The news of the arrests of two crooked former governors on the lam, Tomás Yarrington and Javier Duarte, is astounding, even dazzling, but their arrests smell fishy as hell.
The real question everyone is asking is: What have they got to do with the current electoral process and the one coming in 2018? The answer is an obvious everything.
Just one week ago (April 9), former Tamaulipas Gov. Tomás Yarrington was nabbed in Florence, Italy, primarily at the request to the U.S. Justice Department. But he was also wanted in Mexico for links to notorious organized crime drug cartels. He’d been five years on the lam in Italy living, apparently, under mobster protection.
Then suddenly on Saturday, the Mexican Attorney General’s Office (PGR) announced the arrest of former Veracruz Gov. Javier Duarte in a lake resort in Guatemala. Duarte was nabbed by Guatemalan Interpol officers who have now transported him to Guatemala City to wait for extradition to Mexico.
About the only difference between the two arrests of these two zillionaire Mexican corrupt politicos is that while Yarrington is wanted in the U.S., Duarte is not.
Yet the arrest of the two is being labeled by Mexican columnists such as freelancer Abraham Mohamed as “electioneering raids,” orchestrated in order to make President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) look good and “show the citizenry that impunity is over” thus being able to recover the confidence needed so that everyone will vote for PRI candidates and have them win the June 4 elections in the State of Mexico, Nayarit and Coahuila, as well as elections for municipal mayor in Veracruz.
The problem the PRI faces at the polls nowadays is humongous, as both Yarrington and Duarte were elected to their respected states backed by PRI and in a party that’s developed an infamous reputation for producing corrupt politicians; these two “fat cats” are ranked among the crookedest of them all.
Yet in the past both have been expelled as PRI members and hence the party nowadays claims it can wash their hands of the outright thievery both former governors committed not just of state funds — which they left in poverty — but also of federal government funding that was devoted to public infrastructure works.
In both cases the PRI issued press releases demanding that the book be thrown at them because they do not deserve to be PRI members. Yet when both were in power (Yarrington from 1999 to 2004 and Duarte from 2010 to 2016) everyone suspected they were committing what looked like criminal acts and did nothing to stop them back then.
A most memorable quote in 2012 came from then President-elect Peña Nieto himself, who describe Duarte as the face of “the new PRI.” Surely, President Peña must nowadays repent from such a blunder.
Needless to say, that reaction from opposing political parties is adamant not just to have justice against Yarrington but particularly Duarte.
The executive committee of the National Action Party (PAN) issued a statement upon learning of Duarte’s arrest to make it a point that it must be guaranteed that “he returns every penny he stole” as well as the fact that “he must reveal the names of each and all of his accomplices who helped them steal, as well as those who aided him in getting away.” Duarte had been last seen last October.
Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) President Alejandra Barrales issued Sunday a press statement saying that “it is no coincidence that in the midst of electoral campaigns long time pending arrests of Yarrington and Duarte are made.” She added that even if Duarte’s arrest is “positive” these arrests are “deeply linked to the PRI’s electoral interests.”
Barrales pointed both to the PRI and the federal government as “part of the machinery that allowed Duarte to reach the Veracruz governorship and then escape. This is not an action to celebrate but an opportunity to comply with the law and build up a Mexico without impunity.”
Clemente Castañeda, of small party Citizens’ Movement, says he sees this arrest as having to do with the State of Mexico’s elections for governor: “It was to be expected that the federal government would announce with pomp and circumstance Javier Duarte’s arrest.”
In short, all fingers point that these two much advertised arrests would be interpreted as a PRI move to make its current candidates look good.
Yet just as prosecuting a crooked governor may work in favor of the political machinery at PRI, it may also be a double-edged sword that as it is happening, is being used against President Enrique Peña Nieto’s own party.