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Monday, 18 June 2018

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.

The latter two candidates, Rojas Alba and Demédicis Hidalgo, are longshots. Without a party apparatus behind you, it’s pretty hard to get elected in Mexico.

Nadia Luz Lara Chávez for the Green Party is also an unlikely candidate. The Greens in Mexico are allied with the PRI, and thought they do win the odd election, they are more often than not rolled out as a foil to peel disaffected votes away from opponents. This is one of the most cynical parties in modern politics. Its policies have almost nothing to do with the environment, and instead push populist agendas such as expanded food banks and capital punishment. Not surprisingly, Lara Chávez is polling at 5%.

Similarly, Alejandro Vera Jiménez for New Alliance doesn’t stand a chance. He was the rector of the Autonomous University in Morelos, has limited political experience, and is poorly connected, given that the New Alliance party has broken its ties with the PRI. He is polling at 3%.

The PRI candidate Jorge Meade Ocaranza will also struggle here. Morelos had lukewarm support for the PRI in the last election, and PRI president Enrique Peña Nieto is unpopular.  Meade Ocaranza is a 30-year PRI activist who has “earned’ his seat to represent his party. He has served as a federal deputy in the past, but will likely come up short this time. A recent poll showed him with only 8% support.

Given that the present governor, Graco Ramírez, is a member of the PRD, it might be expected that the PRD candidate Rodrigo Gayosso Cepeda would have a shot at this. The only problem is that since the last presidential election, when Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) was the PRD candidate, AMLO has since left the PRD to form Morena. The result? The PRD fell into a crisis, and made an ill-advised alliance with the right-of-center PAN at the national level.  Going head-to-head with Morena at the state level can only hurt the PRD. Recent polls show PRD support at about 20%.

Caballero Solano from the PAN will have decent support. Cuernavaca is a bedroom community to Mexico City, with many affluent families having second homes there. There is a significant conservative populace that will throw its support his way, as is evidenced by the fact that two of Morelos’ three federal senators are from the PAN. But his support is also hovering at around 20%.

But the man to beat is Morena candidate in Cuauhtémoc Blanco. Blanco, a former professional football player, Blanco currently serves as mayor of Cuernavaca as a representative of the Social Democratic Party (PSD). As a political neophyte representing a small party, Blanco rode his name recognition to narrowly defeat the PRI candidate in the 2015 mayoralty election. This time around, polls show him to be the preferred candidate of 50% of voters, 30 points ahead of his closest rivals Rodrigo Gayosso (PRD), Víctor Manuel Caballero (PAN).
Cuauhtémoc Blanco

On the federal level, Blanco’s strong showing should consolidate support for leading presidential candidate AMLO. The PRI candidate, Antonio Meade, is in the doldrums. However the conservative base in Morelos should show up to vote for PAN candidate Ricardo Anaya.

Anaya will also be helped by some local scandals that will negatively affect Morena. Since 2016 Cuauhtémoc Blanco has been investigated for allegedly signing a 7 million peso with the Social Democratic Party (PSD), and for having a dual voting card.

The former accusation is of course the more serious. There is evidence to support the allegations of the contract, with the Attorney General validating Blanco’s signature along with one of the then leaders of the PSD, Roberto Yáñez, and Cuauhtémoc Blanco, does correspond to that of the ex-football player. However, being subject to a judicial process is not sufficient to force a candidate’s withdrawal. For that, there would have to be a conviction, and to date there is no evidence that a judicial process is proceeding. For his part, Blanco has denied the charges.

There is also the case of Alfonso Miranda Gallegos, 62, a former Labor Party (PT) mayor of Amacuzac (2009 to 2012). Miranda is running again, this time for the Morena party-led “Together We Will Make History” coalition.

However, Miranda was arrested early in May on charges of organized crime and kidnapping his political rivals. Specifically, authorities say the ex-mayor ordered the abduction of his political opponents while in office. He has been identified by victims’ family members as an intermediary for the payment of ransoms.

Miranda is also accused of using his political positions, which included as a member of the State Congress for PT, to provide protection to the Los Rojos criminal gang. There is a family connection here: Miranda is the uncle of Los Rojos leader Santiago Mazarí Hernández, also known as El Carrete.
Miranda’s nephew Mazarí Hernández is a major criminal figure in Morelos. In exchange for impunity to carry on criminal activities, it is alleged that Mazarí financed the campaigns of 11 candidates for mayor in Morelos in 2015.

Incredibly, the Morena led coalition plans to go ahead with Miranda’s candidacy. This is an astounding move for a political party campaigning against the political “mafia”. Should Miranda win, he’ll be protected by the immunity from prosecution known as the “fuero.”

As for press freedom, Morelos is cause for some concern. It is estimated that 11 journalists were murdered in the state during the 20th century. Since the drug war – which began in December, 2006 – two more journalists have been killed.

The state itself is doing fairly well, with the economy growing at 4.78% in 2017 – double the national average. That has given the present governor the confidence to defend the new 495 million pesos (US $26.3 million) state Congress building, an expense that has been criticized by both Víctor Caballero Solano (the PAN candidate for governor) and Blanco.

The building is located in the Amatitlán neighborhood of Cuernavaca, Mayor Blanco has tried to shut it down by refusing building permits, but to no avail – the state went ahead and built it anyway. Caballero Solano has also pointed out that if the 495 million pesos had been invested in sports infrastructure, the families of Morelos could be enjoying 200 new sports facilities.

Below are the links to the posts for each state: 


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