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domingo, marzo 25, 2007

Mexico Week In Review: 03.19-03.25


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"



The Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) has reappeared to
announce the resumption of his nationwide resistance tour known as
the "Other Campaign." "Over the next few days, the Sixth Committee of
the Zapatista National Liberation Army, or EZLN, will begin the
second phase of its direct participation in the Other Campaign with a
delegation made up of seven female commanders, seven male commanders
and a subcomandante," Marcos said in a statement.

The document, signed in March in the mountains of southeastern
Mexico, said that EZLN leaders have been forced to make some
adjustments to their work in order to continue to protect the
Zapatista communities and "at the same time, fulfill the commitments
of the Other Campaign." Marcos said that this second phase will begin
Sunday (03/25) in the city of San Cristobal de las Casas, in Chiapas
state, with a gathering of delegates and that at that time an
international campaign of solidarity with the Indian communities and
in defense of indigenous autonomy will be announced.

The Zapatistas toured several Mexican states last year as part of the
first phase of the Other Campaign. They held discussions with
activists around the country and attempted to gain adherents and
sympathizers with the Zapatista cause, but few inroads were made in
the interior of the country.

Source: EFE News Service: 03/22


Indigenous peoples have no future under the neoliberal system,
because it doesn't respect their traditional self-government (usos y
costumbres) and seeks to eliminate their ethnic identity, said the
Bishop Emeritus of San Cristobal de Las Casas, Samuel Ruiz Garcia,
who brokered the dialogue with the Zapatista rebels in Mexico's
southern state of Chiapas. He said that the salvation of the West is
in the indigenous world, which poses a communitarian alternative to
the individualist ethic which threatens contemporary societies. Ruiz
was speaking at a conference at the Universidad Iberoamericana's
Puebla campus.

Source: 03/19


A judge has ordered the arrest of five mine managers and inspectors
on charges of negligent homicide in the deaths of 65 coal miners
killed in an underground gas explosion last year, company and state
officials said.
Industrial Minera Mexico, owner of the Pasta de Conchos mine, said in
a news release that it "has knowledge" of the arrest orders and
"trusts the Mexican justice system," saying it will cooperate with
authorities in the case. It did not name those being sought.

Coahuila state prosecutor Jorge Rios, who asked the judge to issue
the arrest orders, said he had found managers and inspectors at Pasta
de Conchos did not fix unsafe conditions detected eight months before
the blast. The explosion on Feb. 19, 2006, at the mine in San Juan de
Sabinas reached temperatures as high as 1,110 degrees Fahrenheit.
Rescuers have found the bodies of two miners but tons of wood, rock
and metal, as well as toxic gas, have hindered the recovery of the

Industrial Minera Mexico is owned by Grupo Mexico SA de CV, a
railroad and mining giant with operations in Mexico, Peru and the
United States. Grupo Mexico has insisted the mine met all safety
standards and denies that safety precautions were ignored. The
company, which has promised to work as long as it takes to recover
the remains, does not plan to reopen the mine once recovery efforts

Source: Associated Press: 03/20


Mexico City's Attorney General, Rodolfo Felix Cardenas, reopened the
investigation into the 2001 murder of human rights attorney Digna
Ochoa after a judge ruled there was "insufficient evidence to
establish with certainty if Digna Ochoa was killed." The previous
Attorney General, Bernardo Batiz, closed the case in 2003, declaring
"simulated suicide" as the cause of death. Shortly before the
official declaration on September 17, 2003, this author met with
Batiz, who presented photographic evidence and outlined the case in
graphic detail in an effort to convince an international delegation
of human rights observers to support the suicide thesis. After a two
hour detailed presentation, which violated laws concerning
presentation of evidence in active investigations, Batiz was unable
to convince a single member of the delegation of his suicide
hypothesis. Batiz refused to consider evidence presented by Ochoa's
family, which caused the judge to order the case reopened. Both the
past and sitting Attorneys General are important members of the PRD,
leading many experts to question the sincerity of reopening the case.

Source: Mexico Solidarity Network Weekly News Summary: 03/12-18


Halliburton said it will open a new facility in Mexico later this
year to manufacture oil field equipment. The Monterrey, Mexico plant
is expected to open May 2007 and will have a staff of 50 employees.
When complete the facility will measure 9,290 square meters.

Source: Associated Press: 03/19


As many as half the citizens of the home state of Mexican President
Felipe Calderon are believed to be working in the United States. So
it was no great surprise when Calderon revealed recently that among
Michoacan's migrants were some of his own kin. What's odd is that
apparently no one here in Calderon's hometown, not even his family,
seems to know who they are. "I don't know of any relative that is or
has been in the United States," said Luis Gabriel Calderon Hinojosa,
a physician and the president's eldest brother. "There are more than
100 cousins and we're all over the place. Maybe, by chance, there's
someone on the other side."

At an international news conference with President Bush last week,
Calderon said that he had relatives working in the fields, "probably
handling the vegetables you eat." He cited them, as he had during
last year's presidential campaign, to urge a new U.S. immigration
accord and more investment in the Mexican economy to slow the
expatriate flow. "I hope one day I can see them, greet them, hug
them," Calderon told Bush and reporters. Calderon's poignant
revelation that he had family working the lowest rungs of the U.S.
labor market triggered a brief media stampede to find out who they
were. Later, his office said it would not reveal any names, to
protect the relatives' privacy. Many in this state capital, including
Calderon's former high school teacher, were puzzled by the news. "The
Calderon's are not farmers," said Father Eliseo Albor, who taught the
president and three of his four siblings at the private Instituto
Valladolid. "They don't have the need to cross the border? They've
done well. They've got good jobs."

A cadre of presidential police guard the home where Calderon grew up
and where his mother, Maria del Carmen Hinojosa de Calderon, still
lives. It is a walled, three-story stucco house in an aging but
upscale neighborhood. The president's late father was a founder of
Calderon's National Action Party, known as PAN. The state PAN
president, Francisco Javier Morelos Borja, said he didn't doubt
Calderon's claim. "Nearly all of us have someone abroad," he said.
Maybe they're relatives of Calderon's mother, from Puruandiro, he
said. The town of about 65,000 has one of the state's highest
emigration rates.

Morelia Mayor Salvador Lopez Ordua has been pals with Calderon since
childhood and grew up on the next block. "I'm sure they have
relatives who are migrants," said Lopez, who's seeking the PAN
nomination for governor. "They could be from Puruandiro, or if not,
some other pueblo. I don't know of anyone, personally, but I'm sure
it's true." In Puruandiro, a 90-minute drive north of Morelia, signs
of the region's longtime migration patterns are everywhere: pickup
trucks with U.S. license plates. The town is small enough for people
to know where to find a Calderon relative. "Yes, we're cousins," said
Jesus Madrigal Hinojosa, the owner of an auto repair shop. "But I
don't know of any relatives living in the United States."

Calderon's description of relatives working with lettuce and other
vegetables suggests they would be in California, which supplies most
of the nation. Tens of thousands of Mexican immigrants work fields in
the Imperial Valley, the Oxnard Plain and the Salinas Valley, as well
as the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys. Michoacan has supplied
California with field hands for generations. But a brief survey of
passersby in Morelia's main plaza revealed the reach of their
relatives' work abroad: New York high-rise construction, San Jose
tiling, Los Angeles roofing, Oregon logging, Sacramento fruit packing
and New Jersey factory work.

Shoeshine man Gabriel Ortega Zarco, 55, said eight of his 10 children
are working illegally in New Jersey. "My kids tell me to meet them up
north, but I'm too old for that," he said. "The last time I was up
there I froze" for three days. Nearby, Father Gabriel Ruiz, a parish
priest, said he had known the Calderon family for six years but
didn't know about any relatives living in the United States. The
president's mother attends Mass two or three times a week in Our Lady
of Fatima parish. "She's very reserved, never talks," he said, "so I
wouldn't know much." Juan Luis Calderon, a civil engineer described
by the president in his biography as his closest sibling, heads the
local water agency. The mayor's office called to arrange for a
interview with him to clear up the matter. He tentatively agreed.
Later on, however, Juan Luis Calderon's secretary said her boss could
not make the meeting. And she said he would be busy the rest of the

Source: Los Angeles Times: 03/22


"There's no child sex tourism here," technical secretary of the
Central American Tourism Council Mercedes de Mena stated firmly,
saying that no tourism operator offers such a thing -- officially at
least. However, the problem exists, and is serious in this region and
in Mexico. Casa Alianza, which works with homeless children in
several Central American countries, estimates that between 35,000 and
50,000 children are forced into prostitution in the region, and says
that one of the driving forces behind the abuses is, in fact, tourism.

As for Mexic0, the End Child Prostitution, Pornography, and
Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT) network said it
has become the major sex tourism destination in the Americas . The
number of children subjected to this form of exploitation is
estimated here at between 16,000 and 20,000. Mexico and the countries
of Central America, which constitute the historical-cultural unit
known as Mesoamerica, have passed a battery of laws and agreements to
penalize sexual abuse of children. However, the problem persists, and
tourist operators with connections in industrialized countries
continue to find clandestine ways of offering their clients package
tours which include having sex with minors.

De Mena was uncomfortable when IPS interviewed her about the issue by
telephone in Panama City , where she took part last week in a Central
American meeting on the prevention and suppression of child sex
tourism. "We condemn the sexual abuse of children. No one here is
promoting it. On the contrary, we are emphasizing preventive action
to ensure it doesn't happen. Sex tourism does not exist. What we do
have is adventure tourism, cultural tourism, beach tourism, and so
on," she said. Her statement was consistent with the recommendations
of a regional action plan against sexual exploitation for 2005-2006,
agreed by tourist operators and government representatives. These
sectors met again in Panama to evaluate the results of the action
plan, and draw up another for 2007-2008. The first plan recommended
that "the impression should not be given that commercial sexual
exploitation of children and teenagers is generalized in the region
and that plenty of sexual services are on offer." "This kind of
message would damage the tourist industry... The message must be
dissuasive, because Central America does not wish to become a tourist
destination identified with this kind of exploitation," the document

"Certainly the phenomenon (of child sex tourism) exists and is
growing throughout the world, and it is a problem in Central
America," Sonia Eljach, adviser on issues of sexual violence to the
Latin American and Caribbean office of the United Nations Children's
Fund (UNICEF), told IPS. Child sex tourism "greatly damages the image
of a country," she said. Central American countries and Mexico offer
regular training courses for tour operators and police on how to
combat sexual exploitation of minors. Publicity campaigns are also
carried out to raise social awareness of the issue.

Mexican senator Lázaro Mazón, of the opposition Party of the
Democratic Revolution (PRD), reported that there are more than 40 web
pages on the Internet describing Mexico as the "ideal place" for sex
tourism. According to ECPAT, 20 percent of international travel is
for sex purposes, and "three percent of travelers are pedophiles."
ECPAT estimates that the sex tourism business rakes in five billion
dollars a year, and it involves 1.8 million children worldwide.
Neither UNICEF nor the Central American Tourism Council (CCT) would
venture to guess how many children in Central America are prey to sex
tourism, but UNICEF at least acknowledged that they could be in the
thousands. Eljach said that pedophile tourists, most of whom come
from rich countries, choose destinations where vigilance is poor,
institutions are weak, and the culture is permissive.

A survey of 8,767 people from Central American countries, sponsored
by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and carried out in
mid-2005, indicated that knowledge of actual places where children
were sexually exploited was fairly widespread. About 30 percent of
interviewees from El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua
knew of such places. So did about 20 percent of respondents in
Panama, Costa Rica , Honduras and Guatemala. It follows that having
sex with minors in this region is not a crime that is committed under
a cloak of secrecy, nor is it infrequent, says the ILO publication
"Social Tolerance Towards Sexual Commerce with Minors in Central
America, Panama and the Dominican Republic ". The survey found that
between two and seven percent of respondents did not consider it a
crime to have sex with minors. In Honduras, six percent admitted that
they would choose to avail themselves of sexual services with
under-age children if they were given the opportunity. Between
one-third and one-half of the survey population thought that child
sexual exploitation originated in the moral values of the family and
the victim. This shows the lack of visibility of the responsibility
borne by the adult exploiters, and the vulnerability and social
exclusion suffered by victims and their families, the ILO remarked.
Most of the interviewees also placed the burden of responsibility for
preventing and eradicating exploitation on the weakest individuals,
obviating the obligations of state and society to protect minors, and
glossing over the human rights violations committed by exploiters,
whether they are "clients", pimps or intermediaries, the ILO document

In a 1997 study, UNICEF indicated that some retired persons from the
United States and Europe had taken up residence in Central America to
make use of child sex services. UNICEF found out from the children
forced into prostitution that 70 percent serviced one or two clients
a day. According to psychologists, sexually exploited children
acquire permanent psychological scars that can only heal with
professional care, which is not always available in Central American
countries and Mexico.

Source: IPS: 03/09


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: 03.19-03.25


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