Mexico has stepped up its effort to crack down on one of the most powerful and feared criminal organizations in the country, with arrests and seizures this week aimed not at drug trafficking or extortion but at the gang’s lucrative infiltration of mining and smuggling iron ore to China. The gang, the Knights Templar, has become a violent menace in western Mexico, giving rise to vigilant groups that formed to stop its reign of extortion, kidnapping and murder. That, in turn, forced the government to send the federal police and the military to try to take back a region it conceded had fallen out of state control.
U.S. President Barack Obama should cut deportations of migrants and focus resources on the 2 million people in the U.S. who are eligible to become citizens, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday during a visit to Mexico’s capital. Garcetti, on his first foreign trip since taking office in July, said he supports Obama on immigration reform but said families and communities have been divided by the president’s policy of deportations, which have totaled nearly 2 million since Obama took office.
It’s called “Eco-bici”, as in “economical bicycle.” It’s a cheap way to get from point A to B but nope, you can’t find it in Los Angeles, at least not yet. Some 2,000 miles to the south, in a city similar in square miles, but three times the population of LA, the eco-bici is thriving in Mexico City. Stations located throughout the city, especially in the financial and business districts of Mexico are growing in popularity especially when compared against other forms of transportation. A subway ride costs 5 pesos (38 cents) but riders say the bike is still a bargain and it’s better for the environment. While the program is still growing in Mexico, some citizens say Los Angeles could learn from Mexico’s program.LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is traveling in Mexico this week, says the program could work in Los Angeles.
In our most recent publication , the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center argued that, whereas a trilateral vision for the region is necessary for long-term progress toward strategic goals, a dual-bilateral approach may be complementary and even achieve more in the short term. Throughout the 20 year history of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the bilateral approach has more often than not trumped trilateralism, and cooperation in the region has moved ahead accordingly.
Last week’s trilateral North American leaders’ summit in Toluca, Mexico represented an important opportunity for the two presidents and prime minister to meet, and to discuss the future of the region. Four areas of cooperation were discussed that hold real promise. However, it may be that the bilateral talks that took place around the summit prove to be of more lasting significance.
“The detention of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is clearly the most significant arrest in the war on drugs in over a decade, and shows that there has been serious high-level cooperation between United States and Mexico to achieve this result. Chapo Guzman is a singular, almost mythic figure in Mexico’s criminal underworld, so his arrest is a huge accomplishment. That said, the net impact— in terms of drug flows, drug consumption, or the flow of US firearms to Mexico— is unlikely to be very significant, because black market demand will always produce new suppliers. Indeed, we don’t even have a very clear sense of how Guzman’s arrest will change the dynamics within the Sinaloa cartel, given that his partner in crime, Ismael Zambada, remains at large and may be the real source of power in the organization.”
David A. Shirk
Global Fellow, Mexico Institute
Associate Professor, University of San Diego
“The arrest of the head of the Sinaloa cartel is a major success for the Pena Nieto administration, for US-Mexico security cooperation and promises to be a deeply disruptive event for the struggle against organized crime. We cannot accurately predict what impact this will have on levels of violence nor on drug flows but it does show the commitment of the administration to go after those who challenge it’s authority and the rule of law.”
Director, Mexico Institute
“The arrest of Guzman shows that however imperfect the rule of law in Mexico, no individual is above the law. His capture signifies neither the end of organized crime in Mexico nor the Sinaloa Cartel, but there is no doubt it is historic and of great consequence, both symbolically and practically.”
Associate, Mexico Institute
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Mexico’s main television broadcasters turned up the volume Thursday in their dispute with billionaire Carlos Slim charging that agreements his company’s fixed-line unit has with satellite TV provider Dish Mexico violates the terms of its concession.
Telmex, the fix line unit of Mr. Slim’s company America Movil has a “de facto partnership” with Dish Mexico under its billing and marketing agreement with Dish owner MVS Comunicaciones, one of the broadcasters said.
“Aside from absorbing the lion’s share of the operation and resulting investment, Telmex is offering its broadband customers ‘triple play’ by unduly packaging phone, Internet and television service,” said the country’s biggest broadcaster, Televisa.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he has no plans to lift the controversial visa restrictions for Mexican travellers and took issue with the trade imbalance between Canada and Mexico, setting a chilly tone ahead of trilateral talks with the United States.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto publicly raised the question of the travel restrictions, forcing the Prime Minister to make it clear that Ottawa has no plans to change the rules. The President’s comments brought an undercurrent of tension to the fore as the two leaders concluded an afternoon of bilateral talks in Mexico City on Tuesday. They will be joined by U.S. President Barack Obama in Toluca on Wednesday for a trilateral summit that is expected to focus on trade, energy and security issues in North America.
Investigators say a man who was shot and killed by a U.S. Border Patrol agent near San Diego threw several large rocks at the agent, including one the size of a basketball. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said Wednesday that the attacker began throwing fist-sized rocks at the agent from a hillside perch. The rocks got larger, and one of the bigger pieces hit the agent in the head.
The sheriff’s department says the agent fired his gun twice Tuesday, fearing that he might be killed or incapacitated if he was hit again. The agent was treated for minor injuries at a hospital and released. The episode has fueled debate about how the Border Patrol should respond to rock attacks.
In a few short months, Michoacán’s “self-defense” groups have gone from being the Mexican government’s drunk uncle to being its strategic partner – underscoring what is wrong with the current government’s counterdrug strategy. The vigilante groups are a multi-headed beast, born from sentiments that range from despair and frustration to opportunity. Desperate small farmers and shopkeepers created some of the units because they’d been victimized by the “Knights Templar,” a splinter group with deep roots in the drug trade that has literally raped and pillaged their villages.
Frustrated agricultural and mining interests have funded their own “self-defense” groups. And opportunistic rival criminal groups also seek to kill the Knights to take new, or reclaim old, territory. Mexico’s federal and local governments are to blame for this chaos.
With an estimated 15 percent of the country’s uninsured population, California is crucial to the success of President Obama’s health care overhaul. Here, that success cannot come without enrolling Latinos, who make up more than half of the state’s uninsured.
But so far, enrollment of Latinos has fallen strikingly below the hopes of the law’s proponents, accounting for 20 percent or fewer of those who had signed up on the state-run health insurance exchange by the end of December. Now, state officials are rushing to expand marketing efforts and hire additional Spanish-speaking staff, hoping to sharply increase that number by March 31, when open enrollment in the new insurance plans ends.