Federal police finally captured La Tuta early this morning, bringing in one of the most wanted capos in the world in a clean pre-dawn operation, no shots fired.
The leader of the Knights Templar drug-trafficking organization, whose real name is Servando Gómez, was a top target in the Peña Nieto administration’s hopes for pacifying the state of Michoacán, where La Tuta operated.
The Knights Templar had weakened in recent years, and past arrests have shown that the fall of a drug lord tends to have a limited and temporary effect on the bigger crime picture. Still, nabbing La Tuta will be seen as a major breakthrough for the Mexican government . . . for a few hours.
It came too late in the news cycle to make our morning papers. The five dailies had more than the usual ration of major stories to go with, though, not the least being the exit of Jesús Murillo Karam from the top post at the federal Attorney General’s Office. All papers front the news, but only El Universal leads with it: “Murillo removed from PGR; Arely Gómez replaces him.”
Murillo’s departure is part of what promises to be the beginning of a shake-up in the cabinet of Enrique Peña Nieto, whose imploding presidency needs a change of tune. It’s also connected to the final stages of PRI candidate selection for the June 7 congressional election. Murillo will take over the Rural and Urban Development Secretariat, whose outgoing head, Jorge Carlos Ramírez Marín will be a PRI candidate an at-large seat in the lower house.
The new post is important, especially with major rural reform legislation in the works. But it must seem to Murillo like retiring to the life of a gentleman farmer after his stint as attorney general, during which he ran the investigation of the disappearance and presumed murder of 43 normal school students from Ayotzinapa in the state of Guerrero.
It’s not the kind of gig you take to endear yourself to the masses. When Murillo released a status report of the inquiry last month — concluding that the students were handed over to members of a drug gang, who killed them and burned the bodies beyond recognition — his findings were criticized by other experts as premature and by the victims’ families and supporters as wrong.
His proposed replacement at the PGR, the Arely Gómez of the second part of the El Universal headline, has been serving as a PRI senator but has occupied judicial branch positions for most of her career. Her nomination needs Senate approval.
PLAYING WITH DYNAMITE
The crisis in the INE, the nation’s electoral authority, moved to the Senate Thursday, with seven opposition parties displaying posters reading “We don't want a partisan INE,” and their members taking turns lambasting INE officials for their alleged pro-PRI bias. La Jornada used a senator’s quote in its lead headline: “Parties: INE ‘dynamiting’ June elections.”
One complaint by the opposition parties, whose representatives have boycotted the last two INE sessions, has to do with the Green Party’s ongoing and over-the-top ad campaign, with self-congratulating spots on seemingly every corner of every city, and every spare minute on every commercial television channel. The parties say the campaign is illegal in its timing, extent and placement, but the Green Party or PVEM, allied with the PRI, has not been sanctioned appropriately.
El Universal’s front-page take on the issue gives us INE head Lorenzo Córdova’s warning to the protesting party representatives on the body's council: “Democratic dialogue at risk: Córdova.”
SHUT IT DOWN?
Two papers front the ongoing woes of Line 12, the multi-billion-peso Mexico City Metro project that was partially shut down soon after its completion owing to design flaws. The failure has been a useful tool for the PRI and others to destroy the political career of former Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, and to that end the pro-government Excelsior gives us this lead front-page headline: “Line 12 scandal breaks out in Europe.”
According to the paper, one of the European companies contracted by the Mexico City government to verify the integrity of the Line 12 construction before its rollout is suspected of suborning bribes and misusing funds.
Another disturbing headline comes from Milenio in its No. 2 slot: “Metro union urges total shutdown of Line 12” with a variation in El Universal’s No. 4 position: “Line 12 threatened with total closure.” Union spokespersons cite safety concerns for their recommendation. But the Mexico City government, under Ebrard’s successor Miguel Ángel Mancera, promises that the line will be repaired and eventually extended.
ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES
Two stories that might have been expected to merit front-page attention earned reefers at most, although Reforma found room at the lower right corner of its front page for this: “Deputies approve anti-corruption system.” The affirmative voted was a foregone conclusion after the PRI caved Wednesday on the issue of Senate confirmation of the main corruption investigator.
The legislation now goes to the Senate. Because it is a reform of the constitution, as most major Mexican legislation is, it will need approval by state legislatures as well.
Also, yesterday was the 26th, the five-month anniversary of the Iguala tragedy. The Mexico City demonstration was smaller and less covered than the January version, with no paper fronting it save for photo-reefers. The salient image (lower center on the Excelsior front page above) was of masked protesters, presumably anarchists at the margins of the movement, defacing the Angel of Independence on the Paseo de la Reforma. Not the kind of image to build movements with.