The Mexican Pulse

By Glenn Holland

Mexico City, Aug. 9 ­ Active Mexican politicians enjoy political immunity. If they commit a crime, they cannot be punished. In fact, there are several senators with ties to the Pemexgate scandal that are still free only because of this special immunity.

The current mayor of Mexico City, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, does not have so much luck. Legislators voted to takeaway his immunity for his possible actions in the case of El Encino, a piece of property that passed from private hands to public hands with some apparent wrong doings.

The funny part is that AMLO, as he is known here, is favored to win the 2006 presidential elections. According to a poll taken by Grupo Reforma, 73% of the population approves of his term as mayor. 65% are against taking away his immunity and almost the same proportion feels that this legal process has been unfair. This weekend, about 40,000 people marched through the capital’s streets in support of AMLO.

—In Sinaloa the State Electoral Board fined the PRI 1.2 million pesos because their candidate for governor began his campaign two months earlier than the accepted time frame. Last weekend the Board reduced the fine by 50%. Either the way fines are set is wrong or there was a strong political maneuver that fixed the affair.

—When the Pemexgate scandal broke out three years ago, the then director of Pemex, Rogelio Montemayor, decided to take an extended vacation out of the country. A Texas judge recently allowed the oil baron’s extradition to Mexico for simple fraud and wrongful use of power. Mexican authorities are just waiting for his arrival to process his case.

During the presidential campaigns in 2000, more than a billion pesos were funneled from Pemex into the PRI’s accounts to support their candidate. Those that were responsible remain untouchable.

—The Federal Attorney General’s office has a data base that stores almost every detail about crimes committed throughout the republic as well as the agents, prosecutors, investigators and members of the AFI (the Mexican version of the FBI). This information is so delicate that only 130 people have access to it; and to get past the security measures they have an identification chip inserted in their skin which is read by a computer.

—In several editions I have described how rich hotel owners at Mexican beaches have influenced the monthly publication the Environmental Secretary makes on the low water quality at several beaches. This usually happens during times of vacation. In the middle of summer, hotel owners’ money maker, the publications have stopped being updated. In many places the last testing was done in May, in several other beaches it was in the beginning of June. Ecological groups in Acapulco assure that several hotels there continue dumping their untreated sewage water into the bay because of the lack of infrastructure that the government still has not provided. But the most recent reports available grade the water as clean.

—It seems that the elections for governor in Oaxaca could be annulled. There is a strong movement supporting candidate Gabino Cué to contest the result that gave the victory to the PRI’s candidate. A coalition is challenging more than 20% of the ballot boxes where wrong doing has been detected. Some boxes were filled with ballots for only one candidate (the PRI’s) while others had up to twice as many ballots than those that were originally assigned to them. There were also cases where the ballot boxes were placed in unauthorized locations and others that were attended by personnel not authorized by the Federal Electoral Institute. In one municipality the PRI candidate even promised to give the town an ambulance if they voted for him. The day of the elections there was an ambulance in front of the ballot boxes.

A court will have until the end of September to decide what to do with the case.