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Nodos Comunes

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Rage One (blog)

domingo, febrero 24, 2008

Mexico Week In Review: 02.18-02.24

Mexico Week In Review: 02.18-02.24
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"


A high-technology system to control the US-Mexico border with cameras
and radar instead of a physical fence has gained government approval,
US officials say. The $20m 'virtual fence' already covers 28 miles
(48km) of the border between Arizona state and Mexico. The system has
already helped catch smugglers, and would be deployed elsewhere, said
US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

But he said plans to complete 770 miles (1,130km) of physical fence
remain. "I have personally witnessed the value of this system," said
Mr. Chertoff. "I have spoken directly to the border patrol agents...
who have seen it produce actual results in terms of identifying and
allowing the apprehension of people who are illegally smuggling
across the border."

Built by Boeing, the virtual fence is part of a strategy to stop
illegal immigrants as well as drug-smugglers attempt to pass into the
US on foot or in vehicles. Its technology - including 100-ft
(30-metre) unmanned surveillance towers equipped with sophisticated
sensor devices - is capable of distinguishing people from cattle at a
distance of about 10 miles (16km). The system's cameras and radars
are powerful enough to determine whether people are carrying
backpacks that may contain weapons or drugs.

The US government plans to extend the technology to other areas of
the Arizona border, as well as sections of Texas, possibly within
months. In a televised debate in Texas on Thursday, both Democratic
party presidential candidates, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, said
high-technology surveillance could lessen the need for a physical
barrier. A highly charged political issue, immigration has been at
the forefront of this year's presidential campaign. Plans for the
physical barrier covering about a third of the US-Mexico border have
drawn fierce criticism.

Source: BBC News: 02/23


Drug hitmen have killed a popular Mexican singer along with his
manager and assistant near the U.S. border, authorities said, the
latest murder among musicians who sing "narcocorrido" ballads
glorifying drug traffickers. The body of Jesus Rey David Alfaro,
known as "The Little Rooster," was one of six that turned up
tortured, murdered and pinned with threatening messages for Mexico's
army last week in the border town of Tijuana near San Diego. "We
believe Alfaro had links to the Arellano Felix cartel," said an
official with the Baja California state attorney general's office who
declined to be named. The official was referring to Tijuana's main
drug smuggling cartel, which is fighting a gory turf war with
traffickers from Mexico's Pacific state of Sinaloa, led by the
country's most-wanted man, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman.

At least half a dozen Mexican folk singers, who play narcocorridos
and upbeat, brassy "grupera" music, have been killed since Mexico's
drug war flared in 2006. Alfaro, a regular act at Tijuana's biggest
bars and music halls, was found covered in a blanket in wasteland on
the edge of the city with rope marks around his neck, suggesting he
was tortured before he was shot in the head, the attorney general's
office said. Drug hitmen pinned a message on his body saying "You'll
be next," a taunt aimed at the thousands of soldiers sent by
President Felipe Calderon to Tijuana to crush the drug gangs and
clean up police forces working with the cartels. Tijuana, long a
transit point for narcotics heading to the United States, has seen a
spike in murders this past year, with drug gangs even killing
children. More than 2,500 people were killed in drug violence in
Mexico last year and at least 320 people have died so far this year.

Source: Reuters: 02/20


Some 70,000 teachers in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca
suspended classes on Feb. 14 to participate in rallies in Oaxaca city
and other cities; the rallies were organized by Section 22 of the
National Union of Education Workers (SNTE) and supported by members
of the leftist Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO). The
strikers called on the national union to expedite internal elections
and demanded that the government drop charges against teachers and
others for their participation in five months of militant strikes and
protests in 2006. Section 22 members also protested efforts by
another SNTE local, Section 59, to take over some Oaxaca schools.
Oaxaca governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz discounted the possibility that the
2006 social conflict would be renewed. The state government and
Section 22 were now handling disputes through a "permanent dialogue,"
he said.

Source: Weekly News Update- Nicaragua Solidarity Network Of Greater
New York: 02/17


Mexico's human rights commission, the National Human Rights
Commission (CNDH), is investigating a shooting in which troops on an
anti-drug mission near the U.S. border killed a man and wounded an
American, the organization said. The commission said soldiers opened
fire on the two men's car when they tried to skirt an army checkpoint
last week in the border city of Reynosa, where troops patrol the
streets as part of a crackdown on drug trafficking gangs.

One of the victims, Sergio Meza, died on the scene. His
brother-in-law, Jose Antonio Barbosa, who said he was a U.S. citizen
but lived in Reynosa, was shot in the shoulder and hospitalized.
Mexicans living near the U.S. border often have close ties to the
United States, and many have dual citizenship. Barbosa said he and
Meza had been drinking beer, smoking marijuana and snorting cocaine
before they went out for a ride in their car before dawn last
Saturday, the rights commission said in a statement.

Reynosa, just south of McAllen, Texas, is considered a major
smuggling route for drug traffickers and is dominated by the
country's powerful Gulf cartel. More than 2,500 people were killed in
drug violence in Mexico last year and at least 320 people have died
so far this year.

Source: Reuters: 02/20


US-based Human Rights Watch issued a scathing critique of Mexico's
National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), accusing the government
agency of malfeasance and ineptitude in the protection of human
rights. Human Rights Watch recognized the CNDH for its often
comprehensive reports on human rights violations, but condemned the
Commission for negotiating with responsible government agencies while
leaving the victims of abuses on the sidelines, and for a general
lack of follow-up that left government agencies with little reason to
rectify abuses or change ingrained habits. In general, Human Rights
Watch found the CNDH to "have a limited impact," despite an annual
budget of US$79 million dollars, the largest budget of any human
rights organization worldwide, and over 100 staff members.

Source: Mexico Solidarity Network Weekly News Summary: 02/11-17


In a sharp blow to the Chihuahua Office of the State Attorney General
(PGJE), state Judge Catalina Ochoa Contreras declared innocent on
February 6 a suspect charged with killing one of the eight women
found murdered in a Ciudad Juarez cotton field in 2001. The defense
of Edgar Alvarez Cruz had long contended that the charges against the
young man were based on lies, pressured statements and questionable
or non-existent evidence. Alvarez's defense also presented proof that
their client was in the United States at the time of many of the
disappearances and slayings of the victims found in the cotton field.
Another inconsistency was the single murder charge against Alvarez,
who was formally accused of killing 17-year-old Mayra Juliana Reyes
Solis, but not tried for the murders of the other victims who were
discovered on the same site and at the same time as Reyes. The PGJE
appealed Judge Ochoa's verdict, but made no immediate public comment
on the ruling. "The exoneration of the innocent man adds to the list
of scapegoats detained by the state prosecutor as serial killers and
then freed for lack of proof to incriminate them," editorialized
Ciudad Juarez's Lapolaka news site. Upon hearing news of the
sentence, Alvarez thanked the court for absolving him of the Reyes
slaying but added, "it should've been done within the first 72
hours." Alvarez still faces charges in the 1998 killing of teenager
Silvia Garbiela Laguna Cruz, a murder he also vehemently denies

If Alvarez's legal victory is upheld, it would mark the third time
Chihuahua state and federal cases against suspected cotton field
killers have wound up in tatters. Previous investigations unraveled
amid revelations of tortured suspects, extracted confessions, wild
stories, mismatched bodies and other irregularities. Although
questions swirled around Alvarez's August 2006 detention from the
very beginning, Chihuahua State Attorney General Patricia Gonzalez
and representatives her office repeatedly told the press that
additional evidence against Alvarez and two other accused men would
be forthcoming. In the end, however, none materialized.

What distinguished the Alvarez affair against the prior cotton field
cases was the key role played by the United States. Alvarez was
living as an undocumented worker in Denver, Colorado, when he was
arrested based on a confession made by Jose Francisco Granados de la
Paz to the Texas Rangers. Held on an unrelated charge, Granados tied
Alvarez to the cotton field killings. Later revelations seriously
questioned Granados' credibility as a witness, painting instead a
picture of a disturbed, drug-abusing individual who was prone to
delusions. Despite the flimsiness of the Alvarez case, as well as the
previous use of torture in the cotton field investigations, the US
government quickly deported Alvarez to Mexico to face trial. He has
sat in jail ever since. At the time of Alvarez's arrest, US
Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza hailed a major breakthrough in
solving the Ciudad Juarez femicides.

While the US-Mexico investigation of the cotton field killings verges
on collapse, three of the victims' mothers are taking their quest for
justice to an international legal body. Last December, the Costa
Rica-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights notified lawyers for
the women that it has accepted their case for review. The cases were
originally pursued in the Washington-based Inter-American Commission
on Human Rights (IACHR) by the mothers of victims Esmeralda Herrera
Monreal, Laura Berenice Ramos Monarrez and Claudia Ivete Gonzalez.
Transfer of the case to the Inter-American Court means that the
Mexican government did not follow the IACHR's recommendations it
earlier issued to ensure justice for victims' relatives. In a
separate report late last month, Mexico's official National Human
Rights Commission criticized all three levels of the Mexican
government for not following its own justice recommendations related
to the Ciudad Juarez women's murders. Karla Michel Salas Ramirez, an
attorney for the three mothers and a member of Mexico's National
Association of Democratic Lawyers, said the Costa Rica case could set
a legal precedent for other femicide cases. The Mothers' lawyers will
argue that Mexico is in violation of the Belen Do Para Convention, an
international agreement which obliges states to protect women from
gender violence. The plaintiffs also seek sanctions against Chihuahua
state government officials who were responsible for handling the
cotton field investigation. Unlike the advisory nature of the
IACHR'S recommendations, rulings from the Costa Rica court are
obligatory for member states.

On another international note, the Ciudad Juarez femicides drew a
sharp comment from United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Louise Arbour, who was on an official visit to Mexico earlier this
month. "In Mexico, the issue of impunity is the greatest challenge
that has to be confronted and overcome," Arbour said. "The case of
the femicides, in which the justice system doesn't protect women, is

In Ciudad Juarez, meanwhile, media outlets, business groups, human
rights organizations and just plain ordinary citizens are all alarmed
at the escalating homicide rates for both men and women since the
beginning of the year. Nine women and girls have been killed for
different reasons since January 1. Also last month, a woman's
skeleton was recovered from an area frequently used as a dumping
ground for both male and female murder victims. Additionally, a
15-year-old high school student, Adriana Enriquez Sarmiento, was
reported missing from downtown Ciudad Juarez on January 18. The young
girl had attended the private Ignacio Allende Preparatory, the same
institution three previous femicide victims, including Laura Berenice
Ramos, had also attended, In a blog entry this week, El Paso author
and longtime femicide researcher Diana Washington Valdez reported
that a female Allende Prep student was accosted outside the school
January 31 by a man who exposed himself to the girl. According to the
journalist, an intervention by prominent Ciudad Juarez labor rights
activist Cipriana Jurado, who just happened to be in the vicinity of
the school at the time of the attack, prompted the man to run away
before police could detain him.

Sources: Frontera NorteSur (FNS): 02/07; 02/06; El
Diario de Juarez: 02/07; Norte: 01/30, 02/07; La Jornada: 01/30,
02/06; 12/26/07, 01/24; Proceso/Apro: 01/29/07;

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: 02.18-02.24

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