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.

As a result, there has been a profound effect on the press. Up until the beginning of the drug war in December, 2006, there was not one recorded killing of a journalist in Nuevo León. Now, in only the past 12 years an estimated eight reporters have been murdered. The most recent example is Alicia Díaz González, a journalist for El Financiero, who was killed in Monterrey in early June.

This insecurity might play to the conservative base in the state. Due to the large commercial presence, and Monterrey’s solid middle and business class, the right of center National Action Party (PAN) tends to do well here. Two of the three federal senators are from the PAN, with the third being from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

However, Nuevo León has an independent streak. The current governor, Manuel Florentino González Flores, is an independent, and has been in power since January 1, 2018, when Jaime Rodríguez Calderón, also an independent, stepped aside to run for the presidency. Rodríguez Calderón, also known as “El Bronco,” was formerly a member of the PRI, and was the first independent candidate ever to have won a governorship in Mexico.

(In this series of 32 blog posts El Bronco is not receiving coverage as a national presidential candidate. This is due to the fact that he is polling in the single digits, and is somewhat of a “fringe candidate”.  Much like the Green Party of Mexico, El Bronco has a strong law and order message: during a debate in April, 2018, he said that, "We have to cut off the hands of those who rob. It's that simple." He has proposed the death penalty not only for murderers, but also for drug traffickers and kidnappers.

In the battle for the presidency, the polling in Nuevo León has Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) from the left-of-center Morena in the lead, followed by Ricardo Anaya of the PAN-PRD alliance, and José Antonio Meade of the PRI. AMLO's main task is going to be to get out the vote.
This support is somewhat surprising, given that, historically, Nuevo León has had a large right-of-center electorate. It suggests that the deteriorating security situation in the state, and the larger issue of corruption, is of greater importance than anxiety with regard to AMLO’s left-leaning economic preferences.

AMLO, like the other candidates, is not crystal clear on what his security policy will be, but his public statements have suggested that he believes in reduced militarization, with increased investment in the social realm and a strong anti-corruption drive. But it’s hard to see how that addresses problems like those faced in Nuevo León where, for example, robberies in local schools for the first five months of 2018 (96 cases) have almost equaled those for the entirety of 2017 (110 cases).
The battery fire at Santa Catarina

It could be argued that the people of Nuevo León would have an ally in AMLO with regard to environmental issues. Residents of Mina and Hidalgo are fighting hydraulic fracturing in the state and have started petitions demanding that their local governments declare their communities off limits for shale gas extraction via fracking. Their main concern is the depletion of water tables, as well as air and soil contamination.

Despite promises that industrial practices in Nuevo León are set to the same standard as in the United States or Canada, the truth is that lax oversight and poor practices have resulted a significant amount of pollution. This was exemplified on June 17, when a fire at an automobile battery plant in Santa Catarina, Nuevo León, sent sulfuric acid and toxic chemicals from burnt plastic into the air, with 200 people evacuated.

Below are the links to the posts for each state: 

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