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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Mexicans grow impatient with Peña Nieto as violence flares

5/3/2016 Financial Times

peña-nietoYoung and debonair, Enrique Peña Nieto was the fresh face of a tarnished old party when he became Mexico’s president.

In his first two years he pushed through ambitious reforms in energy and telecommunications, the financial sector and education, designed to unleash investment, boost competition and power growth.

But three and a half years after his election, the economy is stubbornly tepid, while scandals and rising violence have helped knock 9 percentage points off Mr Peña Nieto’s popularity rating so far this year.

Only 30 per cent of Mexicans approve of the job he is doing, according to a recent poll published in the newspaper Reforma. That is lower than Ernesto Zedillo’s ratings in 1995, when a crisis led the economy to slump 6.9 per cent that year.

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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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Mexico proposes raising limit on marijuana for personal use

4/22/16 CBS news

marijuanaMEXICO CITY — Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said Thursday he will ask Congress to raise the limit on decriminalized marijuana for personal use to 28 grams, or about one ounce.

Previously, only possession of five grams, or less than a fifth of an ounce, were exempted from prosecution.

“This means that consumption would no longer be criminalized,” Pena Nieto said. Possession of larger amounts would be punishable under drug trafficking laws.

“We Mexicans know all too well the range and the defects of prohibitionist and punitive policies, and of the so-called war on drugs that has prevailed for 40 years,” Pena Nieto said. “Our country has suffered, as few have, the ill effects of organized crime tied to drug trafficking.”

“Fortunately, a new consensus is gradually emerging worldwide in favor of reforming drug policies,” he said. “A growing number of countries are strenuously combating criminals, but instead of criminalizing consumers, they offer them alternatives and opportunities.”

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Mexico explosion: Families demand answers over deadly blast

4/22/16 BBC News

5337912858_1b19aea036_mRelatives of workers inside a petrochemical plant that exploded in Mexico are demanding answers from managers over what happened.

The blast hit the facility in the southern city of Coatzacoalcos in Veracruz state on Wednesday. The cause of the explosion is unclear.

The death toll reached 24 on Thursday, with another 13 still seriously hurt.

Dozens of family members gathered near the gates of the plant to demand talks with plant bosses.

Some tried to force their way into the compound, the Associated Press news agency reported.

Mexico’s state oil company Pemex raised the death toll late on Wednesday, and said 19 people remained in hospital.

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The Real Reason Why Mexico Hates Donald Trump

4/19/16 Forbes

Donald_Trump)If you believe the Mexican government and its former president are worried about the plight of their poor workers toiling away on American farms, think again. They are worried about one thing: money.

Say what you will about FORBES’ No. 324, but he scares the Bank of Mexico more than he scares Mexicans.

The Associated Press was the first to point out just how important Mexican immigrants, both legal and illegal, are to the health of the Mexican economy. Last year, Mexicans in the U.S. wired $24.8 billion to family members. That’s more than Mexico’s economy brought in from oil revenue and is nearly half of what a country the size of Brazil brings in from foreign direct investment (FDI).

Former Mexican president Vicente Fox and current leader Enrique Peña Nieto can shout all they want about Donald Trump’s controversial border fence proposal. But their unvoiced concern is how U.S. immigration policy impacts for their biggest source of foreign capital.

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Mexico’s president says he is open to legalizing medical marijuana

4/19/16 Reuters

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto and first lady Angelica Rivera salute during the military parade celebrating Independence Day at the Zocalo square in downtown Mexico CityMexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said on Tuesday he is open to the legalization of medical marijuana in Mexico and that his government would announce new measures in the coming days.

“I am giving voice to those who have (in public forums) expressed the necessity of changing the regulatory framework to authorize the use of marijuana for medical and scientific purposes,” Pena Nieto said in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Speaking at a special session where world leaders gathered to rethink global strategy in the war on drugs for the first time in two decades, Pena Nieto said drug use should be addressed as a “public health problem” and users should not be criminalized.

Pena Nieto, who has traditionally been a vocal opponent of drug legalization, also called for a global shift in dealing with drug consumption while continuing to fight organized crime.

“We should be flexible to change that which has not yielded results, the paradigm based essentially in prohibitionism, the so-called ‘War on Drugs’ … (which) has not been able to limit production, trafficking nor the global consumption of drugs,” he said.

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