Mexico Senate OKs disappearance law, calls for search system

4/27/2017 The Washington Post

15631554028_796dafaf8f_c.jpg
Flickr/Sofía Cruz

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s Senate approved a legislation Thursday that would impose long prison sentences for forced disappearances and calls for a national system for searching for missing persons.

The measure passed on 90-3 vote, with three abstentions, and now goes to the lower house for consideration.

Disappearance refers to abductions in which the victims are not found, an issue that has surged to the forefront in Mexico amid a bloody drug conflict and searches by families for missing loved ones. The government’s human rights agency says 32,236 people have gone missing across the country over the past two decades.

Kidnapping is already illegal in Mexico. But the legislation defines disappearance as a continuing crime, for which there is no statute of limitations. It would set prison terms of 40 to 60 years for public servants and 25 to 50 years for other people who engage in the crime.

The measure also would establish a responsibility for the government to look for the disappeared, but the details of how such searches would be carried out must still be determined.

Read more…

Mexico: New torture law, glimmer of hope that must translate into justice

4/26/2017 Amnesty International

417527005_e9001cf9cf_b.jpg
Flickr/Kit

Mexico’s new General Law on Torture is a welcome step forward to tackle the country´s human rights crisis. Authorities must now ensure all those responsible for these heinous crimes under international law face justice, Amnesty International said today.

Mexican Congress today finally passed the General Law on Torture which was promised over two years ago by the Mexican president after a national public outcry following massive human rights violations in the case of 43 disappeared students. The Mexican Senate today approved a final version which had been debated by both chambers of Congress.

“Unless the Mexican authorities make a real effort to ensure all those responsible for the thousands of cases of torture reported every year across the country are brought to justice, this law will be nothing but words on paper. We must not allow this to continue to be the case,” said Tania Reneaum Panszi, executive director of Amnesty International Mexico.

Torture is a widespread practice in Mexico. People are routinely tortured in an attempt to force them to sign false “confessions”.

Mexico’s law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and courts still fail to investigate, prosecute and punish torture by officials. Of the thousands of complaints of torture filed each year, only 15 cases have resulted in federal criminal convictions since 1991. Criminal charges against those suspected of criminal responsibility are very rarely presented, if at all.

Read more…

Mexico’s Ruling Party, Others Caught in Old Tricks

4/27/2017 New York Times

PRI logoMEXICO CITY — The scene was so typical of Mexico’s long-dominant ruling party that it could have happened a half century ago: poor women lined up under a blazing sun, waiting for a politician to show up hours late for a rally they had been obliged to attend under threat of losing benefits from an anti-poverty program.

But unlike a half-century ago, there were a couple of independent media outlets interviewing the women, who were hot, tired and outraged that a government program would be used for political purposes.

The venting ended abruptly when Institutional Revolutionary Party workers arrived to kick out the reporters and tell the women to stop talking. Bruisers took a cameraman’s equipment and physically ejected him from the stadium where the event was being held, threatening to “disappear” him and other journalists.

“When they took us into the (stadium’s) bathroom, they said ‘you’re going to die.’ That’s when I really got scared,” said David Morales, director of the internet news service Chiapas Without Censorship, describing interviewing women at a rally in Tuxtla Gutierrez for PRI Sen. Roberto Albores Gleason over the weekend.

Read more…

Mexican human rights commission condemns killing of reporter

4/15/2017 Reuters

MexFact - JournalistsMexico’s human rights commission on Saturday condemned the killing of a police beat reporter in western Mexico, the latest in a string of journalists shot down in acts that may be connected to their work.

Reporter Maximino Rodriguez was gunned down while in his car in a shopping center parking lot on Friday afternoon in the state capital of La Paz, about 100 miles (160 km) from the beach resort of Cabo San Lucas.

A journalist with news and opinion website Colectivo Pericu, Rodriguez was in the car with his wife, but she was not harmed when gunmen opened fire from a white pick-up truck, according to a report of the incident posted on the website.

Rodriguez is the fourth journalist killed in the last two months in Mexico, where organized crime and endemic corruption have contributed to the country’s status as one of the most dangerous for journalists.

Read more…

Mexico breaks silence to voice Venezuela fears

4/2/2017 Financial Times

Venezuela
Source: Cristóbal Alvarado Minic/Flickr

Mexico is shifting away from its longstanding policy of studied silence on the affairs of its near neighbours in response to Venezuela’s spiralling political crisis, as the Central American country looks to rebalance its relationships to the south and win credit with the US.

Mexico’s aversion to engaging in regional politics runs so deep that it is enshrined in its constitution. But last week president Enrique Peña Nieto broke with political convention to express his “grave concern” over events in Caracas, where government-aligned judges had moved to effectively annul the opposition-controlled Congress, before backtracking on Saturday.

Mr Peña Nieto called “for Mexico’s voice to be heard once again . . . clearly and firmly” in international forums, aligning the country with other Latin American states critical of the increasingly authoritarian presidency of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela.

Read more…

After the Storm in U.S.-Mexico Relations

3/31/2017 The Wilson Quarterly

Articles by Duncan Wood, Christopher Wilson, Andrew Selee, Eric L. Olson, Earl Anthony Wayne & Arturo Sarukhan

The relationship between Mexico and the United States is facing its most severe test in decades. Although a new tone and new ideas are needed, the economic, political, and security fundamentals matter more than ever.

Browse the full Winter 2017 issue of Wilson Quarterly here…

Leveraging the U.S.-Mexico Relationship to Strengthen Our Economies, by Christopher Wilson

A New Migration Agenda Between the United States and Mexico, by Andrew Selee

The Merida Initiative and Shared Responsibility in U.S.-Mexico Security Relations, by Eric L. Olson

U.S.-Mexico Energy and Climate Collaboration, by Duncan Wood

Toward a North American Foreign Policy Footprint, by Earl Anthony Wayne & Arturo Sarukhan

 

Oil Drillers Face an Angry Mob in Mexico’s Guerrilla Country

3/28/2017 Bloomberg

energy- oil pumps 2When an angry mob torched City Hall in the southern Mexican town of Tecpatan last month, it sent a warning flare across a country already thrown into turmoil by Donald Trump.

The outrage was over oil, specifically the government’s plan to auction off a swath of land around their farming community to private drillers. The locals say they weren’t informed that a date—July 12—had been set. When they found out, they set fire to the two-story town hall, which now sits charred and abandoned, its windows smashed and the iron gate chained shut. The clock on its tower stopped at 10:55.

In some ways, the unrest set clocks all the way back to the 1990s, when Zapatista rebels were roaming the region and declaring war on Nafta. But the fact that today’s target is the government’s energy policy could spell trouble ahead. President Enrique Pena Nieto is trying to revive Mexico’s struggling oil industry by bringing in foreign capital—that’s why the land around Tecpatan is up for grabs. The frontrunner in next year’s presidential election, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, is vowing to roll back the changes.

Read more…