I’m a reporter in Mexico. My life is in danger. The United States wouldn’t give me asylum.

5/25/2017 The Washington Post

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Flickr/Adrián Martínez

On Feb. 5, I walked into the United States from Mexico and turned myself over to immigration authorities for the purpose of seeking political asylum. But even though I have good reason to fear for my life, U.S. officials refused to let me stay. And now I’m in danger again.

I’m a journalist in Acapulco, Mexico. For almost a year, I have been receiving death threats from Mexican federal agents over articles I wrote in Novedades Acapulco, a newspaper there. In February 2016, I witnessed abuses by the Mexican military during a traffic accident. As a journalist, I began taking photographs. Federal agents arrived and began screaming at me. They took away my camera, my identification and my credentials and began hitting me as they told me to stop taking pictures and leave the area. I filed a complaint with the Mexican National Commission for Human Rights. Immediately afterward, I began receiving threats over the phone. A few weeks later, several men arrived at my home, pointed a gun at my forehead and told me to keep quiet. I moved to a different city, but the threatening messages and phone calls continued. Eventually, I moved across the country, hoping that these men would finally forget about me. Unfortunately, it did not take long for them to find me again. I realized that there was no place in Mexico where I could go without fearing I would be killed — the same way so many of my fellow journalists have been. Just this month, award-winning reporter Javier Valdez was killed in Sinaloa. He was the sixth journalist slain in Mexico this year.

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Mexican Journalists Caught in Crossfire of Rival Cartels

5/25/2017 New York Times

journalist-armando-rodriguez-murderMEXICO CITY — Just as each batch of the weekly newspapers was dropped off at newsstands around Culiacan men quickly bought them up as they followed the delivery trucks along their routes.

It occurred twice during one week in February, first with Riodoce, a paper known for its investigations into the dark corners of Sinaloa state’s criminal underworld, and two days later with the upstart La Pared (The Wall). Both papers carried cover story interviews with a drug lord. The men politely scooping up the papers after paying for them allegedly worked for the drug lord’s rivals.

La Pared has since closed shop. Riodoce’s editors continue fighting, though more carefully in the belief that the incident foretold the May 15 murder of the paper’s co-founder Javier Valdez.

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US Announces Sanctions on Alleged Mexican Heroin Trafficker

5/24/2017 New York Times

heroin_powderMEXICO CITY — The U.S. government is imposing sanctions on alleged Mexican drug traffickers described by the Treasury Department as “major contributors to our nation’s heroin epidemic.”

The Treasury Department says the sanctions target Jose Luis Ruelas Torres and 10 members of his family-based Ruelas Torres organization. It calls the gang “an independent opium and heroin production and distribution organization that smuggles multi-kilogram heroin quantities into the United States.”

The sanctions announced Wednesday freeze any assets held by those on the list that are under U.S. jurisdiction and bar Americans from entering into transactions with them.

The gang allegedly has shipped heroin from Sinaloa state to cities ranging from Los Angeles to New York for “well over two decades.” Those cities include Phoenix, Denver, Salt Lake City, Albuquerque, Sacramento, Milwaukee, Columbus and Detroit.

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Mexican authorities urged to boost security after indigenous activists killed

5/25/2017 Reuters

mexican-securityNational, state and local officials warned the Mexican government of increasing violence and the need for extra security in the state of Jalisco, where two indigenous brothers were shot dead last week.

The double homicide of the brothers, both members of the Huichol tribe and leaders in a battle for restitution of indigenous land from local ranchers, comes amid a resurgence in violence from drug cartels and follows a spate of killings of journalists and activists this year..

One of the dead men, Miguel Vázquez, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation last October tensions over a century-old land dispute and the growing presence of drug cartels had been a serious concern for some time.

His brother Agustin died in hospital after armed men shot him on Saturday evening, while Miguel was gunned down as he was leaving the hospital that night.

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Crime Groups Control 65 Percent of State Prisons in Mexico: Report

5/23/2017 InSight Crime

prison cell blockOrganized crime groups control 65 percent of state prisons in Mexico, according to a government report about prison conditions in the country published this week. The figure reaffirms the poor conditions of Mexican prisons, which have long been plagued by corruption, escapes by top criminal suspects, and the participation of prison officials in various crimes.

A video made public in early May serves as the most recent example of the lack of control prison authorities have in Mexico.

The recording shows a party held in Puente Grande, one of the country’s maximum-security prisons. Various members of the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación – CJNG) are shown celebrating José Luis Gutierrez Valencia, alias “Don Chelo,” who is suspected to control the penitentiary. Tellingly, there is no discernible presence of security officials in the video.

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Trump proposes deep U.S. spending cuts in Mexico, Central America

5/23/2017 Reuters

5440388253_7a8e8c1584_bPresident Donald Trump on Tuesday proposed drastically slashing U.S. foreign aid spending in Mexico and Central America, which are struggling with drug violence, graft and poverty that prompts many from the troubled region to migrate north.

Trump’s austere 2018 budget proposal, which seeks to trim $3.6 trillion from government spending over the next decade and is unlikely to get legislative approval in its current form, envisages steep cuts in most federal departments, but particularly the State Department.

Ever since launching his presidential campaign in 2015, Trump has attacked Mexico, threatening to rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement, build a Mexico-funded southern border wall and ramp up deportations of those living without documents in the United States.

Tuesday’s proposal foresees 2018 Mexican aid of $87.66 million, down more than 45 percent from the 2016 outlay.

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ARTICLE | Mexico and the U.S. Agree on a Vision for Fighting Drugs

5/23/2017 The Mexico Institute

34353446110_c9b4d9c552_z.jpgMexico and the United States appear to have reached broad agreement on a framework for fighting the organized criminal groups that are responsible for much of the drug trade in the two countries. May 18 meetings between the lead ministers for each government seem to have yielded consensus to take a “fresh” approach to a set of challenges that have vexed both neighbors for decades. The U.S. is facing an epidemic of opioid overdose deaths fueled increasingly by drugs smuggled from Mexico, and Mexico is facing a new surge in violent homicides fueled by criminal groups, many involved in drug smuggling to the U.S.  The task ahead is to turn this broad agreement among government ministers into a coherent set of policies and protocols that—if implemented well—will produce improved results against the drug cartels, their production, distribution, financing and arms networks, and the violence which they generate (especially in Mexico), along with improved programs aimed at addressing U.S. demand for drugs. These are big tasks, but the agreement on the analysis of the problem and on a vision for cooperation between the foreign and homeland security cabinet members from both countries is an encouraging step ahead for these two key North American neighbors.

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