What’s at Stake in Mexico’s Gubernatorial Elections?

5/27/16 AS/COA

votersAs the June 5 date nears for Mexico’s gubernatorial elections, campaigns are getting so ugly, they’re making U.S. elections seem civil by comparison. President Enrique Peña Nieto lamented that all political parties are stooping to “very dirty” campaigning.

Here’s a preview of what’s at stake and why these elections are important ahead of the 2018 presidential race.

 

What’s up for grabs on June 5?

Twelve of Mexico’s 32 states will pick new governors and elect officials to local seats. Baja California will also hold local elections and Mexico City will have a special vote to select 60 members of its constitutional assembly. All in all, 1,425 seats are up for election.

Seventy-eight registered candidates are competing for the 12 gubernatorial spots. The cost of their campaigns, taken together, is estimated to be as much as $187 million. Governors serve six-year terms and cannot seek reelection.

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Luis Álvarez, Leading Figure in Mexico’s National Action Party, Dies at 96

5/24/2016 The New York Times

Luis_H._AlvarezMEXICO CITY — Luis H. Álvarez, a leading figure in the conservative National Action Party in Mexico who dedicated his life to the fight for democracy there, died on May 18 at his home in León, Mexico. He was 96.

The cause was complications of pneumonia, his nephew Fernando Álvarez said.

Mr. Álvarez, who was originally a textile executive, was steadfast in his efforts to end the long rule of Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, known as the PRI.

In 1958, he ran unsuccessfully for president against that party’s candidate, Adolfo López Mateos, in what seemed like a quixotic campaign.

Almost three decades later, with the ruling party still immovable, he rallied opposition in Chihuahua, his home state, to protest voting fraud, undertaking a long hunger strike that helped focus international attention on the Mexican opposition’s struggle for democracy.

But it was not until 2000, when the National Action Party, or PAN, won the presidency, that the PRI’s 71-year rule ended.

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Mexico Senate Unanimously Approves Prison Reforms

4/29/16 Insight Crime

InSightLogo_main_24bitMexico’s senate has unanimously approved a wide-ranging prison reform bill, but it’s unclear if these measures will be enough to revamp a penitentiary system badly in need of improvement.

On April 27, by a vote of 114 to zero, the senate passedthe National Penal Enforcement Law (Ley Nacional de Ejecución Penal), which will now head to the chamber of deputies for final approval.

The head of the senate justice committee, Fernando Yunes Márquez, said the legislation would ensure that Mexico‘s prisons “will no longer be nests of violations of the rights that our constitution guarantees.”

The bill prohibits the use of torture and other “cruel, inhuman or degrading” disciplinary measures, including confinement in cells without light and ventilation. It also bans the use of solitary confinement for more than 15 continuous days.

In addition, the legislation establishes gender-specific rights for incarcerated women, including the right to receive obstetrical-gynecological and pediatric care, as well as adequate and healthy food for their children if they remain with their mothers in prison.

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UPCOMING EVENT | Mexican Civil Society’s Battle Against Corruption: #Ley3de3

maxresdefaultWHEN: Wednesday, May 4, 2016, 9:00-10:30 AM

WHERE: 6th Floor Board Room, Wilson Center

Click to RSVP

The Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute is pleased to invite you to our event “Mexican Civil Society’s Battle Against Corruption: #Ley3de3.” Prominent members of Mexican civil society will discuss the mechanisms being pursued to create a proper legal framework to fight corruption in Mexico. In particular, they will discuss the current status and challenges of a “citizen initiative” known as #Ley3de3, which is currently being discussed in the Mexican Congress. This initiative represents the first time in Mexico’s history that civil society has come together to take legislative processes against corruption into their own hands. #Ley3de3 was broadly backed by civil society (more than 600 thousand signatures in favor of it) but is currently frozen in Congress due to lack of agreement between political parties.

For more information on Ley3de3, visit www.ley3de3.mx.

Speakers
Eduardo Bohórquez
Director, Transparencia Mexicana

Juan Pardinas
Director, Instituto Mexicano para la Competitividad (IMCO)

Commentator
Viridiana Rios
Global Fellow, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center

Moderator
Duncan Wood
Director, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center

Click to RSVP

Parents lead protest of probe into missing 43 students in Mexico

4/27/16 Reuters

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Thousands of protesters gathered in Mexico City on Tuesday, angered by the government’s handling of an investigation into 43 students who apparently were massacred in 2014 and the government’s alleged treatment of international experts who have cast doubt on the official account.

The case of the 43 trainee teachers, who were abducted in September 2014 in the violent southwestern state of Guerrero, has tarnished the reputation of President Enrique Pena Nieto and highlighted the scale of human rights abuses in Mexico.

The parents and relatives of the abducted students led what appeared to be more than 2,000 protesters along the main thoroughfare of the Mexican capital, Paseo de la Reforma, carrying small torches along with large black and white photographs of the missing students.

Blanca Luz, the mother of one of the 43, said she wants to meet with Pena Nieto to discuss the investigation, a request frequently echoed by the parents.

“My heart can’t take anymore,” she said, standing near the main building of Mexico’s attorney general’s office. “I want my son back by my side.”

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Few Expect Mexico’s Government to Suffer at Polls, Despite Outrage Over Abductions

04/25/2016 The New York Times

AFP
AFP

MEXICO CITY — In a drab white tent along Reforma Avenue here, across from offices of the attorney general, a small group gathers each day to maintain the vigil for the 43.

The tent bears their black and white images: forty-three students from a teachers college, seized by the police in the city of Iguala in September 2014 and never heard from again; literal and figurative reminders of their absence.

The same street once teemed with hundreds of thousands of protesters, whose collective anger helped turn the disappearances into a global indictment of the impunity gnawing at Mexico, and a symbol of the tens of thousands of people who have vanished during the nation’s drug war.

Yet that rage, like the crowds themselves, has dissipated, raising fears that in spite of its handling of the case, which was recently criticized by an international panel of experts, the government will face few political consequences.

“Just like any social movement, the tide goes out,” said Rodrigo González, 22, a student in Mexico City and one of the volunteers who has lived on-and-off in the tent for the last year. “People have jobs, run out of money, they get distracted. The government bets on this exhaustion, and the forgetting, but what we are here for is to remind society that they should never forget.”

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Inquiry Challenges Mexico’s Account of How 43 Students Vanished

4/24/2016 The New York Times

Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP - Getty Images
Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP – Getty Images

MEXICO CITY — Since November 2014, the Mexican authorities, eager to close a dark chapter in the nation’s history, have insisted that 43 students from Ayotzinapa who disappeared two months earlier in the city of Iguala were killed by a drug gang that incinerated their bodies in a garbage dump and disposed of the ashes in a river.

But on Sunday, in the latest blow to the integrity of the government’s case, an international panel of experts who began examining the disappearances a year ago asserted that five suspects whose testimony underpinned the government’s conclusions gave confessions “under torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment.” Forced confessions are not admissible in Mexican courts.

The findings not only undermined the government’s case but also further eroded the credibility of the nation’s criminal justice system. The system has been widely criticized for its handling of a matter that has come to represent the failures and corruption of the Mexican state.

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