News and Analysis: June 27 - July 3

1 - NEWS FROM THE OTHER CAMPAIGN (http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/)

2 - PRI LIKELY TO SWEEP GUBERNATORIAL ELECTIONS

3 - FAST AND FURIOUS GENERATES REPORT ON U.S. GUN LAWS

4 - GORDILLO FISHING FOR POLITICAL OFFERS

5 - IMMIGRATION CHIEF ADMITS WIDESPREAD PROBLEMS


-The Fray Bartolome Human Rights Center denounces death threats, harassment and an imminent risk of forced displacement in the Zapatista community San Marcos Aviles.
-The Junta of Good Government in Morelia denounces forced displacement and violent actions by ORCAO (Regional Organization of Coffee Growers of Ocosingo) directed against Zapatista communities. 

2 - PRI LIKELY TO SWEEP GUBERNATORIAL ELECTIONS

The historic PRI political machine appears to be back on track, with gubernatorial victories expected Sunday in Mexico State, Nayarit and Coahuila. Mexico State is the prize, with nearly 15 million residents and home to leading presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto, whose passing of the gubernatorial baton to a fellow PRIista will solidify his electoral chances next year. Peña Nieto and his candidate, Eruviel Avila, mobilized all the traditional clientelist electoral strategies - handing out gifts, expanding social programs in anticipation of the election, and promising everything from new cars to government jobs for party activists who turned out the most votes. Government employees worked extensively on the campaign, and students at a public school were offered extra credit in return for producing campaign banners. In one particularly onerous quid pro quo, Avila convinced a veteran PRD leader from the Chucho faction of the opposition party to join his campaign in a highly publicized exchange of patronage jobs and social programs for 100,000 guaranteed votes and three campaign events attended by at least 5,000 supporters. The PRI almost certainly exceeded campaign spending limits by millions of pesos.

Anticipating a loss, the PRD filed legal papers with the electoral commission on Wednesday calling for the election to be annulled. To make things even worse for the PRD, part of their stronghold in eastern Mexico state suffered flooding on Thursday, and thousands of residents are unlikely to vote on Sunday as they struggle to dry out inundated homes. However, on Saturday reports surfaced of local political operatives, affiliated with something called the Consejo de Participacion Ciudadana, collecting information from voter credentials in exchange for promises of humanitarian assistance. Meanwhile, frustrated residents threatened to block voting sites if government assistance was not forthcoming.



3 - FAST AND FURIOUS GENERATES REPORT ON U.S. GUN LAWS

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking Democrat on the House committee investigating the "Fast and Furious" gun-exporting scheme, accused its chairman, Darrel Issa (R-CA) of stifling discussions on the relationship between US gun laws and violence in Mexico. Cummings issued a 26-page report on Wednesday claiming weak gun laws inhibit federal agents from effectively countering gun trafficking to drug cartels in Mexico. Issa has been on a crusade against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the Obama administration's Justice Department for allowing over 1,000 military style weapons to be exported to Mexico so that agents could track the guns to cartels. ATF lost track of most of the weapons, and some turned up at murder scenes, including the death of a US Border Patrol agent. Issa was briefed on the operation last year, but claims he doesn't remember the conversation. The Cummings report calls for stiffer penalties for "straw purchasers" who legally buy guns in the US, only to quickly turn them over to cartels for illegal export to Mexico. The report also calls for mandatory reporting for multiple purchases of military style weapons. But Issa is blocking discussion of new gun control laws that might alienate the Republican base, while vigorously pursuing an investigation that could prove embarrassing to the Obama administration.



4 - GORDILLO FISHING FOR POLITICAL OFFERS

Elba Esther Gordillo, president-for-life of the powerful National Education Workers Union (SNTE), admitted closed-door negotiations with President Felipe Calderon during his 2006 election campaign. In exchange for her political support - and most likely her critical help in fixing of the fraudulent election - Calderon promised political appointments in the ISSSTE (Health and Social Security Institute for Education Workers), the National Lottery, the Secretary of Public Education and the National System of Public Security. The ISSSTE appointment turned out to be particularly lucrative as Gordillo gained effective control over the privatization of teacher retirement funds. Gordillo admitted the "political agreements" during an unusually long and frank press conference in which the "maestra" appeared to be offering her political support in the 2012 presidential election to the highest bidder. Gordillo's political escapades are well-known - her main supporter in the lower house was named to the National System of Public Security, her son-in-law became under-Secretary of Education, a close protégé was appointed head of the National Lottery before being caught in a scandal to support a PAN candidate using lottery funds, and just recently, Gordillo tried to distance herself from a massive corruption scandal traced to her "pupil" appointed to the ISSSTE leadership.



5 - IMMIGRATION CHIEF ADMITS WIDESPREAD PROBLEMS
Salvador Beltran del Rio, the head of the National Immigration Institute (INM) appointed 8 months ago by Calderon to clean up the agency, gave chilling testimony before the Human Rights Commission of the lower house this week, admitting to widespread corruption in the INM including agents kidnapping Central American immigrants and cooperating with organized crime. PAN members of the Human Rights Commission were noticeably absent from the hearings.



Meanwhile, Alejandro Solalinde, a priest from Veracruz active in defending immigrant rights, called for the disappearance of the INM. "[The INM] is damaged, corrupt, obsolete, unreliable," said Solalinde, as he called for the formation of an entirely new government agency that would protect immigrants.

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