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.

The state government has been shamed somewhat by the family of Elionahe Chávez Rivera, who was murdered in 2014. As is almost always the case in Mexico, police took no action in attempting to solve the crime. The family of Chávez Rivera hired a private detective, whereupon the case was solved, with the accused now thought to be responsible for the murder of four other girls and teenagers from the municipality of Tamuín, San Luis Potosi. The police, in their defense, claim that the problem was a lack of resources, and not a lack of will.

Press freedom is also a concern. Only one journalist  was killed before the drug war began in December, 2006, and that was back in 1989. Since the drug war, however, three journalists have been murdered, with the most recent being in October, 2017.

The bigger issue in San Luis Potosi is corruption. On May of this year a group called the Citizen Anti-Corruption Front (FCA) claimed that the governor had knowledge of corruption in high places, but was doing nothing to fight it. In private meetings Carreras Lopez has apparently acknowledged the problem, saying that he is waiting for the new state anti-corruption system to be in place – but there is no sense of when that might happen.

As well, the non-partisan Citizen’s Anti-Corruption Front (FCA) has argued that Carreras Lopez's failure to act has made him an accomplice by omission. The FCA has produced a file on corruption in San Luis Potosi and sent it to the three major presidential candidates: Ricardo Anaya, José Antonio Meade and Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO). According to Hugo Stevens Amaro, spokesman of the FCA, the evidence was sent to the presidential candidates due to the inaction on the part of the governor and the state prosecutor.

One burning issue is the La Maroma dam. Ejidatarios (community landowners) from the town of La Presa, in the municipality of Villa de Guadalupe, filed injunction applications against the dam in agrarian courts in March, claiming that it stripped them of their historic land and water rights, and threatens agriculture.

The result, say the landowners, is that water researchers from the San Luis College (Colsan), as well as a legal team made up of professors and students from the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosí (UASLP), have suffered harassment by State Water Commission (CEA) and National Water Commission (CONAGUA) personnel.

There are a lot of interests that want this to go forward.  President Enrique Peña Nieto committed to build the La Maroma dam during his 2012 election campaign, and both private enterprise and state government agencies stand to benefit from its construction.

Meanwhile, Governor Carreras Lopez is pushing the "Las Escobas" dam. He has acknowledged that there is local resistance, and is calling for coordination on the part of all three levels of government to “unblock the conflict”, while also stating that CONAGUA and the State Water Commission are behind the project.

There is plenty of good news in San Luis Potosi. GM has an assembly plant in the state, and a new BMW plant is 70% complete and set to begin production in the first half of 2019. One of the largest solar plants in the Americas is under construction in San Luis Potosi, with 45 solar farms and 20 wind farms already in place.
The PRD candidate has a strong lead in the mayoralty race

But it looks like this is a change election nonetheless. For example, the mayor of the capital, the left-leaning Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) candidate, Juan Ignacio Segura Morquecho is polling with a strong lead, at 39.5%.  Following him is the National Action Party (PAN) and Citizens' Movement (MC) coalition candidate Xavier Nava Palacios, at 18.5%. In third place is the Institutional Revolutionary Party’s (PRI) Cecilia Gonzales (14.5%), followed by Leonel Serrato Sánchez (11.3%), who is running for the Morena-led coalition that includes the Workers Party (TP) and Social Encounter Party (PES), and Alejandro García (10%), who is running for the fraudulent "Green" Party (PVEM).

What does this mean? First, it needs to be understood that the PAN-PRD coalition on the national level is not necessarily operative at the state level. As well, the so-called “Green” Party – which campaigns on populist ideas such as expanded foodbanks and capital punishment, with no environmental message – is often used by the PRI to split votes. If that’s the PRI’s strategy in San Luis Potosi it certainly isn’t working. Clearly, in this election the people are fed up with both the PAN and the PRI. It should be noted, too, that Ignacio Segura Morquecho of the PRD is popular and charismatic candidate in his own right.

At the federal level, if people want to reject both the PRI and the PAN the PRD is not an option, because it has embraced its ideological opposite, the right-of-center PAN, in a bizarre coalition. However Ricardo Anaya, who leads the PAN-PRD-MC coalition, will likely attract his fair share of centrist, right-of-center, and middle class votes.

On the left, and among the disaffected, there will be support Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and the Morena-led “Together We Make History” (Juntos Haremos Historia) coalition.

And José Antonio Meade of the PRI? He’ll do terribly, suffering the double curse of an unpopular PRI president and an unpopular PRI governor.

Given that the major parties are also running slates for the three federal senatorial seats up for grabs, it’s likely that these trends will be reflected in those elections, as well.

Below are the links to the posts for each state: 

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