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Rage One (blog)

domingo, marzo 09, 2008

Mexico Week In Review: 03.03-03.09

Mexico Week In Review: 03.03-03.09
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"


At a Feb. 29 press conference in Mexico City, researchers from the
Economic Investigations Institute (IIEC) of the Autonomous National
University of Mexico (UNAM) gave a generally negative assessment of
the economic impact of the 14-year-old North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA) on Mexico. According to the institute's Emilio
Romero, Mexico has lost 2 million agricultural jobs during the
period, while 400,000 Mexicans now migrate to the US each year. Jose
Luis Calva said that since NAFTA took effect in 1994, Mexico's growth
rate has averaged 3% a year, as opposed to a rate of 6.1% a year from
the end of the 1910 revolution until 1982. Agricultural production
has increased, he said, but productivity increased much more slowly
than in the US; Mexico's rate grew from 1.7 to two tons per hectare
while the US rate grew from seven to 8.9 tons.

Calva recommended that NAFTA's three members--Canada, Mexico and the
US--pool resources to aid the development of Mexico's most backward
regions, and loosen restrictions on immigration by the labor force in
order to allow an improvement of wages. This process would be similar
to what happened in the European Union (EU), he noted.

In the US, the two contenders for the Democratic Party's presidential
nomination for the November elections, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
and Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), both criticized NAFTA while campaigning
for a Mar. 5 primary in Ohio, where the agreement is unpopular.
Clinton's husband, then-president Bill Clinton, pushed ratification
of NAFTA through Congress in 1993. There are also questions about the
depth of Obama's opposition to NAFTA. According to a memo by Canadian
political and economic affairs consular officer Joseph De Mora,
Obama's senior economic policy adviser, University of Chicago
professor Austan Goolsbee, met Canadian officials at the Chicago
consulate in February and told them that Obama's position was "more
reflective of political maneuvering than policy" and "should be
viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation
of policy plans."

Source: Weekly News Update- Nicaragua Solidarity Network Of Greater
New York: 03/09


President Felipe Calderón announced a 60-billion-peso ($5.6 billion)
package of tax breaks, utility-rates discounts and spending programs
Monday to help Mexico's economy weather the slowdown in the U.S.
economy. Companies will get a 3 percent income tax break for the next
five months and 10- to 20-percent electricity rate reductions, as
well as credit from development banks and an increase in
infrastructure spending to help them overcome the effects of what
Calderón called ?an adverse international environment.?

"Since last year, the economic performance of our principal trading
partner (the United States) has show signs of deceleration," Calderón
said at a ceremony to announce the package. "The problems in its
financial sector and housing market make its prospects for growth in
2008 not very encouraging." Finance Minister Agustin Carstens said
that so far this year, "the economic environment has weakened much
more than originally anticipated." In January, the Finance Ministry
lowered its economic growth estimate for 2008 from 3.7 percent to 2.8
percent. "In the face of these adverse prospects, the Mexican
government has taken unprecedented steps to diversify exports and
strengthen the domestic market, mainly through investment in
infrastructure, farming and housing to reduce the effects on our
economy," Calderón said.

Companies also will see reductions in mandatory payroll benefit
payments, and the state-owned Pemex oil company will boost spending
on maintaining and repair its aging pipeline network by $935 million.
However, Calderón noted that "contrary to what is occurring in the
United States, our banking and financial system is enormously solid."
Mexico, where home mortgages are much less widespread than in the
United States, has faced nothing like the housing market crisis
unfolding in its neighbor. Mexico, an oil-exporting nation, is also
benefiting from historically high oil prices.

Source: Associated Press: 03/04


Mexican investigators found two more bodies buried in the backyard of
a house in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas,
increasing the tally of corpses found there to 14, officials said.
Federal agents began digging in the yard of the house in the La
Cuesta neighborhood in February, finding nine dismembered bodies.
Five more, including two announced Monday, were discovered in the
past week, the federal Attorney General's office said in a news

Five of the 14 bodies had been buried about five years ago, the
statement said. Agents and cadaver-sniffing dogs continued to dig at
the site Monday night as investigators sought to identify the
corpses. 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 the initial

Ciudad Juarez, a northern border city that is home to the Juarez
cartel, has been plagued by violence as Mexico's crackdown on
powerful drug cartels stokes turf wars among traffickers that have
been linked to hundreds of killings in the past two years. Cartels
frequently use "safe houses" in border cities to store drugs, house
gunmen and dispose of rivals' remains. Federal agents last month
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 Ciudad
Juarez backyard.

Source: Associated Press: 03/03


Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, whose 2006 presidential bid sent jitters
through Wall Street is back, leading protests against energy reforms
after a year in the political wilderness. Lopez Obrador jammed Mexico
City with protest camps for weeks after the July 2006 election,
claiming his defeat was rigged, but he then fell from the radar
screen as President Felipe Calderon took power, pushing through laws
and battling drug cartels. Now the anti-capitalist has seized on
opposition to Calderon's oil reform plans to launch a comeback that
could decide whether he survives to get another shot at the
presidency in 2012 or fades away for good.

Lopez Obrador has an army of followers among the poor. Thousands came
out late last month to cheer on his first big rally against talks in
Congress on letting more private capital into Mexico's oil sector,
under state control since 1938. His support in the Party of the
Democratic Revolution, or PRD, will be tested when it votes for a new
leader in a March 16 contest pitting Lopez Obrador's ally Alejandro
Encinas against a more moderate rival, Jesus Ortega. A poll last week
suggested that Encinas will win. That would set the PRD, the No. 2
political force in Mexico, on a more radical path with Lopez Obrador
as its figurehead. But an Ortega victory would hurt Lopez Obrador's
political future and his ability to obstruct an oil reform. "It is
important to him. It's in his interest to keep the party under his
control," said Marcela Bobadilla at Mexico's IMEP think tank. "And
it's crucial in terms of political negotiations."

A former indigenous rights activist who briefly lived in a mud-floor
hut among poor Mayans and is famous for his colorful jibes at
opponents, Lopez Obrador spent last year touring rural towns across
Mexico to rally his supporters. He now threatens to blockade
highways, airports and oil installations to protest legislation being
mulled to allow profit-sharing alliances in oil. Lopez Obrador and
other left-wingers say that would be tantamount to privatization. One
in five people polled by the daily newspaper Milenio last month said
they would join his oil protests. "He enjoys support on the issue
even among those who do not support him politically," said political
analyst Federico Estevez at Mexico City's ITAM University.

"It's not a bluff. He is convinced it has to be done," said Manuel
Camacho Solis, Lopez Obrador's 2006 campaign strategist, of the
blockade plan. "But the PRD may try to persuade him that certain
things are not suitable as they will cost votes." Core PRD lawmakers
back the protests, saying they reinforce their stance in Congress.
Few expect the street protests to trigger instability or hurt
Calderon, whose popularity ratings are above 60 percent. But going
too far with blockades could irk moderates who want a candidate for
2012 that the world will take seriously. Even some of his supporters
were put off by Lopez Obrador's post-election protests and his
refusal to accept defeat.

Lopez Obrador cannot single-handedly derail an oil reform. Even if
all of his party's lawmakers oppose it, the centrist Institutional
Revolutionary Party, or PRI, could give Calderon's conservatives the
votes they need. But with mid-term congressional elections set for
next year, the oil protests could put pressure on the PRI to also
oppose the reforms so as not to be seen as giving away Mexico's oil.
Half the country opposes loosening the barriers around the oil
sector, according to two recent newspaper polls. "If they rob us of
oil they convert us into slaves on our own land. It's a violation of
our sovereignty," Lopez Obrador said last week. As the debate heats
up, the PRI has backtracked from a stance that was initially more
open to joint ventures in deepwater oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico.
The campaign against oil reforms could spur Lopez Obrador to try
again for the presidency. "If he feels he could win in 2012 he'll
seek the candidacy," said Camacho Solis. But if the PRD drops him,
many see a successor in Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, a
modern-minded leftist who has brought the capital cycle paths and
smoke-free bars. (Editing by Kieran Murray)

Source: Reuters: 03/04


A convicted Mexican drug cartel boss is free and back in Mexico
following his release on parole just weeks after he began serving a
U.S. prison sentence, U.S. and Mexican officials said on Wednesday.
Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix, 58 and the eldest of a clan of
brothers who ran Mexico's Tijuana cartel, was deported on Tuesday and
crossed to Mexican soil at Ciudad Juarez, entering from El Paso,
Texas. "He does not have any pending charges in Mexico so he was
freed," a source in the Mexican Attorney General's office, who spoke
on condition of anonymity, told Reuters. Arellano Felix was the boss
of the Tijuana cartel when he was arrested in 1993 in Mexico and
sentenced to 11 years for drug possession and using illegal weapons.
He remained in prison for two more years while authorities arranged
his extradition to the United States, where he was wanted for selling
cocaine to an undercover U.S. agent. He was extradited in September
2006 and pleaded guilty to the cocaine charge in June 2007 in San

He received a six-year sentence, which he began serving in January,
and was paroled on February 1, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons
said. A U.S. official said Arellano Felix received credit toward his
U.S. sentence for time served while awaiting extradition in Mexico.
Because his case dates back to 1980, he was eligible for parole under
laws that were on the books at that time, the official said. Since
then, parole has been eliminated for criminals convicted of federal
crimes in the United States. U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman
Laura Sweeney said Arellano Felix's case "reflects the conclusion of
a cooperative effort between the U.S. and Mexico to ensure that he
faced justice for crimes he committed on both sides of the border."

Arellano Felix's younger brothers, Francisco Javier and Benjamin, are
behind bars in the United States and Mexico, respectively. Another
brother, Ramon, was killed in a shootout with police in 2002, and a
fifth, Francisco Eduardo, is a fugitive. The family, notorious for
ruthless killings and smuggling millions of dollars of illegal
narcotics into the United States, has been weakened by the loss of
its top leaders, but authorities say it is still doing business.
Suspected cartel operatives this week fought police in a five-hour
shootout in Tijuana, a crime-ridden city across the border from San
Diego. The border city has seen a spate of violence in recent weeks
as drug traffickers locked in turf wars with rival gangs react to
increased police surveillance under President Felipe Calderon's
army-led crackdown on drug gangs across Mexico.

Drug-related violence killed more than 2,500 people last year and
about 300 so far this year. Calderon sent thousands of troops and
federal police out to drug hot spots a year ago. On Tuesday, five
youths were tortured, sprayed with bullets and dumped in an empty
city lot in Tijuana in what appeared to be the latest grisly drug
gang killing.

Source: Reuters: 03/05


Mexican senators overwhelmingly approved a sweeping judicial reform
that would introduce public, oral trials and guarantee the
presumption of innocence. The Senate voted 71 to 25 in favor of the
measure, after a clause that would have let police search homes
without warrants was deleted from it. The constitutional amendment,
which must still be approved by at least 17 of Mexico's 31 states,
would replace closed-door proceedings in which judges rely on written
evidence with U.S.-style open trials based on arguments presented by
prosecutors and defense lawyers. It would also allow recorded phone
calls to be used as evidence in criminal cases if at least one of the
conversation's participants agrees, and lets prosecutors hold
organized crime suspects without charge for up to 80 days.

In a letter to President Felipe Calderon, Human Rights Watch's Mexico
office said the latter provision could threaten human rights.
"Detention without charge for such a long period of time violates the
fundamental right to liberty and security of the person," the letter
said. Mexico's lower house and Senate approved a version of the
measure last year, but minor changes required new votes by both
chambers. The Chamber of Deputies passed it in February by a 462-6
vote. Several top law enforcement officials lamented the deletion of
language in the original bill allowing warrantless searches of homes
when police believe a life is in danger or a crime is being committed
inside. Prosecutors said such searches are necessary in cases where
urgent action is needed to free kidnap victims. But the clause met
with strong criticism from human rights groups, and legislators
agreed to drop it. The reform also creates a new class of judges to
rule more quickly on warrant requests and provides a firmer legal
footing for house arrest, which prosecutors often use to buy time to
build a case against organized crime suspects.

Source: Associated Press: 03/05

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: 03.03-03.09

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