Reforma reported today that “according to sources close to the case” kidnappers established contact with Diego Fernández de Cevallos‘ family this past weekend to start negotiating payment of a ransom and his release. The paper said that no specific amount had been demanded, but that the family had received proof of life. (Reforma 5/27)
The Justice Ministry (PGR) arrested Gregorio “Greg” Sánchez, the PRD-PT-Convergencia candidate for governor of the state of Quintana Roo. Sánchez is the mayor of Cancún, and was charged with violation of drug laws, racketeering, and use of illicit funds. PGR sources said he was linked to the Los Zetas paramilitary gang and the Beltrán Leyva cartel. His administration has been under suspicion at least since the kidnapping and murder of General Mauro Enrique Tello in February 2009. PRD Senate leader Carlos Navarrette angrily denounced the arrest in a press conference as a political provocation. “As president of the Senate, I consider it completely unacceptable to use the PGR for purely electoral and political ends….This situation will have an enormous cost for democracy in Mexico,” he said. (Universal 5/26, Reforma 5/26)
A Reforma poll showed a dead heat in race for the governorship of Oaxaca. The candidate for the PAN-PRD-PT-Covergencia coalition, Gabino Cué, has a 1% lead over the PRI-PVEM candidate Eviel Pérez. Cué, the former mayor of Oaxaca city is well-known, respected, and possibly the PAN’s best chance for avoiding a clean sweep by the PRI in the July 4 gubernatorial races. Pérez is the protégé of outgoing PRI governor Ulises Ruiz. (Reforma 5/19)
The 12,000 delegates of the PAN National Assembly elected 150 new members to the National Council that will elect a new party president in December and oversee the party through the 2012 elections. Calderón allies took a majority of seats, although fewer than two years ago, followed by the conservative “El Yunque” wing of the party associated with former party president Manuel Espino, and the allies of Senator Santiago Creel in third place. (Reforma 5/22)
The Justice Ministry suspended its investigation into the disappearance and presumed kidnapping of PAN notable Diego Fernández de Cevallos after Diego’s sons called on the authorities to step aside, “to facilitate negotiations and protect the life of our father.” A near complete news blackout continues, in what columnist Jacobo Zabludovsky termed “the most important political news of the year in Mexico.” (Universal 5/23, 5/24)
In his address to the joint session of the U.S. Congress, President Calderón concretely asked for help in stopping arms trafficking: “There is one issue where Mexico needs your cooperation. And that is stopping the flow of assault weapons and other deadly arms across the border. … I understand that the purpose of the Second Amendment is to guarantee good American citizens the ability to defend themselves and their nation. But believe me, many of these guns are not going to honest American hands. … We have seized 75,000 guns and assault weapons in Mexico in the last three years, and more than 80% of those we have been able to trace came from the United States. And if you look carefully, you will notice that the violence started to grow a couple of years before I took office in 2006. This coincides with the lifting of the Assault Weapons Ban in 2004. … Today, these weapons are aimed by the criminals not only at rival gangs, but also at Mexican civilians and authorities. … And with all due respect if you do not regulate the sale of these weapons in the right way, nothing guarantees that criminals here in the United States, with access to the same weapons, will not in turn decide to point them at U.S. authorities and citizens. … I also fully understand the political sensitivity of this issue. But I would ask Congress to help us, and to understand how important it is for us that you enforce current laws to stem the supply of these weapons to criminals, and consider reinstating the Assault Weapons Ban. Let us work together to end this lethal trade that threatens Mexico and your own people.” (Presidencia 5/20)
Calderón also called for common effort on immigration during the same speech: “For us migration is not just your problem. We see it as our problem as well. My government does not favor the breaking of rules. I fully respect the right of any country to enact and enforce its own laws. But what we need today is to fix a broken system. We favor the establishment of laws that work, and work well for us all. So the time has come for the United States and Mexico to work together on this issue. The time has come to reduce the causes of migration, and to turn this phenomenon into one of legal, ordered and secure flows of workers and visitors. I want to recognize the hard work and leadership of many in the Senate and the House, and of President Obama, who are determined to find responsible and objective answers to this issue. I am convinced that a comprehensive immigration reform is also crucial to securing our common border.
“However, I strongly disagree with the recently adopted law in Arizona. It is a law that not only ignores a reality that cannot be erased by decree, but also introduces a terrible idea, using racial profiling as a basis for law enforcement. And that is why I agree with President Obama who said the new law ‘carries a great amount of risk when core values that we all care about are breached.’” (Presidencia 5/20)
From today’s El Universal:
While the family and local and federal authorities continue without news of the whereabouts of Diego Fernández de Cevallos, the Justice Ministry (PGR) let it be known that any information would be provided jointly with the Querétaro state Justice Ministry. More than 24 hours after the family announced that they were willing to negotiate the liberation of the former presidential candidate, the family’s attorney (and former Attorney General) Antonio Lozano Gracia confirmed that they had not received any response from the presumed captors of Fernández de Cevallos. “We have no news, we have had no response. Up to now, there is no information.” Querétaro governor José Calzada said that he would not say anything more about the disappearance of the lawyer, even as he gave the order to end the state police search in the area of [Fernández' ranch] La Cabaña. … PGR spokesman Ricardo Nájera said he had no more information on the investigations to locate Jefe Diego. “Everything is shut down and we will communicate through joint announcements, when there is information of interest,” he said.
According the preliminary vote count (PREP), the PRI captured the mayor’s office in Mérida, the state capital of Yucatán, which has been governed by the PAN since 1991. The candidate of the PRI-Green Party coalition, Angélica Araujo, won 49% of the vote, as compared to 41% for former Social Development Secretary Beatriz Zavala, the PAN candidate. The PRI appears to have kept its hold on the large majority of the other 105 municipalities, mostly small, that elected mayors; the PRI currently governs 59 towns. In the state congressional vote, the PRI increased its share by about 3% from 2007, and was leading in 13 of the 15 direct election seats; they won 10 direct election seats in 2007. (PREP Yucatán 5/17, 7:17am)
Mario Guajardo, the PAN candidate for mayor of Villa Hermosa, Tamaulipas, was assassinated along with his son and an employee. Two assassins entered the offices of his company, confirmed his identity, and shot him. Twenty-two 9mm cartridge cases were recovered at the site. PAN leader César Nava blamed the drug cartels for the killing, and said that Guajardo had received several threats in recent days demanding that he quit the race. The PAN has been unable to field candidates in several towns in Tamaulipas because of threats from the cartels. (Universal 5/14)