Thursday, May 3, 2012

AP Predicts Poor Outcome for Vazquez Mota Campaign

In an interview the AP, National Action Party (PAN) candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota said that sexism has played a role in her campaign’s recent troubles, citing one example in which she was asked whether she could act as president while suffering from menstrual camps. "They'd never ask a man the questions that they ask me," she stated.

According to the AP, another one of Mota’s toughest moments during her career came when she was fired from her post as education secretary, after butting heads with another powerful woman who headed the national teachers’ union. “Calderon's team treated her badly. They were extremely sexist,” the ex-commissioner of indigenous affairs told the news agency.

But as the AP profile points out, there are plenty of problems with the PAN presidential candidate’s campaign, which help explain why Vazquez Mota is trailing rival Enrique Peña Nieto by double digits in the polls. These include basic verbal slip-ups, such as Vazquez Mota stating that she would “strengthen money laundering” as part of her anti-crime strategy, or confusing the authors of two prominent books on Mexican policy. Her campaign team also has had difficulty organizing basic events or releasing error-free press releases. The formal announcement of her campaign was conducted in a near empty stadium due to poor planning, while another campaign event had to be canceled due to a picketing airline workers close to the rally site.

In another heavily publicized incident, Vazquez Mota had a dizzy spell during a speech, which was replayed again and again on local news stations, as well as Youtube.

Last month the PAN said that they would revise Vazquez Mota’s campaign strategy, but as the AP argues, it may now be a case of too little, too late.

News Briefs
  • Former President Vicente Fox issued a sharp critique of the global war on drugs, stating, “We must end this useless war.” He has previously said that he supports the idea of drug legalization, and that President Felipe Calderon’s government should try to seek a truce with Mexico’s drug cartels. 
  • El Universal reports that two soldiers and 10 alleged gang members died during an alleged shoot-out between military troops and criminal gangs in Sinaloa, Mexico. Reforma counts that a total of 34 people have died in Sinaloa in the past five days in alleged clashes with the security forces; this includes one reported gun battle in which gang members opened fire on a military helicopter. Violence in the state began to increase Saturday, much of it concentrated in the municipality of Choix, which borders Sinaloa and Chihuahua. Remnants of the Beltran-Leyva Cartel and the Zetas are reportedly battling the Sinaloa Cartel for control of the region, although the 34 dead registered since Saturday reportedly all died in battles between organized crime and the military. 
  • InSight Crime with a profile of a Medellin-based drug trafficker, alias “Mi Sangre,” whom the DEA recently identified as a top target. The article argues that “Mi Sangre” has a couple of key advantages -- including international drug trafficking connections, the arrest of his primary rival in Medellin, alias “Valenciano,” and the collapse of neo-paramilitary group the ERPAC -- which could enable him to become the top player in Colombia’s drug trade. 
  • El Universo reports that some elements in Ecuador’s military are uncomfortable with President Rafael Correa’s mandate that they assume a greater role in fighting organized crime. Correa appeared to acknowledge the problem in comments made over the weekend, stating, “There are certain elements who don’t want to do this because it’s not their mission... it’s not a question of equipment, etc, it’s a question that there is certain resistance in some elements.” Correa has recently said that the battle against organized crime is a top priority for the military; as InSight Crime pointed out, Correa’s reasons may be political, as he has had a difficult relationship with Ecuador’s police force for much of his time in office. 
  • Guatemala Interior Secretary Mauricio López Bonilla offered a different version for why some 200 people overran a military base in Huehuetenango province Tuesday, leading the government to declare a state of siege in the area. Bonilla said that the revolt began because some of the rioters were drunk, and that there is no evidence for the contrary theory behind the riots: that an activist was killed for opposing the construction of an unpopular hydroelectric plant in the region. 
  • Brazil has launched a massive border security operation, sending some 8,700 troops to a 5,000 kilometer stretch of frontier deep in the Amazon, bordering Venezuela, Suriname, and Guyana. According to BBC Brazil, the main goals of the operation include destroying illegal airstrips used for drug trafficking, stemming the flow of drugs, and shutting down illegal mining and logging operations. President Dilma Rousseff has said that securing Brazil’s frontiers is her government's number of security priority, and has approved a $6.3 billion budget to increase border control.
  • La Prensa reports on the findings of a delegation from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which say that the neglect of Honduas’ prisons and “iron fist” anti-crime policies helped lead to the February 14 fire which killed 361 people in Comayagua. Elsewhere in Honduras, the BBC with a story on the free funeral services offered in Tegucigalpa, sponsored by the city mayor’s office. Plaza Publica also has the second installment of its investigation into Honduras’ struggle with organized crime, with a focus on the country’s northern region, where 45 percent of its violent deaths are concentrated. And Honduras Culture and Politics critiques recent reports that the security forces “forced” a drug plane to land in the northern Yoro department. 
  • Two interesting pieces from InfoSur about local security problems in the region -- one examining the usage of stolen cell phones in Guatemala to commit crimes, and another looking at the rising popularity of Venezuela’s armored car industry. 
  • Jamaica’s Supreme Court rejected a motion by police officers which would have challenged the powers of an independent commission charged with investigating police brutality, the AP reports. Jamaica has one of the highest rates of extrajudicial killings by the security forces in the hemisphere, with 211 reported killings by police last year. 
  • Justice in Mexico released its monthly report summarizing the major developments in the Mexican conflict during April, which include a Senate Committee’s approval of a judicial reform allowing soldiers to be tried in civilian courts, and the New York Times’ investigation into Wal-Mart corruption. 
  • An Op-Ed in the LA Times argues that Secret Service agents have a long history of tolerating sexual dalliances by presidents and other top-level officials. “Somehow, in Cartagena, to the embarrassment of everyone, including the president of the United States, some of its members threw all that experience right out the window,” the piece concludes.