The assassination of a Veracruz candidate shakes the heights of Mexico’s political power


René Tovar, former candidate for municipal president in the municipality of Cazones de Herrera, Veracruz.
René Tovar, former candidate for municipal president in the municipality of Cazones de Herrera, Veracruz.RR.SS

As in the best chapters of House of cards, the murder in June of a candidate from Veracruz includes all the miseries that only television can offer: politics, power, revenge and pending accounts shine before what initially seemed another homicide in the framework of a bloody electoral campaign that left 35 victims plus. The case took a new turn this week when José Manuel del Río, Ricardo Monreal’s right-hand man in the Senate and a member of the Citizen Movement, was arrested in Veracruz on charges of the death of a candidate from his party, René Tovar.

Del Río’s arrest on Wednesday was interpreted by Monreal as a political maneuver by his intimate enemy, the governor of Veracruz, Cuitláhuac García. Both represent two families confronted within Morena in their struggle to relieve the president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, showing that the war for power has already begun and who occupies each trench. In fact, López Obrador took a position on the arrest when defending García, however, his statements did not serve to reduce the outrage of Monreal or the opposition that threatened to activate an initiative for the disappearance of powers in Veracruz. Although remote, the hinted possibility has to do with the size of the outrage and has served as an excuse to review the wave of political arrests carried out by García in recent months.

On Christmas Eve, Monreal, who aspires to be a candidate for the presidency of Mexico in 2023 to succeed López Obrador, appeared in Veracruz to visit Del Río in the Pacho Viejo jail accompanied by Dante Delgado, president of Movimiento Ciudadano. Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, who is also involved in the succession struggle, backed his position with a message that did not go unnoticed within Morena. “Integrity and human quality, not abandoning colleagues and friends at Christmas. I recognize you, ”Ebrard wrote to Monreal. The message of support has so far been the clearest support that Monreal has received in his crusade to free his partner and publicly confirmed the alliance woven between the two applicants. A message of unity between the two that takes them away from the message of López Obrador and confronts them with the other candidate, so far, to succeed him: the head of Government of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum. The tandem formed by Ebrard and Monreal was joined by two other well-known voices within the left, Deputy Gerardo Fernández Noroña and Gibrán Ramírez Reyes, former candidate for the leadership of Morena, who criticized those who questioned Monreal’s loyalty to the party.

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The case of the murder of René Tovar, Movimiento Ciudadano candidate for mayor of Cazones (Veracruz), took an unexpected turn in the summer when, at the end of June, the authorities arrested his campaign manager, Omar Ramírez, as the main suspect of his death. Tovar, killed a few hours before the polls opened, was the most voted candidate because there was no time to change his name on the ballot. Finally, it was Ramírez who assumed the position as a substitute. A few days later, the mayor in office was charged with the murder of his partner. As on this occasion, López Obrador also expressed his opinion on the issue even before public opinion became aware of the case and revealed details about the main line of investigation. “One of the possible involved, according to the investigations, is his campaign manager, for him to stay as a candidate and win,” the president said at the time. Six months later, his former boss is the accused. The implications, however, are felt at the top of national politics that have made Veracruz the epicenter of a dispute within the different Morena families. And on the target of the confrontation is a name who spent Christmas Eve behind bars: José Manuel del Río.

The technical secretary in the Mexican Senate, José Manuel del Río Virgen, enters the Pacho Viejo prison in Veracruz.
The technical secretary in the Mexican Senate, José Manuel del Río Virgen, enters the Pacho Viejo prison in Veracruz.Yerania Rolón (Cuartoscuro)

According to Monreal, the arrest is a sign of “abuse of power” in the context of a “climate of persecution” set in motion by Governor García. According to the head of Morena’s bench in the Senate, the actions of the Veracruz Prosecutor’s Office “are far from the principle of legality” and are “contrived, invented and artificially constructed.” For Monreal, Del Río is the victim of a political persecution that will have to be repaired. The harshest tone was used by Dante Delgado, top leader of the Citizen Movement, who threatened to initiate a process for the disappearance of powers in the entity.

At the center of all the anger is the governor of Veracruz, Cuitláhuac García, and the controversial performance of his Prosecutor’s Office. Since he came to power three years ago, there have been a series of arrests that always affect opposition parties and, incidentally, portrays the low level of candidates in municipal Mexico. On that list, in addition to Del Río, arrested for murder, are Tito Delfín of the conservative PAN, imprisoned for abuse of authority and fraud; Gustavo Díaz, of the PRI, for carrying a weapon without authorization; Azucena Rodríguez, also from the PRI, for participating in the murder of a Morena candidate; Gregorio Gómez, for carrying a gun and drug dealing; or Rogelio Franco, also from the PAN, for hitting a policeman. All of them from Veracruz.

After the arrest of his collaborator, Monreal announced the creation of a commission that will study the probable “abuses of authority” collecting information on “arbitrary acts of the authorities in the detention of innocent citizens.” “The accusation is very flimsy. They are hearsay. There is nothing that involves it. There is no evidence: there are only hearsay witnesses, that’s what the lawyers told me, “he explained outside the prison.

From the National Palace, López Obrador expressed clear support for his governor, Cuitláhuac García, saying that he had “all the confidence” in him. “He is an honest, upright governor who is incapable of carrying out an injustice against anyone,” added the president in what was an implicit support for the arrest. At the same time, Solomon asked those involved to end “impunity” and “not fabricate crimes against anyone.” “We must not hide behind the fact that because we are from a party and that is why they cannot do anything to us or we have jurisdiction,” he said on Thursday. While the fight is resolved in the heights, Del Río, technical secretary of the Senate Political Coordination Board, awaits in prison to appear before a judge in the next few days.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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