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Monday, Feb. 20, 2012

The Week in Mexico ...

and along the Tijuana-San Diego border

• Radio personality who quit his program to run for Senate heard on his old station
• His PRD running mate says he is for investigation of former Gov. Ernesto Ruffo, who also is running for the Senate for the PAN
• Is the Yakuza in Tijuana?
• Investment firm co-founder gives tour-de-force talk about opportunities in Latin America to Institute of the Americas
• Mexican space agency officials say they hope new Mexican satellites will help catch drug traffickers

By David Gaddis Smith

On Wednesday, it was surprising to hear Marco Antonio Blásquez's voice on Tijuana's 1030-AM La Tremenda radio blasquez bumper stickerstation. Wasn't he off the radio now, running for the Senate on the Democratic Revolution Party ticket of Andrés Manuel López Obrador? Turned out, it was an audio clip from an appearance he had made at a journalist's association earlier that day. A little later on the show, Blásquez's running mate, Daniel Solorio, spoke about he favored an investigation into his Senate opponent for the National Action Party, former Gov. Ernesto Ruffo.

Many say everything in Mexico is politics (not everything is, but politics definitely is pervasive) and after the PAN-led federal Attorney General's Office last month announced an investigation into three former Tamaulipas governors from the PRI for illegal enrichment, the PRI-dominated Baja California state legislature passed a resolution Tuesday asking the federal government to ernesto ruffoinvestigate Ruffo and former PAN Gov. Eugenio Elorduy. Whereas a court filing in Texas cites DEA informants as saying former Tamaulipas Gov. Tomás Yarrington and other officials may have received millions from drug traffickers, the Baja California state legislature cited only newspaper clippings and what was termed as common public knowledge in making its request for an investigation.

josefina vazquez mota in tijuanaThe night before, PAN presidential candidate Josefina Vázquez Mota got one of her biggest applause lines by saying she would seek to impose life imprisonment for officials who cooperate with organized crime. She made a special note to say that the PAN had never cooperated with drug traffickers in Baja California. She was in Tijuana to thank Baja Californians for helping her win the Feb. 5 PAN nomination. She also drew a big applause line when saying of organized crime: "I have no fear! I have no fear!"

Wednesday was the last day for candidates to make public appearances in Mexico until March 30, when the campaign for the presidency begins. That night, the PRI held a rally for its Senate candidates, Nancy Sánchez and Eligio Valencia, in the same venue where Vázquez Mota held hers. The PRI filled far more seats than she did.

Also Wednesday, journalist Lydia Cacho (at right in below photo), who made her mark by exposing a pedophile businessman in southern Mexico, spoke to the COPARMEX business association in Tijuana. She lydia cacho and juan manuel hernandezcaused a stir by saying that the Yakuza, or Japanese organized crime, was involved in the trafficking of female sex workers in Tijuana. Authorities later said there was no evidence to back her up (PDF file). Other parts of her speech were still worthwhile, particularly when she encouraged Mexican society to take as many preventive steps as possible to halt sex trafficking before it can begin. She said these steps, as simple as parents explaining to their children never to go off with a stranger or acquaintance who promises them the moon ("I'm going to make you a star!"), are more necessary than ever because of continuing major problems in the Mexican criminal justice system.
Social page, El Mexicano (PDF). Second social page.

Cacho spoke at the last COPARMEX breakfast presided over by President Juan Manuel Hernández (at left in above photo), whose two-year term ended Feb. 20. Infobaja has a good question-and-answer session with him (Infobaja 32 (PDF), Page 16), in which he said he and COPARMEX were able to mitigate federal regulations on dollar restrictions that had the potential to strangle border trade. He said he would liked to have had more influence in getting the education system to make the major changes it needs to make in order for the region and Mexico to progress better.

On Wednesday, Institute of the Americas members who braved the cold to attend Luis Maizela talk at the University of California San Diego were rewarded with one of the best programs the institute has put on (and it has put on a lot of excellent ones). Luis Maizel, co-founder of the LM Capital Group, told those in attendance that intelligent investments in Mexico and the rest of Latin America are likely to have good long-term payouts). MexicoPerspective story.

The next morning, the institute held an event featuring Mexico's new space space agency chief javier mendieta and deputy consul javier olavarriaagency. General Director Javier Mendieta (left in photo) and other officials spoke about their plans and dreams for the agency. One hope is that satellites Mexico is planning to launch will help track down drug traffickers and give early warnings of possible major environmental problems.

Photo shows Mexican Space Agency Director General Javier Mendieta (left) and the new deputy chief of mission of the Mexican Consulate in San Diego, Javier Olavarria, whose previous posting was at Mexico's embassy in Portugal.

The Week in Mexico Feb. 5-12
The Week in Mexico Feb. 20-27