Friday, February 10, 2012

Week's Top Articles on Mexico: Feb. 3-9, 2012

Drug War News brings a complex story centering around a Zeta informer who emerged both as the reason behind the murder last year of American immigration agent Jaime Zapata and as the informer regarding the possible corruption of the three Tamaulipas governors. The story also reveals more about the growing cooperation between the U.S. and Mexican governments in their use of informants in the drug war.

InSight Crime looks at the interrelationships of the drug war, corruption and Mexican politics as exemplified by the charges against the three former governors. The article places this in the larger context of the power of Mexican state governors as middle men between national and local political levels.

And the Stratfor group brings us an analysis of why the Mexican government has not been able to capture the most powerful cartel boss, Sinaloa's Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman: he has too many government officials on his payroll. If he were caught, he could expose them and bring them all down.

The announcement of "the largest ever" methamphetamine bust in Sinaloa cartel territory leads us to think that, rather than being a "victory" in the war against drugs, the giganitic size of the stash tells us that the Sinaloa cartel is doing very well and that meth production is growing rapidly, on a far greater scale than the U.S. or other government agencies have previously calculated.

Meanwhile, the Mexican federal government admitted that it does not know the number of missing caused by the drug war from 2006 to the present.

Finally, and positively, there is the remarkable effort by two Mexican photographers to humanize what is happening in Mexico and engage their countrymen and women in making a statement for change. Their photos and videos may be viewed on their website: 31Kproject.com

Human Rights and the Rule of Law news focuses on an attack by a knife-wielding assailant on the Mexican activist against femicides, Esther Norma Andrade, in Mexico City, where she is a refugee after suffering a shooting attack in Ciudad Juarez last December. The injuries were not serious, but her lawyer charged that the Mexican government had failed to fulfill an agreement made in December to provide protection for the activist.

Discharged from the hospital, Andrade recalled a meeting in 2002 with then Congressman--now President--Felipe Calderon, who said to her and other mothers of femicide victims, "I put myself in your shoes." Today she wonders: "Where is that gentleman?""

Later in the week, the federal Attorney General's Office (PGR) refused to provide protection and to investigate the assassination attempt, arguing that it is not within its jurisdiction but in the jurisdiction of the Federal District (Mexico City). The District government is providing a 24 hour police escort to Ms. Andrade.

The Articles:

Drug War

U.S. and Mexico share protected witness central to murder of U.S. agent and investigation of Tamaulipas governors
La Jornada: Miguel Ángel Soto Para, founder of the Los Zetas cartel, is one of more than 50 protected witnesses U.S. and Mexican authorities have shared. According to Mexican officials, he was being transported by agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when they were attacked on a highway between Mexico City and Querétaro, resulting in the death of the American agent Jaime Zapata. read more

Mexico Investigates Governor Trio in 'Politically Motivated' Corruption Probe
InSight Crime: "A federal investigation into three former governors of a Mexican border state may be a sincere attempt to crack down on political links with organized crime, but has sparked accusations of politically motivated law-enforcement." read more

Mexico's Presidential Election and the Cartel War
STRATFOR: "the Calderon administration could attempt some sort of last-minute political coup to boost the PAN's popularity and retain the presidency. The ploy most often discussed is the capture of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera, the leader of the Sinaloa cartel.

... the factors that have helped Guzman avoid capture thus far are the very same factors that inhibit the Mexican government's ability to capture him. ... Guzman (has) had police and military officers, politicians, journalists and judges on his payroll for years. This ... has permitted him to construct a wide web of assets with which to gather intelligence and serve as agents of influence." read more

15 tons of meth found in Mexico
Houston Chronicle: "Mexican troops have made an historic seizure of 15 tons of pure methamphetamine in the western state of Jalisco. Soldiers discovered the huge cache in... a suburb of Guadalajara. ... The find ... is more than four times the size of a major seizure last summer of 3.4 tons (3.1 metric tons) and more than twice the total amount of meth seized in Mexico in 2009. ... According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, total meth seizures worldwide were 31 metric tons in 2009." read more

Mexican government has no database with the number of missing since 2006
La Jornada: "The Mexican federal government does not have a database on the number of missing caused by the insecurity and violence from 2006 to date. The only numbers available are those of the National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH), the Secretary of the Interior, Alejandro Poire admitted yesterday." Spanish original

Photo project focuses on 31,000 people who haven't lost hope amid violent drug war in Mexico
austin360.com: "... instead of focusing on the deaths of 31,000 people, Diego Huerta and Daniela Gutiérrez (photographers from Monterrey, Mexico) embarked on an ambitious photo project that highlights the lives of 31,000 people across Mexico who hope for a more peaceful future.... "31K Portraits for Peace" ... shows the breadth of lives lost but also captures a glimpse of the faith that many in Mexico still hold." read more

Human Rights and the Rule of Law

Activist Norma Andrade suffers another attack in Mexico City
CNN Mexico: "The activist against femicides in Mexico, Esther Norma Andrade, was attacked Friday morning in Mexico City, where she is a refugee after suffering a shooting attack in Ciudad Juarez last December. Andrade, was attacked and stabbed outside her home in southern Mexico City, causing cuts to Andrade in the neck, near her face. The activist is in stable condition at a hospital in Mexico City, said Malu Garcia, director of the organization Our Daughters Return Home AC." read more

Mexican government failed to fulfill agreement to protect Norma Andrade
La Jornada: "The Secretariat of Government failed to fulfill the agreement made last December to provide protection for activist Esther Norma Andrade. Since coming to Mexico City ... the activist lacked the necessary measures to safeguard her physical integrity, contrary to the orders of the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), said the lawyer for the organization Our Daughters Return Home, Karla Michel Salas. read more

I am afraid, I don't understand what is happening: Norma Andrade
La Jornada: "Ms. Andrade remembers that, in 2002, the then coordinator of the PAN bloc in the House of Representatives, (now President) Felipe Calderon, met with her and other mothers of femicide victims. "He said, 'I put myself in your shoes'. Today I wonder: Where is the gentleman who was going to put himself in my shoes? Why, if I am Mexican, do other countries have to offer me protection and I can't get it in mine?" She is considering the possibility of leaving the country." read more

Federal Attorney General refuses to protect Norma Andrade
La Jornada: "The federal Attorney General's Office (PGR) refused to provide protection and to investigate the attack made against activist Norma Andrade ... last Friday, arguing that it is not within its jurisdiction. ... Ms. Andrade believes that the government is minimizing the assault and wants to wash its hands of it ..., despite the attacks that have occurred against her in the past 11 years. ... The Government of Mexico City continues to provide her with police protection 24 hours a day. read more