The electoral operation of the ‘Sinaloa Cartel’ (Opinion)

Photo: (Omnia)

Tackling this phenomenon would only be possible with a very high-level agreement between all the country’s political forces. Sadly it seems a long way off

By Eduardo Guerrero Gutierrez

MÉXICO, June 22, 2021, (OPINION).- On one hand, it is no secret that there have been various gestures of sympathy between President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Joaquín ‘El Chapo‘ Guzmán. The visits to Badiraguato municipality, Sinaloa Mexican State; saying that he “does not make firewood from the fallen tree (talking about the capo’s life sentence)”; the personal greeting to Joaquin’s mother María Consuelo Loera; giving up at the last minute in the capture of El Chapo’s son Ovidio Guzmán, among others. 

On the other hand, on the June 6 elections, Morena got the “whole enchilada” in Sinaloa, a state where the left had never ruled. Rubén Rocha, Morena’s candidate for governor, won with a 25-point advantage. AMLO’s party also won the representatives by a relative majority in the seven electoral districts in Sinaloa and won the mayoralty in 17 of the 18 municipalities.

Given these two premises, it is tempting to speculate whether Morena owes the resounding victory in Sinaloa to the people of El Chapo (in particular to his children, the Chapitos, who apparently were the ones who sought to benefit the President’s party, against the line that followed the rival Capo, Mayo Zambada). At least in the case of the governor-elect, the advantage was so wide that it seems difficult that it was not the result of popular will. However, as the days go by, and testimonies and chronicles accumulate, it is increasingly evident that the people of El Chapo gave a little help to the President’s party.

There are many accounts of irregularities before and during election day. For example, armed people stole some ballot boxes in Los Mochis municipality. These stories are similar to those told in other states. However, what was peculiar, and what probably had an important impact on the results in Sinaloa, was the strategy to completely ‘neutralize’ the entire operator structure of the PAN-PRI-PRD alliance, starting with the organization secretary electoral PRI, José Alberto Salas Beltrán, who was kidnapped one day before the election, and released the next day.

Apparently, this operation was carried out with a strategic method and discipline, almost military in nature. On the eve of the elections, after Salas Beltrán, the alliance operators were kidnapped one by one. Some polling station representatives were also taken away by armed men. However, there were no major outrages or excesses. Polling station operators and representatives were released after the end of election day. Clearly, the operation was sought to be as discreet as possible. 

It is worth mentioning that in Sinaloa, there were no candidates killed. Apparently, according to the plan of those who operated against the alliance, it was not necessary.

What happened in Sinaloa invites us to reflect on the degree of involvement of organized crime in the elections, but also the nature of political competition in Mexico. In a consolidated democracy, where citizens vote exclusively according to their individual evaluation of the candidates, and where the purchase and the coercion of the vote were truly exceptional, it would be very difficult for organized crime to significantly influence the results with a strategy like the one we saw in Sinaloa.

However, as the members of the different political parties know too well, in Mexico elections are a dirty game, where some and others continue to bet on the structures of ‘operators’, a euphemism for characters who in many cases commit electoral crimes, in particular different ways of buying the vote. Hence, the existence of these structures, and their work on election day, is so important.

As seen in Sinaloa, organized crime can hit a political party hard enough to neutralize its structure of operators. I would not doubt that, in competitive elections, it could tip the balance. It is not necessary to make too much fuss, it is enough to kidnap a few dozen operators, who manage the ‘machinery’ on election day. Of course, it takes a small army of well-disciplined and armed people to run an operation of this nature. Good intelligence is also needed to know the network of operators to be immobilized. It is not a major problem; For this type of maneuver, groups like the ‘Sinaloa Cartel‘ can easily get the job done (buying or intimidating a key person is enough).

Unfortunately, the corollary of the June elections is that it is better to run the election in peace than to try to stop the criminal groups. Falling out of favor (or having opponents who are more popular with them) can be very costly in electoral terms. Tackling this phenomenon would only be possible with a very high-level agreement between all the country’s political forces. Sadly, an agreement of this nature seems more distant today than ever.

The expressions used here are the responsibility of the person signing this opinion column and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The Yucatan Times.

By Eduardo Guerrero Gutierrez

Source: El Financiero



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