Mexico: violence continues in wake of elections

After an electoral season marred by narco-violence and assassination of candidates of all parties, the results from Mexico's June 7 vote are in. The coalition led by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled Mexico as a one-party state for 80 years, maintains its slim majority in the lower-house Chamber of Deputies, although it lost some seats. Gubernatorial races were also held in several states, including some hit especially hard by the cartel violence. The PRI gained the governorship of Guerrero, but lost control of Michoacán to the left opposition. In one upset, the PRI lost northern Nuevo León state to an independent, Jaime "El Bronco" Rodríguez Calderón—the first independent candidate to win a governorship in Mexico. The gadfly rancher survived two assassination attempts by the Zetas when he was mayor of García, a Monterrey suburb. His son was killed in an attempted abduction, and his young daughter kidnapped, although returned unharmed. El Bronco beat the PRI and other estabished parties with a populist campaign and invective against entrenched corruption. With the state's establishment press bitterly opposed to him, he made deft use of social media to mobilize support. (Reuters, BBC News, Televisa, CNN México, June 8)

Despite some 40,000 soliders and federal police troops sent into the streets to keep the peace, violence continued right up to the vote—and has continued since. At least 1,000 people in the small town of Pueblo Nuevo, Guanajuato, staged an uprising June 8 as results showed a win for the PRI mayoral candidate, Lariza Solorzano Villanueva. Townsfolk torched police vehicles and ransacked government offices to vent their rage at a third term for a member of the Solorzano Villanueva family. (TeleSur, 20 Minutos, June 9)

Activists were divded on whether to support the left opposition parties in the elections, or boycott them altogether as a farce. The National Education Workers Coordinating Committee (CNTE), a radical faction of the National Education Workers Union (SNTE), pledged to disrupt the elections. In Guerrero, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Chiapas and other states CNTE teachers blocked highways, seized toll booths, and occupied offices of National Electoral Institute. In some places, they seized facilities of the Mexican state oil company Pemex. In Oaxaca, taxi drivers armed with clubs and rocks mobilized to evict CNTE teachers from a Pemex plant they had occupied, and clashes ensued. (TeleSur, June 5; Milenio, June 4)

In another sign of ugly divisions at the grassroots, a violent battle broke out in Mexico City's Tlahuac district June 5 after hundreds of squatters took over a vacant lot at a place called La Poblanita and set up an encampment. Other neighborhood residents moved in to evict them, sparking the donnybrook. While actual ownership of the property is unclear, the squatters were said to be organized by the Francisco Villa Popular Front (FPFV), in turn said to be linked to one of the major left-opposition formations, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Those who mobilized to evict them were reportedly followers of the Mexican Electricity Workers Union (SME). (TeleSur, June 5)

The SME and PRD have generally been allied to oppose the PRI-led "reform" that would open Mexico's power sector to private investment. The clash at Tlahuac speaks to a social fragmentation even affecting the popular opposition to the narco-coopted political establishment.

Cross-post to High Times and Global Ganja Report

Mexico: more violence in lead-up to elections

The wave of assassinations of candidates in the upcoming Mexican elections claimed yet another victim June 2, when Miguel Angel Luna, running for Congress in a district just outside Mexico City, was shot dead as gunmen stormed his campaign office. Miguel Angel Luna, a former mayor of Valle de Chalco in the state of México, was running with the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). A candidate for the local town council was also wounded in the attack. (The Guardian, June 3; Milenio, June 2) Accounts offered no motive, but it is assumed that such victims are targeted for not playing ball with the local narco-gangs—or for playing ball with the wrong narco-gang.

A new wave of protests was meanwhile launched over the case of the 43 students who went missing in September 2014, apparently turned over to a murderous narco-gang by corrupt cops. Three police and one student protester were injured during a demonstration June 3 in Ayotzinapa, the town in Guerrero state where the disappeared students were attnedning a rural college. Student protesters are pledging to disrupt the elections, saying the violence and corruption across the nation make them a farce. Overall, more than 20 people have died in connection with the elections so far. "We must stop voting for narco-politicians in our country," a protester named Francisco Sánchez Nava told the Buenos Aires Herald. "It is the only way we have of changing things in our country where there are nearly 30,000 missing people." (IBT, June 4)

In the June 7 mid-term elections, all 500 seats in the lower-house Chamber of Deputies will be up for grabs, and 17 out of Mexico's 31 states (plus the Federal District) will be voting for governors, state legislators, and municipal leaders. These are the first major elections since the reforms that created a new electoral authority, the National Electoral Institute (INE). The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Mexico's old political machine, won a slim majority in the Chamber of Deputies in 2012—thanks to its unlikely bloc with the Mexican Ecological Green Party (PVEM) and the New Alliance Party (PANAL). But back then the PRI's President Enrique Peña Nieto was still enjoying something of a honeymoon, and was even able to build a "Pact for Mexico" with the opposition parties to push his agenda of further opening the oil and energy sectors to private investment (previously a taboo item in Mexico). Now, the honeymoon is definitively over with with the recurrent spasms of narco-violence. And the PRI-led bloc lacks a majority in the Senate, which is not up for grabs in the current race. So even if minimally credible elections are held despite the endemic violence and protests, the PRI's ambitions to rebuild its old hegemonic machine look like a very long shot—for better or for worse. (HuffPo, June 4)

Cross-post to High Times and Global Ganja Report