Jun 29, 2012

Week's Top Articles on Mexico: June. 22-28, 2012

Mexico Elections:
This week features the closing of the presidential candidates’ campaigns in Mexico. The final poll by the newspaper El Universal shows Enrique Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) leading by 17.4 percent, with Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the leftist party coming in second. The independence of the polls, however, has become subject of debate due in part to a Wikileaks cable noting that Peña Nieto was financing pollsters as far back as 2009. The low standing of the PAN candidate is attributed to Mexicans' dissatisfaction with the current president's policies on security and the economy. With the prospect of the PRI winning, opinions range from fear of a return of an authoritarian party to the argument that the PRI has changed since it last ruled for 71 years in a tightly controlled, one-party system.

The question of how level the playing field is came up again as The Guardian reported on a second round of documents revealing ties between Pena Nieto and the TV network Televisa since the buildup to 2009 midterm congressional elections. Meanwhile, the student movement has been going strong, with large demonstrations throughout the country.

One of the immediate concerns Mexicans face now is the chance of electoral fraud and the independent Federal Electoral Institute has been preparing to prevent the crisis of the 2006 election results from reoccurring with new safeguards.

Drug War:
The presidential candidates have promised to reduce violence associated with drug trafficking in the country in various proposals, but have not offered detailed plans. This week we saw the bizarre and embarrassing cases of the mistaken arrest of Felix Beltrán León, not the son of the wanted drug cartel leader Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzmán (in which the US DEA also played a role that has been called into question), and three police officers killed at the Mexico City airport by two other police officers, suspected of being connected with drug trafficking, illuminating the connections officials have with trafficking through the major transportation hub. Veracruz made headlines again for the assassination of journalists and new reports showed that cartel presence and violence is also mounting in Guadalajara.

Election News:

Opinion: Mexico’s election may resurrect authoritarian party
Miami Herald: MEXICO CITY With virtually all polls showing that soap opera star-looking candidate Enrique Peña Nieto, 45, is likely to win the July 1 elections, the big question is whether his victory would mean a return to Mexico’s corruption-ridden, authoritarian ways of the past. Although times have changed, that may very well happen. Read more.

Mexican media scandal: secretive Televisa unit promoted PRI candidate
The Guardian: Broadcaster commissioned videos rubbishing rivals of candidate who is now favourite to win presidential race on Sunday, documents seen by the Guardian reveal. A secretive unit inside Mexico's predominant television network set up and funded a campaign for Enrique Peña Nieto, who is the favourite to win Sunday's presidential election, according to people familiar with the operation and documents seen by the Guardian. Read more.

Online and on the streets, Mexico youth protests grow as election looms
CNN: Mexico City -- They sport purple hair and piercings, plaid shirts and plastic aviator glasses. A guy with dreadlocks totes a bongo drum. Five weeks ago, they were scrambling to finish homework assignments and studying for exams at Mexico City's Iberoamerican University. Before then, many of them had never met. Read more.

Mexico ready to vote, watchful for fraud
WashingtonPost: MEXICO CITY — Mexican democracy has come a long way from the days when the ruling party would give out washing machines for votes and rip up ballots with the wrong box checked off. Today, electoral regulators preside over an elaborate system of safeguards that have made stealing the presidency at the ballot box impossible, political analysts say. But they warn that the country’s July 1 election remains vulnerable to subtler forms of tampering and the shadowy influences of organized crime, along with some new twists on the old dirty tricks. Read more.

Drug War News:
Mexico election unlikely to reshape drug war
Latimes.com: MEXICO CITY — Six years into a ghastly drug war, none of the top candidates in next Sunday's presidential election has offered a significant new strategy to win a conflict that has claimed more than 50,000 lives and terrorized Mexican society. The top candidates in next week's presidential vote all emphasize plans for reducing the drug cartels' brutal violence, but nobody offers a significant new strategy.Read more.

DEA’s ‘El Chapo Fiasco’ Sets Drug War Back for Years
El Universal: Translation by WorldMeets.Us

“After a series of losing encounters with the facts, agents and operatives of the DEA, who had repeatedly insisted that they had the son of El Chapo, in the end had no choice but to surrender to the accumulating evidence and admit it was a case of mistaken identity ... this has dealt a major blow to the DEA and to the armed forces of Mexico, delaying, perhaps of years, the much-anticipated capture of Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzmán.” Read more.

Officers in Mexico airport drug ring identified
AP: Mexico City - Mexican authorities have identified two federal police officers who shot dead three of their colleagues at Mexico City's international airport this week and say the shooters were part of a trafficking ring that flew in cocaine from Peru. Read more.

Killings Curb Reporting of Mexican Crime Wave
NY Times: XALAPA, Mexico — Throwing his burly frame to the ground, the photojournalist Alberto Morales click, click, clicked away on Tuesday as police officers and soldiers in body armor barked into radios, hoisted their rifles and crouched into position on word of a suspicious vehicle moving in. Read more.

The Kingpins: The fight for Guadalajara
New Yorker: At the Guadalajara International Book Fair, Enrique Peña Nieto, who is forty-five, boyishly handsome, and generally expected to be the next President of Mexico, was asked to name three books that had influenced him. He mentioned the Bible, or, at least, “some parts” (unspecified), and “The Eagle’s Throne,” a Carlos Fuentes novel (though he named the historian Enrique Krauze as the author). And, for a few excruciating minutes, that was all he could come up with. Read more.

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