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domingo, junio 15, 2008

Mexico Week In Review: 06/09-06/15

Mexico Week In Review: 06/09-06/15
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"


Mexican police botched the murder investigation of a journalist
working near the U.S. border in 2004 by torturing suspects and
mishandling evidence, the country's human's rights commission said.
Concern in the U.S. Congress about police and army abuses and a
faltering justice system in Mexico has held up a $1.4 billion U.S.
aid package, including helicopters and high-tech equipment for
Mexico's war against drug trafficking cartels.

Roberto Mora, editorial director of El Manana newspaper in Nuevo
Laredo, just across the border from Laredo, Texas, regularly wrote
columns about drug trafficking and corrupt officials before he was
stabbed to death in front of his home. Police arrested a U.S.
citizen, Mario Medina, and his gay partner for the murder, saying it
was a crime of passion. Medina was later murdered in prison and his
partner is still in jail. But in a new report on the case, the human
rights commission accused local authorities of torturing the men to
force a confession and said medical examiners failed to include
important forensic evidence in their reports on the case. It also
faults local human rights officials for overlooking the violations at
the time of the murder. "There is evidence to suggest members of the
police carried out acts of intimidation against Mario Medina Vazquez
so he would confess to his involvement in the murder," it said,
calling for the case to be reopened. Daniel Rosas, managing editor of
El Manana said he wanted a federal investigation "to try to clear up
how this crime really happened."

Twenty-one journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2000, seven
of them in direct reprisal for their work, according to the Committee
to Protect Journalists. More than 1,400 people have been killed in
drug violence across Mexico this year as the army goes after drug
gangs and rival drugs lords battle for control of smuggling routes.
Journalists who investigate the drugs trade can become targets, and
many have been threatened. Suspected drug gunmen dumped a man's head
outside a newspaper in the southern state of Tabasco over the weekend
with a message threatening police and rivals. On Monday, the director
of the paper was threatened with a note that said, "You're next."

Source: Reuters: 06/10


by: Maya Schenwar, t r u t h o u t | Report

As Congress gears up to fund another year of war and occupation in
Iraq and Afghanistan, it is also readying a nearly
half-billion-dollar aid package that would initiate a Colombia-like
drug war in Mexico. The majority of funds would fuel the Mexican
military, known for rampant human rights abuses and participation in
organized crime. In May, the House and the Senate both approved
versions of the drug-fighting legislation, dubbed "Plan Mexico,"
tucked into the "Global War on Terror" supplemental spending bill.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee simultaneously passed a bill
authorizing $1.1 billion for Mexico over the next three years. The
Bush administration propelled the plan forward this spring, with the
president calling it "an important project to help implement a dual
strategy to deal with crime and drugs" that will "benefit the people
of Mexico and the United States."

Yet, according to human rights advocates, the plan prioritizes
companies over people, lining the pockets of American defense
contractors while putting both political dissidents and ordinary
Mexican civilians at risk. Government documents leaked to the
nonprofit Center for International Policy provide an idea of what the
specifics of the plan will look like: more than half the funds would
pay for technology and personnel to bolster the Mexican military's
counternarcotics operations. The initiative would ignore the US's own
involvement in the transport and sale of drugs.

According to human rights activist Harry Bubbins, the Plan
accelerates a dangerous militarization of Mexican society, and places
the US at the helm of a foreign mission it can't achieve on its own
soil. Bubbins works as communications director for Friends of Brad
Will, a human rights advocacy group named after the US journalist who
was shot during a teacher's strike in Oaxaca, Mexico in 2006. "With
hundreds of millions of dollars going to helicopters, there is a real
concern that the civilian population will be targeted in Mexico,
while US corporations like Blackwater profit at the expense of a
sound foreign policy," Bubbins told Truthout. Much of the Plan Mexico
funding included in the supplemental will never leave the United
States. It will go toward the purchase of Bell helicopters, CASA
maritime patrol planes, surveillance software, and other goods and
services produced by US private defense contractors. The bulk of the
money that does get to Mexico will fund the counternarcotics arm of
its Army, air force and navy, as well as its police force.

A glance at government figures calls into question the efficacy of
pouring money into the Mexican Army's coffers to quash drug crime. A
study by the Mexican government showed that about 90 percent of
illegal guns seized in Mexico come from the United States. Most of
those firearms' owners are drug traffickers. And according to US
State Department reports last year, Mexican military personnel are
often intertwined with drug rings, with many law enforcement
personnel "acting directly on behalf of organized crime and drug
traffickers". Oversight within the military, according to the report,
is next to nonexistent.

Larry Birns, director of the nonprofit Council on Hemispheric
Affairs, describes an incident in which a high-up official in the
Mexican Drug Enforcement Administration came to Washington to be
honored by the Bush administration for his efforts. At the airport on
his way back to Mexico, the official was arrested - for drug
trafficking. "You have this kind of opera buffa taking place every
day," Birns told Truthout. Funding the military in an attempt to stop
drug crime isn't just ineffective, Birns says - it's dangerous.

Involving the military in the drug war has been linked to a rise in
human rights violations, according to the 2007 Mexican National
Commission on Human Rights report, which recommends withdrawing the
Army from its civilian regulatory duties. No matter what its project,
the Mexican military and police should not be on anyone's short list
of agents to rein in crime, according to Laura Carlsen, program
director of the Americas Program at the Center for International
Policy. Carlsen is currently advocating for a group of women raped
and sexually abused by law enforcement officials in the town of San
Salvador Atenco. The Mexican government has refused to substantively
investigate the Atenco case. "It is undeniable and a serious concern
that Mexican security forces have committed grave human rights
violations and continue to do so, and that the justice system fails
to prosecute these crimes," Carlsen told Truthout.

The military and police force's human rights abuses run particularly
rampant when it comes to political dissidents. According to a
February 2008 report by the International Civil Commission on Human
Rights, arrest and imprisonment of peaceful protesters, movement
leaders and even family members of activists are commonplace. "It is
normal for those who are arrested to be subjected to torture and
physical abuse," the report states. One of the most publicized
examples of violent political suppression occurred in 2006, when the
Mexican security forces unleashed a backlash against civil protest in
Oaxaca, with mass detentions, acts of torture and killings, including
the murder of Brad Will. When internal law enforcement becomes more
militarized, for missions like drug-fighting, human rights abuses
often worsen, according to Bubbins. That's the case in Colombia, the
US's pet drug war zone where, Bubbins says, "government-sanctioned
violence against union organizers and government critics is on the

According to Carlsen, Mexico's current military-led drug war directly
fuels political repression, even without added US funds. "We are
already seeing how the drug war launched by [Mexican President]
Calderon affects leaders of grassroots movements and dissidents," she
said. "In Chihuahua, when the Army moved in, it arrested social
leaders on five-year-old warrants for blocking the international
bridges - a common form of protest there and often used to protest
NAFTA measures." Carlsen also reports that, since Calderon amped up
the Army's counternarcotics drive, Zapatista communities have
experienced a sharp rise in military incursions. She describes the
strategies used to fight the "drug war" as particularly well-suited
for violently putting down protesters. "This model, as we have seen,
in Colombia is easily and inevitably adapted to fighting internal
dissidence," Carlsen said. "We can expect an increase in repression
of social movements if Plan Mexico is approved."

Although the version of Plan Mexico included in the supplemental
contains provisions for human rights "monitoring," these measures are
mainly nominal, according to Birns, who noted, "The US is so eager to
woo Mexico in terms of NAFTA and immigration - there's not going to
be vigilant scrutiny here." Moreover, the human rights provisions
will likely be toned down: Mexican government officials said last
week that they'd refuse US aid if it were laden with any conditions.
At a meeting with the officials in Monterray, Senator Chris Dodd
promised that the US would drop any restriction that "smacks of
certification," and both parties appeared willing to compromise on a
less vigilant human rights clause. It's not surprising that Mexico
should be affronted by a US effort at regulation on this front,
according to Carlsen: unlike the US, Mexico has signed almost all
international human rights pacts. The US keeping an eye on the
Mexican Army isn't the answer to the danger of abuses and corruption,
she said.

US officials don't appear to have a Plan B for keeping Plan Mexico
money from fueling violence and crime, judging by Assistant Secretary
for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas Shannon's statements on a press
conference call last fall. "There are kind of levels of trust that we
need to build with Mexico in this regard, and we can't allow
ourselves to be dominated by fear of what might happen," Shannon said.

Source: Truthout: 06/13

by Luis Hernández Navarro
Translation by Kristin Bricker

Since the January 1994 insurrection, various administrations have
wanted to associate the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN in
its Spanish initials) with drug trafficking. They've never been able
to demonstrate such a link, but they try time and time again. This
past June 4 the tired old story played out again. Only this time the
threat is greater than in the past. On that date over 200 agents from
the federal Army, the Attorney General's office, and state and
municipal police, with their faces painted, entered the Zapatista
territory of La Garrucha with the pretext of looking for marijuana
plants. Hundreds of residents from the Hermenegildo Galeana and San
Alejando communities fended them off with machetes, clubs, and

Zapatista communities prohibit the cultivation, trafficking, and
consumption of drugs. It's not even permitted to drink or sell
alcohol there. This isn't a new fact. The rebel commanders have made
this law public since the beginning of the armed uprising. The
measure remains in effect under the civil authorities who have been
put in charge of the autonomous municipalities and the good
government councils. The same can't be said for the PRIista
[translator's note: members of the Institutional Revolution Party
which ruled Mexico with an iron fist for over 70 years] communities,
where illegal drugs are grown in collusion with the police.

In a communique directed at then-president Ernesto Zedillo, dated
February 10, 1995, one day after the military offensive that tried to
detain, by means of treachery, Subcomandante Marcos, the insurgents
stated: "we want to tell you the truth, if it's what you don't know:
the criminals, terrorists, drug traffickers are you, they are the
same people who make up your cabinet, they are your very own soldiers
who traffic drugs, who force the indigenous peasants to plant
marijuana and other narcotics. You haven't realized this, Mr.
Zedillo? Yes, we Zapatistas, because we live amongst the people, are
the same people who have fought against the planting of drugs,
against the drug trafficking that your very own soldiers do and have
done within the territories we've controlled."

Unfounded, the accusation has been repeated year after year. In 2004,
the newspaper Reforma published the news that "on average, every two
days members of the Mexican Army enter Zapatista territory in order
to destroy marijuana and poppy fields which in the past year have
considerably increased in number." Days afterwards, Gen. Jorge Isaac
Jiménez García, commander of military operations in the zone, denied
that the marijuana fields belonged to EZLN sympathizers.

The police-military provocation this past June 4 against the rebels
is not an isolated incident. It forms part of and endless aggression.
The government harassment against the insurgents has been constant
since the arrival of Gov. Juan Sabines in 2006. Various peasant
groups close to the state government try to take possession of the
lands that Zapatista support bases have occupied and worked since
1994. Paramilitary groups such as the Organization for the Defense of
Indigenous and Peasant Rights (OPDDIC) harass the autonomous
municipalities. The Army has established new positions, made its
presence felt in the region, and carried out unusual movements of a
clearly intimidating character.

Jaime Martínez Veloz, representative of the Chiapas government on the
Commission for Peace and Reconciliation (Cocopa), has explained very
clearly the agrarian dimension of the current anti-Zapatista
offensive. "The Mexican government," he said to the International
Civil Commission for the Observation of Human Rights (CCIODH in its
Spanish initials), "I am convinced that in the attitude of trying to
confront the EZLN with peasants and indigenous people in the zone,
gave land titles to people in need of land, but it entitled them as
ejidatarios [trans. note: communal land owners] of the same lands
that the Zapatistas occupied. It made them ejidatarios, and obviously
it creates a conflict. In the same area there's those who occupy the
land and those who have a title to it. This was already happening in
the first years, '95, '96... and the repercussions of that, well, now
they're surfacing." Curiously, those responsible for agrarian, rural,
and tourist policy in Juan Sabines' government are people like Jorge
Constantino Kanter, representative of the plantation owners and
ranchers affected by the Zapatista eruption, or Roberto Albores
Gleason, son of ex-governor Roberto Albores, who committed countless
human rights violations.

The June 4 operation was carried out in the place where just a short
while before Subcomandante Marcos was. By the looks of it, his
presence in La Garrucha worried the governmental authorities. The
spokesperson of the rebel group hasn't appeared before the public for
months, and his silence makes the intelligence services nervous. But
the red flags that warn of the increasing governmental intolerance
when faced with the peaceful civil initiative of the rebels have been
raised for some time. En route to the first Continental Gathering of
the Peoples of America [sic: Indigenous Peoples of America] in Vicam,
Sonora, from October 11-14, 2007, police and military checkpoints
detained a convoy that was transporting the Zapatista delegates,
forcing the indigenous commanders who were going to attend the event
to return to Chiapas.

An opinion poll recently carried out by Felipe Calderón's
administration demonstrates that, in addition to the broad public
support for the anti-drug campaign, despite the passing years, 26
percent of those surveyed support the Zapatistas. This is not a
negligible percentage under the current circumstances. The new
governmental effort to make out the EZLN to be an accomplice in
organized crime attempts to take advantage of the wave of anti-narco
sentiment in order to try to erode the current positive opinion of
the rebels and deal it a repressive blow. A resolute blow with a long
history. Does the federal government really lack unresolved conflicts
so much that it needs to enflame one that it hasn't been able to
resolve for years?

Source: La Jornada: 06/10


Mexican officials searched for 37 illegal migrants from Cuba and
Central America snatched from a government bus at gunpoint by armed
men whom authorities believe belong to an international migrant
trafficking ring. The migrants were being taken to a detention center
in southern Chiapas state when about six masked men with assault
rifles forced seven unarmed immigration agents and two drivers off
the bus. The gunmen fled with the 33 Cubans and four Central

Mexico's federal Attorney General's office opened an investigation
into the unusual kidnappings and planned to question immigration
agents about the attack. Authorities believe an international
smuggling ring may be involved and may be trying to take the migrants
to Miami, Florida, said an immigration official in Chiapas, who spoke
on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give his
name. The official said authorities are still trying to identify the
armed men and their nationalities. A search is under way to find
them. The migrants were being transported from Cancun to a detention
center in Tapachula, near the Guatemalan border, where they would be
held while authorities determined whether to release them or deport
them, the official said.

Mexico's Navy detained the Cubans on June 7, after they were found on
a yacht off Cancun's coast. The Cubans told authorities they had left
Old Havana on a makeshift boat and later boarded the yacht, aboard
which two men had promised to take them to Florida, the immigration
official said. The Central Americans had been working construction
jobs in Cancun before being detained, the immigration official said.
Police in the southern states of Chiapas, Veracruz and Oaxaca were
alerted to keep an eye out for the migrants. Cubans increasingly
travel through Mexico to reach the U.S. by land, instead of trying to
get past U.S. Coast Guard patrols off Florida. Most Cubans who arrive
in Mexico are released after being held for 90 days at an immigration

Source: Associated Press: 06/13

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: 06/09-06/15

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