Mexico: Dirty Politics

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The head of the left-wing PRD (Party of the Democratic Revolution), Jesús Ortega Martínez, has asked the heads of the other two major political parties (PRI and PAN) in Mexico to refrain from a “campaign of disqualifications” that have caused political apathy among Mexicans. Ortega noted that this “politics of the alleyway” only hurts democracy in Mexico. Ortega cited three recent instances that have contributed to the perception among Mexicans that politicians are self-serving and corrupt.

First, two books released this year have cited alleged corruption with previous presidents. Carlos Ahumada, a businessman convicted of corruption related crimes in Mexico City in 2004, has released Derecho De Replica (Right of Reply) which tells a story of a corrupt former PRI President Carlos Salinas. Starting in 2004, Ahumada had videotaped himself (his face covered) offering bribes to different associates of Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, the PRD candidate running for president. Salinas then orchestrated the release of the videos in an effort to discredit Lopez Obrador. He also used the videos to negotiate with PAN president Vicente Fox for the release of his brother, Raul Salinas, who had been convicted of homicide charges. Ahumada’s book made public suspicions that had already existed among many Mexicans; that Salinas contributed to Lopez Obrador’s .56% marginal defeat in 2006.

The other book released this year that has caused a political stir was former PRI presidential candidate Roberto Madrazo’s book, El Despojo (The Plundering). Madrazo has accused former presidents Ernesto Zedillo and Vicente Fox of protecting certain drug cartels. He also accused President Calderon’s administration of being the head of a system that is opposed to true democratization.

The second reference that Ortega made was to the brutal fight between PRD Senator Ricardo Monreal of Zacatecas and Zacatecas Governor Amalia Garcia. This past week, allegations were made that 14 and ½ tons of marijuana were found at a chili-drying facility owned by Monreal’s brother, Cándido Monreal. Ricardo Monreal has stated that the marijuana was planted at Cándido’s property by the Monreal family’s rivals, Zacatecas Governor Amalia Garcia and her daughter, Senator Claudia Corichi. The Monreal and Garcia families are competing for Mexico’s fractured leftist party in Zacatecas. The allegations have caused Senator Monreal to take a leave of absence from his Senate seat until the allegations are cleared up. For Garcia, she has been forced to deal with a 53 man prison break in Zacatecas which included known members of the Zetas.

Lastly, Ortega made reference to former PRI President Miguel de la Madrid’s comments concerning his hand-picked successor, Carlos Salinas. De la Madrid stated that he regretted choosing Salinas as his successor because he thought that Salinas was corrupt and that his brother, Raul, was involved in the drug trade. In 1995, Raul was sent to prison on homicide charges. The charges were dropped a decade later, possibly because of the influence of Ahumada’s videotapes. A few hours after de la Madrid made the comments, he renounced them stating that he had misspoken because he was old and infirm. Nevertheless, Raul has become of symbol of the corruption that existed within the PRI party when they dominated Mexican politics for 71 years (until President Fox and the PAN came to power in 2000).

Politics in Mexico has always been rough. With congressional elections due in July, one can expect that it will only get rougher.

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