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The State of Sinaloa: Introductory Note

Philip Raworth
Edited By: Philip Raworth

© 2017 Oxford University Press

The State of Sinaloa is situated on the northwestern coast of Mexico. It is bordered on the north by the State of Sonora, on the east by the States of Chihuahua and Durango, on the south by the State of Nayarit and on the west by the Gulf of California and the Pacific Ocean.

It covers an area of 58,328 square kilometers (22,529 square miles) and, as of 2015, has a population of 2,966,321. The capital is Culiacán Rosales.

Prior to the arrival of the Spanish, the area was inhabited by the Indian Cáhita people. In 1531, the Spaniard Beltrán de Guzmán defeated them and Sinaloa became part of Nueva Galicia. Later, in 1564, the area was split up between the Nueva Galicia and Nueva Viscaya provinces. During the seventeenth century, Spanish influence was extended throughout the area. After Mexican independence in 1821, Sinaloa was joined with Sonora as the Estado de Occidente. It became a separate sovereign State in 1830.

Legislative Power

Legislative Power in Sinaloa is vested in the unicameral State Congress, which is composed of representatives elected by the people every three years. There are 40 deputies, 24 of whom are elected by the system of a relative majority in single-member electoral districts and 16 who are elected in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the system of lists of candidates voted on in multi-member constituencies. The deputies may be re-elected until they have completed a maximum of four consecutive terms. The Congress may not exercise its functions without the presence of more than half of the total number of its members. There is no provision for an early dissolution of the Congress, either by the Congress itself or the Executive.

The following are the exclusive power of the State Congress:

  • –  to adopt its own Organic Law, which may not be vetoed and does not need to be promulgated by the Governor;

  • –  to adopt, interpret, amend, abolish and repeal laws and decrees in all the branches of the public administration of the State;

  • –  to levy all classes of taxes needed to cover the budget;

  • –  to initiate laws and their amendments;

  • –  to approve the agreements that the Governor of the State concludes with neighboring entities on questions of borders and to submit them, through the Governor, for ratification by the Congress of the Union;

  • –  to ratify the agreements concluded between the municipalities with the respect to the fixing of their borders;

  • –  to create new municipalities within the borders of those already existing, subject to the requirements set out in the State Constitution;

  • –  to abolish municipalities, to make the appropriate new political division;

  • –  to ratify or not the creation of trusteeships and police stations proposed by the municipal councils or the abolition or modification of the existing ones, and to determine their limits and the designation of their head towns;

  • –  to decree the founding of villages and to establish the categories of the town or city to which they belong;

  • –  to decree the temporary removal of the Powers of the State out of the City of Culiacán Rosales;

  • –  to convene all types of election for public servants of the State and the municipalities when necessary;

  • –  to issue the solemn edict making known in all the State the declaration of Governor-Elect made by the State Electoral Court;

  • –  to elect the citizen who is to substitute for the Governor of the State with the character of a substitute or interim Governor;

  • –  to elect the judges of the Supreme Court of Justice of the State and the Court for Administrative Litigation;

  • –  to elect substitutes for municipal president, city attorney and municipal councilor in case of vacancies;

  • –  to adopt laws that govern public security in the State;

  • –  to receive the constitutional oath of the deputies, the Governor and the judges of the Supreme Court of Justice of the State and the public servants that it appoints, who, in conformity with the laws, may not take the oath in any other manner;

  • –  to grant leave to and accept the resignations of the deputies and other public servants under its control, the Governor and the judges of the Supreme Court of Justice;

  • –  to appoint, on a proposal from the governing body, the public servants of the State Congress up to the level of director; receive their legal oath, remove them and grant them leave;

  • –  to hear the accusations against public servants by means of a political trial, acting as a prosecution body if this is warranted; and to issue a declaration whether there is reason or not to proceed criminally against public and, in the case of crimes, to act for this purpose as a grand jury;

  • –  to adopt annually the Law of Revenues and Budget of Expenditures of the State after a prior examination, debate and, as the case may be, amendment of the proposal sent by the State Executive. It may also, in this Law, authorize the multiannual expenditures for those investment projects in infrastructure that are decided in conformity with the provisions of the relevant law; as well as the multiannual expenditures that are necessary to cover the obligations arising from loans and contracts of public and private collaboration that are concluded with the prior authorization of the Congress;

  • –  to establish, by means of the issue of a law, the bases in conformity with which the State, the State decentralized bodies, the undertakings with majority State participation and the public trusts that form part of the parastatal public administration, as well as the municipalities, the municipal decentralized bodies, the undertakings with majority municipal participation and the public trusts that form part of the para-municipal public administration may conclude contracts of public and private collaboration;

  • –  to authorize the State, the municipalities, the State or municipal decentralized bodies, the undertakings with majority State or municipal participation and the public trusts that form part of the parastatal and para-municipal public administration, in conformity with the bases that are set out by law and in the cases that entail obligations that constitute a public debt and by a vote of the majority of its members, to conclude contracts of public and private collaboration and the assignment, as a source or guarantee of payment, or in any other form, of the relevant revenues or, as the case may be, of the rights to the coverage of the same, regarding the performance of any type of obligations flowing from such contracts or any other legal acts related to the same; and for the conclusion of the other legal procedures and acts that, pursuant to the aforementioned provisions, require authorization;

  • –  to review and supervise, through the High Audit Office of the State, the public accounts of the Government of the State and the municipalities and the use of State or municipal public resources allocated to the decentralized bodies with State or municipal participation, pursuant to the provisions of the laws, and to verify the results of their financial management, the use of credits and the achievement of the goals fixed in the programs and projects of the budgets of expenditures;

  • –  to review and supervise the report rendered by the High Audit Office of the State on the application of the State or municipal public resources assigned to the decentralized bodies or those with State or municipal participation, pursuant to the provisions of the laws;

  • –  to adopt the law that regulates the organization of the High Audit Office of the State and others that govern the management, control and evaluation of the Powers of the State, the municipalities and their respective public entities;

  • –  to coordinate and evaluate, with prejudice to its technical and managerial autonomy, the performance of the functions of the High Audit Office of the State;

  • –  to authorize the State, the municipalities, the decentralized bodies, the undertakings with majority State or municipal participation and the public trusts that form part of the parastatal or para-municipal public administration to obtain loans or credits and to grant guarantees and endorsements and other similar legal instruments and acts;

  • –  to authorize the State Executive and the municipal councils, by a qualified majority, to constitute themselves as guarantors of legally instituted social bodies that have the object of obtaining credits for carrying out works of social interest, where there exist guarantees for the reimbursement of the financing;

  • –  to recognize, approve and order the payment of the preferential debt;

  • –  to adopt laws of a fiscal nature and set out, by means of general provisions, the bases and cases for the grant of subsidies and incentives and for the remission of debt in favor of the State;

  • –  to debate and approve annually the laws of revenues of the municipalities of the State;

  • –  to empower the Executive of State so that, within the limits that are necessary, it may represent the State by itself or by a special agent where appropriate;

  • –  to grant or not the bonuses and rewards that the State Executive proposes for those who have provided eminent services to the State;

  • –  to grant an amnesty for political crimes;

  • –  to restore the rights of citizens where their exercise has been lost or suspended;

  • –  to recognize adulthood for minors;

  • –  to set down the bases for the concession that the Executive is to grant in the cases where there is not a special law that determines them;

  • –  to adopt laws that are necessary to make effective the aforementioned rights and all those granted by the State Constitution to the Powers of the State;

  • –  to adopt laws that regulate activities relating to the provision of real estate services;

  • –  to summon to appear to the authority or public servant who has refused to accept or comply with a recommendation of the State Commission for Human Rights so that they may explain the reason for this refusal;

  • –  to exercise all the other rights granted to it by the laws.

The Congress may not:

  • –  adopt laws that violate individual rights and the precepts set down in the Federal Constitution or that of the State;

  • –  delegate its legislative functions. Only in the event of a foreign war may it delegate to the State Executive powers concerning the Treasury and the war.

The right to initiate laws and decrees and their revisions belongs to:

  • –  the members of the State Congress;

  • –  the Governor of the State;

  • –  the Supreme Court of Justice of the State;

  • –  the municipal councils of the State;

  • –  the citizens of Sinaloa;

  • –  the legally organized groups in the State.

The Organic Law on the Congress specifies the formalities for each of these initiatives.

Every proposal for a law or a decree is debated in accordance with the provisions of the Organic Law on the Congress. Once a proposed law or decree is adopted by the Congress, it is sent to the Executive, which, if it does not have any comments to make, promulgates it immediately. Every proposed law or decree is deemed to be approved by the Executive if it is not returned with comments to the Congress within the first eight working days from the date on which it was received unless, when this limitation period runs, the Congress has closed its sittings; in this case, the return must be made on the first working day of the new session of sittings. A proposed law or decree that is rejected in whole or in part by the Executive must be returned with its comments within the eight days following that on which it was received so that it may be studied anew; but, if the Congress ratifies it by the vote of two-thirds of the deputies present, the proposal returns to the Executive for its immediate promulgation. If a proposed law or decree is rejected in part or amended by the Executive, the new debate must concentrate only on the rejected or amended part. If the amendments of the Executive are adopted by two-thirds of the deputies present, the proposal is returned again for its immediate promulgation. Every proposed law or decree that is rejected by the Congress may not be submitted anew in the same session of sittings. The State Executive may not make comments on the decisions of the Congress:

  • –  when the latter exercises the functions of an electoral college or jury;

  • –  on the decrees convening elections for the public servants of the State and the municipalities;

  • –  on the decrees opening and closing the extraordinary sessions of sittings.

Executive Power

Executive Power in Sinaloa is vested in the Governor of the State. He is elected directly by the people for a term of six years and may not be re-elected.

The powers and duties of the Constitutional Governor of the State are the following:

  • –  to assent to, promulgate, issue regulations for and enforce the laws and decrees adopted by the State Congress and to provide, in the administrative sphere, for exact compliance with them, as well as to issue autonomous regulations;

  • –  to appoint and remove the public servants under his authority whose appointment and removal are not determined otherwise in the State Constitution and other laws, as well as to grant them leaves and to accept their resignations;

  • –  to hold the command of the police force in the State;

  • –  to convene the Congress to extraordinary sittings and to request the Congress to extend the session of sittings for the time that he considers necessary;

  • –  to provide the judicial authorities of the State with the help that they need in order to carry out their functions and to encourage them to give speedy and due justice;

  • –  to present to the State Congress the proposed Law of Revenues and Budget of Expenditures for the following year and to submit the public account;

  • –  to ensure that the collection and investing of public funds are done in accordance with the law;

  • –  to visit the towns of the State at least once during the six-year term;

  • –  to draw up the statistics of the State;

  • –  to request from and give information to the Congress on any branch of the administration and the Supreme Court on the matters within its jurisdiction;

  • –  to issue the professional titles granted by the official educational institutions of the State and to authorize those issued by the decentralized educational establishments;

  • –  to extend the authorizations for notaries;

  • –  to certify the signatures of all the public servants of the State who work on documents that are to produce effects outside of the State;

  • –  to issue regulations for the legal, organic, economic and operative regime of the offices of the State and the parastatal public administration;

  • –  to appear, in person or through a representative, at the opening of each extraordinary session of sittings of the Congress when it is convened at his request to inform it of the motives and reasons for the convocation;

  • –  to initiate laws and decrees in the State Congress;

  • –  to adopt the urgent measures that he esteems necessary for the defense of the public health of the State;

  • –  to ensure that the executory sentences issued by the courts of the State are duly enforced; to grant pardons for crimes of a common nature, as well as to provide for the recognition of innocence of sentenced criminals in the cases where the Supreme Court of Justice of the State has found in favor;

  • –  to ensure public morality and to impede energetically the establishment of games of chance;

  • –  to grant concessions;

  • –  with the prior authorization of the State Congress, to contract loans, to grant guarantees and endorsements and to carry out the other formalities and similar legal acts. Also, under the same conditions, the Executive may constitute itself as guarantor of legally instituted social bodies that have the object of obtaining credits for carrying out works of social interest, where there exist guarantees for the reimbursement of the financing;

  • –  with the prior authorization of the State Congress, to conclude contracts of public and private collaboration;

  • –  with the prior authorization of the State Congress, to grant guarantees and endorsements, assign as a source or guarantee of payment or in any other manner the revenues of the State or, as the case may be, the rights of collection arising from the same, with respect to the fulfillment of any type of obligations or loans, contracts of public and private collaboration or any other legal acts related to the same;

  • –  to include annually, within the proposed Law of Revenues and Budget of Expenditures of the State, the budgetary entry or entries needed and sufficient to cover the payment of the obligations at the charge of the State arising from loans and contracts of public and private collaboration;

  • –  to inform the Congress annually, when submitting the public account, on the implementation of the entries corresponding to the amounts and concepts of authorized indebtedness and relating to the situation of the State public debt, and also to include detailed information on the contracts of public and private collaboration in force, on the grant of guarantees and endorsements and on the assignment of its resources, as a source or guarantee of payment or in any form, pursuant to the applicable laws, as the case may be;

  • –  to designate, with the ratification of the State Congress or its Permanent Commission, the Attorney General;

  • –  to cancel fiscal debts owed to the State pursuant to the relevant law adopted by the State Congress;

  • –  to conclude all types of agreements, contracts and conventions;

  • –  to exercise the other powers that the Constitution of the United Mexican States and the State Constitution confer on him and those derived from those that are not expressly assigned to or reserved for the Powers of the Federation or other Powers of the State.

The Governor is not politically responsible to the State Congress but may be subject to a political trial. Grounds that may cause a political trial to be brought against the Governor are the following offenses or omissions committed during the exercise of his office that cause prejudice to fundamental public interests and their proper dispatch:

  • –  a serious violation of an express provision of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States, the Political Constitution of the State or the laws that emanate from them;

  • –  the improper management of funds and resources of the State or the Federation; and

  • –  attacks on electoral freedom.

A political trial does not lie for the mere expression of ideas.

The State Congress decides, by a majority of the deputies present and acting as a grand jury, whether there is reason to bring an indictment. If it proceeds to do so, the Governor is removed from office. Once the indictment has been made, the full Supreme Court of Justice of the State, acting as a sentencing court, makes a final decision on the matter. A conviction has the sanction of removing the Governor from office and his disqualification from occupying an office, job or commission of any nature in the public administration. In the event of an acquittal, the Governor continues in the exercise of his functions. There is no legal recourse whatsoever against the indictment or the sentence of the plenary session.

The Governor of the State may, during his time in office, only be indicted for serious common law crimes after a prior declaration of the Legislature, and he is tried by the full Supreme Court of Justice acting as a sentencing court. The declaration must be made by an absolute majority of the deputies present of the State Congress, acting as a grand jury.

Judicial Power

The Judicial Power in Sinaloa is exercised by the Supreme Court of Justice, the circuit divisions, the local courts of first instance and the juvenile courts. The State Constitution guarantees the independence and security of tenure of the judges of the Supreme Court, the circuit judges and the lower court judges in the exercise of their functions.

The Supreme Court of Justice is composed of eleven full judges who function as a full court and in divisions. The judges are elected by the State Congress from a shortlist of three presented by the Judicial Council. They may only be removed from office in conformity with the grounds and subject to the procedures set out in the State Constitution. It is a matter exclusively for the Supreme Court of Justice in full court to:

  • –  act as a sentencing court in political trials brought against public servants, including the Governor;

  • –  decide, as a sentencing court, on the criminal accusations brought by the local Legislature against the Governor;

  • –  hear and resolve the conflicts of any order that arise between the Powers of the State, between one or more Powers of the State and the municipal councils and between the latter;

  • –  hear the conflicts of jurisdiction that arise between the judges of first instance and the juvenile court judges of different judicial districts;

  • –  summon the alternate judges who are to cover the absences of the full judges, whether they are permanent, temporary or related to a specific matter;

  • –  appoint the circuit judges, lower court judges, clerks, actuaries and other public servants belonging to the Judicial Power;

  • –  decide on the number of circuit divisions that there must be in the State, the place of their residence, the matters that they may hear and the boundary of their territorial jurisdiction, as well as to determine the number of lower courts of first instance and the matters that they may hear;

  • –  appoint, when it considers it appropriate, lower court visitors;

  • –  issue the rules of procedure of the Supreme Court, the circuit divisions and the lower courts;

  • –  exercise the other powers conferred on by the laws.

The circuit divisions have jurisdiction to hear appeals that are brought against different decisions on final sentences as well as the other matters prescribed by law. The circuit judges are appointed by the full Supreme Court of Justice.

The judges of first instance are appointed by the full Supreme Court of Justice and serve a term of three years, at the end of which, if they are confirmed, they may only be deprived of office in conformity with the provisions of the State Constitution.

The Supreme Court of Justice determines the number of juvenile courts, their jurisdiction and powers. The juvenile judges are appointed by the Supreme Court of Justice and serve a term of 3 years, at the end of which they may confirmed and, if so, they may only be removed from office by a prior political trial or preliminary proceedings in which their incapacity or misconduct is demonstrated.

Administrative courts are set up to hear disputes that arise in relation to the legality and, as the case may be, the interpretation, implementation and effects of the acts, procedures and provisions of an administrative nature adopted by authorities of the State or the municipalities. The judges of the Court of Administrative Litigation are elected by the State Congress from a shortlist of three by means of a procedure set down by law.

The State Constitution may be added to or revised. In order for the additions or revisions to form part of the Constitution, it is required that the State Congress, by the vote of two-thirds of the total number of deputies, adopt the revisions or additions and that these are approved by two-thirds of the municipal councils of the State within fifteen days following the date on which they were communicated to them. If a municipal council fails to issue its vote within this period of time, the vote is considered to be in favor. The Congress counts the votes of the municipal councils and makes the declaration that the additions or revisions have been approved.