Campaigns warn of potential for violence, fraud in Tamaulipas election

2 junio, 2022

Campaign teams for both main gubernatorial candidates in Tamaulipas have warned of violence on the part of authorities and the potential for election fraud ahead of the June 5th election. Organized crime groups do not appear to pose a threat. 

Text by Elefante Blanco editors, originally published by Elefante Blanco on May 29, 2022.

Translated by Pie de Página in English.

As the gubernatorial campaigns wind down in Tamaulipas, leaders from the National Regeneration Movement (Morena) and the National Action Party (PAN) have taken turns pointing at intervention by the governments of Andrés Manuel López Obrador and current governor Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca in the run up to the June 5 elections.

The deployment of hundreds of members of the National Guard and of security personnel including the Special Operations Group (GOPES) are respectively seen as a danger by the heads of the “Va por Tamaulipas” and the “Together we make history” campaigns.

According to PAN senator Kenia López Rabadán, the federal government is attempting to inhibit the vote in favor of Cesar “Truco” Verástegui Ostos by “militarizing” the state of Tamaulipas.

It’s clear that there’s a serious competition in Tamaulipas, it’s clear the president of the republic knows they will lose Tamaulipas, they have a relationship with organized crime and they are hopelessly trying to control the states on the US border, it’s truly a shame.

Kenia López Rabadán

In a complaint, before Luis Almagro Lemes, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), senator López Rabadán said the Electoral Institute of Tamaulipas (IETAM) had not sought the arrival of the National Guard

For his part, Diego Alberto Hernández Gutiérrez, Morena’s secretary of Press and Communications, pointed to State Attorney General Irving Barrios Mojica, who he said is enacting a plan to scare the support base of Américo Villareal Anaya, the candidate for Morena, the Workers Party (PT) and the Green Party (PVEM).

They want to intimidate the social leaders who know that change is needed, to the activists, and the citizens. They’ve put out arrest warrants against Carmen Lilia Canturosas, Eduardo Gattás and Carlos Peña Ortiz, as well as against Octavio Leal, and we won’t allow that.

Diego Alberto Hernández Gutiérrez

This week, the Tamaulipas Attorney’s Anti-Corruption office confirmed that there is an arrest warrant for illicit campaign financing against Peña Ortiz, who took leave as mayor of Reynosa on May 24. Eduardo Gattás Báez, mayor of the City of Victoria, was summoned to clarify his ownership of a luxury truck, supposedly gifted to him by Sergio Carmona Angulo, who was accused of trafficking in fuel before he was assassinated last year. 

In addition, Carmen Lilia Canturosas, the mayor of Nuevo Laredo, claimed she is the victim of persecution by governor Cabeza de Vaca and the Wellbeing Secretary, Yahleel Abdala Carmona. Given the legal cases, all of the Morena mayors, including Maki Ortiz and his family, sought writs of protection in federal courts.

In addition, Morena delegate Ernesto Palacios Cordero emphasized that they don’t trust the custody of the ballots by state police before, during and after the June 5th vote. That’s why he has convened the public to accompany the movement and the vote count.

The party structures are likely to be another point of tension during Sunday’s election. The PRI doctrine, which has long been used in Tamaulipas, was used to pad out the capacities of both Verástegui Ostos and Villarreal Anaya. Political operatives like congressperson Óscar Almarez and former PRI senator Oscar Luebbert are part of the group working to manage the votes in city streets and in rural communities.

During the April plebiscite on the continuation of President López Obrador in office for another three years, the PAN denounced influence buying and the instrumentalization of beneficiaries of federal programs. Morena showed videos of leaders from various sectors connected to the PRI and the PAN who monitored and registered those who participated in favor of López Obrador.

In this context, and in contrast to previous elections, organized crime groups haven’t shown a public preference through participation in events or hanging banners in public areas. The hopefuls to replace Cabeza de Vaca have barely mentioned crime groups by name, and have stuck with generalized statements about a lack of security in the state.

The “Pedro José Méndez” column is the only armed group that has been mentioned during the campaign. On January 30, 2022, Octavio Leal Moncada, leader of the self-defense group, announced that the residents of San Carlos, Villagrán, Mainero, Hidalgo, San Nicolas, Padilla and Güemez would be voting in favor of Morena. The municipalities, which are located in the center of the state, account for around 20,000 votes, and in previous elections have supported the PAN.

President López Obrador and governor Cabeza de Vaca have both accepted that the column is an armed group, and that at various moments they met with its leaders. In a morning press conference, the President said he doesn’t endorse the group’s violent methods. In 2019, Cabeza de Vaca stated that the members of the self-defense group were criminals.

The names of the Northeast Cartel, Los Zetas, and the Jalisco New Generation cartel and its factions in Tamaulipas haven’t been mentioned by the candidates, though they are likely active in defining the outcome of the June 5 elections.

The ghost of fraud rears its head

It’s been over a week since the ghost of electoral fraud began to appear in the war rooms of the most important candidates.

On May 24, candidate Américo Villareal spoke in México’s senate, where he mentioned governor Cabeza de Vaca’s intentions to “manipulate” the election in favor of César Verastegui by using judicial, legislative and gubernatorial powers. 

Now, this series of persecutions and grievances hasn’t managed to change public opinion, the polls show what they show and say what they say, and they know it, and that’s why they are willing to go to such an extreme by impacting the entire process and imposing state elections by force.

Américo Villarreal

A la advertencia se sumó, en un tono conciliador, el senador Ricardo Monreal Ávila con un mensaje directo a Francisco García: “Ya no hay forma de revertir la voluntad popular, hay que sentarnos para ponernos de acuerdo en la transición política adecuada y ordenada; partamos de un fin común: la elección democrática lo merecen los ciudadanos y las ciudadanas de Tamaulipas”.

Adding to Villareal’s warning, Morena Senator Ricardo Monreal Ávila sent a conciliatory message to Francisco Garcia. “There is no way to reverse the public’s desire, we must sit down and agree on an adequate and organized political transition; based on a shared goal: the democratic election the citizens of Tamaulipas deserve.

The Electoral Institute of Tamaulipas identified security issues regarding the transport of electoral packets and votes in the municipalities of Guerrero, Mier, Miguel Alemán, Camargo, Díaz Ordaz, San Fernando, Hidalgo, Villagrán and Mainero, according to it’s president Juan José Ramos Charre.

To date, no one from the electoral organization has reported operational lags. Regardless, Ramos Charre said all state and federal security forces must work together to oversee electoral offices and warehouses.

The PAN-PRI-PRD coalition has not identified the risk of electoral fraud, rather it points to the potential for illegal funds to be used by the “Together we Make History” coalition. This would constitute a crime that would require the cancellation of the election.

Marko Cortés, who is head of the PAN nationally, lodged a complaint with the National Electoral Institute alleging the delivery of illicit funds from the Carmona Angulo family to the Morena campaign.

Members of the PAN, including the current governor of Tamaulipas, have stated that US authorities have opened an investigation against Morena leaders for accepting illegal economic resources. 

The media outlet Breitbart published a report on supposed deposits from the leader of the clan, Sergio Carmona, to one of Villareal’s sons. US authorities have not corroborated the truth of the information, but the cloud of documents is a weapon used by the PRI and the PAN in case the elections don’t go their way.

This report was originally published by Elefante Blanco, which is part of the Media Alliance organized by Red de Periodistas de a Pie. You can read the original here.

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