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Mexico's political parties pledge to 'guard' candidates from corruption

Ahead of elections in the state of Michoacan, candidates are trying to present themselves as cleaner than their rivals – a possible bellwether of how corruption will figure as an issue in the 2012 presidential elections.

By Geoffrey RamseyGuest blogger / June 2, 2011

Seized weapons were shown during a presentation of 36 members of the criminal organization "La Familia Michoacana," which holds major sway in the state. According to the Federal Police, these people were arrested in Apatzingan, Michoacan, after a confrontation in which 11 criminals were killed. Dozens of rifles, one Barret 50 caliber rifle and 21,000 cartridges were seized in this arrest.

Jorge Dan Lopez

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Elections in the state of Michoacan, scheduled for November, are particularly important for Mexico's three main political parties and may serve as a weathervane for the presidential elections in 2012. Traditionally a stronghold of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), the state has been rocked by a series of high-profile corruption cases in recent years.

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Concern about the infiltration of organized crime in politics has risen so high that the non-partisan Michoacan Development Foundation called on the country’s three biggest parties to come together and field a joint candidate for governor of the state.

On May 26, the chairmen of the PRD, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and National Action Party (PAN) met to discuss the idea of a shared nominee. Although the PAN and PRI leadership are open to the idea, the PRD head rejected the scheme on ideological grounds, reported Vanguardia. Because the state is a major source of PRD votes, it is likely that the party would see the measure as a threat to its support base.

Still, the PRD’s image has taken such a public beating in the state that it’s hard to see how the race could be anything but an uphill slog for them. The most notorious of the corruption scandals that have broken in Michoacan was the case of Julio Cesar Godoy Toscano, a PRD legislator and half-brother of current governor, Leonel Godoy Rangel. He evaded a 2009 arrest warrant by sneaking in to his own swearing-in ceremony in order to obtain parliamentary immunity. Mr. Godoy Toscano was later disavowed by the party and stripped of his office when an audio recording was released of him apparently speaking with Familia Michoacana leader Servando Gomez Martinez.

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