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Shielded Elections?

How effective is the “electoral shield?”
By The News · 18 of April 2017 09:02:07
PRI's candidate of governor of the State of Mexico, Alfredo del Mazo Maza, METEPEC, ESTADO DE MÉXICO, 17ABRIL2017.- Alfredo del Mazo Maza, candidato por la coalición PRI-Nueva Alianza-PVEM-PES, sostuvo un encuentro con líderes sociales y simpatizantes en el Recinto Ferial de Metepec. FOTO: ARTEMIO GUERRA BAZ /CUARTOSCURO.COM, photo: Cuartoscuro/Artemio Guerra Baz

An eagle’s eye is being kept on how President Enrique Peña Nieto operates the funds allotted to the Social Development Secretariat (Sedesol) which manages funds to subsidize the poverty stricken masses of Mexico, put on the latest count at nearly 60 percent of the population.

But the view is a lot closer nowadays in the four states with upcoming elections June 4 where, according to non-profit watchdog organization Citizens’ Initiative and Social Development (Incide) headed by economist Clara Judisman, live 25 percent of the official 54 percent of Mexicans in dire poverty.

These poor citizens are traditionally the target of political parties, principally the president’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), who have used the federal social subsidies budget to buy votes.

The so-called legally instituted to prevent vote purchasing “electoral shield” is nowadays in progress in the four states with elections: Coahuila, Nayarit, State of Mexico and Veracruz. But even so, organizations like Incide are keeping an eye open.

In the old days before democracy became instituted, it was clear and obvious that PRI used social development funding to funnel votes. Yet since 1991, this heinous practice — highly condemned by international organizations — came into being and is applicable every time there’s been an election since. But the question remains in 2017, how effective is the “electoral shield?”

At this point in the electoral process, hearsay has it that Sedesol officials are consistently visiting the State of Mexico (Edo-Mex) to deliver support to people in exchange for a vote for the “official” candidate Alfredo del Mazo Maza of PRI.

The rumor is there, even if Sedesol secretary Enrique Miranda pleaded before Chamber of Deputies officials overseeing elections, saying that for as long as candidates are running for office and blowing their own horns, he would not personally visit any of the states with elections.

The “shield” has as its objective to prevent the use of federal funds in programs other than those they have been slotted for by Congress. At the same time, the administration is under obligation to hold its regular propaganda programs, a process overseen by the Electoral Crimes Prosecutor’s Office (Fepade), headed by the Attorney General’s Office (PGR).

But it is also under obligation to not legally bind non-government organizations such as Incide, which overlooks Sedesol itself, and the manner in which funds are applied in order to prevent them from being used by political parties, especially the PRI which has the longest history of doing this now illegal practice.

A recent Incide report says that though the law is there, many of the social development programs can be deviated for purposes they were not meant for.
“The wrong practices by some public officials” continue to be the name of the game mainly because of the abundance of poor people.

The Incide figures are based on the 2014 Poverty Measurement carried out by the National Evaluation of Social Development Policies, which in the current electoral states figures is impressive. It says that in President Peña Nieto’s native state, Edo-Mex, 49.6 of the population lives in poverty. That is, 8.2 million people. In terms of population average, Veracruz is worse with 58 percent of people in poverty, Coahuila boasts 30.2 percent and Nayarit 40.5 percent.

For now the many candidates for office in the four states are being closely watched and the last thing they’d like to see is getting accused by Fepade of electoral fraud.

Yet history has it that funds aimed at social development have been used for electioneering purposes before.