May 1, 2013
Los Angeles Times, 4/30/13
On the eve of President Obama’s trip to Mexico, Mexican authorities on Tuesday announced the capture of a key drug cartel operative, the father-in-law and associate of one of the world’s most-wanted fugitive kingpins. The major arrest — the first under new President Enrique Peña Nieto — comes as the extraordinarily close U.S.-Mexican cooperation in the drug war is undergoing significant changes.
The Los Angeles Times reported this week that officials of the 5-month-old Mexican administration were alarmed to discover how deeply involved U.S. advisors were in sensitive areas of security and law enforcement during the six-year government of former President Felipe Calderon. As a consequence, the new government plans to narrow American participation in its agencies and activities, confining U.S. contacts to more limited channels. The development is unnerving U.S. officials, who have overseen a program of nearly $2 billion in support to Mexico’s drug war, including the training of police and judicial institutions.
March 4, 2013
The Dallas Morning News, 3/3/2013
Mexico’s decrepit public education system is heading for a historic and long overdue shake-up. If President Enrique Peña Nieto is successful with a bold new reform effort and bid to break the powerful national teachers union, he could engineer the biggest societal transformation in Mexico since seven decades of one-party rule ended in 2000.
The 1.5 million-member teachers union has a long and well-deserved reputation for corruption. Leading it is Elba Ester Gordillo, 68, who has a penchant for luxury living, expensive cars, multiple face-lifts and Neiman Marcus shopping sprees. Gordillo was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of embezzling $156 million from union funds.
After 25 years of her education leadership, here’s where Mexico’s education system stands: In standardized measurements among all 34 member nations of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, Mexican 15-year-olds rank dead last in literacy, dead last in math, dead last in science.
March 1, 2013
The Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.
What the English-language press had to say…
This week, Elba Esther Gordillo, the powerful leader of the SNTE, Mexico’s teachers’ union was arrested for allegedly embezzling over $150 million in union funds to support her lavish lifestyle. The arrest shocked the nation and came only a day after President Enrique Peña Nieto signed into law a new education reform package. Many interpreted the move as an attempt by the Peña Nieto administration to reassert state authority over special interests, and as a warning to other industries (e.g. telecommunications and energy) that reform is on the way. NYT columnist Thomas Friedman gave much to talk about following two very optimistic pieces. He suggested Mexico will become a dominant economic power in the 21st century, and praised Mexico’s young ‘just do it’ generation of innovators and entrepreneurs. Pemex CEO Emilio Lozoya mirrored Mr. Friedman’s optimism by suggesting a reinvigorated energy sector will transform Mexico into the world’s “new Middle East.” Meanwhile, north of the border, looming automatic budget cuts prompted ICE to release several hundred low-risk immigrants from deportation centers across the country.
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March 1, 2013
BBC News, 2/28/2013
Juan Diaz de la Torre was appointed at an extraordinary congress of the SNTE, the most powerful union in the country. The BBC’s Will Grant in Mexico City says that his selection in effect strips Ms Gordillo of her title of president-for-life. She will now have to face the charges without SNTE backing.
The woman known as “La Maestra” or “the teacher” reportedly spent millions at a US department store, on plastic surgery, property and a private plane. She had led the SNTE since 1989. Her arrest came a day after the enactment of major educational reforms designed to change Mexico’s union-dominated system, under which teaching positions could be inherited, and which had led to posts being sold.
March 1, 2013
World Politics Review, 2/28/2013
Elba Esther Gordillo, the leader of the most powerful teachers union in Mexico, was arrested earlier this week on suspicion of embezzling millions in union funds for personal expenses, including paying for private property and plastic surgery.
The arrest of the Gordillo, known throughout Mexico simply as “La Maestra,” or “The Teacher” and previously seen as being above the law, came a day after Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed a sweeping educational reform that the union she led had opposed. …
February 28, 2013
Los Angeles Times, 2/27/2013
The reversal of fortune could not have been more striking. And for many Mexicans, the images, broadcast live on national television Wednesday, could not have been more unexpected.
Here, once again, was Elba Esther Gordillo, the powerful boss of Mexico’s massive, sclerotic teachers union. But instead of the image Mexicans were used to — Gordillo standing in front of adoring followers, defiantly speechifying, dressed to the nines — her famous face was now barely visible through the bars of a Mexico City jail.
February 27, 2013
By Duncan Wood, 2/27/2012
La jugada del experto-The Expert Take in Spanish
Yesterday’s PGR arrest of Elba Esther Gordillo on charges of embezzlement marks a bold step forward by the Pena Nieto administration to establish its authority and legitimacy in the eyes of the Mexican public, and to send a message to Mexico’s most powerful unions. The arrest comes after the successful passage of an education reform bill through Congress, earning the government plaudits from international observers, who saw it as a much-needed attack on the power of the teachers union, the SNTE, but receiving a skeptical response from many national critics who believed that the government would not follow through with implementation of the new laws. This new development destroys those doubts about the seriousness of the Pena Nieto government to take on the union, and to mobilize the sovereign power of the state against vested interests.
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November 5, 2012
Mexico’s army arrested a lieutenant to Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman who they believe ordered the killing of anti-violence activist Nepomuceno Moreno, authorities said Sunday. Mexico’s defense department said Jesus Alfredo Salazar Ramirez was arrested in Huixquilucan in Mexico state on Thursday, and that there is an arrest order for him issued by a court in Texas for intent to distribute cocaine
June 5, 2011
The Wall Street Journal, 6/5/2011
Authorities detained one of Mexico’s most controversial and wealthiest politicians on suspicion of illegally keeping an arsenal of over 80 guns and automatic rifles in his house, setting off a political furor.
Soldiers acting on a tip burst into the Tijuana home of Jorge Hank, 55, a former mayor and a pillar of the Mexico’s former ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party’s establishment, and detained him and 10 employees in the early hours of Saturday morning. On Sunday, Mr. Hank was flown to Mexico City and was being questioned by police officials in charge of investigating organized crime.
Mr. Hank’s detention sparked demonstrations in his favor by supporters in Tijuana, as well as a flurry of angry statements from PRI party barons.
November 20, 2010
Mexican authorities have filed a formal charges against alleged drug kingpin Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez Villareal, and they also say he might be extradited to the United States.
The Mexican Attorney General’s Organized Crime Unit says Valdez faces charges including drug trafficking, kidnapping and arms possession. He had been held pending charges since his Aug. 30 arrest.
The attorney general’s office said Saturday the Texas-born Valdez also now faces a formal extradition process based on a U.S. warrant.