Mexico: The Return Of The Mordida Machine

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July 5, 2012: The PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) presidential candidate must wait for a vote recount to take place before having his election victory certified. PRI is also facing charges of distributing $5.2 million worth of gift cards to buy votes. PRI has used such vote rigging in the past but has insisted that it no longer does that sort of thing.

July 4, 2012: How will the PRI wage the Cartel War? One line of analysis says the PRI will do what it has always done, which is pretend to uphold the law while it sells political favors to the highest bidder. The drug cartels have a lot of money and the drug lords’ billions will buy a lot of politicians –and the political favor the cartels want is protection from the police. That includes U.S. police agencies. Though the PRI will claim that it is keeping former president Felipe Calderon’s police and judicial reforms in place, even extending them, the PRI’s traditions of bribery and cronyism just run too deep. In the bad old days when the PRI ran what many called the perfect dictatorship, PRI presidents always talked reform but their real job was to make certain that the mordida machine (bribery system) remained in place. If this is the route the PRI takes over the next six years, Mexico will slide backwards into corruption and mayhem.

What’s to stop this from happening? The PRI claims it has changed. That’s possible. But the Mexico of 2012, is not the Mexico of 1994, the last year a PRI candidate won the presidency. It was also the year that NAFTA became a reality. NAFTA has been a subtle force for change and modernization in Mexico. Mexico has had to liberalize its economy. In the 1997, mid-term election the PRI lost control of the Mexican legislature and absolute one-party rule ended in Mexico. In 2000, National Action Party (PAN) candidate Vicente Fox was elected president.

Mexico has changed, and so have the expectations of Mexican citizens. Felipe Calderon certainly raised citizens expectations regarding what Mexico’s government should do and could do. The cartels were carving little duchies out of the countryside, operating criminal fiefdoms, and infiltrating legitimate businesses and social institutions. Calderon said no and tried to stop it. Those who claim that Calderon failed ignore the scores of senior drug lords either killed or imprisoned. They also ignore Calderon’s attempts at systemic reform (again, primarily the police and judiciary) which are popular with the Mexican people. The new PRI president, Enrique Pena Nieto, doesn’t strike many people as the kind of man who would tolerate a return to old-style PRI crookedness but no one knows for sure. For his part, Pena has said that he will reduce the military’s role in the drug war and increase the capabilities (and firepower) of the federal police. Pena will also have the U.S. watching him very closely. (Austin Bay)

July 2, 2012: PRI candidate Enrique Pena Nieto was elected president of Mexico. He won between 37 and 38 percent of the vote. Mexico does not have a run-off and if no candidate takes a majority of the vote, the candidate with the largest plurality wins. PRD candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) finished second with 32 percent and PAN candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota got 25 percent. The PRD quickly claimed voter fraud.

July 1, 2012: Police and Mexican Navy marines fought with gunmen in a hotel in Xalapa (Veracruz State). One gunmen was killed and nine were arrested. Six of the men arrested were Guatemalan citizens. The shootout began when the gunmen fired on police. During the firefight the gunmen threw fragmentation hand grenades at the police and marines.

June 30, 2012: The Federal Electoral Institute (FEI) promised that Mexico’s presidential election (scheduled for July 1) would be fair, honest, and transparent. The FEI will have more than one million people monitoring polls

The army announced that it will beef up patrols in Nuevo Laredo (Tamaulipas State) on election day. The increased security is in response to the bomb attacks launched in the city on June 29.

The navy examined the wreckage of the Mexican Navy helicopter which crashed last week in Jalisco state. All four marines on board were killed. The helicopter, a Eurocopter Panther, crashed on top of a mountain. There was no sign of foul play.

June 29, 2012: Mexican investigators confirmed that the men who killed two federal officers in Mexico City’s airport were part of a Peruvian cocaine trafficking organization.

A pickup truck blew up outside of Nuevo Laredo’s city hall, wounding seven people. The city has been the site of brutal gang warfare between Los Zetas cartel and the Sinaloa cartel.

June 28, 2012: Police found the dead body of the mayor of a small town in Veracruz State in Oaxaca State. Marisol Mora Cuevas was kidnapped last week from her house in Tlacojalpan. She was a member of the National Action Party (PAN).

June 25, 2012: Two federal police officers who were suspected of corruption and working with a drug cartel murdered two policemen who were about to arrest one of the suspects. The murders occurred in Mexico City’s airport. One of the suspects was also wounded in the incident.

June 22, 2012: The navy reported that one of its helicopters was missing and may have crashed in western Mexico. Four marines were on board the helicopter.

June 20, 2012: Police and soldiers arrested 13 members of the New Generation drug cartel. The suspects were arrested in Jalisco state. The New Generation members are wanted on charges of kidnapping and murder, as well as narcotics trafficking. Security forces acted on an anonymous tip that came after the gang kidnapped the employee of the Jalisco state attorney general’s office. The New Generation gang is sometimes called Jalisco New Generation.

June 19, 2012: The family of Jaime Zapata, a U.S. Immigration and Customs agent who was murdered in Mexico, has filed a multi-million dollar wrongful death claim against the U.S. government. The lawsuit names several government agencies as defendants, including the FBI and the ATF. Zapata was allegedly murdered with a weapon that was sent into Mexico as part of the Fast and Furious sting operation. An affidavit filed by the Zapata family’s attorneys claims that two AK-47 assault rifles purchased by the U.S. government in Texas and then illegally shipped into Mexico were used to kill Zapata.

June 18, 2012: Mexico is hosting the G20 summit. Mexican media are proclaiming that the summit, held in a resort on the southern tip of the Baja peninsula, is president Felipe Calderon’s last moment of glory.

June 15, 2012: Pre-election rumors that the PRI will ease off on the Cartel War continue to spur controversy. PRI officials deny that this will happen. However, many Mexicans believe that the PRI had a live and let live agreement with organized crime when it held presidential power. The media term for the relationship is Pact del Narco, though the term can refer to any corrupt political group.

June 14, 2012: A Los Zetas cartel commander and three other members of the gang were arrested in the city of Monterrey (Nuevo Leon state). The senior member, Gregorio Villanueva Salas, is wanted on charges of conducting hand grenade attacks, several in and around the city of Matamoros (Tamaulipas state). Villaneuva also runs a pirated music racket in northern Mexico (pirate CDs and DVDs). Some of the targets in the Matamoros attacks were apparently chosen at random because the Zetas wanted to create a climate of chaos in the city. The Zetas are fighting with the Gulf cartel over control of the city, which lies across the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas.

 

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