Thursday, January 6, 2011

Mexico air force badly in need of new jet fighter planes

If there is one country in Latin America that has a justified need for purchasing new fighter planes, it's Mexico.

The mainstay of the Mexican Air Force is the Northrop F-5 (that of "Top Gun" fame, remember, playing fake MiGs), a thoroughly obsolete aircraft if judged against the air forces of comparable nations. Yet the main target of the Mexican jet is of course not the jets of other country's armed forces, but that of drug smugglers. Even so, given the excessive wear and tear of these planes, acquired in 1982, the cost has shot up substantially: Around 45 million pesos for 2010.

Mexico, notably, has only nine jet fighters in service. Surely one of the absolute lowest in Latin America, if not the world

Will the United States offer help to help modernize Mexico's air force, or push Mexico to buy U.S. replacement fighters? Or, will Caldéron use the occasion to mark his displeasure with lack of progress on initiatives important to Mexico - immigration, flow of guns, etc - and buy non-US?

Alternatives are: U.S.-made F-16 or F/A 18, British Aerospace Hawk, the French Mirage 2000, or even the Russian Mig-29 and Sukhoi-30 - all, to be sure, used.

Meet Cristina Díaz, the PRI's (very likely) new secretary general

Given that Humberto Moreira appears set to run opposed as candidate for the PRI presidency, it seems safe to assume that Cristina Díaz, his running mate, will be PRI's next secretary general.

Here's a useful biography.
While Cristina Díaz has a long trajectory within the PRI - e.g. state party leader in Nuevo León, three-time federal deputy, many, as Ciro Gómez Leyva, ask: "Why did they choose Cristina Díaz?" The point made by Gómez Leyva is that while her trajectory may be long, it is not a particularly distinguished one.

Díaz, for her part, declared "I will not be a decorative figure." Which unfortunately appears a tacit acceptance that this is exactly what she will be. }

From el Mayo Zambada to Malova, with love

From Monday's El Debate de Culiacán, the Sinaloa paper, though you won't find the following it in its online edition:
We cordially congratulate citizen Mario López Valdez, for his inauguration as Governor of the State of Sinaloa. We wish him every success for the development and progress of our state. Our respect and admiration. 
Sincerely, Ma. Modesta Zambada Zazueta (Motita) and family. Culiacan, Sinaloa, January 3, 2011.
I am not sure even a cordial salute from "and family" - meaning, El Mayo Zambada, of the Sinaloa cartel - was quite what was on Malova's wish list for Three Kings Day.

Alejandro Encinas: A possible, but not likely, winner in Mexico State

Alejandro Encinas appears to have taken care of his legal woes surrounding the residency requirement in Mexico State - he used to live there, but moved to the Distrito Federal years ago - and now quite openly talks about his possible candidacy in Mexico State's gubernatorial elections.

His announcement, of sorts, have been greeted with much enthusiasm, and for a reason: Encinas is notably popular with the PRD base, both with the andresmanuelistas, as well as with many of the more moderate center-left members, as Encinas, lest we forget, politically speaking was always a moderate, until he latched on to the AMLO camp, more a product of personal loyalties than ideological congruency.

To recap, what counts in his favor:
1) Possibility to unify the non-PRD left - PT and Convergencia would back him
2) Possibility to unify the PRD - both the social democrats/socialists and the AMLO movement-party populists would back him.
3) Marcelo Ebrard is a strong supporter.

Yet what counts against:
1) PAN quite divided over backing him. National-level PAN party leadership much more supportive than the Mexico State branch, many of whom are highly negative.
2) Yet most importantly: Encinas will not go in alliance with PAN.

The latter point means that, unless the PAN rolls over on its back, does not postulate its own candidate, and tell all its voters to vote for the left, there will be no PAN-PRD common candidate, which as far as I can see is the only possible way the PRI can be beaten in Mexico State.

I find this scenario extremely unlikely. Though one precedent does exist: In Guerrero, the PAN's candidate for governor is basically only doing a symbolic campaign, all but telling his backers openly to vote for the left candidate, so as not to suck voters away from that camp. Yet given PAN's very real strength in Mexico State... again, I just don't see this happening.

National PAN leadership also consider abstaining in Mexico State

Posturing it may certainly be, but I find it nonetheless notable that even PAN's secretary general, the party's national second-in-command, Cecilia Romero, affirmed that also the national party structure appears to consider not participating in the July 3, 2011 Mexico State gubernatorial elections, though she pointedly noted that no decision has been taken; that one will in any case be in the hands to the party's national executive committee (CEN).

Coahuila: Chronicle of nepotism foretold. Jorge Torres López interim governor

As had long been speculated, Jorge Torres López, until recently head of the Coahuila government's ministry of social development, assumed as interim governor of the state, to serve the remained of Humberto Moreira Valdés' term, as the latter is going to the national PRI presidency. The state congress vote confirmed the appointment 24-6.

Yet Torres is merely a caretaker, given that it is Humberto's plan to make his brother, Rubén Moreira, the next elected governor of Coahuila. In an act of quite nauseating and pathetic sycophancy, Torres, in his first act as interim governor, unveiled an oil portrait of the governor-on-leave-of absence in the Government's palace. 

Don't expect any major political initiative, announcement, or project in Coahuila for Torres' term. 

Guerrero: Election for governor grows nastier with kidnap of Aguirre campaign

The most recent developments in Guerrero, ahead of the gubernatorial elections by the end of this month, are extremely worrisome:  Miguel Jaimes Palacios, former mayor of San Miguel Totolapan in the Tierra Caliente region  and the campaign manager of left coalition candidate Ángel Aguirre Rivero in that area, was reported kidnapped by armed men. 

Yes, the Tierra Caliente region, close to Michoacán, is a violence-ridden area, but I find it hard to believe this is not connected to the ever-more-bitter campaign between  Ángel Aguirre and the PRI candidate Manuel Añorve Baños. 

PRI, meanwhile, expelled 11 high-profile party members, including a federal deputy, six local state legislators, and four muncipals councilor, from the party. The PRI's national excetutive committe (CEN) accused them of backing Aguirre. a former priísta. 

The local legislators are: Jorge Salgado Parra, Ricardo Moreno Arcos, Silvia Romero Suárez, Marco Antonio Cabada Arias, Efrén López Cortés, and  Manuel Saidi Pratts, who have left the PRI's state congress faction and declared themselves "independent." The federal deputy now kicked out of the PRI is Sofío Ramírez Hernández

In Guerrero, ahead of the Jan. 30 contest, I fear the worst of confrontations and political violence is yet to come.