Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Peña Nieto Unveils Transition Team

Mexican President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto presented his transition team to the public, a group that Reuters describes as a “mix of mostly young, trusted aides with heavyweights closer to his party's old guard.” In a press conference on Tuesday, Peña Nieto told reporters that the 46 member team would be tasked with organizing his initial policy agenda upon taking office on December 1st.  

At the group’s head is Luis Videgaray, an economist who analysts frequently name as a potential chief of staff or finance minister for Peña Nieto. He will be assisted by former Hidalgo state governor Miguel Osorio, who will oversee with political messaging, and former Chamber of Deputies head Jorge Ramirez Marin, who will be tasked with coordinating justice and security reform policies.  All three are viewed as loyalists of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), although they are seen as separate from the corporatist “old guard” that was in power during the PRI’s 80-year reign.

Not everyone on the transition team is of Peña Nieto’s party, however. Milenio points out that the deputy coordinator of social policy, Rosario Robles, is a member of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Her appointment is likely part of a gesture by Peña Nieto meant to communicate willingness to work with other parties, a smart move considering the split congress he will face upon taking office.

For more analysis of Peña Nieto’s transition team see the L.A. Times’ World News Now blog, which has an informative overview of some of the more questionable picks, raising questions about human rights and the political influence of the country’s  powerful teachers’ union.

News Briefs
  • One of the first things that Peña Nieto has promised to do upon taking office is create a national anti-corruption commission, which will have more power to go after corrupt officials at the local and state level. James Bosworth of Bloggings by boz notes that the PRI is likely embracing this as a way of downplaying allegations of entrenched corruption and vote buying.
  • The Mexican Navy on Tuesday announced the arrest of Mario Cardenas Guillen, brother of Osiel Cardenas Guillen a founder of the Gulf Cartel. InSight Crime reports that the arrest suggests that the once mighty drug cartel is fracturing.  
  • Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez congratulated both parties in the conflict for agreeing to come to the table. In a televised address last night, Chavez thanked Santos for his efforts and told viewers he could vouch for the talks, as “we have been modestly helping out somewhat.” He also thanked FARC leadership for their willingness to come to the table, claiming that they had initially come to his government and “asked [it] for help” in the negotiation process.
  • Recent remarks by Bolivian President Evo Morales, in which he accused the United States of misrepresenting Colombia’s role in the drug trade and of essentially commanding the Colombian military, have created a stir in Colombia. El Tiempo reports that Colombia’s Foreign Ministry rejected this accusation in a terse press release.
  • Costa Rica is being taken to task for its 2000 law banning in-vitro fertilization, which infertile couples believe to be discriminatory. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights will be hearing testimony on the law today and Thursday, reports the AFP.
  • Ahead of November municipal elections, Nicaragua Dispatch looks at allegations that at least three minor parties in the country have been cushioning their candidate registries with the names of the deceased, or “recruiting votes in the cemetery.”
  • Central American Politics blog profiles changing support for political parties in El Salvador. According to a recent poll, 40 percent of Salvadorans support the right wing ARENA party, only 29 percent identify with the FMLN, and 25 percent say they are independents. This is a major shift from three years ago, when 43 percent identified with the FMLN, 22 percent with ARENA, and 31 percent were independent.
  • The Washington Post on a controversial initiative in Honduras which will allow for the creation of three “private cities,” each with different tax laws than the rest of the country, in order to spur investment .Proponents say that the move will create 5,000 jobs over the next six months, while some local community groups have objected to their land being used for the project. 

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