Nov 25, 2011

Week's Top Articles on Mexico: November, 18-24, 2011

Drug War news this week starts with an article on charges of human rights abuses and torture being made against the former police chief of Tijuana, who was hailed as winning the drug war there. He is now the chief in Ciudad Juarez. Another article looks at how extortion is undermining small Mexican businesses. 

Two articles look at the apparent leveling off of drug war deaths, the spread of death to new areas and what this tells or doesn´t tell us about the realities of crime in Mexico.  A fifth article reports a poll showing that only 14% of Mexicans believe the drug war can be won, while at the same time 80% affirm their desire to see more millitary presence in their cities. These numbers evidently reflect Mexicans' growing despair and their search for security.

Lastly, Javier Sicilia, founder of the anti-drug war Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, announced that he is stepping down from his leadership role and that the movement is reorgainzing.

Immigration and Border news this week included Alabama police arresting a Mercedes Benz executive for failing to carry proof that he was a legal foreign visitor. This caused embarrassment to Republican legislators who passed the state's restrictive anti-immigrant law. 

A second focus arose from the debate by Republican candidates for president. Newt Gingrich, current front runnrer, proposed backing off from deportations of "family members" and providing "red card" work visas. Both proposals brought immediate attacks by competing candidates, including Mitt Romney, who clarified that he believed all undocumented immigrants should go back home and get in line for visas.

Providing a reality check on such political rhetoric, a report was released on "How America’s Immigrants Will Integrate by 2030," predicting that Hispanic and other immigrants--just like all their immigrant predecessors--will "learn English, buy homes, acquire citizenship, and attain solid economic footing in the United States." That is, they will become Americans.

Drug war 

Mexico state’s rights officials allege former Tijuana police chief abused, tortured suspects 
Washington Post: Nov. 18, " Baja California state’s Human Rights Commission accused former Tijuana police chief Julian Leyzaola and subordinates of violating the human rights of suspects and torturing people in custody. Leyzaola, a retired army lieutenant colonel, became known nationally as a tough cop after cracking down on police corruption and drug gang violence in Tijuana. He resigned the Tijuana post in November 2010, but Ciudad Juarez hired him as police chief last March." read more

Mexican Businesses Forced to Pay Up or Play Along with Criminal Groups
InSight Crime: Nov. 18, "Small businesses in Mexico often have no other option in the extortion economy but to pay up, or get involved in criminal activities themselves. Those who don’t pay risk their lives, and those who do risk bankruptcy." read more

Mexico’s changing drug war: Shifting sands
The Economist: Nov. 24, "Since 2006, ... each year the number of deaths in Mexico's drug war has risen, ... most of them ... concentrated in a handful of cities. But this year (it) look as if this may have started to change. The annual death toll seems to have plateaued at around 12,000. Hotspots have cooled, only for violence to invade places previously considered safe.

(Some outside experts) are sceptical about whether government forces are reducing the violence in cities like Juarez and Tijuana. ...  The dip in violence suggests that the powerful Sinaloa “cartel” has at last beaten or reached an accommodation with its rivals, believes David Shirk of the Trans-Border Institute.

...Though Sinaloa’s expansion may have slowed the violence in Juárez and Tijuana, ... it has stirred it up (in Monterrey, Acapulco and Veracruz)... This “suggests that what has happened in Juárez can happen anywhere in Mexico,” Mr Shirk says." read more

Speculation on Homicide Rate Distracts from Real Issues in Mexico
InSight Crime: Nov. 24, "The annual race to chart Mexico’s homicide rates has begun, but an examination of the claim that the drug-related killings have levelled off shows the inadequacy of this measure. Some news outlets (are) reporting that drug-related homicides in Mexico may have plateaued. However, tracing the trail of such data shows the futility of trying to use this metric to understand Mexico’s crime problem and ignores the more important question of how to lower the actual murder rate." read more

Mexico Loses Faith in Drug War, as Bodies Pile up
InSight Crime: Nov. 24, "According to the ninth annual survey on the Perception of Security in Mexico, only 14 per cent of the public believes that the administration of President Felipe Calderon will win the war against organized crime. This represents a considerable decline in public confidence from March 2010, when 23 per cent of respondents in a similar survey believed the government would succeed.

The survey... found that 44 per cent of those surveyed believe the security situation in Mexico will remain the same in 2012, while some 30 per cent believe that security will deteriorate further. Eight in 10 Mexicans believe that insecurity has increased compared to the same period a year ago. ... However, in spite of criticism of President Calderon’s use of the military..., 86 per cent of those surveyed were in favor of increasing the number of troops in cities across the country." read more

Movement for Peace with Justice at a Crossroads
Americas MexicoBlog, Nov. 19, "Javier Sicilia, the Mexican poet and social critic who founded the Movement for Peace with Justice following the murder of his son on March 28 of this year, has announced that he is stepping down from his leadership role. In an interview with the weekly magazine, Proceso, Sicilia said that he will stop being the leading image in order for the organization to become better orgniazed and more militant. "I will continue as a moral figure, the weight is too great for me to continue as the main figure," he said." read more

Immigration and the Border

Alabama Considers Revision of Immigration Law Ensnaring Mercedes Executive
Bloomberg: Nov. 24, "On Nov. 16, a German businessman paying a visit to his company’s ... plant near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was pulled over for driving a rental car without a tag. ... Because the man couldn’t prove he had the right to be in the U.S., he was arrested and hauled off to the police station. ... The businessman turned out to be an executive with Mercedes-Benz, one of Alabama’s prized manufacturers, ...

“I was really embarrassed and overwhelmed,” says state Senator Gerald Dial. “Mercedes has done more to change the image of Alabama than just about anything else. We don’t want to upset those people.” ... (Because of a number of such unforeseen, negative consequences, some Alabama Republicans are considering revising the state's harsh immigration law.) However, none of the politicians who expressed doubts about HB56 wants it repealed. ... They say their aim is to calm concerns about the law without watering it down." read more

Debate puts Newt Gingrich on defensive over immigration Nov. 23, "... Current GOP frontrunner, Newt Gingrich, is on the defensive after another debate (in which) he seemed to advocate what critics call a form of amnesty for illegal immigrants. The former House speaker weighed in ... during last night's national security focused debate.  "I do not believe that the people of the United States are going to take people who’ve been here for a quarter of a century ... [and] separate them from their families and expel them," Gingrich said.

"I do believe we should control the border. I do believe we should have very severe penalties." He continued, "I don't believe that the party that says it's the party of the family is going to say it’s going to destroy families that have been here for more than a quarter of a century. ... Let's be humane in enforcing the law."" read more

Immigration activists slam Gingrich on ‘Red Card Solution’
The Washington Post: Nov. 24, "Newt Gingrich is trying to carve out a middle way on illegal immigration, pushing a “Red Card Solution” that would essentially expand the guest-worker program without giving those immigrants a pathway to citizenship. But ... activists on both left and right say that Red Carding fails to address fundamental problems with the U.S. immigration system.

On the right, advocates who want greater restrictions ... say the Red Card Solution simply gives businesses a pool of cheap labor at the expense of native-born workers. ... Pro-immigration advocates argue that the Red Card plan would undermine the rights of immigrants... “It virtually guarantees that we create second-class status for workers and their families — lawful but with no real rights,” says Mary Giovagnoli, director of the Immigration Policy Center." read more

Mitt Romney's Immigration Stance Now Clear: Pressure Undocumented To Leave The Country
Huffington Post: Nov. 24, " Mitt Romney's evolution into a full-fledged immigration hawk is complete. The Republican presidential candidate's comments... made clear where he stands now: The U.S. government should do nothing proactive beyond creating a hostile environment for those in the country illegally, in the hopes that they leave.

Anyone in the United States in violation of federal law should go back to his or her country of origin, Romney said Wednesday during a tele-town hall with Iowa voters. ... a "path to citizenship" for undocumented immigrants.... "consists of going to their home country, applying for citizenship or permanent residency just like everybody else, and getting back in the line."" read more

Assimilation Tomorrow: How America’s Immigrants Will Integrate by 2030
Center for American Progress: Nov. 24, "The Center for American Progress released a ... study called, “Assimilation Tomorrow: How America’s Immigrants Will Integrate by 2030.” The ... report finds that at astonishingly high levels, immigrants are projected to learn English, buy homes, acquire citizenship, and attain solid economic footing in the United States.

... Hispanic immigrants ... are projected to make great strides. Contrary to the assertions of some ... that Hispanic immigrants are not assimilating and will not assimilate to American life, the authors find that these newcomers follow the same upward trajectory as immigrants overall, albeit from a lower starting point. Homeownership, for example, (is predicted to jump) from 21 percent of the Hispanic immigrant population in 2000 to 67 percent in 2030." read more

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