U.S. Pushes Back Against Warnings That ISIS Plans to Enter From Mexico

September 16, 2014

09/15/14 The New York Times

Border - MexicoWASHINGTON — Militants for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have traveled to Mexico and are just miles from the United States. They plan to cross over the porous border and will “imminently” launch car bomb attacks. And the threat is so real that federal law enforcement officers have been placed at a heightened state of alert, and an American military base near the border has increased its security. As the Obama administration and the American public have focused their attention on ISIS in recent weeks, conservative groups and leading Republicans have issued stark warnings like those that ISIS and other extremists from Syria are planning to enter the country illegally from Mexico.

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Weakening Odile Pushes Up Mexico’s Baja California

September 16, 2014

09/16/14  The New York Times

hurricaneCABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico — A weakening Tropical Storm Odile pushed up Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula early Tuesday, dumping heavy rains that could bring dangerous flash floods and mudslides but also a potential boon to the drought-stricken region. Mexico’s government said late Monday night that army and commercial planes would be sent to La Paz and Los Cabos airports to ferry out some of the tens of thousands of tourists stranded in temporary shelters in hotels.

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A Porpoise Is Ensnared by Criminals and Nets

September 15, 2014

09/14/2014 The New York Times

800px-Puerto_ColombiaSAN FELIPE, Mexico — It is a rare moment when scientists can point to an animal at the edge of extinction and predict when it might disappear forever. But it is happening here, under the golden waters of the desert-rimmed sea, where a small porpoise has almost vanished. Nobody imagined that the end would approach so quickly. What changed was the appearance of a new threat to the snub-nosed porpoise known as the vaquita: organized crime.

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Mexico anti-poverty fund draws line at 3 children

May 6, 2014

shopping in super marketMiami Herald, 5/5/14

The head of Mexico’s anti-poverty program drew criticism Monday after she warned Indian mothers that government aid programs would help support only their first three children. Activists said the warning by Social Development Secretary Rosario Robles appeared insulting and aimed at punishing women who have more children.

Robles’ department said the three-child rule has actually been in place since July 2012, before current President Enrique Pena Nieto took office. The Associated Press found a reference to a similar guideline in government documents dating back to 2011, when the change appears to have first been made. Her office said the rules apply to Indians and non-Indians alike.

Robles said she was just stating longstanding policy in a speech last week to Huichol and Cora Indian women in the Pacific coast state of Nayarit. She was talking about a series of government food aid, scholarships and health assistance programs known broadly as Oportunidades (“Opportunities”) that provide a maximum of about $210 a month to poor families. But the tone, timing and audience may not have been the best, and Robles made it sound like the rule was new.

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UN: Torture remains widespread in treatment of detainees in Mexico

May 5, 2014

prison - open doorThe Globe and Mail, 5/2/14

The torture of detainees in Mexico continues to be widespread and occurs between the time of arrest and when suspects appear before a judge, a United Nations official said Friday after a two-week probe of issue. U.N. special rapporteur on torture Juan Mendez said that signs of torture are found on people arrested by all levels of authority, from the military down to local and state police.

Mendez spoke in a press conference at the end of his visit to Mexico, where he met with officials, activists and victims of torture. He said practices reported include beatings with fists, feet and sticks, asphyxiating with plastics bags and electric shock to the genitals. “I wish I could say that torture is isolated in Mexico,” said Mendez, who was invited by the Mexican government to do the study. “But I have an obligation to tell the government and society of Mexico that it’s the kind of problem that needs to be corrected.”

He will prepare a report with recommendations for the government that will eventually go to the U.N. Human Rights Council, where it will become public. The Mexican Foreign Ministry said the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto has made it a priority to eradicate torture and is committed to completing the recommendations.

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Even With Obamacare, Many Latinos Still Seek Treatment In Mexico

May 5, 2014

latino-healthKaiser Health News, 5/5/14

Irma Montalvo signed up for a health plan through California’s new insurance exchange last month, getting coverage for the first time in eight years.

But when she needed treatment for a painful skin rash, Montalvo didn’t go to a doctor near her home in Chula Vista. Instead she drove to Mexico, about 16 miles south. Her doctor, Cecilia Espinoza, diagnosed her with shingles and prescribed medication to relieve pain and head off complications.

Montalvo, 64, said she comes to Tijuana in part because it costs just $15 to see the doctor. She can’t use her insurance for care outside California but it’s still cheaper because she doesn’t have to worry about a deductible. More important, she said, is that she feels comfortable with Espinoza.

“She listens to me,” said Montalvo, a U.S. citizen who was born in Mexico, said in Spanish. “I come here feeling really bad, and three days later I am better.” Mexican immigrants living in California, Arizona, Texas and New Mexico have long sought health care in border cities like Tijuana, Mexicali and Nogales. The Affordable Care Act won’t change that, experts said, even though it has expanded coverage to millions of people, including many Latinos.

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Mexican Government Boosts Infrastructure Investment Plan

April 30, 2014

drawing bar chartThe Wall Street Journal, 4/28/14

Mexico’s government expects public and private investment in infrastructure to reach 7.75 trillion pesos ($590 billion) over the next five years in an effort to raise the country’s economic growth capacity, officials said Monday.

The 2014-2018 national infrastructure plan includes 743 projects in areas such as energy, communications and transport. The amount is a marked increase over the $340 billion outlined by the government a year ago, with the addition of projects in housing and urban development, health and tourism.

President Enrique Peña Nieto said at an event to unveil the plan that despite having the world’s 14th largest economy, Mexico is lagging in infrastructure, placing 64th of 148 countries in the World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness index.

The energy sector is likely to take up the lion’s share of the investment, with 3.9 trillion pesos over the next five years as Mexico opens the state-run oil and electricity sectors to private investment and competition for the first time in decades. Investment in communications and transport, including highways, railways, ports, and broadband networks, is expected to exceed 1.3 trillion pesos.

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