Feb 3, 2012

Week's Top Articles on Mexico: Jan. 27 - Feb. 2, 2012

Drug war news brings an investigative report from Newsweek on how U.S. government use of informers from the Sinaloa cartel may have unwittingly served its capo, 'El Chapo' Guzmán, in defeating his rivals. A report from a Ciudad Juarez hospital says that 80% of the children it serves suffer from post traumatic stress as a result of exposure to violence in the city.

On the side of reforming drug policy and ending the drug war, Colombian President Santos once again says he would support decriminalization of drugs, "if the rest of the world goes along." In an extended interview, Javier Sicilia, leader of the Mexican Movement for Peace with Justice, talks about non-violent protest and dialogue with the powers that be. And artists and actors join with the Movement in a media endeavor to put the Mexican public in "The Shoes of the Other," i.e., in the shoes of families who have lost loved ones to the drug war.

Human rights, the rule of law and Mexican political news intersected in several ways this week.  A Mexican general was accused of serious human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings. A report by Global Financial Integrity revealed that the Mexico economy has lost billions of dollars to crime, corruption and tax evasion. And a report by Mexico's Attorney General's Office (Justice Department) acknowledged that it is rife with corruption. 

Meanwhile, two potential political scandals erupted in Mexico as campaigns for the presidency heat up. First, 25 million pesos (about $1.9 million dollars) were found in the suitcases of two Veracruz government employees at the airport in Mexico State. The employees were first arrested and then released when the Veracruz state government said the cash was to pay bills for three state festivals. In the heat of the presidential campaign--in which the PRI candidate and former Mexico State governor Enrique Peña Nieto is in the lead in the polls--the leftist party, PRD, smells a possible scandal and the blood that could go with it.

Second, rumors--and then an official government statement--revealed that three former governors of the drug-war-plagued border state of Tamaulipas were under federal investigation for possible links to drug cartels. Then it was revealed that the chief source of information implicating them was a former member of the Zetas cartel who is a "protected witness" of both the Mexican and U.S. governments, and that after two years of investigation, his claims have not been corroborated.

The Articles:

Drug war

'Tinker, tailor, soldier, kingpin'
Newsweek: "How Sinaloa cartel boss 'El Chapo' Guzmán got U.S. agents to help him become Mexico's most powerful drug lord." read more

80% of children in medical care in Ciudad Juarez suffer post-traumatic stress
Milenio: "A study of children aged between five and 12 years of age attending the Children's Hospital showed that 80 percent suffer from post traumatic stress disorder caused by violence." read more

Colombia President Calls Drug War a “Stationary Bike”
Pan-American Post: "During a panel discussion, Nicaraguan writer Sergio Ramirez stated, “I know this cannot be an opinion of the state and the president of a republic cannot express it, but as an ordinary citizen, I can. The solution is decriminalizing drugs.” President Juan Manuel Santos, also on the panel, responded: ¨I say as president of a republic: this solution would be acceptable to Colombia, if the rest of the world goes along.”" read more

A Conversation With Javier Sicilia
North American Congress on Latin America: "The Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD) has campaigned against the spreading criminal and state violence in Mexico, and ... against the militarization of Mexico’s Drug War and what Sicilia sees as the concurrent militarization of Mexican society. ... here are some interview excerpts on the questions of nonviolence and the process of dialogue:" read more

Mexican Movement for Peace Starts Campaign "In Another's Shoes"
Milenio: ""In Another's Shoes" is a campaign to raise the awareness of Mexican society regarding disappearances in the drug war. The group, "The Strongest Cry" --actresses, actors, filmmakers and journalists, in alliance with the Movement for Peace-- has developed a media campaign proposing that people put themselves "In the Shoes of the Other." A video and spots in the media will relate the experiences of families of the disappeared." read more

Human Rights, Rule of Law and Mexican Politics

Military General Accused of Ordering Executions in Chihuahua, Mexico
Justice in Mexico: "Major General Manuel de Jesús Moreno Aviña has been accused of systematic abuses between April of 2008 and August of 2009 in front of the military garrison of Ojinaga, Chihuahua. According to Reforma, General Moreno Aviña is responsible for at least seven extrajudicial executions." read more

Global Financial Integrity Mexico Report
Center for International Policy: "Crime, corruption and tax evasion cost the Mexican economy more US$872 billion between 1970 and 2010 according to a new report from Global Financial Integrity (GFI).... The illicit financial outflows averaged a massive 5.2% of GDP, and grew significantly ... from $1 billion in 1970 to $68.5 billion in 2010. “This is a devastatingly large amount of money for any developing country to lose,” said Raymond W. Baker, director of GFI." read more

Attorney General admits senior staff members commit “illegal activities”
La Jornada: "The Attorney General of the Republic of Mexico (PGR) faces weaknesses: "tasks improperly performed by senior staff, deficient criminal investigations, and arrest warrants that are not executed" according to a report by the Inspector General ... The Secretariat of Civil Service (SFP) also reported that in the past six years, 7,550 public servants have been punished for committing crimes." read more

PRD calls for clarification of the money claimed by Veracruz officials
Milenio: "The president of the PRD (Party of the Democratic Revolution), charged that the 25 million pesos (about 1.9 million dollars) seized from Veracruz officials (in the Toluca airport in Mexico State) was being diverted to the presidential campaign of the PRI (candidate Enrique Peña Nieto). He demanded that the legal status and the origin of money be clarified." read more

Mexico investigating 3 former border state governors from old ruling party
The Washington Post: "Mexican federal prosecutors said Tuesday they have launched an investigation of former officials from the violence-wracked northern border state of Tamaulipas, and three ex-governors say they are the among those being probed." read more

Former head of the Zetas is source for investigating three former governors
La Jornada: "The investigation by the (Attorney General's office) against (three) former governors of Tamaulipas,... is based mainly on statements made ​​by a former member of Los Zetas cartel who, in 2009, became a protected witness for the Mexican government and U.S. agencies. Officials said that... many of the statements (of the informant) have not been confirmed." read more

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