Op-ed: In Mexico, guilty till proven innocent

June 5, 2013

justice - gavelBy Maureen Meyer, CNN, 6/5/2013

The case of Yanira Maldonado brought international attention once more to the innocent people getting caught in Mexico’s drug war. Maldonado, a U.S. citizen and mother of seven children, was released late last week after spending more than a week in a prison in Nogales, Mexico, accused of trying to transport marijuana aboard a bus.

She and her husband, Gary, were returning on the bus from a family funeral in Sonora, Mexico, when soldiers at a military checkpoint stopped them. The passengers were told to get out so that the soldiers and an official from the public prosecutor’s office could inspect it. She was arrested and handed over to the official because soldiers said marijuana was found under her seat — conviction could have meant a minimum of 10 years in jail. A surveillance video showing her boarding the bus with only her purse, blankets and two bottles of water apparently exonerated her.

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High-profile corruption cases collapse in Mexico as critics point to incompetence, vendettas

April 24, 2013

lawAssociated Press, 4/24/13

In just one week, some of Mexico’s most high-profile corruption cases have unraveled on thin or made-up evidence, reinforcing long-held notions that the Attorney General’s Office is more focused on political vendettas or favors than justice.

Two of the cases against public servants, a former drug czar and a former No. 2 in the Defense Department accused of links to drug cartels, were thrown out within days last week. In one, the judge determined that witness testimonies were false, and the other case dissolved because prosecutors couldn’t find evidence to support the charges. Many blamed the failed prosecutions on the administration of former President Felipe Calderon, which prepared the cases.

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EVENT: Mexico: Commitment to Security & Justice

April 17, 2013

The Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute is pleased to invite you to watch the live webcast for “Mexico: Commitment to Security & Justice,” a presentation by Mexico’s Secretary of the Interior Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong. His address will cover the Peña Nieto administration’s security and justice strategies.

Thursday, April 18, 2013 – 9-10:30am (EST)

Watch live here…

osorio chong

Follow the conversation live: @MexicoInstitute #Segob

Auto Defensa: Rough Justice in Mexico’s Lawless Mountains

February 12, 2013

protest -- stroke -- resistanceTime, 2/12/2013

In late January I traveled along winding mountain roads in Guerrero state, Mexico, to witness the opening of a new chapter in the country’s enduring battle against organized crime. This was not, however, a drug eradication mission conducted by the Mexican Army, or an operativo by the Federal Police to nab cartel chiefs. Instead, I was there to document a burgeoning movement of “Auto Defensa,” or autonomous uprisings by campesinos who, pushed to the breaking point by criminal gangs operating in their communities, decided to take back control of their towns and villages.

The event generally credited with sparking this movement occurred on January 5th in Ayutla de los Libres, a town of roughly 30,000, when a local representative, or comesario, was kidnapped for ransom. A group of locals decided to combat the kidnappers. They armed themselves, closed roads into and out of the town, formed patrols and, before long, freed the comesario and took his captors prisoner.

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French woman freed in Mexico kidnapping case

January 24, 2013

justice-systemLos Angeles Times, 1/23/2013

In a surprising climax to a case that has strained Franco-Mexican relations for years, Mexico’s Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the immediate release of Florence Cassez, a young French woman serving a 60-year sentence for her involvement with a Mexican kidnapping ring.

Cassez, 38, was arrested in 2005 along with her Mexican boyfriend, whom authorities said was the head of a kidnapping group called the Zodiacs. Although Cassez lived in a compound where victims were held, she maintained that she had committed no crimes.

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On Washington – The Peace Movement [Op-ed in Spanish]

September 20, 2012

Reforma, Sergio Aguayo, 9/19/2012

The caravan of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD) ended their U.S. tour in Washington, DC.

Maria Herrera has four children missing, Araceli Rodriguez continues her search for her son who was a federal police and most likely abducted by “La Familia Michoacana” cartel and Javier Sicilia goes through life dragging the pain and suffering that was caused by the murder of his son. I accompanied them to a meeting with Maria Otero, the State Department undersecretary, who listened with great attention and sympathetic accounts of pain and anger at the inaction of those who govern Mexico.

To read click on link, Aguayo_Sobrewashington.

The trials of Ernesto Zedillo

September 4, 2012

The Economist, 9/1/2012

Former President Zedillo

By the time the shooting had finished, 45 men, women and children lay dead or dying deep in the jungle. The massacre at Acteal, a hamlet in Chiapas, was the worst single act of violence during the unrest that shook Mexico’s far south in the 1990s. Zapatista guerrillas had declared war on the federal government on New Year’s Day, 1994. The fighting was brief, but sympathisers on each side then used the conflict to settle differences over land, religion and much else. The government’s supposed ties to the killers who on December 22nd 1997 opened fire on Acteal, a place mainly sympathetic to the Zapatistas, have never been fully established.

Nearly 15 years later, the Acteal murders could be tried in a court 2,000 miles away in Connecticut. Ernesto Zedillo, who was Mexico’s president from 1994 to 2000, is now a professor at Yale University. His residence in the state has given ten Tzotzil-speaking Indians, who claim to be survivors of the 1997 massacre, an opportunity to sue him in a civil court in the United States. They are seeking about $50m and a declaration of guilt against Mr Zedillo.

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