Mexico’s Ruling Party Cries ‘Witch Hunt’ at Landmark Anti-Corruption Bill

4/26/16 VICE News

maxresdefaultA grassroots proposal for a new law designed to make it harder for Mexican officials to hide ill-gotten gains has garnered unprecedented public support at a time when corruption and conflict of interest allegations buzz around both the government and their political rivals.

The bill, however, now appears on the point of being blocked from becoming law by the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party, known as the PRI, and its allies in the senate.

Drawn up by lawyers, academics, and high-profile transparency activists and organizations, the citizen’s bill was designed to be included in the package of laws governing the implementation of the much-touted National Anti-Corruption System, which was approved last year.

“This was a real landmark for civil society in Mexico, actually drafting a bill and gaining enough signatures for it to reach the senate floor,” said Edna Jaime, director of the think-tank México Evalúa and one of the activists behind the initiative.

The proposal is called the Ley3de3, or the three-out-of-three law, because it would oblige all holders of public office to upload proof of their personal assets, tax returns, and potential conflicts of interest onto a national database that is already up and running. It also lays out formal channels for citizens to denounce corruption and recommends sanctions for those officials found guilty.

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Parents lead protest of probe into missing 43 students in Mexico

4/27/16 Reuters

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Thousands of protesters gathered in Mexico City on Tuesday, angered by the government’s handling of an investigation into 43 students who apparently were massacred in 2014 and the government’s alleged treatment of international experts who have cast doubt on the official account.

The case of the 43 trainee teachers, who were abducted in September 2014 in the violent southwestern state of Guerrero, has tarnished the reputation of President Enrique Pena Nieto and highlighted the scale of human rights abuses in Mexico.

The parents and relatives of the abducted students led what appeared to be more than 2,000 protesters along the main thoroughfare of the Mexican capital, Paseo de la Reforma, carrying small torches along with large black and white photographs of the missing students.

Blanca Luz, the mother of one of the 43, said she wants to meet with Pena Nieto to discuss the investigation, a request frequently echoed by the parents.

“My heart can’t take anymore,” she said, standing near the main building of Mexico’s attorney general’s office. “I want my son back by my side.”

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Mexico explores regulating opium to fight drug violence

4/22/16 Reuters

Opium_poppy_seed_and_flower_at_Budhha_lodge_of_Chaurikharka,NepalMexico’s government has explored regulating poppy production to make pharmaceutical opiates like morphine in an effort to weaken heroin-smuggling gangs, according to two sources with knowledge of the government’s thinking.

Amid a government review of drugs policy, Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong asked policy experts late last year whether Mexico could win authorization from the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), a United Nations body, to grow and export opium poppies for painkillers.

“It’s a legitimate question,” said one of the sources with direct knowledge of the talks, who was not authorized to speak publicly. “States have to ask themselves questions and have to discuss their policies.”

It is not clear how seriously the government is considering the regulation of poppy production and it has not yet approached the INCB directly but the discussion illustrates how concerned it is about heroin-related violence.

Mexico’s interior ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

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Mexico proposes raising limit on marijuana for personal use

4/22/16 CBS news

marijuanaMEXICO CITY — Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said Thursday he will ask Congress to raise the limit on decriminalized marijuana for personal use to 28 grams, or about one ounce.

Previously, only possession of five grams, or less than a fifth of an ounce, were exempted from prosecution.

“This means that consumption would no longer be criminalized,” Pena Nieto said. Possession of larger amounts would be punishable under drug trafficking laws.

“We Mexicans know all too well the range and the defects of prohibitionist and punitive policies, and of the so-called war on drugs that has prevailed for 40 years,” Pena Nieto said. “Our country has suffered, as few have, the ill effects of organized crime tied to drug trafficking.”

“Fortunately, a new consensus is gradually emerging worldwide in favor of reforming drug policies,” he said. “A growing number of countries are strenuously combating criminals, but instead of criminalizing consumers, they offer them alternatives and opportunities.”

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Mexico explosion: Families demand answers over deadly blast

4/22/16 BBC News

5337912858_1b19aea036_mRelatives of workers inside a petrochemical plant that exploded in Mexico are demanding answers from managers over what happened.

The blast hit the facility in the southern city of Coatzacoalcos in Veracruz state on Wednesday. The cause of the explosion is unclear.

The death toll reached 24 on Thursday, with another 13 still seriously hurt.

Dozens of family members gathered near the gates of the plant to demand talks with plant bosses.

Some tried to force their way into the compound, the Associated Press news agency reported.

Mexico’s state oil company Pemex raised the death toll late on Wednesday, and said 19 people remained in hospital.

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Mexico’s president says he is open to legalizing medical marijuana

4/19/16 Reuters

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 CityMexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said on Tuesday he is open to the legalization of medical marijuana in Mexico and that his government would announce new measures in the coming days.

“I am giving voice to those who have (in public forums) expressed the necessity of changing the regulatory framework to authorize the use of marijuana for medical and scientific purposes,” Pena Nieto said in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Speaking at a special session where world leaders gathered to rethink global strategy in the war on drugs for the first time in two decades, Pena Nieto said drug use should be addressed as a “public health problem” and users should not be criminalized.

Pena Nieto, who has traditionally been a vocal opponent of drug legalization, also called for a global shift in dealing with drug consumption while continuing to fight organized crime.

“We should be flexible to change that which has not yielded results, the paradigm based essentially in prohibitionism, the so-called ‘War on Drugs’ … (which) has not been able to limit production, trafficking nor the global consumption of drugs,” he said.

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Cartel violence hit this artist’s family. So he illustrated a comic book about it

4/13/16 The Washington Post 

comicAMERICAN writer Justin Jordan knew he had a fertile idea for his fictional tale. He would delve into Mexican drug cartels. But which artist could render this story into riveting life?

He needed an illustrator who has a textured, firsthand understanding of Mexico, if not also its cartel violence.

The result: BOOM! Studios will unveil this summer’s Comic-Con a four-issue mini-series titled “Sombra” (Spanish for shadow). The series will debut July 20.

And its gifted artist? Mexico’s Raúl Treviño.

“I am an American — I am writing about this from a distance … ,” Jordan tells The Post’s Comic Riffs. “I feel an obligation to get it right, and no matter what — no matter how much research I do — there’s always going to be a distance between my experiences and the reality of what’s happening.

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