January 17, 2014
The vigilantes came to violence-torn towns with a simple pitch: Join us and fight back before the cartel kills you. For some in the western state of Michoacan, long a flashpoint in Mexico’s drug war, it was an offer they couldn’t refuse.They toted guns and called themselves self-defense groups as they patrolled the streets, claiming they were forced to fight the Knights Templar cartel themselves because the state had failed to protect them. They took over several communities and sent a clear message to cartel members and authorities: Keep out.
But this week, the Mexican government stepped in, sending federal forces to the region and ordering the vigilante groups to lay down their weapons.
January 16, 2014
Like an unstoppable tsunami, the wave of drug-related censorship that has enveloped thousands of journalists in Mexico has reached the capital city, long a bastion of relatively open crime reporting, according a report released Wednesday by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Since former President Felipe Calderon declared war on Mexico’s criminal syndicates seven years ago, reporters in the provinces have adapted to the new rules of the game: no detailed reports on cartel activity, no mention of top echelon drug leaders, no serious investigations into executions. In hundreds of towns and cities across Mexico, journalists can do little more than regurgitate vague official press releases. For those who stray, threats, kidnappings, beatings and murder are not uncommon. According to Article 19, a press freedom group, 50 reporters have been killed since Calderon took office on December 2006.
But until recently, Mexico City-based journalists had largely been spared from the cartel demands that created a self-imposed censorship for most of the country. They often wrote about criminal organizations without fearing for their lives and the city itself was a bubble of relative calm. Now that’s changed. One of Mexico’s strongest cartels, the Familia Michoacana, has descended on Ciudad Nezahualcoyotl at the edge of Mexico City and silenced the press there, according to the report.
January 10, 2014
The Washington Post, 01/09/2014
Fifty federal police officers armed with black assault rifles guard the gates of an exclusive private hospital in this cosmopolitan capital.
They are patrolling the polished stone lobby, standing sentry under palm trees, surveilling the Starbucks. Private security guards and local police man the doors, driveways and elevators.
July 8, 2013
Associated Press, 7/4/2013
A Mexican judge on Thursday ordered the release of five high-ranking army officials accused of aiding a drug cartel after federal prosecutors dropped organized crime charges against them citing a lack of evidence. It’s the latest drug trafficking case against military officers started during former President Felipe Calderon’s administration to fall apart.
Judge Raul Valerio Ramirez said he ordered the immediate release of Gen. Roberto Dawe, Gen. Ricardo Escorcia, Gen. Ruben Perez, Lt. Col Silvio Hernandez and Maj. Ivan Reyna from a maximum security prison in Mexico state where they have been held since their arrest last year. The officers were charged with protecting members of the Beltran Leyva cartel. Federal anti-drug prosecutor Rodrigo Archundia Barrientos dropped charges in the case after concluding that witness testimony was not enough to sustain the case, Valerio Ramirez said in a statement.
July 8, 2013
Global Post, 7/5/2013
Candidates have been gunned down, gangster cash alleged in campaigns, governors accused of corruption and a cat, dog and donkey nominated for municipal office. Mexico’s democracy is dancing dirty once again.
On Sunday, voters will elect one governor, 13 state legislatures and hundreds of city councils and mayors. Voters yawn, but politicians have been scratching at one another like bobcats. Economically crucial tax and energy reforms hang in the balance. “This is a setback in terms of elections,” says political scientist Sergio Aguayo, a longtime democracy activist and sharp critic of the country’s modern politics. “It’s the Wild West.”
May 16, 2013
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s approach to combating Mexican drug cartels has been a much-discussed topic since well before he was elected. Indeed, in June 2011 — more than a year before the July 2012 Mexican presidential election — I wrote an analysis discussing rumors that, if elected, Pena Nieto was going to attempt to reach some sort of accommodation with Mexico’s drug cartels in order to bring down the level of violence.
Such rumors were certainly understandable, given the arrangement that had existed for many years between some senior members of Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party and some powerful cartel figures during the Institutional Revolutionary Party’s long reign in Mexico prior to the election of Vicente Fox of the National Action Party in 2000. However, as we argued in 2011 and repeated in March 2013, much has changed in Mexico since 2000, and the new reality in Mexico means that it would be impossible for the Pena Nieto administration to reach any sort of deal with the cartels even if it made an attempt.