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Rage One (blog)

domingo, abril 06, 2008

Mexico Week In Review:04.01-04.06

Mexico Week In Review: 04.01-04.06
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"


Chiapas news during the month of March was dominated by a Hunger
strike and fast by Chiapas political prisoners. It began on February
12 with relatively little fanfare and no national publicity when
Zacario Hernandez Hernandez initiated a hunger strike. The Voice of
El Amate (an organization of political prisoners confined in the El
Amate prison) joined in the hunger strike at the end of February.
From there, the hunger strike and partial fast spread to 3 Chiapas
prisons and one in Tabasco where 2 Zapatista political prisoners from
Chiapas are incarcerated. A total of 46 political prisoners and
members of 5 organizations participated in the protest. (Those who
participated in the partial fast were, for the most part, not in good
enough health to participate in the hunger strike itself.) Members of
the Other Campaign in Chiapas, relatives of the prisoners and members
of the social organizations to which the prisoners belonged set up an
encampment on the front steps of the government palace in Tuxtla
Gutierrez, the capital of Chiapas, in support of the hunger strike.
Zacario Hernandez Hernandez was released from prison on March 17,
after 35 days without food. On March 30 and 31, the government
released 28 of those participating in the protest. Upon their
release, many of the hunger strikers joined the encampment at the
state capital in support of the 17 who remained in prison, continuing
the hunger strike and fast. All of the prisoners from Busilja
community were among those released.

Chiapas government also released more than 100 prisoners who had
nothing to do with the protest on March 30 and 31, saying they were
all political prisoners. Social and human rights organizations have
demanded a list of all those released as they suspect that many were
members of paramilitary organizations like Paz y Justicia or the

Source: Chiapas Support Committee's News Summary: 04/06


Cipriana Jurado, a prominent Ciudad Juarez women's rights activist,
is now free after posting a $700 bond. The director of the Worker
Research and Solidarity Center, Jurado was arrested by Mexican
federal police outside her home on Wednesday, April 2. The veteran
activist was charged with blocking a public roadway during an October
2005 protest sponsored by the binational Southwest Network for
Environmental and Economic Justice and other organizations at one of
the international bridges that link Ciudad Juarez with El Paso,
Texas. Also arrested on the same charges as Jurado was Carlos Chavez
Quevedo, who was reportedly picked up by federal police in the city
of Casas Grandes, Chihuahua.

Chavez is a co-founder of the National Agrodynamic farm organization,
whose leader Armando Villareal Martha was assassinated in Nuevo Casas
Grandes last month. According to Chihuahua state legislator Victor
Quintana, at least 40 other arrest warrants stemming from the October
2005 protest are pending. No additional word of Chavez's detention
status was available as Frontera NorteSur went to press.

A former maquiladora worker and a member of the PRD political party,
Jurado has been active in a variety of labor, environmental and human
rights causes in Ciudad Juarez and the Mexico-US border region. A
long-time supporter of relatives of femicide victims, Jurado was
reportedly arrested after returning from forensic offices where she
had gone on business related to investigations of the women's
murders. Interviewed by the local press after her release, Jurado
contended that she resisted officers who did not show her an arrest
warrant. The policemen were driving a vehicle without license plates
and with tainted windows (similar to the vehicles employed by drug
cartel hit men) and possessed dubious identifications, she said. As
a result of the standoff, the police officers shoved her into their
vehicle, Jurado charged.

Jurado's detention came in the middle of a major operation by Mexican
federal police and soldiers ostensibly aimed at organized crime in
Ciudad Juarez. On Friday, April 4, US Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza
visited Ciudad Juarez to express the Bush Administration's support
for Mexico City's border military offensive. It wasn't immediately
clear why the Mexican federal government suddenly acted on legal
issues almost three years old at a time when Mexican troops and
federal police were supposedly focused on dislodging the power of
well-rooted drug cartels. "(Government officials) are taking
advantage of this situation to resolve one thing with another," said
former Chihuahua Women's Institute head Vicky Caraveo. "We don't know
the purposes of the (arrests). We know we are in a difficult
situation and we know they are carrying out operations against
delinquency, but (Jurado) is not a delinquent. She's an authentic
social activist. If this happens to her, it is a warning to us what
will follow."

Jurado's arrest quickly drew responses from US and Mexican supporters
who sent e-mails and organized a demonstration in front of federal
court offices in Ciudad Juarez. Individuals and groups who rallied
to Jurado's defense included Casa Amiga's Esther Chavez Cano and
Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa. After leaving jail, Jurado charged
that her detention was a case of government repression. "We are going
to continue struggling for the causes we have struggled for all these
years," she said, "because we have a commitment to the community and
to our children. We don't want them to live with the repression and
the problems with which we are living."

Sources: Frontera NorteSur (FNS): 04/05; 04/04-05; La
Jornada: 04/04-05; Norte: 04/05; El Diario de Juarez: 04/05


Mexicans living abroad are sending less money to relatives back home.
The Bank of Mexico says remittances totaled $3.4 billion in the first
two months of 2008, down 2.8 percent from $3.5 billion in the same
period last year. The bank said on its Web site that it expects
little or no growth in remittances this year after they rose 1
percent to a record $23.98 billion in 2007. Remittances are the
country's second-largest source of foreign currency inflows after oil

Source: Associated Press: 03/31


In the Mexican state of Michoacan, remittances from migrant workers
in the US have played a key role in the economy of recent years. Now,
officials are concerned that the slackening of the migrant dollar
boom could have negative repercussions on the local economy. To stave
off negative effects from less remittances, state officials plan to
invest upwards of $50 million in alternative economic development
programs. In comments to the press after a meeting with businessmen,
Michoacan State Economic Development Secretary Eloy Vargas Arreola
said the administration of Governor Leonel Godoy, who is a member of
the center-left PRD party, will tap into funds from both public and
private sources as a means of creating alternative economic
possibilities for migrant-dependent communities.

Arreola affirmed that members of Michoacan's private sector are
willing to invest in migrant-expelling regions of the state. A
portion of the investment could be plowed into the operation of
industrial parks, he added. In his meeting with members of the
Business Coordinating Council, Arreola underlined the importance of
private investment in Michoacan's economy. The state official said
the Godoy administration views small business as the motor of local
development, followed by outside investment and the creation of new
jobs. Like other migrant-expelling regions of Mexico, Michoacan is
vulnerable to the economic difficulties-especially in the
construction sector which employed many Mexican migrants- and
immigration restrictions currently prevailing in the US.

In a report this week, the official Bank of Mexico noted that
remittances from workers abroad, mostly in the US, fell by 2.76
percent during the first two months of 2008 compared with the same
period of 2007. Sent in 9.8 million operations, this year's
remittance averaged $343.21, or 0.02 percent less than the average
remittance sent in January and February of 2007. Tracked by the Bank
of Mexico, remittances for the first two months of 2008 totaled $3.39
billion. The latest figure reflected a noticeable slow-down from
2007, a year when remittances reached an annual sum of nearly $24

Taking into account the weak dollar, the remittance downturn is even
worse than the official numbers suggest. In comparison to a few years
ago, the dollar fetches less pesos, even as prices continue to
escalate for all manner of goods in Mexico.

Sources: Frontera NorteSur: 04/01; El Universal/EFE: 03/31; La
Jornada (Michoacan edition): 03/29


Confronted with the possibility of losing a labor force because of
immigration law crackdowns, some US growers are simply moving their
operations to places where workers abound. While the presence of US
agribusiness in Mexico is nothing new, Mexican authorities and farm
industry representatives say immigration controversies north of the
border are encouraging a fresh infusion of US investment in export
crops. "In Baja California, 17 US enterprises associated with Mexican
producers are dedicated to the cultivation of horticultural products
and vegetables" said Israel Camacho, undersecretary for Baja
California's state agricultural promotion department. "The Mexicans
supply the land and water, and the foreigners supply money, seed and
other implements. (Foreigners) are coming to Mexico because of cheap
labor, and more are going to come." Baja California farm workers,
many of whom hail from the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca in southern
Mexico, earn on average $12 per day, officials said.

According to figures released by Mexico's Economy Ministry, annual
foreign investment in the country's agricultural sector shot up from
less than $20 million in 2005 to $62.3 million in 2007. Ninety-five
percent of the new money came from the US. Sonora, Baja California,
Jalisco, Guanajuato, Queretaro, and Sinaloa were the states which
received the bulk of the investment. Firms doing business in Mexico
included Bill Packer, Capurro Co., Sahara, Veg Packer, and Driscoll,
among others. Trendy Chinese vegetables represent a hot segment of
the new export business; farms specializing in Asian-origin produce
are at work in the states of Sinaloa and Nayarit. No information was
immediately available on the amount of Mexican land that is being
converted for export crops, but Sinaloa tomato farmer Eduardo de la
Vega, said the arrival of more US capital was increasing land values.

In the US, meanwhile, the Bush Administration is responding to
growers' concerns that tougher immigration law enforcement measures
will deprive them of workers. Late last week, the US Citizenship and
Immigration Services division of the Department of Homeland Security
announced it was extending a public comment period on proposals to
facilitate the increased use of the existing H-2A guest worker
program. According to a press statement, formal notice of an expanded
public comment period lasting until April 14 was expected to be
published in the March 31 edition of the Federal Register.

Sources: Frontera NorteSur: 03/31; Tribuna de la Bahia/Agencia
Reforma: 03/31; US Citizenship and Immigration Services: 03/28

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: 04.01-04.06

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