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Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Ashbury alumnus and son of Taib Mahmud ordered to pay $9.4 million to ex wife


A Shariah Appeal Court in Kuala Lumpur has ordered Mahmud Bekir to pay RM30 million (C$9.4 million) for “mutaah” or conciliatory gifts to his former wife, Shahnaz Majid. Bekir is the son of Taib Mahmud, the governor of the state of Sarawak, and younger brother to Jamilah Taib, Chair of Ottawa’s Sakto Corp.
Abu Bekir Taib

The appeal court in Malaysia upheld a 2016 ruling, with the judge saying that  “there is no error under Islamic law and principles made by our Shariah High Court colleague in awarding the RM30 million.”

The court proceedings were notable for revealing some of the unsavoury aspect of Sharia law. Bekir’s lawyers claimed he found out his wife was not a virgin on their wedding night, and that according to Sharia law this would then be a mitigating factor with regard to compensation. The judge subsequently allowed Bekir’s lawyers to include this information in their submission, but to no avail.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Malaysian fugitive Jho Low takes a leaf from Jamilah Taib’s playbook


Lawyers for Low Taek Jho (known as Jho Low), a Malaysian financier who is now wanted by Interpol in connection with the massive 1Malaysia Development Bh (1MDB) scandal, have launched a website in his defense, with the language and tactics almost identical to those used by Ottawa-headquartered Sakto Corp and its Chair, Jamilah Taib, who are fighting back against allegations that Ms. Taib laundered funds coming from her father, the Malaysian politician and alleged kleptocrat Abdul Taib Mahmud.
Low Taek Jho (Jho Low) is on the run from Interpol

Proclaiming his innocence, Jho Low laments the publication of Billion Dollar Whale, an account of the 1MDB scandal written by Wall Street Journal reporters Tom Wright and Bradley Hope. Jho Low writes of Billion Dollar Whale that: “Many of the allegations have originated from blog posts, improper leaks from within Governmental agencies around the world, or unproven allegations filed in court.”

In describing the tactics used by Lukas Straumann – the executive director of Bruno Manser Fonds (BMF), a Swiss NGO which is now facing a gag order from Jamilah Taib and Sakto Corp in civil court in Switzerland – Ms. Taib’s lawyers similarly write that BMF and Mr. Straumann: “Make aggressive use of social media, multiple websites and blogs to create the impression that their allegations of money laundering are valid and widely accepted.”

Friday, 17 August 2018

Hundreds of trans women are being murdered in Mexico – and nothing is done


Since June 14 of this year at least ten trans women have been murdered in Mexico, continuing a cycle of violence and impunity that has claimed over 400 lives in the past decade.

The most recent case was the killing of the winner of a beauty queen pageant in the municipality of Martínez de la Torre, in the State of Veracruz. The half-naked body of Alaska Bout was found on July 25 with signs of torture and barbed wire wrapped around her neck.
Alaska Bout

Her death has resulted in a complaint from the United Nations Human Rights Commission. Specific concern has been raised with regard to security in Veracruz. According to the social anthropology research center (known as CIESAS, or “Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social”), Veracruz ranks first for the murder of trans people.

Alaska Bout was the second gay pageant queen to be assassinated this year. In May Yamileth Quintero, winner of a beauty contest in Elota, Sinaloa, was killed in the state capital of Culiacán. As a beauty queen, the death of Alaska received widespread media attention in Mexico, unlike the murders of other trans women, which were much lower profile. This has resulted in a critique that Alaska, as a well-known and talented performer, had a life that was valued higher than those trans women who lead more marginal lives, given that some of the murdered individuals were sex trade workers.

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Jamilah Taib, Chair of Ottawa’s Sakto Corp, May Soon be of Interest to Authorities in Malaysia and Canada


Calls in Malaysia to expand the new government’s anti-corruption campaign to the province of Sarawak, on the island of Borneo, are echoing across the Pacific to the small and insular commercial real estate community in Ottawa, Canada. 

Jamilah Taib and Andrew Leslie, MP for Orléans
At the center of the brewing storm is Ottawa-headquartered Sakto Corporation, which has hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate assets in Canada. Sakto Corporation’s Chair is Jamilah Taib, the eldest daughter of Abdul Taib Mahmud, the governor and former chief minister of Sarawak.

Abdul Taib Mahmud is a “politically exposed person” (PEP) as defined by Canada’s Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Regulations (PCMLTFR).

Jamilah Taib started her career in real estate in Ottawa with a financial gift from her father. The amount of that gift has never been revealed, though Abdul Taib Mahmud, a career public servant of humble origins, has claimed that the source of the money was a gratuity from the federal government of Malaysia.

Friday, 13 July 2018

In Cozy Ottawa, Philanthropy Provides Good Cover for Sakto Corporation


The pressure is mounting on Ottawa real-estate power couple Jamilah Taib Murray, her husband Sean Murray, and their Ottawa-headquartered firm Sakto Corporation. A new government in Malaysia is facing calls to investigate Jamilah Taib Murray’s father, Taib Mahmud, and if necessary to press criminal charges.  Taib Mahmud is a Malaysian politician who has faced decades of accusations that he accumulated billions of dollars of ill-gotten gains by raping the rainforest in Sarawak, Borneo, and then hiding that money in companies controlled by him and his family.
Jamilah Taib Murray and Sean Murray at a gala
for Elmwood School in Rockcliffe Park 

Inevitably, the pressure from Malaysia is raising the temperature back in Canada.  To date, the Canadian courts, and even Canada’s National Contact Point for the OECD, have been either unable or unwilling to draw back the curtain on Sakto Corporation. But as the heat is turned up abroad it will be harder to avoid the speculation that some of Taib’s ill-gotten gains have found their way across the Pacific.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Last minute PRI spending won't stop Morena in Zacatecas

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

The Mexican state of Zacatecas is located in north-central Mexico, with a population of about 1.6 million. The capital is Zacatecas City. As has been true since the colonial period, Zacatecas’ dominant sector is mining, accounting for about 13% of the state’s GDP. This is followed by manufacturing, at 12%, which is also the main source of foreign direct investment.

Politically, Zacatecas is quite diverse. Its governor, Alejandro Tello Cristerna, is a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the same party as the sitting president, Enrique Peña Nieto. Of the three federal senators from Zacatecas, two are members of the left-of-center Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), with the third being with the right-of-center National Action Party (PAN).

Zacatecas will be deploying 3,000 officers – municipal, state, and federal – to ensure that things go peacefully on July 1, with special attention given to the municipalities of the City of Zacatecas, Guadalupe, Fresnillo, Nochistlán, and some towns in the southeast. 

Much of the security will be committed to protecting the counting and transport of the ballots themselves, and will include elements of the uniformed military. However, Two candidates in Zacatecas have requested police protection: one from a candidate in Trancoso, and another from Fresnillo.

In Yucatán, it's a horse race between PAN and PRI candidates for governor

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

The state of Yucatán is in southeast Mexico, occupying the the northern part of the Yucatán Peninsula. The state population is about 1.1 million, and the colonial city of Mérida is the state capital.

Yucatán has one of the lowest crime rates in Mexico, and this is reflected in the polling. For the upcoming election – the people of Yucatán are voting for a new governor as well as federal deputies and, of course, the president of the republic – the major concern is the economy and unemployment (29% of respondents). This is followed by combatting corruption (25%), insecurity (21%), and poverty (20%).

Aside from the low crime rate, Yucatán also has some good economic news. In March the state announced it would invest 35 million pesos (~US $1.9 million) to enhance the restoration of ancient Mayan cities. As well, in early May the German manufacturer Leoni AG – which makes wires, cables and wiring systems, primarily for the automotive industry – announced that it had started building a 40,000-square-meter factory in Mérida, where it will provide direct employment to 2,000 people, and estimated indirect employment to an additional 10,000.

Veracruz emerges from PRI nightmare to elect a new governor

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

The state of Veracruz, which has a population of about 8.2 million, snakes down Mexico’s eastern coast with the Gulf of Mexico. Veracruz, which has as its capital the port city of the same name, is an important economic driver for Mexico, particularly in the agriculture and petroleum sectors.

Politically, the state’s governor, Miguel Ángel Yunes Linares, is a member of the right-of-center National Action Party (PAN), as is one of the two federal senators. The other two senators belong to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which is also the party of the sitting president, Enrique Peña Nieto.

To understand what’s going on in Veracruz one has to address its recent political history. For 48 days until December 1, 2016, there was an interim PRI governor, Flavino Ríos Alvarado, who assumed power after the disastrous rule of Javier Duarte de Ochoa (1 December 2010 – 12 October 2016), a notorious kleptocrat whose administration was marked by excessive violence and corruption. Federal auditors allege he and his associates misappropriated more than 55 billion pesos (~$US 3 billion at the time of the alleged crimes) via a series of shell companies.

Monday, 25 June 2018

In Tlaxcala the PRI ground game will matter

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Tlaxcala is the smallest state in Mexico, representing only 0.2% of the country’s territory. It’s located in east-central Mexico, in the altiplano region, with Puebla to its north, east, and south. Edomex is to Tlaxcala’s west and Hidalgo to the northwest. The population is ~1.3 million.

The state has a diverse political culture. Tlaxcala’s governor, Marco Antonio Mena Rodríguez, is a member of the PRI and assumed office on January 1, 2017. Of the three federal senate seats, one is held by the Party of the DemocraticRevolution (PRD), one by the Workers’ Party (PT), and one by the National Action Party (PAN).

Much of the local media in Tlaxcala, such as El Sol de Tlaxcala, lean toward the PRI, publishing puffball articles on local PRI candidates, and sometimes PAN candidates, as they attend various events and make predictable pronouncements against violence and corruption.

The PRI is toast in Tamaulipas

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Located in northeastern Mexico, Tamaulipas’ eastern border is on the Gulf of Mexico, with its northern border covering 370 kilometers (230 miles) with the US state of Texas. This includes a thin strip of land extending west to Nuevo Laredo, with Laredo Texas being the sister city on the US side.

Other border cities in Tamaulipas include Reynosa and Matamoros, which are across from the US cities of McAllen and Brownsville, respectively. The capital of Tamaulipas is Ciudad Victoria, which is located in south-central part of the state, at the foothills of the Sierra Madre Oriental. The state has a population of ~3.5 million.

In recent years Tamaulipas has become infamous for battles between the Gulf Cartel, Los Zetas, and government forces for control of the “plaza” (territory). Due in large part to the brutal tactics of Los Zetas, particularly in the context of human smuggling, Tamaulipas has developed a reputation as being one of the most troubled states in Mexico.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Tabasco is fully behind local hero López Obrador

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Tabasco is a state in southeast Mexico, with a population of about 3.4 million. It is located on the northern part of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, at the base of the Yucatan Peninsula, with a northern shoreline on the Gulf of Mexico. There is heavy rainfall year-round, with most of the state covered in rainforest. The capital city is Villahermosa, an important business center for the Mexican oil industry.

The current governor is Arturo Núñez Jiménez. Núñez Jiménez is with the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), but was formerly with the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The previous governor, the PRI's Andrés Granier Melo, completed his term as governor in December 2012.

On 14 June 2013, Granier was arrested on charges of corruption and embezzlement of public funds. He was subsequently charged with tax fraud and money laundering more than 196 million Mexican pesos (US$ 9.5 million at today’s rate, but worth more at the time of the embezzlement). In March of this year Granier was sentenced to ten years and ten months in prison.

PRI has the organizational advantage in the State of Mexico

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

The State of Mexico is often abbreviated in Spanish from “Estado de México” to be "Edomex" in order to distinguish it from the nation as a whole. Edomex is in a horseshoe shape, surrounding Mexico City (the former Federal District) on the west, north, and east. Its capital is Toluca, a city to the west of Mexico City.

With a population of over 16 million, much of Edomex functions as part of the greater metropolitan area of Mexico City. Edomex is a stronghold of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The current president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, is a member of the PRI and was governor of Edomex from 2005-2011.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

The PAN stays strong in Sonora

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

The northern Mexican state of Sonora borders on the US states of Arizona and California, with a western coastline on the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California). It also borders the Mexican states of Chihuahua to the east, Baja California to the northwest, and Sinaloa to the south. The capital is Hermosillo and the population is just shy of three million.

The state is well-known for the eponymous Sonoran desert, with significant reserves of copper, silver, and gold, which supports a large mining industry. Sadly, it also has a reputation for corrupt political practices.

Politically, the state is mostly represented by politicians from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the same party as President Enrique Peña Nieto, and the right-of-center National Action Party (PAN).

The governor of the Sonora, Claudia Pavlovich Arellano, is from the PRI. Pavlovich, who assumed office in September 2015, is suitably corrupt: there is a recording of her during her campaign brokering deals with entrepreneurs. She was further accused by respected Mexican news magazine Proceso of "misuse of functions, conflict of interest and influence peddling."

Sinaloa struggles for stability in the post El Chapo era

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

The state of Sinaloa is located in northwest Mexico. It has a long coastline on the Pacific coast and on the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California). Its border to the east is with Durango and Chihuahua, along the Sierra Madre Occidental. Sinaloa’s population is about three million, and includes the capital Culiacán and the port and tourist city of Mazatlán.

Sinaloa is also well-known as the home of the Sinaloa Cartel (also known as the Pacific Cartel), and its erstwhile leader Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, who is now in US custody. The cartel is emerging from a period of instability. El Chapo’s two sons have made peace with El Chapo’s elderly partner, the semi-retired Ismael "El Mayo"Zambada, and have successfully pushed aside El Chapo’s godson, Dámaso López Núñez (“Licenciado”), who was captured by police on May 2, 2017.

The result is that, despite some setbacks, the Sinaloa Cartel is thriving and still considered one the largest criminal organizations in the world, though there is ongoing conflict – both with federal government forces and with other criminal organizations. Nonetheless, The Sinaloa Cartel has lost some control over street-level criminal activity in Culiacan and Mazatlán, as well as in some villages in the countryside.

Friday, 22 June 2018

Corruption charges hurting the PRI in San Luis Potosi

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

San Luis Potosi is located in north-central Mexico, with a population of over 2.7 million. The capital and largest city is also called San Luis Potosi. The state is located in between Mexico’s three major cities, Mexico City, Monterrey, and Guadalajara, while also being a link to the ports of Manzanillo and Mazatlán on the Pacific coast, and Tampico and Altamira on the Gulf coast.

The governor of the state, Juan Manuel Carreras Lopez, is from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which is also the party of the sitting president, Enrique Peña Nieto. Carreras Lopez was sworn Governor on September 26, 2015 for a six-year term.

The security situation isn’t as bad in San Luis Potosi as it is in other states, and is stable, but it is nonetheless top of mind. In a recent poll corruption topped the list of voter concerns, at 37.3%.

During the month of May, 2018, in San Luis Potosi there was a decrease in overall crime of 3.02% over the same period in 2017, though there was a modest increase in serious crimes. According to an official from the state’s National Public Security System (SNSP), about half of all murders committed in San Luis Potosi are related to organized crime.

There are good reasons for the PRI's collapse in Quintana Roo

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

The state of Quintana Roo has a population of about 1.5 million and is located on the eastern part of the Yucatán Peninsula. Its capital is the drab port town of Chetumal, which also home to a federal prison. Quintana Roo covers Mexico’s entire Caribbean coast, and includes the city of Cancún, the islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres, and the town of Playa del Carmen, as well as many ancient Maya ruins.

Clearly, tourism is critical to Quintana Roo’s economy, and plays a role in its politics. In this context security is a critical issue. The fact that the hyper-violent Jalisco New Generation (CJNG) cartel has been moving into Cancun over the last year, pushing out other gangs, has been cause for serious concern.

On the political front, Quintana Roo is quite diverse. The governor represents the National Action Party (PAN). Of the three federal senators, one is a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), one is a member of the fraudulent “Green” Party (PVEM), and one a member of the left-of-center Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Querétaro's support for the PAN will stay strong

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Querétaro is a small state located in North-Central Mexico, with a population of just over 2 million. The state is in a region known as Bajío, which is known for its high quality of life and safety.

Among the electorate of Querétaro there is strong support for the right-of-center National Action Party (PAN). The governor and two of three federal senators are members of the PAN. The third federal senator is a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which is also the party of Mexico’s unpopular president Enrique Peña Nieto.

The capital city, also named Querétaro, is known throughout Mexico for its safety, and for the integrity of its police force and public administration. There has never been a reported murder of journalist in the long history of the state.

But even Querétaro has its problems.  On May 18 of this year Querétaro’s attorney general announced that eight Querétaro municipal police officers were arrested on charges of robbery, extortion, home burglary and abuse of authority.

Fuel theft is the big issue in Puebla

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

The state of Puebla is located in central-east Mexico, with a total population of about 6.2 million. Its capital city, also called Puebla, is a beautiful colonial town only 100 kilometers southeast of Mexico City.

Politically, the right-of-center National Action Party (PAN) is strong in Puebla. The governor is a member of the PAN, as is one federal senator. The other two federal senators are members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which is also the party of the sitting president, Enrique Peña Nieto.

Puebla is one of the eight states that is electing a new governor. There are five candidates: Alejandro Romero Carreto for New Alliance (Nueva Alianza); Enrique Doger Guerrero for the PRI; Luis Miguel Barbosa Huerta for the Morena-led coalition “Together We make History”; Michel Chaín Carrillo for the Green Party (PVEM); and Martha Erika Alonso Hidalgo for the “Frente” coalition, which includes the PAN teaming up with an unlikely partner, the left-of-center Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), as well as Citizens Movement and two smaller parties.

How does all this break down?

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

In Oaxaca on July 1 there will be no "free and fair" election

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Oaxaca is a state in southern Mexico, with a population of about 4 million. There is a significant indigenous populations in Oaxaca – sixteen groups are officially recognized, with the largest and best known being the Zapotec, Mixtec, and Chatino people. Almost three quarters of Oaxaca’s 570 municipalities are governed according to local tradition.

Oaxaca has a long history of brutality and corruption. In the past century, this has been almost entirely at the hands of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which is the party of the sitting president, Enrique Peña Nieto.

The present governor of Oaxaca is the PRI stalwart Alejandro Murat Hinojosa, who served as housing coordinator for Peña Nieto's presidential campaign. Murat Hinojosa ran for governor under a typical PRI-PVEM (Green)-New Alliance coalition. He won on June 5, 2016, and began his six year term on December 1st, 2016. Murat Hinojosa was born in the State of Mexico but his father, José Murat Casab, was the PRI governor of Oaxaca from 1998 to 2004.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Surprise: polls show Nuevo León going to AMLO, with mayoralties sticking to PAN and PRI

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

The state of Nuevo León is located in northeastern Mexico. The geography of the state is unusual, as the state of Tamaulipas has a sliver of land that extends between Nuevo León and the United States. The Nuevo León border with Texas is only 15 kilometer (9 mi) long. The population of the state is about 5.2 million, and the capital city is Monterrey.

Monterrey is a commercial center and the home to many large corporations. It’s not uncommon for Mexicans and Americans, some with dual citizenship, to cross the border on a daily basis for work. Monterrey is also one of the wealthiest cities in Mexico with a total annual GDP of US$142 billion (2017).

There have been some big changes in Monterrey over the last decade. In 2005 and 2006 the city was ranked one of the safest in Mexico, but then the Mexican government began its country-wide militarization of the drug war, and things deteriorated rapidly, with 2011 being the most violent year in the city’s history.

Monday, 18 June 2018

In Nayarit, Tepic is caught in the fight between the Sinaloa Cartel and Los Mazatlecos, enforcers for the Beltrán Leyva Cartel

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Nayarit is a small state in Western Mexico with a population of 1.2 million. Its capital is the inland city of Tepic. Nayarit has a significant shoreline on the Pacific Coast and popular tourist areas along the "Riviera Nayarit". The state is bordered by Sinaloa to the northwest, Durango to the north, Zacatecas to the northeast and Jalisco to the south.

The political representation in Nayarit is diverse. The governor is Antonio Echevarría García from the National Action Party (PAN). Echevarría is a business man and political neophyte who defeated the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate by 11 points, garnering 38% of the total.
Of the three federal senators, two are with the PRI, and one is with the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).

Morena fends of corruption charges, links to organized crime in Morelos

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

The Mexican state of Morelos is located in South-Central Mexico. Its capital city is Cuernavaca, a short drive through the mountains directly south of Mexico City. Morelos has a population of about 2 million, and is a small state – only Tlaxcala covers less area.

Morelos is one of the eight states that’s electing a new governor on July 1. There are eight candidates:
  • Rodrigo Gayosso Cepeda for the left of center Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).
  • Alejandro Vera Jiménez for New Alliance (Nueva Alianza).
  • Jorge Meade Ocaranza for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the same party as sitting president, Enrique Peña Nieto.
  • Cuauhtémoc Blanco for the Morena-led Together We make History (Juntos Haremos Historia).
  • Víctor Manuel Caballero Solano for the National Action Party (PAN).
  • Nadia Luz Lara Chávez for the Green Party (PVEM).
  • Mario Rojas Alba for the Humanist party; and Fidel Demédicis Hidalgo as an independent.

Twelve years ago Felipe Calderón called the army into Michoacán, and it's still there

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

The Mexican state of Michoacán is located in Western Mexico, with a population of about 4.6 million. The state has an extensive coastline on the Pacific, and extends inland to the Tierra Caliente and up over the Sierras to the capital city, Morelia.

It was in Michoacán where President Felipe Calderón first militarized the war on drugs. Only days into his administration, in December of 2006, he sent the army to his home state. Twelve years later, the army is still there, and Michoacán remains a hotbed of cartel activity.

From a political perspective, the governor of Michoacán is a member of the left of center Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Two federal senators belong to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled Mexico for the better part of the 20th century, and is also the party of the sitting president, Enrique Peña Nieto.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Claudia Sheinbaum will have her work cut out for her as Mexico City's new mayor

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Mexico City is not only the capital of Mexico, it is also the most populous city in North America. Though the official population is around 9 million, the greater metropolitan area has over 21 million, making it the largest in the Western Hemisphere. On July 1 the city will be electing a mayor – a powerful position of national importance – as well as three federal senators.

According to a survey conducted by Massive Caller, Claudia Sheinbaum, the candidate for the Morena Party-led “Together We Will Make History” coalition appears most likely to win. Alejandra Barrales of the right-left coalition “For Mexico City in Front” is Sheinbaum’s nearest rival, while Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate Mikel Arriola is lagging in third place.

This is perhaps not surprising, given that the leading presidential candidate is Andrés Manuel López Obrador (also known simply as “AMLO”), who was mayor of Mexico City from 5 December 2000 to 29 July 2005. AMLO’s tenure is generally seen as a success. He left office with an 84% approval rating and, according to one accounting, kept 80% of the promises he made.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Jalisco's new governor will be staring down the CJNG

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

The Mexican state of Jalisco has a population of 8.25 million, with its capital being Mexico’s second largest city, Guadalajara. The state is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean, and extends far to the northeast over the Sierras, including an odd protrusion to the north.

Guadalajara is the home of mariachi, and is also known for being a bastion of the Roman Catholic faith. To the north is world-famous town of Tequila. To the west of the capital are two areas popular with foreigners: Lake Chapala, and Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Coast.

Given Jalisco’s conservatism, it’s no surprise the left-leaning parties tend not to do well here. The governor is a member of Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled Mexico for most of the 20th century, and is the party of the sitting president, Enrique Peña Nieto. Two federal senators are also members of the PRI, with the third belonging to the right-of-center and pro-Catholic National Action Party (PAN).

Jalisco is one of the eight states which will also be electing a new governor on July 1. It’s a full ticket. The following candidates are running: Carlos Manuel Orozco Santillán, (Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD); Carlos Lomelí Bolaños (for the Juntos Haremos Historia, “Together We Make History”, coalition, which includes Morena, the Workers Party, and Social Encounter); Enrique Alfaro Ramírez (Citizens Movement); Miguel Castro Reynoso (PRI); Miguel Ángel Martínez Espinosa (PAN); Martha Rosa Araiza Soltero (New Alliance); and Salvador Cosío Gaona (Green Party).

The main issue in Hidalgo? Corruption, which bodes well for Morena

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Hidalgo is a small state in central-east Mexico. With a population approaching three million, the state is dominated by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled Mexico for most of the 20th century and is also the party of President Enrique Peña Nieto. The governor is a member of the PRI, as are two of the three federal senators. The third is a member of the left-of-center Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).

However, according to a telephone survey at the end of May, the two senatorial candidates for the left-of-center Morena party are leading their opponents by 17 points. This bodes well for presidential candidate and Morena leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), who is also leading in national polls.

The state has not been immune to election violence. On May 3, the mayor of Pacula, Alejandro González Ramos, was shot three times in Jiliapa. González Ramos was a member of the right-of-center National Action Party (PAN). During the six year tenure of Peña Nieto 30 sitting mayors have been killed in Mexico. If former mayors are included, the number rises to at least 75, according to the National Mayors Association.

But corruption is the big issue in Hidalgo during this election cycle. Civic groups claim that a massive electrification plant in Tizayuca that burns garbage was pushed forward with a lack of transparency, and with possible corruption on the part of the former PRI governor Francisco Olvera. The PAN has demanded an investigation into the environmental impact of the plant, specifically with regard to contamination of air and water, noting that there was significant local opposition.

Friday, 15 June 2018

Guerrero will go to Morena - if it can get out the vote

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

The state of Guerrero is located in Southwest Mexico, and is home to the resort city of Acapulco, its largest city, as well as the popular tourist destinations Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa. Its capital city is Chilpancingo, and its population about 3.5 million.

Despite its popularity with tourists, Guerrero has always been a violent place. During the 1970s it was a hotbed of leftist guerrilla activity, and beginning in the 1980s drug cartels have used farmland in Guerrero to cultivate marijuana and poppies.

On September 26, 2014, 43 male students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers' College were forcibly taken then disappeared in Iguala, Guerrero. This made headlines around the world, as did the government’s bungled investigation. The case remains unsolved, but it appears that local officials were upset at the students, who were planning to commandeer several buses to travel to Mexico City to commemorate the anniversary of the 1968 Tlatelolco Massacre. It is believed that local police took the students into custody, and then handed them over to the Guerreros Unidos ("United Warriors") gang, who then killed them.

Violence and economic uncertainty are the big issues in Guanajuato

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

The Mexican state of Guanajuato is in the center of the country, with a population approaching six million. It’s a stronghold the center-right National Action Party (PAN), and is one of the eight states that is also electing a new governor on July 1. At present, the governor and two of three federal senators are members of the PAN. The third senator is a member of Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which is also the party of the sitting president, Enrique Peña Nieto.

Guanajuato has been spared the corruption scandals that have plagued many states where governors have belonged to the PRI, but it has not been immune to the violence that has plagued the country. In the first four months of 2018, a resident of Guanajuato is murdered every three hours, with about eight people being killed every day.

Some of the killings, inevitably, represent attacks on police. On Friday, June 1, gunmen killed six traffic cops in La Gloria, a neighborhood in the city of Salamanca, Guanajuato. A motive is unknown, but at the time Governor Miguel Márquez was attending a meeting at a nearby military installation, purportedly discussing ways to improve security. Some observers are speculating that the seemingly random killing was intended to wound him politically.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

In Durango, mining is always an election issue

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

The Mexican state of Durango is in the northwest of the country, with a population of over 1.6 million. After Baja California Sur, Durango – which has a population of $1.75 million – has the second-lowest population density of any state in Mexico. Durango is mostly high desert, with its western border being along the Sierra Madre Occidental, including part of the infamous “golden triangle” drug production and trafficking area that includes parts of Durango, Sinaloa, and Chihuahua.

Today the political landscape in Durango is mostly divided between the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled Mexico for most of the 20th century, and the right-of-center National Action Party (PAN). The governor of Durango, José Rosas Aispuro, is a member of the PAN, as is one of the state’s federal senators. The other two senators are members of the PRI.

Durango is bordered to the north by Chihuahua, to the northeast by Coahuila, to the southeast by Zacatecas, to the southwest by Nayarit, and to the west by Sinaloa. These are big mining states, as is Durango. But mining can be divisive politically, as can be seen in the small community of Dinamita, Durango near the city Gómez Palacio, in the northeastern part of the state – where US-headquartered Chemours is trying to build a cyanide plant.

No end in sight for drug war in Colima

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

The state of Colima on the central Pacific coast of Mexico is one of the smallest in country, and also has the lowest population, with just over 720,000 people. Historically, it has had one of Mexico’s highest standards of living and low unemployment. It has also been safe.

No more. Now Colima is the most violent state in Mexico.  How bad is it? On January 10 of this year the United States put Colima on a “Level 4” travel alert – the maximum level of violence and the same as Syria. In 2017, 700 intentional murders were registered, while in 2016 there were 524 – an increase of 30%. To put this in context the city of Seattle, which has a population of 750,000, had 18 murders in 2016, and 27 in 2017.  

Colima’s horror show is a direct result the Mexican government’s war on the drug cartels, which has now lasted 12 years – through two presidential six year terms – with no end in sight. Colima is suffering from fallout from the Mexican government’s “kingpin” approach, in which the security forces and military have relentlessly gone after cartel leaders. But as each leader is captured, the criminal organizations are destabilized. The result is internecine fighting, as well as opportunistic attacks from rival groups.

This is made worse in Colima due to its geographic location. The state is vulnerable because it is squished between Jalisco to the north and Michoacán to the south. The Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), which began as a client to the more powerful Sinaloa Cartel up the coast, is now a major power in its own right. The CJNG learned the hard way, engaging in brutal conflict on behalf of the Sinaloa cartel with the ultraviolent Los Zetas. Now, thanks also to efforts by the government, Los Zetas are hobbled, and the CJNG is a powerhouse, fighting it out on the Pacific coast with their erstwhile allies from Sinaloa.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

In Coahuila, the shadow of the PRI is long

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Coahuila is the third largest state in Mexico by land area. Its northern border, 318 miles long, is with the United States. To the east Coahuila borders Nuevo León, and to the west Durango and Chihuahua, with its southern border touching both Zacatecas and San Luis Potosí.

The state only has a population of about three million – a pittance in a country of 127 million – yet it made a name for itself during the governorship of Humberto Moreira (1 December 2005 – 4 January 2011), who is allegedly one Mexico’s more impressive kelptocrats. Moreira, who belongs to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), used his power of decree to run up the state debt from a mere US $27 million to an astounding $2.8 billion. Much of this money was allegedly used to rig elections – including the 2012 election campaign for PRI president Enrique Peña Nieto – or ended up in bank accounts controlled by the governor, his family, and his friends and political allies.

Moreira is also accused of having had close ties with the ultraviolent Los Zetas cartel, which comes with a price. On 3 October 2012, Moreira’s eldest son, 26 year old José Eduardo, was murdered. Officials believe that Los Zetas killed José Eduardo in retaliation against Moreira for not giving them their fair share from a money laundering operation.

Such horrors didn’t stop Moreira from pillaging the state coffers. After having cratered Coahuila’s credit rating from A+ to BBB-, Moreira presumably thought he could retire with his personal fortune under the full cover of the ruling PRI, travelling the world and spending his ill-gotten gains. But the United States’ government caught wind of Moreira’s crimes, and put out an international warrant for money laundering. On January 15, 2016, Humberto Moreira was arrested at the Barajas Airport in Spain, and charged with money laundering and embezzlement. He is now out on restricted bail. To date, investigators in the United States have found more than 60 million dollars allegedly hidden by Moreira in tax havens in the Cayman Islands and Monaco.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Chihuahua, a big state with big problems

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Chihuahua is the largest state by land area in Mexico, and in recent years it has suffered greatly at the hands of warring cartels and corrupt politicians. The degree and extent of the damage is hard to fathom. It will take years to mend, but it’s reasonable to assume that a shift in the political landscape could make a difference for the better.

The present governor of Chihuahua is JavierCorral Jurado of the center-right National Action Party (PAN). Corral took power in 2016 after the disastrous tenure of César Duarte Jáquez from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Duarte is now wanted by the Mexican government on corruption charges, and is believed to be hiding in Texas.

The experience with Duarte could affect the presidential election. Though Corral didn’t defeat his PRI rival in 2016 by a landslide, (39% for Corral vs. 31% for the PRI candidate Enrique Serrano Escobar), the electorate is aware that when the PRI’s Enrique Peña Nieto ascended to the presidency six years ago, he ushered in an era of profligate corruption among some PRI governors, the likes of which Mexico has never seen. And those states that are the most corrupt are often also the most violent.

The violence in Chihuahua has had a dramatic effect on the daily lives of the people, and on the ability of the press to report on crime and hold politicians accountable. For example, Carlos Arturo Quintana, also known as El 80, is the leader of La Línea or the New Juárez Cartel and is alleged to have had great success infiltrating municipal police departments, creating a complex network of political and police protection.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Chiapas to choose a new governor amidst land conflicts, centuries of corruption

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Chiapas is Mexico’s southernmost state, known for being home to impressive Mayan archeological sites, such as Palenque, and for its large indigenous population, which has suffered greatly under five centuries of colonial rule. In many ways Chiapas is still struggling to come to terms with its inclusion in the federal state, as was exemplified by the 1994 Zapatista uprising, which succeeded in obtaining new rights for indigenous people, and which remains a force to this day.

The governor of Chiapas is Manuel Velasco Coello of the Green Party, or PVEM. It is important to note that the Green Party in Mexico is a farce. The PVEM is extremely socially conservative, having been on the record as opposing LGBTQ+ rights and favoring the death penalty. It has limited involvement in meaningful policies that support the environment. In Mexico, the Green Party is allied with the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which ruled Mexico for most of the 20th century. Mexico’s incumbent president, Enrique Peña Nieto, is a member of the PRI.

Velasco Coello himself comes from a political family – his grandfather is former Governor Manuel Velasco Suárez. Though Velasco Coello was born in the state capital of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, he represents the minority criollo population of descendants of European settlers. His wife is “Anahí”, a former singer and actress who was born in Mexico City and lives in Los Angeles.

The old guard in Campeche move to MORENA

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

The Mexican state of Campeche (the “Free and Sovereign State of Campeche”), in the country’s southeast, is doing its best to promote an image of itself a place that can conduct free and fair elections. A big show was made recently when three trucks delivered electoral material, including ballot boxes, to a secure warehouse.  The president of the Electoral Institute of the State of Campeche (IEEC) showed up for the photo op, explaining that the documents were to be used on July 1 for the elections of local councils, municipalities and municipal boards. A private company from the State of Mexico, Seriplast de México, is providing the service, after having won the job via public tender.

Whether this will help get the vote out on July 1, when of course the people of Campeche will also be casting their ballots for president, is unclear. The state forms part of the Yucatan Peninsula, and outside of its capital – a port town at the base of the Gulf of Mexico, also named Campeche – the population is mostly in small villages. The state borders Tabasco to its west and Quintana Roo and Yucatán to the north and northeast. The interior is mostly flat jungle, with the Campeche having a southern border with Guatemala.

Recently, things haven’t been going too well economically in Campeche. The state was one of the worst economic performers in 2017. Like its neighbor Tabasco, Campeche relies heavily on the oil industry in the Gulf of Mexico. In 2017 the Campeche economy contracted by 3.83%, and if the petroleum sector is added in then the state experienced a disastrous negative 8.24% growth.

Friday, 8 June 2018

Corruption, drug trafficking, and water rights are front and center in Baja California

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Baja California is often seen as a world unto itself. Tucked into the northwest corner of Mexico, its capital city is Mexicali, but it is better known to foreigners for the border town of Tijuana. The state’s population is about 3.4 million. Baja is historically a stronghold of the right-of-center National Action Party (PAN), and at present the governor and two of three senators belong to PAN. However, the third senator belongs to the leftist Workers Party (PT).


The state has had some good news on the economic front this year. On June 6, Andeavor announced plans to invest $100 million in building a refined products terminal at the Rosarito storage facility of Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE). That shows a degree of confidence that there will be no negative outcome from the federal election, no matter who wins.

As well, in March construction began on a 10 billion peso (500 million dollar) desalination plant. The privately-financed plant is expected to be operational in three years, exclusively supplying domestic needs, including the towns of Rosarito and Tijuana, as well as agriculture.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

“It’s the violence, stupid.” Baja California Sur’s booming economy won’t stop surging MORENA

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Baja California Sur occupies the lower half of the Baja Peninsula, on the northwest coast of Mexico. The state has historically had strong support for the right-of-center National Action Party (PAN). At present, the governor belongs to the PAN, as does one of Baja California Sur’s three senators, with the other two belonging to the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).


This isn’t a heavily populated state – in fact, it’s the second least populated in all of Mexico, with just over 700,000 inhabitants. The state is divided into five municipalities, with the capital La Paz being the largest city at about 250,000 people. This is a popular tourist destination, with high-end resorts situated at the southern tip around Cabo San Lucas, known to many simply as “Cabo”
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Like Aguascalientes, it could be argued that Baja California Sur, with its small population and history of economic and political stability, wouldn’t be eager for a change. The state led the country in economic growth in 2017, at over 12% – six times the national average of 2% – with big gains in manufacturing.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

In Aguascalientes, Mexico's presidential contest is not a "change election"

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Given that the total population of Mexico is around 130 million, and that the Mexican president is elected based on the total national vote count (i.e. no anachronistic electoral college, as in the US), it could be argued that the vote in Aguascalientes is of little relevance. But this is “Mexico 32”: every state is getting covered! 

History has shown that even national elections can be nail biters, and shifts in voter preference in a small state like Aguascalientes remain important considerations. The state is divided into 11 municipalities, with the capital city also called Aguascalientes. Located in North-Central Mexico, Aguascalientes is bordered by Jalisco to the south and Zacatecas to the north. The population of the entire state is small, about 1.5 million, with the capital city having about 900,000 souls.


At the presidential level, Aguascalientes has historically divided its loyalties between the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the right-of-center National Action Party (PAN). The traditional left-leaning party, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), represented about 21% of the popular vote in the last two elections (2006, 2012).