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A full-page ad with a black background was published in the Tijuana muckraking weekly Zeta on Friday asking former Tijuana Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon: "Why did you betray the PRI, helping the PAN? in the 2013 Baja California gubernatorial election."
The ad on Page 15-A mimicked one Zeta publishes with a black background every week asking Hank, a gambling magnate, why his bodyguards killed Zeta writer Héctor "El Gato" Félix Miranda in 1988.
Friday's ad said it was from the PRI Popular Neighborhoods Organization, the same group that burned Hank in effigy on Monday.
Zeta reported on Page 5-A that the previously unknown group was sent by Nayarit Gov. Roberto Sandoval Castañeda, a friend of losing PRI gubernatorial candidate Fernando Castro Trenti
The ad continued: "This page will appear July 7 of every year, until the traitor Jorge Hank Rhon answers why he betrayed our party's candidate for Baja California governor, providing financial and logistical backing to National Action Party candidate Francisco Arturo Vega de Lamadrid."
Vega beat Castro Trenti, who is pictured in the ad, by nearly 25,000 votes. Hank's mayoral candidate, Jorge Astiazarán, won Tijuana by about 25,000 votes, but Castro Trenti lost in the city by a similar margin, and some PRIistas have pointed the finger at Hank. However, it is not clear how much of a factor, if any, Hank was in the election, and some top PRI officials have denied that Hank betrayed the party.
Update, Oct. 21, 2013: El Mexicano's political page reports that René Mendívil, a Castro Trenti backer who was elected as an at-large PRI state legislator, appears to have behind the rally against Hank. It said members of Mendivil's group were seen protesting against Hank and also have been involved in a recent protest against PRI federal legislator Chris López, who came under attack because of his support of following what President Enrique Peña wanted to do in boosting the value-added tax in border states from 11% to 16%. Political page, El Mexicano (PDF).
Former Tijuana Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon was burned in effigy by a group that said he betrayed the Institutional Revolutionary Party in the July 7 election won by National Action Party gubernatorial candidate Francisco Vega, Tijuana media reported.
Vega defeated PRI candidate Fernando Castro Trenti, who had wrested the PRI gubernatorial nomination from Hank, by around 25,000 votes statewide.
The previously unknown group calling itself the PRI Popular Neighborhoods Organization spent about 40 minutes protesting in front of Hank's Caliente Stadium.
One rhyming poster read: "Hank Traidor, Nunca Serás Gobernador" ("Traitor Hank, You Will Never Be Governor." El Mexicano reported that many in the group of around 50 arrived in a bus and that some claimed that Hank-backed Tijuana PRI mayoral candidate Jorge Astiazarán won election by some 25,000 votes but that Castro Trenti lost in Tijuana by a similar margin, and that Hank's machinations were to blame for this.
José Luis Hernández Silerio, president of the PRI in Tijuana, defended Hank, telling El Mexicano that Hank has always been a strong backer of the party.
Castro Trenti's campaign has been at a loss to explain its defeat, which likely came as the result of a broad confluence of factors. Some think Hank encouraged many not to vote for Castro Trenti; if so, it is unlikely that he persuaded 25,000 to do so. Others think there was a deal called a "concertacesión" to fix the election so the PAN and its PRD ally in the election would win and continue to support PRI President Enrique Peña Nieto's Pacto por Mexico — a series of legislation designed to move Mexico forward. While Castro Trenti and most analysts discount that there was such a fix, many people believed it and possibly even voted against Castro to fulfill what they thought the president wanted. While the PRI has been dominant in recent elections — Peña Nieto won the state handily last year and the PRI won seven of eight district races for the federal Chamber of Deputies, and in 2010 the PRI swept all five of the state's mayoral elections — the PAN has, in the past 24 years, always done well in statewide races. The PAN has held the governor's post since 1989, and despite complaints that it has done little or nothing, it has actually made great strides in building up the state's road and other infrastructure and has not been shy about touting that. Voz y Voto magazine in June published the results of a Covarrubias poll, that while it had Castro Trenti ahead in the governor's race 45% to 37%, also showed that Baja Californians perceived their economic situation to be better than that in the rest of the nation and that Baja Californians expected their economic prospects to improve in the next year. This was hardly a public desperate for change.
Other factors hurting Castro Trenti were last-minute revelations that he had been able to purchase luxury properties on a Mexican civil servant and politician's salary and that an Arellano Félix brother said he had paid off Castro Trenti's brother, Francisco, a decade ago. Francisco Castro Trenti is currently police chief of Rosarito, a municipality that the PRI lost. These revelations brought back memories of the corrupt PRI that Baja Californians had booted from office; Vega made entreaties to young voters to ask their parents what it used to be like when the PRI ran the state.
Although Fernando Castro Trenti embraced the idea late in the campaign, Vega's campaign promise to erase the public's back water-bill debts also may have gained the PAN a goodly number of votes.
Castro Trenti, while a wizard as a federal legislator, also lacks charisma, and has never finished first in a political race. Vega (left) did previously win election in 1998 as mayor of Tijuana; he succeeded José Guadalupe Osuna Millán, whom he will now succeed as governor.
Castro Trenti was Hank's campaign manager when Hank ran against Osuna Millán and lost in 2007; Hank insiders blame Castro Trenti for the loss. Hank also was subjected to a barrage of negative campaigning, but then again, Hank has a lot of baggage, not least of which is that his bodyguards killed Tijuana journalist Héctor Félix Miranda of Zeta in 1988.
Update, July 18: State PRI leader Nancy Sánchez says protesters do not belong to PRI. Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
Vega wins election as governor
Castro Trenti concedes
State electoral institute appears to make partisan decisions
Vega and Castro's last Tijuana rallies; Hank appears at Castro Trenti's, but wearing campaign gear for other candidates
Governor's race page
May 2012: Hank expresses disappointment that former bodyguard has not been released from prison in 1988 killing of Tijuana journalist.