Both the incumbent PRI and challenger Morena parties claimed victory in yesterday's Mexico state gubernatorial race, though the latest returns this morning favor the PRI candidate, reports Animal Político. As of this morning, with 98 percent of the votes counted, PRI's Alfredo del Mazo was leading with 33.71 percent against Morena's Delfina Gómez, who had 30.81 percent.
The results are the closest the PRI has come to being ousted in its nine decades of governing the state, notes Animal Político. Recent governors Enrique Peña Nieto (currently president) and Eruviel Ávila, were chosen with 47.5 percent and 64 percent respectively.
Yesterday evening representatives of both parties claimed victory. At 6.30 p.m. del Maso announced his victory, and half an hour later Morena said it had a seven point lead, while Gómez tweeted her supposed victory. The disagreement will likely drag on, according to the Los Angeles Times. And the close call wasn't surprising, polling before the election pointed a potential tossup, reports the New York Times.
Morena leader, and presidential candidate for 2018, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), said yesterday evening that Gómez was the victor and called to defend the vote against potential fraud, reports El País. And Morena party spokespeople hailed the beginning of a new era in the state, reports La Jornada.
Morena officials announced that two of their representatives in Mexico state disappeared yesterday, reports Proceso. Morena's legal team denounced federal and state authorities of using police to pressure citizens, reports El Universal.
The election was considered by many experts to be a bellwether for next year's presidential race -- but though Morena seems to have lost, the close results mean AMLO is still in the running, reports Reuters. While a loss would have deeply hurt the PRI's chances in next year's race, the close results still spell out trouble for the governing party, according to the NYT.
Morena does appear to have won in the Atlacomulco district -- Peña Nieto's home territory -- where the PRI's never lost before, reports Proceso.
In Veracruz the PRI was apparently beat by a PAN-PRD alliance, and Morena came in third, according to Reforma. And the Juntos por Ti alliance in Nayarit beat the PRI candidate there, reports Jornada.
- Mexico has become an unexpected leader of regional criticism of Venezuela -- bucking a long tradition of non-intervention in other countries' internal matters. The reason for the governing party's change of heart is due to local politics: the PRI is anxious to keep Venezuelan chaos on the forefront as it heads to a tight presidential election next year against leftist AMLO, who has been compared to Hugo Chávez, reports the Washington Post. "For Mexico's unpopular leader, Peña Nieto, keeping blood-soaked images from Venezuela in the news cycle and condemning human rights violations have become props in his attempt to stop the country from swinging left." The efforts are not new, AMLO's critics have been attempting to paint him as a Mexican Chávez for a decade, and attack ads in that vein sunk his 2006 presidential bid.
- Venezuelan protests -- constant street clashes between demonstrators and security forces over the past two months -- have further polarized the country, forcing people to choose sides or "get out of the way," according to the Washington Post. Youths have taken the lead in these protests more than in previous years, and university leaders are more organized, according to the piece. The piece says many of these youths come from poor neighborhoods, traditionally bastions of support for the socialist government. (See May 15's briefs for Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights' take on whether the poor are actually joining the struggle against the government and what that means.)
- WBEZ interviewed David Smilde on the failure of regional powers to mediate peace in Venezuela and other aspects of the current crisis.
- Last week the OAS foreign ministers failed to agree on a final resolution on the Venezuelan crisis, though there was a consensus that any solution will involve political negotiation between the government and the opposition, explain David Smilde and Geoff Ramsey at Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights. They suss out the differences between two competing declarations, pointing to relevant omissions in the more conciliatory CARICOM proposal. (See last Thursday's briefs.)
- Representatives from regional human rights groups -- Conectas Direitos Humanos, Dejusticia, and WOLA -- call on the Venezuelan government to guarantee citizen rights to protests and vote and to roll back the militarization of internal security.
- Brazilian attorney general Rodrigo Janot accused Senator Aécio Neves of taking about $615,000 in bribes from Joesley Batista, the former chairman of meatpacker JBS SA. The charges against the influential former presidential candidate add to the country's deepening political crisis, reports the Wall Street Journal.
- The three international funders of the controversial Agua Zarca dam in Honduras are withdrawing promised loans of $44 million, reports the Guardian. The project was opposed by environmental activist Berta Cáceres, who was assassinated last year. Already Dutch bank FMO and Finnish finance company FinnFund suspended their loans last year, after an employee of the development company behind the dam was arrested in connection with the murder. (See briefs for May 9, 2016.)
- Today is the deadline for an agreement on sugar trade between Mexico and the U.S., and observers are watching for signals about Washington's approach to NAFTA renegotiation, reports the New York Times.
- Latin America's well documented homicide epidemic -- the region houses just eight percent of the world's population, but concentrates a third its murders -- can be partially ascribed to very high rates of impunity, argue Alejandra Sánchez y José Luis Pardo in a New York Times Español op-ed. "They kill because they can. They kill for territorial control, drug trafficking, political disputes. They kill for the stupidest fight on a Sunday after a barbecue. The U.N.'s world study on homicide classifies three types of assassination: criminal, interpersonal and socio-politicial. Latin America occupies first place for all three ..." However, the murders are hardly distributed evenly, rather they are concentrated in poor neighborhoods, inhabited by people of color, they note. These populations are both those who kill and those who are killed. The authors, who coordinate En Malos Pasos, are conducting an investigation in the regions' seven most murderous countries: Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and México. While drug trafficking compounds ills, it is not the true source of the homicide epidemic they argue. The authors emphasize efforts by civil society in several countries to improve investigations, social work with criminal gangs, community policing, and campaigns against lethal violence. They also focus on Instinto de Vida, a campaign that seeks to reduce homicides by 50 percent over the next decade. (See May 12's post.)
- Not strictly regional, but relevant nonetheless: Cities not nation states will ensure our future survival, argue Robert Muggah, Randy Sargent, Illah Nourbakhsh, and Paul Dille in a piece on the World Economic Forum site. "But the world’s 50,000-plus cities will need to do much more then swap good ideas if humanity is to survive this century. At the very least, they need to take immediate action to reduce carbon emissions (since they generate over 70% of them) and reduce resource consumption (because they ingest 75% of the world’s resources). They will also need to take urgent steps to reduce other risks, including income inequality, unemployment, criminal violence and more."
- Migrants going the other way: U.S. retirees are flocking to Canada, Mexico, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Ecuador, reports the Miami Herald. Many countries in the region, such as Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua and Costa Rica are actively trying to woo senior citizens (and their pensions).