Feb 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     

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