Thursday, October 31, 2013

Same sex civil unions now approved in Jalisco - but they won't be called marriage

*Nov. 4 - updated content*
Guadalajara -
Despite stiff opposition from center right National Action Party (PAN) deputies, coupled with critical comments and dire warnings by the influential Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Guadalajara, the Jalisco legislature today passed the state's first same sex civil union law.

The vote was 20 to 15, with a single abstention. The bill was introduced six months ago by a deputy of the left wing Democratic Revolution Party (PRD)

Today's debate on the legislation lasted more than three hours. In the end the measure was carried by a coalition of center left Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) representatives and far left PRD delegates. PAN was solidly opposed to the bill, with every deputy present voting against it. Only one PRI legislator broke ranks with his party and joined the PAN block.

Teachers return to Guadalajara streets in large numbers, protesting alleged education privatization

The heroes of Mexico (top row) gave their lives for the country. But two who sold it out, according to some teachers, are former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988-1994) and Enrique Peña Nieto.

Guadalajara -
On the same day that president Enrique Peña Nieto and his secretary of education Emilio Chuayffet traveled to three Mexican states to deliver tens of thousands of computers to elementary and high school students, several thousand Jalisco teachers shut down major thoroughfares in Guadalajara yesterday afternoon, protesting what they say is a plan to completely privatize education nationwide.

Halloween, Mexican style

Entries in the Day of the Dead artists' competition, Guadalajara

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

United Nations again condemns U.S. embargo of Cuba

For the 22nd consecutive year a human rights motion carries easily, but will have no practical result

Guadalajara -
Every year for more than two decades, the United Nations General Assembly has condemned the United States' sweeping economic embargo against Cuba, which was imposed during the administration of president John F. Kennedy (Cuban embargo is 50 - Feb. 7, 2012).

Today it did so once again by an overwhelming vote of 188-2, with three abstentions. The measure is taken up annually on the motion of Cuba. Last year the vote was 188-3, and in 2011, 186-2. The United States casts one of the two or three negative votes, with Israel typically another dissenter, as it was this year.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Cartel attacks power plants, gasoline stations in violent Michoacán, using homemade bombs

Los Templarios focus on infrastructure systems and widespread terrorism

Guadalajara -
Drug traffickers attacked 18 electricity substations and at least six gasoline stations in the western Pacific coast state of Michoacán over the weekend, officials in the capital city of Morelia reported Sunday.

Government sources attributed the assault to the Los Caballeros Templarios drug cartel, which was formed in December 2010 when another organized crime group, La Familia Michoacana, disintegrated. The attack was carried out with automatic weapons and what one law enforcement official called "artisanal bombs."

Now well established, the Templarios control many parts of Michoacán. But they do not enjoy absolute dominion. Powerful organized crime groups from neighboring states, especially Jalisco, are staking their own claims to lucrative drug trafficking routes and a share of the plaza, which has led to a sharp increase in violence in the region since PRI president Enrique Peña Nieto took office on Dec. 1. Jalisco-Michoacán violence claims 28.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Drug war deaths on Enrique Peña Nieto's watch: 15,552

Homicide stats in PRI's first 10 months on the job make previous PAN administration's look modest

Guadalajara -
Mexico's Ministry of Public Security reported today that from Dec. 1, 2012 through Sept. 30, 2013, the nation recorded 15,552 homicides connected to organized crime violence and the 82 month old drug war - an average of 1,555 per month since president Enrique Peña Nieto took office with a promise to quell violence within 100 days.

In September alone there were 1,478 such deaths.

On Aug. 31 the same federal agency reported an almost identical murder rate since the new Institutional Revolutionary Party government was sworn in late last year. Mexico admits 52 daily drug war deaths in Peña Nieto administration - 12,598 through July 31.

U.S. DEA gets its wings clipped in Mexico

Guadalajara -
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has reduced the number of agents working in Mexico after officials in the government of president Enrique Peña Nieto changed the rules for intelligence sharing with their American counterparts, according to claims by several national security cabinet members of the 11 month old PRI administration.

Nor do DEA agents have the same free access to information in ongoing criminal investigations in this country which they had under the previous PAN government of former president Felipe Calderón.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mexico losing patience with U.S. spying on its leaders

And more juicy tidbits are on the way, promises journalist Glenn Greenwald

Guadalajara -
Mexican secretary of government Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong may have been conspicuously ignored by his boss at a security conference last week, but today president Enrique Peña Nieto placed him at the top of the batting lineup to deal with the latest revelations of National Security Agency spying on world leaders, especially Mexico's.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sen. McCain demands answers on release of former Guadalajara Cartel boss who murdered U.S. DEA agent

The senator may be distressed when someone explains to him how Mexican criminal justice works

Guadalajara -
It's been more than two months since a federal appellate court in Jalisco state ordered the midnight release of Rafael Caro Quintero, the 60 year old former boss of the long defunct Guadalajara Cartel who, according to law enforcement officials, was once worth a half billion dollars.

Caro Quintero was convicted of several murders, including that of U.S. Drug Enforcement Agent Enrique Camarena Salazar at a cartel safe house in Guadalajara in February 1985. He spent 28 years in prison, but a panel of Mexican judges eventually sided with the arguments of well heeled criminal defense attorneys and ordered his immediate release, finding that his murder prosecution should have been brought in state rather than federal court.The death house on Lope de Vega.

Mystery of what befell young Ukrainian couple in Yucatán backcountry remains unsolved

Ten months later, a desperate mother on the other side of the world seeks answers, and so do local investigators: one murder, or two?

Updated Mar. 21, 2014 - Yucatán prosecutor confirms: remains found in remote peninsular region are those of missing Ukrainian tourist

Updated Feb. 1, 2014 - Remains of Ukrainian woman may have been found

Xocempich, Yucatán -
Dzitás County, or Municipality as it is known here, lies southeast of the state capital of Mérida, more or less in the center of the flat, dry Yucatán peninsula, which stretches from the Gulf of Mexico on the west to the Caribbean sea on the east. It's one of 106 municipalities in this state, with a population of about 5,000. The county seat shares the same name.

Not much happens here, and not many people pass through the area. Those who do generally are on their way to or returning from the nearby town of Valladolid, a gateway to the famous Mayan ruins at Chichén Itzá. More than a few residents use the language of ancestors as their primary tongue. Its curious sounds, made famous in the 2006 Mel Gibson movie Apocalypto, bear no resemblance to the official one imposed by Spanish explorers.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Guadalajara Catholic Archdiocese: gays are "emotionally unstable"; legislators should reject Jalisco civil union bill

Harsh characterization of gay life styles will further polarize Jalisco legislative debate

Guadalajara -
The official newspaper of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Guadalajara, the second largest concentration of Catholics in the nation, has called homosexuality an "illness," and argues that a pending civil union bill in Jalisco state is designed to "resolve the problem (of gays) who suffer from the emotional instability of attraction to persons of the same sex."

The comments, likely to generate controversy, appeared in Thursday's (Oct. 17) edition of Semanario Arquidiocesano de Guadalajara, the Church's authoritative voice in Mexico's second largest city (Un "progreso" mal entendido y planteado).

Although Mexico is but a short judicial step away from formal legal recognition of same sex marriage throughout the country, based upon human rights principles in its federal constitution, some of the nations's 31 jurisdictions are trying to side step the controversial issue by proposing laws which would recognize gay civil unions with almost all the rights and protections of traditional heterosexual marriage. But it is unclear if such statutes would pass constitutional muster and survive scrutiny by Mexico's Supreme Judicial Court, or whether gays must be allowed to marry.

Guadalajara attorneys were carrying a million pesos in cash when they were executed in Puerto Vallarta

But investigators say the money was legit

Guadalajara -
The plot has thickened in the case of two Zapopan lawyers who were shot to death in Puerto Vallarta's tourist district early Thursday morning, in a machine gun ambush which has all the hallmarks of a well orchestrated organized crime hit. Narco execution in P.V. tourist zone claims two Guadalajara brothers.

Investigators in the local Public Ministry have revealed that a briefcase containing almost a million pesos was found in the trunk of the men's Volkswagen, which was riddled with dozens of 7.62 mm AK-47 rounds. That sum is the equivalent of about $78,000 USD at the current exchange rate (12.85).

Friday, October 18, 2013

Vallarta execution victims were Guadalajara attorneys

They were sent to P.V. to recover real estate, it appears

What does Jalisco's PRI governor Aristóteles Sandoval have to say about narco crime in his state? This week he urged citizens, "Be patient with us while we finish off those drug cartels" (all 80 of 'em?)

Guadalajara -
Two brothers executed early yesterday morning in the heart of Puerto Vallarta's tourist district were attorneys who practiced law in the suburban Guadalajara community of Zapopan, authorities reported.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Peña Nieto two for three on reform packages, as Mexico's House of Deputies easily passes tax bill

Guadalajara -
President Enrique Peña Nieto and his Institutional Revolutionary Party team are six weeks out from celebrating their first anniversary in office. Much of 2013 has been devoted to a triumvirate of proposed PRI reforms in the education, energy and tax arenas. So far Peña Nieto is batting impressively.

Narco execution in Puerto Vallarta tourist zone claims two Guadalajara brothers

Not a good way to begin the high season . . .

*Oct. 17 - Vallarta execution victims were Guadalajara attorneys*
*Oct. 19 - Attorneys were carrying a million pesos in cash*
Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco -
Puerto Vallarta's famed Zona Rosa was once again the scene of narco violence early this morning, in a brutal machine gun attack which killed two suburban Guadalajara men and critically injured a companion.

Just after 1:00 a.m. gunmen strafed a Volkswagen in which the three victims were travelling at the corner of Emiliano Zapata and Venustiano Carranza streets. The assault occurred in front of El Tortio, a popular sports bar and restaurant located just blocks from Vallarta's waterfront. The area is part of the city's sprawling tourist zone, which has been rudely awakened to the brutal realities of Mexico's 82 month old drug war in the past year. Puerto Vallarta: tensions linger after brazen narco attack.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Is there trouble at the top of Mexico's political hierarchy?

No secrets on YouTube . . .

Guadalajara -
Mexico's secretary of government - often erroneously referred to by the U.S. press as the "secretary of the interior," although that American cabinet post has utterly nothing in common with the Mexican SEGOB - is considered by many to be the nation's vice president, even though the latter office does not exist in this country. Think of the U.S. secretary of state, secretary of defense, secretary of the treasury and the White House press secretary all rolled into one post. That's SEGOB and its boss, who is appointed by and ultimately answers only to the president.

Guadalajara's police force could be slashed in two weeks

"Mexico needs a real renovation of its police forces, the most important link in public security" - President Enrique Peña Nieto, Oct. 15

Guadalajara -
The Jaliscan capital could automatically lose half of its metropolitan police force by the end of October if a 58 month old federal mandate to conduct confidence checks on almost half a million state and local police officers nationwide is not extended, the state Board for Police Evaluation (BPE) has reported.

Mexico's federal congress passed a law in 2008, during the administration of former PAN president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, which requires every police officer in the nation to submit to an extensive battery of polygraph, background and other fitness for service tests. Examinations began in January 2009, and were to be completed by Jan. 3, 2013. But huge numbers of officers had not been tested by that date, so the congress agreed to postpone the testing deadline to Oct. 29. Mexico extends time to weed out corrupt local cops.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Oaxaca's governor caves to school teachers, pays them $92 million dollars for 40 days not yet worked

His decision was pragmatic, but it won't be popular with many

*Updated Oct. 16 - CNTE extortion continues, this time in Michoacán*

Guadalajara - In the end, teachers collected all their back pay and bonuses in Mexico's southwestern Oaxaca state, even though 76,000 of them just began the 2013-14 school year yesterday.

When school officially resumed Aug. 19, members of the powerful Coordinadora Nacional de los Trabajadores de la Educación (CNTE) were not standing at their whiteboards. Continued teacher strikes idle a million students in Oaxaca. Instead, thousands of them were on the streets of Mexico City, where they caused millions of dollars of property damage and economic loss to local commerce. Secret Service locks Mexico City Zócalo

Mexican senators seek another delay in police vetting

*Updated Oct. 17 - proposal clears the full senate almost unopposed*
Leaders of Mexico's three main political parties plan to introduce legislation today to again push back the deadline for completion of trustworthiness and competency certifications of the nation's 450,000 local, state and federal police officers.

The process, a linchpin of the drug war strategy implemented by former president Felipe Calderón, began in January 2009 and was supposed to end on Jan. 3, 2013. But local officials were far from finishing, so the federal congress moved the deadline to Oct. 29. Mexico extends time to weed out corrupt local cops.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Mexican easily outruns the Kenyans at Guadalajara's 29th Marathon - all 42.195 kilometers of it

Guadalajara -
Kenyan Benjamin Kiplimo Metto runs faster than some people can ride a bicycle. Today he zipped through 26+ miles of Guadalajara's 29th annual marathon in 2:23:13, averaging almost 11 miles per hour and posting a 3.39 kilometer. But it wasn't quite enough for first place. Metto captured fourth, a full five minutes off the winning time posted by Veracruz native Tomas Luna Dominguez (2:18:03). Two other Kenyan runners took second and third place.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

In a land where many are poor, Mexican millionaires are increasing by leaps and bounds

"A poor country, full of the rich"

Guadalajara -
Mexico is a nation of 118 million, with a median age of about 26. On July 29 a federal agency, the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (known by its Spanish acronym, CONEVAL), reported that 45% of them were at or below the official poverty line. 53.3 million - that's how many Mexicans live in poverty (see the chart in that story for a list of extreme poverty by state).

Friday, October 11, 2013

"Zeta killers" behind gun battle which left three Jalisco police officers dead

Tepatitlán de Morelos, Jalisco -
Three state police officers were killed Tuesday evening during a shootout with heavily armed assailants in this town 50 kilometers east of Guadalajara.

The firefight began about 7:00 p.m. and lasted for more than three hours. Authorities threw dozens of local and state police officers into the furious gun battle, eventually using armored vehicles to subdue the attackers. The state police dead included a senior Jalisco commander. Four gunmen were killed, and several others were seriously wounded.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Spain again warns its citizens about dangers of Mexico

"Both tourists and residents are potential victims of Mexico's insecurity" - Spanish Foreign Ministry

Guadalajara -
For the second time in seven months, Spain has issued a formal alert warning its nationals about the risks of travel to Mexico.

It did so the first time in early March, a month after six young Spanish tourists were robbed and repeatedly raped in an Acapulco beach house. Huge cancellations in Acapulco, as spring breakers go elsewhere and Spain issues new warning.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Wal-Mart sales in free fall a good barometer of a Mexican economy on the skids

2013: Declining sales in 7 months out of 9; IMF again lowers Mexico's GDP growth estimate to 1.2%

*Jan. 30, 2014 - Mexico gets its very poor 2013 economic report card*
Guadalajara -
Mexico has been receiving bad business and economic news since the third week of June, and it just won't stop.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Jalisco governor takes a stand on same sex civil union bill, but it may not win him any points with gays

After his comment about domestic unions, political enemies may accuse the guv of Yearning for Zion

Guadalajara -
Mexico is on an irreversible course towards recognition of gay marriage, which will probably occur sooner rather than later. When it does happen, it will be by judicial decree, not by uniform legislative enactment at the federal level. To some extent, that process mirrors legal developments on the issue in the United States. Same sex marriage arrives at the U.S. Supreme Court - and at the Mexican Supreme Court.

The difference is that Mexico's highest tribunal, the Supreme Judicial Court, has chosen to look at gay unions from a human rights perspective, as a core legal guarantee implicit in Mexico's federal constitution. The judicial ministers made that clear in a ruling on Dec. 5, 2012, and in several appeals from state courts they have directed local marriage registrars to issue licenses to same sex couples. Mexico's highest court moves towards nationwide recognition of gay marriage.

López Obrador calls for campaign of public protest and civil disobedience over pending PEMEX reforms

Guadalajara graffiti: "Get the facts, organize and fight - PEMEX belongs to everybody"

Guadalajara -
MORENA leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador yesterday called on members of his ultra left party to carry out acts of protest and civil disobedience against pending energy and tax reforms, upon which the Institutional Revolutionary Party government of president Enrique Peña Nieto has bet considerable political capital in the administration's first year in office.

López Obrador's words will be cause for yet more concern in the nation's Federal District, which has been hard hit in recent weeks by disruptive protests, marches, sit-ins and encampments by striking teachers, ultra leftists and self-described anarchists. A trade group alleged last week that the capital has suffered a staggering $100 million in economic losses since June 25. Mexico City rioters caused almost $4 million in damages.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Mexican immigration service deports U.S. national facing pedophilia sentence in California

He requested asylum in Mexico

Guadalajara -
Mexico's National Institute of Migration (INM), the federal immigration authority, has announced the deportation of a 55 year old California man who is wanted on a child sex abuse conviction in a state court there.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Mexico City rioters caused almost $4 million in damages; PRI, PAN and PRD call for tough laws on street violence

For once, all the mainstream parties are on the same page

*Updated Oct. 5 - DF businesses have lost $100 million USD since June 25 due to public protests*
Guadalajara -
Leaders of Mexico's three major political parties are demanding a crackdown on violence during public protests in the nation's capital, which has been subjected to six consecutive weeks of unlawful sit-ins and at times highly destructive demonstrations by striking school teachers and ultra leftist groups.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Anarchists in Mexico City, October 2, 2013

MGR video report-
Fellow travelers of the far Left stage a different kind of march in the nation's capital

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Mexico City police attacked by anarchists; Guadalajara students march under the Red Banner

MGR video report -
"Power to the Workers! Defeat the burgeois repression of PRI, PAN and PRD"

Guadalajara -
Wednesday was a day of marches in Mexico, and not all of them were peaceful.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Radical teachers' syndicate returns to Mexico City streets

School strike in Oaxaca, Chiapas enters sixth week, as far left union continues disrupting the capital

*Updated Oct. 2*
Guadalajara -
Mexico's powerful Coordinadora Nacional de los Trabajadores de la Educación (CNTE), an educators' union which includes within its ranks a curious mix of legitimate school teachers and rabble rousing street thugs who have shown no fear of engaging in acts of violent civil disobedience, returned to the streets of the capital again this morning in an effort to close the nation's busiest international airport.

News sources reported at least a dozen Federal Police officers were injured in street skirmishes with CNTE activists. One remained hospitalized in a coma at day's end, after being severely beaten by union members who stole his service revolver and other equipment. Morning TV broadcasts showed CNTE marchers hurling rocks and other objects at police lines, which formed a perimeter around the approaches to the Mexico City International Airport (AICM). Demonstrators never reached it.