The anticlimactic swearing in of Oaxaca governor Alejandro Murat in the wee hours yesterday quietly put an end to the six-year administration of Gabino Cué.
There was hope for positive change at the time of his election, which brought to an end decades of rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). But the performance of the governor who won office through a three-way alliance among opposition parties fell short of expectations.
Instead of being remembered for presiding over a political alternative that brought new hope for one of Mexico’s poorest states, Cué leaves an administration plagued with accusations of the diversion of funds, unfinished infrastructure projects, widespread ungovernability and increased violence and insecurity.
A few months after taking office on December 1, 2010, Cué presented what was intended to be the flagship of his mandate, the 51-billion-peso (US $4.3 billion) Platinum infrastructure plan.
That plan consisted of 13 mega-projects that included dams for electrical generation and community water supply, two sports facilities for the state’s capital, a medium-security penitentiary and the conclusion of the long-awaited toll highways to the Isthmus and Coast regions of the state.
Construction of the highways had begun before Cue’s term began and fell under jurisdiction of the federal Communications and Transportation Secretariat (SCT). By the end of 2015, the construction firm in charge of both projects declared itself incapable of concluding the work due to financial problems.
One of the dam projects was intended to provide water for the ever increasing demands of the state capital. A project valued at 3 billion pesos, it came to a halt when the federal environmental agency Profepa found several environmental regulations were being violated.
A land dispute between adjoining municipalities was the project’s final death blow.
The hydroelectric dam project in Santiago Jamiltepec was abandoned due to strong opposition by local non-governmental and human rights groups.
The two sports facilities in the capital were finished, although both were criticized for using public resources on non-priority projects, and for privatizing their operation. Citizens of the city of Oaxaca have to pay close to 400 pesos per month if they want to make use of the gymnasiums, pools and sports courts.
A 2.6-billion-peso medium security penitentiary in the municipality of Tlacolula was inaugurated last March but the state has yet to put it into operation, while only the foundations have been poured for the construction of the controversial Oaxaca City Convention Center (CCCO), a project worth close to 600 million pesos.
Toward the end of Cué’s term a severe funding crisis in the state’s health system became national news. Several irregularities detected in its management by former health secretary Germán Tenorio Vasconcelos culminated with his being barred from holding public office for 80 years.
According to sociologist Isidoro Yescas Martínez, one of the most serious complaints with regard to Cue’s administration was the widespread opacity in the spending of public funds, ad-hoc bidding processes and the complete dismissal of accusations of corruption against his predecessor, Ulises Ruiz, and his officials.
“We could acknowledge that his was an administration of good intentions, but in the end you can’t rule with just that. He fell short in the exercise of the attributions given to him by law, and instead created a series of connivances . . . and emptied the state coffers,” Yescas told the newspaper El Universal.
One of the most serious issues left unresolved by the Cué administration was Nochixtlán, when eight people lost their lives and 200 more were injured in a confrontation last June. Almost half a year later, “neither justice nor clarification were delivered,” said Yescas.
As Cué’s term came to an end, there were increased reports of violence and insecurity, particularly in the Coast, Papaloapan and Isthmus regions of the state.
Today, the hopes of Oaxaca are pinned on the new administration of Alejandro Murat, not least because of his ties to the federal government.
Ten days before he was sworn in he announced that he had obtained direct approval from President Enrique Peña Nieto to release the funds required to finish the new highway to the coast, which he said would be finished in less than 15 months.
Oaxacans have heard that promise before, but all they can do is hope.
Source: El Universal (sp)