MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s ruling and main opposition parties wrested ground from each other in elections for governors in a dozen states on Sunday, setting the stage for a tough battle for the presidency in 2012.
Initial results showed President Felipe Calderon’s National Action Party, known as PAN, with surprise gubernatorial wins in three states controlled by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which had been pegged to sweep the vote.
The PRI beat out rival parties and held onto governorships in the remaining nine states, building a base to launch a likely presidential bid by the party’s rising star, State of Mexico Governor Enrique Pena Nieto.
[President Calderon’s Party, PAN, won 3 of 12 State elections for Governor. The opposition party, PRI won 9 of the 12 elections for State Governor. Just weeks before the election, the PRI was projected to win all 12 elections ]
“This election proves the PRI is the leading political force in the country,” the party’s president, Beatriz Paredes, told a news conference.
Mexico’s divided left joined forces with Calderon’s conservatives [PAN] in awkward alliances to win in PRI strongholds Oaxaca, Puebla and Sinaloa. The PRI, which ruled Mexico for 71 years as a semi-dictatorship, has been in the opposition for a decade after losing to the PAN in 2000. [Today, the PRI controls 9 of the 12 State Governments where elections were held yesterday – The PAN lost two seats that it had controlled out right and won two seats where it, The PAN, formed alliances with “Left Wing” parties associated with the Cartels]
[Mexico’s divided left is rumored to be in collusion with the Mexican Drug Cartels. The Sinaloa Cartel is one of the most violent in Mexico, the Cartels in Oaxaca and Pueblo operate openly.]
[COLIMA, Mexico — The candidacy of Mario Anguiano, running for governor in a state election here Sunday, says a lot about Mexican politics amid the rise of the drug cartels. Anguiano was the Candiate of the combined PRI/New Alliance Party (PANAL).
A brother of the candidate is serving a 10-year prison sentence in Mexico for peddling methamphetamine. Another Anguiano is serving 27 years in a Texas prison for running a huge meth ring. A few weeks ago, a hand-painted banner hung on a highway overpass cited the Zetas, the bloodthirsty executioners for the Gulf Cartel drug gang, praising the candidate: “The Zetas support you, and we are with you to the death.” Elections also were held for mayors and local deputies in nearly half of Mexico’s 31 states on Sunday. New polls showed Mr. Anguiano pulling ahead in the race. He is expected to be elected governor on Sunday.”
Mr. Anguiano victory was one of 3 “upset” victories by President’s Calderon’s “new coalition” with the left]
Analysts say local issues determining state votes may not translate to a national win for either party in 2012 but the PRI hopes to
capitalize on Calderon’s sinking popularity as the economy sputters and drug violence spins out of control.
Staining Calderon’s legacy, more than 26,000 people have been killed during his time in office, mostly traffickers and police but also civilian bystanders.
“I voted for the PRI because Calderon got us into this war where innocent people are paying the price,” said Jorge Lopez, 46, an unemployed builder in a shantytown full of drug dens and brothels in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez.
Tit-for-tat murders to control smuggling routes have turned Ciudad Juarez into one of the world’s most violent cities.
Campaigning was blighted by drug gang intimidation as suspected cartel hitmen murdered two candidates.
It was some of the most blatant evidence of traffickers interfering in politics since Calderon came to power in late 2006 and launched a army-lead drug crackdown that has ended up fueling more violence as cartels splinter and feud over turf.
Investors sold off Mexico’s peso at the start of the week after Rodolfo Torre, the PRI front-runner for governor in the border state of Tamaulipas, and four aides were killed in an ambush by drug hitmen, Mexico’s highest-profile political murder in 16 years.
Egidio Torre replaced his dead brother as candidate and won after casting his own vote under heavy guard.
A mayoral candidate in Tamaulipas, where the Gulf cartel is battling a gang of former enforcers called the Zetas, was also murdered in a likely drug hit aimed at swaying the vote.
Election day was not free of drug violence. In several states there were reports of irregularities and vote-buying. Long lines formed at polling stations in Tamaulipas after some 40 percent of election volunteers quit fearing attacks.
In Chihuahua state there were at least 19 drug murders on Sunday, including the brother of a PAN mayoral candidate in the isolated town of Batopilas, police said. Four bodies were hung from bridges in Chihuahua’s capital.
Along the U.S-Mexico border cartels rule over semi-lawless swaths of territory employing networks of lookouts, from taxi drivers to taco-stand owners. Journalists there increasingly face threats and business owners pay regular extortion fees.
In many areas, the situation is deteriorating despite more than a $1 billion in anti-drug aid from the United States.
As well as being angry at Calderon, some voters blamed local PRI politicians for not doing more to stop the violence.
“The insecurity we are living in here is because of bad PRI governments. I can’t say anything more because it might cost me my life,” said a 55-year-old businessman in Reynosa, a major manufacturing city in Tamaulipas across from McAllen, Texas.
Mexico grapples with endemic corruption within state-level politics and a number of candidates have been accused by rivals of being on drug cartel payrolls.
Mexican media have reported that the sitting PRI governor of Tamaulipas has a bodyguard wanted by the United States on drug charges, while the left-wing mayor of the resort of Cancun is in jail awaiting trial on charges of laundering drug money.
The PRI’s Hector Murguia was elected mayor of Ciudad Juarez, early results showed, despite accusations from rivals and rights groups that he works for the feared Juarez cartel. This week a severed head was dumped outside his house.
May 7, 2010
The U.S. State Department on Thursday extended a travel warning that had been issued for Mexico because of the region’s high level of drug and gang violence.
The State Department warning also notes that the authorized departure of family members of U.S. government personnel from U.S. consulates in the northern Mexico border cities of Tijuana, Nogales, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey and Matamoros has been extended.
The State Department targets six Mexican states as particularly dangerous.
“Recent violent attacks and persistent security concerns have prompted the U.S. embassy to urge U.S. citizens to defer unnecessary travel to Michoacan and Tamaulipas, to parts of Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Durango and Coahuila and to advise U.S. citizens residing or traveling in those areas to exercise extreme caution,” the warning says.
Cartel henchmen extort restaurants, car dealerships and junkyards. People avoid highways where caravans of armed men travel openly, their luxury SUVs sometimes stamped with the Gulf cartel acronym. Local media stopped reporting on much of the violence after reporters were beaten and threatened — the Torre assassination being a notable exception.
“For a long time, authorities in Tamaulipas have pretended to govern while criminal groups impose their law,” political analyst Alfonso Zarate wrote in the Reforma newspaper.
Similar allegations have dominated the campaign for governor in the Caribbean state of Quintana Roo, home to Cancun, and northern Sinaloa state, the cradle of the powerful drug cartel by the same name.
In Quintana Roo, Cancun Mayor Gregorio Sanchez was arrested last month on charges of protecting two cartels, ending his campaign
for governor for a leftist party. He has dismissed the charges as politically motivated.
“People start to think that voting is unnecessary,” said Alejandro Ramos, a civil servant in Cancun. “People have long thought that the politicians have ties to organized crime.”
In Sinaloa, a scandal broke out when the newspaper Reforma published a photograph of PRI candidate Jesus Vizcarra Calderon attending a party many years ago with kingpin Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.
During a televised debate, his opponent, Mario Lopez, demanded to know if rumors were true that Zambada is the godfather of one of Vizacarra’s children. Vizcarra refused to answer.
Lopez shot back: “To fight crime, you can’t be a part of it.”
But cartels are so entrenched in Sinaloa that many voters believe politicians have no choice but to work with them.
Lopez is backed by both the conservative National Action and a major leftist party, one of several awkward alliances that Calderon’s party formed in the hopes of ousting the PRI from its strongholds.
Polls suggest the strategy has the best chance of succeeding in the southern state of Oaxaca, one of the few states where the election has not been dominated by the drug war.
Campaigning has been tense anyway, with widespread fears of violence if the outcome is tight. In 2006, deadly protests broke out for five months over allegations that Gov. Ulises Ruiz of the PRI rigged his 2004 election victory against Gabino Cue. This year, Cue again is running for a National Action-backed allegiance against Ruiz’ hand-picked successor, Eviel Perez
Filed under: 2010 Mexican Election, Arizona Immigration Law, ICE, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Immigration & Customs Enforcement, Mexican Drug Cartels, Mexico Tagged: | 19 Murdered Chihuahua State, 2010 Mexican Election, Arizona Law, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Mexican Democracy, Mexican Drug Cartels, Secure Borders