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Friday, July 13, 2012

Week's Top Articles on Mexico: July 6 – 12, 2012

Post-election news:
As the official recount was drawing to a close, tens of thousands of protestors marched on Saturday to protest Enrique Peña Nieto and the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE). Lopez Obrador and his party have formally filed a petition contesting the election, which can be revoked until September 6. Based on how the 2006 election were resolved, Mexicans are not optimistic. The PAN and PRD, two of the major parties, have worked together to investigate voting irregularities. After the elections, it has become clear that the pre-election poll predictions were inaccurate. Enrique Peña Nieto, the president-elect, elaborated his political strategy for the drug war, which includes targeting lower-level criminals and reducing violence. In Congress, the PRI will not have an absolute majority.

Human Rights issues:
Central Americans in Mexico: While the number of Mexicans making the journey to the United States is decreasing, it is increasing for Central Americans, who are leaving violence behind, but running risks of being victims of organized crime. Human rights defender, Father Solalinde, who returned to Mexico to his shelter Brothers on the Road after leaving the country because of death threats, said, Central American migrants are being used by drug cartels in a form of human trafficking. More than 2,000 Central Americans have been stranded in Mexico after a train derailed in June 17th and the city of Coatzacoalcos has been struggling to handle the emergency.

Violence against women: Amnesty International reports on the growing violence and discrimination against women in Mexico. Despite laws and institutions, there is a lack of investigations and justice, thus low prosecution rates and police who are not held accountable. The report's author noted that president-elect Peña Nieto's track record on tackling gender-based violence "is not strong," thus not giving much hope for the country. Death and violence against women in Ciudad Juarez continue, and some say are worse.

Indigenous rights: Mining contracts have taken over 75% of the lands of the Wikiruta people, reflecting one of the many social-environmental rural and urban conflicts in Mexico. This community has been very openly resistant to these contracts, unlike other communities that have been less visible. On Sunday, two indigenous members of Cherán in Michoacan were kidnapped and killed. Community members protested outside the local congress to demand security and protection from organized crime.

Violence against journalists: On Tuesday, two northern Mexican newspapers, El Norte and El Manana, were attacked by gunfire and grenades. The violence is assumed to be caused by criminal groups, and El Manana, while condemning attacks that limited the country’s freedoms, repeated that it would cease to cover violence among criminal groups.

On a related issue, the Mexican Congress has demanded that the president enact a victims’ rights law after his rejection of the law last week. On Thursday, The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee issued a report criticizing the use of the military in Mexico to combat drug violence and has recommended spending for judicial and police reform to prevent corruption and human rights violations.

This post was written by the Center for International Policy's Americas Program's Mexicoblog.

The Americas MexicoBlog blog team includes Laura Carlsen, Mikael Rojas, Anna Moses, and Brenda Salas.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Week's Top Articles on Mexico: June 29 – July 5, 2012

Mexico Elections:
This past week's highlight has been the Mexican elections that took place on July 1st. The international press was quick to announce the winner of the presidential election to be Enrique Peña Nieto, and while there was no widespread violence, Americas Program policy analyst Laura Carlsen considered the election an example of the country's movement to an imperfect democracy, citing alleged practices of voter manipulation not only through vote-buying, but also through the mass media of giant TV companies, and citizen complacency with this practice. During the election there was a shortage of ballots in special voting booths for voters that were in transit from their home voting location, according to Milenio. While the student movement criticized the disregard of the number of voting irregularities and organized marches for a fair election and against Enrique Peña Nieto, some reports indicate that journalists may have censured their election coverage or drug cartels may have played a role in local elections. A citizen organization surveyed a number of voters and reported that nearly 30% of citizens were exposed to vote-buying or coercion, according to CNN Mexico. After the election, hundreds of people tried to cash-in cards at a supermarket chain, which they said they had received from the PRI party.

The current PAN governing party experienced great losses in the general election, reflecting dissatisfaction with the party's performance, according to the Washington Post. Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, the runner-up in the presidential election, did not concede the election and requested a recount, which was completed on July 6th with Peña Nieto is the official winner of the election. Many of the 40,000 immigrants who voted outside of the country were surprised at the PRI party's return, says the Associated Press. Meanwhile, the president-elect has begun outlining his future plans to increase private investment and encourage job creation.

Drug War:
A New York Times piece argues that the drug war is not "successful," with drug prices at a low in cocaine and heroin and discusses legalization and de-penalization. The U.S. and Mexican policy on drugs was expected to stay the same as the presidential candidates did not make foreign policy a big issue in any of their campaigns. President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto has begun developing his strategy for the drug war, expanding the U.S. partnership in training and intelligence, and measuring success by decreasing the death toll of victims, rather than measuring the number of people captured or drugs seized.

In human rights, Mexicans face frustrating challenges and low approval rates when seeking asylum in the United States. And President Felipe Calderón has rejected a bill that would require the government to assist victims of violence, though in Veracruz an initiative is gaining approval to protect journalists.


Election News:

From the "Perfect Dictatorship" to the Imperfect Democracy
CIP Americas: If Mexico's electoral authorities confirm the preliminary vote, Mexico will have gone from a "perfect dictatorship" to an imperfect democracy,with the return to power of the party that ruled for 71 years almost without rivals.

Cartels cast shadow over Mexico polls
Al Jazeera: Speculation rife over role of criminal syndicates as country votes for new president amid continuing drug violence.

Mexico's presidential election tainted by claims of vote buying
Washington Post: In their eagerness to assure the world that Sunday's election was free and fair, Mexican President Felipe Calderon and the country's top electoral officials seem to have glossed over a few dirty details.

Mexico: Recounts for more than half the ballot boxes
CNN: More than half of the ballot boxes from last weekend's Mexican presidential election -- 54.5% -- will be individually recounted, the executive secretary of Mexico's Federal Election Institute said Wednesday.

Immigrants express shock at return of Mexico's PRI
Associated Press: Mexico's new president may dissuade some immigrants from returning home, despite promising economic opportunities there and a faltering U.S. job market.

Drug War News:

Numbers Tell of Failure in Drug War
New York Times: When policy makers in Washington worry about Mexico these days, they think in terms of a handful of numbers: Mexico's 19,500 hectares devoted to poppy cultivation for heroin; its 17,500 hectares growing cannabis; the 95 percent of American cocaine imports brought by Mexican cartels through Mexico and Central America.

Why Mexico's election doesn't matter to Americans
Global Post: Analysis: The winner of Sunday's Mexican presidential election is unlikely to change course on US trade and the drug war.

Mexico's Calderon accused of blocking victims's rights law
Fox News Latino: Poet turned peace activist Javier Sicilia accused Mexican President Felipe Calderon Thursday of breaking his word by effectively vetoing a measure to aid the thousands of innocent victims of the drug war.

This post was written by the Center for International Policy's Americas Program's Mexicoblog.

The Americas MexicoBlog blog team includes Laura Carlsen, Mikael Rojas, Anna Moses, and Brenda Salas.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Week's Top Articles on Mexico: Mar. 23-30, 2012

In Human Rights and Rule of Law News, the big announcement is that the race is on. Today is the official opening day of the Mexican presidential campaigns. The three major candidates, Enrique Peña Nieto (PRI), Josefina Vázquez Mota and Andrés Manuel López Obrador are holding major rallies to launch their campaigns and seeking to reach supporters and the large block of voters who still poll "undecided". Mexican government officials are taking measures to protect the elections from organized crime, while analysts warn that local elections are most at risk.

The week saw more reports on human rights violations, in this case against Mexicans on the border, journalists and anti-mining activists.

In Drug War News, as part of the elections, party leaders are already jostling to take credit for what's right and blame someone else for what's wrong. President Calderon said in a speech that drug war violence and chaos existed before and he just took the bull by the horns. An Army General echoed this line, throwing the blame on former President Vicente Fox, also of the National Action Party.

Statistics on drug war deaths are never precise, but this week there was some confusion when the Mexican daily La Jornada ran a front-page article reporting that U.S. Secretary of Defense Panetta used the staggering figure of 150,000. The Mexican Armed Forces later clarified that the figure applied to the Western Hemisphere. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey also weighed in on military strategy in the region this week.


Human Rights and Rule of Law News

Mexico opposition eyes return as campaign opens
AFP: Mexico officially launched its general election campaign Friday, with the main opposition party favored to regain the power it lost in 2000 after 71 years of rule... With over 50,000 people killed and mounting violence, PAN candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota, 51, will have to overcome deep public skepticism that the brutal offensive has dented the influence and wealth of drug cartels. Read more

Analysis: Drug gang menace overshadows Mexican election
Reuters: Rather than handing on a safer Mexico to his successor, Calderon's offensive against the cartels has laid bare the limits of the state's power against organized crime. Read more

Journalists Urge Mexico to Investigate Attacks on Media
Fox News Latino: The Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement Tuesday condemning recent attacks on a newspaper and television station in Mexico and demanding prosecution of the perpetrators. Both incidents took place in the northern border state of Tamaulipas, a battleground for warring drug cartels. Read more.

Human rights group accuses U.S. of abuses along Mexico border
Reuters: U.S. policing along the Mexico border discriminates against Hispanics and Native Americans and contributes to the deaths of illegal immigrants, according to a study by the human rights group Amnesty International USA. Read more.

The "fifth power": Transnational mining
La Jornada (Translation: Americas MexicoBlog): "So far this year, the Ocotlán Valley United Peoples Coalition (CPUVO) has reported two crimes and accuses the mining company, in conjunction with the San José del Progreso local government, of using armed groups against opponents of the mine... beyond the investigations required to arrest and prosecute the masterminds and perpetrators of these crimes, it's urgent that we look into the devastating effects of the policy of granting mining concessions without regard to the territorial rights of the peoples. Read more.

Drug War News

General Lozano Espinosa: Fox bequeathed a country taken over by organized crime
La Jornada (translation Americas MexicoBlog): Felipe Calderón Hinojosa inherited a country taken over by organized crime from Vicente Fox Quesada, in which a large number of the almost 2 million 500 towns "were imprisoned by crime and many mayors could not carry out their responsibilities... Therefore the Mexican Army had to step in to confront this phenomenon," said General Genaro Fausto Lozano Espinosa, commander of the 5th Military Regiment, based in Guadalajara... Read more.

United States: Mexican police, heavily infiltrated by narcotraffickers
El Universal (translation: Americas MexicoBlog): The state and local police in Mexico are heavily infiltrated by organized crime, said the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs William Brownfield on Thursday. Read more

Head of US Armed Forces Discusses Combating Transnational Organized Crime
American Forces Press Service: Transnational organized crime is not specifically mentioned in the new defense strategy, but leaders understand the threat, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said at U.S. Southern Command today. Read more.

Panetta Declares 150,000 Deaths (give or take) in Mexico's Drug War
Americas MexicoBlog: The Mexican daily La Jornada headlined "150,000 Deaths in Mexico for Narco-Violence: Panetta". The paper notes that the US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta made the statement at the first meeting of defense chiefs from Canada, the United States and Mexico, held in Ottawa on Mar. 27. Where did this figure come from? Read more.

The government distributes 200 million pesos belonging to El Chapo
El Universal (Translation: Americas MexicoBlog): More than 15 million dollars belonging to the Sinaloa Cartel, led by Joaquí­n "El Chapo" Guzmán, as well as jewelry and property seized by the Army in November of last year, will be distributed among federal agencies after the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR) labelled them abandoned to the federal government when no one claimed it as their rightful property. Read more

'Colombia Drug Lords Tried to Turn in Sinaloa Cartel Boss Chapo Guzman'
Plaza Pública. (Translation of excerpt Insight Crime): Costa Rican Alejandro Jimenez Gonzalez, alias "El Palidejo", had 16 reasons to feel afraid. Jailed in Guatemala, accused of planning the killing of Argentine singer Facundo Cabral (July 9 2011), Jimenez could become involved in a drug trafficking and money laundering trial against 16 defendants in a Brooklyn, New York court. The accused belong to gang the Rastrojos, and their leaders, brothers Javier Antonio and Luis Enrique Calle Serna, are identified as the people who planned to protect Jimenez when he arrived in Colombia, according to the president of that country, Juan Manuel Santos. Palidejo was arrested nearly two weeks ago off the Colombian Pacific coast, where he'd arrived via boat from Panama. Days later, he was extradited to Guatemala for the Cabral case. Read more

This post was written by the Center for International Policy's Americas Program's Mexicoblog.

The Americas MexicoBlog blog team includes Laura Carlsen, Mikael Rojas, Michael Kane and Brenda Salas.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Week's Top Articles on Mexico: Mar. 16-22, 2012

Drug War News this week saw mixed messages in the drug policy debate. On one side Commander of US Northern Command, General Charles Jacoby, admitted that capturing and killing Mexico's most wanted drug traffickers has had "no appreciable effect" on levels of violence in Mexico and the British Parliament sent an open letter to Latin American leaders that supported an international dialogue on drug decriminalization. 

On the other hand, reports suggest that, Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina has lowered his expectations for drug legalization

As the policy debate continues to alternate between progress and regression, the drug war rages on in Mexico and elsewhere, drawing the gaze of private security contractors looking for markets after Iraq and Afghanistan. And even as Mexico continues to use the US backed model of interdiction in their fight against cartels, the reach of these organizations' criminal activities continues to permeate the country's illegal economy, from extortion, to human trafficking, and even illegal logging.

In modern Mexico, the drug war is inescapable--and this new reality will come sharply into focus in the context of traditional Mexico when Pope Benedict XVI visits on March 23. In a country where 9 out of 10 people are self-described Catholics, the Pope's arrival will refocus attention on narco-church relations, with believers and non-believers alike keenly paying attention to what the Pope has to say. Movement for Peace and Justice leader Javier Sicilia traveled to the Vatican to meet with church officials on the eve of the Pope's visit.   

Human Rights and Rule of Law News in Mexico was highlighted by speculation that Felipe Calderon will flee the country at the end of his presidency. Facing a war crimes lawsuit in the International Criminal Court and fears that he will be targeted by vengeful drug cartels, reports claim that that he may be seeking asylum abroad after his term ends

Some LGBT members in Mexico believe that attacks against that community may be increasing as a result of Pope Benedict's upcoming visit to the country. The investigation into transgender activist Agnes Torres' death continues as five have been arrested. The case has also drawn condemnation from the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights. 

While a wave of attacks against the LGBT community has struck the country in recent weeks, other activists and civil society members have also come under fire. An opponent of a silver mine in Oaxaca was ambushed and assassinated on his way home in Santa Lucía Ocotlán. Journalists in the northern state of Tamaulipas were also sent a stern message after a car bomb exploded in the parking lot of El Expreso.    


Drug War

Eliminating Cartel Leaders had 'Little Effect' on Mexico Violence, US General says
InSight Crime: "US Northern Command leader General Charles Jacoby told the Senate's Armed Services Committee that Mexico had successfully killed or captured 22 out of 37 of Mexico's most wanted drug traffickers, as identified by the Mexican government. He added that such results had "no appreciable effect," as violence continued to increase in Mexico. The country saw a 10 percent rise in homicides linked to organized crime between 2010 and 2011, finishing the year with nearly 13,000 murders. read more

British Parliament committee supports decriminalization of drugs in Latin America
Milenio: "The British Parliament has sent a letter to the presidents of Mexico, Colombia and Central American countries to show their support for the initiative by Guatemala to begin an international dialogue on the decriminalization of drugs, reported the Guatemalan Embassy in London. read more  

Guatemala's Perez lowers expectations for drug legalization
Christian Science Monitor: "Some analysts got excited when President Otto Perez Molina announced several weeks ago that the Central American presidents would meet in Guatemala to agree to a decriminalization proposal prior to the Summit of the Americas. It was never going to be that easy. read more

Official says US Should Resume Military Aid to Guatemala
InSight Crime: "Speaking to media during a visit to Washington D.C., Guatemalan Defense Minister Ulises Noe Anzueto (shown with President Perez in the photo) said, "We have complied with the declassification of military archives, we have included the issue of human rights in our military academies, and we have (addressed) the remaining concerns there were about this issue." read more   

Security contractors see opportunities, and limits, in Mexico
The Washington Post: "With the Iraq war over and the American presence waning in Afghanistan, U.S. security contractors are looking for new prospects in Mexico, where spreading criminal violence has created a growing demand for battle-ready professionals. read more

In Mexico, extortion is a booming offshoot of drug war
LA Times: "Almost every segment of the economy and society, including businesses, teachers and priests, has been subjected to extortionists who exploit fear of cartels." read more   

At least 16,000 children in Mexico affected by human trafficking
CNN Mexico: "The Mexico Chamber of Deputies, on Thursday, approved the General Law to prevent, punish and eradicate crimes relating to trafficking of humans and to protect and assist victims of this crime. The law provides for penalties for anyone who captures or transfer persons in situations of trafficking. This law will be now be considered by the Senate. read more

World Bank says Illegal logging generates $15 billion per year, controlled by crime
La Jornada: "The probability that Mexico, a veritable forest predator, is punished is one of the lowest in the world. A new international study found evidence of a connection between loggers and organized crime groups, with annual, multimillion dollar profits which fund their criminal networks. read more

Pope's visit to Mexico refocuses attention on narco-church relations
The Guardian: "All I do is say mass there every Sunday," says Father Erasmo Dorantes. "What's done is done and I don't have relations with those people." Those people are the Zetas drug cartel, or more specifically the group's leader, Heriberto Lazcano. Photographs of a plaque thanking the kingpin for building the church caused a scandal when they were published in a national newspaper in October 2010. read more

Javier Sicilia to be received at Vatican
Milenio: "The poet and writer Javier Sicilia announced that he will travel today to the Vatican, where he will be received by representatives of the Catholic Church. He will present to them the situation that exists in Mexico on the eve of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the country. The leader of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity will be received by the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace of the Vatican, Mario Toso." read more

Human Rights and Rule of Law News

Hague Court analyzing lawsuit against Calderon
Animal Politico: "Contrary to what predicted by President Calderon, the International Criminal Court (ICC) did not dismiss the claim that a group of 23 thousand Mexicans placed against him for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity. read more

Calderon may plan to flee Mexico when his term ends  
Proceso: "President Felipe Calderon may fear being killed when his term ends and may plan to flee Mexico, Dolia Estevez, a correspondent for U.S. news MVS, revealed. read more

Papal visit increases attacks against the LGBT community
La Jornada: The recent attacks against members of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community come two years after this group received the right to marry members of the same sex, but above all, these acts are occurring in the context of the upcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Mexico. Jaime Lopez Vela, coordinator of Agenda LGBT, warned that the visit has led to an increase in the climate of homophobia in the country. read more

InterAmerican Commission condemns murder of activist Agnes Torres 
Proceso: "The InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has condemned the murder of transgender activist, Agnes Torres Sulca, whose body bore signs of torture when it was discovered on Saturday, March 10 in a ravine in Puebla. read more

Five people arrested for murder of Agnes Torres
CNN Mexico: "Five people have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the murder of transgender activist, Agnes Torres Hernandez, according to a statement issued Friday by authorities in Puebla. The body of Agnes, an activist for the rights of transsexual people, was found March 10 in a ravine in the town of Atlixco. She was 28. read more

Alleged murderers of Agnes Torres are presented; her boyfriend is a fugitive 
Milenio: "The reason that five young men, including her boyfriend, who is a fugitive from justice, killed Agnes Torres Hernandez, 28 year old political activist for transsexual and transgender rights, was the theft of her car, a Volkswagen Golf, the Attorney General of Puebla said, while he did not discard that it was a hate crime. read more

Oaxaca activist killed in ambush
La Jornada: The main opponent of the operation of a silver mine in the indigenous community of San José del Progreso and the leader of the United Peoples Coordinator in the Ocotlán Valley, Bernardo Vázquez Sánchez, was killed in an ambush in Santa Lucía Ocotlán, confirmed the Attorney General of Oaxaca (PGJO). read more

Car bomb explodes in parking lot of Tamaulipas newspaper
La Jornada: "A car bomb exploded in the parking lot of the newspaper El Expreso, in Ciudad Victoria, the capital of the state of Tamaulipas, in northeast Mexico, damaging six vehicles of workers at the newspaper. No injuries were reported. According to military sources in the capital of Tamaulipas, the explosion occurred around 8:15 PM on Monday," read more

Friday, March 16, 2012

Week's Top Articles on Mexico: Mar. 9-15, 2012

Drug War News this week saw a series of important and game-changing developments. Mexican Presidential Candidate Andres Lopez Manuel Obrador of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) announced that if he were to win July's elections, he would halt the US-backed war on drugs, saying that the current model simply "doesn't produce results." AMLO (which is the candidate's popular nickname) said that his administration would instead focus on creating jobs for those without opportunities and battling governmental corruption.

AMLO's comments make him the latest in a growing number of political leaders from Latin America calling for alternatives to the strategy of interdiction against drug trafficking. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said that the war on drugs "is failing" and vowed to lead an honest debate on the topic at the upcoming Summit of the Americas in April. The United States, while steadfastly standing behind the current model agreed to participate in the discussion.

Proponents of the current drug war strategy hope to land a high profile victory in the run-up to this summer's elections by capturing the man who has been identified as the world's most powerful narco: Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. The Mexican government claimed it nearly caught the country's no. 1 fugitive in Baja California last month. Capturing "El Chapo" would mark two major busts this year, as authorities apprehended Erick “El 85” Valencia Salazar, presumed leader of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG).

Human Rights and Rule of Law News was highlighted by the tragic and brutal death of Agnes Torres Hernandez, the transgender activist who was murdered by decapitation in Puebla. LGBT groups in Mexico have claimed that this was the sixth murder of a member of that community in Puebla alone this year.

International human rights groups such as the United Nations and Amnesty International, among others, have criticized the Mexican government for failing "to properly investigate the cases of thousands of people who have disappeared in areas beset by conflict between drug gangs and security forces" and the "chronic impunity" that plagues its justice system.

Finally, Mexico's leading researcher on governmental corruption, Irma Sandoval, opines about how a new law will allow special interests, most notably big business, to exert more influence in government reform and public works projects.


Drug War

Lopez Obrador vows to end the war on drugs by creating jobs
La Jornada: If I become president, “we’re going to stop the war (against organized crime) and there will be procurement of justice. We are not going to use this strategy, because it has not produced results. There will be employment, we’ll battle corruption and calm down the country, we know how to do it, I’m sure,” affirmed Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador yesterday. read more

Drug War Violence: Data and Analysis Through 2011
TransBorder Institute: This is the third annual report by the Trans-Border Institute (TBI) on drug violence in Mexico. As with previous reports, the purpose of this study is to examine the available data, specific patterns, contributing factors, and policy recommendations related to growing toll of the drug war in Mexico." read more

Santos will Encourage Discussion on Drugs in the Summit of the Americas
El Milenio- "After admitting that the fight against drug trafficking 'is failing,' President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, host of the sixth Summit of the Americas, announced today that he will encourage a debate about illicit drugs in the upcoming continental forum April 14th and 15th." read more

US agrees to discuss drug legalization at regional summit
Colombia Reports: "The United States will discuss drug legalization in a multilateral setting for the first time at the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Colombia.... There is no indication the U.S. position firmly against legalization has changed. "We are ready to discuss the issue to express our opinion on why it is not the way to address the problem," said Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Mike Hammer." read more

With Near Capture and Exclusive Video, El Chapo in Spotlight Again
InSight Crime: "Authorities in Mexico nearly captured Joaquin Guzman, alias 'El Chapo,' in late February 2012. Along with a rare video showing Guzman at work, the elusive Sinaloa Cartel leader has been unusually visible in recent days. According to an Associated Press exclusive, Guzman narrowly escaped a raid on a mansion in Los Cabos." read more

Who's Tipping Off Drug Lord El Chapo Guzman?
ABC News: Time and again, the U.S. provides Mexican law enforcement with precise intelligence about the safe houses where Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, head of the Sinaloa drug cartel, is hiding. And every time the Mexicans raid a house, the man that the U.S. government calls 'the most powerful drug trafficker in the world' manages to escape at the last minute through the back door." read more

Mexico drug lord's fate is focus of election year speculation
Chicago Tribune: "Reporting from Mexico City— A tantalizing question is spicing up talk shows and opinion columns as Mexican voters prepare to elect a new president: Will the government spring a "June surprise" by finally nabbing Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman? read more

Arrest of “El 85” generates chaos in Guadalajara, Mexico
Justice in Mexico: "On Friday March 9th, members of the Mexican Army captured Erick “El 85” Valencia Salazar –alleged leader of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, and Otoniel “Tony Montana” Mendoza, allegedly second in charge of the same organization. The army ... conducted a precise operation in Zapopan –the wealthiest municipality of the Metropolitan Zone of Guadalajara– in the state of Jalisco, where the two leaders of CJNG were captured." read more

“Zetas” Bribe Police with payments of up to 600 Thousand Pesos
El Universal- "Commanders of the Federal Investigation Agency (AFI) and the Federal Prosecutor’s Police Office (PFM) received between 60,000 ($4,735) and 600,000 pesos ($47,357.40) per month in order to move police off the highways of Coahuila and notify the organized crime group, Los Zetas, about the actions of the armed forces ordered to combat them, informed the Mexican Attorney General’s Office (PGR). read more

Human Rights and the Rule of Law

Autopsy Reveals Activist Agnes Torres was Killed by Decapitation
El Milenio- "The State’s Attorney General’s Office in Puebla confirmed the murder of Agnes Torres Hernandez, political activist and transgender, who was found dead on a slope near a Puebla highway after being decapitated." read more

U.N. criticizes Mexico on drug war disappeared
Houston Chronicle: "'The Mexican government has failed to properly investigate the cases of thousands of people who have disappeared in areas beset by conflict between drug gangs and security forces," the UN said in a report published on Wednesday. Mexico has no protocol to register the disappearances, has poor procedures to identify corpses and the justice system is wracked by chronic impunity, the report by the United Nations said." read more

Amnesty International Says Forced Disappearances a “Recurring Pattern” in Mexico
Latin American Herald Tribune: "Amnesty International said Thursday that forced disappearances once again have become a “recurring pattern” in Mexico, blaming the scourge on “official inaction.” To support its allegations, the London-based human rights group alluded to a recent report from the U.N. ... that underscores the “terrible scale of this grave violation of human rights in Mexico” amid the country’s current climate of violence. read more

A Requiem for Public Control in Mexico
La Jornada: "The ominous proposal ... to privatize jails and prisons has become part of the profit motive and predatory logic of public services that has left the national economy in ruin over the last 30 years. The horrible daily reality that is lived in penitentiaries, which was cruelly manifested in the recent prison break and massacre in Apodaca, Nuevo León, isn’t a result of bad public stewardship. Rather, it is the fault of the federal and local governments that have abdicated the administration of these facilities and left them to the control of private actors and powerful factions." read more

Friday, March 9, 2012

Week's Top Articles on Mexico: Mar. 2-8, 2012

Drug war news this week from Mexico was dominated by the one-day visit of U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden to Mexico City, where he met both with current President Calderón and the three main candidates in the presidential election to be held in July. Each of the three, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) of PRD, Enrique Peña Nieto of PRI and Josefina Vasquez Mota of PAN had his/her own take on their meetings.

Back in Washington, Biden announced the implicit deal that had been made: all three committed themselves to continuing the war against the Mexican drug cartels and he had assured them the U.S. would respect the election results, work with whomever won and continue U.S. aid to Mexico. For the Americas Program take on all of this politicking, see "Doing Biden's Bidding".

Meanwhile, the voices of political and community leaders calling for a change in drug policy continued to grow. The secretary general of the Organization of American States said, "We are not close to winning the war ... and need to try something else." And the head of a Mexican national business association--a constituency that has been largely silent to date--called the violence "regrettable" and called for "a better strategy."

Human rights and the rule of law news brought a report of a UN group concluding that there are public officials in Mexico who have participated or colluded in forced disappearances. A report by the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights reported that 61 activists were killed in Mexico between 2006 and 2010. And a colloquium of experts on displaced persons addressed the failure of the Mexican government to acknowledge displacements of 1,600,000 persons within the country, caused by its war against drugs.

Meanwhile, the Mexican Senate approved a bill to establish a national registry of disappeared persons.

The Articles:

Drug War

Biden Travels To Latin America Amid Drug Decriminalization Debate
Fox News: "Vice President Joe Biden heads to Latin America Sunday amid unprecedented pressure from political and business leaders to talk about something U.S. officials have no interest in debating: decriminalizing drugs. Presidents of Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia and Mexico, all grappling with the extremely violent fallout of a failing drug war, have said in recent weeks they'd like to open up the discussion of legalizing drugs." read more

Biden agrees not to intervene in the electoral process: AMLO
Milenio: "Andres Manuel Lopez Obrado said that the vice president ... pledged not to intervene in the electoral process and to accept the results next July 1. "It was important what he told me, that the U.S. will respect the will of Mexico and reach agreement with whomever is president," said the presidential candidate of the left. read more

We agreed to greater cooperation against crime: Peña Nieto
La Jornada: "PRI presidential candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, said ....(that) one of the points on which (he) made the greatest emphasis was security, and that he made to Biden "the clear commitment ... to combat organized crime, working in a close and productive collaboration that allows us to deliver results in this area. It is a task and an obligation of the State to do this head on and create conditions of security." read more

U.S. sees the possibility of a woman president as "normal": Vázquez Mota
Milenio: "...the PAN's candidate for President of the Republic, Josefina Vazquez Mota, .... commented on the position of U.S. government towards her candidacy. "I saw him as respectful of the Mexican electoral process and with a view that for Mexico to have a woman president would be absolutely normal. ... he spoke of the importance of female winners, successful ones, and the effort it represents." read more

Mexico's presidential candidates committed to fighting drug: Biden
Milenio: "U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said today that continuing the fight against drug trafficking is on the agenda of the three leading candidates for President of Mexico. ... Biden said that Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Enrique Peña Nieto and Josefina Vazquez Mota ... assured him that they will continue the fight against criminal groups." read more

Doing Biden's Bidding
MexicoBlog: "Vice President Joe Biden landed in Mexico City last night and he’s left little doubt about his mission—to lock in the regional drug war. ... A real discussion on effective strategies has to include the option of legalization. The Obama administration seems determined to block that option..." read more

We are not close to winning the war against the narcos: Head of OAS
La Jornada: "The secretary general of the Organization of American States, José Miguel Insulza, said that "we need to try something else" in the fight against drugs that is being let loose on the continent, because "we are not close to winning" this war: ... He said it is necessary to seek other strategies that place greater emphasis on demand in the drug-consuming countries and on the attack on bank secrecy and hidden money flows. read more

Mexican business association calls the security situation of the past six years “Regrettable”
La Jornada: "The new president of the Mexican Business Confederation (Coparmex), Alberto Espinosa Desigaud, criticized the environment of insecurity in Mexico over the last six years as “regrettable” and called for a “better strategy” to combat organized crime that will guarantee Mexican citizens peace and tranquility as soon as possible.” read more

Human Rights and the Rule of Law

UN says Mexican state is complicit in abductions
Milenio/EFE: Geneva, Switzerland: "The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances of the United Nations says it has detailed information which demonstrates the involvement of public officials in disappearances in Mexico. It says that the disappearances are not only the work of organized criminal groups, but also includes participation from the Mexican state." read more

In four years, 61 human rights defenders were killed in Mexico
La Jornada: "The InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced today its Second Report on the Situation of the Defenders of Human Rights, it which it reported--using information provided by local organizatios--that 61 activists were killed in Mexico between 2006 and 2010. read more

One million 600 thousand people displaced in Mexico
La Jornada: "While the government of Mexico continues not to recognize the existence of forced internal displacement caused by its war strategy against organized crime, it is increasingly difficult to determine the real dimension of the phenomenon and assist victims. So specialists in the field warned during the "Day of Training in Internal Displacement", organized by the National Commission on Human Rights." read more

Mexico senate approves bill to create a registry of lost and missing persons
La Jornada: "By unanimous vote yesterday, the Senate approved the National Data Registy Act for Missing or Disappeared Persons..." read more

Friday, March 2, 2012

Week's Top Articles on Mexico: Feb. 24-Mar. 1st, 2012

Week's Top Articles on Mexico: Feb. 24- Mar. 1st, 2012

Drug War, Human Rights and Rule of Law News was centered on the growing drug decriminalization debate taking shape in Central America. US Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, visited Latin America this week in a five country tour, during which she strongly reiterated the United States' position against decriminalization and continued support for the drug war model.

Unlike fellow Central American president Mauricio Funes of El Salvador, Guatemalan president Otto Perez Molina remained steadfast in pushing an international discussion on the merits of decriminalization, reaffirming his stance directly to Secretary Napolitano in Guatemala City.

A tempered calm has recently crept over two of Mexico's bordertown murder capitals: Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez. Some are claiming that the drop in violence and a measured return to normalcy is the result of gains made by the authorities against organized crime; others merely point to one cartel's victories over its rivals as responsible for the new tranquility.

Meanwhile, across the border in El Paso, Texas, a County Commissioner was arrested for allegedly facilitating the sale of over 110 pounds of marijuana, begging the question of how deep corruption runs not only in the Mexican government, but also in the United States.

Finally, two analytic articles comment on the fundamental mechanics of what moves hemispheric drug trafficking. The first reviews the game-changing moment when the Cali Cartel decided to pay Mexican couriers in product, changing power dynamics forever. The second comments on a report that suggests the drug trade could be fundamentally changing again: this time with more power flowing through Central America.


Should Central America Legalize Drugs?
The Atlantic: "Last week, the president of Guatemala joined former and current presidents of Colombia and Mexico in expressing interest in considering the regional legalization of the drug trade...It is easy to see why. The drug war has been a disaster for the Latin American countries fighting it, especially Mexico, and Central Americans' suspicion that legalization could be less painful and costly is reasonable." read more

US Homeland Security Secretary visits Guatemala
Prensa Libre: "Combating drug trafficking will be another issue addressed during the meeting between Napolitano and Perez Molina—the Guatemalan President has recently proposed to lead a debate about drug decriminalization and Vice President Roxana Baldetti will begin a lobbying tour this week on the issue throughout Central America." read more

U.S. not budging on drug decriminalization stance

The Tico Times: 'The United States does not view decriminalization as a viable way to deal with the narcotics problem,' she said. She suggested a regional effort that would prevent drug use, intercept production and distribution, and stop money laundering. But Pérez Molina was firm. 'We are calling for a discussion, a debate. And we continue to insist it. ... We want to open a debate to find a more effective way to fight drug trafficking.'" read more

Stirrings Of Nightlife Return To Ciudad Juárez
Fronteras Desk: "In the violent city of Ciudad Juárez, one industry is making a strong and sudden comeback: nightlife. Thanks to police protection in certain parts of this Mexican border city, business owners have decided to reopen. That means recently abandoned hot spots for clubs and bars have come alive again." read more

In revived Tijuana, a new calm delights - and mystifies
Kansas City Star: Security officials credit better policing and the arrival of army patrols. Activists say that emboldened citizens began ratting out gangsters...But some experts cite a more sinister reason. They say the calm is because Mexico's most powerful crime group has seized control of Tijuana's key drug-trafficking corridor and now enforces the peace. Rival drug gangs that used to gun down one another simply are working together now." read more

The Dark Side to Juarez's Security Gains
InSight Crime: "Mexican border city Juarez, formerly the most dangerous place in the world, made significant security advances in 2011. But this may have come at a steep cost in terms of human rights, as Mexico’s Proceso argues." read more

Arrest of Texas Official Raises Questions of Cross-Border Corruption
InSight Crime: Last week, DEA agents arrested El Paso County Commissioner Guillermo “Willie” Gandara Jr. on suspicion of being part of a mid-size drug trafficking network. Gandara, who is running for a seat in the Texas House of Representatives, stands accused of distributing more than 110 pounds of marijuana since November 2010, and laundering the profits." read more

Gandara Moved to Federal Courthouse to Arrange for Release
KVIA El Paso: "El Paso Sheriffs deputies tell ABC-7 that Guillermo "Willie" Gandara Jr. was moved from the El Paso County Jail to the U.S. Federal Courthouse this morning where he is making arrangements to bond out of jail. Gandara is expected to officially resign his seat on Commissioners Court on Wednesday, according to County Judge Veronica Escobar." read more

The Cali cartel, Mexican smugglers and the war on drugs
The Los Angeles Times, Opinion: "Throughout the 1980s, Mexican smugglers were traditionally paid as couriers for hire by the Colombian cartels. They transported cocaine across the U.S. border for commissions that started as low as 20% of a load's wholesale value. As the flow of drugs increased, so did pressure to raise that commission to 30%, then 35%, 40% and more, until the Colombians said: "No mas." No more." read more

Cocaine seizures drop in Mexico as traffic moves
CBS News: "Cocaine seizures have dropped precipitously in Mexico in recent years, and a top U.N. drug-control official said Tuesday the trade appeared to be moving to Central America because of law enforcement pressure and infighting among cartels." read more

Friday, February 24, 2012

Week's Top Articles on Mexico: Feb. 17-23, 2012

Drug War, Human Rights and Rule of Law issues all came together this week with the prison riot and escape in Nuevo Leon, Mexico. 44 people were killed and another 30 inmates escaped in what authorities are now calling a joint operation between corrupt prison officials and the Zetas cartel. By week's end, the prison director and 28 guards had been arrested. The Mexican Interior Secretary, speaking on behalf on the Calderon administration, claimed that the federal government is doing its part by building more federal prisons, but that state governments are responsible for what happens in their own prisons.

The UN Human Rights Commissioner called for an immediate investigation into the prison conditions in Mexico, a call that was echoed by the Mexican Human Rights Commission, as well as other international human rights groups. Mexico's practice of detaining people in jail who have been arrested and are held without bail, pending their trials, exacerbates prison overcrowding.
Another investigation, that of a Mexican General allegedly on the payroll of the Zetas cartel, further demonstrates the interweaving of the drug war and corruption in the Mexican government.
Meanwhile, the federal Judicial (investigative) Police are seeking to reform their department by providing additional training to 4,000 of their agents, with assistance provided by the US under the Merida Initiative.

Finally, we conclude with two excerpts of an interview with the leader of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, Javier Sicilia. In the first excerpt, Sicilia talks about reconstructing the social fabric of Mexico, and in the second, he talks about the upcoming peace caravan through the United States this fall.


At least 38 people are killed during riot in prison in Nuevo Leon
CNN Mexico: " At least 38 people were killed during a riot that occurred early Sunday at the Center for Social Rehabilitation (Cereso) in the municipality of Apodaca, Nuevo Leon, in the north (of Mexico), a spokesman for state security said. He warned that the death toll may rise..." read more

Mexico Says Prison Riot Masked Escape of Drug-Gang Members
Wall Street Journal- Nuevo León Gov. Rodrigo Medina said that 30 inmates, all members of the Zetas drug cartel, used the massacre on Sunday as cover for an escape from Apodaca state prison, a few miles from the state capital of Monterrey. "Without a doubt there was premeditation," said Mr. Medina, speaking at a news conference. "This was planned." read more

9 prison guards confess to helping Zetas escape in deadly brawl
AP/LA Daily News: "Nine guards have confessed to helping Zetas drug gangsters escape from prison before other Zetas slaughtered 44 rival inmates, a state official said late Monday, underlining the enormous corruption inside Mexico's overcrowded, underfunded prisons. read more

Grave situation in prisons is responsibility of states: Mexico Interior Secretary
La Jornada: "Throughout the Calderon administration, there has not been one of these incidents in any of the federal prisons, not one," he said. He also emphasized that there are very dangerous inmates in federal prisons, such as kidnappers. "We are assuming our responsibility to reverse the historical pattern. We are doing it very quickly and without incident in federal prisons," he said. read more

Mexico prison riot: Apodaca boss and guards arrested
BBC News "The director of a Mexican prison and 28 guards have been arrested on suspicion of helping a mass breakout and massacre by gang members on Sunday. Thirty inmates with links to the Zetas drugs cartel escaped from the Apodaca jail during the unrest and 44 prisoners from a rival gang were killed. Investigators say they have evidence that guards helped plan the killings." read more

UN Human Rights Commissioner calls for investigation of Apodaca prison deaths and escape
Milenio: "The High Commissioner of United Nations Human Rights (OHCHR) today called on Mexico to make an exhaustive inquiry into the deaths of 44 inmates and the escape of 30 inmates from the prison of Apodaca. "Those responsible, including the prison authorities, ought to be brought to justice and all necessary steps taken to prevent the recurrence of such attacks," said agency spokesman, Ravina Shamdasani. read more

Mexico prison riot: Mexico Human Rights Commission opens investigation
La Jornada: "The National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) has opened an investigation into the murder of 44 prisoners and the escape of 30 others from the prison of Apodaca, Nuevo Leon, which occurred on Sunday, February 19. read more

Pre-Trial Detention Brews Crisis in Latin America Prisons
InSight Crime: "Recent prison disasters, with a deadly fire in Honduras and a massacre in Mexico, point to the misuse of pre-trial detention in those countries' justice systems, stuffing penal facilities with people who haven't been convicted of a crime. read more

General accused of being on the Zetas’ payroll
Justice in Mexico: "According to... Reforma newspaper, a General of the Sixth Military Zone based in Coahuila– a state in northern Mexico– was on the payroll of the Zetas’ criminal organization, as investigations by the Military Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de Justicia Militar, PGJM) and the Mexican Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) have discovered. read more

Mexico Judicial Police seek to improve their image
Milenio: "The Federal Judicial Police are seeking to renew their image with the launching of a new policing model. After the dismissal of more than 700 police, nearly 20 percent of its staff, the agency now seeks to improve the expertise of nearly 4,000 agents that work in this division of the PGR (federal Attorney General's office), said the Commissioner of the federal ministerial (judicial or investigative) police, Vidal Díaz Leal Ochoa. read more

Interview With Javier Sicilia Part II: Reweaving Mexico’s Social Fabric
North American Congress on Latin America- "Javier Sicilia talks about his belief that Mexico needs to reconstruct its social fabric—the broad complex of obligations and expectations that groups and individuals owe to and expect from one another—in order to effectively take on the dark forces of violence and organized crime that have beset the country over the past few years." read more

Javier Sicilia Talks about Mexican Violence and U.S. Responsibility
North American Congress on Latin America: "In this third installment of the interview, Sicilia talks about the upcoming caravan to the United States, that will travel from California to New England attempting to raise awareness of the wave of violence Mexico is living through and, in particular, the relationship between that violence and U.S. policies and institutions." read more

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:

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 "... 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

Friday, February 3, 2012

Week's Top Articles on Mexico: Jan. 27 - Feb. 2, 2012

Drug war news brings an investigative report from Newsweek on how U.S. government use of informers from the Sinaloa cartel may have unwittingly served its capo, 'El Chapo' Guzmán, in defeating his rivals. A report from a Ciudad Juarez hospital says that 80% of the children it serves suffer from post traumatic stress as a result of exposure to violence in the city.

On the side of reforming drug policy and ending the drug war, Colombian President Santos once again says he would support decriminalization of drugs, "if the rest of the world goes along." In an extended interview, Javier Sicilia, leader of the Mexican Movement for Peace with Justice, talks about non-violent protest and dialogue with the powers that be. And artists and actors join with the Movement in a media endeavor to put the Mexican public in "The Shoes of the Other," i.e., in the shoes of families who have lost loved ones to the drug war.

Human rights, the rule of law and Mexican political news intersected in several ways this week. A Mexican general was accused of serious human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings. A report by Global Financial Integrity revealed that the Mexico economy has lost billions of dollars to crime, corruption and tax evasion. And a report by Mexico's Attorney General's Office (Justice Department) acknowledged that it is rife with corruption.

Meanwhile, two potential political scandals erupted in Mexico as campaigns of the presidency heat up. First, 25 million pesos (about $1.9 million dollars) were found in the suitcases of two Veracruz government employees at the airport in Mexico State. The employees were first arrested and then released when the Veracruz state government said the cash was to pay bills for three state festivals. In the heat of the presidential campaign--in which the PRI candidate and former Mexico State governor Enrique Peña Nieto is in the lead in the polls--the leftist party, PRD, smells a possible scandal and the blood that could go with it.

Second, rumors--and then an official government statement--revealed that three former governors of the drug-war-plagued border state of Tamaulipas were under federal investigation for possible links to drug cartels. Then it was revealed that the chief source of information implicating them was a former member of the Zetas cartel who is a "protected witness" of both the Mexican and U.S. governments, and that after two years of investigation, his claims have not been corroborated.

The Articles:

Drug war

'Tinker, tailor, soldier, kingpin'
Newsweek: "How Sinaloa cartel boss 'El Chapo' Guzmán got U.S. agents to help him become Mexico's most powerful drug lord." read more

80% of children in medical care in Ciudad Juarez suffer post-traumatic stress
Milenio: "A study of children aged between five and 12 years of age attending the Children's Hospital showed that 80 percent suffer from post traumatic stress disorder caused by violence." read more

Colombia President Calls Drug War a “Stationary Bike”
Pan-American Post: "During a panel discussion, Nicaraguan writer Sergio Ramirez stated, “I know this cannot be an opinion of the state and the president of a republic cannot express it, but as an ordinary citizen, I can. The solution is decriminalizing drugs.” President Juan Manuel Santos, also on the panel, responded: ¨I say as president of a republic: this solution would be acceptable to Colombia, if the rest of the world goes along.”" read more

A Conversation With Javier Sicilia
North American Congress on Latin America: "The Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD) has campaigned against the spreading criminal and state violence in Mexico, and ... against the militarization of Mexico’s Drug War and what Sicilia sees as the concurrent militarization of Mexican society. ... here are some interview excerpts on the questions of nonviolence and the process of dialogue:" read more

Mexican Movement for Peace Starts Campaign "In Another's Shoes"

Milenio: ""In Another's Shoes" is a campaign to raise the awareness of Mexican society regarding disappearances in the drug war. The group, "The Strongest Cry" --actresses, actors, filmmakers and journalists, in alliance with the Movement for Peace-- has developed a media campaign proposing that people put themselves "In the Shoes of the Other." A video and spots in the media will relate the experiences of families of the disappeared." read more

Human Rights, Rule of Law and Mexican Politics

Military General Accused of Ordering Executions in Chihuahua, Mexico
Justice in Mexico: "Major General Manuel de Jesús Moreno Aviña has been accused of systematic abuses between April of 2008 and August of 2009 in front of the military garrison of Ojinaga, Chihuahua. According to Reforma, General Moreno Aviña is responsible for at least seven extrajudicial executions." read more

Global Financial Integrity Mexico Report

Center for International Policy: "Crime, corruption and tax evasion cost the Mexican economy more US$872 billion between 1970 and 2010 according to a new report from Global Financial Integrity (GFI).... The illicit financial outflows averaged a massive 5.2% of GDP, and grew significantly ... from $1 billion in 1970 to $68.5 billion in 2010. “This is a devastatingly large amount of money for any developing country to lose,” said Raymond W. Baker, director of GFI." read more

Attorney General admits senior staff members commit “illegal activities”
La Jornada: "The Attorney General of the Republic of Mexico (PGR) faces weaknesses: "tasks improperly performed by senior staff, deficient criminal investigations, and arrest warrants that are not executed" according to a report by the Inspector General ... The Secretariat of Civil Service (SFP) also reported that in the past six years, 7,550 public servants have been punished for committing crimes." read more

PRD calls for clarification of the money claimed by Veracruz officials
Milenio: "The president of the PRD (Party of the Democratic Revolution), charged that the 25 million pesos (about 1.9 million dollars) seized from Veracruz officials (in the Toluca airport in Mexico State) was being diverted to the presidential campaign of the PRI (candidate Enrique Peña Nieto). He demanded that the legal status and the origin of money be clarified." read more

Mexico investigating 3 former border state governors from old ruling party
The Washington Post: "Mexican federal prosecutors said Tuesday they have launched an investigation of former officials from the violence-wracked northern border state of Tamaulipas, and three ex-governors say they are the among those being probed." read more

Former head of the Zetas is source for investigating three former governors
La Jornada: "The investigation by the (Attorney General's office) against (three) former governors of Tamaulipas,... is based mainly on statements made ??by a former member of Los Zetas cartel who, in 2009, became a protected witness for the Mexican government and U.S. agencies. Officials said that... many of the statements (of the informant) have not been confirmed." read more