Monday, January 25, 2010
Wrongdoing Claims Surface Quickly in Mexican Campaign
By Barnard R. Thompson
The 2010 election season
is up and running in Mexico — yet to be races to turn back the clock to keep all things political the same or as they
were. Races that are important this time around, yet an ulterior aim most certainly
is 2012 and that year's presidential election.
Gatopardismo is the term often used in Mexico (after "The Leopard," a 1958
Italian novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa),
that can best be summed up with a translated passage from the book: "If we want things to stay as they are, things will have
In other words, expedient changes so that nothing might change.
This year elections will take
place in 14 states, with balloting for 11 governors who serve six year terms (in the states of Aguascalientes, Chihuahua,
Durango, Oaxaca, Puebla, Quintana Roo, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala, Veracruz, and Zacatecas), along with three year tenure
unicameral legislatures and municipal presidents (mayors). Members of state Chambers
of Deputies, plus mayors, will also be elected in Yucatán, Baja California, and Chiapas.
This at a juncture when Mexico's
governors will probably wield control over enough of the nation's off-the-record electoral machinery to influence the results
of the presidential race in 2012. Of Mexico's 31 states and Federal District,
19 are governed by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, the PRI; seven by PAN, or the National Action Party; and six (including
the Federal District) by the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).
As the 2010 campaign season begins,
the State of Sinaloa is one of the first to step into the limelight.
The lame duck governor of Sinaloa,
Jesús Aguilar Padilla (PRI), is drawing fire from many quarters nationally as he promotes Jesús Vizcarra Calderón, currently
the mayor of Culiacán, the state capital, to be his successor. The governor is
being accused of using the age-old dedazo, the personal anointment of a candidate,
in the run-up to the PRI nominating convention that is scheduled for April.
And not only is the abhorrent
dedazo being criticized, the governor's support for his "associate" Vizcarra is
causing a number of stones to be turned over that reveal the unsavory in a state long known as a frontrunner in Mexico's narcotics
trade and violence.
Last December a number of Mexican
newspapers published two photographs, seemingly from the late 1980s or early 1990s, showing "businessman" Vizcarra at a religious
gathering. Also in attendance, and pictured along with Vizcarra, was Ismael "El
Mayo" Zambada, one of Mexico's most notorious drug kingpins who heads the Sinaloa Cartel.
And while it may be a case of guilt by association, the pictures triggered — and continue to cause — an
uproar, especially when added to claims that the riches of entrepreneur Vizcarra go well beyond that which can be explained.
Following the publication of
the aforementioned pictures, Clase Política, one of Sinaloa's leading political analysis sites, published an interview with Vizcarra. Actually a non-interview, insofar as Vizcarra answered the reporters' questions by referring them to an
official communiqué, excepting when he said: "I confirm nothing more than I have always had a responsible conduct and I have
always respected the law."
As to the "Official Communiqué," addressed "To Public Opinion" and signed by Vizcarra, he noted that a national
newspaper, Reforma, published a piece tying him "with aspects of narco-politics." In continuation, before calling the pictures old news, Vizcarra said he has dedicated
himself to the service of others for the past decade, this as he has problems with the situation in Mexico "and because I
am convinced that we citizens can change things." And he concluded, after attesting
to his personal honesty: "… I have asked for a hearing with [Mexico's] Attorney General, so that this matter that has
been aired before the public can be submitted to the scrutiny of that authority, so that they can be the ones who define if,
during my lifetime, I have done anything illegal."
That basically sums up the communiqué, a little over 300 words of Mexspeak
As an afterword, the following
snippet appeared in the "Templo Mayor" column, in Reforma, on Jan. 14, 2010: "It
is said that fear does not travel by donkey [slowly] … much less on a borrowed executive jet. They say that Beatriz Paredes [president of the National Executive Committee of the PRI] was very impressed
with the use of a small airplane for her trips, loaned by Jesús Vizcarra of Sinaloa, whereas he denies having dangerous friendships
in the world of organized crime. More than once the leader of the [PRI] flew
on the aircraft, however she suddenly stopped doing so upon hearing that the flights were being monitored by the DEA!"
Barnard Thompson, editor of MexiData.info, has spent 50 years in Mexico and Latin America, providing multinational clients with actionable
intelligence; country and political risk reporting and analysis; and business, lobbying, and problem resolution services.