Mexico anti-corruption bill hits hurdle, government on defensive

4/29/2016 Reuters

Bernardo Montoya/Reuters
Bernardo Montoya/Reuters

The Mexican government’s pledge to tackle graft suffered a setback on Friday when Congress entered its summer recess having failed to pass anti-corruption legislation that has been stuck in political limbo for months.

Harried by accusations of corruption, President Enrique Pena Nieto’s government last May passed a reform to tighten oversight of public officials, and create a special anti-graft prosecutor.

Those changes were dependent on secondary legislation meant to pass in a year, yet by the end of April, his centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) had only submitted proposals for five of the seven laws the package comprises.

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Inquiry Into Missing Mexican Students Ends on Note of Frustration

4/30/2016  The New York Times

15610758355_0e2d67e0e9_oMEXICO CITY — It has been a tumultuous final week for the five foreign legal and human rights experts who have spent more than a year examining the case of 43 missing college students.

It began last Sunday when the independent panel issued its second voluminous report on the case, which raised further questions about the government’s handling of the matter and challenged the authorities’ conclusions. What followed were a series of dueling news conferences by the panelists and by government officials, each accusing the other of playing with the truth and bringing the relationship between the government and the experts to a low ebb.

But by Friday, with the panel’s mandate about to end and the experts preparing to leave the country, the tone had shifted again. “Now that we leave, it seems like everybody likes us,” said Francisco Cox, a Chilean lawyer and panel member. “They express gratefulness.”

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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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The Guardian view on Mexico’s missing students: justice indefinitely deferred

4/29/2016 The Guardian

Mexico is supposed to be a modern country, a democracy, a society under the rule of law. That is certainly what it aspires to be, and when President Enrique Peña Nieto took office in 2012 promising to aggressively tackle the violence that has disfigured Mexico in recent years, the hope was that those aspirations would be more fully realised than in the past. How then can it also be a country where the disappearance and presumed murder of 43 college students, whose only crime appears to have been that they hijacked some buses to attend a protest meeting, is still a mystery more than 18 months after it occurred? And not only a mystery, but one that the Mexican government seems determined will remain unsolved.

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Mexico is Latin American winner as Brazil spirals

4/29/16 CNN Money

South-America-BrazilIt’s a tale of two economies for Latin America’s two largest countries.

Brazil is in a political crisis and severe recession. Its president, Dilma Rousseff, could be impeached this year. Brazil’s debt has also been downgraded to junk status.

Meanwhile, Mexico is growing, politics are relatively stable and its debt was upgraded in 2014.

“Right now Mexico and Brazil are as different as they come, this is day and night,” says Alberto Ramos, head of Latin America economic research at Goldman Sachs.

Those diverging narratives bore out Friday. Officials in Brazil announced that unemployment hitnearly 11% in the three months ending in March, way up from about 8% a year ago. Mexico’s unemployment rate is 3.7%.

Mexico’s economy grew 2.7% between January and March compared to a year ago, according to government figures released Friday. That’s even slightly better than what most economists expected.

That’s not stellar growth but it’s a lot better than Brazil’s economy, which shrank 3.8% in the fourth quarter last year and its central bank estimates the economy will contract 3.5% this year.

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Murder in Mexico: The great mystery

4/30/2016 The Economist

EVEN the official story is shocking. In September 2014 a group of student teachers from Ayotzinapa, in the south-western state of Guerrero, decided to commandeer some buses in the nearby town of Iguala. They wanted to go to a rally in Mexico City, and it is common for students in this part of Mexico to take buses for such things. They usually return them.

Forty-three of those students disappeared, and are presumed dead. The mayor of Iguala and his wife were angry with them for having disrupted a political event, the federal government says, and ordered the local police to hand them over to a drug gang, the Guerreros Unidos. The gangsters mistook the students for members of a rival gang. They killed them, burned their bodies at a rubbish dump and tossed the remains in a river.

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Figures Shows Violence in Mexico Rising and Spreading

4/28/2016 InSight Crime 

AP Photo/Agencia Contraluz
AP Photo/Agencia Contraluz

Data compiled by a Mexican civil society group confirms a disturbing trend noted in Mexico in recent months — violence is not only rising sharply it is also spreading to regions not previously considered organized crime hotspots.

During the first trimester of 2016, Mexican organization Semáforo Delictivo documented a 15 percent increase in homicides related to organized crime. The group’s director, Santiago Roel, said 57 percent of total homicides this year were the result of criminal executions, up from 48 percent for the same period in 2015,reported Excelsior.

In total, Semáforo Delictivo registered 4,456 homicides during the first three months of 2016 — up from 3,862 in 2015 — putting Mexico on pace to have around 18,000 murders this year.

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