Mexican President Calderon Loses While Drug Cartels Advance In Mexico’s Election

CIUDAD VICTORIA, Mexico – President Felipe Calderon’s allies held back a resurgence by Mexico’s old ruling party, according to results Monday from state elections marred by drug gang violence so severe a large majority of citizens stayed home in two of the most dangerous border states.

Desperate alliances between Calderon’s conservative party and Mexico’s leftists seized three stronghold states from the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which had run them for more than 80 years. [The “leftists” are rumored to be in collaboration with the “Cartels”]

The [opposition] party known as the PRI still won nine of the governorships in Sunday’s election, showing it remains Mexico’s most important force a dozen years after losing national power, and it seemed to remain on track to recapture the presidency in 2012.

Still, the outcome represented no clear gain: the PRI already controlled nine of the states going in. [The gains were made, it seems, by the Cartels as the Cartels appeared to have backed and funded candidates in all three major parties]

PAN election workers allege theft of ballot boxes in Durango, Durnago, Mexico

Calderon’s National Action Party, meanwhile, was hurt by a weak economy and revulsion at a wave of drug violence. It won not a single state on its own, and preliminary counts showed it lost the only two of the 12 that it had governed on its own. [PAN, Calderon’s Party, lost the two Mexican States in had previously held and won in only 3 of the 12 Mexican States, and in those States, Caleron’s Party had to form an alliance with the Leftists, Leftists who are in collusion with the Drug Cartels] 

Despite Calderon’s pleas for Mexicans to vote, the elections displayed the intimidating power of drug cartels: only a third of voters showed up in the country’s most violent state, Chihuahua. Drug gangs hung four bodies from bridges in the state capital on election day. Less than 40 percent voted in Tamaulipas, where gubernatorial candidate Rodolfo Torre was killed five days earlier.

Calderon’s party and the main leftist party won only where they formed alliances against the PRI — in Sinaloa, Puebla and Oaxaca. In all of those states, they won only by borrowing popular candidates from other parties. [In Sinaloa, home to the Sinaloa Cartel, the PAN Candidate is alleged to be in the direct employ of the Cartel. The Cartels operate openly in the Oaxaca and Puebla States]

The PRI’s defeat in Oaxaca, a heavily indigenous state where the party was in power for eight decades, was highly symbolic. A five-month uprising erupted in 2006 over allegations that outgoing Gov. Ulises Ruiz stole his election victory. Critics accused Ruiz of strong-arm politics that exemplified the coercion and corruption that the PRI used to govern Mexico for seven decades.

Federal Police Officer Guards Polling Station, Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, Mexico

Gabino Cue, a member of the small Convergence Party who lost the earlier race to Ruiz, won with 50 percent of the vote, compared to 41 percent for PRI candidate Eviel Perez, with 86 percent of the vote counted early Monday.

In Sinaloa and Puebla, National Action united with the left to back candidates who recently bolted from the PRI.

Calderon’s party and its leftist allies wrested the PRI bastion of Sinaloa, a violent northern state that is the birthplace of the powerful drug cartel of the same name.

The PRI gubernatorial candidate, Jesus Vizcarra, had long faced allegations of ties to the cartel led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, Mexico’s most-wanted drug lord.

The newspaper Reforma recently published a photograph of Vizcarra attending a party many years ago with El Chapo’s second-in-command, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada. Vizcarra, the mayor of state capital Culiacan and a distant relative of slain drug trafficker Ines Calderon, dodged questions about whether Zambada is the godfather of one of his children, saying only that he had never committed a crime.

The PRI easily won in Tamaulipas, a drug-riven northern state where the party’s gubernatorial candidate, Rodolfo Torre, was assassinated a week before the election. Officials said only 38 percent of registered voters cast ballots, a drop from the 50 percent that voted in the last state elections.

Torre’s brother, Egidio, was picked to run in his place. He voted at an elementary school in Ciudad Victoria wearing a bulletproof vest and escorted by federal police in two trucks.

The PRI held up Torre’s assassination as evidence Calderon has failed to bring security despite the presence of tens of thousands of troops and federal police in drug trafficking hot spots.

National Action leaders, in turn, insinuated the PRI protects drug traffickers in Tamaulipas, the birthplace of the Gulf cartel, and in Sinaloa.

Fear discouraged many people from voting in a state where extortion and abductions are rampant and armed men openly drive on highways with the acronym of the Gulf cartel stamped on their SUVs.

Dozens of poll workers quit in fear over the past week. One man, an orange farmer, said his brother-in-law was kidnapped early Sunday before he was to preside over a voting station in a village outside Ciudad Victoria.

“We still don’t know if he was kidnapped because of the elections or because they will ask for money,” said the farmer, who asked not be quoted by name out of fear for his own safety. “Here the government is part of the problem.”

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