|Enrique Pena Nieto|
Throughout last spring's campaign Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) presidential candidate Enrique Pena Nieto, as with his rivals travelled in Mexico with the message of a frontrunner, that of unity and national pride. Pena Nieto could afford to act as above the fray because from the start he had maintained a solid 20 plus percentage point lead.
One of the issues that Pena Nieto spoke about with caution was security policy. His rival Partido Accion National (PAN) candidate also tread lightly on the issue after having suffered years of attacks from the Mexican mainstream left over president Felipe Calderon Hinjosa's war on the cartels.
But once the election was over, Pena Nieto rolled out his newest advisor of security policy, heralding that he would deal with Mexico's powerful cartels with a new strategy.
Retired Colombian police chief General Oscar Adolfo Naranjo Trujillo was presented as having ideas on how to shift the current strategy to one which is supposed to reduce the violence which has marked much of Calderon's presidency.
|General Oscar Naranjo|
General Naranjo Trujillo has been credited with reducing the violence in Colombia during the 1980s and 1990s. His tenure was marked with an emphasis on security for the legal and security structure in Colombia, plus an active record of drug arrests. Other Spanish language sources suggested General Naranjo Trujillo gained the upper hand in Colombia through the use of targeted killings..
How General Naranjo Trujillo will apply his experience to Mexico's massive organized crime problem is cloaked in mystery. Colombia is half the size and population of Mexico and unlike Colombia, Mexico has at any one moment in time at least extremely violent drug six cartels competing for shipment routes and warm bodies.
By contrast, at the current time, Colombia just dealt with a well financed leftist guerilla army, while Mexico has destroyed virtually every attempt at establishing an armed leftist presence.
Last Thursday chief of Pena Nieto's transition team for security matter Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said that at least temporarily, Mexico's military would remain on the streets in counternarcotic operations. The subtext in that announcement is twofold.
First it appears that President Pena Nieto will shift responsibility, as well as resources, from the national armed forces to its police apparatus, probably the Policia Federal (PF). The PF along with the military current patrols Mexico's highways and city streets in large numbers, and like the military some units at east have been accused of sparking violence in the areas they patrol.
The second is purely political. Mexican news has been report in the first few days of last week that the Partido Revolucion Democratica (PRD) and PAN have been in talks in advance to the seating of the Chamber of Deputies for common ground to deal with many issues before Mexico, mainly before the weakened PRI caucus.
Among the issued discussed in private meetings were reform of media, transparency, fighting corruption, debt control of state governments and non-use of public resources for electoral purposes, according to an article which appeared in El Sol de Mexico news daily website.
The last four items can be closely tied together, as state debt has been used, if you believed PAN and PRD politicians, as a means of gaining a funding advantage in state elections.
One issue that PRI politicians will not talk about but which last year cost their leader, Humberto Moreria Valdes, is state debt levels. With Coahuila state just one of the most egregious examples of PRI governed state with massive amounts of contracted public debt.
States which had currently large amounts of public debt include Mexico state, Pena Nieto's old job just before he ran for president. Pena Nieto himself has been accused by politicians of using the proceeds from banks loans to the state, to bolster the political fortunes of allies in Mexican statehouses throughout his term of governor of Mexico state.
Many of Mexico's 33 political entities have laws which prevent such transactions from being hidden, but many do not. Coahuila's example was so egregious because laws were in place which should have prevented the government from contracting so much public debt without transparency, but did not. The result of such bulging state treasuries, however, led to social spending on such projects as income supports, including health care and supplemental income payments for the elderly.
But those programs funded by debt cannot last long and a return to fiscal responsibility is inevitable.
Decades ago, a PRI government at the national level would have had no problem in bailing out states which found themselves in fiscal trouble, but reforms in put in place by successive PAN governments tie the president's hands of how much federal resources he can steer towards his friends in the statehouses. If Pena Nieto had privately promised to help out PRI statehouses, he will have to come to the Chamber of Deputies to do it.
One of the problems PRI faces now is that despite a string finish in the presidential polling and in municipalities, PRI failed to get a majority in the Chamber of Deputies. In fact, the one party which did increase its seats is the PRD, the main griever in the post election vote buying scandal.
Angry and united, Pena Nieto's political opposition alliance on the face appears to be ready to make PRI pay if it wants to bail out Mexican states.
But the legislative coalitialon is fragile. Among the elements which threaten it is Ricardo Monreal. Monreal, PRD's Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's campaign coordinator has been threatening to impeach the judges on the panel of the Mexican Tribunal Electoral del Poder Judicial de la Federacion (TEPJF), the public juridical body which settles violations of election law in Mexico. Said Monreal, according to a news article posted on the website of El Sol de Mexico last week, he charged,"...the comfort presented here does not reflect insecurity and unemployment, the high cost and anxiety of the Mexicans, what a bad start, bad ending: that was the lesson of the last 6 years of an illegitimate government that ends today."
Perhaps the most potent threat to the coalition comes from Pena Nieto himself. Osorio Chong's announcement coming on the heels of the conclusion of the meeting between PAN and PRD can be seen as a wedge between two ideologically disparate parties, which can weaken the coalition sufficiently so that Pena Nieto can push his agenda through the Chamber of Deputies without reforms demanded by his opposition.
PAN implemented the current security strategy, which PRD in league with Mexico's independent left have for the past six year attacked PAN mercilessly over Calderon's security policy, which the left claims has killed between 50,000 and 65,000 Mexicans.
In security policy, PAN and PRI are political soulmates. It is possible PRI will split the coalition using Pena Nieto'a security policy to leverage a bailout of Mexican states.
Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for Rantburg.com