Human Rights Crisis in Mexico Demands Stronger Response from Mexican Government

December 10, 2014

12/9/2014 Washington Office on Latin America

Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP - Getty Images

Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP – Getty Images

On December 6, students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ School in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero announced that the remains of Alexander Mora Venancio had been identified. Alexander, along with 42 other students, disappeared in Iguala, Guerrero on September 26, 2014 at the hands of municipal police who were working on behalf of the local mayor, and who then handed the students over to a criminal group. The identification of Alexander’s remains came after over two months of an investigation into the students’ whereabouts; during this time numerous mass graves were discovered in the area. The whereabouts of the other 42 students remain unknown. This tragic case and the inability of the Mexican government to provide their families and Mexican society with prompt and clear information about the students’ whereabouts have unleashed a wave of massive protests in the country.

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Mexico’s murderous alliance of state, the army and the drug cartels

November 18, 2014

11/15/14 The Guardian 

Students are stood against a wall as Mexican soldiers prepare to cut another's hair following protests in 1968. Photograph: AP

Students are stood against a wall as Mexican soldiers prepare to cut another’s hair following protests in 1968. Photograph: AP

When the cycle comes around to commemorate the spectacles of 1968 in Chicago, Paris or Prague, few people outside Mexico remember that the real bloodbath that year was in Mexico City. It is not the hands wearing black gloves held aloft by American athletes at the Olympics that year, but the white gloves of the army’s Olympia Brigade, which fired upon crowds of students and families in the Tlatelolco district of Mexico City, killing 350 people in cold blood, that will be recalled. This was the quintessence of political violence in Mexico for decades, between the state and the leftist opposition. These were the faultlines which detonated the Zapatista movement in Chiapas during the mid-1990s, the mobilisation of workers in wretched sweatshops along the US border, the near rise to power of leftist López Obrador in his 2006 electoral bid.

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Op-Ed: Mexican drug cartels are worse than ISIL

October 21, 2014

10/20/14 Aljazeera

candlesThe horrific rampage of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has captured the world’s attention. Many Western commentators have characterized ISIL’s crimes as unique, no longer practiced anywhere else in the civilized world. They argue that the group’s barbarism is intrinsically Islamic, a product of the aggressive and archaicworldview that dominates the Muslim world. The ignorance of these claims is stunning. While there other organized groups whose depravity and threat to the United States far surpasses that of ISIL, none have engendered the same kind of collective indignation and hysteria. This raises a question: Are Americans primarily concerned with ISIL’s atrocities or with the fact that Muslims are committing these crimes? For example, even as the U.S. media and policymakers radically inflate ISIL’s threat to the Middle East and United States, most Americans appear to be unaware of the scale of the atrocities committed by Mexican drug cartels and the threat they pose to the United States.

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Mexican cartels steal billions from oil industry

September 25, 2014

09/25/14 The Washington Post

Oil barrelsMexico overcame 75 years of nationalist pride to reform its flagging, state-owned oil industry. But as it prepares to develop rich shale fields along the Gulf Coast, and attract foreign investors, another challenge awaits: taming the brutal drug cartels that rule the region and are stealing billions of dollars’ worth of oil from pipelines. Figures released by Petroleos Mexicanos last week show the gangs are becoming more prolific and sophisticated. So far this year, thieves across Mexico have drilled 2,481 illegal taps into state-owned pipelines, up more than one-third from the same period of 2013. Pemex estimates it’s lost some 7.5 million barrels worth $1.15 billion.

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Mexico’s Cartel-Fighting Vigilantes Get Closer to Texas Border

July 9, 2014

07/09/14 NBC News

machine gunThe gunmen nabbed watermelon farmer Jesus Manuel Guerrero as he drove from his ranch to buy supplies and held him for five painful days in the trunk of a car.

When family members finally paid a $120,000 ransom and they released him, he was urinating blood.

He’s just one of hundreds of victims of a wave of kidnapping that’s swept this once peaceful farming town, about 130 miles south of Texas.

But almost three years after his brutal abduction, Guerrero, who is now the mayor, says his town has become safer, the kidnappers scared to enter.

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In life, Mexican cartel boss was revered as a saint

March 12, 2014

jesus_malverdeLos Angeles Times, 03/10/14

If nothing else, the slaying of cartel boss Nazario Moreno Gonzalez by  Mexican soldiers may have burst the bubble of mysticism that had made him one of  the stranger figures to emerge in the country’s drug war. Moreno, whose nicknames included “El Mas Loco” (“The Craziest”), was a  founder of Michoacan state’s La Familia drug cartel and its offshoot, the Knights Templar — groups that have moved massive amounts of methamphetamine and other drugs north to the United States.

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Legal U.S. Pot Won’t Bring Peace to Mexico

January 22, 2014

marijuana leafBloomberg, 01/21/2014

Since Jan. 1, Colorado has had a legal marijuana market. The same will soon be true in Washington State, once retail licenses are issued. Other states, such as California and Oregon, will likely follow suit over the next three years.

So does this creeping legalization of marijuana in the U.S. spell doom for the Mexican drug cartels? Not quite. The illegal marijuana trade provides Mexican organized crime with about $1.5 billion to $2 billion a year. That’s not chump change, but according to a number of estimates, it represents no more than a third of gross drug export revenue. Cocaine is still the cartels’ biggest money-maker and the revenue accruing from heroin and methamphetamine aren’t trivial. Moreover, Mexican gangs also obtain income from extortion, kidnapping, theft and various other types of illegal trafficking. Losing the marijuana trade would be a blow to their finances, but it certainly wouldn’t put them out of business.

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