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.
The arrest yesterday of Édgar Veytia, the attorney general of the state of Nayarit, by U.S. agents will cause major political damage to the PRI, both in the state and nationally. Veytia was arrested on a previously-sealed indictment on federal charges of trafficking heroin, meth, cocaine, and marijuana. The U.S. is also seeking to seize at least US$250 million in assets.
Nayarit is holding gubernatorial elections in June. The long-dominant PRI is facing a strong challenge from a PAN-PRD coalition. Veytia’s long ties to the outgoing governor, Roberto Sandoval, will hurt the PRI’s chances both there and elsewhere. (Reportedly, the federal National Security Council never required Veytia to submit to the vetting procedures required by law of all senior security officials.) The arrest and indictment appear to have been complete surprises to the Mexican government.
Veytia is alleged to be a leader of the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), which has taken over control of trafficking in Nayarit, best known for the resort of Nuevo Vallarta, from the Pacific Cartel. A dual U.S.-Mexican citizen, Veytia flew every two weeks to visit his wife and family in San Diego. Sandoval nominated Veytia to become attorney general of Nayarit in 2012, and it was at that time (according to the U.S. indictment) that the large-scale trafficking began. As attorney general, Veytia commanded the state police and controlled actions of the local police. He has been the target of allegations of ties to trafficking over the years, as well as extortion rackets that have forced the sale of prime tourism properties.
Posted in Corruption, Drug wars, Elections, Justice, Security, US-Mex relations
Tagged CJNG, Nayarit, PAN, PRD, PRI, Sandoval, Veytia
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.
A new Reforma poll shows the three principal contenders for Governor of the State of Mexico to be essentially tied, not including the 26% of those surveyed who are undecided.
79% say they prefer a change of governing party (the PRI has never lost control of the state), and 41% say they would never vote for the PRI — compared to 14% and 8% rejecting Morena and the PAN, respectively.
On the other hand, some 53% approve the performance of the outgoing PRI governor, Eruviel Ávila.
PRI candidate Del Mazo scores highest on the positive attribute of experience (31%) while Delfina Gómez of Morena scores highest on ‘closeness to the people’ (23%). Del Mazo also scores highest on the negative attributes of ‘steal more'(36%) and ‘govern for the powerful (40%).
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.