Jan 13, 2012

Week's Top Articles on Mexico: Jan. 6-12, 2012

Drug war news brought the announcement by the Mexican Attorney General's Office that 47,515 people had been killed in the drug war between December 2006 and September 2011. This came after much footdragging and pressure from citizens groups and the national Transparancy Commission and immediately brought criticisms as to its accuracy. Meanwhile, Mexico's Secretary of Interior, Alejandro Poire, says, "The country is not at war, nor can one speak of an armed conflict."

As for U.S. participation in the (non) war in Mexico, there were further revelations of Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) involvement with laundering cartel money. And at the same time that the (non) war is being won in Mexico, the cartels continue to expand south, including to Brazil.

Finally, there is a fascinating look at the history and expansion of 'narcocorridos,' drug songs, in Mexico and their interrelation with the realities of the drug war and Mexican popular culture.

Human Rights and the Rule of Law news in Mexico continues to center on the repercussions of the killing of two students from a normal (teachers) school in Guerrero on December 12. This week, the Mexican National Human Rights Commission issued a prelimiary report charging that federal and state police fired at students indiscriminately, tortured one to create false evidence and removed evidence from the scene.

MexicoBlog is keeping a running summary of the complexity of accusations going back and forth between the students, the state and the federal government. This evolving story vividly demonstrates the complexities of Mexican social movements, state and federal politics and the struggle to build the rule of law and a functioning democracy in Mexico.

Immigration and Border news focused on the Obama administration´s announcement of a proposed change to allow that hardship waivers, sought by some immigrants undertaking green card applications, be completed in the U.S. rather than at a U.S. consulate abroad. Of course, the political blowback from Republicans began immediately.

Then there is the reality of immigrant life: the threat of deportation, the dangers of trying to cross the border without documents and the possible rewards on the northern side. The dangers of crossing are exemplified in the poignant story of a young man who lived in the U.S. since he was three, was deported to the violence of Ciudad Juarez and is risking his life to return to his home in Washington State. And Mexicans in the U.S. keep on working to send money home. Remittances increased last year by 8% over 2010.

Lastly, we pass on, from a local Arizona newspaper, a delightfully told story of homespun cross-border trade in second-hand goods that starts from a Salvation Army store in Tucson and ends at swap meets in Sonora, Mexico.

The Articles 

Drug War

47,512 drug war deaths during during Calderon's presidency 
El Universal: Jan. 11, The Mexico Attorney General Office released statistics on the number of deaths related to "presumed criminal rivalries" from December 2006 to September 2011. The total given is 47,512.  For 2011 the total reported through September is 12,903." read more

Critics Dispute Mexico's Updated Drug War Death Toll
NYTimes.com: Jan. 11, "The Mexican government updated its drug war death toll on Wednesday, reporting that 47,515 people had been killed in drug-related violence since ... late 2006. ... Wednesday’s limited data release (will not) silence the increasingly loud call for better, more transparent government record keeping. The Mexican government has failed to create the tracking system it needs to understand criminal trends and improve security, experts say, even as it has become more secretive with the limited information it has." read more

Mexico Secretary of Interior says, "The country is not at war, nor can one speak of an armed conflict"
La Jornada: Jan. 11, "Mexico is not at war and it does not meet the criteria of international law for an armed conflict.... the Interior Minister, Alejandro Poire, said. ... He said that the federal government has ... a strategy to strengthen the rule of law throughout the country, to ensure that all citizens can fully exercise their rights and freedoms and ... to bring all offenders to justice.

He rejected criticism about individual rights being violated by the armed forces in fighting organized crime, and noted that the abuses documented by the National Commission on Human Rights are minimal, ... the exception, not the rule." read more

U.S. Agents Aided Mexican Drug Trafficker to Infiltrate Ring
NYTimes.com: Jan. 9, "American drug enforcement agents posing as money launderers secretly helped a powerful Mexican drug trafficker and his principal Colombian cocaine supplier move millions in drug proceeds around the world, as part of an effort to infiltrate and dismantle the criminal organizations wreaking havoc south of the border, according to newly obtained Mexican government documents." read more

As Brazil Booms, So Do New Drug Routes
New America Media: Jan. 9, "The current economic boom is fast transforming Brazil into the new transport point for the drug trade. As Mexico’s War on Drugs takes its toll on ... the drug cartels straddling the U.S.-Mexico border, the Narcos are shifting their operations closer to the source of the cocaine that fuels the global drug trade. ..In Brazil, as the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reports, seizures of illicit drugs have climbed 10 fold, from 25 tons in 2005 to more than 260 tons in 2009." read more

Death Rattle
AmericanProspect: Jan. 6, "In 2010, the collective of Mexican musicians known as Movimiento Alterado released ... a song with the title, roughly translated, “The Bloodthirsty Killers of El M1”—M1 is the nickname for Manuel Torres Félix, an infamous member of the Sinaloa drug cartel. ...The sing-alongs of Movimiento Alterado could only have been born during this blood-soaked moment of the U.S.–Mexico drug war. ... The Tijuana writer Heriberto Yépez claims that Mexico’s cartels have gone from being an economy to becoming an ideology that saturates society." read more

Human Rights and Rule of Law

Grave human rights violations by federal and state police in killing of Guerrero students
El Universal: "The Mexican National Commission on Human Rights released preliminay report on the attack on students of the Normal School of Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, on December 12. It states that federal police arrived first and shot into the air to disperse the students. ... State police arrived and for twenty-five minutes, both federal and state police fired at the students indiscriminately. Two students were killed.

... Subsequently, one student was tortured ... to create "evidence" that a student had started the shooting. The police also collected spent shells from the scene to hide evidence. The report states ... that there was no coordination between police forces at the scene and that police were not trained nor did they respect international protocols on the use of force to contain demonstrations." read more

Summary of Conflict between Guerrero Student Teachers and Numerous Government Institutions

Immigration and the Border 

Obama rule would let undocumented stay in U.S. during application
latimes.com: Jan. 6, "The Obama administration announced Friday a proposed new regulation that would allow certain undocumented immigrants to remain in America while applying for legal status -- a step aimed at keeping families intact and one that may also shore up the president's support with Latino voters.

... Under the proposed rule, which would not require action by Congress, people would be allowed to file requests for hardship waivers in the United States.... They wouldn't need to go abroad, and thus could stay with their families while their requests were adjudicated." read more

Obama administration eases deportation rules
Washington Times: "The Obama administration on Friday proposed new hardship rules that would make it easier for illegal immigrants to apply for legal status and stay in the country if they have a spouse or parent already living here legally. ... Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said...  the new rules wouldn’t change who ends up getting legal status, but only lets those who are applying stay in the U.S. while those applications are pending.

But House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, Texas Republican, said Mr. Obama was “bending long-established rules to put illegal immigrants ahead of the interests of American citizens and legal immigrants.read more

Without a country: Immigrant tries to get back to the life he knew
latimes.com: "Luis Luna, 20, was smuggled to the U.S. from Mexico when he was a toddler. Despite holding a job and being a model student, he was deported after a cop pulled him over for a broken headlight. He hopes to return on the undercarriage of a boxcar." read more

Remittances to Mexico are rebounding
chicagotribune.com: Jan. 12, "Ending a three-year slump, remittances to Mexico are finally on the upswing, thanks to an improving U.S. job market. Analysts expect that money sent home last year by Mexicans living abroad, most of them residing in the United States, will top $23 billion .... Although still below the peak of $26 billion in 2007, that would be a solid 8 percent increase over 2010." read more

Second-hand goods head down I-19 to Mexico
Green Valley (AZ) News: Jan. 11, "Like ants on an ice cream cone that has fallen on the sidewalk, a fleet of small trucks move up and down Interstate 19 carrying furniture, appliances, and other household items cast aside by Arizonans. Many of them, often with loads stacked precariously higher than the roof of the truck, are driven by Mexicans and Americans living in Sonora." read more

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