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.
The 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.
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.”
Many 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.
A new quarterly poll by GEA-ISA for March 2017 provides good insight into Mexican political perceptions. While the bottom line for candidate preferences are similar to other polls, following are some of the highlights that come from a more comprehensive survey.
Net favorable/unfavorable ratings of presidential contenders
- Ricardo Anaya (PAN) is the only potential candidate with a net positive approval rating: +1%.
- Andrés Manuel López Obrador has a net negative rating of only -1%. This is very different from his previous two runs for the presidency.
- All others have large net unfavorable ratings. Politicians are a very discredited breed in Mexico.
The performance of the Enrique Peña Nieto government
- The evaluation worsened along every dimension surveyed, compared to both Nov. 2016 and March 2016. Only 19% approve of his performance as President (down 25% in one year), and 77% disapprove.
- His greatest accomplishment as President: Nothing (43%). His biggest mistake: the gasoline price increases (18% ).
The general in charge of human rights for the Army responded angrily to Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s criticism of the armed forces.
Starting with statements made during his NYC trip, AMLO has accused the military of complicity in the disappearance of the 43 students from Ayotiznapa and of participation in more than 100 “massacres” ordered by Presidents Calderón and Peña Nieto. He twittered that, “When we triumph, we will no longer use the Army to repress the people.”
The Army human rights spokesman, General Beltrán said:
Anyone who has proof of human of human rights violations committed by soldiers, as some public figures have alleged, must present them.
Digging in, AMLO has countered that he commands the full support of the rank and file, and ignored the complaints of the military leadership and politicians supporting them:
It’s very clear that the soldiers are the people in uniform; they are the sons of peasants, sons of workers…. In the 2006 and 2012 elections the soldiers — the troops — voted for change, they voted for us, and they will do the same in 2018. The soldiers will support change.
Columnist Salvador García Soto notes that picking a fight with the military leadership isn’t going to benefit any candidate and, “it brings to mind the popular saying that the fish dies by its own mouth. And this just might snag López Obrador.”
(Sources: El Financiero, SPD Noticias, El Universal)
Doubts are emerging about President Peña Nieto’s ability to keep control of the succession process, given the abysmal polling of the potential PRI candidates for the 2018 presidential election.
Until now, almost all have assumed that EPN would pick his successor using the “dedazo,” the big finger, that PRI presidents in the pre-democratic era exercised to indicate their successor. Indeed, EPN has maintained iron control of gubernatorial nominations through his term.
An anonymous PRI official told columnist Salvador García Soto,
We have to tell President Peña that the method for picking gubernatorial candidates until now won’t work to solve the succession issue inside the PRI. The president needs to innovate, open the process, and let many aspirants run in an open manner to help the PRI reposition itself in an adverse environment in which the other parties and candidates have big advantages.
According to García Soto, Presidencia’s last internal poll shows that all the potential PRI candidates finish a distant third against AMLO and any PAN candidate. The best positioned of the PRIistas is Health Secretary José Narro. In a trial ballot, Narro captures 19% of the vote, AMLO 29.6%, and Margarita Zavala of the PAN 24.3%.
These PRI dissidents are promoting the idea that the PRI National Assembly, scheduled to meet at the beginning of August, should decide the methods for selecting candidates for the 2018 races.
While AMLO has been using his visits to Mexican communities in the U.S. to portray a statesman-like image, he was effectively derailed by protesters in Queens, New York on Monday. Supporters and family members of the 43 students killed in Iguala in 2014 interrupted a town-hall type meeting, accusing AMLO (correctly) of close ties with the then mayor of Iguala and then governor of Guerrero at the time. (Both politicians were members of the PRD, and were politically backed by AMLO and his supporters.) In the face of the disruption, AMLO cancelled the rest of the Queens event; much of the rest of his agenda in NYC and Washington was hit by winter storm “Stella.” The images of the protesters shutting AMLO down is about the only impact his visit had in Mexico.
In a major boost to Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s consolidation of his control over Mexico’s political Left, the leader of the PRD in the Senate, Miguel Barbosa, endorsed AMLO for president. (The PRD Central Committee demanded Barbosa’s resignation, but he has so far refused.) Columnist José Rubenstein notes that the PRD is disintegrating. The party’s parliamentary group had 22 Senate seats at the beginning of 2016, and defections have reduced the number to 12. And if Barbosa and his allies leave, the PRD would be down to seven senators.
Posted in Elections, Parties