Mexico Pursuing Vanished Victims of Its Drug Wars

Monterrey-Nathaniel C. SheetzThe New York Times, 6/22/2013

Rosa González cannot shake the memory of the state investigator who was too afraid of reprisals to take a full report, the police officer who shrugged when the ransom demand came, the months of agonizing doubt and, most of all, the final words from her daughter before she disappeared. “I am giving you a hug because I love you so much,” her mentally disabled daughter, Brizeida, 23, told Rosa hours before she was abducted with her 21-year-old cousin after a party more than two years ago.

In thousands upon thousands of cases, the story may well have ended there, adding to the vast number of Mexicans who have disappeared. Unlike those in other Latin American countries who were victims of repressive governments, many of Mexico’s disappeared are casualties of the organized-crime and drug violence that has convulsed this nation for years. But here in Nuevo León State, prosecutors, detectives, human rights workers and families are poring over cases together and in several instances cracking them, overcoming the thick walls of mistrust between civilians and the authorities to do the basic police work that is so often missing in this country, leaving countless crimes unsolved and unpunished.

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Smog in Mexico: it’s not where you think it is

cars opllutingSmartPlanet, 6/19/2013

The country’s capital has spent the past decade cleaning up its environmental act with a series of policies aimed at reducing air pollution. But few other Mexican cities were following its lead. Today, numerous metropolitan areas in Mexico — none as big as the sprawling Valley of Mexico, or as notorious for smog — have grown into the very same problem. Industrial, fast-growing cities like Monterrey, Guadalajara, Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez now face serious air pollution problems, say analysts.

But unlike Mexico City, these smaller big cities neither have the monitoring capabilities to inform the public when the air gets dangerously contaminated nor the public policies in place to do something about curbing emissions. “It’s not just a problem for Mexico City anymore,” said Gabriela Alarcon, research director of urban development for the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO).

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Op-ed: Cities of God

Monterrey-Nathaniel C. SheetzBy Carlos Puig, The New York Times, 6/13/2013

Saturday was a beautiful day in Monterrey, northeastern Mexico, and in the Plaza Zaragoza, just a few meters from City Hall, it was a cheerful one, too. Standing at a clear plexiglass podium, a woman of about 40 is making a speech. Human participation alone, she says, “does not have the ability to reverse the darkness”; only the light from faith in God can. “Which is why we are gathered here today, and I, Alicia Margarita Arellanes Cervantes, give Monterrey, Nuevo León, to our Lord Jesus Christ, so that his kingdom of peace and blessings may be established.”

“I open the doors of this municipality to God as the ultimate authority,” she adds. “Lord Jesus Christ, welcome to Monterrey, the house that we have built. This is your home Lord Jesus, Lord of Monterrey.” The people in the square say amen, applaud and cheer. There is just one problem: Alicia Margarita Arellanes Cervantes may be the mayor of Monterrey, but clearly the city — Mexico’s third-largest  and its wealthiest per capita — isn’t hers to give away.

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The new face of Mexican policing

Jesus Villaseca (Flickr)
Jesus Villaseca (Flickr)

The Economist, 6/13/2013

ON ONE side of a low hill in the middle of Monterrey, Mexico’s biggest industrial city, lies Independencia, a district so run down that donkeys still carry heavy goods to the top. On the other side is San Pedro Garza García, one of Latin America’s most affluent neighbourhoods and home to some of its biggest companies.

In the past four years, the yawning social divide between them has been bridged by violence. First, the sound of gun battles between drug gangs fighting in Independencia carried over the hill to the mansions of San Pedro. Then the killings began in San Pedro itself. In a place once considered by its residents to be safer than Texas, just a few hours’ drive away, murders, carjackings and extortion became everyday occurrences. Some rich families fled to Texas—and were branded as “cowards” by Lorenzo Zambrano, the boss of Cemex, a cement-maker which is one of Monterrey’s (and Mexico’s) biggest firms.

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Mexico Now A Latin American Leader In Tech Services

hand on mouseFronteras, 5/15/2013

In the last decade Mexico’s tech industry has flourished, growing three times faster than the global average. Most of that growth is fueled by demand from the United States. But without certain reforms Mexico’s progress can only go so far. On the cover of April’s edition of Forbes Magazine in Mexico is Blanca Treviño. She is the 53-year-old CEO of Softtek, the country’s biggest technology service.

Softtek spans four continents and provides software support to clients that include Fortune 500 companies. The business sector represented by Softtek is one that’s growing rapidly in Mexico thanks in large part to its proximity to the United States, the world’s largest consumer of tech services. “I think it’s safe to say that without the U.S. the Mexico market would not be doing very well,” said Morgan Yeates, an analyst with the IT consulting firm Gartner.

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Op-ed: How Mexico Got Back in the Game

technicians making repairs - industry job trainingThe New York Times, 2/23/2013

In India, people ask you about China, and, in China, people ask you about India: Which country will become the more dominant economic power in the 21st century? I now have the answer: Mexico.

Impossible, you say? Well, yes, Mexico with only about 110 million people could never rival China or India in total economic clout. But here’s what I’ve learned from this visit to Mexico’s industrial/innovation center in Monterrey. Everything you’ve read about Mexico is true: drug cartels, crime syndicates, government corruption and weak rule of law hobble the nation. But that’s half the story. The reality is that Mexico today is more like a crazy blend of the movies “No Country for Old Men” and “The Social Network.”

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Mexico’s ‘Crisis Of Disappearance’: Families Seek Answers (Audio)

people waiting - out of focusNPR, 2/21/2013

Maximina Hernandez says she begged her 23-year old son, Dionicio, to give up his job as a police officer in a suburb of Monterrey. Rival drug cartels have been battling in the northern Mexican city for years. But he told her being a police officer was in his blood, a family tradition. He was detailed to guard the town’s mayor.

In May 2007, on his way to work, two men wearing police uniforms stopped Dionicio on a busy street, pulled him from his car and drove him away. That same day, the mayor’s other two bodyguards were also abducted. Witnesses say the kidnappers wore uniforms of an elite anti-drug police unit. The three men haven’t been seen since.

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