Jan 27, 2012

Week's Top Articles on Mexico: Jan. 20-26, 2012

Human rights and the rule of law dominated the news this week in Mexico. Human Rights Watch reported that, in fighting the drug war, security forces in Mexico have committed numerous human rights violations and that soldiers enjoy impunity in these cases.

The Mexican government initially issued a detailed critique of the report. But by the end of the week, it was making more conciliatory statements about its "openness" to the work of human rights organizations such as HRW.

Mexican human rights organizations welcomed the report for linking the government's strategy to worsening violence and reinforcing their demand for a change in security policy.

At the same time, the Nobel Women's Peace Initiative began a ten-day investigative tour of Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras to focus on femicides, other abuses of women and government impunity regarding these human rights violations. Indigenous women of Guerrero presented particularly powerful testimonies.

Drug war news brings a new year's assessment of shifts in drug cartel power. The Stratfor security group concluded that the Sinaloa and Zeta cartels have consolidated their control of the drug trade and territory, each dominating about half of Mexico's 31 states. Possibly related to this, the army announced that it was adding five new bases in northern states ravaged by battles with and between cartels.

Meanwhile, data obtained by the Mexican Institute for Access to Information showed that less than 50% of those arrested on federal charges--including organized crime and drug trafficking--in the past five years were actually held for trial. (Murder is a state, not a federal, offense.)

Finally, there is the powerful and poignant story, as told by the local priest, of how the drug trade is devastating the youth in the Tarahumara Mountains of Chihuahua state.

Immigration and border news centered on the Obama administration's pilot review of deportation cases, with a goal of closing those of migrants who pose "no security risk". Some 16% qualified. However, this is no relief for undocumented migrants who are not in deportation proceedings.

Meanwhile, the Applied Research Center reports on the sorry fate of children who are placed in foster care when their parents are detained or deported for lack of valid visas. And data released by the government reveals that fewer undocumented immigrants are crossing the border multiple times in a single year.

And lastly, anthropologist Jason De Leon collects worn sneakers, dirty backpacks and empty water bottles in the Sonoran desert to document the stories of migrants' struggles, hopes and determination in crossing the desert into the U.S..

The Articles 

Human Rights and Rule of Law

Violence has increased horribly in Mexico, says Human Rights Watch
Milenio: ""We have evidence that violence has increased in Mexico horribly in recent years and that there is no system for judging the military so that there is justice." " read more

HRW report does not reflect real situation in Mexico: Interior Ministry 
Milenio: "The federal government said that the report by Human Rights Watch (HRW)... contains categorical and generalized statements about the country that do not reflect the real situation in Mexico." read more

Mexico open to public scrutiny on human rights: Secretary of Interior Poiré
Milenio: "Mexico is open to public scrutiny on the matter of human rights and will attend to the recommendations, criticisms and concerns of the various organizations on the basis of solid, consistent and verifiable information." read more

Mexican human rights groups demand change in anti-crime policy
La Jornada: The report, (civic organization leaders) said, is important because "it indicates that the strategy has exacerbated the violence in the country, and we insist that the liability is Calderón's, because his policies foster a climate of serious human rights violations." read more

Nobel Prize winner Jody Williams denounces impunity for femicides in Mexico
EFE/CNN Mexico: "The Nobel Peace Prize winner, Jody Williams, denounced impunity regarding crimes against women in Mexico... Her visit is part of an investigation being carried out by the Nobel Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú regarding murders of women in Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala." read more

Nobel Women´s Initiative hears testimony of indigenous women of Guerrero
La Jornada: "Militarization, organized crime, rape by soldiers and police and impunity, neglectful bureaucracy and abuse of authority, plunder, murder and extreme labor exploitation, and the customary assumption that women, or "the old women"--to put it in their terms--are useless. These are the themes of stories told to the Nobel Women's Initiative by indigenous women of Guerrero. read more

Drug War

Polarization and Sustained Violence in Mexico's Cartel War
Stratfor: "Over the past year it has ... become evident that a polarization is under way among (Mexican) cartels. Most smaller groups (or remnants of groups) have been subsumed by the Sinaloa Federation, which controls much of western Mexico, and Los Zetas, who control much of eastern Mexico. ... these two groups have solidified themselves as the country's predominant forces. " read more

Mexico Plans 5 New Military Bases in Zeta Territory
InSight Crime: "Mexico's government upped its offensive against the Zetas with the announcement that five new military bases will be installed in the group's primary areas of operation. Four bases will be located in Tamaulipas and another one in Nuevo Leon, which are both among the northern border states most affected by drug violence." read more

Of 463,000 arrested in 5 years, only 215,000 were charged with crimes
La Jornada: "Since December 2006... 463,000 suspects were arrested on federal charges, of which 163,000 were considered members of organized crime,  17,000 were allegedly drug dealers and 6,500 were allegedly members of gangs of kidnappers. However, on average only four in 10, i.e., 215,000, were detained and the rest were released by the Federal Public Ministry."  Spanish original

Drug trade, not a lack of food, the biggest problem in the mountains of Chihuahua
La Jornada: "Though it is very serious, the greatest crisis in this part of the Tarahumara Mountains in Chihuahua is not the food shortage, but the presence of narcotrafficking and its quota of violence: “the Rarámuri communities are being crucified by organized crime.” read more

Immigration and the Border

In Test of Deportation Policy, 1 in 6 Offered Reprieve 
NYTimes.com: "A review of virtually all 7,900 deportation cases before the immigration court (in Denver) has identified about 1,300 foreigners — 16 percent — who pose no security risk and will be allowed to remain in the United States, although with no new legal status...The Department of Homeland Security plans to extend the review to 300,000 deportation cases before the courts nationwide." read more

Mixed feelings about deportation reviews, even from ‘low priority’ immigrants
scpr.org.Multi-American: "Immigration officials reviewing deportation case files ... in Denver and Baltimore indicated that 1,600 people will be spared deportation, allowing them to stay in the country. ... Stuck in the middle are people who fit the low-priority criteria but are not in deportation proceedings." read more

Immigrant Children Face Uncertain Futures, Foster Care
Huffington Post: "More than 5,000 children of immigrants are ... in state foster care nationwide because their parents ... were detained or deported by federal immigration authorities. ... A report by the Applied Research Center (ARC) found that when immigration enforcement methods intersect with the child welfare system, consequences for immigrant families can be devastating and long-lasting." read more

Captured crossers returning less often
azstarnet.com: "Fewer illegal immigrants are crossing the border multiple times in a single year.... The percentage of people apprehended two or more times by the Border Patrol within the same fiscal year ... has declined each of the last four years, according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service. The rate was 20 percent in fiscal 2011, down from 28 percent in fiscal 2007, the report says.read more

Researcher Documents Belongings Left Behind While Crossing The Border
Huffington Post: "Not many people consider the human side of immigration, let alone document the belongings left behind by the migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. ... Each object tells a story of struggle, hope and determination. Recently, anthropologists began to collect them "to provide insight into the realities" of  migration." read more

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