Saturday, August 31, 2013

"A Mexico at peace, with quality education for all . . .

A Mexico recognized and respected around the world, where nobody is left behind" - Peña Nieto

Guadalajara -
August is over, and the president of Mexico is probably relieved. It's been an exceedingly difficult month for Enrique Peña Nieto, with bad news arriving on all fronts: domestic security, economics, and endless labor disputes with school teachers and their hard nosed unions. Here are clips of what he'll tell the nation Monday. His message is likely to be a very hard sell, but he's constitutionally required to deliver it to the new legislative session of congress. Peña has served 9 months of a 72 month term.

Sept. 2 - Peña Nieto delivers his first state of the union address

Aug. 31 - Bank of America Merrill Lynch: Mexico in huge economic hole; looming "risk of recession"
Aug. 25 - Civilian militias soar, with citizen police now patrolling 50 counties in 13 Mexican states
July 25 - "Regrettably, parts of the state have passed into the hands of organized crime"

Oaxaca freezes pay of striking teachers

"Hay que trabajar a ganar - You gotta work if you wanna get paid"

Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca -
Oaxaca state governor Gabino Cué Monteagudo followed through on his Thursday warning to members of the powerful Coordinadora Nacional de los Trabajadores de la Educación (CNTE), by refusing to pay 74,000 striking teachers for the first two weeks of the school year which ended on Friday.

The primary and secondary level educators failed to show up for the first day of classes on Aug. 19, shutting down 13,000 schools and leaving more than a million kids at home "until further notice." Continued teacher strikes idle almost a million students in Oaxaca.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch: Mexico in huge economic hole, with looming "risk of recession"

*Updated Oct. 8*
Guadalajara -
Mexico's economy is in the "deepest part of a downturn" which began late in 2012, Bank of America Merrill Lynch warned on Friday.

Carlos Capistrán, chief economist for BOA-ML's branch in Mexico, said the country faces the risk of recession if the second half of the year does not post significant improvements over the first.

Mexico admits 52 daily drug war deaths in Enrique Peña Nieto administration - 12,598 through July 31

*Updated Oct. 19*
Guadalajara -
A week after two Mexican press sources claimed the administration of president Enrique Peña Nieto has been grossly under-reporting drug war deaths since his government took office on Dec. 1, 2012, a federal agency has released numbers confirming one of the stories was accurate, while the other was a significant understatement of deaths due to organized crime violence.

The National Public Security System (SNSP) is a federal sub-agency under the direction of Mexico's Department of Government. The secretary of that department is Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, Peña Nieto's senior cabinet officer and chief policy and political adviser. SNSP complies and reports statistics, among other duties.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Oaxaca education at the mercy of omnipotent syndicate

1992 agreement between teachers' union and ex-governor put students' welfare behind that of labor's

*Updated Sept. 6*
Guadalajara -
Mexico's powerful Coordinadora Nacional de los Trabajadores de la Educación (CNTE) cut a sweet deal for itself a decade ago in southwestern Oaxaca state, a seedbed of warring drug cartels, citizen militias, local insurrectionists of every stripe and perennially discontent school teachers.

In effect, the union has a stranglehold over every aspect of public education in Oaxaca.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

U.S. will take no action against Colorado and Washington over marijuana legalization

MGR's view -
U.S. hypocrisy on legalization poses the question, who is committed to combating drugs?

Guadalajara -
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder informed the governors of Colorado and Washington earlier today that the Justice Dept. will take no legal action against either state, where recreational marijuana use laws went into effect last November.

Marijuana remains flatly prohibited by federal law. The Barack Obama administration had once suggested it might sue both states in federal court to compel revocation of their local ordinances. Today's decision means that neither will suffer any consequences for enacting laws which violate superseding statutes passed by Congress decades ago.

Teachers' union calls for nationwide strike, while officials lose patience and warn they're ready to use force

Yet another test for the tricolor regime - this one administered by those who don't want to be tested

*Updated Sept. 1 - CNTE calls for "national insurgency"*
Guadalajara -
Members of a powerful school teachers' union which has held Mexico City hostage for almost two weeks have called for a nationwide strike if the government does not yield to their labor demands.

The Coordinadora Nacional de los Trabajadores de la Educación (CNTE) wants Mexico's congress to repeal recently enacted federal laws intended to improve teacher quality. The laws require primary and secondary level educators to submit to periodic competency and preparedness evaluations according to national, rather than regional or local, standards. They are based upon amendments to Mexico's federal constitution which were approved months ago by the country's multiparty national assembly, and by a majority of the state legislatures. PRI government shows no resolve against thug teachers.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mexican press: PRI government is lying about drug war deaths - the real number is 13,775, in just eight months

Guadalajara and Jalisco state are among the most dangerous places in Mexico; Yucatán, the safest

*Updated Aug. 31: Mexico admits 52 daily drug war deaths in Enrique Peña Nieto administration - 12,598 through July 31*

Guadalajara -
Two Mexican press sources have blasted the administration of president Enrique Peña Nieto within the past 24 hours, both claiming the nine month old Institutional Revolutionary Party government is presenting a grossly distorted picture of what is actually happening in the almost 81 month old drug war. They particularly took to task secretary of government Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, Peña Nieto's top adviser and most powerful cabinet officer.

Officials announce delay in arrival of federal gendarmerie units, as EPN claims progress in drug war

The Calderón strategy, but under the tricolor banner

Guadalajara -
At the 34th meeting of the National Public Security Council in Mexico City today president Enrique Peña Nieto painted an optimistic picture, saying federal and state security forces have managed to capture or kill 62 of the most wanted 121 organized crime bosses during his nine month old administration.

The Institutional Revolutionary Party chief executive also boasted that drug war deaths have fallen 14% since he took over on Dec. 1.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Civilian militias soar, with citizen police now patrolling 50 counties in 13 Mexican states

"From the machete to the AK-47"

Guadalajara -
While Mexican army and marine troops continue to take down key drug lords in diverse regions of the country, having scored three notable victories this year, the first units of a new national gendarmerie, billed as a crack paramilitary force which will assist and supplement the Federal Police, are preparing for an advertised Sept. 16 debut at independence day festivities in Mexico City.

PRI government shows no resolve against thug teachers

MGR's Opinion -
Striking union members take over Federal District, standing down Enrique Peña Nieto administration - but they should have been stopped

Guadalajara -
Mexican school teachers are the perennially discontent. Thousands are, anyway, especially those from the southwestern states of Oaxaca, Chiapas and Guerrero.

They and their arrogant unions are essentially fearless, because they know that neither the federal nor state governments will stand up to them even when they turn to violence, which is not uncommon.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Mexican unemployment stats paint a bleak picture for the most well educated

Guadalajara -
This week Mexico's internal revenue agency reported that the stagnant national economy is just barely sputtering along. In the first six months of 2013 growth averaged 1.25%, less than a third of the economic expansion posted in 2012 (and what government officials predicted for the current year only seven months ago, in January).

The administration claims the forecast looks brighter for the rest of the year, but investors, especially foreign ones, are troubled. Sluggish Mexican economy worries foreign investment experts.

Friday, August 23, 2013

"Absurd and illogical," Mexico's A.G. calls court ruling which freed narco executioner who killed DEA agent

Guadalajara -
The fallout continues in Mexico over the case of former Guadalajara Cartel drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero, who was freed two weeks ago by a three judge federal tribunal which concluded that he should have been tried in a state rather than federal court for the February 1985 murders of a U.S. Drug Enforcement agent and an undercover DEA tipster. The death house on Lope de Vega.

Mexico's Interjet places big order for European aircraft

$800 billion price tag will add 1,600 jobs to corporate payrolls, reports the young airline

Guadalajara -
Despite a gloomy economic prognosis which Mexico received earlier this week from top PRI administration officials, coupled with a worrisome forecast for the tourism industry - a mainstay of the national economy - Interjet has signed a contract to purchase 20 copies of the new Superjet 100, a state of the art aircraft designed and built by a consortium of European firms.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Poor tourism prognosis concerns Puerto Vallarta official

And those who do visit are likely to be traveling on a tight budget

Guadalajara -
In mid-May the the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reported that Mexico took some hits in 2012, measured by both the number of passenger arrivals and the income generated by such. Mexico drops another notch in gross tourism receipts.

Yesterday the country's internal revenue service, the Hacienda y Crédito Publico, delivered up very sobering news about the national economy as a whole. Sluggish Mexican economy worries foreign investment experts. One component which again received a poor prognosis was tourism, and now a Puerto Vallarta businessman says he fears what lies ahead for the Pacific Coast resort.

Sluggish Mexican economy worries foreign investment experts

"Economic growth has been failing in Mexico" - a Moody's spokesman today

*Updated Oct. 8*
Guadalajara -
Seven months ago Mexico's president and national bank chairman both boasted that the country was poised for 4% economic expansion in 2013, a level of growth which its big neighbor to the north may have a very hard time matching this year. But the rosy prognosis has proven dramatically over-optimistic, and it now appears unlikely that the country will achieve even half of that. Banixco raises storm flag warning on Mexican economy.

Yesterday the secretary of Mexico's Hacienda y Crédito Publico said he anticipates annual growth of just 1.8%. The agency is the nation's federal tax collection and budget planning office.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"No clues" a common response with Vallarta P.D.

MGR's view -
"Sin pistas" once again the standard line in case of murdered American

"This worsening security situation already has caused problems for expatriates in Mexico in 2013" - Stratfor Global Intelligence, March 7, 2013

Guadalajara -
Nine months ago the brazen, daytime machine gun and hand grenade attack on then Vallarta police commander Roberto Rodríguez Preciado got a little press attention in this country, although a fraction of the coverage the same event would have generated in Mexico City or this capital, much less in a major U.S. tourist resort.

Even after Los Zetas banners were hung out at several prominent locations claiming responsibility for the ambush - even after chief Rodríguez resigned less than a week later, after promising he wouldn't - no one in officialdom seemed to be overly concerned.

Monday, August 19, 2013

PRI admin distances itself from Caro Quintero release

"It was not our doing," says Osorio Chong

Guadalajara -
Speaking at a press conference today in Mexico's Cámara de Diputados, the lower legislative chamber of congress, secretary of government Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong said the nine month old Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) government does not agree with the recent release of drug capo Rafael Caro Quintero, who was responsible for the murder of seven U.S. citizens in late 1984 and early 1985. One was a DEA agent who operated undercover out of the American Consulate in Guadalajara.

But the secretary added that the Enrique Peña Nieto administration fully respects the nation's judiciary, an independent entity in the Republic.

It's back to school day in Mexico, but continued teacher strikes idle almost a million students in Oaxaca

Labor unions show relentless opposition to PRI education modernization efforts

Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca -
Classes resumed today for millions of Mexican elementary and secondary students, but even before thousands of school houses had opened their doors a powerful teachers' union called strikes in the southwestern states of Oaxaca and Guerrero, which could quickly spread to other areas.

The union, La Coordinadora Nacional de los Trabajadores de la Educación (CNTE), told about 70,000 of its members to boycott classes in Oaxaca. The state has a population of 3.9 million, slightly over a million of whom are enrolled in school. Local officials reported that only about 40,000 were in classes this morning, with an estimated 977,000 stuck at home. Authorities said that as many as 13,000 schools were affected by the strike.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Mexican army captures leader of Gulf Cartel

The new PRI government scores again, with latest takedown of a key narco boss

*Updated Aug. 18*
Guadalajara -
Mexican authorities reported late this afternoon that federal security forces earlier today captured Mario Armando Ramírez Treviño, leader of the powerful Gulf Cartel, one of the country's largest drug trafficking and criminal organizations.

A joint communique issued by the secretaries of government, national defense and by the attorney general said Ramírez Treviño, 51, whose aliases include El Pelón and X20, was captured by Mexican army units in Río Bravo county in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, bordering Texas. The area, thick with U.S. bound drug trafficking routes, has long been an epicenter of narco violence. A U.S. Marine was kidnapped in the region on May 14 and has yet to be found.

The death house on Lope de Vega

It was only a walk of two blocks from Guadalajara's American Consulate to his car, but DEA Special Agent Enrique Camarena Salazar ended up here instead

Guadalajara -
The house at 881 Lope de Vega in Guadalajara's Colonia Jardines del Bosque has virtually nothing to distinguish it from many others in the neighborhood. In the late afternoon sun the remnants of a faded campaign sign for 2012 National Action Party presidential candidate Josefina Vázquez Mota are just discernible on a whitewashed wall surrounding the property. An electrified wire designed to keep out the uninvited runs atop, though there's nothing unusual about that in this city. The wall has a wooden door; it looks like it is rarely if ever opened. The property yields no clues about its current occupants or its terrifying history, but people walking down the street tend to choose the opposite sidewalk.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Mexico claims drug war deaths are plummeting

. . . but it may not sell everywhere

Guadalajara -
Mexico's secretary of government Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong claimed today that drug war deaths in July fell to their lowest level since the Enrique Peña Nieto administration took office Dec. 1.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sen. Patrick Leahy blocks $95M in Mérida Initiative funds

MGR News Analysis -
Vermont Democrat says he's dissatisfied with Enrique Peña Nieto's "lack of clear strategy" in drug war, but does the problem lie much closer to Capitol Hill?

Guadalajara -
On Feb. 17 MGR published a piece entitled U.S. freezes Mérida Initiative funds promised to Mexico, which is still being heavily read seven months later. That's a good thing, because the problem is yet far from resolved.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Spain's supreme court denies political asylum to Mexican family fleeing drug cartel threats

Guadalajara -
Spain's highest court has denied an asylum petition filed by a Mexican national who alleged that he and his family are being "persecuted" by narcotics traffickers.

The man was identified in court papers only as Luis Alberto V.H., with no hometown listed. He claims that he and his family were ultimately forced to abandon Mexico due to threats by organized crime, which culminated in the kidnapping of one of his sons. The man, a bank employee, alleged in his legal petition that cartel operatives repeatedly demanded detailed information on the bank's clients, including names, addresses and account balances.

Malaysian court affirms Mexican brothers' death sentence

Sinaloans convicted of narcotics offenses move one step closer to the gallows

Kuala Lumpur -
Malaysia's Court of Appeals, the second highest tribunal in the southeast Asian nation, this afternoon upheld the death sentences for drug manufacturing and possession imposed on three Mexican brothers in May 2012.

Jose Regino Gonzalez Villarreal, 37, Simon Gonzalez Villarreal, 34, and Luis Alfonso Gonzalez Villarreal, 48, are from the western state of Sinaloa on Mexico's Pacific coast. With two others, they were arrested and charged in March 2008 with manufacturing and possessing methamphetamine and precursor chemicals, and narcotics trafficking. The men were detained only a few weeks after arriving in Malaysia. They had worked in a Mexican brick factory before moving in search of better jobs, their families said. Sinaloa, the brothers' home, is a hotbed of Mexican drug cartel activity and has been the scene of extreme narco violence in recent years.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

People of color and indigenous groups often the target of discrimination in Mexico

Gays, HIV positive also report mistreatment in the nation's huge capital city, study finds

Guadalajara -
Mexico is a nation of morenos. The term means nothing more than dark skinned. Within that almost boundless category one sees human flesh ranging from a nearly imperceptible tan to almost black. People on both ends of the spectrum readily describe themselves as morenos, and commonly with pride.

It is not offensive to refer to someone in this country as a moreno. It is merely descriptive, and at times may even be regarded as a term of endearment. Which makes it all the more ironic that morenos report they are frequently the targets of discrimination for that very reason.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

No exit for Survivor producer Bruce Beresford-Redman

Appellate court rejects his latest effort to bring the case to an end

There were no smiles on this arrival at Cancún International Airport

Cancún, Quintana Roo -
Former Survivor producer Bruce Beresford-Redman has lost a bid to have murder charges dismissed in a long running case being tried in state district court in this city.

In November 2010 Beresford-Redman was accused of killing his wife, Mónica Burgos, while the two were on vacation here in April of the same year. A local judge conducted a preliminary hearing in February 2012 and found sufficient evidence to hold the ex-producer for a full trial (Former producer of Survivor bound over for trial in Cancún murder). Beresford-Redman appealed that ruling, and tried to short circuit the case by other legal maneuvering as well (No release for Bruce Beresford-Redman).

Friday, August 9, 2013

Guadalajara vs. los ambulantes: a familiar story

Itinerant vendors not welcome at Guadalajara's city hall

An indigenous family, with nothing left to sell after city inspectors seized their inventory

Guadalajara -
Vendedores ambulantes are itinerant merchants found in every major Mexican metropolis, and plenty of smaller communities, too. Offering clothing, jewelry, food, unique indigenous products, music and video CDs and countless other items, the ambulantes, or "wanderers," establish points of sale in high traffic areas, where they'll have the greatest contact with the buying public. Although they often sell to tourists from abroad, their products are popular with locals as well. The downside is that they present competition to traditional businesses which conduct operations in storefronts. Fixed site proprietors, who must pay rent, utilities, insurance, wages and myriad other costs associated with conventional retailing, resent the ambulantes, who often compete on the sidewalk right in front of such businesses.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

As deadline looms for completion of police background checks, many fail to measure up

Guadalajara -
A plan implemented by former Mexican president Felipe Calderón over five years ago to conduct extensive background checks on all local and state police officers must be completed in just over 10 weeks. But large numbers continue to be dismissed from their positions after failing to pass the rigorous "confidence" examinations, which include polygraphs.

In Monterrey, Nuevo León, a city which has been hard hit by the 80 month old drug war, 150 officers of 440 recently evaluated were dismissed from the force after tests showed they were unfit for service for a variety of reasons.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Russia's asylum to Snowden is a "serious humiliation for Barack Obama" - so concludes Spain's El País

A perspective from the other side of the Atlantic

Guadalajara -
Madrid based El País, arguably Spain's most prominent newspaper and one of the most influential on the European continent, offered this editorial opinion in today's edition (translated and edited for clarity by MGR):

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Manuel López Obrador: no to marijuana legalization

A surprising decision by the far left politician, who criticizes former PRD colleagues

Guadalajara -
On the campaign trail in April 2012, leftist presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that drug legalization raised a "delicate matter," but that he would consider the issue after consultation with experts. "I want what will be right for Mexico, what will work for Mexicans. I won't be controlled by any special interest group," he promised. Despite the ambiguity of that statement, most expected he favored at least the decriminalization of cannabis.

But yesterday AMLO unambiguously rejected rising support for a legalization plan in the Federal District, heavily promoted by the the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) of which López Obrador once was the shining star. PRD will push for legal pot in Mexico's Federal District. Decriminalization bills are expected to be introduced in the district legislature in September.

Friday, August 2, 2013

U.S. State Dept. will grant marriage visas to gay partners

Effects of Supreme Court's June 26 ruling extend far beyond American soil

Guadalajara -
The U.S. State Dept. announced today that the marriage visa program will be extended to same sex couples, effective immediately.

Under previous law, a foreign national lawfully married to an American citizen could use that as the basis for a visa application - provided the parties were not of the same sex.

But as the result of a June 26 ruling by the highest court in the nation, agencies and departments of the United States government may no longer discriminate in any form against the parties to a gay marriage, if the union was legally entered into in a jurisdiction which recognizes same sex unions. The U.S. Supreme Court on gay marriage.

Guadalajara police officers die in double execution

*Updated Aug. 5 - two more officers die*
Guadalajara -
Two investigators for the Jalisco state prosecutor's office were executed early this morning in an ambush at a major intersection on the city's east side.

The senior of the two officers, 43, was a 16 year veteran of the department and was assigned to homicide investigations. The subordinate accompanying him, 41, had served on the force since 2008. Both men were pronounced dead at the scene shortly after the 7:00 a.m. attack. Police said they were probably on their way to work. Sicarios, or hired hit men, were waiting for them.