July 25, 2019

Term extended for Mexican elected governor with US ties

A researcher says the rules change signals Mexican political institutions are being tested.

Jaime Bonilla Jaime Bonilla (center) during his campaign, running for governor of Baja California state, Mexico.
Courtesy Jaime Bonilla Campaign via Fronteras Desk

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MEXICO CITY - A Mexican elected governor from a border state with ties to the U.S. Republican party atypically had his term in office extended. This is raising suspicions that the country's president may also extend his role in office.

Jaime Bonilla is a businessman and politician from Tijuana with dual citizenship. He was just elected governor of Baja California for two years, but the state congress has extended his mandate to five.

Sergio Bárcena, a politics researcher at Mexico City’s Tec de Monterrey college, explained the short two-year term was intended to make Baja California’s electoral calendar compatible with the rest of the country.

The expert said the change of rules ignores that voters elected Bonilla for a shorter term.

“There is some probability of a violation of the constitutional order,” said Bárcena.

The issue worries many in Mexico, as it could set a precedent to extend the current presidency of Andrés Manuel López Obrador. But Bárcena said there are still legal mechanisms to stop the amendment.

“This is the moment where the Mexican institutions are being tested,” said Bárcena.

The Mexican president has stated that he will not interfere in Baja California’s situation and will not pursue an extension of his own term.

Bonilla is affiliated with president Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s Morena party.

According to Bárcena, it is likely that Bonilla’s extended period will get cancelled. But the current tensions brought by the issue will complicate his government and his relationship with the U.S.

“He (Bonilla) is going to have to deal with lots of domestic problems, and that won’t help him at all to maintain a good relationship with the outside, particularly with the United States,” said Bárcena.

Fronteras Desk
This story is from the Fronteras Desk, a collaboration of Southwestern public radio stations, including NPR 89.1. Read more from the Fronteras Desk.
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