December 2, 2013
Los Angeles Times, 12/1/2013
To President Enrique Peña Nieto’s supporters, his first year in office has been a time of bold promises kept as he pursues an ambitious agenda of reforms designed, in the long term, to bring peace and economic growth to Mexico.
But in the short term, by many measures, his country remains a mess. Though he promised to focus on Mexico’s economic potential, Peña Nieto has presided over an economy that has hardly grown at all. Though he vowed to reduce the kind of violence that affects innocent citizens, his record has been mixed, with kidnappings and extortion rising nationwide even as the number of homicides drops.
December 2, 2013
Fox Latino News, 11/30/2013
Once centered on timeshares and rowdy bars largely frequented by Americans and Canadians, northern Baja California’s tourism industry is rebounding with the exploding fame of local chefs, the expansion of boutique hotels and a burgeoning art scene creating a buzz in travel magazines.
This year, foreigners made up more than 45 percent of all visitors, after dropping to a low of less than 25 percent when cartels unleashed unprecedented bloodshed, leaving beheaded bodies on Tijuana’s streets. Sport fishing licenses — which are almost exclusively sought by Americans — have increased more than 75 percent during that time, according to Baja California’s tourism department.
November 26, 2013
The Washington Post, 11/26/2013
The number of bodies found in almost two dozen clandestine graves in western Mexico has risen to 42, after five more corpses were discovered over the weekend.
Many of the bodies were bound or gagged. Some showed signs of torture, according to a federal prosecutor who spoke Monday on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the news media.
November 4, 2013
BBC News, 11/3/2013
A film of a woman being beheaded in Mexico caused an international outcry in October when Facebook refused to remove it from its site. There have been hundreds of reports about the video – but why has no-one identified the victim in it?
October 15, 2013
The Huffington Post, 10/14/2013
When the threatening phone calls demanding $20,000 in protection money began in December, Dr. Roman Gomez Gaviria shrugged them off, believing his clinic on the outskirts of Mexico City couldn’t possibly be of interest to criminal gangs. A few months later, his sense of security was shattered when three armed men barged into his office screaming “Dr. Ramon, you bastard, where are you?”
“They tried to tackle me, to take me out of the clinic, when I saw that each one had a pistol tucked into his belt,” said Gaviria, recounting the ordeal. “They thought that, because I’m a doctor, I wasn’t going to resist.”
Such shakedown rackets have long targeted businesses in the most violent corners of Mexico. Now the practice is spreading. One anti-crime group estimates that kidnapping across the country has jumped by one-third so far this year compared to 2012. And as the extortion industry expands, it has drawn both experienced criminals and imitators.
August 27, 2013
In 2011 and 2012 as organized crime-related violence claimed thousands of lives in states such as Guerrero, Jalisco, and Tamaulipas, Mexico City remained a relative oasis from violent crime, reporting a murder rate roughly on par with New York City’s.
But, a series of violent incidents have occurred in 2013. In addition to the mass kidnapping in May there have been a number of other disturbing organized crime-style assassinations. While cartel battlegrounds in Acapulco and the surrounding state of Guerrero continue to be hotspots of organized crime-related violence. There has also been a notable increase in violence in and around Mexico City. Mexico State, for instance, the state surrounding Mexico City, reported 1,217 homicides between December 2012 and July 2013. During this time period, Mexico City reported 525 homicides, second only to Acapulco in terms of total murders reported.
July 23, 2013
Los Angeles Times, 7/23/2013
Despite some recent promising homicide statistics, violence continues to rage in regions of Mexico plagued by drug gangs and organized crime, as evidenced by dozens of killings spread over four states in the last five days.
Last week, the leader of the notorious Zetas drug cartel, Angel Treviño Morales, was captured by federal officials, and many had speculated that a wave of bloodshed would follow. But it is not clear if any of the recent events are connected to his detention.
July 1, 2013
The Wall Street Journal, 6/28/13
Drug-related killings that turned parts of Mexico into the bloodiest spots on the globe appear to have decreased in recent months—a welcome trend in a nation exhausted by years of violence associated with organized crime, even if the reasons behind it are hard to pin down. President Enrique Peña Nieto entered office Dec. 1 promising to continue the U.S.-supported fight against drug kingpins that he inherited, but to reduce the bloodbath by focusing on solving crimes like kidnapping and extortion that affect ordinary citizens.
The bloodshed is still alarmingly high, as the northern border and even the Acapulco beach resort continue to suffer from cartel turf wars. In his first six months in office, around 6,300 people died in killings seen as linked to organized crime. But that is a drop of about 18% compared with an estimated 7,700 in the previous six months.
June 19, 2013
A string of violent incidents in Mexico City has left residents looking for answers. In February, a gunman riding a motorcycle killed a nightclub owner in La Zona Rosa, a central district not far from the U.S and British embassies and the headquarters of many foreign multinational companies. On May 9, Malcolm X’s grandson was beaten to death in a bar near the city’s famous Plaza Garibaldi. On May 26, in the same neighborhomod as the nightclub owner shooting, armed assailants kidnapped a dozen teenagers from Tepito, one of the city’s rougher outer neighborhoods. On June 6, two gunmen entered a gym in Tepito and killed four people. Josefina Ramirez, the aunt of one of the victims, explained, “two masked men came and just started shooting.”
Although some residents worry that the recent increase of violent incidents that appear to be connected to organized crime could undermine Mexico’s City’s success story, many analysts continue to view Mexico City’s community-focused police program as an adequate buffer from a regression to the sort of crime wave they city went through in the 1990s.
June 17, 2013
Book review by David A. Shirk, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/16/2013
Join us for the book’s launch this Thursday [RSVP here].
“Midnight in Mexico” is Dallas Morning News journalist Alfredo Corchado’s deeply personal account of his experiences covering Mexico’s struggle against drug trafficking, corruption and violence. The title is both a literal reference and a metaphor. At a crucial moment in 2007, Corchado lies awake at night with the realization that he has gone from reporting on a story to becoming the center of a plot to end his life. The book’s title is also a reference to nearly a decade of darkness in which ruthless criminal organizations have engaged in horrendous violence that has killed tens of thousands of people.
How many have died is a matter of much speculation. But, according to Mexico’s national statistics agency, there were more than 120,000 murders in Mexico from 2006 to 2012, during the presidency of Felipe Calderon. A number of other tallies suggest that at least 45 percent and as many as 65 percent of these murders bore signs of organized crime involvement: execution-style killings, mass killings, killings in public shootouts, killings by torture, killings with poorly spelled narco-messages, killings with U.S. and imported firearms, killings of sons and daughters, killings of mayors and political candidates, police killings, killings by authorities and killings of journalists.