Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Violence casts a pall over upcoming Mexican mid-term elections (June 3, 2015)

Another political candidate was killed yesterday in Mexico, with only five days before midterm election voting begins. Miguel Ángel Luna Munguía, a Partido Revolucionario Democrático candidate running for Congress in a district just east of México DF, was shot point-blank yesterday while planning a campaign event, reports La Jornada.

It is the fifth murder of a an election involved politician (mostly candidates) this year, reports El Daily Post. There is disagreement about the extent of deaths this year -- TeleSur reports eight assassinated candidates, while AP says four. As of last month, El Universal was reporting 41 victims of electoral violence -- 7 deaths and 34 victims of aggression, including car burnings, death threats and attacks on their homes. Three candidates -- in Guerrero, Michoacán and Tabasco -- were killed in May, and one person was murdered earlier this year. Campaign workers have also been targets. 

Political parties and candidates have been the target of heightened violence since February, according to TeleSur, as criminal gangs have attempted to impose their own candidates for the upcoming elections or influence elected officials.  Already in March the PAN and PRD parties had asked for protection for their candidates.

While at least 20 candidates are receiving official protection, authorities say it's impossible to guard all of the candidates for the nearly 2,000 offices to be voted on this weekend, according to EFE.

And dozens of people have been reported dead in violence related cases in May alone, according toTeleSur, including seven killed in Baja California, 14 murdered in Tijuana; 11 executed in Guerrero, and four bodies found wrapped in blankets in Chilapa.

Over the weekend a coalition of civil society organizations led a "march for peace" in the capital, supporting security forces' fight against organized crime ahead of the elections, reports TeleSur in a separate piece.

Adding to the pall cast by the violence against candidates, Sunday's polls are also being contested by a teachers' union, which is urging a boycott and potential actions to shut down polling stations. (See yesterday's post.) Teachers in Oaxaca burned about 13,000 ballots on Monday. Union members yesterday continued to cause disturbances in Oaxaca and Chiapas, reports Animal Político.  In Guerrero 20 masked members of the Guerrero People's Movement burned 87,00 ballots (116,000 according to the AP) and in Veracruz about 30 masked individuals threw molotov cocktails at an electoral office.

Officials have upped security at electoral offices, but the National Electoral Institute says it won't install voting stations if the security of electoral officials cannot be guaranteed, reports TeleSur. Authorities are working on replacing the destroyed ballots.

In Iguala, the Guerrero state town where 43 students disappeared last year will be choosing new leaders this weekend as well, reports EFE. But just eight months after becoming a potent symbol of outrage in Mexico and around the world, locals are not ready to turn the page. "How to vote if 43 are missing," reads a sign outside of the municipality building. The parents of the disappeared students have asked that the elections be suspended, as they say the minimum security requirements cannot be met.

Participation in the elections could be as low as 50 percent, according to polls, affected by factors that include concerns for safety, reports TeleSur. More than 83 million Mexicans are eligible to cast ballots July 7 to choose 500 federal legislators, nine state governors and hundreds of regional and local office holders.

The election results will be critical for the second half of President Enrique Peña Nieto's mandate, according to EFE. While he is lauded by some for his political reform (although his educational reform is what has the teachers' union up in arms), his administration has been buffeted by increased violence, symbolized potently by the missing 43 Ayotzinapa students.

The president of the National Electoral Institute, Lorenzo Córdova, says that Mexico is gambling its "democratic future" on the elections, which are the country's "most complex," in light of the boycott threats in Guerrero and Oaxaca and the general issue of insecurity in most of the country, reportsEFE.
The ruling PRI party is ahead in the polls, according to Reuters, which might permit Peña Nieto to preserve his slim majority in the congressional lower chamber.

News Briefs

  • Former Spanish Primer Minister Felipe González is deciding whether to travel to Venezuela, with hopes of joining jailed opposition leader Leopoldo López's legal defense team, reports theAP. He leads a long list of former leaders who are criticizing President Nicolás Maduro -- including former presidents of Bolivia and Colombia who visited last week. González leads several former presidents who want to symbolically join the legal team, a move which, according to Foreign Policy, undermines the Venezuelan government's "official narrative of Latin American solidarity against imperialist U.S. meddling." But, if anything, it's also a politically calculated move, aimed at contrasting with silence from the region's governments. And for Maduro it's just proof of a wider conspiracy: "Imagine a country that submits its sovereign actions to what a former president opines or not, they are generally very discredited former presidents ... a club of bums that come here to bother", he's said.
  • The secretary general to Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina stepped down yesterday, the latest casualty of corruption scandals that are rocking the country. Gustavo Martínez, who is also engaged to marry the president's daughter, said he took the step to protect the president after media reports questioned his wealth, the purchase of a property, and said his visa to the U.S. had been revoked. He joins the vice president and several cabinet ministers who have resigned in the past month on matters relating to corruption, reports Reuters.
  • The U.S. Treasury Department designated Peru's Shining Path Maoist rebel group a "significant foreign narcotics trafficker," reports the BBC. The group taxed the production, processing and transport of cocaine, say U.S. authorities.
  • The investigation into the late federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman's death in Argentina continues to feed a media frenzy. In the latest episode, newspapers are reporting that investigation into his personal computer shows activity several hours after his time of death -- at a time when his mother was already trying to enter the apartment. The Nisman case has been the subject of intense speculation, ever since he was found dead of a gunshot in his head in his bathroom in January. Officials speculated at first that it was a suicide, and then that it was a murder, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Brazil’s Petrobras, confirmed the sale of $2.5 billion in a 100-year bond, reports the Wall Street Journal, which says it's a sign of robust demand from investors for bonds that offer higher rates than safe government debt.
  • A Costa Rican court recognized a common law gay union for the first time, paving the way for LGBT couples to access at least some of the rights that come with marriage, according to EFE.
  • A Chilean company is betting that tech companies will pay a premium for rare-earth minerals extracted in an environmentally friendly way, reports Bloomberg.

No comments:

Post a Comment