April 26, 2013
Global Post, 4/25/13
With President Barack Obama set to visit Mexico next week, a group of 23 U.S. lawmakers asked the administration to prioritize the defense of human rights in relations with the Aztec nation. The legislators expressed their concern over “the persistence of grave human rights violations in Mexico” in a Dear Colleague letter to Secretary of State John Kerry.
Headed by Reps. James Moran (D-Va.) and Ted Poe (R-Texas), the lawmakers are urging Obama to make the defense of human rights “a central part” of Washington’s agenda with Mexico. During the 2006-2012 government of Felipe Calderon, who militarized the war on drugs, complaints to Mexico’s independent National Human Rights Commission about abuses by police and soldiers increased fivefold to 2,723, the congressmen emphasized.
April 22, 2013
Military Checkpoint in Juarez
Los Angeles Times, 4/20/13
Gen. Tomas Angeles Dauahare, who once held the plum post of military attache to the Mexican Embassy in Washington, was rumored to be the next defense minister of Mexico. Until that day in May last year when he and three other top military men were arrested on suspicion of working on behalf of a notorious drug cartel.
It was the largest indictment of army officers on charges of drug-trafficking in recent memory, hailed in many quarters as proof of then-President Felipe Calderon’s determination to root out corruption at every level. But one night last week, Angeles stepped from the Altiplano maximum-security prison, all charges dropped.
March 12, 2013
AULA Blog, 3/11/2013
During the campaign, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto proclaimed in thousands of advertisements, “Me comprometo y cumplo” – I make a promise and I keep it. Offering a list of potentially transformative reforms – regulations, security, telecommunications, energy, and more – he began with one of the most intractable: the struggling public education system. In December, at his instigation, the Mexican congress passed a constitutional reform to create stricter standards for teachers and move hiring authority from the teachers’ union to the government. Enough states had ratified the amendment by the end of February to make it law.
After years of stagnation and interest-group politics, education reform suddenly became politically expedient, passing with support from the PRI, PAN, and PRD. Last week, the government put an exclamation point on the reform by arresting the teachers’ union boss, Elba Esther Gordillo, on charges of using her post for illicit gains surpassing $100 million. A PRI apostate whose opposing alliance was credited with helping former President Felipe Calderón win his razor-thin victory in 2006, she was not just expendable, but an obstacle.
March 11, 2013
By Carlos Puig, The New York Times, 3/8/2013
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.
February 21, 2013
Fox News Latino, 2/20/2013
Former Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s first month at Harvard was marked by strong opposition, both home and abroad, to his strategy in combating his country’s drug cartels while in office. The former Mexican leader has remained relatively quiet as he begins his one-year teaching appointment at the Kennedy School of Government, but he recently defended himself in a commentary published in the Kennedy School’s Latin American Policy Journal.
Calling the border city of Ciudad Juárez a “place of progress,” Calderón said that his government’s tactics helped reduce the bloodshed in a town once dubbed the world’s most violent.
February 21, 2013
The New York Times, 2/21/2013
Nearly 150 people and possibly hundreds more have disappeared at the hands of Mexico’s police and military during the drug war with little or no investigation of the cases, a human rights group said Wednesday, as it called on the new government to account for the country’s missing. The organization, Human Rights Watch, said in a report that Mexico has “the most severe crisis of enforced disappearances in Latin America in decades.” The group found a litany of cases in which witnesses reported people had been abducted or were last seen with the military or the police, never to be seen again.
Altogether the group documented 149 such cases in the past six years, after the previous president, Felipe Calderón, began his term with heavy deployments of military and federal police to combat exploding violence. The group’s investigation found 60 cases in which witness testimony and other evidence demonstrated that local police officers had colluded with cartels in abductions.
February 11, 2013
The International, 2/11/2013
As drug wars continue to ravage Mexico, President Enrique Peña Nieto signed The General Victims Act on January 9, 2013 that will trace and compensate innocent victims of the “War on Drugs”. The bill was approved by Congress in April 2012 under the Calderón administration, though implementation was delayed due to objections by former president Felipe Calderón that the bill was too vague, presenting the possibility of it being unconstitutional and difficult to implement.
Calderón’s veto registered criticism from human rights activists who rallied for victim recognitions and reparations. The bill, which remains unchanged, was signed by Nieto with assurances that the contents would be specified to remove vagueness before implementation, but Nieto insisted that putting the law on the books was imperative.
February 8, 2013
National Geographic, 2/7/2013
Largely thanks to Oaxaca’s unique geography, Mexico’s wind power capacity expanded to 1,350 megawatts in 2012, according to reports from a national wind industry conference in Mexico City last month, marking nearly a 140 percent expansion in capacity in a single year. Stands of the turbines now fill Oaxacan horizons, with more planned as developers pour millions of dollars into wind farms. While bringing development to the isolated area, the turbines have disrupted pastoral lifestyles and divided villages over leasing fees and other benefits promised to local communities.
The projects have arisen with strong support from Mexico’s central government. Before leaving office in December, Calderón was seen as an active proponent of wind power. The projects also have the participation of well-known Mexican companies, including cement maker Cemex and retailer Walmart de Mexico.
February 6, 2013
The Justice in Mexico Project, 2/5/2013
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.
February 4, 2013
The Washington Post, 2/1/2013
As a tactical matter, the gangsters and government security forces fighting Mexico’s drug war have typically opted for the spectacular over the subtle. Massacres, beheadings and other unspeakable cruelties became cartels’ preferred form of violence. In response, the government sent masked troops with machine guns to patrol Mexico’s streets and paraded its captured drug suspects on television like hunting trophies.
But in the past few months, that has changed. Mexico’s drug war has gone quiet. Not less lethal. Just less loud.