Monday, March 31, 2014

Guerrero citizen militia claims U.S. citizen Harry Devert was murdered by local drug cartel, but offers no proof

Guadalajara -
U.S. motorcyclist and adventurer Harry Devert has been missing for more than two months. He was last heard from on Jan. 25, supposedly headed for the Pacific coast town of Zihuatanejo in Guerrero state, due south of the Michoacán capital of Morelia, along Mexico's famous Costa Grande. Devert was aboard a green Kawasaki with New York tags. Brazil was his final destination. Mexico opens investigation into U.S. citizen missing in Michoacán, as long silence grows increasingly ominous.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Bruce Beresford-Redman's bizarre bid to escape Mexican justice - in Los Angeles

MGR News Analysis

Cancún, Quintana Roo -
Mexican criminal trials tend to be long, drawn out affairs. Former Survivor producer Bruce Beresford-Redman's is no exception, as it plods along in this Riviera Maya resort at a snail's pace. No one has a clue when the trial judge might get around to delivering a verdict, despite the fact that the crime being prosecuted occurred almost four years ago. They don't say mañana in this country for nothing.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

El Chapo Guzmán's takedown: strategy or serendipity?

Fiction writers are already hard at work

Guadalajara -
When former Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán finally met The Man in the Pacific coast city of Mazatlán early on Saturday morning, Feb. 22, more than a decade after he had escaped from a Mexican high security prison in January 2001, both this country and the U.S. took quick advantage of the moment to engage in a bit of self-adulation, praising the "high level of coordination" between their respective law enforcement agencies. Now two Mexican marines who claim to have personally taken Guzmán into custody that day say it was all nothing more than a case of very good luck.

Mexican high court tosses leftist lawsuit challenging PEMEX reforms

Guadalajara -
The full chamber of Mexico's Supreme Judicial Court this afternoon rejected a lawsuit filed by senators of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) last December, which sought to block legal reforms opening PEMEX, the national oil company, to private capital investment and foreign technical participation.

The 11 member court voted 8-3 to deny a petition filed by three PRD senators, who contended the internal structure of PEMEX could be modified only if a citizen plebiscite had so authorized. The court began debate on the case Tuesday and finished today.

Memo to Boeing CEO: Cancel Mexico's Dreamliner order

Purchase of a half billion dollar jet raises questions in a land where the minimum wage is $5 a day

*Updated Oct. 9 (below)*
Guadalajara -
In the past six weeks Mexico has reported that its sputtering economic engine nearly stalled in 2013, posting the worst results seen since 2009, and that the country is losing rather than creating real jobs. On Tuesday it followed with an encore: January 2014 was more of the same.

With those thoughts and more in mind, a grass roots citizens movement hopes to cancel the nation's purchase of what will be the most expensive executive aircraft in the world: a half billion dollar Boeing 787 Dreamliner scheduled to be delivered to president Enrique Peña Nieto in 2015.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Quintana Roo governor in the crosshairs over "fascist" anti-protest law

A brewing "Caribbean fascism" in Q.R. state, opponents argue

Cancún, Quintana Roo -
Roberto Borge Angulo, the 34 year old Institutional Revolutionary Party governor of Mexico's most southeastern state, has quickly backed away from a bill which easily cleared the PRI controlled state legislature on Monday. Borge's deft sidestep took opponents by surprise, since the proposed "Social Order Law" was his political brainchild, they claim.

The controversial legislation would give authorities the power to shut down any march, demonstration or public protest which "interferes with the delivery of any service or disrupts the peace or tranquility of any community or impedes the activities or human rights of other persons."

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mexican economy off to a shaky start in 2014, January data shows

*Updated Apr. 29*
Guadalajara -
Mexico's economy grew but 0.8% on an annualized basis in the first month of the new year, a federal agency reported today. Government economists had forecast January growth of 1% to 1.4%.

The National Statistical and Geographic Institute (INEGI) said a weak performance by the primary sector was responsible. Primary sector industries include agriculture, livestock and fishing.

Mexico's gross domestic product expanded 1.1% in December.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Finally, the last chapter in the sad case of Paulette

"Help me return home" - A retrospective on a death in Interlomas

Guadalajara -
Four years ago this week, all of Mexico was transfixed by the case of little Paulette Gebara Farah. Last week the nation's highest tribunal, the Supreme Judicial Court, closed the book on the matter forever.

Paulette, 4, was a child who suffered from significant developmental disabilities, both physical and emotional. She did unusual things, like crawling out of her bed in the middle of the night so she could sleep under it instead of in it. Paulette was enrolled in a school where her special needs could be addressed. She was loved by her teachers and the other students. They released balloons when it was time to say goodbye to her.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

PAN boss: "There is no respect for life in Michoacán, nor a government"

"A state where insecurity is destroying families" - Gustavo Madero Muñoz

Guadalajara -
Gustavo Madero Muñoz, outgoing chairman of Mexico's center right National Action Party and currently a candidate for reelection, condemned this morning's assassination of a PAN mayor in a town near the Jalisco border, saying "life is not respected in Michoacán. The most minimal security is unavailable to public officials so they can do their work."

Gustavo Garibay García, mayor of Tanhuato de Guerrero, Michoacán, was shot and killed by an execution team this morning as he left home. He died on the scene. Garibay had narrowly escaped a previous attempt on his life Oct. 31, 2012. No security escort was with him this morning, when police say at least three assailants approached and opened fire on Garibay.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Yucatán prosecutor confirms: remains found in remote peninsular region are those of missing Ukrainian tourist

Spousal homicide theory goes out the window

Oleksandr and Maryna married in 2008, and had traveled the world together.

Mérida, Yucatán -
Prosecutors here have confirmed that the human remains found in a remote region of the Yucatán peninsula are those of Ukrainian citizen Maryna Burakova, who had been missing and unaccounted for since January 2013. The results of just completed forensic analyses will raise as many questions as they answer, however.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Seven drug traffickers ambushed near Arizona border

Guadalajara -
Sonora state police have reported seven persons dead and four others injured after drug traffickers were ambushed in rugged Caborca county, about 100 miles southwest of Nogales, Arizona. They said the assailants were probably members of a competing narcotics gang.

The gun battle occurred Tuesday evening, but police did not stumble upon the scene until yesterday afternoon. The region is remote and lightly populated, and secondary roads are poor.

Mexican Human Rights Commission gearing up for next Texas execution

Convicted Tamaulipas murderer, rapist has a date with the death chamber in less than three weeks, while litigation continues on multiple fronts

*Updated Apr. 7*
Guadalajara -
For the second time in less than 90 days, Mexico is asking Texas state officials to halt the pending execution of one of its citizens.

Ramiro Hernández Llanas, 44, is scheduled to die in Huntsville on April 9. Prosecutors say that on Oct. 15, 1997, Hernández broke into the home of a rancher in remote Kerr County, killing the man and then tying up his wife and raping her. Hernández was the rancher's hired hand.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Guanajuato joins Jalisco, Yucatán in allowing gay unions

But lack of uniform national laws on the subject is causing continued litigation

*Updated June 2*
Guadalajara -
The central Mexican state of Guanajuato has joined several other jurisdictions in allowing same sex marriage.

An unidentified female couple wed yesterday in the city of León, where officials registered the marriage after a federal court ordered them to do so. The couple's application for a civil license had originally been denied, prompting them to seek legal recourse.

Same sex marriage has been lawful by statute in the Federal District (Mexico City) since 2010. In 2012 officials in Quintana Roo announced that gay marriage would be recognized on a de facto basis. Last year Yucatán authorized same sex unions, but only after the state lost a federal court battle on the issue and decided not to appeal. In July a state judge said "Yucatecans are not ready for gay marriage," provoking much controversy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

On 76th anniversary of Mexican oil expropriation, Peña Nieto says "the State remains the sole owner of energy"

The "18th of March Brigade" is a reference to March 18, 1938 - the day foreign oil assets in Mexico were seized by president Lázaro Cárdenas, a patriotic hero to millions of citizens

Guadalajara -
On this date in history, Mexican president Lázaro Cárdenas del Río (in office 1934-1940), nationalized Mexico's entire petroleum industry and expropriated all assets of foreign oil companies in the country. The state run oil company, Petróleos Mexicanos, or PEMEX, was born as a result.

Michoacán Templarios stole human organs from child victims, to sell and to eat

*Updated Mar. 19*
Guadalajara -
Michoacán's Secretary of Public Security yesterday announced the capture of 34 year old Manuel Plancarte Gaspar, a nephew of Enrique "Kike" Plancarte. The latter is one of two surviving bosses of the state's vicious Los Caballeros Templarios drug cartel. For weeks federal and state authorities have been scouring the hot, dry, rugged Tierra Caliente - the Templarios home turf - to arrest or eliminate Kike, too.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Mexican public health expert warns of Dengue outbreak

Guadalajara -
Mexico is due a major outbreak of Dengue Fever this year or next, a public health specialist on the staff of Mexico City's prominent Federico Gómez Childrens' Hospital said last week.

Jorge Méndez Galván, M.D., noted that with about 60,000 cases of Dengue officially diagnosed in 2013, Mexico is in fourth place worldwide among countries which report the illness' incidence. Brazil, Indonesia and Vietnam are at the top of the Dengue chart.

Dr. Méndez is a surgeon educated at the National Autonomous University in the early 1970s. He later earned a Master's in Public Health, specializing in Epidemiology, and in 1990 was awarded a second Master's in Health Science from Baltimore's prestigious Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health and Hygiene.

Defiant civilian militias announce rupture with Mexico City

A fearless Declaration of Independence in Michoacán

Community police leaders appeared with Michoacán governor Fausto Vallejo (fourth from right) and federal security commissioner Alfredo Castillo (second from right) on Jan. 27, to announce a formal agreement between the autodefensas and state and federal authorities. Now it may all be history.

Guadalajara -
Less than 60 days after the PRI administration of president Enrique Peña Nieto announced an accord with Michoacán's troublesome policías comunitarias, militia leaders said yesterday "the deal is off."

Thursday, March 13, 2014

In Michoacán, Peña Nieto makes no mention of "outside the law" citizen militias

"The autodefensas have in common the pretension that it is their right to undertake public security duties, contrary to the law" - CNDH

Guadalajara -
The chairman of Mexico's National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), Raúl Plascencia Villanueva, claims the 20,000 or more community militiamen operating in Michoacán state are "entirely outside the law," but president Enrique Peña Nieto made no mention of them this afternoon when he made yet another quick visit to the troubled region, spending about two hours with avocado producers. They were full of praise for the government's efforts on their behalf.

Peña Nieto sent federal troops into the state in May 2013, and redoubled the effort on Jan. 13 as security continued to deteriorate. On Feb. 4 he traveled to Michoacán with most of his Institutional Revolutionary Party cabinet, and announced a $3 billion dollar aid package to jump start the stagnant local economy. The president promised to return to the state every month, and he's been true to his word. In Michoacán, all the president's men arrive with cash and promises.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Mexico's Supreme Court upholds police vetting process

Guadalajara -
In 2008, during the administration of former president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, Mexico's congress passed a law which requires every police officer in the nation (about 450,000) to submit to an extensive battery of polygraph, background and other fitness for service tests. Cleansing local police ranks of corruption was a linchpin of Calderón's drug war strategy. Testing began in January 2009, and was to be completed by Jan. 3, 2013. But huge numbers of officers had not been examined by that date, so the congress agreed to postpone the testing deadline to Oct. 29. Mexico extends time to weed out corrupt local cops. When even that deadline proved too demanding, it was extended a full year. Mexican senators seek yet another delay in police vetting.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mexico arrests key community militia leader in Michoacán, on suspicion of murder

A preview of coming attractions . . .

*Updated Mar. 19*
Guadalajara -
As parts of Michoacán state continue to spiral downward into social disorder, and autodefensas - self-appointed local police forces - increasingly are the primary or exclusive law enforcement bodies in rural counties, a prominent militia leader was taken into custody late this evening by agents of the state attorney general.

Mexican judges consider constitutionality of "hawk" law

Michoacán statute is aimed at punishing narco "halcones"

Guadalajara -
Mexico's Supreme Judicial Court has taken preliminary jurisdiction over a case arising in Michoacán state, where earlier this year the local legislature passed a criminal statute which would jail for up to 12 years "anyone who obtains and shares information concerning the location, activities, movements or operations of the armed forces or public security agencies."

Monday, March 10, 2014

Death by bus, in Guadalajara

Governor uses emergency powers to deal with safety issues, fares

*Updated Mar. 20 (at bottom)*
Guadalajara -
Last Friday a 53 year old metro bus driver here lost control of his vehicle and plowed into a crowd of 20 persons waiting on the curbside. When police arrived an 18 year old university student lay dead, and many others were injured. The conductor, whom prosecutors say was driving at excessive speed, has been charged with the Mexican equivalent of reckless manslaughter.

"Death by bus" is an increasingly common event in Guadalajara. The city's main daily, El Informador, reports that 14 persons have been killed by buses since Jan. 1, and another 70 injured. Victims are usually pedestrians crossing the street, or bicyclists. Children as well as adults have died.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Mexico: Guzmán's extradition to U.S. is inevitable

Guadalajara -
In a weekend interview with the Spanish language network Univision, Mexican ambassador to the U.S. Eduardo Medina Mora said that the extradition of former Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán is "not a question of 'if,' but when."

Guzmán was arrested in Mazatlán, Sinaloa on Feb. 22, 13 years and one month after he escaped from a high security federal prison. There are many federal charges pending against him in the U.S. Guzmán's sons threaten violence, while U.S. congressman calls for his immediate extradition.

At one year, assassination of Jalisco tourism minister remains an open file

Guadalajara -
On a sunny Saturday afternoon one year ago today, José de Jesús Gallegos Álvarez, the Jalisco Secretary of Tourism, was returning to his suburban home after an appointment at the statehouse downtown. An organized crime execution squad intercepted him in route and gave chase, causing Gallegos to lose control of his vehicle. As he staggered out of the car, sicarios pumped multiple .9mm slugs into his body. Gallegos died at the scene, in a neighborhood not accustomed to drug war violence on full display. MGR's original story: Jalisco Secretary of Tourism assassinated in Guadalajara.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Enrique Peña Nieto inaugurates Women's Justice Center in Mérida

Mérida, Yucatán -
Surrounded by admiring self-described "country women," most fitted out in their best regional dress, president Peña Nieto appeared today in the White City, the Yucatán's 472 year old capital, to announce the opening of a National Women's Justice Center.

The event coincided with the International Day of the Woman, which is being celebrated this weekend in many countries.

"I salute all Yucatecan women, and all of Mexico's women, for their tenacity and their combative spirit. They have fought tirelessly for their country and their families," said the president during a 90 minute presentation.

Michoacán lemons, very pretty - and expensive

"Lemon tree very pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet"

*Updated Apr. 20*
Guadalajara -
Lemons and limes are a staple of the Mexican diet. Not to garnish a margarita (a drink almost never consumed by citizens of this country, who greatly prefer tequila solo - a shot straight up), but as a seasoning of sorts used on all types of food. Perhaps it helps cut the fire of the three alarm salsas everybody eats.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Colima braces for Caballeros Templarios, while Human Rights Comm'n. says there's no local law in Michoacán

*Updated Apr. 28*
Guadalajara -
The chair of Mexico's National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) said yesterday there is "often a complete absence" of governmental authority at the county and municipal level in Michoacán state, where citizen militias continue to jockey with federal forces for control of local communities long ravaged by drug cartels and organized crime, the most powerful of which is Los Caballeros Templarios.

Federal troops and police entered the state in April 2013 in an effort to restore order. On Jan. 13 the administration beefed up the effort, but many areas remain far from secure according to daily news accounts by the Mexican press.

Mexico enacts uniform criminal procedure code for the first time in its history

Guadalajara -
For the first time since declaring its independence almost 204 years ago, Mexico has implemented a national criminal procedure code which will be binding on each of its 32 states as well as the federal government.

The Código Nacional de Procedimientos Penales was signed into law yesterday by president Enrique Peña Nieto during a ceremony in Mexico City, and was published today in the country's Federal Register, making it the law of the land.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

American spring breaker murdered in Cancún

Alleged overcharging leads to homicide

*Updated Mar. 15*
Cancún, Quintana Roo -
A 23 year old American citizen on spring break has been murdered here, Mexican news services are reporting at this hour.

The man left a bar known as the 11:11 Saturday evening. His body was found early Sunday morning on a remote road. Investigators say he was strangled.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Jalisco governor takes credit for discovery of burial sites

. . . as the fourth one is unearthed in the same neighborhood

Guadalajara -
In comments which will raise some eyebrows here, Jalisco governor Aristóteles Sandoval Díaz said the reason narco fosas, or organized crime burial sites, are turning up all over the state is because in his administration crime "is being investigated."

Mexican Church has harsh words for government over El Chapo Guzmán's capture, and official corruption

"The Chaponización of Mexico portends an alarming social decay" - Archdiocese of Mexico City

Guadalajara -
In a terse editorial published yesterday by the influential Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico City in its official publication, Desde La Fe, Church officials said last week's take down of Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquín Guzmán is no cause for celebration, but only a reason for reflection. The Chaponización of Mexico (translated and edited for clarity by MGR) presented this case:

"Public enemy number one has fallen. The arrest of Joaquín Guzmán Loaera demonstrates how one of the most wanted criminals in this country was protected by many, while the United States - now clamoring for his extradition - praised Mexico and congratulated itself for 'the coordination of law enforcement agencies in both countries.'

Saturday, March 1, 2014

At 14 months of PRI administration, 21,258 drug war dead

*Updated Mar. 17, 2014*
Guadalajara -
Mexico's National Public Security Ministry reported yesterday that in the first 14 months of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) administration of president Enrique Peña Nieto, the country recorded 21,258 deaths related to organized crime and narco violence.

Previous reports from the ministry have confirmed that on average, about 1,500 persons per month, or 50 a day, continue to die in the now 87 month old drug war (stories below). The PRI government, as did its PAN predecessor, maintains that most of those killed were cartel operatives or gang members murdered by competitors in narcotics trafficking and allied industries.