UN Office ‘Concerned’ Over Mexico Missing Students Case

4/26/16 ABC News

16728146101_c58b12a8bf_mThe U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said Tuesday it is troubled by a group of international experts’ complaints of obstacles to their investigation into the disappearance of 43 students in Mexico.

Spokesman Rupert Colville said in a statement that the office is “concerned about the many challenges and obstacles reported by the experts,” including the ability to examine other lines of investigation such as military and other officials’ possible roles in the case.

He called on the Mexican government to “take into serious consideration” the recommendations of the group of experts from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The group’s report from Sunday criticized the government’s investigation of the 2014 disappearances. It said suspects were apparently tortured and key pieces of evidence were not investigated or handled properly.

Government investigators have said the students were taken by local police in the city of Iguala, in the southern state of Guerrero, and handed over to drug gang members who killed them and burned the bodies at a trash dump.

The group of experts, known by the acronym IGIE, and a separate body made up of Argentine investigators say there is no evidence at the dump of a fire large enough to incinerate that many corpses.

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Weaker Peso Fails to Boost Mexican Exports

4/26/16 Wall Street Journal

peso by Guanatos GwynMEXICO CITY—The steep slide of the Mexican peso has failed to boost the country’s manufacturing exports, primarily because of a sluggish U.S. industrial sector coupled with close integration of supply chains across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Economists say the peso’s 24% depreciation against the U.S. dollar in the past 18 months should make Mexican-made goods more competitive. But the reaction has been slow because of close synchronization of U.S. and Mexican business cycles.

Exports of manufactured goods, which account for 90% of Mexico’s total exports, fell 6.5% in March from the year-earlier month, the government statistics institute said Tuesday. The drop was led by a 10% fall in auto industry exports.

Imports of intermediate goods, equipment and machinery—all key components for manufacturing exports—also fell in March, contributing to a $155 million trade surplus for the month.

Despite Mexico’s free-trade agreements with 46 countries, including the European Union and Japan, about 80% of its $380 billion annual exports go to the U.S.

A recent Bank of Mexico analysis showed that demand for Mexican components in the U.S. export sector has more of a short-term impact on Mexican exports than changes in the peso-dollar exchange rate.

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Immigration Reform 2016: Border Patrol Sees More Undocumented Immigrants Along US Mexico Border In March

4/26/16 International Business Times

Border fenceAfter a dip in the number of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border over the winter, traffic may be getting busier there. New statistics released by the Border Patrol show a rise in the number of apprehensions in the Southwest last month compared to March 2015.

There were 7,259 more crossings and apprehensions last month compared to February, and 4,452 of the 33,335 apprehensions were members of families crossing together, the agency reported. That rise in crossings, mostly composed of people fleeing Central America via Mexico, follows a controversial push by the administration of President Barack Obama earlier this year in which immigration officials raided homes to deport people living in the country without authorization.

That push did appear to depress migration rates at first, and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson last month praised the lower February statistics while mentioning the raids explicitly. The Department of Homeland Security released a statement alongside the March statistics, noting that the number is still much lower than March 2014, when there were 49,596 apprehensions.

“The Department of Homeland Security continues to closely monitor current migration trends and is working aggressively to address underlying causes and deter future increases in unauthorized migration, while ensuring that those with legitimate humanitarian claims are afforded the opportunity to seek protection,” a statement read. “We also continue to support broader regional efforts to address the humanitarian situation in Central America.”

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Mexico Cartel Suspect Named in Panama Papers Arrested in Uruguay

4/26/16 Insight Crime

InSightLogo_main_24bitUruguayan authorities have arrested several suspects linked to Mexico crime group Los Cuinis, a move that could shed light on some previously obscure aspects of the organization’s international operations.

On April 22, police in Montevideo detained 11 people, including Mexican citizen Gerardo González Valencia. According to Uruguayan newsweekly Búsqueda, Gerardo is the brother of Abigael González Valencia, the alleged leader of Los Cuinis — a relatively little-known organization thought to maintain an alliance with the powerful Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG).

In a previous investigation based on documents obtained through the “Panama Papers” mega-leak, Búsqueda reported that Gerardo González Valencia and a woman identified as his wife, Wendy Delaithy Amaral Arévalo, had ties to two companies established by the now-infamous Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

Those companies — Montella Global SA and Deltodo Enterprises — reportedly invested in real estate in Punta del Este, Uruguay, where González Valencia maintained a residence, as well as in industrial properties in China and Russia, using the Uruguayan firm Asesores y Consultores del Sur Ltda. (Advisors and Consultants of the South, Ltd. – Asconsur) as an intermediary.

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BP Results Still Hurt by Gulf of Mexico Spill

4/26/16 Wall Street Journal

BPLONDON— BP PLC’s fatal blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 continues to haunt the company, helping to drag its quarterly earnings into a second consecutive loss and overshadowing the British oil giant’s progress on cost cuts.

BP on Tuesday said its earnings took a $917 million hit in the first quarter related to the Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 workers and caused a massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a disaster that changed the course of the British oil giant and cost the company $56.4 billion to date.

The additional spill costs and the weakest oil prices in over a decade cast a cloud over BP’s financial performance, despite signs that heartened investors and caused the firm’s shares to jump over 4%.

Counting the Deepwater Horizon costs, BP said its equivalent of net earnings was a $485 million quarterly loss. Stripping out those and other one-time charges, BP had a profit of $532 million in the first quarter, significantly beating analysts’ consensus forecast for a loss of $140 million.

The spill forced the company to sell more than $40 billion in assets, pull back its ambitions and craft the business around a smaller set of high-value oil and gas fields.

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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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Headlines from Mexico

newspapers logo2-011.The Grupo Interdisciplinario de Expertos Independientes (GIEI) along with Ángela Buitrago and Claudia Paz experts apart of CIDH, Mexico’s Human Right’s Commission, convened on April 20th to investigate the case of Ayotzinapa. They presented major contributions in terms of defining how the case will continue in support of finding the truths through forensics and science evidence.

Read more: Milenio, El Universal, Jornada, Expansion, Reforma, El Universal

2. The Tribunal Electoral del Poder Judicial de la Federación (TEPJF)  in Mexico determined that the Partido Verde Ecologista de México (PVEM) is responsible for the dissemination of messages via Twitter during the period of electoral ban; thus, punishment will ensue. With the decision, the TEPJF revoked the resolution of the Chamber Regional specialized of the Tribunal which had determined non-existent infringements attributed to the political Institute for the dissemination of propaganda through Twitter.

Read more: Milenio, El Universal, Jornada, Refroma, Expansion

3.The U.N. General Assembly gathered on Tuesday to rethink global strategy in the war on narcotics for the first time in two decades as activists, U.N. officials and world leaders cited an international trend towards more liberal drug laws. President Enrique Peña Nieto was also quoted that he would ask the country’s congress to decriminalize personal possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, legalize its medical use, and shift public policy from prohibition to prevention of the drug’s consumption.

Read more: Reforma, El Universal, Milenio, ExcelsiorEl Universal, Expansion

4. Twenty-four people died after a leak caused a deadly petrochemical plant blast at the  Pemex petrochemical and Mexchem plastic producing plant in Veracruz this Thursday. The massive explosion at the facility’s chlorinate 3 plant also injured 136 people, 13 of them seriously. Another 18 people were unaccounted for, and one badly damaged part of the plant had yet to be scoured.

Read more: Jornada, El Universal, Animal Politico, Excelsior, Expansion, Milenio