U.S. Path on Legal Marijuana Forces Rethink in Mexico

12/27/2016 The Wall Street Journal

marijuana leafMEXICO CITY—As legal marijuana use spreads rapidly across the U.S., Mexican legislators are taking small steps to decriminalize pot in a country where the war on drugs has killed more than 100,000 people over the past decade.

The rising disparity in drug legislation is stoking a debate in Mexico over the effectiveness of its government’s protracted battle against powerful drug cartels when an ever-spreading sweep of the U.S. is giving up the fight.

Voters in California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine approved legal recreational marijuana on Nov. 8. Medicinal use of cannabis was also approved in Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota. In all, some 21% of the U.S. population can now have legal access to either recreational or medical marijuana.

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Mexico-U.S. sports diplomacy could transcend ugly politics

12/21/2016 The San Diego Union-Tribune 

Soccer StadiumEarlier this month I asked Mexico’s secretary of the economy, Ildefonso Guajardo, whether he fears a Trump presidency will revive the anti-Americanism that, until recent years, was a staple of Mexican life.

Surprisingly, his answer was all about the first-ever “Monday Night Football” game played outside the United States, in Mexico City’s iconic Estadio Azteca. The Oakland Raiders beat the Houston Texans, but what Guajardo found most telling was when the anthems of both countries were played pregame. Despite a few scattered boos, the Mexican crowd’s response was gracious and respectful, a sign that positive attitudes toward people on the other side of the border can transcend demagogues’ efforts to distort the truth of our mutually beneficial North American partnership.

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Mexico Fireworks Blast Leaves at Least 29 Dead

12/20/2016 The Wall Street Journal 

toritostultepec2016_112TULTEPEC, Mexico—Powerful blasts ripped through a sprawling fireworks market outside Mexico City on Tuesday, killing at least 29 people and injuring scores more, the third time in 11 years that the market has been destroyed by such explosions.

Mexico State Gov. Eruviel Ávila said 26 people died at the scene, three others died later in hospitals and more than 70 were injured in the midafternoon explosion, which tore through hundreds of small stalls selling artisanal fireworks in the San Pablito market in the city of Tultepec, just north of the Mexican capital.

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Mexican attitudes to marijuana mellow

12/24/2016 The Economist 

us mex flagIN NOVEMBER 57% of Californians voted to legalise the growing and use of marijuana for recreational purposes. Americans in seven other states and Washington, DC, are now, or soon expect to be, free to puff away at leisure, but liberalisation in the most populous border state will be felt acutely down south. Mexico has just marked the tenth anniversary of a war on drugs. It has spent millions of dollars on eradicating cannabis. Now it will abut a huge regulated market for the stuff—and one where 30% of the population is Mexican or Mexican-American. Changes in the United States may be prompting a rethink in Mexico, too—among ordinary people, policymakers and purveyors of pot alike.

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Explosion at Fireworks Market in Mexico Kills Dozens

12/20/2016 The New York Times

Mexican Flag XXLMEXICO CITY — A huge explosion at Mexico’s largest fireworks market on Tuesday afternoon killed at least 27 people and injured 70, the Mexico State police said.

The explosion occurred at about 3 p.m. at the well-known San Pablito fireworks market in Tultepec, a town on the outskirts of Mexico City. A video of the episode captured by a passing driver showed a chain reaction of explosions followed by enormous plumes of smoke.

Dozens of ambulances and fire trucks rushed to the site. Warning that the area had not been secured, officials asked people to stay away out of concern that there could be more explosions. Rescue workers continued to search the scene for victims.

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Mexico’s gay couples fight backlash against same-sex marriage

12/19/2016 The Guardian

Mexico CIty Cathedral Photo by Flickr user worldsurferAfter 19 years together, Inés Acevedo and Yolanda Torres finally tied the knot last September, at a collective wedding in the Mexican city of Querétaro. But their marriage was tragically short lived: less than a month later, Torres suffered a fatal heart attack.

Her death triggered a period of intense grief for Acevedo – but also the start of a bitter legal battle to have the couple’s legal rights respected. When Acevedo tried to obtain a certified copy of the marriage licence so she could process her pension, she was told the document didn’t exist.

Only after a complaint to state human rights officials did the document appear – though the registry director told Acevedes that she was receiving it “due to extraordinary circumstances”.

Same-sex couples have been able to marry in Mexico since 2009, when the country’s capital became the first city in Latin America to pass marriage equality laws. But in recent months, a well-organized and well-funded backlash has emerged, claiming credit for derailing a presidential proposal to entrench marriage equality in the country’s constitution.

Meanwhile, a string of cases like Acevedo’s suggest that rights for gay people are still treated as exceptions to be granted at the discretion of local officials.

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Mexican military not meant to serve in drug cartel crackdown, top general says

12/9/2016 The Guardian

General-CienfuegosA decade after Mexico sent its soldiers into the streets to combat drug cartels, the country’s top general has said troops should head back to their barracks, arguing their role is ill-defined and counterproductive.

“Do you want us [back] in our barracks? Let’s do it. I would be the first to raise both hands so that we do our constitutional duties,” Mexican defence secretary Gen Salvador Cienfuegos said to the press. “We didn’t ask to be there [in the streets]. We don’t take any pleasure in it. None of us …. were trained to pursue criminals.”

The general’s rare and candid comments on Thursday came just days before the 10th anniversary of then-president Felipe Calderón’s decision to deploy the armed forces against drug cartels and organized crime.

The conflict, launched 11 December 2006, has cost almost 200,000 lives and left an estimated 28,000 missing. Soldiers have regularly been accused of human rights violations in the course of the crackdown, which has exposed shortcomings in Mexican policing and failed to establish order in many of the troubled corners of the country.

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