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Rage One (blog)

domingo, mayo 04, 2008

Mexico Week In Review: 04.28-05.04

Mexico Week In Review: 04.28-05.04
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"


On Sunday, April 27, around 5:00 a.m., approximately 500 Chiapas
police kicked in doors and broke into houses in Cruzton, a Zapatista
community in Venustiano Carranza Municipality. They detained 6 men,
took them away to an undisclosed location and released them without
charges later in the day. There are allegations that the police stole
money and jewelry during the "raid." Apparently, civilians in white
shirts with red machetes led the police to the men who were detained.
Conflict in Cruzton is over a land dispute.

Source: April 2008 Chiapas/Zapatista News Summary: 05/01


Teresa Bautista Merino and Felicitas Martinez Sanchez were shot to
death while driving to a meeting in Oaxaca. Three others in the car
were injured, including a 3 year-old child. The two indigenous Triqui
women, ages 24 and 20 respectively, were hosts on San Juan Copala's
community radio station, La Voz que Rompe el Silencio (The Voice that
Breaks the Silence), which broadcast in both Spanish and Triqui. San
Juan Copala is an autonomous municipality, an adherent to the Other
Campaign and a participant in the APPO.

Source: April 2008 Chiapas/Zapatista News Summary: 05/01


On April 17, 5 members of the Organization of Me´phaá Indigenous
People (OPIM, its initials in Spanish) were detained at an Army
checkpoint and later accused of murder and put in prison. This
occurred in the state of Guerrero, Ayutla municipality, where the
Revolutionary Army of the Insurgent People (ERPI) is believed to
operate. The state and federal governments believe that the zone's
residents are ERPI's bases of support. Therefore, military patrols
and checkpoints have dramatically increased in that region during the
last few months. OPIM is an adherent to the Other Campaign. The men
are accused of murdering a paramilitary from their village, El
Camalote. Those arrested say they did not commit the crime and
denounce that they were tortured in an attempt to make them confess
to a crime they did not commit.

Source: April 2008 Chiapas/Zapatista News Summary: 05/01


Weary of waiting for Congress to overhaul the nation's immigration
laws, the United Farm Workers hopes to recruit Mexican laborers to
pick crops on U.S. farms. The union's efforts to import temporary
workers under an existing government program follows similar moves by
lawmakers in Arizona and Colorado, who are also trying to create new
pathways to bring in foreign field hands without approval from

This month, UFW President Arturo Rodriguez signed an agreement with
the governor of the Mexican state of Michoacan to help recruit local
residents to apply for temporary jobs on U.S. farms, all of which
would be covered under union contracts. Under the new pact,
government field staff in Michoacan will distribute information on
U.S. labor protections, especially in rural towns known for sending a
large number of their residents north. In exchange, the union will
negotiate contracts with U.S. growers willing to guarantee that legal
workers' rights will be respected on both sides of the border, UFW
International Director Erik Nicholson said.

The UFW got involved after hearing that Mexican recruiters were
charging people as much as $5,000 for short-term contracts under the
existing, but rarely used federal guest worker program, Nicholson
said. "Agriculture is a global industry, so we're building an
international infrastructure to advocate for these global workers,"
Nicholson said. "Workers need to know about their rights on both
sides of the border."

Immigration raids and employer penalties have led to a shortage of
workers in the nation's largest farm states, leading many in the
agriculture industry to conclude that growers can't get their
products to market without a stable supply of workers from abroad.
But with Congress deadlocked over immigration reform, the question is
under what conditions the workers will be hired - legally or

The farm labor force in the U.S. currently numbers about 1.6 million
people, 70 percent of whom are thought to be undocumented, according
to people in the industry. Only about 70,000 farm workers were
brought in from abroad last year for the short stints permitted under
H2-A visas issued by the U.S. Department of Labor. The UFW wants to
increase those numbers by matching willing workers in Mexico with
U.S. farmers ready to use the H2-A program. That would in turn help
grow the union's membership, which has been in decline.

Legislators in Arizona are considering a proposal that would let
employers recruit workers through Mexican consulates, if they could
document a labor shortage. A similar Colorado bill aims to help chili
and watermelon farmers hire foreign staff by eliminating the
bottlenecks in the federal program. Both put the Labor Department in
an awkward position, and could be challenged in court, said Leon
Sequeira, its assistant secretary for policy. "I don't think anybody
would object to organizations trying to prevent recruiters from
charging workers exorbitant fees," Sequeira said. "But it's new
territory when you are talking about states setting up their own
guest worker programs and letting aliens into the country." The
federal government is trying to stave off the state-by-state approach
by tinkering with its existing guest worker program, and released a
set of proposed changes in February.

Source: Associated Press: 04/29


Migrant rights activists applauded a vote by Mexico's Congress to
remove long-standing criminal penalties for undocumented migrants
found in the country. The measure passed unanimously in the lower
house on Tuesday, a day after Senate approval. President Felipe
Calderon's office declined to say whether he would sign the popular
measure into law. Mexican lawmakers saw the harsh penalties as an
anachronism, and some noted Mexico also owes migrants better

Immigrants here, mostly Central Americans trying to reach the U.S.,
are often robbed, mistreated and subject to extortion by bandits and
even police. "It is very positive that they have removed the criminal
penalties from the current law," said Karina Arias, the spokeswoman
for Sin Fronteras, a Mexican group that promotes rights for migrants
in Mexico. "It is a big step forward." Current law lays out
punishments of 1 1/2 to 6 years, while the new measure makes
undocumented immigration a minor offense punishable by fines
equivalent to about US$475 (euro300) to US$2,400 (euro1,535).

Some Mexican officials acknowledged that the current harsh penalties
weakened Mexico's position in arguing for better treatment of its own
migrants in the United States. Arias said Mexico "is in a much better
position" after voting for eliminating prison terms that are seldom
enforced anyway. Most undocumented migrants caught in Mexico are
simply deported. Congresswoman Irma Pineiro of the small New Alliance
Party said Mexico has a moral duty to protect migrants. "Mexico is
politically and morally obligated to treat migrants with dignity and
to make a commitment to human rights, as a country that both exports
and receives migrants," he said.

Source: Associated Press: 04/29


In a communique dated April 24, the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR,
its initials in Spanish) again asked for the presentation with life
of its two disappeared members, Edmundo Reyes Amaya and Gabriel
Alberto Cruz Sanchez. It indicated that it has information that the
government still has them and requested that Bishop Emeritus Samuel
Ruiz, Carlos Montemayor, Miguel Angel Granados Chapa, Gilberto Lopez
y Rivas and the National Front Against Repression serve as
intermediaries to dialogue with the government to obtain justice.
All responded favorably. Then, on April 26, some Oaxacan officials
were detained and taken to Mexico City for questioning about the
disappearance. At the intermediary commission's request, the EPR has
now declared a temporary truce. As of April 30, the Mexican
government's Interior Minister had taken the position that it does
not want to meet with the intermediaries, but in direct talks with
the EPR on certain conditions.

Source: April 2008 Chiapas/Zapatista News Summary: 05/01


Failure of the US Congress to approve a 1.4 billion dollar
counter-drug aid package for Mexico would be "a real slap at Mexico,"
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has stated. Gates said the focus of
his talks in Mexico was the so-called Merida Initiative proposed by
US President George W. Bush in October to build up the capabilities
of the Mexican military and law enforcement to battle drug cartels.
The multi-year package would provide, among other things, helicopters
and surveillance aircraft to the Mexican military, which the Pentagon
sees as an opportunity to strengthen military ties that historically
have been chilly.

The US administration has requested 550 million dollars for the
program this year in a 2008 emergency war-funding bill that the US
Congress has so far failed to approve. Gates said he hoped on the
basis of conversations with leaders in both houses that the Congress
will act on the bill by the end of May. "Failure to do so I think
would be I think a real slap at Mexico, and it would be very
disappointing," he said. "It clearly would make it more difficult for
us to help Mexican armed forces and their civilian agencies deal with
this difficult problem," he told reporters here.

Gates' visit was the second ever to Mexico by a US defense chief, and
the first since a groundbreaking visit 12 years ago by then US
defense secretary William Perry. Gates met with General Guillermo
Galvan, the Mexican defense minister, Government Secretary Juan
Mourino, and Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa. The visit comes amid
a rising tide of leftist regimes in Latin America led by Venezuela's
Hugo Chavez, and uncertain prospects for change in Cuba after Fidel
Castro stepped down in February.

But senior US defense officials said Gates' agenda was more narrowly
focused on building closer ties between the US and Mexican militaries
than on the broader regional issues. "Again, I think we just have to
take it a step at a time and explore what the opportunities are for
expanded cooperation. Nobody has a menu, or a checklist that we're
working from. As I say, this relationship is still relatively young,"
one official said. He also emphasized that US military assistance
would be limited to equipping and training the Mexican military for
counter-drug operations. "There aren't going to be any combat troops
down here or anything like that. This is a challenge Mexico has taken
on and we support them," he said. "But we will essentially take the
guide, or the lead of the Mexican government.

The US defense officials said they want to increase
information-sharing particularly with regard to movements of ships
and aircraft to counter flows of illegal drugs, arms and people
through the region. "They are interested in sharing information. We
are interested in sharing information. We have to work out the
procedures for it," the official said. A second senior defense
official cautioned, "The Mexicans are in the driver's seat on this."
"We want to see where they want to go. We want to see what their
needs are. We want to investigate ways that they think we can be
helpful to them."

Source: Agence France Presse: 04/30

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: 04.28-05.04

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