Friday, January 31, 2014

Mexican A.G.: Jalisco drug cartel armed Michoacán autodefensas

*Updated Feb. 21*
Guadalajara -
Civilian militias in Mexico, the so-called autodefensas, have been accused of being nothing more than armed gunmen in the service of drug cartels since they first appeared on the scene in early 2013. Peña Nieto's drug war czar says no to militias. Yesterday Mexico's attorney general, Jesús Murrillo Karam, suggested that may be true with some of the militias operating in Michoacán, where two violent drug cartels and local autodefensas struggling to maintain law and order have turned the state into an all out war zone in recent months.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Mexico gets a very poor 2013 economic report card

*Updated Feb. 21*
Guadalajara -
Mexico's national economy grew but 1.3% in 2013, a four year low according to the nation's federal tax and budget office. The bad news had been expected for many weeks.

In 2012 the Mexican economy grew more than three times that amount, topping out at exactly 4%. In a Jan. 25, 2013 speech, president Enrique Peña Nieto told an economic summit in Santiago, Chile that his country was poised for an encore in the year ahead. But by early summer the nation's central bank warned that rough seas were on the horizon. Banixco raises storm flag warning on Mexican economy. Expansion estimates dropped the remainder of the year, with some fearing the economy might grow 1% or less in 2013.

Federals capture key Matazeta operative in suburban Guadalajara

U.S. Consulate cautions Americans in Guadalajara

Zapopan, Jalisco -
Mexican army troops have arrested the son of the leader of the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), a powerful organized crime group commonly known as Los Matazetas, or "Zeta killers."

Rubén Oseguera, son of CJNG top boss Nemesio Oseguera, was taken into custody during an early morning operation in Zapopan, a sprawling suburban community just beyond the Guadalajara city limits. There were no injuries, authorities reported during a noon press conference.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Bolivia's Evo Morales to CELAC: "Let's spy on the U.S."

Guadalajara -
Bolivian president Evo Morales has something of a fiery temper, and when it erupts he has a tendency to push the diplomatic envelope. He demonstrated the skill once more today in Havana, as the second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) came to a close in Cuba.

Morales hasn't forgotten his undignified trip home from Russia last summer, where he attended a gas and oil summit hosted by president Vladimir Putin. In route to La Paz French officials denied his aircraft overflight rights, and the Bolivian plane was forced to double back to Austria to refuel and chart a new course - the ultimate insult to a foreign head of state. All of this occurred while former NSA contractor Edward Snowden was holed up in a Moscow airport, desperately looking for a new home. Snowden had received several offers from Latin American leaders, and there was suspicion he was hitching a ride west with Morales. Ultimately the Bolivian president had to consent to a search of his aircraft during an overnight stay in Vienna. He blamed it all on Washington. U.S. likely to have more troubles with Bolivia after Morales' aircraft is forced down.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Mexico' s anti-kidnapping plan: long on speeches, short on specifics

*Updated Mar. 7*
Guadalajara -
Mexico, the 2013 world leader in kidnappings, has announced a package of strategies to combat a crime which has spread at alarming proportions since the PRI government of president Enrique Peña Nieto took office on Dec. 1, 2012. Figuring out exactly what they are will defy even the most focused analysis.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Templarios gunmen arrested in Guadalajara metro

Spillover from Jalisco's violent next door neighbor

Guadalajara -
Three heavily armed members of the Michoacán based Los Caballeros Templarios drug cartel were arrested in metropolitan Guadalajara Saturday night, the Jalisco state prosecutor reported today.

The Templarios are under hot pursuit in Michoacán, where federal police and troops flooded the state two weeks ago in an effort to restore law and order in communities plagued by open combat between the cartel and civilian militias determined to eliminate them. Security throughout the state remains very uncertain.

20 Michoacán police officers charged as "Zeta Killers"

Guadalajara -
Mexico's attorney general, the Procuraduría General de la República (PGR), has announced that 20 municipal police officers from Vista Hermosa, Michoacán have been charged with being members of the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), commonly known as Los Matazetas ("Zeta Killers").

Russians are the first to benefit from PEMEX reforms

Guadalajara -
When Mexico opened the doors of its national oil company, PEMEX, to private capital investment and foreign technical participation in December, almost everyone predicted that the first to take advantage of the new laws would be U.S. and European petroleum giants. That's not what happened.

Before president Enrique Peña Nieto departed the 2014 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Friday, he and his PRI administration team signed a contract with Russian oil monolith Lukoil (Лукойл), which operates in more than 40 countries and is purportedly the second largest public petroleum company after ExxonMobil in proven oil and gas reserves worldwide.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Peña Nieto's top domestic security adviser resigns

Guadalajara -
Colombian General Óscar Naranjo, appointed with much fanfare as chief domestic security consultant to president Enrique Peña Nieto only days after he was elected in July 2012, has resigned his post.

Florence Cassez will tell her story on the big screen

Guadalajara -
French national Florence Cassez, released from a 60 year prison sentence by Mexico's Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) one year ago yesterday, is ready to let the world know all about her experience with Mexican criminal justice.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mexican national, convicted cop killer, executed in Texas

Immortalized by a norteño band, his case is viewed very differently in Mexico

Guadalajara -
Édgar Tamayo Arias, the latest focus of a long running legal battle between Mexico and the United States over the rights of Mexican citizens arrested on U.S. territory, was executed late today by the Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice at Huntsville.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mexican judges: warrantless cell phone tracking is legal

Guadalajara -
In a case of first impression, the full chamber of Mexico's Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) has ruled that prosecutors may track a cell phone through the GPS data it emits without first obtaining a judicial warrant.

Judicial ministers found that if criminal investigators are able to present a "minimally plausible case" demonstrating their need for the GPS data, the cell phone service provider must hand it over on a continuing basis, in real time. However, such prosecutorial requests must be confined to serious cases with exigent circumstances, where time is of the essence and lives may be at stake, such as kidnapping, extortion and organized crime offenses, a majority of the 11 member SJC ruled.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Michoacán security accord more of the same old song

Autodefensas say they're not backing off

Guadalajara -
Federal and state authorities convened a heavily advertised security conference today in Morelia, capital of Michoacán. Almost seven months ago the current PRI administration poured thousands of federal police and troops into the violent zone in an effort to subdue it, as did former PAN president Felipe Calderón in the opening act of the drug war in 2006. But things have gone from bad to worse.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The violins are out in Montreal

MGR's view

Guadalajara -
The Milenio news network reported this evening that protesters marched today in front of the Mexican consulate in Montreal. They were denouncing the arrest of co-nationals (presumably) Mlles. Fallon Poisson Rouiller and Amelie Pelletier, both caught in the act of firebombing a government installation and a car dealership in Mexico City Sunday night.

Mexican politicians draw scrutiny with lavish publicity expenditures

129,434,606 pesos on image enhancement, in one of Mexico's poorest states

Guadalajara -
In a country where the official poverty rate is 45%, and things may be getting harder, not easier, for the man on the street, Mexico's upward bound politicians spare not a centavo in boosting personal images.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Canadian women* just won't behave in Mexico

Bizarre allegations in the Federal District

Mexico City -
Two Canadian women are under federal investigation here for allegedly participating in a weekend molotov cocktail attack against the Federal Department of Communication and Transportation and a local Nissan dealership.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Texas denies Mexican governor's appeal for death stay in Édgar Tamayo case

Texas Governor Rick Perry remains "inflexible" according to Mexican officials

Cuernavaca, Morelos -
The office of PRD governor Graco Ramírez Garrido Abreu in Cuernavaca confirmed this afternoon that Texas authorities have refused his request to stay the execution of Édgar Tamayo Arias, who will be put to death two weeks from tomorrow in Huntsville.

Tamayo Arias, 45, is scheduled to die for the January 1994 murder of Houston police officer Guy Gaddis, who was 24 when he was killed by multiple gunshots fired at the back of his head by Tamayo, while Gaddis was transporting him to jail after a street arrest. Tamayo was handcuffed at the time.

Monday, January 6, 2014

López Obrador accuses Peña Nieto of "treason," while radical teachers get kicked out of Mexico City - again

Federal District remains tense, as union rallies its members for a new offensive; meanwhile, AMLO lets it all hang out - but will the latest verbal barrage convert him into a relic of political history?

Guadalajara -
2013 may have been the year of Enrique Peña Nieto, but former two time presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador doesn't plan to join the parade.

López Obrador hit the political circuit bright and early this morning, looking a bit on the thin side but no worse the wear after a December cardiac event sidelined him at home for a month. While he was away from the partisan battlefield, Mexico's federal congress and an easy majority of its 32 states passed the historic PEMEX reforms, and in record time considering the multi-step legislative process required for constitutional amendments.

López Obrador, 60, founder and leader of the ultra-left National Regeneration Movement (Movimiento de Regeneración Nacional, commonly known by its acronym MORENA), was twice denied Mexico's presidency (2006, 2012). Most expect him to be a candidate again in 2018. Mexican politicians already looking ahead to next contest. Today he demanded that "all of the so-called institutional reforms" of the Peña Nieto administration be "abolished immediately."

The White City is 472

Mérida, Yucatán -
The Yuctecan capital claims Jan. 6, 1542 as its birthday. The city is synonymous with its magnificent San Ildefonso cathedral, the construction of which began in 1561. Stones for the project were pilfered from Mayan ruins throughout the state. Historians may argue over whether Ildefonso is the oldest or the second oldest Catholic house of worship in the Americas, but there can be no quarrel over the spell it casts on every visitor. Presenting unique façades in shifting light, Ildefonso has a changing yet constant face. It's impossible to get too much of this architectural masterpiece, or not to be awed by the five centuries of history which have passed its massive portalón. Meridians are lucky to have it.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

U.K. report: life is getting harder, not easier for Mexicans

U.S. expert queries whether new Mexican taxes will be used to help the masses

Guadalajara -
In an article published yesterday by the respected British magazine The Economist, an unidentified reporter recounted his experience outside a sprawling Mexico City market on New Year's Eve day.

"People without enough money to shop were sifting through piles of discolored and discarded avocados and tomatoes, wrapping what was still edible in scraps of newspaper and furtively carrying them off for their own more meager supper. For many of these Mexicans, life is getting harder."

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Dengue Fever still claims lives in Mérida, but far fewer

Stats for 2013 show much improvement over the previous reporting year

Downtown Mérida, where the concept of storm sewers is unknown - September 2010

Mérida, Yucatán -
It's raining cats and dogs these days in Merida (best translated as está lloviendo a cántaros - leave the gatos and perros out of it), and that's not good news for municipal dengue eradication efforts.

Naked Justice of the Peace, city cop: sex in parked car is "normal and common" in Yucatán

Of Mayan villages, strange practices and other regional miscellany

Mérida, Yucatán -
MGR has never had the pleasure of visiting Temax, Yucatán (marked at the top of the map). But it did once suffer through the agony of an afternoon trip to Ticul (bottom of the map) and will not soon repeat that experience. All Mayan named hamlets are now on the permanent DO NOT VISIT list.

Many Mexicans heavily in debt, with no way to pay

The bill collector cometh

Guadalajara -
Credit card bills or notices of loan payments due are not unusual in many countries this time of year. Nor are default notices. Mexico is no exception.

Two Mexican federal agencies, the National Bank Commission and the National Commission for Protection Against Usurious Finance Charges, have reported that the number of consumer loans in arrears tripled in 2013, with one of every nine individual debtors (11%) now in some degree of default.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Playa del Carmen police accused of killing U.S. citizen

Victim was an ex-U.S. serviceman

*Updated content*
Cancún, Quintana Roo -
Six municipal police officers of Playa del Carmen are under arrest after a city resident died in a patrol vehicle transporting him to the local precinct house. All have been charged with homicide.

The victim has been identified as 28 year old Yeudi Estrada Carrero, originally from New York but a Playa resident for the past several years. Estrada, a U.S. national, was a mixed martial arts specialist, and had reportedly served in the U.S. military, perhaps as a Marine.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Mexico will report on marijuana eradication

Guadalajara -
Mexico has fairly powerful freedom of information procedures, which are less administratively burdensome and time consuming than many FOIA applications in the United States. The administration announced today that in response to an inquiry by a private citizen, the attorney general's office will compile and publicly release a state by state report on the marijuana and opium acreage destroyed from Jan. 1, 2012 through October 2013.

Destruction of cannabis and opium poppy plants is typically carried out by federal troops. Mexican armed forces arrest 4,760 drug traffickers in first eight months of PRI admin.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Havana celebrates 55th anniversary of Cuban revolution

"El marxismo me enseñó cómo era la sociedad. Era como un hombre con los ojos vendados en un bosque, que ni siquiera sabe dónde está el norte o hacia el sur es. Si usted no tiene el tiempo llega a comprender realmente la historia de la lucha de clases, o por lo menos tener una idea clara de que la sociedad está dividida entre los ricos y los pobres, y que algunas personas subyugar y explotar a los demás, estás perdido en un bosque, sin saber nada -

"Marxism taught me what society was. I was like a blindfolded man in a forest, who doesn't even know where north or south is. If you don't eventually come to truly understand the history of the class struggle, or at least have a clear idea that society is divided between the rich and the poor, and that some people subjugate and exploit other people, you're lost in a forest, not knowing anything." - Fidel Castro, quoted in My Life: A Spoken Autobiography, by Ignacio Ramonet (2009).

Guadalajara -
From an MGR post on Oct. 26, 2011:

"On the evening of December 31, 1958 the president of Cuba was a swaggering dictator named Fulgencio Batista. An old friend of Washington and the American mafia alike, Batista knew the end was near. Cuban rebels, long his nemesis, were on the outskirts of Havana, and occasional gunfire could be heard in the distance. U.S. political support was quickly evaporating. Officials of the Dwight Eisenhower administration told Batista that it was time to pack his bags. At a New Year's Eve party, over a champagne toast, he told his cabinet ministers that he was leaving the country in a few hours. At 3:00 a.m. on January 1, 1959, Batista boarded a plane with supporters and flew to the Dominican Republic, under the careful watch of U.S. officials. With him, crammed into the cargo hold, went cash and art work estimated at $300-$700 million USD, all of it property of the Cuban state.

Mexico's finance minister gets prestigious awards

Yet more praises from abroad for the PRI team in Mexico City

*Updated Jan 3*
Guadalajara -
The British magazine The Banker has named Luis Videgaray Caso, secretary of Mexico's Hacienda y Crédito Público (SHCP), finance minister of the year for 2014 in two categories: Latin American region and worldwide.

The SHCP is the rough equivalent of the U.S. Dept. of the Treasury, the Internal Revenue Service and the Office of Management and Budget rolled into one. It is one of the most powerful departments in Mexico's federal executive branch.

This is the first such award for the Hacienda or its secretary in the nation's history.

Dollar ends 2013 stronger against peso than it did in 2012

Guadalajara - One year ago MGR published a New Year's Eve post entitled Dollar falls unexpectedly against Mexican peso, as U.S. goes over fiscal cliff. At the close of business on Dec. 31, 2012, the dollar sold for an average 13 pesos, and bought as little as 12.25 pesos.

Today the news was much better - for dollar holders, that is. In Mexico City banks the U.S. currency sold for up to 13.4 pesos, and fetched at least 12.87 of the moneda nacional. Dollar holders in Mexico have been able to get 13 pesos, or very close to that, for many weeks now.