Cablegate: Aguascalientes Tackles Security And


DE RUEHME #3659/01 3641435
P 301435Z DEC 09



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: Poloff traveled to
Aguascalientes, Aguascalientes to assess the
political, economic, and security situation in the
state by talking with a number of legislators,
officials from the state government, members of the
state human rights commission, prominent business
people and leaders of the academic sector. Located
on the western side of the Mexican highlands,
Aguascalientes is one of the wealthiest but smallest
states in Mexico. Locals promote the state by
highlighting its prospects for investment and
employment even though it has been hit hard by the
economic downturn. Migration is one of its major
problems, especially for the marginalized segment of
the population. Neither organized crime nor human
rights concerns figure as prominently as in other
states. Recent mid-term elections left the state's
political alignment intact. Officials cooperate
well with the federal government, which is crucial
in tackling a variety of challenges including
insecurity and unemployment. End Summary.

Political Landscape

2. (SBU) Political power in Aguascalientes is
divided between Mexico's two leading political
parties with the right-leaning National Action Party
(PAN) leading the state government but with the
Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) holding a
majority of the seats in the state legislature (14
of 27). Of the smaller parties, Convergencia has
control of two seats while the Green Party of Mexico
and the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) are bit
players with one seat a piece -- not enough to give
them much bargaining power. Even though PRI won a
majority in the local congress and big victories in
the midterm elections nationally, the party only won
two out of six seats assigned to Aguascalientes in
the Federal Chamber of Deputies while PAN won the
remaining four.

3. (SBU) Local politicians and academics predict
close races for the upcoming 2010 elections for
Governor, the state legislature, and municipalities.
PRD is not a real player in the state but its
leaders are discussing a possible alliance with
other leftist parties including the Labor Party
(PT), Convergencia, and possibly PVEM and PANAL in a
bid to win some of the votes traditionally cast for
the PRI. It is likely that PRI's candidate for
governor will be Senator Carlos Lozano de la Torres,
who scores high approval ratings. Given recent
electoral trends in other states, PRI has a real
chance to claim the governorship of the state.

Ongoing Migration Problem

4. (SBU) Migration to the U.S. remains a major
challenge for Aguascalientes. The State Secretary
of Government, Juan Angel Perez, told Poloff that
the government estimates that each day 13 people
from Aguascalientes try to make their way to the
U.S. In August 2009, 300 former residents of
Aguascalientes were deported from the U.S. Most of
the emigrants hail from Calvillo, a municipality
located in the southwestern part of the state; San
Antonio, Texas and Kansas prove the most popular
destinations. Ironically, Calvillo is one of the
most prosperous municipalities in Aguascalientes,
suggesting residents' reasons for emigrating may
have more to do with family ties than economic

Economic Development

5. (SBU) State government officials repeatedly
stressed their commitment to improve economic
conditions. David Cisneros, Undersecretary for
Promotion and Services, told Poloff that the
government seeks to expand business, promote
railroad investment and increase highway
development. The state is taking steps to improve

infrastructure, as it is strategically located
inside the triangle that connects the three most
populous areas in the country: Mexico City,
Guadalajara, and Nuevo Leon. Humberto Moro,
Director General for Projects and Infrastructure,
told Poloff that the Secretariat of Economy would
like to consolidate and expand Aguascalientes'
tourism industry. The government is planning to
build a resort which will attract foreign retirees.
One of the most modern stadiums, "Victoria Stadium,"
opened in Aguascalientes in 2003.

6. (SBU) State Secretary of Government Perez also
stressed that Aguascalientes has a well-developed
labor market since the state has not suffered a
strike in more than 30 years. Noting the state's
strong economic policies and respect for the rule of
law, Perez said that with good governance
Aguascalientes maintains an excellent investment
environment and a high standard of living for its
inhabitants. Representing USD 200 million in
investment, the headquarters of Nissan in Mexico is
located in Aguascalientes. There are several
projects in development such as the construction of
the newest and most modern World Trade Center in
Mexico, four shopping malls, and two theme parks.
Agriculturally, the state is known for its
production of "guavas"; around 80 percent of the
exports of this fruit go to the U.S.

7. (SBU) Secretary of Social Development, Beatriz
Canizo, told Poloff that the state government is
working to develop marginalized communities, lessen
reliance on remittances, and improve the quality of
its citizens' lives through the implementation of
certain programs such as "Hagamoslo Juntos" (Let's
Do it Together), a program aimed at teaching skills
such as home repairs. Another program she pointed
out is called "Impulsa," which gives loans to small
businesses. Canizo also highlighted "Justicia Para
Todos" (Justice for All), a program that provides
free legal services for the poor, and the
Secretariat's free courses on dressmaking, hair
cutting, carpentry, and other home economic skills.

Security Successes

8. (SBU) Secretary of Public Secretary, Rolando
Hidalgo, told Poloff the primary security issues in
Aguascalientes are extortion and abuse of authority.
Thanks to cooperation with the army, he said
organized crime is no longer a major problem in the
state, and the citizens of Aguascalientes generally
support the military's engagement on security
issues. Poloff heard from several contacts during
the visit satisfaction with Hidalgo's performance.
Hidalgo maintained that his agency has complied
fully with its commitments under the Public Security
National Agreement signed in August 2008. Hidalgo
also showed Poloff the modern C-4 command center
where analysts and officials work with databases and
communicate among agencies and entities to prevent
and reduce crime. The C-4 strengthens surveillance
activities, which helps the state prevent crimes and
conduct investigations. Hidalgo assured Poloff that
Aguascalientes shares strategic information with
Plataforma Mexico, a nationwide public security
system promoting regional and national coordination.

9. (SBU) Hidalgo highlighted that under the current
administration, in coordination with the Mexican
army, the state Public Security Secretariat had
undertaken 1,167 operations in which they detained
414 alleged criminals including 59 members of eight
different gangs involved in organized crime.
Hidalgo boasted that state forces had also secured
the release of eight kidnapping victims and
recovered 71 stolen vehicles. Hidalgo maintained
that the state continues to strengthen police entry
requirements and vetting procedures, including
physical and mental health tests. He asked whether
the Embassy could provide Aguascalientes with any

assistance or training for security cooperation.

Human Rights Issues

10. (SBU) The State Attorney General, Edgardo
Valdivia, told Poloff that his administration is
committed to respecting human rights and providing
assistance to crime victims. Nevertheless,
officials at the State Attorney Office conceded that
Aguascalientes had a long way to go to implement the
2008 justice reforms. The Academic sector
represented by Rafael Urzua, Director of the
Autonomous University of Aguascalientes, concurred
that implementation is a long way off; academics
claimed, however, that some progress has been made
with adjusting the new law curricula in universities
across the state.

11. (SBU) State Human Rights Commissioner, Omar
Williams Lopez, cited gender violence, poverty, and
the excessive use of force by security officials as
the principal human rights challenges the state
faces. Lopez lamented that rising poverty levels
could exacerbate human rights concerns. He claimed
that trafficking in persons was not a serious
problem in the state; rather, violations involving
women and children were mainly related to domestic
violence. Notwithstanding this claim, a local
Deputy told Poloff that the local Congress is
drafting a state TIP law.

12. Comment: Aguascalientes is well-known for its
relative wealth and high quality of life. It boasts
a proud historic tradition, relative tranquility and
a strong economy, but still faces challenges
connected to security and migration. New private
investment would help reduce immigration flows to
the U.S. For now, the state relies on a positive
business climate to foster economic growth and
greater job opportunities. Next year's
gubernatorial race could well ride on the
government's record on economic issues. End

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