LatinNews Consulting

Alarm in Mexico’s Quintana Roo as public offices come under attack

On 17 January the governor of Mexico’s Quintana Roo state, Carlos Joaquín González, reported that four people had been killed during an armed attack carried out by criminals on the offices of the state’s attorney general’s office (FGE) in the city of Cancún.

A sense of growing foreboding in Mexico

The mood in Mexico this week was dark, for two connected reasons. With only days to go before the inauguration of Donald Trump as the next US President, fear and uncertainty over his policies towards Mexico continued to worry the government led by President Enrique Peña Nieto and to exert fierce downward pressure on the Mexican peso. This comes as the country is reeling from the gasolinazo – a sharp increase in petrol prices that led to protests, blockades, looting, and six deaths in different parts of the country. The full political consequences of the new mood may take some time to play out.

Anger over the gasolinazo

Fuel prices at Mexico’s service stations rose by between 14.2% and 20.1% on 1 January, triggering widespread anger across the country. There were protest marches, road and service station blockades, and significant outbreaks of looting. There is much to suggest that the current downstream phase of the government’s landmark energy reform, launched in 2014, has been badly handled.

The threat to peace from organised crime

As the Colombian government perseveres with its attempt to achieve a lasting peace settlement with the left wing guerrillas of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Farc), there is a continuing national security threat from another quarter: organised crime. The nightmare scenario is that the hundreds of small and not-so-small criminal groups active in the country (known as bandas criminals or bacrims) will expand to occupy the spaces previously controlled by Farc and by the other main rebel group, the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN), which is also involved in peace talks. Here we look at potential future scenarios.

Ortega begins another term

Following his sweeping (72.5%) victory for the ruling Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) in the November 2016 general elections [RC-16-11], President Daniel Ortega was sworn in last week for a third consecutive term. Leading opposition figures including former FSLN comandante Dora María Téllez of the dissident Movimiento Renovador Sandinista (MRS) continue to denounce Ortega’s dynastic pretensions and the erosion of democracy in the country – a complaint raised not least in relation to the electoral process itself which was questioned both domestically and internationally [RC-16-12]. Ortega’s consolidated grip on the 92-member legislature, along with all state institutions, suggests he will continue to have free reign over government policies such as the poverty reduction programmes which have ensured his popularity.

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