Drugs, Human Rights, Trade, and Distrust: The Evolution of U.S.-Mexican Relations

11/10/2015 By Tom Long, War on the Rocks

President Obama visits Mexico President Enrique Pena NietoLast month, citing human rights concerns, the United States quietly withheld about $5 million in counternarcotics assistance for Mexico. The State Department declined to certify that Mexico met conditions imposed on the aid by Congress under the Leahy Amendment, triggering the 15-percent reduction in funding for Mexican security agencies. Though more than $140 million of other U.S. funding will continue to flow, the decision — first reported by The Washington Post and confirmed by a deputy spokesman at the State Department — was cheered by human rights advocates. A senior official at Human Rights Watch told The New York Times that the cut was “unprecedented.”

Read more…

Mexico Paves the Way for Marijuana Legalization

11/5/2015 Huffington Post Live

CW huffpostMexico’s Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that individuals have the right to grow and distribute marijuana for personal use. Is this pushback to years of strict U.S. drug policy imposed on Mexico? And what does it mean for the region’s war on drugs?

The Mexico Institute’s Deputy Director Christopher Wilson joined Huffington Post Live to discuss the Mexican Supreme Court’s ruling and its effect on the U.S.-Mexico relationship and the war on drugs. Other guests included Sylvia Longmire, Author of ‘Cartel: The Coming Invasion of Mexico’s Drug Wars’ and ‘Border Insecurity’; Isaac Campos, History Professor, University of Cincinnati, Author of ‘Home Grown’; and Hannah Hetzer, Policy Manager of the Americas, Drug Policy Alliance.

Click here to watch the segment on Huffington Post Live.

Mexico ruling opens door to legalizing marijuana

11/4/2015 The Financial Times

Mexico’s Supreme Court on Wednesday opened the door to legalising the recreational use and cultivation of marijuana — a potentially far-reaching first step in a country where cartels make about a third of their income from selling illegal weed.

With four votes in favour and one against, the court’s criminal chamber declared that individuals should be allowed to grow and distribute pot for their personal use, paving the way for further legal action to change Mexico’s current drug laws.

Read more…

Mexico’s Supreme Court Opens Door to Legalizing Marijuana Use

11/4/2015 The New York Times

The Mexican Supreme Court opened the door to legalizing marijuana on Wednesday, delivering a pointed challenge to the nation’s strict substance abuse laws and adding its weight to the growing debate in Latin America over the costs and consequences of the war against drugs.

The vote by the court’s criminal chamber declared that individuals should have the right to grow and distribute marijuana for their personal use. While the ruling does not strike down current drug laws, it lays the groundwork for a wave of legal actions that could ultimately rewrite them, proponents of legalization say.

The decision reflects a changing dynamic in Mexico, where for decades the American-backed war on drugs has produced much upheaval but few lasting victories. Today, the flow of drugs to the United States continues, along with the political corruption it fuels in Mexico. The country, dispirited by the ceaseless fight with traffickers, remains engulfed in violence.

Mexico’s ‘Queen of the Pacific’ released from prison

2/09/2015 via CNN 

Sandra Avila BeltranIn Mexico’s male-dominated drug trade, her life story became a legend.

Now, after more than seven years behind bars, the woman known as “The Queen of the Pacific” is free. A judge ruled in favor of her appeal last week, Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office said in a statement Saturday.

Sandra Ávila Beltrán’s story is the subject of a best-selling book and a popular ballad.

Read more

Cartel Censorship Reaches Mexico City

newspapers thumbnailNewsweek, 01/16/2014

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.

Read more…

Op-ed: Less Noise, Same Fury (In Spanish)

Enrique PeñaNieto 2By Alejandro Hope, Nexos, 7/1/2013

Felipe Calderón es hombre de detalles. De obsesiones, dirían sus críticos. Como presidente, podía disertar al vuelo, sin notas, sobre las bandas criminales, su genealogía, su estructura. Tenía en las yemas de los dedos los datos, las cifras oscuras, el número de policías que no habían aprobado el control de confianza en Tamaulipas, el promedio de homicidios en Juárez en las últimas cuatro semanas. Poseía un asombroso mapa mental de la ruta de la sangre y la geografía de las reformas institucionales. Su gusto por las minucias de la guerra se desplegaba en cada discurso y cada conversación.

Enrique Peña Nieto es hombre de conceptos. De lugares comunes, dirían sus detractores. Sus afirmaciones sobre seguridad se ubican en la estratósfera, lejos de las definiciones concretas. El tema no le encandila y tal vez le aburra. Parece acomodarle más la frase hecha que el dato puntual, más los compromisos genéricos que las estrategias detalladas. La intensidad de Calderón ha sido sustituida por una parsimonia que quiere cambiar de tema.

Read more…