Mexico’s Bloodshed Surges in First Months of AMLO Presidency

4/23/2019 – Bloomberg

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Alejandro Cegarra/Bloomberg

By Eric Martin

Murders in Mexico climbed almost 10 percent in the first three months of the year, confronting President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador with perhaps his biggest challenge as he seeks to maintain popularity and make good on a key campaign promise.

Slayings surged to 8,493 from January through March, compared with 7,750 a year earlier and 8,433 in the final three months of 2018, according to data released by the national public security system. Crime rates jumped across the board, with kidnappings rising by a third and extortion climbing by nearly half in the first quarter from a year ago.

The latest high-profile case of violence came over the Easter holiday weekend when gunmen killed 13 people, including a one-year-old child and five women, at a party in the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz. Lopez Obrador, who held his daily news conference from the state’s capital on Monday, said he plans to visit Minatitlan, the city where the shooting occurred, on Friday. He added that violence will fall nationally within six months.

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UN to help human rights training of Mexico’s National Guard

4/10/2019 – The Washington Post

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(Marco Ugarte/Associated Press)

By Reuters

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s efforts to calm critics of its newly formed National Guard received a boost Tuesday in the form of an agreement from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to assist in the force’s training.

High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said that her office will offer technical assistance to ensure that Mexico’s new security force respects human rights.

“Experience shows us that you can’t have security without full respect for human rights and you can’t enjoy human rights without security,” Bachelet said.

U.N. human rights experts had been outspoken in their criticism of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s efforts to reform the constitution to give the military a formal role in the country’s policing. He eventually agreed to place the National Guard under the civilian public safety minister, but has insisted that it will be led by an active duty military officer.

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Mexico’s National Guard proposal goes to state legislatures

3/1/2019 – The Washington Post

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s lower chamber of Congress approved constitutional changes Thursday allowing the creation of a National Guard that the new government wants to lead the fight against rising crime.

The Chamber of Deputies voted 463 to 1 to approve the Senate’s version of the legislation. The Senate amended the measure to ensure the new force would be under civilian command, answering to the public safety secretary.

To go into effect, the constitutional changes must still be approved by at least 17 of Mexico’s 32 state legislatures and signed by the president.

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Mexico Approves 60,000-Strong National Guard. Critics Call It More of the Same.

3/1/2019 – The New York Times

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Mario Guzman/EPA, via Shutterstock

By Kirk Semple and Paulina Villegas

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s Congress on Thursday approved the creation of a 60,000-member National Guard to tackle the nation’s public security crisis, a force that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has made a cornerstone of his plan to confront organized crime and curb soaring violence.

The vote capped months of legislative wrangling over the nature of the force and who would control it, with human-rights activists and civil society groups lobbying fiercely to limit the military’s influence on it and warning it could represent the further militarization of policing in Mexico.

In the end, Congress decided the National Guard would have an explicitly civilian, rather than military, character, with the new force lodged under the authority of the civilian Ministry of Security and Citizen Protection.

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Mexico to help “El Chapo” family seek US humanitarian visas

2/21/2019 – The Washington Post

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(United States Drug Enforcement Administration via AP) (Associated Press)

By the Associated Press

MEXICO CITY — Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says he has instructed his government to assist convicted drug trafficker Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s family in seeking humanitarian visas to visit Guzman in the United States.

Lopez Obrador said Friday that during a visit last week to Guzman’s hometown in Sinaloa state, a lawyer passed him a letter from Guzman’s mother. Lopez Obrador says that she asked for legal and humanitarian support for her son.

Lopez Obrador was announcing a highway construction project in the area.

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El Chapo’s Sons Are Indicted on Drug Conspiracy Charge

2/22/2019 – The New York Times

By Emily Palmer

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(Stephen Speranza/The New York Times)

Just a day after Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the drug kingpin known as El Chapo, was convicted of all 10 counts in a drug conspiracy case in Brooklyn, the Department of Justice unsealed another indictment — against two of his younger sons.

That brief four-page indictment, announced by the department on Thursday more than a week after it was unsealed on Feb. 13, charges Joaquín Guzmán López and Ovidio Guzmán López with one count of conspiracy to “knowingly, intentionally, and willfully” distribute cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana for importation into the United States. The indictment entails a period from April 2008 — when their father was running the Sinaloa cartel with his partner, Ismael Zambada — to April 2018.

The two brothers have yet to be arrested and authorities believe that they are in Mexico. If they are arrested there, the United States would have to extradite them to bring them to trial, which would be held under Judge Rudolph Contreras of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

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Mexico seizes more than 1,300 pounds of cocaine at sea

2/21/2019 – The Washington Post

WhatsApp_Image_2018-12-14_at_12.10.35_PM_6_.jpegBy the Associated Press

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s navy says it has seized more than 1,300 pounds (630 kilograms) of cocaine from a speedboat off the country’s Pacific coast.

A high-speed pursuit using a navy Black Hawk helicopter eventually stopped the boat that sported four powerful outboard motors.

The navy said in a statement Wednesday that sailors roped down from the hovering helicopter to the boat and detained 15 crew members off the coast of Sinaloa state. Eight of those detained were from Ecuador, four were Colombian and three were Mexican.

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