Friday, March 23, 2012

Week's Top Articles on Mexico: Mar. 16-22, 2012

Drug War News this week saw mixed messages in the drug policy debate. On one side Commander of US Northern Command, General Charles Jacoby, admitted that capturing and killing Mexico's most wanted drug traffickers has had "no appreciable effect" on levels of violence in Mexico and the British Parliament sent an open letter to Latin American leaders that supported an international dialogue on drug decriminalization. 

On the other hand, reports suggest that, Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina has lowered his expectations for drug legalization

As the policy debate continues to alternate between progress and regression, the drug war rages on in Mexico and elsewhere, drawing the gaze of private security contractors looking for markets after Iraq and Afghanistan. And even as Mexico continues to use the US backed model of interdiction in their fight against cartels, the reach of these organizations' criminal activities continues to permeate the country's illegal economy, from extortion, to human trafficking, and even illegal logging.

In modern Mexico, the drug war is inescapable--and this new reality will come sharply into focus in the context of traditional Mexico when Pope Benedict XVI visits on March 23. In a country where 9 out of 10 people are self-described Catholics, the Pope's arrival will refocus attention on narco-church relations, with believers and non-believers alike keenly paying attention to what the Pope has to say. Movement for Peace and Justice leader Javier Sicilia traveled to the Vatican to meet with church officials on the eve of the Pope's visit.   

Human Rights and Rule of Law News in Mexico was highlighted by speculation that Felipe Calderon will flee the country at the end of his presidency. Facing a war crimes lawsuit in the International Criminal Court and fears that he will be targeted by vengeful drug cartels, reports claim that that he may be seeking asylum abroad after his term ends

Some LGBT members in Mexico believe that attacks against that community may be increasing as a result of Pope Benedict's upcoming visit to the country. The investigation into transgender activist Agnes Torres' death continues as five have been arrested. The case has also drawn condemnation from the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights. 

While a wave of attacks against the LGBT community has struck the country in recent weeks, other activists and civil society members have also come under fire. An opponent of a silver mine in Oaxaca was ambushed and assassinated on his way home in Santa Lucía Ocotlán. Journalists in the northern state of Tamaulipas were also sent a stern message after a car bomb exploded in the parking lot of El Expreso.    


Drug War

Eliminating Cartel Leaders had 'Little Effect' on Mexico Violence, US General says
InSight Crime: "US Northern Command leader General Charles Jacoby told the Senate's Armed Services Committee that Mexico had successfully killed or captured 22 out of 37 of Mexico's most wanted drug traffickers, as identified by the Mexican government. He added that such results had "no appreciable effect," as violence continued to increase in Mexico. The country saw a 10 percent rise in homicides linked to organized crime between 2010 and 2011, finishing the year with nearly 13,000 murders. read more

British Parliament committee supports decriminalization of drugs in Latin America
Milenio: "The British Parliament has sent a letter to the presidents of Mexico, Colombia and Central American countries to show their support for the initiative by Guatemala to begin an international dialogue on the decriminalization of drugs, reported the Guatemalan Embassy in London. read more  

Guatemala's Perez lowers expectations for drug legalization
Christian Science Monitor: "Some analysts got excited when President Otto Perez Molina announced several weeks ago that the Central American presidents would meet in Guatemala to agree to a decriminalization proposal prior to the Summit of the Americas. It was never going to be that easy. read more

Official says US Should Resume Military Aid to Guatemala
InSight Crime: "Speaking to media during a visit to Washington D.C., Guatemalan Defense Minister Ulises Noe Anzueto (shown with President Perez in the photo) said, "We have complied with the declassification of military archives, we have included the issue of human rights in our military academies, and we have (addressed) the remaining concerns there were about this issue." read more   

Security contractors see opportunities, and limits, in Mexico
The Washington Post: "With the Iraq war over and the American presence waning in Afghanistan, U.S. security contractors are looking for new prospects in Mexico, where spreading criminal violence has created a growing demand for battle-ready professionals. read more

In Mexico, extortion is a booming offshoot of drug war
LA Times: "Almost every segment of the economy and society, including businesses, teachers and priests, has been subjected to extortionists who exploit fear of cartels." read more   

At least 16,000 children in Mexico affected by human trafficking
CNN Mexico: "The Mexico Chamber of Deputies, on Thursday, approved the General Law to prevent, punish and eradicate crimes relating to trafficking of humans and to protect and assist victims of this crime. The law provides for penalties for anyone who captures or transfer persons in situations of trafficking. This law will be now be considered by the Senate. read more

World Bank says Illegal logging generates $15 billion per year, controlled by crime
La Jornada: "The probability that Mexico, a veritable forest predator, is punished is one of the lowest in the world. A new international study found evidence of a connection between loggers and organized crime groups, with annual, multimillion dollar profits which fund their criminal networks. read more

Pope's visit to Mexico refocuses attention on narco-church relations
The Guardian: "All I do is say mass there every Sunday," says Father Erasmo Dorantes. "What's done is done and I don't have relations with those people." Those people are the Zetas drug cartel, or more specifically the group's leader, Heriberto Lazcano. Photographs of a plaque thanking the kingpin for building the church caused a scandal when they were published in a national newspaper in October 2010. read more

Javier Sicilia to be received at Vatican
Milenio: "The poet and writer Javier Sicilia announced that he will travel today to the Vatican, where he will be received by representatives of the Catholic Church. He will present to them the situation that exists in Mexico on the eve of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the country. The leader of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity will be received by the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace of the Vatican, Mario Toso." read more

Human Rights and Rule of Law News

Hague Court analyzing lawsuit against Calderon
Animal Politico: "Contrary to what predicted by President Calderon, the International Criminal Court (ICC) did not dismiss the claim that a group of 23 thousand Mexicans placed against him for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity. read more

Calderon may plan to flee Mexico when his term ends  
Proceso: "President Felipe Calderon may fear being killed when his term ends and may plan to flee Mexico, Dolia Estevez, a correspondent for U.S. news MVS, revealed. read more

Papal visit increases attacks against the LGBT community
La Jornada: The recent attacks against members of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community come two years after this group received the right to marry members of the same sex, but above all, these acts are occurring in the context of the upcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Mexico. Jaime Lopez Vela, coordinator of Agenda LGBT, warned that the visit has led to an increase in the climate of homophobia in the country. read more

InterAmerican Commission condemns murder of activist Agnes Torres 
Proceso: "The InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has condemned the murder of transgender activist, Agnes Torres Sulca, whose body bore signs of torture when it was discovered on Saturday, March 10 in a ravine in Puebla. read more

Five people arrested for murder of Agnes Torres
CNN Mexico: "Five people have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the murder of transgender activist, Agnes Torres Hernandez, according to a statement issued Friday by authorities in Puebla. The body of Agnes, an activist for the rights of transsexual people, was found March 10 in a ravine in the town of Atlixco. She was 28. read more

Alleged murderers of Agnes Torres are presented; her boyfriend is a fugitive 
Milenio: "The reason that five young men, including her boyfriend, who is a fugitive from justice, killed Agnes Torres Hernandez, 28 year old political activist for transsexual and transgender rights, was the theft of her car, a Volkswagen Golf, the Attorney General of Puebla said, while he did not discard that it was a hate crime. read more

Oaxaca activist killed in ambush
La Jornada: The main opponent of the operation of a silver mine in the indigenous community of San José del Progreso and the leader of the United Peoples Coordinator in the Ocotlán Valley, Bernardo Vázquez Sánchez, was killed in an ambush in Santa Lucía Ocotlán, confirmed the Attorney General of Oaxaca (PGJO). read more

Car bomb explodes in parking lot of Tamaulipas newspaper
La Jornada: "A car bomb exploded in the parking lot of the newspaper El Expreso, in Ciudad Victoria, the capital of the state of Tamaulipas, in northeast Mexico, damaging six vehicles of workers at the newspaper. No injuries were reported. According to military sources in the capital of Tamaulipas, the explosion occurred around 8:15 PM on Monday," read more