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Jalisco governor accused of dirty campaign to destroy political rivals

August 13, 2014
Tlajomulco Mayor Ismael del Toro announced on Tuesday that he has broken off relations with the Jalisco state government.

Tlajomulco Mayor Ismael del Toro announced on Tuesday that he has broken off relations with the Jalisco state government.

Tlajomulco Mayor Ismael del Toro announced on Tuesday that he has broken off relations with the Jalisco state government and accused Governor Aristoteles Sandoval of waging a “dirty war” in a bid to “destroy” his administration.

Three days earlier, Mexico’s Proceso magazine revealed that the state government had set up a “war room” dedicated to destabilizing del Toro’s government and ending the political aspirations of his predecessor Enrique Alfaro. Citing a seven-page document that laid out the government’s strategy against the pair, Proceso reported that the Sandoval administration had been waging a secret war against them ever since it took up office in March 2013.

“From the beginning of my administration I established a total willingness to work together with the governor. He seems to have forgotten this agreement,” del Toro wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. “This split will not halt our work which will continue to be serving our citizens and setting an example, as has happened since 2010,” he added, referring to the year when Alfaro was elected.

Sandoval’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) government has delayed the release of public funds destined for Tlajomulco and blocked the development of new public transport lines between the municipality and the Guadalajara metropolitan area for political reasons, said del Toro, who represents the liberal Citizens’ Movement.

Del Toro demands answers

“We have information from senior state government officials about the existence and intentions of their war room,” del Toro continued. “Now the media has documented their strategy to remove me as mayor and promote the installation of a municipal council … we demand that the Jalisco governor explain to us why his war room is devising a strategy to displace our government.”

This underhand strategy reportedly included the creation of civic associations that could be used to stir up criticism of the Tlajomulco authorities. Del Toro even alleged that certain civic associations were “responsible for poisoning our bodies of water” in a bid to tarnish his administration’s environmental record.

On Tuesday he announced the deployment of municipal police officers to protect Lake Cajititlan from deliberate acts of pollution. “Tlajomulco will not allow its citizens to suffer or for the stability of the municipality to be affected by us being the target of this attack,” del Toro vowed.

Proceso reported that the attacks are also aimed at preventing Alfaro – who lost the 2012 gubernatorial election by just four percentage points and may run again in 2018 – and the Citizen’s Movement from gaining ground across Jalisco in next year’s midterm elections.

This is not the first time that Alfaro has been the target of dirty tactics. While campaigning for governor in 2012, he complained that lies were spread about him via automated messages left on many voters’ voicemails. In recent years a number of Facebook users in Jalisco have also seen crude anti-Alfaro propaganda that his opponents have paid to appear on people’s newsfeeds.

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Tlajomulco’s municipal government has been the target of a dirty war waged by the Jalisco state government, according to Mexico’s Proceso magaizne.

Mexico’s most transparent administration

Last year the del Toro administration was named the most transparent in all of Mexico and the first to receive a perfect score of 100 in the annual study by non-profit group Citizens for Transparent Municipalities (Cimtra). In contrast, the conservative National Action Party (PAN) administration that governed Tlajomulco just four years earlier had received a score of 34.2, making it one of Mexico’s least accountable governments.

The Citizens’ Movement is very popular in Tlajomulco, where it invites the electorate to vote on what their taxes should be spent on. Del Toro also voluntarily submits to regular referendums in which citizens have the power to revoke his administration’s mandate to govern if dissatisfied with their performance. This has not happened yet.

Despite the popularity of the Citizens’ Movement in Tlajomulco and the Guadalajara metropolitan area – where Alfaro won more votes than Sandoval in 2012 – the party has many enemies across the state of Jalisco. Proceso reported that the PRI’s dirty campaign against Alfaro and del Toro has support from elements of the right-wing PAN, the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and the Green Party, plus academics from the public University of Guadalajara and the private ITESO university.

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