Archive | Mexico

Update: New Mexico rape kit crisis gets worse

NOVANEWS

Six months ago Liberation News reported that New Mexico had the greatest number of untested rape kits in the country.

Since then despite a statewide audit, the crisis has worsened not improved. With over 6,000 kits left untested over the course of 30+ years, justice for victims of sexual assault continues to be blatantly disregarded by state officials.

Despite the so-called efforts made to decrease the number of untested kits, the problem is worsening. Tim Keller, state auditor, reported that the backlog of untested kits is growing bigger—some decades old, while new ones are added each day. Over 20 new kits are admitted to the Albuquerque Police Department each month with only four being processed every 30 days. This means 16 new kits are being added to the backlog monthly. State officials have failed to account for the tragic rape kit crisis in New Mexico—some implying that the urgency for accountability is overdramatic.

Albuquerque Police Department has only two fully trained DNA analysts capable of processing kits. Additionally, there are only two crime labs in the state for processing. Since the public announcement of the state’s egregious epidemic, hard-hitting solutions have only been proposed, while concrete changes remain unseen.

The lack of priority given to funding testing for the backlog of rape kits is especially disgusting when we consider that Albuquerque residents have been forced to dole out $30 million for civil law suits since 2010 because of routine police violence: Albuquerque Police shot and kill people, per capita,  at twice the rate of Chicago Police.

Outrageously, state auditors found that one-fifth of the kits were left untested because of a perceived lack of credibility on the part of the victim. This fact exemplifies how this crisis denies justice to victims of sexual assault and reinforces rape culture.

Victims that courageously report rape and abuse are put through further traumatizing and humiliating processes just for evidence to collect dust for up to decades. Some older rape kits will never be able to be tested or used in court cases leaving rapists and perpetrators free to harm more women in the future. Leaving kits untested discourages victims from reporting instances of sexual assault.

The New Mexico rape kit crisis represents how violence against women is disseminated by the U.S. justice system and how this violence is a symptom of women’s continued subordinate status in capitalist society.

Sexual assault is only one symptom of the violence women face under capitalism. Women lack access to basic services like healthcare, affordable housing and education, and face higher rates of poverty than men.

We need a new system that ends all violence against women—one that protects the people and not rapists.

Posted in Mexico0 Comments

Under NAFTA, Diabetes Became Leading Cause of Death in Mexico

NOVANEWS
Image result for NAFTA LOGO
teleSUR 

Diabetes has become the leading cause of death in Mexico, according to a new study released by the World Health Organization, WHO.

The United Nations agency claims diabetes rates in the Latin American country began surging just over two decades ago, around the time the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, came into force.

An estimated 80,000 people die each year in Mexico from diabetes, WHO also reports, adding that nearly 14 percent of adults there suffer from the disease.

“Diabetes is one of the biggest problems in the health system in Mexico,” Dr. Carlos Aguilar Salinas told NPR during a recent interview.

“It’s the first cause of death. It’s the first cause of disability. It’s the main cost for the health system.”

Why has diabetes become such an issue in Mexico after NAFTA? The answer is simple: cheap imported junk food.

Since its 1994 inception, NAFTA has allowed U.S. and Canadian restaurants and processed food manufacturers to sell products at rates much lower than their Mexican counterparts. This creates a situation where fastfood chains like McDonald’s and processed food brands like Nabisco are able to dominate the country’s market, given that their products are more financially accessible.

And in a country with rising poverty, inequality and food insecurity, cheap imported junk food is often the only nutritional option.

In 2015, WHO reported that Mexico is the leading consumer of junk food in Latin America — the average person there consumes 450 pounds of ultra-processed foods and sugary beverages each year.

The organization also reported that until recently, Mexico was the largest per capita consumer of soda in the world, with the average person drinking 36 gallons each year. The U.S., Argentina and Chile are now the leading consumers of soda.

“Diabetes used to be a disease of the rich,” WHO’s Mexico chief Dr. Gerry Eijkemans also told NPR during a recent interview.

“In Western Europe and the U.S., it was really the people who had the money who were obese, and now it’s actually the opposite.”

Nearly 60 percent of Latin Americans are overweight, according to a UN report.

Posted in USA, MexicoComments Off on Under NAFTA, Diabetes Became Leading Cause of Death in Mexico

US Supreme Court to Hear Case of Slain Mexican Teen at Border

NOVANEWS
  • A U.S. border patrol agent walks along the border fence separating Mexico from the United States near Calexico, California, Feb. 8, 2017.
    A U.S. border patrol agent walks along the border fence separating Mexico from the United States near Calexico, California, Feb. 8, 2017. | Photo: Reuters
His parents wonder whether he died in “a unique no man’s land — a law-free zone in which U.S. agents can kill innocent civilians with impunity.”

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear Tuesday the case of the death of a 15-year-old Mexican boy shot by a U.S. Border Patrol agent in 2010, to decide whether the family can sue for his death. Legally, the case is particularly tricky as the shooting took place across the U.S.-Mexico border.

RELATED:  Eight People Flee U.S. Border Patrol to Seek Asylum in Canada

Sergio Hernandez was shot more than six years ago by U.S. Border Patrol agent Jesus Mesa. Hernandez’s family, who is still seeking justice, says he was playing with friends around a border fence between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez when he was shot. The case will be examined in Washington on Tuesday by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Hernandez’s parents, Maria Guadalupe Guereca and her husband Jesus Hernandez, had originally filed suit in U.S. District Court, on the basis that Mesa had violated Sergio’s Fourth Amendment protection against unjustified lethal force and his Fifth Amendment right to due process of law.

But their case was dismissed when a judge ruled that those protections do not apply to the unmarked border where Hernandez was killed. As a Mexican citizen, his death would have to be adjudicated in Mexico. And while Mexican authorities did indict Mesa for murder, the United States has refused to extradite him. They have warned that throwing out the family’s lawsuit could harm diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Hernandez’s family is seeking justice once more across the border. While a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans initially ruled that Mesa could be sued, that decision was overturned by the full court.

That’s left the young Mexican’s parents to wonder whether, as their lawyers argue, their son died in “a unique no man’s land — a law-free zone in which U.S. agents can kill innocent civilians with impunity.”

The Supreme Court must now decide whether any or all of the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees applied to the deceased teen.

RELATED:  Trump May Send 100,000 National Guard Troops as ‘Border Force’: Memo

“If you lose yourself in the Supreme Court and deny legal rights to Sergio’s parents, that’s practically giving the green light to a massacre of Mexicans,” Richard Boren, a volunteer from the Border Patrol’s Network of Victims Civil union that supports relatives of victims of similar incidents, told AFP.

Guereca has just two photographs left of her 15-year-old son. The rest were taken away by her children. They did that so she isn’t pained by his memory. But Guereca still takes out her son’s clothes every month to wash them. And every week you can find her at his grave site, laying fresh flowers on his tombstone.

“Justice,” she pleads in a choked voice when she recalls his tragic death.

Even seven years after the incident, Guereca is not giving up hope.

“We were always very close,” the 59-year-old mother told AFP. “But look at what life is like, it took (him) away forever.”

Posted in USA, MexicoComments Off on US Supreme Court to Hear Case of Slain Mexican Teen at Border

What’s behind the crisis in U.S.-Mexico relations?

NOVANEWS

What’s behind the crisis in U.S.-Mexico relations?

On Jan. 26, Enrique Peña Nieto, stated in video message on Twitter, “I regret and disapprove of the decision by the United States to continue the construction of the wall which for years, far from uniting us, has divided us. Mexico does not believe in walls.” He further stated, “I have asked the Foreign Affairs Ministry to strengthen measures to protect our nationals.” The statement led several days later to the cancelling of the scheduled meeting between Enrique Peña Nieto and Donald Trump.

The Trump Agenda is an extreme manifestation of white supremacy, bigotry, imperial arrogance and anti-worker politics. It is so extreme that even the most comprador bourgeoisie of Mexico, represented by a president who has a 12% approval rating, had to say something.

U.S. imperialist intervention in Mexico

From the theft of half of its territory in 1848, to the occupation of the port of Veracruz in 1914, to the takeover of Mexico’s economy through NAFTA signed in 1994, to the flooding of weapons and support of drug trafficking by the Drug Enforcement Agency, the U.S. empire has had, putting it lightly, a precarious relationship with its southern neighbor. With capitalism’s global turn towards the neo-liberal model in the 1980s, Mexico’s bourgeoisie was more than happy to sell out the country’s vast resources to world capitalist interests, especially U.S. corporations, in order to make a quick buck. The most egregious example of this was the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement by the notoriously corrupt PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party – Peña Nieto’s Party) president Carlos Salinas de Gortari.

Prior to 1994, it was estimated that around 2 million Mexican immigrants had crossed “illegally” into the United States. More than 20 years later, that number is estimated to be anywhere between 10-12 million Mexican immigrants. Not only did NAFTA cause the violent displacement of millions of people, it also forced upon Mexico, a developing country with vast mineral resources, extreme poverty.

Subsequent presidents, from Vicente Fox of PAN (National Action Party), who broke the decades-long rule of the PRI, to Felipe Calderon, also from PAN who launched a violent war against drug cartels which led to the mass killing of civilians, have continued to strengthen the economic and military ties with their masters to the North.

The effects of this relationship upon the Mexican working class on both sides of the border is clear. An extensive report by CONEVAL (Consejo Nacional de Evaluacion de la Politica de Desarrollo Social), a government institution in Mexico that studies the political and social development of the population, reported that in 2015, 46.2 percent of Mexicans lived in poverty. This amounted to over 55.3 million people who did not have access to nutritional and non-nutritional goods that are considered basic. Those considered to live under “extreme poverty,” meaning that they lack access to basic nutrition, were 9.4 percent of the population or 11.4 million people.

According to a recent report to the Mexican Congress by the Deputy’s Office of Economic Analysis, which analyzed the changes in remittances between Jan. 2007 and March 2011, the amount of remittances sent back to Mexico by immigrant workers between this period totaled $98.8 billion. In 2007 alone, Mexico’s economy received a little over $26 billion.

Combined, Mexican labor contributes $635 billion per year, which constitutes 5% of U.S. GDP and 60% of Mexico’s GDP. Undocumented immigrants alone contribute over $200 billion to the U.S. economy. Solely on the issue of taxes, undocumented immigrants, according the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, paid $11.4 billion in taxes last year. Compare this to giant corporations that pay very little to no federal taxes.

On both sides of the border it is the workers who pay the price of U.S. imperialism. Mexican workers work to the bone and it is their exploiters that reap the profit.

Mexico’s comprador bourgeoisie and the struggle for self-determination

When Vicente Fox started flipping-off “el Trompas” (popular naming of Trump which literally means “car horn”), media outlets made him a symbol of Mexican resistance towards Trump’s demagogic attempt to make Mexico pay for the Wall. While any flipping-off of Trump should be celebrated, Vicente Fox, the former PAN president of Mexico from 2000 to 2006, is no different than the rest of the comprador ruling class which have sought to deepen the relationships with Yankee imperialism.

Fox, the former supervisor of Coca-Cola Mexico, also received a diploma in Management Skills from Harvard Business School. During his presidency, Coca-Cola Mexico became that country’s top selling soft drink. In an unprecedented act, Fox told the late-Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro to limit his comments against the U.S. government at a U.N. meeting held in Mexico and leave as soon as he had finished his meal. Cuba and Mexico have historically had friendly relations, but Vicente Fox made it clear that he didn’t want his partnership with the United States tarnished.

Similar to Trump, the current president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, was inaugurated with protest across the country. Sparking the #YoSoy132 student movement, Peña Nieto’s dismissal of the real anger in the streets against his and the ruling class’ attempt to privatize education and the national resources of the country through “Plan Mexico” only added fuel to the fire.

Then, on Sept. 26, 2014, the mass kidnapping and disappearance of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College caused a major national and international uproar that led to a major destabilization of the PRI government. From mass actions by teachers, unions, and the recent protests against the rise of gasoline prices known as the “Gasolinazo,” the people of Mexico are resisting their own government’s oppressive policies.

It is in this context that the spineless comprador bourgeoisie is trying to rally support against Trump. It is a purely opportunistic attempt to distract the working class of Mexico in order to continue privatizing the Mexican economy. We must be clear, the people’s resistance will not be led by those who have sold out Mexico for so long. It must be led by those fighting for justice for the students of Ayotzinapa, the unions of Oaxaca and Guerrero, the indigenous councils, the Zapatistas, the mass student movements and all left revolutionaries who demand full self-determination for the Mexican people.

Mexican workers, their descendants and the vast diaspora of La Raza need to fight the continual humiliation suffered under Trump and U.S. imperialism. We must oppose the U.S.-Mexico border wall and Trump’s attempts to expand it. We must unite our cross-border struggle against capitalism and for a worker’s revolution that can finally put an end to the historic injustices against the Mexican people. ¡Fuera Trump! ¡Fuera Nieto! ¡Viva la resistencia de nuestros pueblos!

Posted in USA, MexicoComments Off on What’s behind the crisis in U.S.-Mexico relations?

At Least 4 Killed, 700 Arrested in Mexico Gas Protests

NOVANEWS
  • Demonstrators hold up placards during a protest against the rising prices of gasoline enforced by the Mexican government at the Macroplaza in Monterrey, Mexico, Jan. 5, 2017.
    Demonstrators hold up placards during a protest against the rising prices of gasoline enforced by the Mexican government at the Macroplaza in Monterrey, Mexico, Jan. 5, 2017. | Photo: Reuters
Mexicans continue to rage against the president’s neoliberal reforms and high gas prices.

Protests over a double-digit hike in gasoline prices in Mexico continue in at least 22 states of the country, officials said on Friday, as they confirmed that the wave of violent lootings and blockades has left three people dead and at least 700 arrested.

RELATED: Gasoline Hikes Lead to Food Shortages in Mexico

Business leaders estimate that some 1,000 shops and companies have been looted or vandalized this week as others closed over fears of being robbed.

Protesters argue that the government’s decision to raise fuel prices by up to 20 percent has no justification in an oil-rich country, but the government insists that the move responds to international prices and not a result of the government’s neoliberal reforms.

On Thursday night President Enrique Peña Nieto used a nationally televised New Year’s address to defend the increase, again.

“It is a difficult change, but as president, it is precisely my responsibility to take difficult decisions in the present to avoid major problems in the future,” said Peña Nieto, whose approval rating has fallen below 23 percent.

The unpopular leader said that keeping the same prices would have cost the government US$9.3 billion, forcing the suspension of health care and welfare programs.

“I ask you, what would you have done?” he said.

While acknowledging the widespread anger, Peña Nieto said he would forge ahead with the liberalized or deregulated price scheme, which removes fuel subsidies and allow gasoline prices to be determined by prevailing international prices.

Meanwhile, the state-run oil company PEMEX has denounced blockades on roads that give access to fuel storage terminals and has warned that if the situation continues it could trigger a crisis of shortages and aggravate the problem.

RELATED: Mexico Plunges into Fresh Crisis as Fury Swells over Gas Prices

Some have speculated that the looting and vandalism has been led by allegedly “infiltrated” groups, in a move that staunch critics of Peña Nieto’s administration claim is intended to create chaos in the country and undermine social protests, setting the basis for the targeting of activists as criminals.

The increases, which applied to both gasoline and diesel, will subsequently raise food, transportation and other costs, analysts warn.

Posted in MexicoComments Off on At Least 4 Killed, 700 Arrested in Mexico Gas Protests

The Zapatistas Are Building The World We Ask For

NOVANEWS

By: Ann Deslandes

Zapatista women arrive at an information session.

  • Zapatista women arrive at an information session. | Photo: Ann Deslandes

The Zapatista experiment in resisting without bullets and instead building the world we ask for – an experiment conducted under erasure, in conditions no university laboratory would authorize.

“If we had spent those 23 years exchanging gunshots,” says Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation in an evening address to the many gathered for “The Zapatistas and ConSciences for Humanity” encounter currently taking place in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, “would we have been able to build this?”

RELATED: International Women’s Day in Zapatista Territory

The Subcomandante was referring to the flourishing infrastructures of self-organized Zapatista life, lived by thousands of rebel Indigenous people in the Lacandon jungle of Chiapas, Mexico. The Zapatista movement today celebrates the 23rd anniversary of its uprising in San Cristóbal on Jan. 1, 1994, the day the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect. In the 23 years that have followed the Zapatistas are organized by small communities known as caracoles and have built autonomous hospitals, schools, health clinics, security, transport, and communications operations.

The Zapatista “command” of which Subcomandante Moisés is a member had, as the Subcomandante was recounting in his address, begun shortly after the uprising to consider “another way of fighting” the system of neoliberal economics and bad government that currently has humanity in its grip, with Indigenous peoples of the world being squeezed the hardest. That is, they began to explore a resistance to this death grip that did not rely on weapons and violence and in which only guerrillas played a role. The leaders of the movement began to speak with the “compañer@s*” of the Indigenous communities that comprise it about alternatives to fighting the war against them. The alternative, they discovered, was to include all the rebel Indigenous who struggle — the women, the children, the older people — all together building the just and rational world being fought for “from below” while continuing to face the threat of extermination by the state and capital. As such, the Zapatistas decided they would stop using their weapons against their aggressors and develop a system of self-government, completely autonomous from the state and capital.

The answer to Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés’ question is no, of course, and in fidelity to Zapatista methodology, it is met by another question: “and would we have met each other?” Here, he is talking to the nearly 100 scientists (from the fields of mathematics, engineering, volcanology, epigenetics, cosmology, biotechnology, to name but a few) who accepted the Zapatistas’ invitation to travel to San Cristóbal for this “encuentro” to present their work and respond to questions from the 100 Zapatista women selected by their communities to bring the knowledge of professional scientists to the task of building a good and just world, against neoliberalism and for humanity. This task is described for the purposes of this encuentro as “building a big house where many worlds fit.”

On this evening, Subcomandante Moisés is telling us about the journey of the Zapatistas with the arts and sciences, with an emphasis on the sciences, as this is what we are gathered to discuss. Before the uprising and the fruits of self-government, he tells us, the rebel Indigenous did not have a lot of space to make art or to contemplate the teachings of science. Ancestral and customary teachings were the primary way of knowing the world. Since autonomy has been consolidated over the past eight to nine years, new windows on the world are sought. This is marked by the questions of Defensa Zapatista, a girl of maybe 8 or 9 years old, and other young Zapatistas as they grow in their education and begin to ask questions of their elders – like, “why is that flower the color … , why does it have that shape, why does it smell? … I do not want to be told that Mother Earth with her wisdom made the flower or that God did, or whatever. I want to know what the scientific answer is.”

As such, this encuentro, “The Zapatistas and ConSciences for Humanity,” is attended by compañer@s from Zapatista communities who will be taking this knowledge back to tens of thousands of Indigenous people in many languages. It is also attended by the practitioners of professional science they have invited; by eschucas (listeners/ears) from all over Mexico and the world; and by the independent press of Latin America.

While we gather, the National Indigenous Congress is also in session, working on political strategy for Indigenous advancement in Mexico. For example, the Congress has been consulting on whether their people will name an Indigenous Governing Council to govern our country of Mexico.

In describing the movement of scientific knowledge through Zapatista communities, Subcomandante Moisés illustrates one of the many alternative worlds that Zapatista life shows us: one where, to paraphrase Subcomandante Galeano, science does not arrive with a sword as it did and continues to do under colonialism. Neither does it arrive as the “pseudoscience” of “good vibes” — New Age therapies and the like, which consigns ancestral and customary knowledge to an inferior past. Instead, knowledge is built together, as time and space makes it possible, and on the terms of the originary peoples of the earth.

In the sessions to date, Zapatista compañer@s have been addressed on the subjects of the frustrations and falsity of academia and of state-sponsored funding for scientific practice; the question of who scientific practice serves and can serve; the practice of science with social movements, such as in agroecology; the utility of science and scientists for building the world where many worlds fit; the relationship between knowledges labelled customary and scientific; the potential and applications of artificial intelligence; which is not to mention the presentations on biohacking, astronomy, the workings of the human heart, the manifestations and prevention of coffee rust, the workings of mathematics, geometry, epigenetics and cosmology, and myriad others not mentioned here. Compañer@s have also participated in workshops on robotics, on the practice of science as a profession, and on fossils and the earth’s past. The questions that Zapatista compañer@s brought to the encuentro were outlined in the beginning by Subcomandante Galeano and are 120 in number. They include:

– Do GMO foods damage the earth and humans? What about processed foods, microwaves, pesticides?

– When a baby is born and only its heart beats – it lives but the body is green, dead, and not moving, we put the baby in a container of hot water with the placenta, and without cutting the umbilical cord the baby starts to recover while the placenta distintegrates. What is the scientific explanation for this?What relation does the moon have to the movement of the earth; what is the scientific explanation?

– What produces pre-eclampsia and eclampsia? How can we prevent a pregnant woman from getting it?

– What is the best way to teach science to children?

– What do you think about how women are exploited, manipulated, marginalized, tortured, discriminated against by colour, and used as objects?

– What is the scientific explanation for why insurgents start to fall asleep when political talk takes place?

RELATED: Zapatistas Demand Indigenous Unity to Fight Capitalist Slavery

As Subcomandante Moisés reports, in the 23 years since the uprising, in the following years of building autonomy under “an offensive cease-fire” instead of “exchanging gunshots,” children are going to school and asking questions. All decisions are made collectively under the sign of “everything for everyone and nothing for ourselves,” and the will of the collectives is carried out by the Zapatista government, where “the people give the orders and the government obeys,” not the other way around. Hospital care is provided to communities throughout the Lacandon jungle, to Zapatista and non-Zapatista alike. “And,” Subcomandante Moisés observes, since then “we do not have so many shot dead, wounded, tortured, or disappeared.” Now, the Zapatistas want “science for life” — a science that flourishes against the sword, the bullet, and the “good vibes” of the bourgeoisie.

The Zapatista experiment in resisting without bullets and instead building the world we ask for – an experiment conducted under erasure, in conditions no university laboratory would authorise, is working, and invites the curiosity, wonder and knowledge-making of all who struggle for justice in a dark world.

 

 

Posted in MexicoComments Off on The Zapatistas Are Building The World We Ask For

Record Number of Priests Face Violence, Murder in Mexico

NOVANEWS
  • A photo of Reverend Gregorio Lopez Gorostieta, who was killed in 2014
    A photo of Reverend Gregorio Lopez Gorostieta, who was killed in 2014 | Photo: AFP
More than 80 percent of priest murders reportedly go unsolved.

While Mexico is one of the most devout Catholic countries in the world, for eight consecutive years it has been the world’s most dangerous country for priests, who are being killed and attacked at record rates, according to a report from the Catholic Media Centre.

RELATED:  30,000 Left Jobless in the Wake of Mexico Fireworks Explosion

In 2016, three Mexican priests were killed and four other Catholic teachers were also killed, according to the report from the Catholic Media Centre, which said that 2016 has been the deadliest year for priests since they started keeping records.

Between 1990 and 2016, the rate of murdered priests increased by a staggering 375 percent, where 38 priests have either been killed or gone missing. According to reports, more than 80 percent of priest murders have gone unsolved.

The report comes amid increased attacks against religious figures including violent threats and extortion, where Mexico has been labeled the most dangerous country in the world for religious officials for eight years running.

Between 1990 and 2016, 61 attacks were reported against Catholic Church members in the country. In 2016, extortions, at least those that were reported, rose by 70 percent.

The Catholic Media Centre said that while the majority of violence against the church was due to a spilling over of violence from organized crime groups, Mexican security forces were also involved in some incidents.

RELATED: Mexico’s Notorious Fugitive Ex-Governor Duarte Left the Country​

Since former President Felipe Calderon launched a militarized war on drug cartels a decade ago, rates of violence and murder have shot up in Mexico and so too, attacks on members of the church.

The report warned that amid widespread violence in Mexico under Enrique Peña Nieto’s current presidency, who has continued Calderon’s drug war, violence against Catholic leaders will increase by 100 percent.

The group heavily criticized the government’s poor response to the increased attacks, where there were 25 recorded attacks against church leaders in since Nieto took power in 2012.

In September, Mexico was shocked after three priests were kidnapped and killed within a week of each other, including Jose Alfredo Lopez Guillen who was kidnapped from his small parish in the state of Michoacan. His body was later found with five bullet wounds.

Posted in MexicoComments Off on Record Number of Priests Face Violence, Murder in Mexico

Another Mexican Journalist Was Just Assassinated

NOVANEWS
  • Pedro Tamayo was reportedly shot 11 times.
    Pedro Tamayo was reportedly shot 11 times. | Photo: Twitter

Tamayo was murdered outside his home by unidentified assailants.

Mexican journalist Pedro Rosas Tamayo, who specialized in police reporting, was killed outside his home Wednesday night in Tierra Blanca, Veracruz.

RELATED:
UNESCO Calls for Probe of Murder of Latino Journalist in Texas

According to local Mexican media, Tamayo was hit with at least 11 gunshots at around 11 p.m. after two armed people fired on the reporter at his home, where he lived with his relatives. Tamayo was rushed to hospital but reportedly died in the ambulance.

His wife said that a black Volkswagen appeared at the house, with one of the men getting out and shooting Tamayo.

In January, Tamayo went missing before reappearing again in Oaxaca. He had allegedly sought refuge in the state following the arrest of the suspected leader of the “New Generation Jalisco Cartel,” in Tierra Blanca, Francisco Navarrete.

Navarrete was arrested and linked to the disappearance and murder of five young people in Tierra Blanca. Following the arrest, a number of sources said that Tamayo feared for his life.

RELATED:
Paramilitaries Target Mexico Teachers with Police Permission

Tamayo was reportedly under police guard for around a month.

So far this year, 43 journalists in Mexico have received threats and have been placed under the protection of the Ministry of State Security.

Many journalists in Latin America have recently been subjected to killings, many in relation to their work. A recent report detailed that the Americas is one of the most dangerous regions for journalists in the world.

Posted in MexicoComments Off on Another Mexican Journalist Was Just Assassinated

Free Trade Agreements Have Exacerbated a Humanitarian Crisis in Central America

NOVANEWS
By Manuel Perez-Rocha 

U.S. trade negotiators continue to claim that free trade agreements help to support security, but in reality, they exacerbate the root causes of instability in the Mesoamerican region, IPS’s Manuel Perez-Rocha said in a speech at the AFL-CIO conference on U.S. trade policy.

“Real security encompasses economic, human, financial, and political security,” he said.

Today the Northern triangle of Latin America is one of the most dangerous places in the world. In Mexico alone, there are more than 27,000 people reported missing on top of the 100,000 killed in the so-called war on drugs, Perez-Rocha said.

He explained that the origins of this crisis are rooted in structural adjustment policies that the IMF and the World Bank imposed on Central America to pave the way for free trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and now the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

“Instead of bringing prosperity, [NAFTA] took away domestic protections from Mexico’s food production, leading to greater food insecurity and the widespread loss of our agricultural livelihoods,” he said.

Perez-Rocha said the abandonment of national production of food to favor imports, brought on by NAFTA, has meant the fall of production, employment, and income and the increase of inequality, poverty, and migration. He said this abandonment of the countryside by the government propelled the vacuum that has become occupied by organized crime.

“NAFTA is responsible,” he said. “for the increase of violence and public insecurity in the countryside and in all of Mexico.”

Ten years later, CAFTA was imposed in Central America, ushering in what Perez-Rocha called “the deterioration of economic conditions for working people and major new threats to the environment.”

Perez-Rocha offered one of the most egregious examples in the case of the Pacific Rim mining company which is demanding millions of dollars from El Salvador for protecting its environment.

“This is a deep humanitarian crisis that should be recognized as such,” he said. He quoted U.S. Vice President Biden as saying ‘confronting these challenges requires nothing less than systematic change, which we in the United States have a direct interest in helping to bring about.’

However, the proposal in the Alliance for Prosperity Plan does not address the roots of the crisis, Perez-Rocha said.

“The goal of the alliance, as we see it,” Perez-Rocha said, “is to attract foreign direct investment for the exploitation of natural resources.”

The alliance and agreements like the TPP, on top of the destruction already brought on by NAFTA and CAFTA, will only mean an acceleration of the race to the bottom for the region’s working families, further dislocation and displacement, and regional insecurity, he said.

Posted in USA, Canada, MexicoComments Off on Free Trade Agreements Have Exacerbated a Humanitarian Crisis in Central America

“No Touching”: Peering Through the Iron Bars of the US-Mexico Border, Families Struggle to Connect

NOVANEWS

By David Bacon

In Playas de Tijuana, on the Mexican side of the border wall between Mexico and the US, Catelina Cespedes and Carlos Alcaide greet Florita Galvez, who is on the US side. The family came from Santa Monica Cohetzala in Puebla to meet at the wall. (Photo: David Bacon)In Playas de Tijuana, on the Mexican side of the border wall between Mexico and the US, Catelina Cespedes and Carlos Alcaide greet Florita Galvez, who is on the US side. The family came from Santa Monica Cohetzala in Puebla to meet at the wall. (Photo: David Bacon)

It took two days on the bus for Catalina Cespedes and her husband Teodolo Torres to get from their hometown in Puebla — Santa Monica Cohetzala — to Tijuana. On a bright Sunday in May they went to the beach at Playas de Tijuana. There the wall separating Mexico from the United States plunges down a steep hillside and levels off at the Parque de Amistad, or Friendship Park, before crossing the sand and heading out into the Pacific surf.

Sunday is the day for families to meet through the border wall. The couple had come to see their daughter, Florita Galvez.

Florita had arrived that day in San Ysidro, the border town a half-hour south of San Diego. Then she went out to the Border Field State Park, by the ocean, two miles west of town. From the parking lot at the park entrance it was a 20-minute walk down a dirt road to the section of the wall next to the Parque de Amistad.

At 11 that morning, Catalina and Florita finally met, separated by the metal border. They looked at each other through the metal screen that covers the wall’s bars, in the small area where people on the US side can actually get next to it. And they touched. Catalina pushed a finger through one of the screen’s half-inch square holes. On the other side, Florita touched it with her own finger.

On the Mexican side of the border wall Catelina Cespedes sticks her finger through a hole in the mesh so that she can touch the finger of her daughter, Florita Galvez, on the other side. (Photo: David Bacon)On the Mexican side of the border wall Catelina Cespedes sticks her finger through a hole in the mesh so that she can touch the finger of her daughter, Florita Galvez, on the other side. (Photo: David Bacon)

Another family shared the space with Catalina and Teodolo. Adriana Arzola had brought her baby Nazeli Santana, now several months old, to meet her family living on the US side for the first time. Adriana had family with her also — her grandmother and grandfather, two older children, and a brother and sister.

The rules imposed by the Border Patrol say that where there’s no screen, the family members on that side have to stay back several feet.

It was very frustrating, though, to try to see people on the other side through the half-inch holes. So they moved along the wall to a place where the screen ended. There the vertical 18-foot iron bars of the wall — what the wall is made of in most places — are separated by spaces about four-inches wide. Family members in the US could see the baby as Adriana held her up.

But only from a distance. The rules imposed by the US Border Patrol in Border Field State Park say that where there’s no screen, the family members on that side have to stay back several feet from the wall. So — no touching.

A boy walks past the Mexican side of the border wall between Mexico and the US. (Photo: David Bacon)A boy walks past the Mexican side of the border wall between Mexico and the US. (Photo: David Bacon)

I could see the sweep of emotions playing across everyone’s faces and in their body language. One minute the grandmother was laughing, and the next there were tears in her eyes. The grandfather just smiled and smiled. Adriana talked to her relatives, and tried to wake the baby up. Her brother leaned on the bars with his arms folded against his eyes, and her sister turned away, overcome by sadness. On the US side, a man in a wheelchair and two women with him looked happy just to have a chance to see their family again.

Some volunteers, most from the US side, called “Friends of Friendship Park,” have tried to make the Mexican side more pleasant and accommodating for families. The older children with Adriana sat at concrete picnic tables. While family members talked through the wall, they used colored markers, provided by the Friends, to make faces and write messages on smooth rocks. Around them were the beginnings of a vegetable garden. Later in the afternoon one of the volunteers harvested some greens for a salad.

Such carefully controlled and brief encounters are the ultimate conclusion of a process that, at its beginning, had no controls at all. Before 1848 there was no border.

Members of the Friends group include Pedro Rios from the US/Mexico Border Program of the American Friends Service Committee, and Jill Holslin, a photographer and border activist. On the US side, another of the participating groups — Angeles de la Frontera, or Border Angels, helped the families that came to the park. “We’re here seven or eight times a month,” said Enrique Morones, the group’s director. “People get in touch with us because we’re visible, or they know someone else we helped before.” Border Angels helps set up the logistics so that families can arrive on both sides at the same time, often coming from far away.

Florita Galvez is on the US side of the border wall between Mexico and the US, and her family on the Mexican side can only see her through holes in the metal mesh. (Photo: David Bacon)Florita Galvez is on the US side of the border wall between Mexico and the US, and her family on the Mexican side can only see her through holes in the metal mesh. (Photo: David Bacon)

Weekend visiting hours, from 10 am to 2 pm, are the only time the Border Patrol allows families to get close to the wall for the reunions. Once a year they open a doorway in the wall. Watched closely by Border Patrol agents, family members are allowed to approach the open door one by one, and then to hug a mother or father, a son or daughter or another family member from the other side. To do that, people have to fill in a form and show the agents they have legal status in the US. During the rest of the year, the Border Patrol doesn’t ask about legal status, although they could at any moment. For that reason, Border Angels tells families not to go on their own.

Such carefully controlled and brief encounters are the ultimate conclusion of a process that, at its beginning, had no controls at all. Before 1848 there was no border here whatsoever. That year, at the conclusion of what the US calls “the Mexican War,” the two countries signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Mexico was forced to give up 529,000 square-miles of its territory. The US paid, in theory, $15,000,000 for the land, but then simply deducted it from the debt it claimed Mexico owed it. US troops occupied Mexico City to force the government there to sign the treaty.

The so-called “Mexican Cession” accounts for 14.9 percent of the total land area of the United States, including the entire states of California, Nevada and Utah, almost all of Arizona, half of New Mexico, a quarter of Colorado and a piece of Wyoming. Some Congress members even called for annexing all of Mexico.

On the Mexican side of the border wall, Adriana Arzola brings her new baby, Nayeli Santana, to meet her family living in the US for the first time. Meeting families through the wall takes place every Sunday at the Parque de Amistad, or Friendship Park, in Playas de Tijuana, the neighborhood of Tijuana where the wall runs into the Pacific Ocean. (Photo: David Bacon)On the Mexican side of the border wall, Adriana Arzola brings her new baby, Nayeli Santana, to meet her family living in the US for the first time. Meeting families through the wall takes place every Sunday at the Parque de Amistad, or “Friendship Park,” in Playas de Tijuana, the neighborhood of Tijuana where the wall runs into the Pacific Ocean. (Photo: David Bacon)

The Border Patrol was organized in 1924. Before that, there was no conception that passage back-and-forth between Mexico and the US on Monument Mesa had to be restricted.

At the time, the city of San Diego was a tiny unincorporated settlement of a few hundred people. It was considered a suburb of Los Angeles, then still a small town. San Ysidro didn’t exist, nor did Tijuana. To mark the new border, in 1849 a US/Mexico boundary commission put a marble monument in the shape of a skinny pyramid where they thought the line should go. A replica of that original pyramid today sits next to the wall in the Parque de Amistad. On the US side, the road leading from San Ysidro to Boundary Field State Park is named Monument Road, and the area is called Monument Mesa.

Early tourists chipped so many pieces from the marble pyramid that it had to be replaced in 1894. The first fence was erected, not along the borderline, but around the new monument to keep people from defacing it. The line itself was still unmarked, 50 years after it had been created.

The Border Patrol was organized in 1924. Before that, there was no conception that passage back-and-forth between Mexico and the US on Monument Mesa had to be restricted. The federal government only assumed control over immigration in 1890, when construction began on the first immigration station at Ellis Island in New York harbor. Racial exclusions existed in US law from the late 1800s, but the requirement that people have a visa to cross the border was only established by the Immigration Act of 1924. The law also established a racist national quota system for handing visas out.

Adriana Arzola, her sister and her baby, Nayeli Santana, talk with her family living in the US through the bars of the wall. On the US side, her family has to stay several feet away from the wall, so they can't touch each other through the bars. (Photo: David Bacon)Adriana Arzola, her sister and her baby, Nayeli Santana, talk with her family living in the US through the bars of the wall. On the US side, her family has to stay several feet away from the wall, so they can’t touch each other through the bars. (Photo: David Bacon)

In the 1930s, the Border Patrol terrorized barrios across the US, putting thousands of Mexicans into railroad cars and dumping them across the border. Even US citizens of Mexican descent, or people who just looked Mexican, were swept up and deported.  Trains carried deportees to the border stations in San Ysidro and Calexico, but on Monument Mesa there was still no formal line to keep people from returning.

That changed for the first time after World War II, when barbed wire was stretched from San Ysidro to the ocean. Mexicans called it the “alambre,” or “the wire.” Those who crossed it became “alambristas.” Yet enforcement was still not very strict. During the 1950s and early 1960s, thousands of Mexican workers were imported to the US as braceros, while many migrants also came without papers. In the Imperial Valley, on weekends during the harvest, those workers would walk into Mexicali, on the Mexican side, to hear a hot band or go dancing and then hitch a ride back to sleep in their labor camps in Brawley or Holtville.

In 1971, Pat Nixon, wife of Republican President Richard Nixon, inaugurated Border Field State Park. The day she visited, she asked the Border Patrol to cut the barbed wire so she could greet the Mexicans who’d come to see her.  She told them, “I hope there won’t be a fence here too much longer.”

At the Parque de Amistad, or Friendship Park, in Playas de Tijuana, children and families write on stones the names of other family members they're separated from because of the border. (Photo: David Bacon)At the Parque de Amistad, or “Friendship Park,” in Playas de Tijuana, children and families write on stones the names of other family members they’re separated from because of the border. (Photo: David Bacon)

The wall itself at the Parque de Amistad has become a changing artwork. As the bars rust, they’ve been painted with graffiti that protests the brutal division.

Instead, Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) in 1986. Although many people remember the law for its amnesty for undocumented immigrants, IRCA also began the process of dumping huge resources into border enforcement. A real fence was built in the early 1990s, made of metal sheets taken from decommissioned aircraft carrier landing platforms. The sheets had holes, so someone could peek through. But for the first time, people coming from each side could no longer physically mix together or hug each other.

That old wall still exists on the Mexican side in Tijuana and elsewhere on the border. But Operation Gatekeeper, the Clinton administration border enforcement program, sought to push border crossers out of urban areas like San Ysidro, into remote desert regions where crossing was much more difficult and dangerous. To do that, the government had contractors build a series of walls that were harder to cross.

On Monument Mesa, the aircraft landing strips were replaced in 2007 by the 18-foot wall of vertical metal columns. Two years later, a second wall was built on the US side behind the first. The area between them became a security zone where the Border Patrol restricts access to the wall itself to just four hours on Saturday and Sunday. The metal columns were extended into the Pacific surf.

A man looks through the bars of the border wall into the US. (Photo: David Bacon)A man looks through the bars of the border wall into the US. (Photo: David Bacon)

In Playas, though, the wall is just a sight to see for the hundreds of people who come out to the beach on the weekend. The seafood restaurants are jammed, and sunbathers set up their umbrellas on the sand. Occasionally, a curious visitor will walk up and look through the bars into the US, or have a boyfriend or girlfriend take a picture next to the wall, uploading it to Facebook or Instagram for their friends.

The wall itself at the Parque de Amistad has become a changing artwork. As the bars rust, they’ve been painted with graffiti that protests the brutal division.

One section has the names of US military veterans who’ve been deported to Mexico, with the dates of their service and death. A deported veterans group comes down on occasional Sundays, with some in uniform. In angry voices, they ask why fighting the US’ wars didn’t keep them from being pushed onto the Mexican side of the wall.

On the Mexican side of the border wall, veterans of US military service who have been deported gather to protest and to remember those who died. Their names are written on the bars. (Photo: David Bacon)On the Mexican side of the border wall, veterans of US military service who have been deported gather to protest and to remember those who died. Their names are written on the bars. (Photo: David Bacon)

 

Posted in USA, MexicoComments Off on “No Touching”: Peering Through the Iron Bars of the US-Mexico Border, Families Struggle to Connect

Shoah’s pages

www.shoah.org.uk

KEEP SHOAH UP AND RUNNING

June 2017
M T W T F S S
« May    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930