Again, five dailies, five unrelated top stories. El Universal leads with the results of its interview with a top election official — “INE following the political parties’ money trail” — reminding us that national elections are less than seven months away. The entire Chamber of Deputies and half the Senate are at stake, as well as various governorships, state legislatures, mayoralties and Federal District delegación heads, or borough chiefs. One difference this time around — a result of the major overhaul of election law passed in the last year — is that campaign expenditure rules will be enforced more efficiently, even to the point that a candidate’s victory can be annulled if he or she goes over the limit. At least that's the message in El Universal’s interview with Benito Nacif, a councilor of the new National Electoral Institute (INE), which has replaced the old IFE as the election authority. Nacif, who heads INE’s expenditure oversight committee, says the goal will be to avoid having to impose sanctions by maintaining strong enough vigilance to prevent abuses from happening in the first place. “Our mission is to be aware of all funds that go through a party, their origin and their destination,” Nacif says in the interview. It’s a pretty good bet, though, that there will be plenty of squabbling about who’s cheating and who isn’t; that’s basically been the day-to-day tone of Mexican elections since they started mattering.
La Jornada goes with the story people are talking about the most: “Ficrea fraud victims will lose most of their investment.” Ficrea was a Mexico City financial firm that turned out to be running a Ponzi-like operation. Authorities shut it down last week and confiscated whatever funds they could get their hands on. But billions of pesos and the firm’s owners are nowhere to be found. The remaining cash and deposit insurance aren’t enough to reimburse the victims, save for those without much money invested. The rest are looking at getting just a percentage of what for many is their life savings. The defrauded clients are in continuing negotiations with two federal agencies — the National Banking and Securities Commission and the financial consumer protection commission known as Condusef.
Reforma’s main front-page head is a button-pusher: “Deputies given 90 days of Christmas bonus.” The year-end aguinaldo, or bonus, is compulsory, but that doesn’t mean every worker gets one. When they do, it’s generally the equivalent of a few week’s pay, perhaps with a turkey or cheese-platter thrown in. Legislators in a number of states, Reforma is telling us, are getting up to 90 days worth, which can translate to as much as 300,000 pesos, or more than 20,000 dollars. That’s 15 years worth of income for folks earning minimum wage.
Excelsior turns to positive news for its top story: “Bank of America: the peso is strong.” By “Bank of America” is meant Carlos Capistrán, the chief economist in Mexico for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, on whose words alone the story is based. By “strong” is meant that Capistrán sees no danger of a repeat of the 1994-95 peso crash, despite the drop in the peso’s worth to where it’s been pushing 15 to the dollar, despite the expected rise in U.S. interest rates, and despite the persistent social unrest.
Milenio informs us that “The drug war has tripled the crime rate.” The source for this unwelcome and unsurprising news is the Institute for Economics and Peace, a global organization that for the last eight years has put out an annual, nation-by-nation Global Peace Index, which measures “national peacefulness,” defined tautologically as “absence of violence.” The tripling has taken place over the eight years since President Calderón started sending troops after drug traffickers. It has mainly taken place in five Mexican states — Morelos, Guerrero, Sinaloa, Chihuahua and Quintana Roo — as well as Baja California, Nuevo León, Durango, Guanajuato and Michoacán. The five most peaceful states, according to the report, are Campeche, Querétaro, Hidalgo, Yucatán and Baja California Sur.