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
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.
October 21, 2014
The 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.
September 25, 2014
09/25/14 The Washington Post
Mexico 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.
July 9, 2014
07/09/14 NBC News
The 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.
March 12, 2014
Los 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.
January 22, 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.