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Column 072213 Wall

Monday, July 22, 2013

The 2013 Elections in Mexico and their Aftermath

By Allan Wall

On July 7th, 2013, elections were held in 15 Mexican states.  At stake were state legislatures, local governments and one governorship.  (See my previous two columns for more details, here and here.)

In Mexico, all state legislatures are unicameral.  The representatives are called diputados.  Some of them are selected by direct elections in their particular state districts.  Others (diputados plurinominales) are selected by their political party based upon the proportion of votes that political party received.

To give one example, in the central Mexican state of Aguascalientes there were 27 diputados elected, 18 directly and nine by the proportional method.

Mexico’s states are divided into municipios.  In the United States, a Mexican municipio would be something of a cross between a municipality and a county.  The mayor of a municipio is known as the alcalde, or presidente municipal, and he and the municipio council together form the ayuntamiento.  On June 7th, ayuntamientos were elected in 13 out of the 15 states voting.

Although the elections are now over, the new officials are not taking office immediately. In fact, the earliest any of them move into their positions are on September 1st, which is when the new mayors and legislators of the state of Durango take office.

In the state of Puebla, in contrast, the mayors don’t take office until February 15th, 2014!  That’s a seven-month waiting period, which is longer even than the five-month period from election to inauguration of the president of Mexico.

All other officials in the various states take office at some point between September 1st and February 15th.

Scattered violence took place during the election period, more so than in the 2012 presidential/congressional elections.  That’s despite the fact that in 2012 the whole country voted, while in 2013 it was only about half the country.

One explanation that’s been offered for the higher level of violence was that organized crime organizations are more interested in exercising influence over local officials than over national officials.  And there may be something to that.  After all, the drug cartels are not really interested in the overall direction of the country but they are interested in local situations which will enable them to carry out their criminal enterprises.

Besides the killings and threats of violence that took place from February until July, there were actually some violent attacks directed against polling stations on election day, July 7th.  Not many, but there were a few.

In the central Mexican state of Puebla, there was a ballot box stolen.

In the state of Baja California (Mexico’s northwesternmost state, the northern portion of the Baja California peninsula) there were several such incidents.

In Tijuana (across the border from the San Diego, California metroplex), two women stole a ballot box (or ballot boxes) from a polling station.  Although they parked their car in front of the station before the theft, they tried to escape on foot and were captured.

In Mexicali (across the border from Calexico, California) a group of men reportedly entered a polling station at an elementary school, set some ballot boxes afire with a Molotov cocktail, and promptly departed.  A video was taken of the event and widely circulated (you can view the video here on Universal.com).  As of July 14th, the perpetrators had not been apprehended.

It ought to be noted that these were exceptions, insofar as in nearly all of the polling stations in Mexico voting went smoothly.  One of the reasons for this is Mexico’s very good voter registration system.

There were a few individual candidates elected to office who received special attention in the national news media:

Alma Leticia Reyes, a 23-year old schoolteacher, is the daughter of a mayoral candidate who was assassinated six days before election day.  She stepped into the campaign and won the election for alcalde of San Dimas, Durango.  She’d better watch her back!

Raul de Luna Tovar was the  PANista mayor of the municipio of General Enrique Estrada, Zacatecas from 2007 to 2010, and he wanted to run again in this election.  When the PAN refused to run him as a candidate he ran as an independent, which is a hard thing to do in Mexico.  Nevertheless, de Luna won the election, defeating both the PAN/PRD alliance and the PRI.

Benjamin Medrano Quezada was elected alcalde of Fresnillo, Zacatecas; an out-of-the-closet homosexual, although he opposes same-sex marriage and adoption by gay couples in the municipio.

Claudia Casas, of the Movimiento Ciudadano party, has been elected as a diputada to the state legislature of Baja California.  She has been criticized for her former career as an actress in which she starred in 42 "videohome" movies.  (Videohomes are violent, inexpensively-produced movies about drug cartel violence that go directly from production to video; and she’s also the wife of a videohome producer.)  Diputada-elect Casas, however, defends her former career and promises to encourage the film industry in Baja California.

NOTE: I was recently a guest of Silvio Canto, Jr., on his “Canto Talk” radio program.  Also present on the show were Fausta Wertz and Michael Prada.  I discussed my recent trip to Mexico, the capture of the leader of the Zetas, amnesty legislation in the U.S., political parties in Mexico, and the Mexican voter registration system.  You can listen to the interview here.

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Allan Wall, an educator, resided in Mexico for many years.  His website is located at http://www.allanwall.info.


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