of the Bible (or other dogmatic books) may be useful and even necessary, but not the primary and basic sustenance of one's knowledge and learning in order exercise one's political responsibilities. 
For Peña Nieto, for López Obrador or whoever is the PAN candidate, it is more recommended and required to know Rousseau's Social Contract, Machiavelli's The Prince, and The Declaration of the Rights of Man, and if they want to know something of caciques and and caudillos, it is pertinent to read Pedro Páramo, The Tyrant Banderas, or the Shadow of the Tyrant.

PRI sector seek to give Moreira immunity - a telling sign

The PRI's Confederación Nacional de Organizaciones Populares (CNOP), a corporatist leftover from its golden days and headed by party hack Emilio Gamboa Patrón, expressed support for an elected office for disgraced ex party leader Humberto Moreira, who may well be facing legal prosecution soon.

So to reiterate: Rather than letting Moreira face the accusations and prove himself innocent and clear his name, PRI wants to have Moreira elected federal deputy or senator, which offers legal immunity for persecution - admitting, ipso facto, that there is hardly no smoke without fire, and that Moreira truly has much to hide.

New Cardinal of Guadalajara, Francisco Robles Ortega

Francisco Robles Ortega was appointed new cardinal of Guadalajara, following the retirement of Juan Sandoval Iñiguez, who has held the position since Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo was infamously murdered at the Guadalajara airport in 1994, under still murky circumstances.

Robles has been archbishop of Monterrey for the past 12 years. I might have to eat my own words, but he cannot possibly be a worse appointment than Sandoval - one of the meanest, darkest, most extreme fanatics the church has seen in recent times, who held the position since

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Beatriz Paredes, PRI's candidate for Mexico City mayor in 2012

It's been long known that former PRI president Beatriz Paredes Rangel has had her eyes on her party's nomination to be the mayor of Mexico City, and yesterday she came out and officially declared her intentions.

Note that she ran as well in 2006 against Ebrard, when she came in third.

Ironically, given PAN's difficulties in finding a decent candidate, it seems that its 2012 candidate will be Demetrio Sodi, who also ran in 2006 and then came in second.

Ebrard, as the rumor mill has it, is going back and forth between Mario Delgado and Miguel Mancera - secretary of education and attorney general of Mexico City, respectively.

The priceless tweet

From the twittering classes: Pure genius.

"Carlos Fuentes' book The Eagle's Throne 235 pesos. A bottle of gel, 45 pesos. Your daughter ruining your campaign in 140 characters.... PRICELESS."


("Libro de Carlos Fuentes “La Silla del Águila” $235, bote de gel $45, que tu hija arruine tu campaña en 140 caracteres… NO TIENE PRECIO.")

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Peña Nieto's "Foxazo"

Sure, it can happen to everyone: Confuse one's two favorite authors.
During his participation as a speaker at the International Book Fair in Guadalajara, Enrique Peña Nieto, the PRI candidate for president of Mexico, confused the authors and forgot the titles of the books that have "left a mark" on his life...
For several minutes the priista tried to remember more titles, but could not and  even sought help from his handlers.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The moreirazo: New president of PRI is senator Coldwell

After a weary-looking Humberto Moreira stepped down as PRI leader yesterday, after only nine stormy months on the job,  the PRI's big shots simply "decided" that the new party president will be Pedro Joaquín Coldwell. He is a senator from Quintana Roo, where he was governor before being secretary of tourism 90-93 for Carlos Salinas.

Secretary general Cristina Díaz was sworn in as interim president, but it will be just that - Coldwell will replace her soon.

Ernesto Cordero, on his quixotic quest for the PAN nomination, notably wanted his part of the credit - "I was the first to accuse him!"

PAN and PRD are not content with his mere renunciation, given the Coahuila debt and likely fraud scandal. PAN warned PRI to not give Moreira a senate or deputy seat, which would grant him immunity for persecution.

AMLO's 2012 campaign coordinator: Ricardo Monreal

AMLO has chosen Ricardo Monreal as his 2012 campaign coordinator.

Monreal is an AMLO unconditional. He was a lifelong PRI member who bailed the party in 1998 when he failed to get the PRI nomination to be governor of Zacatecas. AMLO recruited him and he won the state for the PRD.
In 2008, now as a senator, he left the PRD's legislative group to join the senate group of the Partido del Trabajo (PT), a party wholly subservient to AMLO.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Humberto Moreira renounces

Humberto Moreira renounced as president of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI).

As I noted yesterday, it was time for him to count his days after Peña Nieto spoke out against him.

Specifically, one day.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Time for PRI's president Moreira to count his days

Enrique Peña Nieto, PRI's presidential candidate, said that the debt and possible fraud scandals in Coahuila under the watch of national PRI president Humberto Moreira Valdés have "worn down" the party.

With Peña Nieto now dropping the ball on Moreira, it seems to me it is time for the PRI president to count his days on the job.

Misiones de Shaddai: Yet another charlatan sect comes apart in Chiapas

Southern Mexico and Chiapas in particular is notorious for the many religious sects preying on the poor. Misiones de Shaddai is one of them. Its leader Darinel López Toledo was arrested this weekend for exploitation, including minors, after having recruited them to work at the mission's banana plantation for a pittance:
The detainee is accused of "hooking" those poor and of low income with the promise of jobs, housing and food, and forced them to do exhausting days in exchange for a payments of 25 pesos a day. In his ministerial statements, one of the victims who escaped the building in the ejido Congregación Reforma de Tapachula said that López Toledo approached low-income families with the idea of ​​"reaching the word of God."
May this criminal charlatan spend a long time behind bars.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"Peace and love" between AMLO and PRD.

It's front page news in Milenio, El Universal, and La Jornada, and rightly so: AMLO meets with thee chuchos, Jesús Ortega and Jesús Zambrano of the Nueva Izquierda, and they all call for "peace and love."

NI, the largest faction of the PRD and of a clear social-democratic orientation, has long been at loggerheads with AMLO. As far as I recall, Ortega has not met with AMLO for years, possibly 2006 when he was nominally his campaign manager, yet when he (and the PRD) was completely overruled and overrun by AMLO's own movement organization.

There's been lot of angry denunciations and accusations ever since - but now they've apparently decided to make up. "Love and peace," AMLO said. Hopefully it will last.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sonora government of Guillermo Padrés: Does it have no shame?

Javier Sicilia has put blame of the murder of Nepomuceno Moreno on PAN Governor Guillermo Padrés Elías. While all is speculation at this point, this reaction is understandable, and certainly from a moral point of view: Nepomuceno Moreno had repeatedly asked the state government for police protection given a range of threats to his life, yet none was offered.

Yet the point I want to make is this: Rather than lamenting the murder and simply keeping a low profile, what does the state attorney general do? In meeting with the press, state attorney general Abel Murrieta Gutiérrez is more worried about smearing Nepomuceno Moreno, pointing out to media that earlier he
had been imprisoned previously for possessing a weapon exclusively for military use.The attorney general's office said that Moreno Nunez was involved in an armed incursion of a home in 2005. According to the Mexico City daily Reforma, however, the authorities failed to mention that he was released from prison after being absolved. (From CNN)
What complete lack of any moral integrity. The gut reaction from an attorney general who is obviously incompetent, incapable or unwilling to do his job to protect his state's citizens, is simply to blame the victim.

The contempt demonstrated by some prominent PAN and PRI members - the Sonora government is led by Guillermo Padrés Elías, and the attorney general is from PRI - toward the victims of Mexico's drug conflict is simply stunning at times. It is also bordering on, or even crossing, the illegal.

Nepomuceno Moreno murdered in Sonora

Sad news from Sonora: Nepomuceno Moreno Muñoz was a key activist in the ¡No más sangre! campaign, and a participant in Javier Sicilia's peace movement. Recently, like Sicilia, he met with Felipe Calderón at the Chapultepec castle in Mexico City, where the president received a range of activists critical of the "war" against the drug gang. Many, like Moreno, have simply been demanding to know the whereabouts of their children. Moreno's son has been missing since July 1, 2011, kidnapped in Ciudad Obregón.

Now Nepomuceno Moreno was himself murdered, when an unknown assailant shot him seven times while he was driving in Hermosillo, close to the Universidad de Sonora.

Javier Sicilia blamed the murder on PAN Governor Guillermo Padrés Elías.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Surprise warning against church manipulation from Chuayffet

Emilio Chuayffet Chemor has been a quite unpredictable an erratic president of Mexico's Chamber of Deputies. Now he launched a warning that also came somewhat out of the blue: the "manipulation of consciousness" carried out by the Mexican catholic church.

According to Chuayffet, the Church has been a master in the exercise of power,
so therefore, we catholics want it far away, we do not want it to intervene in political life, because we know how far it can get and how it easily it can manipulate consciences and guide them in in its own favor, for its own interest."
Can't say I disagree to much with the analysis, though surprised to hear it from Chuayffet. Not all former governor of Mexico State (and former interior secretary) are as kowtowing to the Mexican church as, say, an Enrique Peña Nieto or a José Francisco Blake Mora.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

PRI denounces ghost companies in Guanajuato

Local PRI Deputy Miguel Ángel Chico Herrera denounced the government of Juan Manuel Oliva Ramírez in Guanajuato for having made no-bid purchases for the the government worthy 272 million pesos, from what appears to be simply "ghost companies" - meaning they have no address or physical location.

It is not the first time the ultra-conservative yunquista Oliva faces such accusations of dirty dealings, including juicy contracts doled out to close relatives.

AMLO calls out zapatistas for 2006

In Chiapas, AMLO called on the zapatistas not to repeat their behavior from 2006.

Then, surpassing even its usual high standard of sectarianism, the EZLN hurled a stream of epithets toward the PRD, including the standard ultraleft label of fascism (!) against the PRD and AMLO, and Marcos went on a celebrity-like tour around Mexico and called on people note to vote for the left - or any party.

While it is unclear how much influence Marcos had and had over the vote, his call upon the far left not to back AMLO, given the narrow victory of Calderón, might even have cost AMLO the victory.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Entire police force resigns in Carácuaro, Michoacán

Carácuaro, Michoacán, is a historic place: It was where José María Morelos, exercised his priesthood before joining and becoming a leader of the Mexican War of Independence.

It is sadly today a place where the entire police force of 38 men  resigned following threats and ambushes from organized crime, leaving public security provisionally in the hands of the military.

Carácuaro has been run by PRI, and will after the elections be led by a left coalition.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Ebrard 2018

Much, much water will run under the bridge until 2018. But in a chat with students at Tecnológico de Monterrey, Ebrard said he wanted to go for 2018 - reiterating that he will seek no senate or deputy seat for 2012.

AMLO's priority: Get rid of Elba Esther Gordillo as teacher union head

AMLO said one of his first priorities will be to remove Elba Esther Gordillo as head of the main Mexican teacher union SNTE, Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación.

I suspect that he'll gain more than a few votes on this one, as he moreover has much credibility on this: Unlike PAN, who in 2006 was a Gordillo ally, and 2012, where Peña Nieto has recruited her (or vice versa), AMLO has always refused to make any pacts or alliances with the "president-for-life" of SNTE.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Vote-by-vote recount in Morelia gives victory to PRI

Following a manual, full vote-by-vote recount in Morelia, the victory of PRI in the mayor's race for the capital city of Michoacán was confirmed, with 2,347 more votes for Wilfrido Lázaro Medina over Marko Cortés Mendoza. Final count: 122, 258 to 119, 941. The PRD came in a distant third.

This did not stop Cortés from impugning the election to the state's electoral court.

Narcopolitics in Michoacán, bullet form updates

The brewing narcopolitics scandal in Michoacán is receiving international attention.
In short, Milenio got hold of recorded conversations where third-in-command of La Familia Michoacana (which supposedly is no longer existent), telling villagers in the Tierra Caliente and Tuzantla area to vote for PRI.

Subsequent reactions:

* PRD president Jesús Zambano said it was evidence of narco collusion with PRI and merely the tip of the ice berg

* PRD's defeated candidate Silvano Aureoles Conejo demands election be annulled.

* Cocoa, PAN's candidate and president Calderón's sister,  demands and explanation

* So does the PRI.

* Political commentator Ciro Gómez Leyva apologizes to Cocoa for having belittled her claims of a narco vote

* SIEDO has launched an investigation

* New interior secretary Alejandro Poiré said the recordings were "very worrisome signs"

* PAN has now joined the PRD in demanding the elections be annulled.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What a beautiful sight

Creative arms-reduction methods in Chiapas, from Milenio:
Milenio

Manlio Fabio Beltrones officially out of PRI race

Senator Manlio Fabio Beltrones officially bowed out of the campaign to be the PRI's nominee for 2012 presidential candidate. No major criticisms in his resignation speech, but many subtle jabs at the PRI leadership, from what I gathered, and a not-so-subtle criticism of how PRI has altered, in recent days, the rules to select its candidates, deemed advantageous to Peña Nito.

Now only PAN remains to choose its 2012 candidate

Bishop Raúl Vera López on Coahuila's debt

The great defender of the downtrodden, Bishop Raúl Vera López, on the subject of Coahuila's massive debt left by the PRI government of Humberto Moreira, now reportedly 35 billion pesos:
"it will be the poor who will have to pay for it."

I am afraid he is absolutely right.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mexican business warms to AMLO

On the one hand, the Consejo Coordinador Empresarial (CCE), the major business council in Mexico, and its president Mario Sánchez Ruiz declared that AMLO is not a "danger" to private investment and business in Mexico - quite a different tone from 2006.

On the other La Jornada has a very interesting article based on interviews with former PAN and PRI-backing businessmen who are now pro AMLO. Anecdotal, yes, and impossible to know how representative, but I found it interesting to hear their narrative, how they have grown disillusioned with the free-market model in Mexico -or perhaps, the poorly functioning free market model. Perhaps they have come to realize that a leftwing government, with an obligatory reference to Lula, may actually not be damaging to growth, but rather quite the contrary?

The tithe is alive and well at the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God

La Jornada has gone "undercover" in an investigation of what in Mexico is known as the Iglesia Universal del Reino de Dios, or the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. Of Brazilian origin and of the theology of prosperity, the UCKG probably ranks around 13 million members world wide, and is absolutely and stunningly filthy rich, and under investigation for fraud and tax evasion in multiple countries.

The article is well worth a read. The manners in which the UCKG is trying to extract a tithe - yes, the tithe, or the 10-percent-of-all-your-income tax, from its congregation is simply stunning in its cynicism. Read for yourself.

What charlatans.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A most worthy PRI senate initiative: Microbrews!

With the goal of promoting artisanal beer, the PRI is launching an initiative in the Senate to reduce the tax burden on micro breweries, arguing that while this type of beer may well be as strong in alcohol as main stream beers, because it uses different ingredients it is likely to as well be healthier. Hence, less taxes on micro beers!

Salud!

La Familia Michoacana killed ex governor, PRI politician implicated

The investigation by the state attorney general's office of Colima has determined that the murder of former Governor Silverio Cavazos Ceballos 2005-09 (PRI) was murdered by La Familia Michoacana last Nov. 21 - almost exactly a year ago.

Notably, also implicated was Samuel Rodríguez Moreno, nephew of ex governor Fernando Moreno Peña (1997-2003) and currently a delegate of the national PRI executive committee to the state of Michoacán, as "intellectual co-author" of the ex governor's murder.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A very significant development: PRI fissures surface

The carefully groomed yet highly constructed facade of PRI unity ahead of 2012 is cracking, and most importantly, in a highly public manner: Labastida openly attacks the PRI leadership.

Francisco Labastida Ochoa is no minor person in PRI - senator, presidential candidate in 2000, and very close to Manlio Fabio Beltrones, who also at least appears to be seeking the PRI nomination for 2012. 

* He argues the party presidency of Humberto Moreira is damaging the unity of the party
* He argues the PRI's alliance with the discredited Elba Esther Gordillo is taking away as many votes as it is adding for the party. 

Also, according to the rumor mil, in Mexico City Beatriz Paredes is very unhappy with the decision by Moreira to simply hand over a senate candidacy to Jorge Emilio González of the very un-green Green Party, rather than to reserve it for a PRI legislator.

Many PRI bigshots point out that the PVEM (Green Party) and PANAL (party of Gordillo) are getting far too many safe seats in return for backing the PRI's presidential nominee - which seems a very fair point.

For those of us who see the New PRI as nothing but the same old authoritarian old PRI and fear its return, a split in the PRI is highly desirable.




Friday, November 18, 2011

Calderón recognizes electoral defeat

No, not Felipe, but his sister, who put up a charade claiming against all evidence that she was the winner of the Michoacán gubernatorial race, finally conceded.

Many municipal results are down to a handful of votes in differences, so final results still not clear.

Dignified response from PRD to fake debates

In response to the suggestion from AMLO - a bad joke if that is what it was, or an asinine proposal if it was real, as it seems it was, that the parties behind his candidacy simply present their party presidents as "fake" candidates so that AMLO will get the added allotted media time by the Mexican state for pre-candidacies, PRD president Jesús Zambrano answered, “It should be clear that I am the national president of the PRD" - meaning, unlike the PT president who immediately jumped on the proposal, Zambrano will not stoop to this low, and neither will the PRD. It was a dignified response.

Mexico's New No.2:

As is often noted, given that Mexico does not have a vice president, the equivalent "no. 2" has often been the interior secretary. Following the recent death of José Francisco Blake Mora, it was announced yesterday that new Secretario de Gobernación will be Alejandro Poiré Romero - the fifth of the sexenio.

Notably, Poiré has only served two months or so as head of CISEN, the federal intelligence agency. That should tell you something of what, not unexpected, the priorities are for the new secretary.

On the other hand, he is also a pretty well-respected political scientist, and knows a lot about elections matters and parties. That will come handy as well. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Candiacies are crystallizing: Manlio Fabio Beltrones to decline from seeking candidacy

The usually very well-informed Carlos Loret de Mola writes that Manlio Fabio Beltrones is to step down from the contest to get the PRI's candidacy for president in 2012.

Significant news - and, it seems to me, a direct result of, when all is said and done, the left defying all expectations by being the first party to choose its de facto presidential nominee - Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) - without any fissures or scandals. I think that shocked quite a few of the political establishment, especially since AMLO seem to be gaining a surprising amount of momentum.

The rather hurried decision of Beltrones to step down to leave the path for Enrique Peña Nieto could be a measure of just that.

AMLO: I want to be the Mexican Lula

AMLO dixit:
I want to be the Mexican,Lula but with my own characteristics. If they had not done the fraud against us, the example to follow would not be Lula, it would be Mexico. The country would not be like it is, I assure you that. until there is a change we will not find the exit. They have shut down, they have maintained an outdated regime, they don't want any changes done to those who are already going great, the monopoly of power.

Marcelo Ebrard on his future plans

From Milenio:
I have not retired from anything, I continue as head of the government of the city, I continue my political career and I'm thinking ahead, I always think about the future, not just tomorrow but what will happen in 10 or 20 years.
Whatzatspell? I'd love to have listened in on the AMLO-Ebrard conversations, but something is telling me the year 2018 came up.

Two very recommended reads on AMLO as the left´s 2012 candidate

Two very recommended comments on Marcelo Ebrard's full acceptance of the results of the polls won by AMLO to be the left's candidate - and the way forward for the Mexican left.

* Jesús Ortega's  commentary
* Agustín Basave's commentary

PRI will run in coalition with the two most discredited parties in Mexico

Admittedly there are a few to choose from - Mexico has an unusally wide array of highly opportunistic minor parties - yet in terms of two lacking near any semblance of a programmatic identity and real purpose beyond serving as franchises, as tools for their leaders, few beat the Partido Nueva Alianza (PANAL) of teacher union boss Elba Esther Gordillo, and, unchallenged at the top, the  Partido Verde Ecologista de México (PVEM), the only rightwing Green Party in the world, which is not green, and not a real party.

Regardless: PRI's Political Commission just announced it will go in coalition with these two miscreants for the 2012 election in at least 126 districts, and for 10 senatorships. The PVEM's "Niño Verde," Jorge Emilio González Martínez, son of party founder Jorge González Torres, wants to be senator, and will likely get the candidacy.

Joaquín López-Dóriga has a very interesting column on the price PANAL wanted to extract from PRI - 30 federal deputies and 5 senators, reportedly. That is a very high price to pay for Gordillo's support.

Nuevo León ex governor who claimed PRI pacted with narcos questioned

Sócrates Rizzo García was governor of Nuevo León 1991-1996, for the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI). It therefore sent quite a few shock waves through the political spectrum when he last February made some comments that strongly suggested that the even national had been making pacts with the drug gangs in the 1990s. The PRI-controlled presidency,
“tenía resuelto el problema del tránsito” de (droga), pues de algún manera se les decía (a traficantes) ‘tu pasas por aquí… pero no me toques estos lugares’”.
Rizzo was now - 8 months later, mind you - questioned by the PGR or the federal attorney general's office regarding these claims. Yet what did he state now? "I was not aware of any" narco pacts.

I know nothing! (couldn't help this one)

AMLO reconciles with Televisa, concocts scheme to get media exposure

A picture worth the front page of today's Milenio: AMLO greeting and being interviewed by Televisa's Joaquín López-Dóriga:
From Milenio
AMLO, as is well known, has long had a feud with Televisa, accusing them of a media black out of his movement. Apparantly this has now come to an end. There are a million things to criticize this network for, and very rightly so, though I find the claim of a black of AMLO in the media quite laughable - he has been appearing pretty much constantly in print but also electronic media the past years.

Note as well that since the left has now decided on a common candidate, AMLO won't have access to state-provided TV and Radio time to promote his nomination. So guess what AMLO then will try to do? To "debate" other fake "candidates" to pretend the nomination has been not decided yet, in order to get the added media exposure.

If anyone think AMLO has become any more respectful of institutions and the rules of the game over the years... I am afraid they will have to think again.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cartoon of the day...

I am stealing today's cartoon in El Universal, as it is just too funny not to be shared:

Andrés Manuel López Obrador will be the left's 2012 candidate

The results of the poll were finally made public this morning: Andrés Manuel López Obrador will be the candidate of the PRD, PT and MC for the 2012 election.

The PRD will in 2012 be a party with a 23-year history, yet merely two presidential candidates.

I truly hope I am mistaken, but as far as I can see, this all but assures that the next president of Mexico will be  Enrique Peña Nieto, and that the PRI will return to Los Pinos.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador will again be the left's candidate for 2012

Andrés Manuel López Obrador will be the left's candidate in 2012, according to the results of the two polls released today. That is, he is the "best positioned" in the two polls he and Marcelo Ebrard had commissioned. He will now run on a coalition likely consisting of the PRD, the PT, and Movimiento Ciudadano.

Watch the conference now, live from Milenio TV 

Cynical quote of the day

Enrique Peña Nieto, ex governor of Mexico State and likely PRI presidential candidate, is again in Washington, DC, appearing at the Woodrow Wilson Center. There, speaking of the needed structural reforms in Mexico,  he declared,
"Neither the left nor the right, have the optimum conditions, as shown, to undertake these reforms"
How bold. This, after the federal legislators controlled by Peña Nieto in the Chamber of Deputies has sabotaged and blocked virtually every major legislative initiative the past couple of years. Cynical quote of the day.

Michoacán governor election, more results and data

* According to the PREP (preliminary results based on quick count), PRI won the governorship with 35.39 percent of the votes

* PRI won 11 local deputies for congress, PRD 8, and PAN 5

* PRI won 46 out of 113 municipalities (with PVEM alliance in several), PRD and allies 30 (down from 41), and PAN 27 (up from 20)

* 54.2 percent of voters participated.

* Silvano Aureoles Conejo, the left's candidate, says Sunday's election in Michoacán should be annulled, given what he says was massive federal intervention in the election, threats against PRD militants, and PRI collusion with organized crime.

* Do does Cocoa, president Calderón's sister and PAN's candidate. She also demands a vote-by-vote recount, and the count of 879 ballot boxes that were not counted by the PREP. I looked at the PREP and made references to these here. I think, too, these should be counted again.

* The winner according to the PREP, Fausto Vallejo Figueroa, denies any narco ties.

* Yet Manuel Camacho Solís, coordinator of the Diálogo para la Reconstrucción de México (DIA) left front of PRD, PT and MC, says the left should accept the results.

* The federal attorney general's office is investigating 42 concrete cases in relation to the election

Monday, November 14, 2011

Michoacán: PREP closed with PRI ahead, but funky numbers

All three parties claimed to have won the Michoacán election, with the surprise winner Fausto Vallejo Figueroa on top in the PREP, or Programa de Resultados Electorales Preliminares. As its name implies, these are not the official results and have no legal value - they are based on a quick count of the actas or tally sheets, which it appears were scanned electronically just as they came in.

For the official count, the complete electoral packets must be sent in to the electoral districts of the state, and the numbers of the tally sheets checked. They may also be opened and actually recounted, if the data on the tally sheet indicate, well, that something just ain't right - that the numbers don't add up with votes cast and reported remaining ballots, etc.

What is interesting is the ballot boxes reported in the PREP - access, in Excel form, to all the boxes is given here. Of the 6075 boxes reported for governor, the more one skims down the page (they are ordered according to when first reported in to the PREP), there are many hundreds of instances of 1) Tally sheet ineligible, 2) Sum of votes superior to the number of people voting, 3) Numbers do not match up, 4) Envelope empty, and 5) Envelope not handed over.

See for yourself here. Skimming the sheet, at least 500 boxes were not counted as part of the PREP. Though we don't know the absolute size of this vote, in terms of percentage of ballot boxes, that is quite a bit (8 percent based on purely eyeball measure) - and if we assume the number of votes in each box is roughly on average with the ones that were counted, (2-300 it seems, again just skimming), we are talking 100,000-150,000 votes not counted.

They could, of course, follow a complete normal distribution, in that they are spread out evenly among the candidates, but I will certainly withhold judgment on who won in Michoacán Sunday until both the state electoral institute and electoral tribunal have ratified the election.

Michoacán governor election: PRI ahead with 89% of voted counted

According to the PREP, or a program for preliminary election results contracted by Michoacán's electoral authority, Fausto Vallejo Figueroa is leading in the count to be Michoacán's next governor with 35.38 percent.
Luisa María Calderón Hinojosa is in second place with 32.67.

If confirmed, this is quite an upset: All major polls had Calderón's sister Cocoa as the favorite. It will be a huge triumph for the PRI ahead of 2012.

PRI won in all four districts of the capital Morelia, where Vallejo was governor, and the two in Uruapan. It is also ahead in Hidalgo, Zitácuaro, Apatzingán, Zinapécuaro and Múgica - 9 districts.

PAN is ahead in La Piedad, Zamora, Jiquilpan, Jacona and Tacámbaro, while PRD won Lázaro Cárdenas, Puruándiro, Zacapu, Huetamo, Maravatío, Los Reyes, Pátzcuaro and Coalcomán.

What is moreover clear, as Milenio proclaims front page in its print edition, is that the PRD lost control of the state.

Michoacán election and one thing I truly detest about Mexican politics

No official results are in - none. Yet both the presidents of PAN and PRI, respectively, claim their candidate won the election with, to be sure, an "irreversible advantage."

Politics have become, to a certain extent, a race to the bottom, where each party simply calls out that it won in a better-safe-than-sorry fashion, clearly not trusting the process enough to leave this job to the official electoral authorities, yet in the process showing absolutely no regard for the democratic process or the institutions actually charged with declaring a winner.

Think 2006: First AMLO, and then Calderón, claimed to have won the election - even both had sworn to await the official results. Do they never learn, or do they simply not care?

This behavior is truly irresponsible, and only contributes toward creating more and more mistrust.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

God is pro-drug war

God is pro-drug war. At least the Mexican Roman-Catholic one: The Conferencia del Episcopado Mexicano (CEM), or Mexican Episcopal Conference, the leadership of the Catholic church in Mexico, strongly backed Calderón's fight against the drug cartels, despite recent criticism by Human Rights Watch and the Washington Office of Latin America on the fallout of the "drug war."

The CEM admitted there had been "some victims," yet minimized the claims of HRW and WOLA that Calderón's decision to send the military head-on against the drug cartels has dramatically increased violence as well as human rights violations.

Calderón's government has as well minimized the reports, to the chagrin of the political opposition.

No evidence yet of foul play in death of interior secretary

The Mexican Secretary of Communications and Transportation (SCT) said preliminary investigations have uncovered no evidence or indications of a fire or explosion in the helicopter crash that claimed the life of Interior Secretary José Francisco Blake Mora and seven others Friday.

WOLA on the Mérida Initiative

Two recent views on the Mérida Initiative:

The U.S. Embassy in Mexico claims the Mérida Initiative has been a great success, having contributed to the arrest of drug traffickers, actions against money laundering and arms traffickers, and of the training of police and security forces.

Washington Office of Latin America (WOLA): the Mérida Initiative has led to an increase in violence in Mexico.
Read the WOLA report here, and is very much worth a read. It also includes a very useful graphic comparing the Plan Colombia with Mérida:

From WOLA 

Michoacán votes: President's sister is favorite

Luisa María Calderón Hinojosa, the sister's president, is the favorite ahead of today's gubernatorial election in Michoacán. Accusations have been flying of illegal interventions from the PAN-led federal government to back Cocoa.

1,639 election observers, a record high, will guard election, which will also see a heavy security presence by the army and federal police - reportedly 10,000 in total, to guard the 3.4 million voters, of which around 50 percent are expected to participate. Notably, michoacanos in the United States could also vote, via postal ballot, and around 600 or so such votes were registered and approved - or around 0.002 percent of the around a quarter of a million living abroad, meaning above all United States.

In Cherán, there will not be any ballot boxes installed, however, as its citizens have refused the holding of elections in the predominantly indigenous municipality, instead claiming their right to do so through the traditional usos y costumbres method used in indigenous areas particularly in Oaxaca.

The new governor will only sit three years and seven months, given earlier reforms in the state to gradually seek to synchronize the elections with the national

In addition, 40 state legislators and heads of 113 municipalities will be elected today. Polls close at 7 pm U.S. eastern time, and the preliminary results can be seen on www.iem.org.mx and www.prep.org.mx.

The company behind this PREP, PoderNet, assured voters these results were safe from any cyber attacks and manipulation.

Friday, November 11, 2011

MEXICO'S INTERIOR MINISTER REPORTED DEAD

José Francisco Blake Mora, Mexico's interior minister, is reported dead in a helicopter crash.

If confirmed, Blake Mora is the second interior secretary to perish on the job, after the 2008 death of Juan Juan Camilo Mouriño.

This is truly terrible news.

The brand-new Human Rights Watch Report on Mexico

Human Rights Watch's latest report on Mexico (available here), is drawing much attention. Here is, for example, The Economist's very even-handed story on it.

Bottom line, from the HRW report's Executive Summary:

Human Rights Watch found evidence of a significant increase in human rights violations since Calderón launched his “war on organized crime.” In the five states examined, members of security forces systematically use torture to obtain forced confessions and information about criminal groups. And evidence points to the involvement of soldiers and police in extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances around the country.
HRW looked at five states, and found, as is now close to the common wisdom, that sending the army has not caused a drop in violence - quite the contrary. In addition, it has resulted in massive human rights abuses from the armed forces:

What we have found is a public security policy that is badly failing on two fronts. It has not succeeded in reducing violence. Instead, it has resulted in a dramatic increase in grave human rights violations, virtually none of which appear to be adequately investigated. In sum, rather than strengthening public security in Mexico, Calderón’s “war” has exacerbated a climate of violence, lawlessness, and fear in many parts of the country.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

UNAM professor murdered in Morelos

UNAM professor Ernesto Méndez Salinas, a biotechnology researcher, was murdered Tuesday night in Cuernavaca, Morelos.  UNAM dean José Narro Robles repudiated the murder and demanded it be solved.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

IFE's Leonardo Valdés criticizes PRD's method for selecting its 2012 candidate

IFE's Leonardo Valdés has done and said many things as head of IFE's general council (often referred to as IFE's "president") that I can't quite figure the logic behind.

Another recent example: Two days ago he declared that PRD's method of selecting its 2012 presidential candidate was "not included in its statutes" and appeared very critical of this.

Yet it should be well known, as PRD president  Jesús Zambrano points out in today's papers, that PRD's National Congress - its highest organ, which meets around every three years - decided just a few weeks ago to accept this method - and anyone can duly go to the PRD's home page (http://www.prd.org.mx/portal/) and find the party's basic documents and congress proceedings for themselves.

Hence, I don't quite get Valdés' opposition. To recall, Valdés was elected a councilor and then IFE president with the PRD's blessing - I am not so sure he enjoys the same level of support today. That is not a good thing ahead of the 2012 election season.

PRI: When a picture says more than a thousand words

From www.cazadorgrafico.com.mx, via La Jornada: PRI candidate for governor Fausto Vallejo Figueroa, literally giving money to supporters in Zicuirán, Michoacán:
From La Jornada

Josefina crushes Cordero, crushes Creel

From a Milenio poll: Josefina Vázquez Mota leads widely among the PAN contenders for 2012.
From Milenio

The left's poll is over - on Friday we'll know

Pushing the D-day forward a tad, Marcelo Ebrard informed that on the coming Friday 11.11.11, the results of the poll that is to decide the left's candidate for 2012, will be known - to them at least.

The poll has been done, and does not involve any of the parties - it was arranged by two polling companies, and the agreement - questions, technical organizations, etc - was decided by AMLO and Ebrard alone.

Two days to wait. At least.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Senate iniatiative to regulate state debt

The PRD presented an initiative in the Mexican senate to regulate the debt of Mexico's state - essentially, to make debt contraction more transparent and avoid bankruptcy in public finances.

The measure is very likely inspired by the case of Coahuila, but many other states, the vast majority PRI led, are also in danger of financial collapse after having contracted far too much debt on their own.

From what I recall, this is essentially what many states in Brazil did as well as part of a process of de-centralization of power - though they ended up heavily indebted in the process, and eventually had to strike a deal with the federal government. If any reader has a good summary / recommended read about this period in Brazil, I'd appreciate a tip.

PRD's internal election, almost final chapter

PRD held what was to be the final leg of its internal elections Sunday.

However, it only succeeded in doing so in Veracruz, Zacatecas, and Mexico City - elections were cancelled in Oaxaca and Chiapas. As it were, René Bejarano, almost comically trying to look like a mafioso, called for a political trial of Governor Juan Sabines in Chiapas for allegedly interfering in the elections.

All in all 8, eight coincilors were elected from Veracruz, 10 from Zacatecas, and 46 from the PRD bastion Mexico City. Still, around 40 are yet to be elected from Oaxaca and Chiapas, as well as Michoacán, where the gubernatorial election had already ensured that the party election would be postponed.

Hopefully for the PRD, Mexico's electoral tribunal, which mandated the election following a complaint from a PRD senator, will accept that the party has completed, more or less, the process - the deadline was Nov. 15, and I strongly doubt the party is capable of arranging elections for a third time in Oaxaca and Chiapas already by next weekend.

Abortion, automatic excommunication

Archbishop Norberto Rivera, head of the Mexican church informs the people that any woman who has an abortion -any abortion, for any reason - will be automatically excommunicated from the Catholic church, as will anyone assisting her.

It takes quite of bit of chutzpah to take on the role of god's enforcer, especially when you have through the years consistently protected pedophiles and pederasts in the church - yet Rivera isn't exactly known for his temerity nor compassion for his flock. Now he takes it upon himself to decide who goes to hell, and who does not.

At least Víctor Sánchez Espinosa, archbishop of Puebla, is somewhat more reasonable, calling for women who have an abortion, either by their free will forced by third parties, not to be thrown in jail. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Three way race in Michoacán, the atypical state

Marcelo Ebrard and Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas appeared with Silvano Aureoles Conejo, PRD's candidate for governor of Michoacán, for the campaign closing in Morelia, the state capital.

As this article in Milenio does a good job of outlining, this is truly a three-way race: PAN, PRI, and PRD all have a good chance of winning. PRD has the most extensive party structure and base, though it is hampered by the unpopular government of Leonel Godoy. PRI has the most money, and has been pouring in resources into the state, which it earlier declared as essential to winning the 2012 presidential race. PAN has the least developed party organization in Michoacán, but the candidate is president Calderón's sister, with big name recognition, and PAN has also dedicated enormous resources to win here, including repeated appearances by all its 2012 contenders. The PRD has complained that they have been competing not against a candidate, but against the federal government and its resources.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Rhetoric heats up in Michoacán following PAN mayor murder

* Luisa María Calderón Hinojosa, the president's sister who despite her promise to never run for office while her brother was president, is running to be governor of her home state Michoacán, attacked Governor Leonel Godoy of the PRD, essentially blaming him for the murder of PAN mayor Ricardo Guzmán Romero.

* The PRD, in turn,  is accusing PAN of taking advantage of Guzmán's murder for political gain.
Note that 28 mayors have been killed in Calderón's sexenio - and 20 since 2010 alone.

* PAN is accused of naked clientelism - by the federal FEPADE. The La Fiscalía Especializada en Delitos Electorales (Fepade), or the organ under the attorney general dedicated to investigating electoral abuses, to its credit moved against employees from SEDESOL or the federal social development secretariat, is it apparently was trying to hand out sacks of cement - 27 tons! - in return for voters giving them their voter ID number as well as a promise to vote for PAN.