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La Jornada > Cobertura de "La otra campaña"

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Rage One (blog)

domingo, marzo 02, 2008

Mexico Week In Review: 02.25-03.02

Mexico Week In Review: 02.25-03.02
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 Mexican judge has sentenced two brothers to 26 years in prison for
their participation in the 1997 massacre of 45 men, women and
children in southern Chiapas state. Brothers Antonio and Mariano
Pucuj were also ordered to pay more than $70,000 in compensation to
the victims' families, the human rights group Fray Bartolome de las
Casas said. Karla Banos, a spokeswoman for state prosecutors, said
the Pucuj brothers are appealing the judge's decision.

Pro-government villagers armed with guns and machetes killed the 45
on Dec. 22, 1997 in an incident known as the Acteal massacre for the
town where it occurred. At the time, Chiapas was deeply divided
between supporters of the Zapatista rebels - fighting for greater
autonomy and indigenous rights - and backers of the Institutional
Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which ruled Mexico for seven decades.
Officials said the killings were motivated by a land dispute between
two Tzotzil Indian communities. But victims' families say the
massacre resulted from a bid to crush the Zapatistas, with state
officials providing weapons and paramilitary training for the attack.
Justice in the case has been slow. It wasn't until last October - a
decade later - that courts sentenced 34 men to 26 years each for the
killings. Several others were convicted in 2002.

Source: Associated Press: 02/27


In a worrying escalation of government and paramilitary activities in
the Agua Azul region, the State published a paid article in La
Jornada, one of Mexico's leading daily newspapers, condemning foreign
human rights observers for participating in the kidnapping of local
police. "News articles" paid for by government agencies are common
in Mexican newspapers, and they are easily identified in La Jornada
because the headlines appear in italics. The article in question,
published on Friday under the headline "Zapatistas Commanded by
Foreigners Detain Journalist and Police," is particularly troublesome
because it appears to be part of an orchestrated effort to lay the
groundwork for the expulsion of foreign human rights observers. The
article claims "a journalist and four state police were illegally
detained by Zapatista base communities - under the command of five
foreigners - in Agua Azul." The article continued, "The foreigners,
who gave orders to 20 masked Zapatistas, detained the journalist and
police - making a routine trip along the road to Agua Azul - who were
relieved of their weapons and the photographer's camera equipmentŠ
It's important to note that the police, who offered no resistance,
were tied up and beaten. During the course of events, the foreigners
incited violence against the reporter and the police." Later press
reports citing government sources clarified that the police entered
the Zapatista community Bolom Ajaw heavily armed, and the
"journalist" was a member of the Center for Investigation and
National Security (Cisen), the army's intelligence unit, taking
photos of disputed lands. Anyone who has visited a Zapatista
community would quickly appreciate the absurdity of foreigners
"commanding" Zapatistas.

The article appears only a week after a group of foreign human rights
observers filed a formal complaint against paramilitary groups in
Agua Azul who threatened them with a pistol and detained their
vehicle. The entire confrontation was documented on video.

Source: Mexico Solidarity Network Weekly News Summary: 02/18-24


The parents of an American journalist slain in southern Mexico said
they were unsatisfied with the progress authorities have made in the
case and will have outside investigators review video footage and
forensic evidence. Bradley Roland Will, a 36-year-old
journalist-activist from New York, was killed in October 2006 while
filming unrest in Oaxaca state, where protesters had been fighting
for months to oust Gov. Ulises Ruiz for alleged electoral fraud. Will
recorded video and wrote dispatches for in the month
before his death. "It's been a year-and-a-half now," said father
Hardy Will, who traveled to Mexico City and Oaxaca with Bradley's
mother Kathy Will to meet with authorities and human rights groups.
"We would expect some progress and concrete results." He said the
couple met with investigators from the federal Attorney General's
office and officials there agreed to let four experts from Physicians
for Human Rights examine Will's autopsy, various photographs, video
footage and ballistics evidence. The family is particularly
interested in having them study the video Will filmed of his own
death to rule out a close-range shooting.

On the day of the killing, Will was videotaping a group of protesters
in the Oaxacan slum of Santa Lucia when a gun battle erupted. Will
was shot in the abdomen and died before he reached the hospital.
Investigators arrested two town officials in the killing but released
them after state Attorney General Lizbeth Cana suggested Will may
have been shot by a protester standing near him. "The hypothesis up
to this point is that it was somebody next to Brad, and we feel that
is totally ridiculous," Kathy Will said. A spokeswoman for Mexico's
federal Attorney General's office, which has taken over the case,
said it had no statement to make about the investigation.

The National Human Rights Commission said 11 others died as a direct
result of the violent confrontations, which ravaged Oaxaca from May
to November 2006. "He was killed in the exact same way as the
others," Kathy Will said. "We feel it's our duty to follow his path -
to not allow him to be another victim of exactly what he was trying
to uncover."

Source: Associated Press: 02/27


Members of the Mexican Federal Preventive Police (PFP) detained and
assaulted photographer Gabriel Huge Cordoba after he sought to cover
a fatal car accident involving police in the eastern port city of
Veracruz, the journalist said today. The Committee to Protect
Journalists (CPJ) called on Mexican federal authorities to promptly
investigate the matter.

Huge, a crime photographer for the Veracruz-based daily Notiver, was
among several local journalists who arrived at the scene of a 2: 45
p.m. accident involving a PFP convoy, according to local press
reports. PFP officers told photographers to leave the scene,
according to Huge and news accounts. When Huge moved to a side street
to photograph the accident, he was approached by other PFP members
who were wearing masks, the journalist told CPJ. According to Huge,
the officers accused him of not obeying their orders, handcuffed him,
hit him in the back with a rifle butt, and pushed him into the back
of a pickup truck.

Huge told CPJ that he was held facedown on the bed of the vehicle,
driven around the city for several hours, and repeatedly kicked. PFP
members told the photographer that he was being punished for
perceived negative coverage about the PFP in the local media. Several
local news outlets carried Huge's account. One report said Huge's
equipment was confiscated as well. The photographer told CPJ that he
was dropped off at the office of the Veracruz state prosecutor at
6:30 p.m., when he was charged with insulting authorities. Before
being handed over, Huge said, a PFP member warned that police "would
make sure that the next time he didn't feel any pain at all."

The PFP convoy was transporting three officers accused in the slaying
of a Veracruz man last week, according to local and national press
reports. One unidentified PFP member was killed in the crash. The
Federal Secretary of Public Security in Mexico City, which oversees
the PFP, did not immediately respond to CPJ's request for comment.
The Veracruz prosecutor's office referred all questions to the police
agency. "Huge's account of federal police officers threatening and
attacking him is alarming," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon.
"We urge authorities to thoroughly investigate this report." Huge
told CPJ that he planned to file a formal complaint with the general
prosecutor, which is a federal office, and to local human rights

Four reporters in the northern state of Coahuila were detained by
members of the Mexican army in August 2007, while covering a routine
drug raid. The reporters, who said they were abused by authorities,
were charged with possession of a firearm and marijuana. A federal
judge exonerated the reporters a month later, while the Nacional
Commission on Human Rights said it would investigate the soldiers
involved in the incident.

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

Source: Committee to Protect Journalists Press Release: 02/25


U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said that NAFTA has been a
boon for the United States, Mexico and Canada, but the three
signatory countries should help small Mexican farmers who have
suffered from the pact. When the North American Free Trade Agreement
went into effect in 1994, it contained a provision letting Mexico
levy protective farm tariffs temporarily while upgrading its
agricultural industry. That phase-in period ended Jan. 1, and Mexican
farms "mostly tiny plots of 12 acres (5 hectares) or less" still lag

Gutierrez, in Mexico City for a conference on strengthening Mexico's
transportation, energy and environmental infrastructure, said NAFTA
has brought economic gains to all three nations "such as helping
lower U.S. unemployment from 6.9 percent in 1993 to 4.9 percent last
year. More than 30 percent of U.S. foreign trade is through the trade
pact," he said. "If NAFTA weren't a success, the numbers wouldn't be
like that," Gutierrez said.

He did acknowledge, however, the difficulties many small Mexican
farms face and said the three countries need to collaborate to help
dislocated farmers participate in "a more dynamic and growing
economy." He did not give details or address complaints by farmers
and activists that NAFTA has mostly benefited big producers here,
while small growers struggle to compete with U.S. farmers who enjoy
better transportation and distribution systems, lower costs and
bigger subsidies.

Earlier this month, tens of thousands of demonstrators, marched
through Mexico City to demand that officials renegotiate the removal
of the last tariff protections for key crops like corn and beans.
Mexican officials say farmers are getting help, and that Mexico's
corn production is rising. "What we want to do is continue
strengthening NAFTA because it has been an enormous success,"
Gutierrez said at a news conference, speaking in both Spanish and
English. "We need to make North America a place that continues
attracting investment and is more competitive with the rest of the
world." Gutierrez also met with President Felipe Calderon and urged
the Mexican leader to strengthen efforts at fighting piracy,
according to a statement sent out by Calderon's office. Calderon, for
his part, talked about the need to recognize the contribution Mexican
immigrants make to the U.S. economy and culture.

Source: Associated Press: 02/27


Technical problems have forced the Bush administration to retool a
high-tech "virtual fence" along the U.S.-Mexico border and will delay
the first phase for at least three years, the Washington Post
reported. There are an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the
United States, many from Mexico. Immigration is a highly charged
topic and a major issue in the campaign for November's presidential

Department of Homeland Security officials and congressional auditors
told lawmakers that problems found in the 28-mile pilot project built
near Nogales, Arizona, by Boeing Co. will require a change in plans,
the Post reported. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff had
announced during a review of border-control efforts, that the
so-called Project 28 was finally ready for service in efforts to stop
illegal crossings. The $20 million project of sensor towers and
advanced mobile communications was supposed to be completed in
mid-2007 but had been delayed by software problems.

The surveillance system was designed to complement a planned 700-mile
(1,130-km) border fence that has drawn opposition along its route.
While the Department of Homeland Security took over the high-tech
project from Boeing last week, authorities confirmed the initial
deployment did not work as planned or meet the needs of the U.S.
Border Patrol, the Post said. The newspaper quoted the department
official responsible for border security, Gregory Giddens, as saying:
"we ... have delayed our deployment as we work through the issues on
Project 28. While there is clear urgency of the mission, we also want
to make sure we do this right." The Post report cited congressional
investigators saying that, because of the new troubles, the first
phase will not be completed until near the end of the next
president's first term.

Giddens told the Post construction of the physical fence was costing
about $4 million per mile but that the Department of Homeland
Security hoped to cut the average cost to $3 million per mile.
President George W. Bush's 2009 budget contains no funds to add
fencing beyond the 700 miles meant to be completed this year, the
paper said. "The total cost is not known," the Post said Richard
Stana, the Government Accountability Office's director of homeland
security and justice issues, told the lawmakers. Stana said this was
because Department of Homeland Security officials "do not yet know
the type of terrain where the fencing is to be constructed, the
materials to be used or the cost to acquire the land."

Source: Reuters: 02/28


Mexican lawmakers approved a sweeping judicial reform that would
introduce public, oral trials and guarantee the presumption of
innocence, even as lawmakers deleted a proposal to allow police to
search homes without a warrant. President Felipe Calderon praised the
measure, which passed the lower house in a 462-6 vote with two
abstentions. It would replace current closed-door proceedings, where
judges rely on written evidence and defendants, with open trials
based on arguments presented before a judge - though not a jury.

"Changing from an inquisitorial system, like the one Mexico has
today, to an adversarial system based on oral trials, as are used in
the American justice system, will provide much greater transparency,
much more agility in the administration of justice," Calderon told a
meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce.
Both the lower house and Senate approved the measure last year, but
minor changes required a second vote. The reform must still be
approved by the Senate and at least 17 of Mexico's 31 states.

Several top law enforcement officials lamented the deletion of a
clause in last year's original proposal, which would have allowed
police to enter homes without a warrant if they believed lives were
in danger or if a crime was being committed inside. Prosecutors said
the warrantless searches were, for example, necessary in cases where
kidnappers had been located and immediate action was needed to free
victims before they were harmed. Human rights groups had harshly
criticized the measure, and legislators agreed to drop it. Judges
must still issue such warrants, although the reform creates a new
class of judges to rule more quickly on warrant requests. It also
provides a firmer legal footing for house arrest, which prosecutors
often use to buy time to build a case against organized crime
suspects. Although the reforms do not create a jury trial system,
they establish public oral trials, already in place in some states,
nationwide. For the first time in history, the presumption of
innocence will be guaranteed in Mexico's constitution.

Source: Associated Press: 02/27


Investigators found parts from at least eight bodies in a series of
backyard pits at a house in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El
Paso, Texas, prosecutors said. The Attorney General's Office did not
say how the victims died or who is believed to have buried their
remains, but it did note that 3,740 pounds of marijuana were found in
the house during a Jan. 25 raid. Ciudad Juarez is home to the Juarez
drug cartel.

Mexican cartels frequently use "safe houses" in border cities to
store drugs, house gunmen and dispose of murdered rivals' remains. A
statement from the prosecutors office said authorities found five
complete bodies, and the remains of at least three others in four
pits. Investigations were continuing to determine the identity of the
corpses, the statement said.

Ciudad Juarez has been plagued by drug violence as Mexico's crackdown
on its powerful cartels has stoked turf wars among traffickers that
have been linked to hundreds of killings in the past two years. Last
month, federal agents found six bodies buried in a shallow grave at a
house allegedly used by the Juarez cartel in the northern city of
Chihuahua. In January 2004, police unearthed a grave containing 12
bodies in a backyard in Ciudad Juarez. Authorities said the victims
were cartel rivals who were strangled or suffocated.

Source: Associated Press: 02/26

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: 02.25-03.02

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