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Tijuana social development director David Saúl Guakil published a full-page ad in El Mexicano rebutting Monday's Cicuta column, which alleged that Guakil apparently tried to bribe the national Institutional Revolutionary Party to make Guakil one the the PRI's two Baja California Senate candidates in place of El Mexicano newspaper director and labor leader Eligio Valencia. Guakil said the column "is totally and absolutely false." The author of Cicuta, Jaime Flores Martínez, often relies on anonymous sources with axes to grind and has published items that have not been verified. Guakil's letter (PDF). The original column (PDF). The city of Tijuana previously had a letter to the editor published outlining mistakes in a Cicuta column. Mention of that letter.. It also was reported by Zeta and El Mexicano in January that city official Antonio Cano Jiménez tried to get the Cicuta column removed from the paper; Flores Martínez then responded in his column in a crude way. Story on the Cicuta-Cano conflict. Guakil's letter also was published as a letter-to-the-editor (PDF).
Tijuana Mayor Carlos Bustamante is seen as being former Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon's political ally; Hank's wife, María Elvia Amaya de Hank, was recently beaten out for the top Senate nomination by Valencia in a decision made by the national PRI.
Stories on the PRI's Baja California Senate nominations. Jorge Hank plans to run for governor next year.
What does all this mean?
First, it shows the poor practices still extant in areas of Mexican journalism. Character assassination, the reliance on unverified information, and crudity in the case of one of Cicuta's Cano Jiménez columns are a poor substitute for good journalism.
Second, the dispute is likely to bode further ill for the PRI's chances of getting both their Senate candidates (Valencia and former state legislator Nancy Sánchez of Mexicali) elected July 1. Observers already thought Valencia would be real drag on the ticket and limit the PRI to getting one of three Senate seats at stake. Under the Mexican political system, the party ticket obtaining the most votes gets two state Senate seats. The third seat up for grabs then goes to the top name on the ticket getting the second-most votes.
Third, it shows the tremendous problems Mexican democracy still faces. Why is the national PRI choosing who will be a state's candidates, allowing columnists to speculate about how bribes could possibly play a role in helping decide candidacies in addition to possible back-room deals? Why don't state parties more often resort to primaries or other methods where state voters decide on their preferred candidates? This centralized, dedazo-type decision-making also takes place in parties other than the PRI.
Update, Feb. 3: Flores Martínez discusses Guakil's letter in Friday's column. He also says $25,000 seized from downtown Tijuana bars when the bars were raided in a sex-trafficking investigation in December have disappeared from the state Attorney General's offices. Cicuta column.
Update, Feb. 2: Frontera newspaper reported that Rubén Ovando Ulloa, who calls himself the coordinator of a national PRI dissident group, claimed that PRI nominations were being bought. However, Bernardo Padilla, who said he was state coordinator of the PRI dissident group, said this was not true and asked Ovando to provide proof of his accusations. Padilla said the national leadership of the dissident group disrecognized Ovando in December. Story, Frontera (PDF).