Sep 22, 2011

Week's Top Articles on Mexico: September 16-22, 2011

Mexico Drug War news focused on threats to users of social media seeking to inform their neighbors or the government and the release of two "twitterers" in Veracruz charged with "terrorism." A massacre in Veracruz pointed to a new battle between cartels for control of that port. President Calderon was speaking in many venues in New York City about the need for the U.S. to consider "market alternatives" to drug prohibition. And the Mexican attorney general was talking about being kept in the dark about the "Fast and Furious" gun walking scandal. 

Mexico Movement for Peace with Justice Caravan to the south of Mexico met with apparent police abuse of two leading migrants' rights supporters, while its leader, Javier Sicilia, called for a truth commission to investigate the deaths of innocent civilians.

Mexico Border security measures were subject to a critical analysis as to their effectiveness and a report on abuses and possible torture of undocumented migrants by the U.S. Border Patrol.

Mexico Politics took another step towards next year's presidential election with the announcement by two leading politicians that they were formally seeking their parties' nomination.

Drug War

In Mexico, Social Media Become a Battleground in the Drug War Sept. 17, "The bodies of a man and a woman were found hanging from a pedestrian overpass in the Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo this week with notes threatening similar action against other “Internet snitches.” The gruesome display appeared to mark a move by drug cartels, which have murdered journalists for their reporting, to apply the same deadly pressure to any Mexicans who share information online."

'Twitter terrorists' freed in Mexico, charges dropped Sept. 21, "Two people jailed in Mexico's Veracruz state and charged with terrorism because of a series of alarmist tweets were freed Wednesday. Authorities dropped the charges, and the pair walked out of prison to cheering supporters.

"Thank God that freedom of expression won," Maria de Jesus Bravo, a local journalist and radio commentator, said to the crowd (link in Spanish). She and Gilberto Martinez Vera, a math teacher, spent nearly four weeks in jail after they sent out Twitter messages about a supposed attack on a primary school by drug gangs. "

Dumping of 35 bodies seen as challenge to Zetas

Houston Chronicle: Sept. 21, "A gang known to be aligned with Mexico's most-wanted drug lord appears to be making a violent challenge to the dominant Zetas Cartel in the Gulf state of Veracruz, dumping 35 bodies on a busy avenue in front of horrified motorists near where the nation's top prosecutors were about to start a convention."

Calderon Hints at Drug Legalization Again

Cato @ Liberty: Sept. 20, "Mexican President Felipe Calderón seems to be experiencing a dramatic change of mind regarding his war against drug cartels. Soon after a drug gang set fire to a casino in Monterrey a few weeks ago killing 52 people, Calderón told the media that “”If [the Americans] are determined and resigned to consuming drugs, they should look for market alternatives that annul the stratospheric profits of the criminals, or establish clear points of access that are not the border with Mexico.” Many people interpreted that as a veiled reference to drug legalization.

Yesterday, during a speech to the Americas Society and Council of the Americas in New York, Calderón was at it again: “We must do everything to reduce demand for drugs,” he said. “But if the consumption of drugs cannot be limited, then decision-makers must seek more solutions—including market alternatives—in order to reduce the astronomical earnings of criminal organizations.”"
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Mexico still waiting for answers on Fast and Furious gun program Sept. 20,  "... Months after the deadly lapses in the (Fast and Furious) program were revealed in the U.S. media — prompting congressional hearings and the reassignment of the acting chief of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — top Mexican officials say American authorities have still not offered them a proper accounting of what went wrong.

Marisela Morales, Mexico's attorney general and a longtime favorite of American law enforcement agents in Mexico, told The Times that she first learned about Fast and Furious from news reports. And to this day, she said, U.S. officials have not briefed her on the operation gone awry, nor have they apologized.
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Movement for Peace with Justice

Two migrants' rights defenders on Peace Caravan detained by military

CIP Americas Program, Sept. 18, Soldiers and Tabasco State Police detained Fray Tomas Gonzalez outside of Tabasco's Mesoamerican University. He was detained for three hours in his car....The official reason for his detention is unknown.

Also detained was migrants' rights defender, Ruben Figueroa. A state police officer beat Figueroa when the men refused to get out of their truck. As they were beating him, they told him, "We will teach you some respect." The men told the police and soldiers that they are participating in the "Peace Caravan" led by poet Javier Sicilia. The agents responded, "What caravan?"

Victims of Violence Demand the Truth

IPS Sept. 21,  "The Peace Caravan led by poet Javier Sicilia ended its tour through southern Mexico with a loud call for the creation of a truth commission to distinguish between murders committed by organised crime groups and killings by the security forces.. ..The movement has documented 521 cases of violence, and the authorities were reportedly involved in many of them.

... "What is happening is very serious. We can no longer tell where the State is and where crime is," Sicilia said Sunday Sep. 18 in Xalapa, the capital of the southeastern state of Veracruz, on one of the Caravan's stops. People poured out on the streets of Xalapa to welcome the caravan, and to tell the activists about forced disappearances and murders."

Mexico Border

Half Mast at the Border

Border Lines: Sept. 20, "If the buildup in border-security infrastructure is indeed improving security, then this should be evident in places such as Hudspeth County (Texas). In the past ten years, the county sheriff’s department has received millions of dollars in federal grants for border patrols. ...

While there is certainly more control, more security operations in this swath of borderland, there is good reason to doubt that we are getting our money’s worth. Close up in Hudspeth County, border-security policy seems, at best, misdirected, at worst, pure folly characterized by escalating marijuana-user arrests, inter-agency tensions, opportunistic threat analysis, enormous waste, and ideological posturing. No terrorists have been apprehended."

 Report alleges Border Patrol abuse of illegal immigrants

Reuters: Sept. 22, "Thousands of immigrants caught slipping into the United States illegally from Mexico were denied food, water and medical treatment or otherwise abused by Border Patrol agents, a report said on Wednesday. The study by Tucson-based nonprofit No More Deaths was based on interviews with more than 12,000 undocumented immigrants conducted between 2008 and 2011, shortly after they were deported to Mexico.

The interviews showed that 2,981 of the returned migrants said they were denied food during Border Patrol detention, while 863 reported being denied water. Of the 433 people who said they needed medical attention while in Border Patrol custody, 86 percent reported they were denied that care, the study said.

Other illegal immigrants were threatened with death, deprived of sleep and forced to hold painful or strenuous positions for no apparent reason, it said. Many of (the abuses) plainly meet the definition of torture under international law," the report said."

Mexico Politics

Mexico's Enrique Pena Nieto confirms election ambitions

BBC News: Sept. 20, "There are still 10 months to go before Mexico's presidential election but if the opinion polls are correct, the man to beat is Enrique Peña Nieto. Mr. Peña Nieto, until last week the governor of the State of Mexico, put an end to months of speculation on Monday by announcing on Mexico's main television network, Televisa, that he wanted to be his party's candidate."

Mexico City leftist mayor says he’ll contend for his party’s presidential nomination
The Washington Post: Sept. 21, "Mexico City’s mayor says he will be a candidate for the presidential nomination of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party. Mayor Marcelo Ebrard is competing with Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who narrowly lost the 2006 presidential election. Party leaders say they will commission an opinion poll of the general public to pick their nominee. Ebrard runs slightly ahead of Lopez Obrador among all voters, while Lopez Obrador is favored by party members."

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