A leading source for news and analysis about Mexico and the U.S.-Mexican border.

The Week in Mexico, Feb. 5-12, 2012

The Week in Mexico

Cordero came closer than many expected; Peña Nieto a hit with Tijuana women; Sen. Manlio Fabio Beltrones praises Mérida Initiative and cross-border cooperation at border mayor's meeting; UCSD holds a major immigration conference; SDSU scholar, speaking at USD's Trans-Border Institute, tells how avatars are helping teach journalists

By David Gaddis Smith

When noted analysts said they thought Ernesto Cordero could beat Josefina Vázquez Mota in the Feb. 5 National Action Party primary, the thought here was that it just could not happen. Thus it came as a surprise that Cordero managed to get 39% of the vote, still well short of Vázquez Mota's 54% but still a hefty number, considering how he languished in single digits for so long. Although the effort to elect Cordero came up short, that it came so far showed the continuing power of the presidency in Mexico, as Cordero was seen as President Felipe Calderón's candidate. It is amazing how far Cordero got despite his lack of charisma and good campaign skills.

Vázquez Mota hit a home run with her interview with Joaquín López-Doriga on Televisa's nationally televised news program Monday (although it would have been nice to see López Doriga pin her down on her poor voting record in Congress last year). Still, that interview and her victory Feb. 5 brought her only a 1.5 point bounce in the polls, according to a Feb. 6-8 Mitofsky survey, leaving her 16 points behind front-runner Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party.

Peña Nieto visited Mexicali on Tuesday and then shot a TV commercial in Tijuana on Wednesday. Although analysts talked about winning Vázquez Mota winning the women's vote, it was large numbers of women who wanted their pictures taken with Peña Nieto at Playas de Tijuana. Tijuana police chief Alberto Capella Ibarra wound up taking some of the pictures, using the women's cameras. Peña Nieto's admission of fathering two children out of wedlock did not seem to affect his standing with at least those women.

The man Peña Nieto rolled over on his way to the PRI manlio fabio beltronesnomination, Sen. Manlio Fabio Beltrones, also made an appearance in Tijuana, speaking to the newly founded U.S.-Mexico Border Mayors Association on Thursday. He said the Mérida Initiative whereby the U.S. helps Mexico fight organized crime was perhaps most important in the sense that it helping Mexicans and Americans to overcome their fears of working with each other. He praised the formation of the group, designed to help municipalities on both sides of the border spur both federal governments into action to resolve problems. It remains to be seen, however, whether such initiatives can be sustained. Due to Mexico's antiquated no re-election laws, mayors cannot be re-elected. All of Baja California's mayors, for example, will be replaced at the end of 2013, leaving U.S. mayors a whole new group of officials to work with. Ciudad Juárez's Héctor Murguía, who also attended the conference, mayors jerry sanders and carlos bustamantealso will be out of office by then. (Then again, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, pictured here with Bustamante on Thursday, will be termed out, too). Still, Bustamante is to be commended for helping get the group started. Agree with him or not (and those upset that he tore down the old Tijuana police headquarters certainly are not in agreement with him), he is trying to get things done.

Although Beltrones is to be termed out as senator this year due to the re-election laws, the former Sonora governor apparently will be back in Congress in the Chamber of Deputies. According to an item in Frontera, he is No. 1 on the regional list of at-large PRI deputy candidates, which means he'll remain in the legislature. The paper said the No. 2 spot is being disputed by the forces of Baja California Sen. Fernando Castro Trenti and María Elvia Amaya de Hank, the wife of former Tijuana Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon. Both Castro Trenti and Hank Rhon are planning to run for the PRI nomination for governor next year.

The Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California San Diego held an important conference on Friday. Center founder Wayne budgeting for immigration performance coverCornelius (now at UCSD's Division of Global Public Health) spoke about a new study he was a part of, "Budgeting for Immigration Enforcement: A Path to Better Performance," and lamented that it has not been covered in the media. The National Academies of Science report can be found at:
MexicoPerspective plans to analyze the report.

Univision anchorman and columnist Jorge Ramos last week became part of the bandwagon that says Republicans cannot win the presidency without 40% of the Latino vote. This idea seems to be rooted in a survey showing President George W. Bush won the 2004 election with 40% of the Latino vote. However, UC Berkeley political scientist Rodney Hero pointed out that some scholars think Bush got far less than 40% of the Latino vote in that election and that the 40% theory may not be valid anyway. UCSD political scientist Zoli Hajnal also said that because non-Latino white voters still far outnumber Latino voters, political entreaties addressed to those non-Latino whites still can overcome a Republican Latino vote of less than 40%. It also should be noted that no matter what the Latino vote, Democrats will win in states such as California and Republicans will win in states such as Texas. Thus, only the Latino vote in key electoral battleground states is what will matter, not some theoretical 40% figure.

Also last week, border journalists were informed about an on-line long-distance learning program that involves the use of avatars to help train Latin American to cover cataclysmic events better. At the University of San Diego's Trans-Border Institute's annual border media roundtable, Amy Schmitz Weiss, assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Media Studies at San Diego State University, outlined the program. Journalists from Baja California were among those who told the trainers that they had gained knowledge to ask better questions and present better stories to their readers and viewers.

SDSU story about funding for the program

The Week in Mexico Feb. 13-20
The Week in Mexico Feb. 20-27