Thursday, October 16, 2014

Guerrero "paralyzed"; Acapulco targeted by anarchists

Radical students, labor unions promise more state wide violence as they gather in famous resort

Chilpancingo de los Bravo, Guerrero -
Almost three weeks after 43 students disappeared in the southwestern Mexico state of Guerrero, the administration of Governor Ángel Aguirre Rivero is facing monumental problems this evening.

Aguirre announced today that 16 of Guerrero's 81 counties had "suspended all activities" in an effort to avoid confrontations with thousands of persons flooding the state in search for the missing college attendees, who were detained by Igual municipal police the evening of Sept. 26. Presumably,"all activities" means law enforcement operations of any type which might lead to further violence with protesters, who are growing increasingly impatient with fruitless federal and state government searches for their loved ones.

More than 1,200 federal and state military personnel are scouring the Guerrero countryside for any sign of the students, including units from Mexico's new National Gendarmerie.

There is strong suspicion that the 43 were executed by corrupt police and sicarios (execution squads) working for the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel, which dominates most of the state, within hours of their arrests. But the motive for the murders remains the subject of diverse speculation.

Several days later, newly turned narcofosas - clandestine cartel burial sites - on the outskirts of Iguala yielded 28 mutilated and incinerated human corpses. Despite overwhelming popular belief that the remains must be those of some of the missing students, Mexican Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam announced on Tuesday that DNA tests had conclusively proved the contrary. The negative finding has only increased the mystery of what happened to the Iguala 43, and where they are. Last Saturday Agurrire suggested the students might still be alive.

Yesterday six new narcofosas were unearthed in and around Iguala, further exacerbating tensions. The victims buried in them have not yet been identified.

Dissident students and teachers who belong to the radical labor union Coordinadora Estatal de Trabajadores de la Educación (CETEG) have planned a huge march in Acapulco on Friday, and today Governor Aguirre implored them to exercise restraint and civility. Three days ago the same groups attacked and firebombed government buildings in this capital, and almost 300 demonstrators seized the Governor's Palace, trapping some workers in their offices for hours. On April 24, 2013 activists from the same ranks assaulted and destroyed the state headquarters of Mexico's four major political parties here, wreaking havoc in a day of riots which went largely unresisted by local authorities. Guerrero on verge of civil meltdown, as teachers riot.

Aguirre wants to avoid an encore in Guerrero's most famous resort city, Acapulco. Today he warned that "anarchists are on the way from Oaxaca" to participate. But he did not identify them.

In an effort to diffuse tensions, Aguirre said state police forces would patrol unarmed, protecting key public buildings only by their presence. Urging calm, he admonished protesters, "All of us live off of the tourist economy. Please do not interfere with the rights of third parties, or their block their access to and from airport and harbor facilities."

The governor said that he had requested the presence of personnel from Mexico's National Human Rights Commission, to monitor his state's response to what is expected to be a major demonstration of 35,000 people or more. On Monday Guerrero's Secretary of Public Security said the government's goal is to avoid violent confrontations with protesters if at all possible.

But students and CETEG syndicate members bluntly rejected Aguirre's overtures for peace. They said their goal was to "paralyze" Guerrero by "taking over" major state highways, toll booths and airports, and by seizing control of every one of the state's 81 county headquarters.

All schools in Acapulco have cancelled Friday classes.

Peña Nieto convenes National Security Council
This afternoon president Enrique Peña Nieto convened his National Security Council to address the situation of the missing 43 students and efforts to locate them. In attendance were Secretary of Government Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam, National Defense Secretary General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda and commanders of the major armed forces. The president has called recent events in Guerrero "disgraceful," and has pledged his PRI government's full logistical support in the now three week old search.

A "disappearance of powers" in Guerrero?
Article 76 of Mexico's federal constitution provides that "whenever the constitutional powers of a State have disappeared, the condition has arisen for appointment of a provisional governor, who shall call elections in accordance with the constitutional laws of the State. The appointment of a governor shall be made by the Senate from a list of three proposed by the President of the Republic, with approval of two thirds of the members present. The official appointed cannot be elected constitutional governor in the elections held pursuant to the call which he issues."

This provision can be put into play only by Mexico's federal congress, and yesterday a group of 30 National Action Party (PAN) senators petitioned their upper chamber fellows to do just that. "In the face of the obvious ungovernability of Guerrero, we ask for a declaration that legitimate local power has disappeared." There is virtually no chance the Senate will pass the measure. Although president Peña Nieto and top members of his administration are said to be disgusted with Aguirre's inability to manage his own state, he will be allowed to serve out his term, which ends next year. The governor himself denied today that Guerrero is out of control, although he has hinted at resignation in recent days. "It's entirely his own decision," said Peña Nieto.

The governor and the president

Top financial officer for Guerreros Unidos arrested, and state Secretary of Health gets the ax
The Guerreros Unidos chief accountant was arrested in Acapulco Wednesday by agents of Mexico's Organized Crime Strike Force (SEIDO).

Raúl Núñez Salgado was said to be in charge of handing over 600,000 pesos monthly to the Public Security Director of Iguala, Francisco Salgado Valladares. That sum represents more than $44,000 USD at today's exchange rate.

Valladares answered only to on-the-lam Iguala mayor José Luis Abarca, who abandoned his post soon after Sept. 26 and has yet to be located. Critics say he charged Guerreros Unidos tens of thousands of dollars a month to operate freely in his town, and to recruit new members from the municipal police force. Mexican prosecutors believe Abarca, fearing arrest, has fled Guerrero but is still in the country. Party functionaries voted to expel him from the left wing Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) earlier this month.

Even Guerrero's Public Health Secretary has fallen victim to the claim of narco affiliation. Dr. Lázaro Mazón was dismissed today by Governor Aguirre, "until such time as he explains to investigators his relationship with Mayor Abarca."

Corruption reigns in "the Free and Sovereign State of Guerrero," as civil authorities once again are about to be put to the test.

Oct. 18 - Arrest of Guerreros Unidos boss brings few answers in case of missing students
Oct. 11 - Guerrero's Gov. Aguirre says 43 missing students "may yet turn up alive"
Oct. 6 - Guerrero prosecutor: Iguala student protesters were killed by cartel executioners, aided by corrupt police
Sept. 28 - Mexico's Guerrero state in extreme civil disorder

Apr. 26, 2013 - A bankrupt Acapulco can't meet its payroll

© MGR 2014. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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