Official numbers show that Mexico set a new record for wrongful homicides in February, and that killings for the first two months of 2017 are up 29% from 2016.
The 1,838 investigations into wrongful homicides opened by the authorities in February — the preferred measure — and the 3,779 in January-February were higher than the numbers registered at the height of the Calderón government’s drug wars in 2011.
In terms for rates per 100k, the numbers are equivalent to the 2011 peak, given population growth. (See chart from Milenio.)
Security columnist Alejandro Hope observes:
January was bad. February was horrible. More than 20 victims per day — sufficient to fill a dumping ground like Colinas de Santa Fe in less than two weeks. … The principal officials in the security area continue to deny the gravity of the situation, fighting over statistics. …. In the principal decision centers there isn’t any interest in doing more than administer the disaster. … The problem, I fear, is one much more of will than of ideas or resources.”
Columnist Sergio Sarmiento has put forward another reason for delaying until November picking a replacement for Carstens as Governor of Banco de México: It will be a consolation prize for either Videgaray or Meade, if either of them is not chosen by President Peña Nieto to be the PRI’s candidate for 2018. Continue reading
Given the very high negatives of the PRI names that have been most discussed as presidential candidates for 2018, José Narro, the current Secretary of Health and former rector of the national university UNAM, is being floated as a potential alternative.
Columnist Jorge Zepeda Patterson writes:
Certainly, Narro is not part of the inner circle, but he has an unbeatable virtue. He is the most popular cabinet member in 2017. He is the only one who is not identified with the governing faction and the corrupt practices associated with them. And this is pure gold for the upcoming election struggle. His name has also been mentioned in the informal list of possible citizen candidates.
Dr. Narro’s major liability is age. He will be 70 next year — but he is younger than Trump. While he is not viewed as a typical politico — he is a surgeon by training, and well respected by intellectuals — his roots in the PRI are deep. He at one time headed the PRI’s think tank, Siglo XXI, and has been Undersecretary in both the Government Ministry and the Health Ministry in previous governments.
Agustín Carstens announced that President Peña Nieto had asked him to postpone his departure as head of Banco de México from April until November, and that he had agreed. Given the lack of a clear successor to head the Bank, the delay will provide some additional financial stability through the gubernatorial elections in June and the 2018 budget approval process in September-November.
The January 1 gasoline price hikes have crushed whatever residual popularity the government had. The latest Reforma poll showed Peña Nieto’s approval rating cut in half to a mere 12% in just one month and a corresponding increase in his disapproval rating.
Q: “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Enrique Peña Nieto is doing his work as President?”
59% of those surveyed said the gasoline price hikes had affected them “a lot” and another 26% said “some.” Three out of five said they held the President responsible for the state of the economy.
The government staged an elaborate signing ceremony for a so-called “Agreement to Strengthen the Economy and Protect Family Finances” that includes a hodgepodge of measures or potential measures to contain price increases and stimulate demand. President Peña Nieto presided, and the pacto was signed by Meade, Guajardo, and Labor Secretary Alfonso Navarrete, for the government; the head of the peak union organization, the CTM; and the head of the peak business organization, the CCE. The EPN government has frequently resorted to these corporatist-style attempts to control events, that date to a Mexican political and economic system that has long-since disappeared.
Coparmex, the Mexican Business Owners Confederation, which is one of the main constituents of the CCE, refused to sign, saying it was given the final text only 2 hours before the event, and the pacto did not include concrete measures, clear goals, or ways to evaluate progress. As a mark of the last-minute nature of the event, the governors were not invited, although they were in Mexico City for a separate meeting of the Governor’s Confederation (Conago).
Protests continued around the country against the Jan. 1 gasoline price hikes last weekend. A peaceful protest in Monterrey at the Governor’s Palace was taken over by anarchists and became violent, with stained glass windows smashed and fires set. Police reportedly stood by and did nothing. President Peña Nieto’s brief New Year’s televised message on the 5th was milquetoast. The gasoline price hikes, he said,
Come from abroad. The government will not receive one cent more in taxes from the increase. To try to maintain an artificial price for gasoline would have required us to cut social programs, increase taxes or increase the country’s debt, putting at risk the stability of the entire economy.