How Mexico’s Anti-Corruption Fight Went Off-Track

09/18/2017 Americas Quarterly

By Viridiana Rios, Mexico Institute Global Fellow

Eighteen months ago, I wrote in AQ about the success of Mexico’s citizen-driven corruption fight in Congress. Civil society groups, academics and activists had pushed for the rejection of a watered-down anti-corruption bill and instead presented their own, sharpened version of the legislation. This citizen’s bill, called #Ley3de3 (or #Law3of3) promised not only to help identify, punish and prevent corruption, but to do so while promoting collaboration among different federal institutions and citizen groups.

Congress agreed to discuss the bill only after 634,000 citizens signed their support, and approved it only after trying several times to reduce its scope. Passage of the #Ley3de3 thus marked one of the most important breakthroughs for Mexico’s civil society since democratization began in the late nineties.

All of us who were part of this effort knew that it was a first step, but were sure that many more would follow. Little did we know how resistant to outside pressure – from civil society, the media and others – the government would prove to be when it came to cleaning up its act.

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09/07/2017 The Intercept 

Oaxaca por Ayotzinapa

(The Intercept) – THE MEXICAN GOVERNMENT’S story goes like this: On the night of September 26, 2014, roughly 100 students from Ayotzinapa, a rural teaching college, clashed with municipal police in the city of Iguala, in the southern state of Guerrero. Rocks were thrown, shots were fired, and 43 students were snatched up by the authorities and handed over to a local drug gang. The students were then driven to a garbage dump where they were murdered, burned to ash, and tossed into a river, never to be seen again. This, Mexico’s attorney general once said, was “the historical truth.”

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Former Venezuelan prosecutor meets Mexican attorney general

08/31/2017 Reuters

Source: Cristóbal Alvarado Minic/Flickr

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Venezuela’s former chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega met Mexico’s attorney general on Thursday, a Mexican official said, weeks after she fled her homeland accusing Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro of involvement in corruption.

Ortega, who was removed from her position earlier this month, said a week ago she had evidence that Maduro was involved in graft with construction company Odebrecht.

The 59-year-old Ortega has said she would give details of the corruption cases to authorities in the United States, Spain, Mexico, Brazil and Colombia.

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Acapulco is Now Mexico’s Murder Capital via @washingtonpost ‏

8/24/2017 The Washington Post By Joshua Partlow 

The Cliffs of La Quebrada in Acapulco

 From the crescent bay and swaying palms, the taxi drivers of Acapulco need just 10 minutes to reach this other, plundered world.

Here, in a neighborhood called Renacimiento, a pharmacy is smeared with gang graffiti. Market stalls are charred by fire. Taco stands and dentists’ offices, hair salons and auto-body workshops — all stand empty behind roll-down metal gates.

On Friday afternoons, however, the parking lot at the Oxxo convenience store in this brutalized barrio buzzes to life. Dozens of taxi drivers pull up. It’s time to pay the boys.

When the three young gunmen drive up in a white Nissan Tsuru, Armando, a 55-year-old cabbie, scribbles his four-digit taxi number on a scrap of paper, folds it around a 100-peso note and slips it into their black plastic bag. This is his weekly payment to Acapulco’s criminal underworld — about $5, or roughly half what he earns in a day.

“They have the power,” said Armando, who identified himself only by his first name because he feared reprisal. “They can do whatever they want.”

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Reporter killed in Mexico was at least 9th journalist slain this year

CBS News 8/23/2017 

XALAPA, Mexico — A newspaper reporter in the Mexican Gulf coast state of Veracruz who was enrolled in a government protection program for journalists was killed Tuesday along with two other men, one of his editors and a journalist advocacy group said.

Candido Rios Vazquez, a crime reporter for the newspaper Diario de Acayucan, was at least the ninth journalist slain this year in Mexico. More than 100 journalists have been killed in the past 25 years, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“Every journalist in Mexico is a target now,” Luis Chaparro, a freelance journalist in Ciudad Juarez, told “CBSN: On Assignment.”

The State Commission for Attention and Protection of Journalists and Cecilio Perez Cortes, deputy editor at Rios’ newspaper, said the reporter was in the federal government’s mechanism for protection of journalists and human rights workers.

Perez said Rios had been threatened repeatedly since 2012 by a former mayor of Hueyapan de Ocampo and had a panic button on his cellphone and a security camera at his home. Rios had just finished his work for the day around 3 p.m. and was on his way home, Perez said.

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U.S. State Department Expands Travel Warnings For Mexico’s Beachside Tourist Meccas

8/23/2017 NPR 

Photo by Flikr user jthetzel

The U.S. State Department has released an updated travel advisory for Mexico, expanding its warnings specifically about the regions that are home to some of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.

The agency cautioned U.S. citizens that homicide rates are on the rise in areas such as the states of Quintana Roo, which includes Cancun, and Baja California Sur, which is home to Los Cabos.

Citing Mexican government statistics, the State Department noted Tuesday that, so far, 2017 has seen much higher rates of violence in those regions than during the same period last year.

“While most of these homicides appeared to be targeted criminal organization assassinations, turf battles between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by U.S. citizens,” the department writes of both states, as well as of Baja California. “Shooting incidents, in which innocent bystanders have been injured or killed, have occurred.”

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As Mexico debates giving the military more power, a judge asks why soldiers gunned down 22 people

8/17/2017 Los Angeles Times 

As Mexican lawmakers debate expanding the role of the military in the country’s drug war, a judge has ordered a new probe into whether army commanders ordered soldiers to shoot 22 people in a 2014 incident described by human rights advocates as an extrajudicial massacre.

The federal judge, whose July 31 ruling became public this week, said the federal attorney general’s office failed to fully investigate a military order issued before the killing that instructed soldiers to “shoot down criminals in hours of darkness.”

Initially, the army described the shooting deaths at a warehouse in Tlatlaya, about 100 miles southwest of Mexico City, as the result of a fierce gun battle with an armed gang. But news reports and the testimony of survivors later suggested that the army had executed at least a dozen people at point blank range, including several who had already surrendered to an army patrol or who lay wounded.

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