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domingo, febrero 17, 2008

Mexico Week In Review: 02.11-02.17

Mexico Week In Review: 02.11-02.17
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 International Civil Commission for Observation of Human Rights
(CCIODH) visited Chiapas with more than fifty representatives from
Europe and the United States. The Commission visited Acteal, the
five Zapatista Juntas of Good Government, and several hot spots where
paramilitaries have been threatening Zapatista communities.

The CCIODH reported on the ongoing, though largely ineffective,
investigation of the decade-old Acteal massacre in which
paramilitaries assassinated 45 indigenous civilians. Although
Governor Juan Sabines created a special investigator for the case,
"there has no significant advance in the investigation. The arrest
of certain individuals, the review of administrative sanctions, and
the signing of agreements with the community without clarifying the
truth of what happened are simply political acts of a symbolic
character that are not useful for the advance of justice." The
CCIODH reported Chiapas continues to suffer from social dynamics
"characterized by a profound inequality and exclusion" that affect
the majority of the population. The process of autonomy promoted by
Zapatista communities "is, without a doubt, the most advanced
example" of organization "generating spaces for social, economic and
political participation." The CCIODH was scheduled to visit Oaxaca,

Source: Mexico Solidarity Network Weekly News Summary: 02/02-10


The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour,
spent the week in Mexico calling on the Calderon administration to
combat femicides in Ciudad Juarez, end the assassination of
journalists, and prosecute child pornography rings and sexual abuse
of minors with the same vigor and commitment of resources dedicated
to the fight against drug cartels. The government must "invest
whatever is necessary to strengthen civil institutions and combat the
corruption that exists among the police," said Arbour in a statement.
Arbour also called for civilian oversight of the war on drugs.

Source: Mexico Solidarity Network Weekly News Summary: 02/02-10


Like other California vegetable growers, Larry Cox oversees hundreds
of Mexican farm workers picking green onions, asparagus and
cauliflower in the fertile Colorado River valley. But this farm is
not in California, where illegal immigration raids are causing labor
shortages and strict environmental regulations are increasing costs.
Instead, Cox's farm is just south of the border in Mexico where he
can hire workers at a tenth of the cost.

Americans are farming some 50,000 acres of land in Mexico and
employing 11,000 people, in spite of high crime, suspicion of
outsiders and doubts back home about Mexican food safety standards.
The Bush administration's clampdown on undocumented workers and
tighter border security means the flow of Mexican workers to
California is drying up, Cox said. "There has been a crackdown on
illegal immigration but they haven't given us an avenue to get legal
workers," said Cox, 49, driving by his irrigated fields on the
outskirts of Mexicali, just a quick commute from his U.S. home. Cox
rented a small plot in Mexico in 1991 and now has 2,000 acres under
lease. Other American farmers are moving into Mexico for the first
time, planting lettuce as far south as Mexico's central heartland.
Two years ago, Cox had to leave around 750,000 pounds of tomatoes
unpicked on his farm in Brawley, California, because he could not
find enough workers at harvest time.

California's San Joaquin Valley, a rich agricultural region, usually
employs around 230,000 seasonal laborers but deportation sweeps have
left farmers short by almost a third, said Manuel Cunha from the
area's Nisei Farmers League. U.S. workers do not want strenuous farm
jobs, said Cunha. As well as tapping into an abundant source of cheap
labor in Mexico, U.S. growers can avoid expensive environmental
regulations demanded by states like California. "We are basically
being regulated out of business," said farmer Steve Scaroni, who
moved 20 percent of his operations to Mexico's central state of
Guanajuato in 2006. Cox said he needed costly air quality permits to
burn his asparagus fields in Brawley but in Mexico few eyebrows are
raised when he sets fire to his fields to clean them. "In Mexico they
said, 'Permits? What? You just throw a match,"' he said.

Most workers on Cox's Mexicali farm earn around $10 a day instead of
the $10 an hour they could earn doing the same job north of the
border. But most say they prefer being near home. "You might make a
little more up there but you also suffer more," said Manuel Sanchez,
36, wrapping rubber bands around bunches of green onions. Sanchez
worked illegally in the United States for six years, but high living
costs and fear of authorities made his life tough.

Mexico, which lost huge swathes of its northern territory in a
1846-48 war with the United States, is sensitive about foreigners
buying land so most American farmers just rent. "When we first
started down here we had a very difficult time. People did not want
to rent ground to us," said Cox. Vegetables and machinery have been
stolen from his fields and a nearby U.S. grower was kidnapped and
held for ransom, but much of the hostility against U.S. farmers has
dampened. "Now the area has come to depend on the influx of cash and
I think they appreciate having these big American farms down here,"
said Mike Fox who manages Cox's Mexicali operation. Farmers in the
United States, some worried about unfair competition, question
Mexican food safety standards. A deadly 2003 hepatitis A outbreak in
Pennsylvania was traced back to green onions shipped from Mexico. "We
go over the top with food safety here because it is Mexico and there
is a preconceived bias," said Scaroni who knows of a half dozen U.S.
farmers who have moved to the Guanajuato region in the past five

Source: Reuters: 02/12


The United States has human rights concerns tied to Mexico's use of
its military in anti-drug trafficking operations along their shared
border, the White House said. "Of course it's something that we are
concerned about and continue to work with Mexico on," spokeswoman
Dana Perino said when asked about US lawmakers' reported unease about
Mexican President Felipe Calderon's anti-narcotics drive. "But we
also appreciate how aggressively President Calderon has worked to
fight the narcotics situation down there and especially the violence
that is preventing people from being able to have a good life and a
good job," she said. "So we'll continue to work with them," the
spokeswoman said.

Source: Agence France Presse: 02/12


A Mexican judge ruled in favor of a miners striking at the country's
largest copper mine, allowing them to continue their 6-month strike.
The National Mining and Metal Workers Union considered the ruling a
victory and demanded that police now guarding the Cananea mine leave.
The injunction recognizes an appeal against a January labor board
ruling that determined the strike was illegal. The case now goes to a
federal arbitration board who will decide whether the strike is
legal, the Labor Department said in a statement.

The Jan. 11 ruling prompted mine owner Grupo Mexico SAB to seize
control of the mine with the help of federal and state police. Police
remain at the mine to keep strikers from blocking its entrance. Grupo
Mexico could fire striking workers if arbitration board determines
the strike illegal. Grupo Mexico, a mining and railroad company with
operations throughout Mexico, Peru and the United States, plans to
appeal the injunction, a process that could take one to three months
to be resolved, said Salvador Rocha, the company's attorney. Work at
the Cananea mine, which is now producing 40 to 50 metric tons (44 to
55 U.S. tons) of copper cathode and 70 to 80 metric tons (77 to 88
U.S. tons) of copper concentrate a day, will continue under an
earlier court ruling that allowed non-strikers to work but kept the
company from dismissing strikers, the company said.

Miners went on strike at Cananea, in the northwestern state of
Sonora, and two other mines owned by Grupo Mexico on July 30, seeking
a 10 percent pay raise and improved health and safety conditions.
Industry negotiators have offered a 6 percent wage increase. Grupo
Mexico - which is losing an estimated $3 million a day during the
stoppage - says it has met union demands to remedy safety and health
problems. Cananea has annual capacity of about 140,000 metric
(154,000 U.S. tons) tons of copper concentrate and 50,000 metric tons
(55,000 U.S. tons) of cathode.

Source: Associated Press: 02/15


The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the disappearance
of Mauricio Estrada Zamora, a crime reporter for the daily La Opinión
de Apatzingán in the central Mexican state of Michoacán. Estrada,
38, was last seen on February 12 at approximately 11 p.m., when he
left the newspaper. He left alone and indicated that he was heading
to his home in Apatzingán, colleagues told CPJ. On the morning of
February 13, local authorities found Estrada's car in Buena Vista
Tomatlán, a municipality near Apatzingán. The policeman who found the
car alerted La Opinión de Apatzingán staff after finding Estrada's
press pass in the car windshield. The car was parked, but its engine
was running. The doors were open and several items were missing,
including a stereo and Estrada's camera and laptop, La Opinión de
Apatzingán staff told CPJ.

On February 13, Estrada's immediate family reported him missing to
state authorities. The Michoacán state Attorney General's office sent
its anti-kidnapping unit, including a helicopter, to Buena Vista
Tomatlán and outlying areas in order to find the reporter. "We are
very concerned about the fate of Mauricio Estrada Zamora," said CPJ
Executive Director, Joel Simon. "We urge Mexican authorities to do
all in their power to locate him and return him safely to his family."

La Opinión de Apatzingán and Estrada's family are asking law
enforcement authorities to investigate whether the reporter's
disappearance is linked to a dispute he had in January with a Federal
Investigations Agency agent who was posted in Apatzingán. On February
14, La Opinión de Apatzingán wrote that Estrada had mentioned the
agent's name in an article and that he referred to the agent in print
only by his nickname "El Diablo" (the Devil.) Colleagues told CPJ
that they were unaware of the disagreement between the two men, as
Estrada only mentioned it to his family. CPJ was unable to determine
the nature of the dispute. However, María de la Luz Uyuela Granado,
the daily's editor-in-chief, told CPJ that the circumstances
surrounding Estrada's disappearance remain unclear. Uyuela said
Estrada didn't investigate sensitive stories. In fact, the paper does
not investigate organized crime or other risky topics that they
consider too dangerous, added Uyuela. La Opinión de Apatzingán only
publishes official information when it comes to crime. Estrada also
contributed reports to La Opinion de Michoacán, a sister newspaper of
La Opinión de Apatzingán.

Michoacán is considered one of the most dangerous states for
journalists in Mexico, owing to its high level of violent crime
related to drug trafficking and organized crime. Estrada's
disappearance comes on the heels of the assassination of journalist
Gerardo Israel García Pimentel in December in Uruapan, the second
largest city in Michoacán. García covered agriculture and crime for
La Opinion de Michoacán. CPJ is still investigating whether García's
death is related to his work as a journalist. On November 20, 2006,
José Antonio García Apac , editor of Ecos de la Cuenca en
Tepalcatepec, a local newspaper, went missing and has yet to be seen

CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that
works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information,

Source: Committee to Protect Journalists E-mail Alert: 02/15


Mexican President Felipe Calderon urged California lawmakers to help
his government address the volatile issue of illegal immigration in a
way that will benefit his country and the United States. "We need to
make migration legal, safe and organized," Calderon told the
legislature of the most-populous U.S. state, whose large and
fast-growing Mexican-American population figures prominently in
debates over illegal immigration.

The question of what to do about the millions living in the United
States without papers has been one of the hot-button issues in the
U.S. presidential election, with Republican candidates in particular
vying to demonstrate their toughness on the issue. Calderon, who has
expressed concerned about an atmosphere full of prejudice generated
by anti-immigrant rhetoric, urged cooperation. "We are at a
historical turning point," said the conservative leader, on his first
trip to the United States as Mexico's president. "Future generations
will judge us by the decisions we make today. Did we work together to
provide organized and humane migration, or did we continue to allow
hundreds to die each year? "The choice is not between migration and
security or between migration and prosperity," he said. "The choice
is between a future of integration and success for both, or a future
of distrust and resentment between us."

Calderon disputed contentions that Mexico is turning a blind eye to
internal economic problems that spur its citizens to head north.
"Migration carries off the best among us: our bravest, our youngest
and our strongest people," he said. Calderon urged California
lawmakers to view Mexicans as assets to the economy, recalling the
state's long historic ties with his country and guest worker programs
that tapped its labor from the 1940s through the 1960s. "This lesson
from our past shows us the way to forge a better future as partners,"
Calderon said.

Mexico was deeply disappointed at the U.S. Congress' failure to pass
President George W. Bush's comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws
in June. It is also angry with the United States for building a
security fence on parts of the southern border to keep illegal
immigrants from Mexico out.

Republican Assembly Leader Mike Villines said California's Republican
lawmakers, among the most vocal U.S. critics of illegal immigration,
remain very concerned. But he said he appreciated that Calderon
bluntly addressed illegal immigration in his first speech to the
state Legislature. "He came and addressed an issue pretty square-on,"
Villines told reporters in the Assembly's chamber. Paul Farmer, a
member of the civilian border patrol group known as the Minutemen,
who have stoked the political debate over illegal immigration in
recent years, criticized Calderon's visit. "We're tired of him
sending his welfare people over here and draining our economy,"
Farmer said near a Sonoma County winery that Calderon visited after
his speech.

Source: Reuters: 02/14


A bomb that exploded Friday near the Mexico City police headquarters
was carried by an unidentified man wearing two layers of clothing,
the police said Saturday. They said that the man died in the blast
and that no evidence had yet been found linking him to a guerrilla
group or a drug cartel. Investigators believe the man intended to
plant the bomb at the police headquarters, about 300 yards from where
he was found, but it went off in his hand. One theory was that he
wore a suit over another change of clothes because he wanted to evade
the police after the bombing.

It remained unclear whether a young woman - one of two people wounded
in the attack - had been accompanying the man or merely crossed paths
with him at the wrong time. The woman, Tania Vázquez, 22, lives in
the city's Tepito section, two blocks from the home of Rogelio Mena,
suspected of being a member of the Sinaloa drug cartel whom the city
police arrested Tuesday, the newspaper El Universal said. That
coincidence led the newspaper to conclude that the bomber had links
with the cartel, but city and federal authorities said there was no
hard evidence that drug dealers had ordered the bombing. Ms. Vázquez
had yet to be interviewed, they noted.

Late Friday, the Federal attorney general{minute}s office issued a
statement saying the bombing "cannot be attributed to armed or
subversive groups" because the device bore none of the earmarks of
those that subversive groups have planted on pipelines and in a
Mexico City skyscraper in the past year. Federal investigators said
they had not ruled out the possibility that the bomber had acted
alone because of a personal grudge. It also remained unclear how the
bomb had been constructed. The newspaper La Jornada said the device's
core had contained C4, a commercial plastic explosive, mixed with a
chemical to make it less stable. The bomber wrapped pellets around
the explosive, the newspaper said. However, the city police
commissioner, Joel Ortega, said late Friday that the bomb had held
gunpowder, not plastic explosive.

Source: New York Times: 02//17

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: 02.11-02.17

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