A poll carried out by El Universal of the approval ratings of the governors of each state showed the wide range of opinion across the nation. The four most popular governors (led by Ortega Bernés of Campeche—86% approval vs 14% disapproval) and the least popular (Ulises Ruíz of Oaxaca—22% vs 77%) were all from the PRI. Three of the least popular were from the PAN (Ortiz in Tlaxcala, Osuna in Baja California, and Adame in Morelos). In the six states where there was change of party in the gubernatorial elections last July, all but one were states where the balance of public opinion was strongly negative. (PRI states are shown in green, PAN blue, and PRD orange.) The most common failings of governors were not fighting crime and not knowing how to govern. (Universal 9/23)
The PRI in Congress continues to press for a reduction in the value added tax rate from 16% to 15%. The PRI delegation in the Chamber is seeking to offset the loss of revenue by raising the estimated growth of the economy in 2011, increasing the forecast price of oil, and also allowing for a larger deficit. Senator Rubén Camarillo of the PAN said the tax reduction was merely an electoral ploy. Meanwhile, the PAN noted that a 12% VAT tax rate was viable if all the current exemptions (except for a limited basket of basic foods and medicines) and special regimes were eliminated. In its weekly bulletin, the Ministry of Finance warned that a cut in taxes in the current environment could put public finances at risk, leading to excessive indebtedness or cuts in vital investment spending. (Reforma 9/27, Excelsior 9/22, Hacienda 9/27)
In an interview, former President Vicente Fox predicted that the PRI would win the 2012 presidential elections. “All the indicators and all the data point that way,” he said. The comments ignited a furious response from PAN party leaders. PAN Senate leader José González Morfín said that Fox was “disconnected” from party matters and he needed to better understand what was happening inside the party. (Universal 9/25, 9/26)
The Federal Police arrested Margarito Soto Reyes, El Tigre, and eight others near Guadalajara. According to the authorities, Soto Reyes was the successor to Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel Villarreal, killed in a security operation in July, and also one of the principal figures in the transportation of synthetic drugs and precursor chemicals along the “Southern Pacific” route. (Universal 9/26)
Reforma revealed that the 2011 Budget includes a provision that would authorize bonus payments for the President, 376 government officials, and 623 military commanders for the additional risks that they face in the performance of their duties. The payments are in the range of Ps. 44-48,000 per month, with a total cost of Ps. 500 million. (Reforma 9/21)
Julio César Godoy Toscano, the brother of Michoacán Governor Leonel Godoy and a fugitive from federal drug charges since June 2009, gave the slip to Federal Police. He avoided a security cordon around the Chamber of Deputies, hid for 2 days in an office in the Chamber, and took the oath of office as a Deputy, effectively giving him immunity from arrest and a public platform for contesting the charges. Julio Cesár Godoy was one of the most prominent figures accused by the Justice Ministry of involvement with La Familia Michoacana when they arrested a large number of political figures in June 2009, just prior to the mid-term elections. Godoy immediately went into hiding, and was easily elected to Congress for the PRD, despite the charges and inability to campaign. Most of the other public figures arrested in Michoacán have since been released, when the government was unable to substantiate the charges against them, feeding suspicions that the highly-publicized operation was politically motivated. (Universal 9/24, Excelsior 9/24)
Four members of the “Artist Assassins” gang were freed only three months after having been arrested by the federal organized crime bureau (SIEDO) with great fanfare and accused of carrying out 55 murders in the service of the Sinaloa Cartel. The state prosecutor for Chihuahua asked a judge that the charges be withdrawn because “the investigating magistrate (Ministerio Público) committed grave errors in the compilation of the report and did not substantiate the charges against the individuals who were identified to the news media.” The four are supposed to return to court in a few weeks to face potential new charges. (Excelsior 9/20)
MEXICO CITY—In the latest incident of drug-related violence to hit the country, all 111 million citizens of Mexico were killed Monday during a shoot-out between rival drug cartels.
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the violence was sparked by a botched drug deal involving an estimated 20 kilograms of marijuana, a dispute that led low-level members of the Sinaloa cartel to open fire on local dealers in Culiacán. Within seconds, the gunfire had spread to Chihuahua, Michoacán, Yucatán, and, minutes later, the other 27 Mexican states, leaving every person in Mexico dead.
“We’re still piecing together details, but it looks as though the incident began as an act of retaliation against Sinaloa by two foot soldiers from the Los Zetas cartel,” DEA administrator Michele Leonhart said. “The Gulf and Tijuana cartels then responded before being ambushed by La Familia Michoacána and Los Negros. At that point, witnesses reported hearing roughly 357 million gunshots, during which time the Mexican populace was caught in the crossfire and killed.”
More, at The Onion.
Reforma published data from a report by the National System for Public Security, which is part of the Ministry of Public Security, which showed that only 22% of police forces at the three levels of government had taken the exams that are supposed to help weed out corrupt or incompetent police in the two years since the initiative was announced. While almost half of the 72,000 federal police and 34% of the 171,000 local police have taken the exams, only 8% of the 283,000 state police have done so. In six states – Hidalgo, Mexico State, Nayarit, San Luis Potosí, Tlaxcala, and Yucatán – less than 1% of police have taken the exams. The report said, “The results obtained are in the process of evaluation in order to identify the individuals that represent a risk for public service.” The deadline for all police to take the exams, originally one year, has been extended to 2013. (Reforma 9/19)
After the killing of another one of its reporters last week, El Diario in Cuidad Juárez published an unprecedented front-page editorial calling for a truce with the drug gangs. The editorial said in part, “Gentlemen of the various organizations that are fighting for control of public spaces: the loss of two reporters in less than two years is an irreparable tragedy for all who work here. … What is that you want of us, what you want us to publish or refrain from publishing? … You are, in these moments, the de facto authorities in this city, because the legally constituted leaders have not been able to do anything to keep our colleagues from dying. …. We are not giving up our work; we are talking about a truce.” (El Diario 9/20, Universal 9/20)