Veracruz: Portrait of a Dysfunctional State – by Michael Lettieri, TBI Staff

With under two years remaining in the governorship of Javier Duarte, it is clear that his administration of Veracruz has been disastrous. With statewide elections due to take place in Veracruz in 2016, it is necessary to examine the issues that continue to plague the state.[1] The following issues are particularly troubling:

Authoritarian attitudes: The administration of Javier Duarte has repeatedly shown itself to be exceptionally sensitive to criticism. In 2013 the Supreme Court struck down a state law that prohibiting “public disturbances” that had been used to jail two individuals who had posted messages about organized crime on Twitter. In recent weeks, new traffic regulations have been implemented that threaten freedom of expression as well. Protests now require a permit from the government to demonstrate on streets, and the permit must be requested at least six hours in advance. According to Article 238 of the new regulations, the state government “Cannot deny, prohibit, limit, or censor, under any circumstances, the free expression of ideas, as long as they do not violate or offend morality, privacy or the rights of others, or provoke crime or disturb the public order.” [emphasis added]

Political violence: Animal Político obtained a leaked state police report on security in the runup to the midterm elections. In it, 20 activists, among them students from the Universidad Veracruzana, were listed as potential threats to the election. Several leaders were singled out, and their pictures included in the report. This is particularly troubling considering that a group of student activists were attacked by masked thugs during a birthday party at the University on June 5, two days before the elections.

Violence against journalists: During the Duarte administration, twelve journalists have been killed, and many others have been threatened or forced to flee. Most of these crimes have also gone unresolved, even when the perpetrators are known. There is clear indifference on the part of state authorities.

Organized crime: Despite official assertions to the contrary, the security situation in Veracruz remains troubling. In particular, statistics from Semáforo Delictivo seem to indicate a high level of organized crime penetration. From 2013 to 2014, kidnapping rates in the state increased, reaching 1.8 per 100,000 in 2014, making Veracruz one of only 7 states ranking above the national average of 1.16. Disappearances also remain a major problem. From 2013 to 2014 the rate of executions in Veracruz also worsened, reaching 5.3 per 100,000, a rate that, while below the national average of 6.7, hides a more troubling fact: executions made up 86% of all homicides in Veracruz, the highest percentage in the nation.

Corruption: Federal audits have found significant irregularities in state spending: an audit of the 2013 budget found more irregularities than in any other state. In 2014 a recent federal audit indicated that nearly 2,500 million pesos of federal funding to the state had not gone to its intended purposes of infrastructural and educational development. Newspaper columnists have even alleged that planes connected to people close to the governor have flown out of the state filled with millions of pesos in cash.

TBI has translated a number of articles concerning these issues:

“Death Chose Veracruz as its Home and Decided to Live There,” Says Photographer in Exile – by Shaila Rosagel

The Millions of Pesos that Veracruz sends to Mexico State: Where are they from and who are they for? – by Lilia Baizabal (Plumas Libres)

When the Clock Stopped – by Ricardo Vázquez Salazar (alcalorpolitico.com)

Children are Half of the People Missing in Veracruz, Girls are the Majority – by Norma Trujillo Báez (La Jornada de Veracruz)

Self-defense Forces in Veracruz Reveal Themselves to Mexico’s Armed Forces – by Rodrigo Soberanes Santín (AVCNoticias)

Armando Saldaña: Border-Hopping Journalist – By Israel Hernández (Imagen de Veracruz)

How Armando Saldaña Reported the News in one of the Most Dangerous States for Journalists – by Manu Ureste (Animal Político)

[1] Due to an electoral reform in 2013, the 2016 voting will elect a governor and state congress for a transitional two year term. Statewide elections will be held again in 2018 for regular six- (governor) and three- (congress) year terms.

Michael Lettieri is a Program Officer at the Trans-Border Institute

About Michael Lettieri

Program Officer at the Trans-Border Institute

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