Mexico protects wounded leader of citizen militia trying to fight off cartels

January 10, 2014

m16 gun closeupThe Washington Post, 01/09/2014

Fifty federal police officers armed with black assault rifles guard the gates of an exclusive private hospital in this cosmopolitan capital.

They are patrolling the polished stone lobby, standing sentry under palm trees, surveilling the Starbucks. Private security guards and local police man the doors, driveways and elevators.

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Police Probe Dogfight Debt in Mexico Massacre

November 20, 2013

policeThe New York Times, 11/20/2013

Prosecutors have detained two suspects and are investigating dog-fighting debts as a possible motive in the stabbing massacre of eight members of a family in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez. Three young children were among those killed in the crime that has shocked the border community.

The chief prosecutor in the northern state of Chihuahua, Jorge Gonzalez Nicolas, said a third suspect has been identified and will likely be detained soon.

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The Changing DNA of Mexico’s Protest Movement

October 15, 2013

protest -- stroke -- resistanceNewsweek, 10/14/2013

As flames engulfed the policeman’s legs and arms, his comrades stood by watching, stunned. A steady barrage of rocks bounced off the wall of plastic shields flanking him. By nighttime on October 2nd in Mexico City, 111 policemen, protesters and journalists had been injured and 102 people arrested during the annual march to commemorate a student massacre in 1968.

Street protests have long been a staple of Mexican politics and culture, a powerful outlet for millions of people who feel alienated from the political class. But over the last year, they have become more frequent, volatile and violent, analysts say, a response to major domestic policy shifts and growing alienation among the young and unemployed. The makeup of the protesters is also shifting, with men who refer to themselves as anarchists unleashing their fury during some marches.

On a regularly basis now, Mexico City’s streets swell with protesters demanding everything from a halt to some of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s ambitious education and energy overhaul programs, to the creation of more uncensored media outlets, to a greater number of student slots at public universities.

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Three police, four suspected cartel members killed in Mexico shootout

October 10, 2013

jaliscoLos Angeles Times, 10/09/2013

Seven people were killed in a shootout between police and suspected members of “an organized criminal group” in Tepatitlan, a city of 136,000 residents northeast of Guadalajara, Mexico,  officials in the state of Jalisco said Wednesday.

Three police officers were killed and four were injured in the shootout Tuesday night,  according to a statement released the next day. Four of the suspects also died, and a fifth was reportedly arrested.

State investigators told the Guadalajara newspaper El Informador that the civilians involved in the shootout were members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, or CJNG.

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99% of kidnappings in Mexico went unreported last year

October 4, 2013

Quartz, 10/3/2013

mx_crimes_200The latest public security report, released by Mexico’s statistics bureau (INEGI) earlier this week, reveals the extent of the country’s rampant and virtually unpunished kidnapping problem. According to the report, a mind-boggling 105,682 kidnappings were committed in Mexico last year, of which an incredibly small 1,317 were reported to local or federal authorities. In other words, 99% of kidnappings in Mexico flew under the radar last year.

Many kidnappings are drug-related, and therefore often kept from authorities because victims involved in the drug trade want to avoid backlash or crackdowns on other offenses. But a good deal of the 100,000+ abductions went unreported on suspicion that nothing would be done, or worse, that more harm would come to the involved parties.

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Mexico City Violence at Tlatelolco Anniversary

October 3, 2013

shutterstock_89005363BBC News, 10/02/2013

Riot police have clashed with protesters in Mexico City during a demonstration commemorating the 45th anniversary of a student massacre. Protesters, some of them masked, threw firebombs, bottles and rocks at police who battled to disperse the crowd. At least 40 people were injured, Mexico’s El Universal newspaper reported.

The rally marked the anniversary of the 1968 killings of student protesters in Tlatelolco Square. Official reports at the time said 25 people died, although rights activists say as many as 350 may have been killed.

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Violence in Mexico City as Police Clear Protesters

September 16, 2013

The Wall Street Journal, 9/13/2013

protestors

Manuel Mondragon, the head of Mexico’s federal police, said before the crackdown that the teachers had been given a 4 p.m. deadline to leave. “They have hurt Mexico and many other cities,” he said. “I think this is reaching its limit and we will act. This is not a game. We will do our job.”

In exchange for leaving the Zócalo, the government agreed to provide extra funds to pay for teacher training and for building and repairing schools in poor southern states such as Oaxaca, Michoacan, Guerrero and Chiapas, which are a stronghold for the radical teachers, said a former government official who took part in the negotiations with the teachers.

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The Rise of Mexico’s Self-Defense Forces

June 19, 2013

Latitudes Press.Foreign Affairs, July/August 2013

Mexico has suffered staggering levels of violence and crime during the country’s seven-year-long war against the cartels. The fighting has killed 90,000 people so far, a death toll larger, as of this writing, than that of the civil war in Syria. Homicide rates have tripled since 2007. In an effort to stem the carnage, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced last December that the federal government, having struggled to defeat the cartels using corrupt local police and an inadequate military, would create an elite national police force of 10,000 officers by the end of this year.

Many Mexicans are unwilling to wait. In communities across the country, groups of men have donned masks, picked up rifles and machetes, and begun patrolling their neighborhoods and farmland. As in the Tierra Colorada incident, their behavior is not always pretty. Several months ago, another such group in the state of Guerrero detained 54 people for over six weeks, accusing them of crimes ranging from stealing cattle to murder. After a series of unofficial trials, they handed 20 of them over to local prosecutors and let the rest go free.

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The new face of Mexican policing

June 14, 2013
Jesus Villaseca (Flickr)

Jesus Villaseca (Flickr)

The Economist, 6/13/2013

ON ONE side of a low hill in the middle of Monterrey, Mexico’s biggest industrial city, lies Independencia, a district so run down that donkeys still carry heavy goods to the top. On the other side is San Pedro Garza García, one of Latin America’s most affluent neighbourhoods and home to some of its biggest companies.

In the past four years, the yawning social divide between them has been bridged by violence. First, the sound of gun battles between drug gangs fighting in Independencia carried over the hill to the mansions of San Pedro. Then the killings began in San Pedro itself. In a place once considered by its residents to be safer than Texas, just a few hours’ drive away, murders, carjackings and extortion became everyday occurrences. Some rich families fled to Texas—and were branded as “cowards” by Lorenzo Zambrano, the boss of Cemex, a cement-maker which is one of Monterrey’s (and Mexico’s) biggest firms.

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Op-ed: Mexico’s Toughest Job (Spanish)

June 6, 2013

people with question marksBy Carlos Elizondo Mayer-Serra, Reforma,

¿Cuál es el trabajo más difícil para llevar a cabo en México? Imagínese ser policía de tránsito. Mal pagado, sin el mínimo respeto de la ciudadanía, respirando aire contaminado en medio del calor, sin siquiera lugar para ir al baño. O cualquiera de los trabajos físicamente extenuantes, desde cortar caña a mover bultos de cemento. Pero dentro de los trabajos directivos uno de los peores debe ser el de gobernador. Pensará el lector que me volví loco. El jefe de un Ejecutivo estatal cuenta con mucho dinero. Los recursos que manda la Federación no han hecho más que crecer. Si son insuficientes, se puede pedir prestado al final del sexenio y luego pasarle la cuenta al sucesor.

Todo este dinero se puede usar con enorme discrecionalidad. La mayoría de programas de gasto social en los estados, por ejemplo, no tiene manuales de procedimientos. Es un puesto desde el que se puede enriquecer a compadres y amigos y darle trabajo a quien se desee. El gobernador suele controlarlo todo, desde el Poder Judicial local, hasta el instituto electoral de la entidad. No importa si gobierna mal. Basta un buen gasto en medios de comunicación. Los locales suelen estar bien dispuestos a recibir recursos públicos e incluso sobran medios nacionales generosos con el “góber”, claro, con contrato de publicidad de por medio. Y cuando un problema se pone difícil, siempre está la Federación para resolverlo, como ahora en Michoacán, cuyo gobernador enfermo no pudo enfrentar al crimen organizado.

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