Mexico Faces Growing Gap Between Political Class and Calls for Change

December 16, 2014

12/12/2014 The New York Times

Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images

Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images

As the Nobel Peace Prize was being awarded in Oslo this week, a young man dashed on stage, unfurled a Mexican flag streaked with red paint and begged for help for his country because more than 40 college students have been missing for months after clashing with the police.

At the Latin Grammy Awards ceremony in Las Vegas last month, the big winners, Calle 13, shouted solidarity with the victims as they performed. At home, mass marches have regularly filled Mexican streets with angry calls for the government to act against corruption and crime.

But is the country’s political class listening?

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How Serious Are Current Protests and Political Risks in Mexico?

December 11, 2014

12/10/2014 Forbes.com

MIGUEL TOVAR / LATINCONTENT / GETTY

MIGUEL TOVAR / LATINCONTENT / GETTY

Mexico is facing down the most serious political crisis yet seen during the presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto. On December 1 I attended a march in Mexico City in which protesters demanded information about the whereabouts of 43 student teachers who disappeared from the state of Guerrero in late September. In a recent article for Fox News Latino I explained, “Although the protest featured groups of students, well-dressed men and women and young people carrying signs, when protesters approached the wide palm-tree lined boulevard called Reforma (“Reform”) near the landmark Angel of Independence statue, a few young men wearing masks smashed the windows of several banks and spray painted a paradoxical mix of messages: ‘No More Death,’ ‘Socialism or Death,’ and ‘Death to the Police.’ As most of the protesters walked away, a small group of masked individuals charged down Reforma, lit torches and started smashing windows as patrons in business attire at upscale restaurants on the second and third floors watched.”

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What Mexico’s President Must Do

December 11, 2014

12/10/2014 The New York Times

Enrique Pena NietoThousands of young people have been marching in the streets of Mexico since the kidnapping and murder of 43 students (now confirmed by the DNA of a burned body) from a college in Ayotzinapa in the state of Guerrero. According to Mexico’s attorney general, the crime was committed by professional killers working for a narco- gang and under the orders of the former mayor of the town of Iguala, who was a member of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Although most of these criminals, including the mayor and his wife, have been arrested, the student protesters are blaming the Peña Nieto government of the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and questioning its legitimacy. They are even demanding that the legally elected president resign from office.

Although most Mexicans may not support so extreme a demand as resignation, the popularity level of the president has sunk quite low, and not only because of the slow response to this atrocious crime. The suspicion of a conflict of interest over his wife’s partial purchase of a luxury mansion has further clouded the situation for Mr. Peña Nieto. Distrustful of government and fed up with the violence and insecurity unleashed by the drug cartels, Mexicans feel a profound moral and political resentment at a situation that those of us who struggled for the coming of democracy at the turn of the millennium never expected to confront. While there have been incidents of violence among the protesters, most of the demonstrations have been peaceful but intensely angry. And their anger is justified.

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Mexico protesters call on president to resign

December 2, 2014

12/02/14 Aljazeera

Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP - Getty Images

Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP – Getty Images

Demonstrations have been held across Mexico as President Enrique Pena Nieto marked two years in office with his lowest approval rating yet. Thousands marched on Monday through Mexico City, denouncing the president’s handling of the case of 43 missing students, now presumed dead. Protesters chanted for Nieto to resign while they waved blackened flags of the country.They echoed “you are not alone” to parents of the missing students who joined the protest. The protests were largely peaceful, but turned violent at some places at night. Al Jazeera’s Monica Villamizar, reporting from the capital, said fires were lit, windows smashed and banks vandalised. She said there was a small confrontation between protesters and police and a large presence of anti-riot police.

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Billionaire Slim’s Workers Stage Walkout in Support of Students

November 20, 2014

11/20/14 Bloomberg 

Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP - Getty Images

Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP – Getty Images

Employees of billionaire Carlos Slim’s telephone company plan to join relatives of 43 missing college students to protest the government’s response to the mass disappearance in Iguala, Mexico. The union at America Movil SAB (AMXL)’s Telmex landline unit will hold a 24-hour walkout and called on members to join demonstrators in Mexico City’s central square, union chief Francisco Hernandez said. The marches are scheduled for this afternoon. “We can’t turn our gaze away and pretend this doesn’t concern us,” Hernandez said in a video message to Telmex employees yesterday. “We have to look for solutions not just for the disappeared young people so that this tragedy never happens again, but also to lead this country on a path to have justice, to eradicate impunity and corruption.”

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Mexico at breaking point as anti-government anger escalates

November 20, 2014

11/19/14 The Guardian 

AFP

AFP

Mexico is facing an escalating political crisis amid growing fury over a mansion built for the presidential family and the disappearance and probable massacre of 43 student teachers. The two apparently unrelated issues have fed the widespread perception that unbridled political corruption is the underlying cause of the country’s many problems – ranging from stunted economic growth to a breakdown of law and order that has left parts of the country at the mercy of murderous drug cartels. “The drama of Mexico is about impunity,” said leading political commentator Jesús Silva-Herzog. “This is not about the popularity or unpopularity of the president, that is irrelevant. It is about credibility and trust and, at its root, it is about legitimacy.”

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Protests rage over missing students in Mexico ahead of national strike

November 18, 2014

11/17/14 Aljazeera 

MIGUEL TOVAR / LATINCONTENT / GETTY

MIGUEL TOVAR / LATINCONTENT / GETTY

Protests over the disappearance of 43 missing students raged across Mexico and the United States over the weekend. Activists blamed a government they say has ties to organized crime and called for people in Mexico and the U.S. to support a Mexico-wide strike on Thursday. Coinciding with the Nov. 20 strike, protest marches will be held in Mexico City, as well as dozens of cities across the U.S. including New York City and Los Angeles. “We want to warn that these acts of protest will not be silenced while the civil and human rights of our Mexican brothers continue to be violated and trampled on by a government that has colluded with organized crime and to those who blamed the crimes committed by the state on [cartels] — thereby evading their own responsibility in the state sponsored genocide that has been committed with total impunity,” #YoSoy123NY, the New York chapter of a Mexican social movement that opposes Mexico’s current government, said in a statement handed out at a protest in New York City on Sunday.

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