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March 14, 2012

The Week in Mexico

Campaign period of silence continues to be loud

By David Gaddis Smith

As the campaign period of silence that is not supposed to end until March 30 continued in Mexico, there continued to be, as the humor columnist Catón noted, a lot of electoral noise. Josefina Vázquez Mota held a rally at a stadium in Mexico City on Sunday to accept the National Action Party's nomination, but the imagery she got from it was a lot of empty seats as a result of some poor planning and a hot day. Fronter-runner Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party held a more controlled event on Monday in Dolores Hidalgo, the cradle of Mexican independence, to an audience of top PRIistas. Meanwhile, Andrés Manuel López Obrador got top educator Juan Ramón de la Fuente to agree to be his education minister, should López Obrador emerge from third place in the polls and win the election. Story, Regeneracion.mx. De la Fuente, former rector of the Autonomous National University of Mexico, has been a frequent visitor the Institute of the Americas in San Diego. López Obrador, in addition to shoring up his would-be Cabinet, also found time to be photographed wearing an Oakland A's uniform.

Vázquez Mota's speech Sunday and a trip to Los Angeles where she spoke at a museum and appeared on a TV show ostensibly were not part of her campaign; she said she was trying to avoid political themes. At her little-publicized visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles on Friday (March 9), she apparently was heckled as she went in, but received a standing ovation from the crowd that attended. KCET story on her visit. Telemundo news anchor José Díaz-Balart interviewed her in Los Angeles for his Sunday news-talk program, "Enfoque." The former Mexican education minister said education would be a top priority and said she had returned civics to the Mexican classroom in what she called a long-overdue move. She said education needs to be de-politicized in Mexico and noted that Mexico has been building high schools like crazy to meet the needs of the populace. She also said she would not negotiate with drug traffickers, but would do some things differently in Mexico's battle against crime. Enfoque story and video.

Peña Nieto, in Dolores Hidalgo on Monday, said the nation wants a change from 12 years of blood and violence suffered under two National Action Party presidencies. "Today we return to Dolores Hidalgo, cradle of our independence, because Mexico is saying anew,"Enough with bad government!" The PRI also complained to the Federal Electoral Institute that her event on Sunday involved campaigning and that she should be penalized. Story, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump.

CBS' "Face the Nation" Bob Schieffer host ended Sunday's program with an editorial about what not to say or do during a campaign. Vázquez Mota, after her speech to so many empty seats on Sunday, could learn from that. Schieffer showed a clip of President Gerald Ford being offered a tamale, a Mexican food Schieffer said is much loved in his native Texas, at the Alamo. Ford, instead of taking off the corn husk surrounding the tamale, ate it along with the tamale. Schieffer said that wound up being remembered that April 1976 day for Ford, a Republican who went on to lose the presidency that year to Democrat Jimmy Carter.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden also appeared on Díaz-Balart's program. Biden met with the three presidential candidates during a visit to Mexico City last week and said he found all to be competent and that the U.S. would be glad to work with whomever is elected. Biden also talked about his emotional visit to the basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico City. Biden said his Irish Catholic mother was such a devotee of the Virgin Mary that he was overcome during his visit. He said he told a priest that he wished his mother could have been there, and that priest told him that, indeed, she was there. The Biden interview.

The Week in Mexico Feb. 5-12
The Week in Mexico Feb. 13-20
The Week in Mexico Feb. 20-27
The Week in Mexico Feb. 28-March 6 (Education)
The Week in Mexico March 7-14 (Campaign period of silence is noisy)