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This guide will no longer be updated, as it was a special project about the 2015 Mexican midterm elections. It will, however, remain available for research purposes.

For further analysis on Mexican politics, please visit the Mexico Portal or our Mexican Politics Resource. Thank you for your interest.

Violence grips Mexico ahead of midterm elections

By Renee Lewis in Aljazeera America 05/21/15

A wave of violence and intimidation has engulfed Mexico in recent weeks as the country prepares for midterm elections on June 7, with gunmen killing four candidates and kidnapping dozens of residents in Guerrero state — reviving fears that the still-unsolved disappearance of 43 students last September was not an isolated incident.

Enrique Hernández, who was running for mayor of Yurécuaro in the western state of Michoacán for the left-leaning Movement for National Regeneration Party, was killed on May 14 when gunmen opened fire on his campaign rally. Hernández was a leader of the town’s self-defense group formed in 2013 to curb the power of the Knights Templar cartel.

The state’s attorney general, José Martín Godoy Castro, said Wednesday that the Yurécuaro’s police chief and two of his aids knew about plans to kill Hernández, and left town ahead of the murder. Godoy said he would file charges — of participation through omission in a homicide — against the three officers.

Less than an hour after Hernández’s murder, gunmen shot Héctor López Cruz 16 times as he returned from campaigning in Huimanguillo, in the southeastern state of Tabasco. López was running for city council of Huimanguillo on the ticket of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

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El Bronco: Blunt, Frequently Vulgar, and Aiming to Run Nuevo León

in  The New York Times 05/24/15

MONTERREY, Mexico — He goes by the nickname El Bronco, and he aims to buck the political system in Mexico.

For the first time since a constitutional change in Mexico in 2012 allowing independent candidates, one is making a serious run for governor. And the political world is eager to see if he upsets the entrenched order, not just in his state but also in a nation increasingly frustrated and exhausted by the status quo.

It also helps that the insurgent comes in the form of Jaime Rodríguez Calderón, 57, a cursing former mayor and rancher in cowboy hat and boots who wants to run Nuevo León, a large state along the Texas border that is a hub for big business as well as organized crime.

Mr. Rodríguez, in interviews and on the campaign trail, veers from humility to arrogance, calling himself a simple, unvarnished rancher while making it clear, over and over, that he has the fortitude — he uses an anatomically vulgar synonym — to set things right.

“We are about to make history,” he said in an interview on Thursday as he prepared for the final dash to the June 7 state and local elections. “We are about to prove to people that in this country you don’t need money or parties, you just need people to change things around.”

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Mexico Elections 2015: Lorenzo Córdova Apologizes After Indigenous Insults From Wiretapped Conversation Go Viral

By Julia Glum in International Business Times 05/20/15

The head of Mexico’s National Electoral Institute was forced to apologize after illegally recorded audio of him ridiculing indigenous people leaked online. Lorenzo Córdova Vianello, the director of the group that will oversee the country’s elections June 7, was still trending on Twitter Wednesday morning as users passed around the controversial clip.

The audio, thought to have been obtained via wiretap, was posted to YouTube on Tuesday afternoon by “Jon Doe.” The roughly two-minute video reportedly includes a part of a conversation between Córdova and his executive secretary, Edmundo Jacobo.

 

The exchange likely happened after an April 23 meeting where indígenas, or indigenous people, asked to be allowed to create another federal constituency in Congress, Excelsior reported. The indígenas had said they’d stop the elections if their requests weren’t granted, and they eventually met with Córdova.

The next day, in conversation with Jacobo, Córdova made fun of what they said. He compared the leaders to characters in the “Lone Ranger” and ridiculed how they spoke, Telesur reported. “From the dramatic meetings with the parents of the Ayotzinapa kids, to this jerk … There was one, no s—, I can’t lie, let me tell you how this jerk spoke,” Córdova said in Spanish. “’I boss, great nation Chichimeca, I come Guanajuato. I say here or legislators, for us, I don’t permit your elections.’”

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New Candidate Jolts Mexican Politics

By Dudley Althaus in  The Wall Street Journal 05/22/15

MONTERREY, Mexico—A maverick former mayor known as El Bronco is mounting a competitive bid as Mexico’s first independent gubernatorial candidate, a sign of Mexican voters’ rancor toward the country’s traditional political parties.

Running a social media campaign waged on a shoestring—supporters press crumpled bills into his hands on the stump— Jaime Rodríguez is shaking up politics in Nuevo Leon, the conservative northern border state that includes the industrial powerhouse of Monterrey, and jolting politicians nationwide.

An opinion poll published Friday in El Norte, Monterrey’s leading newspaper, puts Mr. Rodríguez ahead of his rival from the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, in the June 7 vote. The PRI has ruled Nuevo Leon for 80 of the past 86 years.

Mr. Rodríguez’s unlikely bid has emerged as one of the most watched in a midterm vote that will replace all 500 members of Mexico’s lower house of Congress, nine governors and hundreds of state legislators, mayors and city councils. Polls suggest that the PRI and its allies are likely to retain a slight majority in Congress.

But that doesn’t mean all is well in Mexico for the ruling party. Mr. Rodríguez, a rancher, businessman and thrice married father of six, represents a new page in Mexican politics: the rise of independent candidates running against the traditional parties, something that was illegal until a 2014 political overhaul passed by congress.

“This is making the political parties tremble because a candidate without a party, a structure or resources is giving them a fight,” Mr. Rodríguez, 58, said in an interview.

June’s vote takes place amid mounting voter frustration with continued underworld violence, a lackluster economy, and corruption scandals that have hit all three major parties, especially the PRI. President Enrique Peña Nieto and his finance minister have come under scrutiny for property deals they made with government contractors. They both deny any wrongdoing. Civic groups have accused family members of Nuevo Leon’s current governor illicit enrichment through dirty land deals. They deny wrongdoing.

“We have a cancer which has to be eradicated and that’s corruption,” Mr. Rodríguez said to whoops and applause at a recent stop in Monterrey’s wealthiest suburb. “I don’t want to be just one more governor, I want to change the system.”

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Mexican Officials Reassure Public Amid Pre-Election Assassinations

By Brianna Lee in International Business Times 05/20/15

The weeks leading up to Mexico’s June 7 regional elections have been a violent affair, with a slew of murders of candidates in some regions. The federal government assured the public it was providing security for candidates facing violence, while attempting to play down the security threat.

Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, speaking at a press conference Tuesday, said the government had a strategic plan to guarantee security for candidates in areas where homicides and drug-related violence are rampant, including the states of Jalisco, Guerrero and Tamaulipas. “We hope [the plan] will deliver results and the peace we are asking for,” he said. Twenty candidates so far have asked for government protection and will receive it, he said.

But while Osorio Chong expressed sorrow at the recent string of murders, he asserted they were “isolated cases.”

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Mexico’s top election official offended the nation with a racist rant

By Ioan GrilloGlobal Post in Los Angeles Daily News 04/27/15

MEXICO CITY — Racism in Mexico has different dynamics than over the border in the United States.

The majority of people here have both European and indigenous roots. The census does not identify people by skin color. After the Mexican Revolution, the government promoted the concept of the “Raza Cosmica,” an ideal of a mixed-race nation.

Yet, racism still exists, and at some of the highest levels. That showed this week in a blowup over a leaked phone call with Mexico’s top electoral official, in which he mocked indigenous people — the 15 million Mexicans who speak languages such as Nahuatl or Mixtec.

Lorenzo Cordova, president of the National Electoral Institute, was talking on the phone to an aide when he launched into his racist rant.

He ridiculed an indigenous leader who’d called for a new electoral district, saying, “I’m not lying, I’m going to tell you how this bastard spoke.” Then he proceeded to impersonate Tonto from the “Lone Ranger”: “Me, boss Chichimeca great nation. Me come Guanajuato. Me to say you….” Then he compared the community to “Martians.”

To give a sense of how incendiary this is — it’s a bit like if a white US Supreme Court justice were caught using the N-word and speaking in mock Ebonics.

The audio of Cordova’s call mysteriously appeared on YouTube on Tuesday, and clocked up a quarter of a million views within a few hours. It went viral on Twitter and drew thousands of comments on websites.

“Incredible phone conversation of Lorenzo Cordova. Making fun of those he should be serving,” tweeted the columnist Gabriel Guerra.

It couldn’t come at a worse time for Cordova. He’s overseeing midterm elections on June 7, in which Mexico will vote for hundreds of new lawmakers, governors and mayors.

The ballot has already been clouded by corruption scandals and political violence.

On Tuesday, Cordova apologized for his outburst in a hastily called press conference.

“During the phone call I spoke in an unfortunate and disrespectful manner,” Cordova said. “I’d like to take this opportunity to offer a frank and sincere apology to anybody who could have been offended.”

However, he also filed a criminal complaint with federal prosecutors about someone recording and leaking his calls.

It’s unclear who was behind it. The audio was posted on YouTube by “Jon Doe.”

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