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The many challenges of governing the state of Michoacán

There are many challenges facing the new, interim governor of Michoacán, and chief among them is restoring the image of the state government.

The citizens of Michoacán need to be able to have respect for an honest and legitimate authority, said a specialist in security at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

The government’s image has been at “rock-bottom,” Raúl Benítez Manaut told CNN, going back three governors in time, noting that the son of the last, Fausto Vallejo, is suspected of being involved with the Knights Templar.

Yesterday, the rector of the University of Michoacán San Nicolás de Hidalgo, Salvador Jara Guerrero, was installed as interim governor after Vallejo resigned, citing health reasons for doing so.

During Vallejo’s time in power, just over two years, violence increased in the state and civilian groups took up arms to fill what they saw as a vacuum in the provision of security. The federal government stepped in to bring the situation under control.

CNN compiled a list of seven challenges that the new governor must address, based on the views of analysists and observers.

Image: the state government’s ability to resolve the state’s problems is under question by its citizens, as are its possible connections with organized crime.

Violence: Vallejo was left with problems of violence when he took office, and handed down more upon leaving. Between August 2011 and January 2012, there were on average each month 58.8 criminal homicides, 11 kidnappings, 16 cases of extortion and 60.2 thefts with violence of vehicles, according to the National System of Public Security (SNSP).

In the last six months homicides rose to a monthly average of 92.2, kidnappings to 18.2, cases of extortion to 27.5, and thefts with violence of vehicles to 128.7.

Politicians: there are many indications of connections between various politicans and organized crime. The former government secretary is in jail for being involved with the Knights Templar cartel, of which one of Vallejo’s sons is also suspected.

And three mayors have been arrested recently for the same thing.

Coordination: there needs to be coordination with federal authorities to combat crime, and with the 113 local governments and civil defense groups.

Public finances: the public debt of the state and municipal governments stands at 16 billion pesos, up 4.2% from the same period in 2012.

Poverty: The state has the sixth highest percentage of people living in poverty — 54.4%. Those in extreme poverty represent 14.4%.

Elections: the interim government will have to guarantee conditions of security for the 2015 elections — for governor, 40 deputies and 113 mayors.

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