Allegations Of Corruption Dog Mexico’s First Lady Angélica Rivera

August 3, 2015

08/03/15 NPR

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto and first lady Angelica Rivera salute during the military parade celebrating Independence Day at the Zocalo square in downtown Mexico CityEight months ago, Mexico’s first lady, known for her fondness of designer clothes and European vacations, made a public promise to sell a multi-million-dollar mansion bought under controversial circumstances. She’s purchasing the home, at below market rates, from a contractor with lucrative connections to her husband.

The scandal has been one of the biggest to rock the president’s administration. And months later many questions remain regarding the questionable purchase — and the first lady hasn’t sold her house.

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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

Who Are The Biggest Players In Mexico City’s Media Market?

July 29, 2015

07/29/15 Forbes

tvMexico City media landscape has evolved rapidly over the last 20 years. While some critics still complain that TV giants such as Televisa and TV Azteca focus more on supporting the official government view than engaging in critical investigative journalism, gone are the days when all newspapers relied on government ad revenue and paper from a state-owned company.

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Damning Report on Missing Mexican Students Says ‘Justice Neglected’

July 24, 2015

7/24/15 Newsweek



An independent Mexican commission said on Thursday it found serious flaws in an investigation into the apparent massacre of 43 students last year, dealing a fresh blow to President Enrique Pena Nieto over a scandal that has battered his administration.

The case became a symbol of impunity over disappearances and plunged Pena Nieto into his deepest crisis after the 43 trainee teachers were abducted and very likely murdered by a drug gang working with corrupt police in southwest Mexico last September.

A report by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) said the attorney general’s office, which has only identified the remains of one of the 43, still had not compiled basic information about the victims, who came from poor backgrounds.

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Army fires on Michoacán protesters, 12-year-old killed

July 21, 2015

7/21/15 El Daily Post

michoacanenglishAnother burst of violence involving military troops on Sunday claimed the life of a 12-year-old boy, yet another sad chapter in the Army’s growing list of bloody confrontations with civilians. A 6-year-old girl was among the four other victims of the shoot-out who were treated at a nearby hospital.

The incident occurred in the rural village of Ixtapilla near Michoacán’s Pacific Coast in the municipality of Aquila. The villagers had organized a protest after hearing of the arrest of regional community defense leader Semeí Verdía Zepeda by the Army while he ate breakfast at another pueblo nearby.

As soon as word of his arrest reached Ixtapilla, his supporters set up road blocks on the coastal highway hoping to prevent the Army from taking Verdía Zepeda to prison. Some media reported that several soldiers had been stopped and taken hostage, effectively, and then taken to Ixtapilla.

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2.5 million illegals cross border under Obama, less than Bush

July 21, 2015

7/20/15 Washington Times

ObamaAbout 2.5 million illegal immigrants have settled in the U.S. during President Obama’s tenure, according to estimates being released Monday by the Center for Immigration Studies, which said it’s an improvement compared with the Bush administration.

Nearly 800,000 of those illegal immigrants arrived in the past two years, suggesting that the flow has ticked up as the economy has improved and as Mr. Obama has reshaped enforcement policies, focusing on criminals while relaxing actions against rank-and-file illegal immigrants. Still, the total illegal immigrant population has remained steady at an estimated 11 million to 12 million over the past six years, the report concluded, finding that the arrivals are canceled out by the hundreds of thousands who return home, die or earn legal status through existing channels such as marrying an American.
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How America’s War On Drugs Unintentionally Aids Mexican Drug Cartels

July 7, 2015

7/6/15 Huffington Post

drug dog sniffing suitcaseAs the United States government and vigilante groups continue to fight Mexican drug cartels with little direction, experts say there are unintentional consequences from the current war on drugs.

Sanho Tree, the director of the Drug Policy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, explained to HuffPost Live’s Marc Lamont Hill on Tuesday that the U.S. government’s drug war has been “an exercise in futility.” The prohibition of these drugs, Tree said, has only increased their value.

“Things like cocaine, heroine, marijuana — these are minimally-processed agricultural commodities,” Tree said. “They’re very easy to produce, these drugs. They’re very cheap to produce. There’s no reason they should be worth this kind of money that people are willing to kill, and torture and massacre over.”

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