Jan 6, 2012

Week's Top Articles on Mexico: Dec. 30, 2011- Jan. 5, 2012

Drug war news this week includes a Mexican newspaper, Reforma, putting the drug war death count for 2011 at 12,000. From Australia comes a thorough, well-written, and appalling look at the horrors of the drug war in Acapulco. A U.S. NGO looks at the spread of violence throughout Mexican civil society and whether, as a Mexican researcher reports, cartels control 70% of the country's municipalities.

Meanwhile, while the federal police are supposed to be the "good" police in Mexico, some are being accused of torturing suspects. And a prison riot, evidently between rival drug cartel members, kills 31.

Immigration and the Border news includes a look at how NAFTA has caused farmers who used to raise pigs in Veracruz to end up butchering pigs for a U.S. company in North Carolina. There is a look at the questionable effectiveness of the border fence. And CIP's TransBorder Project questions whether the Border Patrol's capture of poor Mexicans hauling marijuana across the border on their backs constitutes defeating "transnational crime." 

Meanwhile, the border becomes more and more a fiction for U.S. corporations. One U.S. railroad profits greatly from having its own Mexican rail line to ship products north.

The Articles

Drug War

In Mexico 12,000 killed in drug violence in 2011
Washington Post: Jan. 3, "About 12,000 people were slain last year in Mexico’s surging drug violence, according to grim tallies reported Monday by the country’s leading media outlets. Annual indexes of torture, beheadings and the killing of women all showed increases. More than 50,000 people have been killed during President Felipe Calderon’s U.S.-backed military confrontation with organized crime and drug trafficking, which began in 2006." read more

Days of the dead
Sydney Morning Herald: Dec. 30, "Mexico's drug wars are crippling the country. Chief Correspondent Paul McGeough, reports from Acapulco." read more

Mexico Violence Threatens All Sectors of Civil Society
InSight Crime: Jan. 2,"As the Mexican government continues its crackdown on organized crime, the country’s civil society is finding itself exposed to acts of extreme violence. No sector has been spared: environmentalists, human rights activists, indigenous leaders, journalists, students, and university professors have all been targeted." read more

Do Gangs Control 70% of Mexico?
InSight Crime: Jan. 3, "A new report from a renowned Mexican crime analyst says that 71.5 percent of the nation’s municipalities are under criminal control. But the reality of illicit activity can hardly be described through a simple label like “control”. ... While blatant examples of impunity suggest some degree of official collusion, there is a great deal of distance between some corrupt interaction and a gang’s total control of a city. The reality is, of course, much more complicated.read more

Mexican federal police tortured 5 men detained in killings of 2 agents
AP/Washington Post: Jan. 2, "Mexican human rights authorities say five men detained in the killings of two agents and a car-bomb attack in Ciudad Juarez were tortured by federal police to confess their roles in the crimes. The National Human Rights Commission said Sunday the country must investigate six federal officers and a doctor who didn’t report signs of severe beating." read more

31 killed in Mexican prison brawl
AFP: Jan. 5, "Fighting between inmates left at least 31 dead and 13 wounded in a jail holding alleged drug gang members in northeast Mexico. ...Prisoners used makeshift weapons in the clash, which broke out in a jail in the  border state of Tamaulipas. ... It lies in an area where the rival Gulf and Zetas drug gangs have been locked in a bloody turf war." read more

Immigration and the Border

How US Policies Fueled Mexico's Great Migration
The Nation: Jan. 5, "Smithfield (a U.S. company) has used NAFTA ... to become the world’s largest packer and processor of hogs and pork. The conditions in Veracruz that helped Smithfield make high profits plunged thousands of rural residents into poverty. Tens of thousands left Mexico, many eventually helping Smithfield’s bottom line once again by working for low wages on its US meatpacking lines." read more

New fencing doesn’t stop illegal crossings
Washington Post: Dec. 30, "Overall, the United States has added 413 miles of new fencing to its southern boundary since 2006, raising to 649 miles the total length of border that has some form of man-made barrier. ... Now the question is: How much more should be built? ... Border Patrol agents say that smugglers and illegal migrants don't simply go to the place where the fence ends, and walk around it. “Anywhere is a good place to sneak across if we’re not watching.”" read more

Backpacking Transnational Criminals
Border Lines: Jan. 5, "... media releases from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) ... (tout) that the Obama administration’s new Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime is working. But most of the reported strikes against TCOs involve Mexican illegal border crossers carrying 50-60 pound burlap bags packed with marijuana. ... this doesn’t mean that these apprehensions “target transnational criminal organizations,” as CBP falsely claims." read more

U.S. Trade Buoys Railroad
Bloomberg: Jan. 5, "Cross-border merchandise trade totaled $341 billion by the end of September, about 18 percent higher than it was at the same point in 2010, according to the most recent data .... The increase will help Kansas City Southern, the only U.S. railroad with a wholly owned Mexican subsidiary, ...as the company seeks to take business away from trucks traversing the border." read more

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