Mexico murders at over 101,000 in past 6 years, report says

November 28, 2012

Fox News Latino, 11/27/2012

A total of 101,199 murders were registered in Mexico during President Felipe Calderon’s six-year administration, with about 50 percent of the killings drug-related, a report released Tuesday by the Mexico Evalua think tank says.

Mexico Evalua used National Institute of Statistics and Geography, or INEGI, and National Public Safety System Executive Secretariat, or SESNSP, data in preparing the report.

The increase in homicides, according to the report, is related to organized crime, with the proportion of murders linked to “criminal rivalries” at just 30 percent before 2008.


Are Obama, Romney ignoring Mexico’s drug war? [op-ed]

November 1, 2012

Susana Seijas, op-ed, CNN News, 11/1/2012

“Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States,” is something I heard a lot growing up in Mexico in the 1980s. How that saying, first coined by President Porfirio Diaz around the turn of the 20th century, resonates today.

With the U.S. election next door, Mexico seems not only far from God, but forgotten. In the past six years, 60,000 people have died in drug-related violence. Some say the death toll could be as high as 100,000. Yet the violence here didn’t make it into the last U.S. presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

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Mexico’s New President Vows to Continue Fight Against Drug Gangs

July 5, 2012

The Wall Street Journal, 07/04/2012

Enrique Peña Nieto

Mexico’s president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto, fresh off his weekend election victory, said Tuesday he plans to continue President Felipe Calderón’s fight against the country’s drug gangs, but outlined a long-term strategy to place more of the battle in the hands of civilians rather than the military.

He also said he saw Colombia, long the U.S.’s closest ally in the region, as offering valuable lessons in fighting organized crime.

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Mexico Mayor Slain Campaigning for President’s Kin

November 3, 2011

ABC News, 11/3/11

A mayor in Mexico’s western state of Michoacan was shot dead Wednesday night while campaigning for President Felipe Calderon’s sister in her run for the governorship.

Mayor Ricardo Guzman of La Piedad was passing out campaign material when an SUV drove by and a gunman opened fire, said Jonathan Arredondo, spokesman of the state Attorney General’s Office. The office initially said a man had pointed a gun at Guzman’s head and fired.

The 45-year-old mayor was campaigning for gubernatorial candidate Luisa Maria Calderon, who belongs to the National Action Party, or PAN, like her brother. She is a contender in the Nov. 13 state elections. Officials did not say whether the attack was drug related or orchestrated by political rivals.

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First ones on the catwalk (In Spanish)

November 2, 2011

Poder 360, November 2011

Durante los pasados 25 años, la búsqueda del ansiado palomeo de Washington ha convertido a la capital estadounidense en pasarela obligada de aspirantes presidenciales y jerarcas partidistas; el proceso electoral de 2012 no será diferente.

En menos de dos semanas en octubre, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), líder del Movimiento de Regeneración Nacional (Morena), y Josefina Vázquez Mota, precandidata del PAN, visitaron aquella ciudad para hablar, ante nutridas audiencias, sobre el futuro de México y la relación bilateral.

“En los últimos 15 días, hemos tenido dos personajes políticos muy importantes –dijo Eric Olson, asesor senior del Instituto México del Woodrow Wilson Center–, vienen a Washington a presentar su visión de país y sus visiones sobre los retos que enfrenta México.Eso es muy importante porque mucha gente en Washington desconoce la realidad mexicana, conoce las playas y sabe de la violencia, pero no más.Los dos han presentado planes diferentes, pero positivos sobre los retos que enfrentan”.

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Clear and present danger (In Spanish)

November 2, 2011

Poder 360, November 2011

El gobernador de Texas, Rick Perry dice tener la solución para impedir que la narcoviolencia cruce la frontera: invadir México. En más de dos ocasiones en el pasado mes, el aspirante a la candidatura presidencial republicana se ha pronunciado por enviar tropas a México.

En un mitin de proselitismo en New Hampshire a principios de octubre, Perry comparó a nuestro país con Colombia donde, dijo, el gobierno aceptó el apoyo militar estadounidense para ultimar a capos de la droga. La violencia, manifestó, “podría requerir [la presencia de] nuestro ejército en México (…) para ejecutar a los carteles de la droga, mantenerlos fuera de nuestra frontera y destruir sus redes(…) creo que es importante que trabajemos con ellos [gobierno mexicano] para impedir que el país fracase”.

Una semana después, ante una audiencia de evangélicos en Washington, Perry escaló la retórica al afirmar que la inseguridad en México es producto de una “guerra librada por el narcoterrorismo” que presenta “un peligro claro y actual” para su país.

Desde 2009, como gobernador, Perry ha venido pidiendo que el presidente Barack Obama despliegue 1,000 efectivos de la Guardia Nacional a la frontera para impedir el “derrame” de la narcoviolencia. Insiste en contradecir investigaciones como la de Christopher Wilson, analista del Woodrow Wilson Center, que demuestra que la región fronteriza dista mucho de ser la zona peligrosa y fuera de control. Wilson sostiene que entre 2005 y 2010, la tasa de homicidios en el lado estadounidense de la franja, Texas incluido, bajó 24%.

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Narco orphans suffer the brunt of Mexico’s violence

October 30, 2011

Houston Chronicle,  10/30/11

Eleazar glanced up from the toy cars he pushed across a threadbare carpet, flashing back to the moment when the men gunned down and killed his father. “They were in a black pickup,” the 10-year-old whispered as a younger brother and sister listened with averted eyes. “The windows were dark. I couldn’t see them.”

Eleazar’s father had brought him and a brother along to an appointment. Their father parked, told his sons to stay put and walked across the street for the meeting. Loud bangs jolted the boys seconds later. Eleazar watched the killers drive away, then ran to his dad’s side as he lay facedown in the street, dead. “He was involved in bad things,” Eleazar’s grandmother, Beatriz Ramirez, 47, said of her 30-year-old son-in-law. “He died three days after his sister also was killed.”

Legions of children like Eleazar – some say as many as 15,000 – have lost one parent or both to the drug-fed malevolence devouring Ciudad Juarez. Fragile seedlings, these children have lives sullied by blood, blackened with loss, gnarled in rage.

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At least three drug groups are fighting for control in Acapulco, Mexico

January 10, 2011

The Cliffs of La Quebrada in Acapulco

The Los Angeles Times, 1/10/2011

With a weekend death toll of more than 30 victims, including 15 who were found decapitated, the Mexican resort city of Acapulco is facing its most gruesome levels of drug-related violence since the start of the drug war in 2006. Authorities in Guerrero state, where Acapulco is located, said that in all31 people died violently in or around the city on Saturday and Sunday (link in Spanish).

Reports said decapitated bodies were found with messages indicating that the killings were ordered by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, leader of the powerful Sinaloa cartel and Mexico’s most-wanted man.

If Sinaloa hit men are indeed active in the Acapulco area, it would suggest a likely escalation in future violence for a city that has seen drug-related killings soar since the death of Arturo Beltrán Leyva, the capo who had controlled the valuable trafficking port.

Beltrán Leyva was killed in an operation led by the Mexican navy in December 2009. Like previous deaths or captures of high-profile drug lords, the sudden absence of a criminal figurehead in the region resulted in a scramble for control among splintering or rival groups. (The same phenomenon, for example, occurred in the Tijuana border area after the deaths or captures of capos in the Arellano Felix cartel.)

In this case, Beltrán Leyva’s death was believed to have spurred Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez to step in briefly as leader before Valdez was captured in August 2010. (He entered federal custody and possible extradition to the United States with a now-famous smirk.) His father-in-law Carlos “The Cowboy” Montemayor reportedly took his place, but he also was captured, in November in Mexico City.

The violence currently gripping Acapulco is now due to a turf war among three groups, two of which have emerged only in the last year, according to the weekly news magazine Proceso.

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Success or Failure? Evaluating U.S.-Mexico Efforts to Address Organized Crime and Violence

December 29, 2010

Andrew Selee, Perspectives on the Americas, 12/29/2010

Mexico has seen an upswing in drug-related violence as at least seven different organized crime groups dispute key corridors for trafficking cocaine, marijuana, heroin and methamphetamines to the U.S. market.  In 2009 alone, over  6,500 people were killed in showdowns between criminal organizations or between them and public authorities, and a growing number of civilians have been among those murdered. The number appears to have surpassed 10,000 already this year.  In addition, many of the trafficking organizations have branched out into other criminal enterprises, including extortion, kidnapping and immigrant smuggling.  The murder of 72 migrants in Tamaulipas in August 2010 was a tragic reminder of these new ventures.

Mexican authorities correctly point out that the country’s overall murder rate is far below that of several other countries in Latin America, including Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia and El Salvador, and no different than that of the United States in the early 1990s.  Yet this is small comfort to those who live in those parts of the country, including many of the cities on the U.S.-Mexico border, where trafficking organizations are fighting against each other with a savagery that shapes people’s daily life.  Moreover, the violence is only one symptom of a deeper problem – the growing strength of organized crime.  The murder rate is high  in the places where two or more groups are fighting over shipment corridors, but there are many more parts of the country where a single trafficking organization operates with impunity and often, with the complicity of public authorities.Mexican organized crime groups were not always so powerful, but perhaps it was inevitable that a country located next to the United States, the world’s largest consumer market for illegal narcotics, would eventually  become home to powerful crime groups bent on satisfying that market.  Mexico had long had small drug trafficking organizations that controlled some of the marijuana and heroin trade to U.S. consumers.  However, in the 1980s, Colombian drug trafficking organizations began shifting their routes through Mexico, in response to increased interdiction in the Caribbean, and partnered with the Mexican traffickers to transport cocaine.  Throughout the 1990s, the Mexican traffickers grew in strength as the Colombian trafficking organizations were weakened, and they grew to control more of the cocaine market, as well as establishing themselves in the newly-lucrative business of synthetic drugs.  By the new millennium, the Mexican organizations had established their country as the new epicenter of the illegal narcotics trade in the hemisphere and the principal route to the United States.

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Mexican waves, Californian cool: Three things to stop the gangs: better police in Mexico, stricter gun laws in America and legal pot in California

October 14, 2010

The Economist, 10/14/2010

There have been gunfights outside the American school and a big private university. The mayors of two suburbs have been murdered. And a grenade has been thrown at Saturday evening strollers in a square, injuring 12. All this has happened since August not in Kabul or Baghdad but in Monterrey in northern Mexico (see article). The latest battleground in a multilateral war between drug-trafficking gangs and the authorities, Monterrey is not a dusty outpost. It is one of the biggest industrial cities of North America, a couple of hours’ drive from Texas and home to some of Mexico’s leading companies.

The maelstrom of drug-related violence that is engulfing Mexico has produced exaggerated, sometimes xenophobic, alarm in parts of the United States. The response in Mexico City has, until recently, been defensive denial.

Both reactions are wrong. The violence, in which at least 28,000 people have been killed since 2006, reflects a double failure of public policy: decades of neglect of the basic institutions of the rule of law in Mexico, and a failed approach to drug consumption (plus lax gun laws) in the United States. These mistakes have helped to create the world’s most powerful organised-crime syndicates. Reforms in both countries could help tame them.

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