Ciudad Juárez, a Border City Known for Killing, Gets Back to Living

December 16, 2013

The New York Times, 12/14/2013

cuidad juarezWith violence down to a quarter of its peak, Ciudad Juárez, a perennial symbol of drug war devastation, is experiencing what many here describe as a boom. New restaurants pop up weekly, a few with a hipster groove. Schools and homes in some neighborhoods are gradually filling again, while new nightclubs throb on weekends with wall-to-wall teenagers and 20-somethings who insist on reclaiming the freedom to work and play without being consumed by worry.

Critics here fear that the changes are merely cosmetic, and there is still disagreement over what, exactly, has led to the drastic drop in violence. Some attribute it to an aggressive detention policy by the police; others say the worst killers have died or fled, or that the Sinaloa drug cartel has simply defeated its rivals, leaving a peace of sorts that could quickly be undone.

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The country where exorcisms are on the rise

November 27, 2013

BBC News, 11/25/2013

ChurchTo some it may seem extraordinary, but priests say the country is under attack by Satan, and that more exorcists are needed to fight him. This attack, they say, is showing itself in the gruesome drug-related violence, including human sacrifice, that has engulfed the country since 2006.

“We believe that behind all these big and structural evils there is a dark agent and his name is The Demon. That is why the Lord wants to have here a ministry of exorcism and liberation, for the fight against the Devil,” says Father Carlos Triana, a priest, and an exorcist, in Mexico City.

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Mexico extradites top cartel member

November 22, 2013

San Antonio Express, 11/21/2013

Mexican Police catch drug dealer photo by Jesús Villaseca P Latitudes PressMexico extradited an alleged former top member of the Zetas drug cartel Thursday to face narcotics trafficking and money laundering charges in Laredo, a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent said.

Officials with the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Attorney’s Office would not confirm or deny Thursday afternoon that Iván Velázquez Caballero, known by the nickname “El Taliban,” had been sent to the U.S. But Mike Vigil, the former chief of international operations for the DEA, said Velazquez is now in the country.

Velázquez is one of more than 30 people charged in a massive conspiracy indictment, alleging that, between 2000 and 2008, the Zetas smuggled large amounts of drugs into the U.S. and committed homicides in Texas as part of their narcotics trafficking operations.

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Mexican vigilantes take on drug cartels – and worry authorities

October 29, 2013

120px-Knights_Templar_Cross.svgThe Guardian, 10/28/2013

With their scuffed shoes, baggy trousers and single shot hunting guns, the eight men preparing to patrol their hillside barrio in the southern Mexican town of Tixtla hardly looked like a disciplined military force. But this motley collection of construction workers and shopkeepers claim to have protected their community from Mexico’s violent drug cartels in a way the police and military have been unable – or unwilling – to do.

“Since we got organised, the hit men don’t dare come in here,” said one young member of the group, which had gathered at dusk on the town’s basketball court, before heading out on patrol. “Extortions, kidnappings and disappearances are right down.”

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In Mexico, self defense groups battle a cartel

September 10, 2013

The Washington Post, 9/10/2013
m16 gun closeup

An audacious band of citizen militias battling a brutal drug cartel in the hills of central Mexico is becoming increasingly well-armed and coordinated in an attempt to end years of violence, extortion and humiliation.

What began as a few scattered self-defense groups has spread in recent months to dozens of towns across Michoacan, a volatile state gripped by the cultlike Knights Templar, a drug gang known for taxing locals on everything from cows to tortillas and executing those who do not comply.

The army deployed to the area in May, but the soldiers are mostly manning checkpoints. Instead, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is facing the awkward fact that a group of scrappy locals appears to be chasing the gangsters away, something that federal security forces have not managed in a decade.

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New Article: Todos Somos Nuevo Laredo? How Mexico’s PRI Can Make Nuevo Laredo into Juarez

August 7, 2013

Wilson_ChristopherBy Christopher Wilson, 8/7/2013

Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez, once the country’s most violent city, has seen violence drop dramatically in the last three years. The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Christopher Wilson explores whether the current government can do the same with Nuevo Laredo, the current epicenter of violence along the border.

In early 2010, as violence in Ciudad Juarez skyrocketed, former Mexican president Felipe Calderon declared that the 15 young people who had been gunned down at a celebration following a youth league baseball game were themselves criminals, that in a certain sense they had it coming. He was wrong, and the parents of the victims made sure he would not forget it.

To view the rest of the article read the PDF.

Pew: Mexicans’ Views Towards the U.S.

May 1, 2013

Pew Mex Attitudes

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.

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Is Drug War Violence Scaring Away Mexico’s Spring Break Tourists?

March 19, 2013

Mexico-beachForbes, 3/18/2013

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.”

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253,000 U.S. guns smuggled to Mexico annually, study finds

March 19, 2013

Guns by Flickr user barjackMcClatchy, 3/18/2013

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.

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Making Sense of Drug Violence in Mexico with Big Data, New Media, and Technology

March 14, 2013

journalismCato at Liberty Blog, 3/13/2013

Unfortunately, one of the biggest casualties from the bloodshed that besets Mexico is freedom of the press. Drug cartels have targeted traditional media outlets such as TV stations and newspapers for their coverage of the violence. Mexico is now the most dangerous country to be a journalist. However, a blackout of information about the extent of violence has been avoided because of activity on Facebook pages, blogs, Twitter accounts, and YouTube channels.

A Cato Institute event earlier this week highlighted the work of two Mexican researchers on this topic. Andrés Monroy-Hernández from Microsoft Research presented the findings of his paper, “The New War Correspondents: The Rise of Civic Media Curation in Urban Warfare,” which shows how Twitter has replaced traditional media in several Mexican cities as the primary source of information about drug violence. Panelists also included Javier Osorio, a Ph.D. candidate from Notre Dame University and Karla Zabludovsky, a reporter from the New York Times’ Mexico City Bureau.

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