Friday, August 31, 2012

Manuel López Obrador is still in the ring, and still slugging

"Mexico's (political) system is held captive by white collar criminals", says Manuel López Obrador, while hinting of coming attractions

Mexico City
Defeated Mexican presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador refused this morning to "recognize the vote buying" of July 1, and told the nation that he would press ahead with efforts to overturn the election results.

Last night a federal electoral tribunal ruled against a legal challenge which was filed by the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), headed by López Obrador, only days after the ballots were counted. Mexican court rejects leftist bid to void presidential election; end of the road for PRD, AMLO. The candidate's legal options are now exhausted.

"I cannot accept the ruling of the TEPJF which validated the election," said López Obrador. "The election was neither clean nor free nor authentic. There were grave violations of our constitution and of our laws."

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mexican court rejects leftist bid to void July 1 presidential election; end of the road for PRD, Manuel López Obrador

It's official: Enrique Peña Nieto was the winner, and will be Mexico's next president

Mexico City
By a unanimous vote, Mexico's highest election arbiter - the Tribunal Electoral del Poder Judicial de la Federation (TEPJF) - tonight rebuffed an effort by defeated candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) to void the July 1 results and hold a new election.

At the end of an extraordinary four hour session broadcast on live TV, the court's ruling was 7-0.

Outside the tribunal's heavily guarded chamber, under the close watch of state and federal police, several hundred protesters demonstrated and loudly voiced their disagreement with the widely expected decision. There were no injuries and no arrests.

The court found insufficient evidence to sustain any of the nine legal arguments made by López Obrador and PRD representatives, and said that the "will of the people" was manifested in voters' clear preference for PRI candidate Enrique Peña Nieto. One of the TEPJF magistrates, referring to a 19th century constitutional law case, quoted a Mexican judge of the time: "Above the law - nothing. Above the law - no one."

A sign of the times, as another U.S. newspaper proves it can read the writing on the wall

MGRR News Analysis -
They're cleaning out their desks in Harrisburg, and polishing those resumes

*Updated Jan. 31, 2013*
True, this story has nothing to do with Mexico and Gulf Region affairs, but it will be of interest to anyone and everyone who expects to find breaking news and hot coffee on the kitchen table every morning.

It used to be that people walked out to the front stoop to pick up their news - literally. In my case, I was accustomed to walking a quarter mile up a gravel road to find my rag, the then Miami County Republic, stuffed in my rural mail box (sometimes together with my neighbor's mail). I could read about the Paola High School homecoming queen, or a couple's 60th wedding anniversary, or the tragic demise of a carload of teenagers who failed to yield at the wooden cross bucks and so met their Maker, courtesy of BNSF.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Amnesty International lobbys Mexico to approve United Nations poverty treaty

Although the director of Banxico, Mexico's central bank, says the national economy is steaming along nicely, not all are enjoying the ride. About half the population has not benefitted, and today Amnesty International (AI) departed from more conventional themes to address the subject of poverty in Mexico.

In a country of 112 million, 52 million live in poverty. "That is the worst human rights crisis in Mexico," AI officials said in a press release. "The government is very responsive to business interests, while ignoring its impoverished citizens." As part of its poverty awareness campaign AI is pressing Mexico to ratify an international treaty which guarantees basic economic, social and cultural rights. The government has sidestepped the proposal for three years, according to the organization. The treaty was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 2008, and 39 nations have approved it.

Honesty checks for Mexican local, state police proceed at a snail's pace, with more than half yet to be "verified"

And Federal Police are no longer above scrutiny, either

One of the primary reasons underlying president Felipe Calderón's decision to rely upon Mexico's armed forces when he launched the drug war in December 2006 was to circumvent police corruption at the state and local level. Too often, the "good guys" were on the payroll of the bad guys. That shouldn't surprise anyone. In Mexico, an average municipal cop earns 4,000 pesos a month - $300 U.S.

In 2008, the current PAN administration undertook to "verify" every state or local police officer in the country, of which there are over 450,000. Extensive background checks are being conducted, and every cop must pass a lie detector test. The project has been handicapped by budget constraints and a shortage of polygraph operators. Weeding out corruption is daunting task in Mexico - polygraphs await 500,000.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mexico City's boss Marcelo Ebrard wants to know: are CIA agents operating undercover in his country?

The Federal District's governor suggests he knows something which no one else has admitted

*Updates below*
Marcelo Ebrard is a powerful politician in Mexico. He's the Head of Government of the Federal District, and for all practical purposes the guy who runs Mexico City. A charismatic member of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) in a state where leftists politicians usually do well, Ebrard stand a very good chance of being his party's 2018 presidential candidate. In fact, Ebrard announced in July that he'll begin his campaign later this year. Recognizing that perhaps no candidate could defeat Enrique Peña Nieto in 2012, Ebard wisely yielded the PRD spot to Manuel López Obrador, who insists that he was defrauded at the polls on July 1. A decision on the disputed election by a special federal court is imminent.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Le Monde lashes out at Mexico's "spiral of barbarism" - and takes a swipe at U.S., too

MGRR News Analysis -
French newspaper condemns Mexico's drug war effort, but offers no better idea on what to do

Last Thursday (Aug. 23) France's prestigious Le Monde published an editorial which contained drug war data strikingly at odds with what has been reported in Mexico: Mexique, la spirale de la barbarie. The article got a lot of attention in this country, but little elsewhere, including the United States (not surprisingly). The headline was widely translated in newspapers here as "Mexico, deadliest country in the world" (El país más mortífero).

Some of the numbers cited by Le Monde caused heads to turn. The paper claims that between 2007 and 2011, almost 96,000 people died in the drug war launched by president Felipe Calderón in Dec. 2006. Over 27,000 people were killed in 2011, it says. Based upon those figures, which Le Monde attributes to Mexico's National Institute of Statistics and Geography (NISG) - an anonymous agency of the federal government - the paper calculates that on the war's six year anniversary at the end of this year, about 120,000 people will be counted as victims. That anniversary, by the way, will coincide with the swearing in of Mexico's (presumptive) president-elect, Enrique Peña Nieto.

U.S. State Dept. issues Guadalajara warning

As a result of narco blockades throughout Jalisco state on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 25-26, the U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara issued the following warning yesterday:

"Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens:
Heightened Alert Status in Jalisco and Colima
Date: August 26, 2012

Sunday, August 26, 2012

More narco blockades in Guadalajara, by Los Matazetas

Man, 24, killed by stray bullet after gunmen fired on motorists who refused to give up their vehicles

Mérida, Yucatán -
Mexico's Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación, better known as Los Matazetas ("the Zeta killers"), struck out again yesterday in the country's cultural capital of Guadalajara, a city which has been largely immune to the ravages of the six year old drug war.

It was the second such attack in Mexico's second largest metropolis in less than six months (Narco terror in metropolitan Guadalajara), and the third in less than a year (Narco terror strikes Guadalajara).

Friday, August 24, 2012

Mérida faces "environmental catastrophe," warns official, as trash piles up and residents hit the ceiling

"Mérida's trash problem is the checkmate in the abandonment of this city," - a former Mérida mayor

Mérida, Yucatán --
A state planning and urban development official says that Mérida faces environmental disaster, as trash goes uncollected in many neighborhoods and the municipal governing body is forced to rely upon overburdened disposal sites which are like "time bombs," according to a local news service.

The city has resorted to dumping trash at several waste sites on the outskirts of town which were closed months ago when they reached their limit. Those sites could contaminate cenotes and underground water sources, and they pose a potential risk to nearby communities, he claims.

The comments were made by the secretary of a state environmental monitoring agency, SEDUMA (Secretaría de Desarrollo Urbano y Medio Ambiente del Gobierno del Estado). But the official said that legally his agency's "hands were tied," leaving him no option other than a report to media sources.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Yucatán state and municipal debt continue to rise, with predictable consequences for many

News Analysis -
Critics allege financial mismanagement by outgoing PRI governor, who overshot every annual budget and spent $11.5 billion dollars in five years; meanwhile, trash goes collected in some neighborhoods

Mérida, Yucatán --
Last week the city of Tekax de Álvaro Obregón, a municipality of about 25,000 people in this state, had to let go 300 employees. It chose to notify the affected workers in an unusual way. When they went to local ATM machines to draw out their direct-deposit pay, the money wasn't there. Tekax has promised that it will cover their last two weeks of employment, but that's it. Their jobs are over, along with other benefits which they had accrued.

The city of Mérida hasn't paid its trash collection bill of late, at least what it owes to one private contractor. The Yucatan Times reported on the case Aug. 6. In a city and state where Dengue fever is a constant problem, and the Ayuntamiento (municipal government) continually lectures on the need to keep one's property and surroundings clean, that does not bode well for public health.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Federal Police reassign hundreds of Mexico City airport officers in effort to weed out corruption

Mass changing of the guard at AICM

After three Federal Police officers were shot to death by fellow agents in a crowded terminal of the Mexico City International airport (AICM) on June 25, the government announced that the assailants were part of a drug trafficking gang which had been under internal investigation for 18 months. The corrupt federal law enforcement agents were part of an elaborate smuggling network which imported "huge quantities" of narcotics from Colombia, Peru and Guatemala, and sent them on to the United States and Europe, officials said at the time.

What remains unclear is how many were - and still are - involved in the narcotics business at AICM. Arrest warrants were quickly issued for three officers directly involved in the shootings, and on July 15 one was captured without incident (Mexican federal cop killer arrested).

Friday, August 17, 2012

Gay prostitute charged in murder of Mérida professor

Victim was stabbed 18 times, police say, as "death by sex servant" rolls on in the City of Peace

Mérida, Yucatán --
A 25 year old male prostitute has been arrested and charged with the murder of a local technical school professor whose body was found in his Miguel Alemán home last Saturday (Tech professor murdered in quiet Mérida neighborhood).

Moisés Alejandro Guillermo Martínez made his first appearance before the state Public Ministry yesterday. He is held without bond. Martinez has a record and has served time in prison, according to a news source.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Rape, or a very severe case of Morning After Remorse?

MGR's Opinion -
Claims of American cruise passenger "assaulted" in Cozumel looked bogus from the beginning

Mérida, Yucatán --
Rape is nothing to be joked about or made fun of. Nor is falsely accusing someone of it, which at times is the predictable product of MAR - Morning After Remorse.

Sometimes MAR can strike even in the middle of the afternoon. Especially if an excess of alcohol leads to the abandonment of ordinary caution and discretion.

I've handled many sex offense cases (on the defense side) in American courtrooms - far more than any other type of criminal matter. It can be very difficult to do when you believe the complainant (the victim) and you don't believe your own client. But it's easy to do, and at times even rather invigorating, when you don't believe her (yes, men can be sex victims as well, but for the purpose of this analysis let's keep things very simple and stick to traditional female-as-the-victim scenarios).

Ecuador grants asylum to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, but stalemate at London embassy continues

More saber rattling in Quito

*Updated Dec. 24, 2013*
Ecuador has formally granted diplomatic asylum to Australian citizen Julian Assange, but that hasn't ended a two month standoff at its embassy in Great Britain.

The announcement, made this morning in Quito by the country's foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño, is sure to increase tensions between the leftist government of president Rafael Correa and the United States, where many have called for Assange's criminal prosecution after embarrassing diplomatic disclosures by the international whistle blower organization Wikileaks. Assange is the publisher and chief editor of Wikileaks, which he founded in 2006.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A sheep, a sheep! Mexico's election, for a sheep!

"A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!" - Richard III, Wm. Shakespeare (1591)

Shakespeare's history-based masterpiece refers to the brutal death of King Richard III on Bosworth Field in August 1485, at the hands of the rebellious Henry Tudor and his contingent of local and French mercenaries. King Richard was the last British monarch to die in battle (an amazing fact, since more than 500 years later England still has one). Some accounts of the vicious fight have suggested that the king was done in by the great white horse he rode, which may have tired or been injured during the fierce hand to hand combat. But alas, no other was to be had. King Richard's head was split open by the rebels, and so in very bloody fashion the curtain of history came down on the House of York.

Now a sheep, and other farm animals as well, are being used as evidence in a Mexican federal court proceeding which will determine once and for all who won the country's July 1 presidential election -- and whether it was stolen away from the runner up, who's crying foul (and fowl, literally).

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tech professor murdered in quiet Mérida neighborhood

"Prosecutor concealed crime," alleges newspaper

*Updated content*
Mérida, Yucatán --
A local professor who worked at the Mérida campus of Mexico's National College of Technical Education (CONALEP) (Colegio Nacional de Educación Profesional Técnica) was found murdered at his mid-town residence over the weekend.

The body of Juan Avelino Mena Moguel, 52, was discovered by family members last Saturday evening (Aug. 11) in his Miguel Alemán home, at the corner of Calle 29-A x Calle 26. His remains were in an advanced state of decomposition. News sources say puncture wounds were visible on the body.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Carnival cruise ship passenger reports rape in Cozumel

But judge frees restaurant suspects immediately

Cozumel, Quintana Roo --
A 19 year old woman traveling with her family aboard the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Freedom of the Seas has reported to local authorities that she was raped Friday (Aug. 10) in this Riviera Maya resort.

The woman, who is identified in the Spanish press as Victoria Lynn Bennett, is said to be North American. A local news service did not specify whether she is a U.S. or Canadian citizen.

The unusual case unfolded in Señor Frog's, a bar and grill chain with more than 50 locations in Mexico, the Caribbean, South America and the United States. In 2005 a company executive told Forbes magazine, "You go to Señor Frog’s when you're on vacation, if you want to get crazy and nobody knows you."

Friday, August 10, 2012

Mexican Supreme Court strips military tribunals of jurisdiction in offenses against civilian victims

*Updates below*
The Supreme Judicial Court of Mexico (SCJN), the nation's highest tribunal, has ordered that a military officer accused of covering up the murder of a civilian must be tried in a regular criminal court rather than by a court martial. The court announced its decision on Thursday.

The ruling is in accord with a July 2011 SCJN decision, which held that human rights cases involving members of the armed forces should be litigated before civilian authorities (Military court martial convicts 14 in 2007 murder of Sinaloa civilians).

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Human head left at Soriana in Chihuahua

Chihuahua --
A severed human head was found in the parking lot of a Soriana grocery store here about 8:00 p.m. Wednesday (Aug.8).

The head was left in an empty ice chest. A narcomensaje (executioner's warning) was with it. Authorities have not yet revealed the contents of the note.

The male victim has not been identified. Police conducted a search for other human remains in the area but found nothing.

Chihuahua, capital of Chihuahua state, has a metro population of 825,000 and is 235 miles south of El Paso, Tex. and the border town of Ciudad Juárez.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

In honor of the International Day of the Female Orgasm - ¡A gritar, mujeres! (SCREAM, women!)

On a very slow news day . . .

Mérida, Yucatán --
I don't make up news. I report it.

Nor do I steal, cut and paste, like thousands of other blogs, websites and news services do every day (A reader and MGRR trade candid thoughts on a free press, independent journalism and who's NOT paying the tab). If I don't have something to say of my own, I don't write. And I never appropriate what someone else has already written in English.

Some days are news-slow, with little of significance to report. Today I could have written on a hurricane blowing ashore in southern Quintana Roo state, or a couple of dozen executions around the nation, or the latest political ballyhoo (most of it courtesy of PRD, which, like those unwanted advertising circulars on the front door, just keeps landing on front pages all over the country). That pesky AMLO simply refuses to follow meticulously choreographed directions and perform an Exit, Stage Left (no pun intended).

Monday, August 6, 2012

Anti-Peña Nieto forces continue to peddle cancer claims

News Analysis -
A preview of coming political attractions, and those endless rumors

Mérida, Yucatán --
"Thin, grey, emaciated" - that's the way some are describing Mexico's president-elect, Enrique Peña Nieto. Blogs, Twitter accounts and some news services have come alive with the theme in recent days. And this morning at least one peninsular newspaper carried an article on the subject.

It's not the first time the claim has been made. As far back as November 2011, months before the campaign officially began, the story was already circulating.

Abortion prosecutions on the rise in many Mexican states

Legalization in Mexico's Federal District has unleashed vigorous enforcement of anti-abortion laws elsewhere, with harsh treatment for women even in cases where evidence is marginal

In an increasing number of Mexican states authorities are electing to prosecute women who have sought out abortion services, or who are suspected of having tried to procure "back alley" abortions. In many cases health care workers are the ones who turn them in to police, for fear of being prosecuted themselves if they fail to do so.

The claims were recently reported by an advocacy organization known as Grupo de Información en Reproducción Elegida (GIRE) - the Reproductive Choices Information Group - which said that Michoacán, Hidalgo, Puebla, the State of México, Quintana Roo, Yucatán, Chihuahua, Tamaulipas and San Luis Potosí have stepped up enforcement of local anti-abortion laws.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

On Playa del Carmen's famous Fifth Avenue, drug market openly flourishes and "anarchy prevails"

Plenty of booze and dope on the street - pick your route to a quick high in tourist mecca

Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo -
In this beach town half an hour south of Cancún, they're waiting today for Ernesto. The brewing storm, just entering the eastern Caribbean, may or may not turn into a full fledged hurricane which could strike the Yucatán peninsula head on later this week.

And some are waiting for their next high, an easy thing to accomplish here. Drugs are being sold on the city's main tourist strip so brazenly that a local newspaper calls it "anarchy in the tourist heart of town."

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Felipe Calderón polishes up CV, looking for work in U.S.

Nov. 28 - Harvard names the almost ex-president to prestigious JFK School of Government

President Felipe Calderón, whose last full day in office is Nov. 30, has said several times in recent months that he and his family would prefer to remain in Mexico after his term ends. Calderón said that his wife and three children particularly preferred to stay put, rather than live abroad as some retired Mexican politicians have done.

But U.S. news sources have been reporting over the past several days that Calderón is actively seeking a university teaching position north of the border. The story was broke by the Dallas Morning News on Aug. 2.

At the top of his list is the University of Texas in Austin, due to its excellent reputation and proximity to Mexico. Calderón is also said to have put out feelers with officials at Harvard, Georgetown and Stanford. All rank among America's best universities.

Friday, August 3, 2012

MGRR has a new domain . . .

The Mexico Gulf Region Reporter has migrated to its own domain, for simplicity sake. It's no longer necessary to enter a extension in the URL address - just

All previous content has been automatically carried over to the new address, and all prior links should work just fine. MGRR will be one year old on Sept. 5. As of today, there are 737 articles on the main page, and another 73 on the supplement page.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Soriana blasts Manuel López Obrador, accusing him of inciting violence against Mexican mega grocery chain

" . . . lies and groundless accusations" by leftist leaders, company alleges

*Update Aug. 2: Soriana in Ecetepec robbed*
Soriana, Mexico's largest retailer with 600 stores nationwide, today condemned defeated Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, claiming that he is promoting violence against the publicly held company.

The announcement came just 48 hours after three unidentified men attacked a Soriana self-service facility with Molotov cocktails in Guadalupe, in Nuevo León state. Mexico's Soriana grocery chain targeted by bombers. No one has been arrested in that case, which caused property damage but no injuries.

Enrique Peña Nieto will travel in style, aboard Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Including service contract, a billion dollar aircraft order is delivered to U.S. manufacturing giant

Mexico's president-elect will take office exactly four months from today, on Dec. 1, notwithstanding the efforts of his defeated leftist opponent to snatch away the office with "legal" arguments which one needs a daily scorecard to follow. Memo to Andrés Manuel López Obrador: "Ya basta".

The federal government announced recently that an order has been placed for a new presidential aircraft, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. It's scheduled to be delivered in 2015, at a cost of $750 million USD. But with the maintenance contract factored in, the real price tag will be almost $1.2 billion.