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Candidates Exchange Salvos in Two-Hour TV Debate

By: David Real | Real Acapulco News - 19 January, 2011

(Acapulco, NA 19 January) The two-hour-long televised debate among the three gubernatorial candidates concluded last night, not surprisingly, with everyone claiming victory. The PRI candidate, Manuel Añorve Baños and the PRD candidate, Ángel Aguirre Rivero, squared off, with Marcos Efrén Parra Gómez, the PAN candidate in something of a minor role.

The four topics set for the debate were “Society, Economy, Government and Reform of the State.” In fact, little was “debated” in the traditional sense; both main candidates are veterans of the PRI, which typically avoids ideological statements. Instead, each candidate took advantage of his air time to repeat campaign promises. The competition was not about principles, but rather to see who could promise the greatest benefits to voters.

Aguirre led off on the subject of society and health, emphasizing the need for domestic tranquility in troubled times. He called for cleaning up the police forces and having better coordination at all levels of government. He mentioned prison reform, better equipment for the police and more community involvement in law enforcement.

Añorve led off with a jab at Aguirre, saying, “I don’t know with whom I am going to debate: the PRI veteran, or the PRD candidate.” Añorve blamed the lack of security in the state on the PRD, because it promised great things and did not come through with them. By contrast, he called himself the man who says “yes to education, to health, to support for women and to the La Parota dam project.”

Marcos Parra of the PAN pointed out that the new government’s mandate will be 4 years and nine months. He said that this is clearly not enough time for his adversaries to keep the lavish promises they make to the electorate. Because he is of the same party as the President of the Republic, Parra said his program will have more cooperation from the federal level. He blamed the mediocre educational system on a tradition of bureaucracy and patronage that must end with the firing of excess and incompetent government functionaries.

During the time for responses and rebuttal on social issues Marcos Parra pointed out once more that all the spending programs promised by his adversaries are unrealistic, considering that the state’s budget for 2011 has already been set in stone.

On the subject of the economy, Aguirre attacked Añorve’s proposals to end the property tax on cars and to give away fertilizer to farmers, which generates a bill of one billion pesos with no hint about where the funds are to come from. He placed his confidence in small business, and said that his administration would help private enterprise. He added that large public works projects, like the tunnel from Icacos to Farralón, will stimulate more private investment in the state.

Añorve boasted his accomplishments as mayor, and said he would stimulate the economy of Guerrero, too: “Yes to La Parota; Yes to regional development; Yes to tourism; Yes to hunting, fishing and the environment.”

The PAN candidate spoke of globalization, and how his administration would create skilled jobs in Guerrero and train the citizens to occupy them, using the educational system to raise the overall level of skilled labor in the state. He added that he would provide opportunities for single mothers to have their own businesses.

On the subject of government-society relations and the responsibilities of public servants, the candidates seemed to be in agreement: Government needed to improve, both in terms of competence and character. Incompetence and corruption had to end. The PRI and PRD candidates blamed each other’s party for the situation and promised that their party would be the solution. The PAN candidate said he would strengthen legislative autonomy, reducing the role of the executive.

On State Reform, Aguirre played the violence card, noting that PRI sympathizers had beaten a PRD leader into a coma. The PRI had been discovered with a document indicating plans for vote suppression, violence and other interference with the outcome of the elections. “They invoke the name of God and then promote electoral violence; Guillermo Sánchez Nava is hanging between life and death. He called for a new constitution in which all peoples, the indigenous peoples, African-Americans, all have the same rights to education and health; all have the same human rights, guaranteed by a tolerant government.”

Añorve said once more that the time has come for “better times for Guerrero.” He would be at the head of an efficient government, respecting citizens’ rights, and working with all levels of government. He sought to help widows, children and the disabled. He said that his administration would bring back “family values.” He said he would clean out nepotism, inefficiency, impunity and corruption.

Marcos Parra said that “Guerrero is one of the least developed states of Mexico. As governor, I guarantee a democratic system with fair administration of justice, social development, care for the environment, health and education.”

The summations were mainly repetitions of campaign promises and catch phrases about securing a bright future for all citizens of Guerrero. Aguirre and Añorve took the opportunity to criticize the other, Aguirre in particular blaming the PRI for the recent acts of violence and the “dirty war.”

Separately, Aguirre and Añorve reassured their followers that they “won” the debate. Marcos Parra, when asked, said, “The people won.”