Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mexico's presidential election

Fresh face, same old party

The party that held power for seven decades is poised to take back the presidency. Is Mexico ready?

WITH its roving vendors of pork-scratchings and its stucco and ochre cathedral, Atlacomulco looks like a typical Mexican town. Its politics follow the traditional Mexican model too: plaques commemorate the good works of former governors, who all belonged to the same party and in some cases share the same surname. The newest notices hail the achievements of Enrique Peña Nieto (pictured), who completed his term as governor of Mexico state last year, the fifth man from his extended family to do so.
For seven decades this was the story of Mexico. Power remained within the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), and within what its founder, Plutarco Elías Calles, called the “revolutionary family”. Less blood was spilled on the road to democracy than in many Latin American countries, but it was a longer slog. Until 1989 the PRI ran all of the country's 31 states. It was another eight years before it gave up its majority in Congress. Only in 2000 was it finally prised out of Los Pinos, Mexico's presidential residence.
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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Violence in Honduras

The eye of the storm

Timid steps to tame the world’s most violent country

LAST year Hondurans were about 80 times more likely than Western Europeans to be murdered. For men in their 20s, the odds were four times worse again. Poverty and a history of military rule meant that Honduras was never especially safe. But the murder rate has nearly doubled in the past five years. Barring war zones, this makes Honduras by most reckonings the most violent country in the world.
The cocaine trade, which over the past two decades was squeezed first out of the Caribbean and then from Mexico, bears much of the blame. “We are between those who consume drugs and those who produce them. Logically, we are a corridor of traffic,” says Pompeyo Bonilla Reyes, Honduras's security minister. In 2000 Honduras and the six other small Central American countries, all told, seized less cocaine than Mexico. By last year they captured 12 times more than their northern neighbour.
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Mexico's presidential election

Little pain for Peña

A much-watched debate fails to shake the front-runner

THE first of Mexico's presidential debates, aired last month, was snubbed by one television network in favour of a football match. The second and final one, broadcast on June 10th, attracted more viewers than any previous debate in Mexican history, as 15m tuned in at home and thousands crowded around giant screens in public squares. The election may be a done deal, according to most pollsters, but a somnolent campaign has at last come to life.
Browse our slideshow guide to the leading
candidates for the Mexican presidency
None of the candidates landed a knockout punch in the more than two hours the debate lasted. Enrique Peña Nieto, who leads most polls by around ten points, tried to remain above the fray. Rather than attacking his rivals, he took the opportunity to outline his policy pitch of “effective government”. Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a populist leftist, improved on a slightly rambling performance in the previous debate, but did not seem to do much damage to Mr Peña.
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Saturday, June 2, 2012

The media and Mexico's election

The battle of the airwaves

Curbs on election advertising have not broken the power of the media moguls

WITH a month to go until the presidential election, Mexicans switching on their televisions and radios can hardly avoid the candidates vying to win their votes on July 1st. In a country with more televisions than refrigerators, dominating the airwaves is crucial to being elected. But ownership of the broadcast media is highly concentrated.
Most people get their news through free-to-air television, a duopoly shared by Televisa and TV Azteca. Televisa, with about 70% of the audience, is forever associated in the public mind with the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled Mexico for seven decades until 2000. In 1990 the network's chief commented that it was “a soldier of the PRI”.
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