Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexico City, Acapulco

April 18, 2014

guerreroUSA Today, 4/18/14

A powerful, magnitude-7.5 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday. The U.S. Geological Survey said it was centered northwest of the Pacific resort of Acapulco, where many Mexicans are vacationing for the Easter holiday.

The quake was felt strongly in the resort city, as well as in Mexico’s capital, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

“There is a crisis of panic,” said Alicia Dominguez, who answered the phone at the civil protection office. “It’s mainly the tourists who are shaken.” Civil protection officials were patrolling the city to check for damage and casualties.

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Mexico failing to protect journalists, advocates say

April 18, 2014

shutterstock_95556718Los Angeles Times, 4/17/14

A highly touted system to protect Mexican reporters working in one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists is failing miserably and may in fact further imperil those it is intended to help, media advocates say.

In the first year of the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto, killings of journalists declined significantly but other attacks multiplied, organizations that work on behalf of reporters said.

Article 19, an advocacy group, said 330 “aggressions” against journalists were reported in 2013, compared with 207 the year before. Those were defined as verbal or physical attacks, many occurring during protests when police countered forcefully, injuring journalists along with demonstrators. A little more than half were committed by public officials, said Dario Ramirez, director of Article 19.

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Beltran-Leyva gang leader Arnoldo Villa Sanchez arrested, Mexico says

April 17, 2014

prisonABC local, 4/17/14

Mexican police said Wednesday they have captured a man identified as the second highest-ranking figure in the once-powerful Beltran Leyva drug cartel.

 The head of Mexico’s federal police, Monte Alejandro Rubido, said suspect Arnoldo Villa Sanchez was arrested Tuesday, in an upscale Mexico City neighborhood along with another man, two guns and several packages of synthetic drugs. Police said Villa Sanchez had coordinated a shipment of about 265 kilograms (584 pounds) of cocaine found earlier during raids in Mexico City.

Rubido said Villa Sanchez, 40, operated out of Mexico City, and answered only to cartel leader Hector Beltran Leyva.

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Street theater in Mexico City’s rough Tepito area

April 17, 2014

Harlekin_Columbine_Tivoli_DenmarkTimes Leader, 4/17/14

Few outsiders dare venture after dark into Tepito, a neighborhood known as Mexico City’s main clearinghouse for contraband ranging from guns and drugs to counterfeit sneakers.

But a theater project led by one of Mexico’s best-known actors has been taking middle-class audiences into the lives of Tepito residents in recent weeks in an attempt to show the human side of the gritty area blighted by poverty and crime.

Traveling by foot and motorcycle, the participants move after dark along trash-strewn streets, then crowd into the cramped apartments of residents, who interact with professional actors as they perform fictionalized renditions of tales about their lives.

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Mexico’s gun control laws: A model for the United States?

April 17, 2014

guns1The Washington Post, 4/17/14

The most recent issue of the Texas Review of Law and Politics includes my article with the aforesaid title. This is the first law review article to examine in depth Mexican gun laws, and related empirical data.

The article begins with an examination of the right to arms in the Mexican Constitution, and of predecessor versions of that right. Former versions recognized a right to carry, but the current version recognizes only a right in the home. In practice, the Mexican government ignores the right.

The next part of the article details the operation of Mexico’s federal gun control statute, which dates from 1972. The statute itself is very strict, and enforcement tends to be oppressive and corrupt. Accordingly, many Mexicans obtain firearms outside of the very narrow channels (only one legal gun store in the entire country) which the government permits. Fourteen percent of Mexican households have a firearm, including 50 percent of poor households in high violence areas. In many parts of Mexico, the government does not reliably protect citizens from violence, so citizens must protect themselves.

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Read Wilson Center VP’s article on resilient communities in El Universal

April 14, 2014

wc_vert_colorAndrew Selee, Executive Vice President of the Wilson Center and founding Director of the Center’s Mexico Institute , writes in El Universal on the subject of communal responses to crime and violence in Mexico. In case you missed our publication “Building Resilient Communities in Mexico: Civic Responses to Crime and Violence,” you can access it here.

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How failure of immigration reform could drag down Paul Ryan

April 14, 2014

120px-Voting_United_StatesThe Washington Post, 4/11/14

Paul Ryan is in Iowa today, and Paul Kane takes a look at all the jockeying and whispering around whether Ryan will run for President. It turns out even Ryan associates think the Congressional GOP’s fiscal policies — which are perhaps best expressed in Ryan’s budget, the GOP’s most comprehensive statement of priorities — think it could hamper his presidential hopes:

Even some of Ryan’s friends think the congressional brand of the Republican Party is so tainted by its fiscal battles with Obama that the GOP needs a governor to run as an outsider in 2016. Moments after Ryan finished speaking at Branstad’s Iowa event in November, the governor told reporters that he, too, wants a Republican governor, not Ryan, at the top of the ticket.

One could make the same argument about immigration. If the House GOP fails to act on immigration reform, isn’t it plausible that the House GOP brand could be so toxic among Latinos that a House Republican running for president could face an even more difficult struggle among that constituency in a general election than other Republicans (reformer type governors, for instance) might?

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Limes: Mexico’s new green gold

April 10, 2014

LimesCNN, 4/10/14

Dressed in a white cowboy hat and shirt in the merciless sun, 63-year-old Juan Leana Malpica proudly pulls a branch down in his lime grove and cups a fruit. His limes, he says, set themselves apart by their juiciness.

He has been growing the fruit for the last 12 years and has never experienced a time of such upheaval.

Officially, lime prices are in a spiral of hyperinflation, the national average jumping at a monthly average of around 50% this year.

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Mexico congressmen charge mayors for federal funds

April 10, 2014

MEXICO CONGRESSUT San Diego, 4/10/14

The mayor of the central Mexico city of Celaya thought he was having a private conversation when he told his staff that congressmen were requiring him to inflate a paving contract by 35 percent in exchange for $12.2 million in federal public works money.

Not only that, they demanded he go with the contractor of their choice.

But the conversation was recorded, leaked to the national Reforma newspaper, and its front-page story in January revealed one of the biggest corruption scandals to hit Mexico’s Congress. According to mayors who have come forward in recent months, senators and congressmen routinely skim off the top of federal funds they allot to cities, money that can add up to three-quarters of the budget for local jurisdictions.

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China Said to Discuss Funding $750 Million Mexico Network

April 10, 2014

mexico-chinaBloomberg, 4/9/14

Chinese officials have met with the Mexican government to offer funding for two telecommunications networks the Latin American country is planning to build, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The networks, estimated by the government to cost about $750 million, are meant to reach rural areas of Mexico where Carlos Slim’s America Movil SAB is often the sole phone provider. If Mexico accepts the loans, it would probably use equipment from Shenzhen, China-based Huawei Technologies Co. as a result, said two of the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.

China Development Bank, which awards competitive low-interest loans as part of China’s push to encourage domestic companies to go abroad, is in discussions to provide the funding, said two of the people. Other state Chinese banks could participate in the deal, one of the people said.

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