Two days ago we showed you what Americans think of Mexico. Now, thanks to our friends at the Pew Research Center, here’s what Mexicans think of their Northern neighbor.
Despite the drug war violence, U.S. tourists are still likelier to visit Mexico than any other country on the planet. According to a report from Mexico’s tourism ministry, “Visitor arrivals by air to Mexico during the period January to August 2012 increased 6.1 percent with respect to 2011, 4.9 percent compared to 2010 and 11.7 percent compared to 2008.” Although a number of destination cities continue to attract high levels of tourism and are likely to pull in visiting spring breakers this March, one city, the resort town of Acapulco on Mexico’s Pacific coast, stands out for its continued security struggles.
So far, unlike the tourist city of Acapulco to the south, Puerto Vallarta, a beach city in the state of Jalisco, has largely avoided the cartel and street gang related violence that is affecting many other pockets of Mexico. On March 12, 2013 The Los Angeles Times reported, “Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, is making a comeback with the spring break crowd, according to statistics compiled by Kayak, an aggregator website that searches hundreds of websites.”
Some 2.2 percent of all U.S. gun sales are made to smuggling rings that take firearms to Mexico, a scale of illegal trafficking that’s “much higher than widely assumed,” an academic study released Monday found. An average of 253,000 weapons purchased in the United States head south of the border each year, according to the study by four scholars at the University of San Diego’s Trans-Border Institute and the Igarape Institute, a research center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Profit margins at many gun stores are razor thin, and thousands of U.S. gun vendors would go out of business without the illicit traffic to Mexico, said Topher McDougal, an economist educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who’s one of the study’s authors. The study’s conclusions are likely to add to controversy over what role U.S. weapons smugglers play in Mexico’s drug violence. Mexican officials have long blamed lax gun laws in the United States for the availability of weapons in Mexico, which has only one gun store and considers gun ownership a privilege, not a right.
It’s one of the trendiest, most expensive and nicest pieces of land around. It’s in Polanco, the city’s most expensive neighborhood, and on a corner of Paseo de la Reforma, the capital’s most important avenue. Less than two kilometers away from the president’s residence and just five blocks from Masaryk Street, our own Park Avenue. It occupies 1,500 square meters of Chapultepec, the park in the middle of Mexico City.
And it is this piece of prime real estate that last year, under heavy pressure from human rights organizations, the government designated for a memorial to honor the victims of drug-related violence.
A Facebook page in Mexico has notched tens of thousands of followers for posting detailed but unconfirmed updates on security risks in the drug-war hot zone of Tamaulipas state. Now, purported assassins have declared a bounty on the head of the page’s anonymous administrator. In response, the Facebook author said the page would not stop gathering and publishing information on shootouts and highway blockades because the Tamaulipas authorities and local news outlets offer nearly zero updates on so-called “risk situations.”
The person behind Valor por Tamaulipas posted a photograph last week of a reward notice that was said to have begun circulating in several Tamaulipas cities calling for information leading to the page’s author or relatives. The flier makes an offer of 600,000 pesos, or about $47,000, for information and includes a cellphone number with a Tamaulipas area code.
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, the Peña Nieto administration unveiled its new strategy to combat organized crime, promising the creation of a 10,000-strong gendarmerie by year’s end, as well as $9.2 billion for social programs aimed at the country’s most violent towns and neighborhoods. Mexico’s booming auto industry surpassed tourism and oil exports to become the nation’s main source of foreign exchange. The government’s efforts to transform the Mexican narrative of violence into one of prosperity and social development, however, continued to suffer setbacks following the rape of six Spanish tourists in Acapulco last week. Auto defensa vigilante groups in the state of Guerrero continued to hold over forty people accused of several crimes hostage. North of the border, talk of comprehensive immigration reform continued, with critics warning against conditioning reform efforts on the poorly defined notion of securing the border, which Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano added, has “never been stronger.”
This information is part of “Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis through 2012,” the fourth of a series of reports that the Trans-Border Institute’s Justice in Mexico Project has put together each year since 2010 to compile the latest available data and analysis to evaluate these challenges. The report was authored by Justice in Mexico Project Associate Cory Molzahn, TBI’s Security and Rule of Law Program Coordinator Octavio Rodríguez Ferreira and TBI’s Director David A. Shirk.
The year 2012 marked the end of the six-year term of President Felipe Calderón (2006-2012), who was both lauded for his administration’s unprecedented assault on organized crime groups and criticized for the loss of human life that accompanied this fight. From the beginning of his presidency, President Calderón made security a primary focus of his administration by doubling national security budgets and deploying tens of thousands of federal forces to the states most impacted by violence among drug trafficking organizations.
On Wednesday, January 9, David Shirk, a former Wilson Center scholar and current Director of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego, provided a briefing to the U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) on recent developments in Mexican security. The briefing took place at NORTHCOM’s facilities in Colorado Springs and included high level analysts from the Department of Defense and other U.S. government agencies. The briefing, “The Drug War in Mexico: U.S.-Mexico Security Challenges in 2013 and Beyond,” provided an overview of the recent findings of the Justice in Mexico Project, sponsored by a generous three-year grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Specifically, the presentation included new data from the institute’s forthcoming report on drug violence in Mexico, as well as a discussion of Mexico’s changing security context under newly inaugurated President Enrique Peña Nieto.
To read the full report, click here.
A group of priests in Mexico are delivering a controversial message: Mexicans should forgive their brothers and sisters, even those involved in the drug trade who may have killed their family members.
The message was delivered during a Sunday homily in Mexico City, but it was also delivered in a dramatic video making the rounds on the Internet. The short film is called “Hermano Narco” and it tells the story of a 13-year-old girl whose parents are massacred by a drug gang. To add insult to injury, the gang crashes the funeral, but the girl decides to forgive them saying that perhaps someone had done the same thing to their parents and no one bothered to give them a hug.