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domingo, agosto 27, 2006

Mexico Week In Review: 08.21-08.27


Published since 1994, 'Mexico Week In Review' is a service of the
Committee of Indigenous Solidarity (CIS). CIS is a Washington, D.C.
based activist group committed to the ongoing struggles of Indigenous
peoples in the Americas. CIS is actively supporting the struggles
of the Indigenous peoples of Mexico while simultaneously combating
related structures of oppression within our own communities.

To view newsletter archives, visit:

"Para Todos, Todo; Para Nosotros Nada"

NOTE: We will not publish next week. The next newsletter will be
sent September 10.


Two candidates declared themselves the winner of a tight governor's
race in a volatile southern Mexican state, which some feared would
escalate the nationwide political crisis following last month's
disputed presidential election. Preliminary results in the Chiapas
state race Sunday (08/20) showed only about 4,000 votes separating
Juan Sabines, of the Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD, and Jose
Antonio Aguilar Bodegas, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or
PRI. With about 92 percent of polling places reporting results,
Sabines was leading with 48.5 percent, or 510,239 votes, compared to
Aguilar's 48.1 percent, or 506,200 votes.

Both camps held celebrations within blocks of each other in the
steamy state capital of Tuxtla Gutierrez, with hundreds of people
dancing and cheering. Tensions have been running high in Mexico since
the July 2 presidential vote, which leftist candidate Andres Manual
Lopez Obrador lost to his conservative rival Felipe Calderon by about
0.6 percent, according to the official vote count. Lopez Obrador said
he was keeping a close eye on developments in Chiapas.

His party ally Sabines, 38, said a PRD victory in Mexico's
southernmost state would help stabilize the country. But Aguilar, 56,
challenged his rival in a speech to supporters Sunday night to
"scrutinize the race ballot box by ballot box to prove who won the
elections" - echoing a similar demand Lopez Obrador has made of
outgoing President Vicente Fox's National Action Party, or PAN. In a
surprise move two weeks ago, PAN withdrew its candidate and threw its
support behind Aguilar. It was the first time PAN has formed an
alliance with PRI since Fox ended PRI's 71-year hold on the
presidency in 2000.

Many fear a loss in Chiapas by PRD could spark confrontations in
Mexico's poorest state, which is no stranger to bloody clashes.
Zapatista rebels rose up briefly here in 1994 in the name of Indian
rights, and there has been sporadic violence since then between
radical members of the political parties, although recent years have
been quiet. "Chiapas is a point of influence for other states, and
for that reason we must be more aware of who we vote for," said
Victoria Anta Carrillo, 64, among the first to arrive at the polls.
"And we have to pray that everything turns out well."

About 1,000 national and foreign observers monitored the vote, with
one group saying problems were widespread. Enrique Vera of the
Mexican Electoral Observation Movement said irregularities included
busing in voters and other tactics to boost Sabines' vote total.
Police arrested four men for possible electoral violations, including
a prominent labor leader allegedly carrying about $5,000 in cash to
buy votes for PRI. The union denied the charges. Meanwhile, Miguel
Ballinas, a spokesman for PAN in Chiapas, said that local authorities
in one Indian village opened the polls for just five minutes before
saying the voting was complete.

Source: Associated Press: 08/21


Former Mexican president Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988-1994), top
officials in the government of current Mexican president Vicente Fox
Quesada and a leader of Fox's center-right National Action Party
(PAN) were involved in a conspiracy in 2004 to remove Andres Manuel
Lopez Obrador of the center-left Party of the Democratic Party (PRD)
from contention in the July 2, 2006 presidential election, according
to a tape played on the "Hoy por Hoy" ("Nowadays") radio program on
Aug. 18. The tape allegedly records a confession by one of the
conspirators, Argentine-born business magnate Carlos Ahumada Kurtz,
when he was in custody in Cuba in March and April 2004; he is
currently imprisoned in Mexico City on corruption charges.

In February 2004 Ahumada released videotapes he'd made allegedly
showing two of Lopez Obrador's close associates, Rene Bejarano and
Carlos Imaz, accepting bribes, presumably for Ahumada's Mexico City
construction projects. At that point Lopez Obrador was head of
government of the Federal District (DF, Mexico City) and the front
runner in the 2006 presidential race. In the confession aired on Aug.
18, Ahumada said that his lawyer, Juan Collado, arranged with Diego
Fernandez de Cevallos, the PAN's losing presidential candidate in
1994, for the tapes to be made public. Salinas de Gortari was heavily
involved, and two members of Fox's cabinet, then-governance secretary
Santiago Creel Miranda and then-attorney general Rafael Macedo de la
Concha, were aware of the conspiracy, Ahumada said. Ahumada was
hoping for $30 million and some land in return for the tapes, he
said, but he apparently settled for promises of protection from
corruption charges. Lopez Obrador lost 15 points in opinion polls
when the videos were released, Ahumada noted in the confession. "I
mean, [the other candidates] practically took Andres Manuel out of
the presidential race," he said.

Fernandez de Cevallos and Creel promptly denied any wrongdoing, and
Macedo de la Concha hadn't issued a comment as of Aug. 19. Lopez
Obrador's electoral coalition, For the Good of All, announced on Aug.
19 that it was filing charges against Fernandez de Cevallos, Creel,
Macedo de la Concha and President Fox. Lopez Obrador was dismissed as
paranoid in 2004 when he charged that the release of the videotapes
was part of a plot against him headed by Salinas de Gortari.

Lopez Obrador ended up losing the July 2 balloting to PAN candidate
Felipe Calderon Hinojosa by just 0.58% of the votes, according to the
count by the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), although no winner
has been officially declared. Lopez Obrador is demanding a complete
recount because of apparent irregularities. Officials carried out a
recount of about 9% of the polling stations Aug. 9-14. The results
have gone to the electoral court and have not been made public. Lopez
Obrador's representative at the IFE, Horacio Duarte, said the recount
"obviously modifies the result," while PAN secretary general Cesar
said the difference was minimal and Calderon had won.

Source: Weekly News Update- Nicaragua Solidarity Network Of Greater
New York: 08/20


Chaos engulfed the southern Mexican city of Oaxaca as gunmen killed
one man in an attack on protesters who seized broadcasting stations
and sealed off the city with burning barricades. Hospital sources
said one man died of gunshot wounds, and protesters supporting a
three-month-old strike by local schoolteachers said the attackers had
abducted two others. Federal authorities claimed the gunmen were
deployed by state Governor Ulises Ruiz in a bid to dislodge the
protesters from a state-run radio building they seized on August 1,
but the governor denied any responsibility.

On Monday gunmen fired at the radio station occupied by the
protesters, wounding one man in the leg. The protesters responded by
blocking off all accesses to the city, parking trucks and buses
across the roads and setting them alight. They also took control of
12 local radio and television stations. Oaxaca hotels have shut down
and local bus operators have stopped service because of the rising
tension. The striking teachers demanded a salary increase and the
resignation of the state governor, who has ordered a major police
deployment to dislodge the teachers from the city center. Three
photographers from national media were also wounded by gunshots. Late
Tuesday, Oaxaca state interior secretary Carlos Abascal called for
dialogue, "to find a political way out of the conflict." The federal
government has already sent mediators to speak with protesters.

Source: AFP: 08/23


Mexico's national ombudsman said that the federal attorney general's
office, known as the PGR, engages in "torture and extrajudicial
executions." Jose Luis Soberanes, who chairs the autonomous National
Human Rights Commission, also accused the PGR of resorting to threats
and intimidation to obstruct his panel's attempts to investigate
alleged abuses by federal law-enforcement personnel. The commission
held a press conference to highlight three cases involving purported
torture or murder by PGR agents, allegations the panel said it probed
despite a "lack of cooperation" from the attorney general's office.

PGR officials sought "in different ways" to prevent those cases from
seeing the light, according to Soberanes aide Guillermo Ibarra, who
noted that one of his office computers was stolen early this month.
Ibarra said that a number of commission members and employees,
including Soberanes, have been the recipients of "crude" threats
delivered anonymously by telephone. He also described the opening of
criminal proceedings against commission personnel - and the filing of
administrative complaints against the organization as a whole - as
attempts by the PGR to intimidate the rights watchdog. The report
said that the PGR's office of deputy attorney general for human
rights even tried to persuade people who had filed complaints with
the commission about PGR misconduct to withdraw the charges. "The
office of the deputy attorney general has become the shield for the
human rights violations of the PGR," Soberanes said.

In each of the three cases raised, the ombudsman said, the PGR
rejected the commission's recommendations to pursue investigations by
pointing to the "lack of circumstantial evidence." "It's infantile,"
Soberanes said of the PGR's stance. "I don't know if they think
Mexican society is composed of mentally handicapped people." He said
the core of the problem is the "institutional breakdown of the PGR,"
citing as proof the PGR's lack of involvement in the bilateral
cooperation that led to last week's capture by the U.S. Coast Guard
of a major Mexican drug kingpin.

The ombudsman said that the incidence of torture by Mexican police at
all levels has increased during the presidency of Vicente Fox, who
took office in December 2000 and will step down Dec. 1. Soberanes
called the current administration "schizophrenic," as it sings the
praises of the Istanbul Protocols outlawing torture, "but does not
apply them."

Source: EFE: 08/24


Two more Mexican men were in custody Friday in El Paso for possible
involvement in the killings of women in this border city over the
past decade, Mexican and U.S. law-enforcement officials said. On
Thursday (08/24), in what was described as a breakthrough in the
investigation, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City announced that another
Mexican man had been arrested in Denver in connection with the rape
and killing of at least 10 of the women. The man, Edgar Álvarez Cruz,
was flown Thursday to El Paso and remained in U.S. custody. The
arrest of two more men could be the most solid indication to date
that a serial killer or killers committed some of the hundreds of
slayings of women in Juárez and Chihuahua state since 1993,
authorities said.

"The suspects detained are tied to a critical period in the killings
in Ciudad Juárez," Chihuahua Gov. José Reyes Baeza said Friday. U.S.
and Mexican authorities have been investigating the men for months,
he said. A Juárez newspaper, Norte de Ciudad Juárez, reported Friday
that among the evidence appears to be letters that one of the
suspects wrote to relatives in Mexico describing the killings, with
details such as how and where the bodies were disposed of. The report
could not be independently confirmed. But concerns emerged late
Thursday over the timing of the embassy's announcement and whether
Mexican authorities have enough evidence to charge the men. The
mother of one victim and a former high-ranking investigator of the
cases raised doubts about the significance of the arrests. Oscar
Maynes, former state forensics investigator in Chihuahua, said
achieving any conviction would be difficult because "of the
incompetence of investigators." "They have botched most of the
evidence in the cases," he said. "Some of the women have not even
been positively identified. I have many doubts." "I've been down this
road before," said one victim's mother, who spoke on condition of
anonymity. "Some of us don't even know whether the victims we're
mourning are really our daughters."

Authorities didn't identify the two men whose arrests were announced
Friday, and didn't say where they were arrested. But a Mexican
official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said one was arrested
in West Virginia and the other in Sierra Blanca, Texas.

Mr. Álvarez was to be turned over to Mexican authorities Friday, but
that process was halted at the request of the Mexicans, who spent
Friday taking statements from the suspects in El Paso. Now the three
are expected to be turned over late next week, U.S. and Mexican
authorities said. Some Mexican authorities said privately that they
were caught off guard by what they called U.S. Ambassador Tony
Garza's "premature announcement" Thursday of the first arrest. Mr.
Garza called the arrest of Mr. Álvarez a "major break" in the
investigation. But a Mexican law-enforcement official, speaking on
condition of anonymity, said the announcement could "jeopardize the
ongoing investigation." A U.S. Embassy official said: "Ambassador
Garza's statements speak for themselves."

Of the hundreds of women kidnapped and slain in Juárez, the deaths of
at least 100 reportedly involved sexual assault and mutilation. The
cases have inspired several documentaries and at least three
Hollywood movies, two of which are to be released early next year.
Mexican authorities stressed Friday that the investigation is
continuing. Additional time is needed to "gather all the necessary
evidence" against the suspects, said Sergio Belmonte, a spokesman for
the state of Chihuahua and state Attorney General Patrícia González.

Mr. Álvarez is "likely responsible" for the deaths of at least 10
women in Juárez, including crimes known as the Cotton Field murders,
named for a field where the bodies of eight women were discovered
Nov. 6-7, 2001, the U.S. Embassy statement said. Evidence called
solid Speaking in Mexico City, Mexican Attorney General Daniel Cabeza
de Vaca said of Mr. Álvarez: "We don't exactly know how many
homicides he may have been responsible for, but there is solid
evidence in several cases we know of." Mr. Belmonte said it isn't
known whether the men have organized-crime or drug-gang connections.
"It's just to early to say. At this point, we can't even say whether
they're part of any gang," he said.

Over the years, there have been several theories about who's behind
the murders, from serial killers to a satanic cult, domestic partners
or gangs working for drug cartels. U.S. and Mexican investigators
have told The Dallas Morning News that part of the overall
investigation centered on drug dealers suspected of raping and
killing women during cocaine parties to celebrate successful
smuggling operations.

Authorities have arrested several other people in the killings. They
included an Egyptian chemist who died in prison earlier this year; a
bus driver, Victor García Uribe, whose conviction was overturned; and
his co-defendant, Gustavo González Meza, who died in prison before
sentencing. Their two lawyers were slain. Not much is known about Mr.
Álvarez, a cement worker who lived with his girlfriend in the Denver
area, according to Ken Deal, chief deputy of the U.S. Marshals office
in Denver. Mr. Deal said his team started following Mr. Álvarez "a
little over a month ago." "We knew based on information that he was
someone of importance, but our mission was simply to locate and
arrest him," he said. The Denver Police Department said a 20-year-old
man named Edgar Álvarez Cruz has a criminal record for destruction of
private property, disturbing the peace, threats to injure a person,
and other crimes.

Source: Dallas Morning News: 08/21


Mexicans living abroad sent $11 billion home in the first half of
2006, an increase of 23 percent over the same period last year, the
government news agency Notimex reported. Remittances have become an
increasingly important source of income for the country in recent
years, surpassing tourism. They represent Mexico's second-largest
source of foreign income after oil. They topped $20 billion for the
first time in 2005, a 17 percent increase from the previous year.

Source: Associated Press: 08/26

The above articles were originally published and copyrighted by the
listed sources. These articles are offered for educational purposes
which CIS maintains is 'fair use' of copyrighted material as
provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

end: Mexico Week In Review: 08.21-08.27

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