Mexico, Colombia among the best places to get away with crime

July 31, 2015

Flag-Pins-Mexico-ColombiaA Mexican university presented a study to its Senate last week indicating that their own country, along with Colombia, had some of the highest rates of criminal impunity in the world.

The study, the Global Impunity Index (PDF), by the University of the Americas in Puebla, looked at criminals avoiding punishment in 59 different countries, ranking the home country of escaped cartel kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and Colombia behind only the Phillipines.

Overall the study included 15 countries from Latin America and the Caribbean, and all of those countries ranked in the worse half for impunity.

Costa Rica, at 28, had the lowest impunity ranking in the region.

Originally published in April, the study combined factors such as police per capita, prison capacity, judges per capita and human rights records to award an overall score to each country included. The list only ranked countries where such data was available, excluding countries in Africa, South Asia and many notable countries in Latin America such as Brazil.

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Subcommittee Hearing: Threats to Press Freedom in the Americas – An Expert Take

July 31, 2015

By: Eric Olson, Associate Director of the Latin America Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center


Press Freedom in the Americas has been in a general decline for the past 15 years. According to Freedom House’s latest findings (2015), only 43% of the countries in the Americas are ranked as having ‘free’ press. The remaining countries fall in the range of ‘partly free’ (43%) and ‘not free’ (14%). Moreover, the report states that “as journalists faced violence and intimidation from both government authorities and criminal elements, several countries in the Americas, including Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela, received their worst press freedom scores in over a decade. The regional average score fell to its lowest level of the past five years, with declines across the legal, political, and economic categories.”

In light of this decline, Chairman Duncan of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere in the House Committee on Foreign Affairs heard testimonies from five witnesses on July 29th in order to address the ongoing issue of press freedom in the Americas. The four panelists were: Carlos Ponce, Director of the Latina America Program at Freedom House; Carlos Lauría, Senior Americas Program Coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists; Claudio Paolillo, Chairman of the Freedom of the Press and Information Committee at the Inter-American Press Association; Nicolás Pérez Lapentti, Co-Director of El Universo in Ecuador and; Alfredo Corchado, former fellow at the Wilson Center and the current Mexico Bureau Chief at The Dallas Morning News. Chairman Duncan opinion of the hearing is as follows:

“The ability to speak openly without censure or fear of reprisal is a hallmark of free peoples everywhere, and freedom of the press is critical to sustaining democracy and the rule of law…In the Western Hemisphere, the growing trend of conditioning or even curtailing press freedoms is deeply disturbing. From severe government repression and outright targeting of journalists by Cuba, Venezuela, and Ecuador to organized crime, corruption, and impunity in other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, journalists have very difficult jobs, often risking their very lives and their loved-ones  to bring information and the truth to their fellow citizens… I look forward to considering how the U.S. can better engage in the region to more effectively promote press freedoms and defend every persons right to freely express themselves.”

Source: Freedom of the Press 2015, Freedom House.

Source: Freedom of the Press 2015, Freedom House.

Mexico, more specifically, ranks 31st out of the 35 countries in the Americas, followed only by Ecuador, Honduras, Venezuela and Cuba. Mexico’s global ranking is not any better, ranking 139th out of 199 countries. Out of 100, its press freedom score fell at 63, placing it in the category of ‘not free’ by Freedom House’s standards:

“Mexico remained one of the world’s most dangerous places for media workers in 2014, and freedom of expression faced new threats with the adoption of the Federal Telecommunications and Broadcasting Act in July. Multiple attacks on journalists and media outlets were carried out during the year, reporters faced police aggression while covering protests, and self-censorship remained widespread. While the telecommunications and broadcasting law allowed greater competition in both sectors, it also granted the government powers to monitor and shut down internet activity during protests.”

According to Carlos Lauría, the inability of reporters to freely publicize the news is of the greatest consequence for the public: “Because of government repression, many journalists are not able to report the news. This is leaving many people in many countries to make informed decisions. I think that an uninformed society is a less transparent and less democratic one.” However, Lauría goes on to say, “The issue is not black and white. There are places where there is great investigative work going on the reveals and exposes corruption…Even in countries like Mexico, where areas are outside of the control of the government…you have great examples of courageous journalists doing investigative work on corruption.” On his part, Alfredo Corchado echoed what Lauría had to say, but noted that the consequences of the heroism in journalism is not without consequence, reminding the committee that many journalists from Mexico and Latin America have had to seek political asylum in the US, despite how many people still believe in journalism as a mechanism for holding the government accountable.

As such, the panelists called upon the US Congress to persuade the executive branch of the government to have a stronger voice in these issues: “There are legal dictatorships in place today. We need to look back at the Inter-American Democratic Charter. It is in place now, it is enforceable now.” Certainly, when one considers the decline in press freedom in our backyard, it seems that the US can no longer ignore these basic violations of human rights.

Freedom of the Press in Mexico Copy

Proven unfit, cops stay on their job

July 31, 2015

7/28/15 El Daily Post

veracruzUnqualified agents who continue on the job. Low salaries. Shifts of more than 24 hours. Shaky professionalism. Obsolete testing. Shortages of uniformed agents. This is the reality of today’s police forces throughout Mexico. A report  by the organization Causa en Común (Common Cause) titled “Do We Have the Police We Deserve?” provides a snapshot of the state of Mexican law enforcement today. The results are troubling. Almost no police force across the nation has carried out the “purification” of its personnel. Also, about 20 percent of the examinations that were given as part of that process are obsolete and were supposed to have been given again.

Veracruz is the most notable, but not the only, example of the effects of non-purification. More than 40 percent of its police force failed the confidence examination determining their reliability and trustworthiness, but they continue on the job.

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Police commander killed in troubled Mexico state

July 31, 2015

7/31/15 Yahoo News

gun - crime sceneGunmen fired more than 100 shots to kill a police commander Thursday in the capital of Mexico’s troubled southern state of Guerrero, while three other people died in another shootout. David Urquizo, the commander of the state investigative police unit, was ambushed by the armed group in the center of Chilpancingo, an official in the local prosecutor’s office told AFP. Urquizo had survived a previous assassination attempt a few months ago, the official said. Hours later, Urquizo’s unit killed three criminal suspects and wounded three others in a clash in the same city. Six other people were detained after the gunfight.

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Headlines from Mexico

July 31, 2015

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1. In five of the eight capital’s districts currently governed by the PRD where there will be alterations in the administration, the delegates involved are reluctant to hand over documents relating to thorny issues .

Read more: Reforma.

2. The approval rating for  President Enrique Peña decreased from 39-34 percent in the last quarter , reaching its lowest level since he took office, while disapproval rose from 57 to 64 percent.

Read more: Reforma, Excelsior.

3. The US dollar exchange stations in the airport in Mexico City sold at an average of 16.50 pesos and were bought at an average of 15.50 pesos.

Read more: El Universal.

4. The Attorney General of the State of Oaxaca began an investigation into the 192 preliminary investigations registered with the Special Prosecutor for Magisterial Affairs ( FEPAM ) , which ranged from crimes such as selling seats , child abuse, sexual harassment or harassment, to even a couple homicides, which started during the period in which the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE ) was in charge of that unit to see if there are irregularities in their integration.

Read more: El Universal.

5. The commander of the Ministerial Police Urquizo David de Jesus was killed yesterday in the streets Ayutla at the corner of Francisco I. Madero , next to the Old Pantheon. Neighbors said the police tried to repel the attack and got out of their truck, but were shot at by gunmen .

Read more: Excelsior. 



Mexican state known for gender-based violence issues emergency alert

July 30, 2015

07/30/15 The Guardian

HONDURAS-WOMEN-DISCRIMINATION-MARCHEmergency measures to tackle violence against women are to be implemented in parts of Mexico’s most densely populated state, where thousands of women and girls have been murdered and disappeared in the past decade.

A gender alert has been issued in 11 municipalities in the state of Mexico, known in Spanish as Edomex, after authorities finally conceded that systematic violence against women and girls exists in parts of the state.

Human rights groups and families of victims have been demanding a gender alert since 2010 amid growing evidence that Edomex had become the most dangerous place to be female in the country.

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Mexico delays auction of deepwater oil assets

July 30, 2015

07/30/15 Financial Times

gas pipeline in green fieldMexico has delayed the auction for its prized deepwater oil assets and sweetened bid terms after its inaugural tender to open its oil sector to private investors flopped two weeks ago.

The call for bids in deepwater fields and subsequent opening of data rooms had been delayed by two months and was now likely to occur at the end of September, Joaquin Coldwell, energy minister, told local television channel Foro TV on Tuesday night.

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