Mexico’s presidential candidates have hit the campaign trail in the run-up to the July 1 polls, and some of them are being followed by the government – in the most literal sense.
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Traveling by highway to campaign stops, National Action Party (PAN) candidate Ricardo Anaya posted on Twitter that he’s being followed by the Mexican equivalent of the CIA: the National Center of Investigation and Security (CISEN).
Anaya, who announced his candidacy for the right-wing party in December and is also heading a multi-party coalition – Citizens Front for Mexico – today tweeted pictures and videos of people in a Nissan Tiida with the registration plate MXJ7679 following his car.
Some of the drivers and passengers in Anaya’s pictures look directly at the camera, while others try to hide their faces.
"These are two more examples of those who are following me," the candidate posted. "As soon as I leave my house they follow me. They refuse to identify themselves.
"Instead of going after criminals, they spy against those in opposition to the government. This is how state resources are spent. This is why we are how we are."
Another Anaya video published today shows a Jeep with the plate YHA8608 closely following the candidate on Feb. 11 while he was traveling from Coatzacoalcos to Mexico City.
In the video, Anaya pulls over and asks the Jeep driver if he’s following him. The driver then tells Anaya his name and says he’s with CISEN, "at your service."
This is the third time CISEN has followed the PAN candidate – who ranks second in national electoral polls – within the past few days, according to Anaya.
"We’re asking… that the government… tells us why they are spying on the political opposition," he said in a formal statement.
Secretary of the Interior Alfonso Navarrete claims that the alleged stalkings don’t constitute "meddling" and can’t be considered illegal.
"This isn’t a case of espionage, or espionage against the opposition, or any clandestine act," said Navarrete. He insisted the agency monitors all relevant activities within the country, but that doesn’t mean it is "meddling in the personal lives" of candidates.
Leftist and lead candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said last week that he and his family were also being spied on.
Anaya said: It’s worrying that the federal PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) government keeps using human, economic and material resources to monitor its opposition.
"It should be following those who have take away peace in Mexico to make the future better. Let’s not forget that Mexico’s 2017 homicide rate was the highest in recent history."
The murder rate in Mexico reached 29,168 last year: the highest reported figure in two decades.
PRI candidate Jose Antonio Meade, at least 12 points behind Obrador in electoral surveys, hasn’t claimed he is being followed. He’s hoping to replace President Enrique Peña Nieto, also of the PRI, whose administration has been riddled with corruption scandals and impunity.