Morena and PRI candidates tied in Mexico State

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 4.51.37 PMOn the eve of the first debate between the candidates, a new Reforma poll published today showed that Delfina Gómez (Morena) and Alfredo del Mazo (PRI) continue to be tied for the lead in the Mexico State gubernatorial election, with 28-29% of the vote each.  Josefina Vázquez (PAN) has slipped to 22%, while Juan Zepeda (PRD) has risen slightly to 14%.  (The published results are adjusted for the 29% who are undecided.)

Gómez also leads del Mazo in almost all other indicators (“more trustworthy”, “closer to the people”, etc.), except in the category experience, where del Mazo is ahead.  The Morena candidate has a much stronger favorability rating — 27% favorable vs 15% unfavorable.  Only 20% of those polled view del Mazo favorably, while 37% see him unfavorably.

All five regular party candidates for Governor will participate in tonight’s 90-minute televised debate. One of the two independents (Castell) may join, while the registration of the other (Pastor) was suspended after legal challenges.

 

 

 

Morena candidate caught on video receiving cash donation to give to AMLO

El Universal today published a short video of Eva Cadena, the Morena candidate for mayor of Las Choapas in Veracruz state, receiving Ps. 500,000 in cash from an unidentified person off camera with the instruction to give it to López Obrador.  Ms. Cadena accepts the cash and promises to deliver it.  The video was apparently made on April 6, and AMLO appeared with Cadena on April 8 to launch her campaign.

Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 10.09.41 PMThe person giving Cadena the cash says that she is being given the cash to pass on to AMLO because he “is very fond of you and has absolute trust in you.”  Cadena’s only request is to be given something in which to put the money.  (She is given a large manila envelope.)

This afternoon, Cadena resigned her candidacy for mayor of Las Choapas, a town of 83,000 people in the oil belt.  In a radio interview, she reportedly said, “I recognize the error I made in having this meeting. … I was set up, [and] I will put myself at the disposition of the party.  I made a mistake, and I take responsibility.”  In a statement, she also said that when she was told that cash campaign donations were not legal, she returned the money.

López Obrador reacted immediately with a YouTube video saying “the Mafia in power is full of fear of Morena; Salinas, Peña, Fox, Calderón and their flunkies are trying to destroy us politically in this dirty war,” but that, “we’ve always emerged unwounded from slanders.  Our shield is our honesty.”

The video does have the feel of a frame-up, but it unleashed a wave of denunciations from all the other parties directed at AMLO and Morena.

 

Ex-Pemex chief Lozoya received US$ 5 million bribe, per Odebrecht

Former Pemex CEO Emilio Lozoya was directly implicated in the Odebrecht bribery scandal.  According to one of the unsealed plea bargain agreements being reviewed by Brazil’s Supreme Federal Tribunal (STF), Lozoya was paid US$ 5.0 million in November 2014 “as a counterpart to undue benefits obtained by Odebrecht.”

In the STF document dated April 4, 2017, Hilberto Mascarenhas, the head of Odebrecht’s “Structured Operations” section, which handled all the bribe payments, said he was directed to make the payment to Lozoya, and that the bribe “was solicited” during a meeting held with Odebrecht’s Mexico head.

As reported by El Economista,

Lozoya denied having anything to do with the supposed bribes paid by Odebrecht.  It has not yet been clarified if it was Lozoya himself who solicited the bribe, or someone acting on his behalf, or whether the bribe was actually paid.

Lozoya, who led Pemex from the end of 2012 to February 2016, warned: ‘I reserve the right to take legal action against those who slander me without any legal basis.’

Pemex has not commented on the Lozoya allegations.

Odebrecht has confessed to paying Mexican officials a total of US$10.5 million between 2010 and 2014, a time frame spanning both the Calderón and Peña Nieto governments.  No other names of alleged bribe recipients have been disclosed.

Mexicans react with skepticism and irony to Duarte’s arrest

Public reaction to the arrest in Guatemala of Javier Duarte, the fugitive ex-Governor of Veracruz, has abounded in skepticism, with more than a million postings on each of Facebook and Twitter in Mexico.  He has become “the El Chapo of the PRI,” as columnist Carlos Marín noted.  One reporter twittered ironically about the self-congratulatory messages the PRI establishment sent out: “This is PRI-istas applauding PRI-istas for the arrest of a PRI-ista who diverted public moneys for PRI-ista election campaigns.”

Duarte smilingMany have called the arrest a “negotiated surrender.”  They say that Duarte agreed to give himself up and stay silent about the many politicians complicit in his crimes, in return for a light sentence and protection from prosecution for his wife and other family members.  They cite the bizarre smile on Duarte’s face in the custody of the Guatemalan authorities and the fact that his wife, who was clearly involved in many of the transactions to divert public funds, was not arrested.  “This is nonsensical, to say the least,” comments Marín.  “The same people who were saying the government was protecting him a few days ago are now saying that the whole thing was a charade.”

One of these was Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who was also roundly mocked for calling Duarte a “scapegoat,” implying of course that Duarte was innocent.

Continue reading

Capture of fugitive ex-governor rekindles debate on official corruption

The arrest in Italy of former Tamaulipas governor Tómas Yarrington (1999-2004), based on information provided by the U.S., and fresh revelations on how he avoided arrest since an arrest warrant was issued in 2012 have spurred new debate on official complacency (at best) in prosecuting senior PRI officials in Mexico.

Amazingly, it appears that while Yarrington was a fugitive, the state attorney general’s office in Tamaulipas under PRI governor Egidio Torre (2012-16) was paying eight bodyguards to protect him.  This came to light only after a PAN governor was elected and took office in October 2016.

Surreal. Kafkaesque. Incomprehensible.  The PRIista government commissioned and paid for his bodyguards, but didn’t know where to find the fugitive ex-governor?

questioned columnist Héctor de Mauleón.

It was only after these revelations that the current federal PGR issued a Ps. 15 million reward for Yarrington’s arrest, and he is believed to have fled the country.

Both the U.S. and Mexico are seeking to extradite Yarrington.  He is alleged to have worked with both the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas, protecting state and municipal police and mayors who were in the pay of the cartels, and laundered millions in drug proceeds.  He was indicted in Mexico in 2012.

 

The Peña Nieto government has also drawn scorn from the press for trying to take credit for providing Italy with information that led to his arrest.  According to official Italian statements, it was U.S. Homeland Security and ICE that provided the intelligence that led to his capture.

It’s the corruption, stupid! In a country that is becoming more and more disappointed and skeptical, corruption has become one of the most painful and important political issues

writes Sergio Sarmiento today.

Sources:  El Universal, Breitbart Texas, Reforma, El Pais,

Bidding deadline for offshore shallow-water oil fields pushed back to October

The National Hydrocarbons Commission (CNH) last week postponed the bidding deadline for the Ayin-Batsil oil fields from June 19 to October 4, 2017.

The CNH said more time was needed for potential bidders to pre-qualify. To date, three companies have shown interest, and one has been prequalified.

Ayin-Batsil locationThe tender for a 30-year “farm-out” production sharing agreement with Pemex was announced last March, and follows on the successful farm-out of the Trion deep water field last December.  Pemex will retain a 50% interest, while the partner will re responsible for developing and operating the fields. They are expected to require US$ 4.2 billion to develop.

The production sharing agreements – made possible by the 2014 energy reforms — are a key part of Pemex’s plan to stabilize production levels, while reducing capex.

The Ayin and Batsil fields are in shallow waters in the Gulf of Campeche, near some of Pemex’s largest producing fields.  They hold an estimated 281 mm barrels of oil equivalent (46 mmboe proved).

Sources:  Excelsior, Milenio

Pemex discloses Odebrecht contracts as part of corruption probe

In a major reversal — and perhaps a major step forward in investigating official corruption — Pemex today disclosed four contracts it signed with Brazilian contractor Odebrecht between 2010 and 2015.

Pemex_logoThe state-owned oil company had previously said the contracts were under seal.  Pemex also said that the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) on April 3d summoned several unnamed current and former officials to provide testimony.

Until now, the government had seemed to be dragging its feet in investigating the information provided by Odebrecht as part of its plea bargain agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, made public in December, that it had paid US$10.5 million in bribes to “government officials” in Mexico to win contracts between 2010 and 2014.  One US$6 million bribe was paid to a “high-level official of a Mexican state-owned and state-controlled company”–presumably Pemex–between December 2013 and late 2014. The CEO at that time was Emilio Lozoya, and he is reportedly one of the Pemex officials being summoned by the PGR.

More coverage at ReutersEl Financiero.