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.
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Despite the lack of consensus on a candidate in the Michoacan race, the parties did make a pact to each take measures to "guard" their candidates against the influence· of organized crime. According to El Milenio, the party leaders announced in separate press conferences after the meeting that they had agreed to intensify scrutiny of the campaign process, and especially of funding. "We all have a common concern over the need to shield campaigns against the penetration of dirty money from drug trafficking," said PRD President Jesus Zambrano.Skip to next paragraph
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IN PICTURES: Mexico's drug war
Mr. Zambrano said his party would present a list of proposed candidates to the Interior Ministry in the coming days, so that each one could be vetted for any links to organized crime. The ministry will tell the party "whether there is any suspicion, any investigation in process, against any of them," he said.
The other two parties are expected to follow this move, although neither has proposed a specific timeline for the measure. There appears to be a lack of concrete measures in the "pact" between the trio, which has been vaunted by the Mexican media.
Ultimately, however, the issue of corruption in Mexico is not likely to be solved by agreements between party leaders, pre-election vetting, or even the fielding of joint candidates. Drug trafficking is a multibillion dollar industry in Mexico, and much of its profits has historically gone to infiltrating high-level political circles. The channels between drug money and elected officials are well-established, and will be difficult to alter.
While statements like Zambrano’s are significant as an official acknowledgment of the importance of combating corruption, it’s worth noting that his party has unsuccessfully adopted a “hard line” approach to organized crime before, namely during the 2006 presidential campaign of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Mr. Lopez Obrador made cleaning up corruption a major feature of his campaign, but found himself facing a credibility crisis when videotapes were broadcast on national television showing PRD-elected officials close to him apparently taking payoffs from a wealthy businessman.
The PRD head and the other two political party leaders are set to meet again in another two weeks, when it is believed that they will lay out a more comprehensive, and perhaps more detailed, plan to fight corruption in the coming elections.
--- Geoffrey Ramsey is a writer for Insight – Organized Crime in the Americas, which provides research, analysis, and investigation of the criminal world throughout the region. Find all of his research here.