This past week’s highlight has been the Mexican elections that took place on July 1st. The international press was quick to announce the winner Enrique Pena Nieto, and while there was no widespread violence, our policy analyst Laura Carlsen considered the election an example of the country’s movement to an imperfect democracy, citing practices of voter manipulation not only through vote-buying, but also through the mass media of giant TV companies, and citizen complacency with this practice. During the election there was a shortage of ballots in special voting booths, for voters that were in transit from their home voting location. The student movement criticized the disregard of the number of voting irregularities and organized marches for a fair election and against Enrique Pena Nieto. Some reports indicate that journalists may have censured their election coverage or drug cartels may have played a role in local elections. A citizen organization surveyed a number of voters and reported that nearly 30% of citizens were exposed to vote-buying or coercion. After the election, hundreds of people tried to cash-in cards at a supermarket chain, which they said they had received from the PRI party.
The current PAN governing party experienced great losses in the general election, reflecting dissatisfaction with the party’s performance. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the runner-up in the presidential election, did not concede the election and requested a recount. The recount has just been completed and as of July 6th EPN has officially, but not definitively, won the election. Many immigrants outside of the country in which 40,000 voted, were surprised at the return of the PRI party. The president elect has meanwhile began outlining his future plans to increase private investment and encourage job creation.
A New York Times piece argues that the drug war is not “successful,” with drug prices at a low in cocaine and heroin and discusses legalization and de-penalization. The U.S. and Mexican policy on drugs was expected to stay the same as the presidential candidates did not make foreign policy a big issue in any of their campaigns. The president-elect Enrique Pena Nieto has begun developing his strategy for the drug war, expanding the U.S. partnership in training and intelligence, and measuring success by decreasing the death toll of victims, rather than measuring the number of people captured or drugs seized. In human rights, Mexicans face frustrating challenges and low approval rates when seeking asylum in the United States, Felipe Calderon has rejected a bill that would require the government to assist victims of violence, but in Veracruz an initiative is gaining approval toprotect journalists. Drug trafficking in Honduras is leading to increased violence.
CIP Americas: If Mexico’s electoral authorities confirm the preliminary vote, Mexico will have gone from a “perfect dictatorship” to an imperfect democracy,with the return to power of the party that ruled for 71 years almost without rivals.
Cartels cast shadow over Mexico polls
Al Jazeera: Speculation rife over role of criminal syndicates as country votes for new president amid continuing drug violence.
Washington Post: MEXICO CITY — In their eagerness to assure the world that Sunday’s election was free and fair, Mexican President Felipe Calderon and the country’s top electoral officials seem to have glossed over a few dirty details.
Mexico: Recounts for more than half the ballot boxes
CNN: Mexico CIty -- More than half of the ballot boxes from last weekend's Mexican presidential election -- 54.5% -- will be individually recounted, the executive secretary of Mexico's Federal Election Institute said Wednesday.
Immigrants express shock at return of Mexico's PRI
AP: Mexico's new president may dissuade some immigrants from returning home, despite promising economic opportunities there and a faltering U.S. job market.
Drug War News:
Numbers Tell of Failure in Drug War
NY Times: When policy makers in Washington worry about Mexico these days, they think in terms of a handful of numbers: Mexico’s 19,500 hectares devoted to poppy cultivation for heroin; its 17,500 hectares growing cannabis; the 95 percent of American cocaine imports brought by Mexican cartels through Mexico and Central America.
Why Mexico's election doesn't matter to Americans
Global Post: Analysis: The winner of Sunday's Mexican presidential election is unlikely to change course on US trade and the drug war.
Mexico's Calderon accused of blocking victims's rights law
Fox News Latino: Poet turned peace activist Javier Sicilia accused Mexican President Felipe Calderon Thursday of breaking his word by effectively vetoing a measure to aid the thousands of innocent victims of the drug war.