Dec 1, 2011

Week's Top Articles on Mexico, Nov. 25 - Dec. 1, 2011

Drug War news this week brings a three part, in-depth look by the Los Angeles Times at money laundering in the drug war: how it works and efforts by Mexico and the U.S. to stem the billion dollar tide, how U.S. banks have been accomplices and how U.S. blacklisting of Mexican groups and individuals to shut down U.S. financial transactions with them has not worked.  

Meanwhile, the war against the Mexican cartels has pushed the drug traffic into Puerto Rico and guns from the U.S. are trans-shipped through Guatemala to Mexico. The question of whether cartel violence has "spilled over" into the U.S. gets another look after two shootouts in Texas.

Immigration news includes a review of second thoughts in some of the states that have enacted punitive laws against undocumented immigrants. The Speaker of the Alabama House says the legislature won't repeal the law, only "tweek it" so it doesn't hurt business. Republican candidates for the presidential nomination walk a wavy line between appealing to more conservative primary voters and less conservative independents in the general election.

Border news brings a story of how Homeland Security bureaucracy has led to building a fence that separates a Texas farm family not only from their land but from their country. Meanwhile, "border spillover" now includes traumatized kids from Mexico attending Texas schools. We also include a fascinating analysis of the paranoid psychology of walls, whether at the U.S. border or elsewhere.

Drug War

Mexico seeks to fill drug war gap with focus on dirty money Nov. 27, "Tainted drug money runs ... all over Mexico's economy ... . It seeps into the construction sector, the night-life industry, even political campaigns. Piles of greenbacks ... are transformed into gold watches, ... Hummers, aviation schools, yachts, thoroughbred horses and warehouses full of imported fabric.

The tide of laundered money could reach as high as $50 billion, a staggering sum equal to about 3% of Mexico's legitimate economy, or more than all its oil exports or spending on prime social programs." read more

International banks have aided Mexican drug gangs Nov. 28, "Money launderers for ruthless Mexican drug gangs have long had a formidable ally: international banks." read more

U.S. blacklisting seems to have little consequence in Mexico Nov. 28, "Three hundred Mexicans and 180 Mexican companies are on the ... Treasury Department's roster of people and entities suspected of laundering money for drug traffickers. ... U.S. banks, companies and people are barred from doing business with them. The sanctions list is not at all binding inside Mexico." read more

Drug violence increases in Puerto Rico
The Washington Post: Nov. 26, "... the Mexican drug wars have left 40,000 dead since 2006. Yet ... the level of violence in Puerto Rico is higher than in Mexico. Last year there were 26 homicides for every 100,000 Puerto Ricans vs. 18 for every 100,000 Mexicans....

The recession devastated the Puerto Rican economy. ... employment there contracted at a rate three times higher than that of the United States overall .... This ... coincided with crackdowns on drug cartels by the Mexican and U.S. governments, causing some drug traffic to shift to Caribbean routes. Puerto Rico’s unimpeded access to the mainland made it an ideal entry point to the U.S. drug market." read more

Guatemala and the Black Market for US Weapons
InSight Crime: Nov. 26, "The trafficking of weapons over the U.S.-Mexico border is well-documented -- lesser known but also significant is the sale of U.S. weapons to Guatemalan government contractors, which are then siphoned off to criminal groups.  ... Guatemala is a major source country for Mexico's guns, with weapons left over from the Cold War and ones trafficked into the country from the U.S." read more

Mexican Spillover Violence: The Riddles Grow
Horizon:Mexico: Nov. 29, "Is Mexico’s drug war spilling into the United States? Two recent cases bring new prominence -- and new confusion -- to this old question. The ... new cases ..., on October 30 and November 24, took place in Texas, more than 300 miles apart. Both produced murky and conflicting reports. Each involved a different Mexican crime cartel, on different kinds of missions." read more


Have The Crackdowns On Immigration Gone Too Far?
NPR: Nov. 28, "Have the crackdowns on illegal immigration finally gone too far? "If you asked me this question about a year ago, I would tell you we were on the cusp of seeing more anti-immigration legislation," says immigration analyst Muzaffar Chishti of the Migration Policy Institute. "Now, what's happening is very interesting. I think there is evidence of overreach and some sobering reassessments of 'Is this the right thing to do?' "" read more

Immigration law will not be repealed, says Alabama House Speaker Nov. 30, "The Alabama Legislature will not repeal the state’s controversial immigration law ... when lawmakers convene in February, House Speaker Mike Hubbard said Tuesday. "Are we open to pulling the bill back and repealing it? Absolutely not," Hubbard said ..."We’re not going to back up on it." Hubbard ... said he was open to "tweaks" to a law. ... changes could include "anything we find that is onerous to business, that takes time and money, that doesn’t serve a purpose." read more

A tightrope for GOP contenders: Tough talk now, but keeping general election in mind 
AP/Washington Post: Nov. 30, "The Republican presidential contenders are tying themselves in knots over immigration. Newt Gingrich endorses a South Carolina law that allows police to demand a person’s immigration status — after taking heat for advocating a “humane” approach. Rick Perry defends Texas’ in-state tuition for some illegal immigrants’ kids, and spent Tuesday campaigning with a hardline Arizona sheriff in New Hampshire. Mitt Romney talks tough on immigration..., though he previously supported the idea of allowing some illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S. ... The contortions by the Republican candidates illustrate the straddle they’re attempting on a complex issue.  read more

The Border

Border Fence Upends a Rio Grande Valley Farmer’s Life Nov. 27, "In 2009 the Department of Homeland Security informed Tim Loop, ... who lives on his family farm in Brownsville, Texas, along the bank of the Rio Grande, that the new border fence, which in some areas stands more than a mile from the river, would be cutting through his property.... The home where Mr. Loop lives with his wife and two children ended up on the south side of the fence.

Now, ... the Homeland Security Department plans to install motorized gates and keypads. ... Mr. Loop and his family will be required to use a secret code to reach their home — and to re-enter the rest of his country." read more

Drug War Sends Emotionally Troubled Kids to Texas
AP/ABC News: Nov. 28, "As the war enters its sixth year, it's bringing a new problem to Texas schools: thousands of students suffering from emotional troubles not unlike those endured by soldiers returning from battle. In response, some districts have started offering the type of classes and counseling more common to the military." read more

The Psychology of Walls and Fences Nov. 28, "While walls and fences are certainly physical things — imposing ones at that — a good deal of their power comes from elsewhere. As their role in political discourse makes clear, they are also things of the mind.

... Walls ... are built not for security, but for a sense of security. The distinction is important.... What a wall satisfies is not so much a material need as a mental one. Walls protect people not from barbarians, but from anxieties and fears ... . In this way, they are built not for those who live outside them, threatening as they may be, but for those who dwell within. " read more

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