See links to the flyers below for the names and details of the disappeared family members of the members of Mexicanos en Exilio. Details in English and Spanish.
Seminario Zeta of Tijuana recently published a piece comparing homicide statistics from the Calderon and Pena Nieto administrations and has appeared in several newspapers and magazines in Mexico including Proceso, http://www.proceso.com.mx/?p=380354
The original piece is posted below.
The gist of the article is that even though EPN and his government secretaries say that homicides have been reduced significantly (30% or more), the truth is much more murky and that compared to the first 20 months of Calderon’s term, there have actually been more homicides, not less.
The discussion has to do with the fact that official homicide statistics come from two main sources: the SESNSP and INEGI. [I posted a brief explanation of these two sources here, http://fronteralist.org/2014/08/22/q-a-with-frontera-lists-molly-molloy/ ] written before this new Zeta piece was published.
Zeta also uses media reports and civic organization counts in different states and cities and comes up with tallies that are somewhat higher than the recent INEGI report: http://www.inegi.org.mx/inegi/contenidos/espanol/prensa/Boletines/Boletin/Comunicados/Especiales/2014/julio/comunica3.pdf
The INEGI report itself is not a final report for 2013, but a preliminary one. More recent statistics are available only from the SESNSP and from media. There is also an issue of which homicides are counted? Homicidios dolosos are those usually considered murder or intentional/aggravated homicide. There is a whole other category of homicidios culposos, usually translated as accidental or negligent homicides. Zeta points out that as the numbers of homicidios DOLOSOS is slightly lower than in previous years, the number of CULPOSOS (accidental or negligent homicides) are going up. This makes us wonder if the government is “adjusting” its classifications of causes of deaths to make it appear that many of the killings are the kinds of “ordinary” accidental homicides that do not indicate an organized crime problem, but just people behaving badly.
One comes away thinking several things: 1) It is becoming even more difficult to know how many people are murdered in Mexico. 2)The EPN administration is determined to pursue an aggressive media strategy to make things appear less violent. 3) Presenting the homicide numbers for arbitrary periods like the “first 20 months” of different administrations is not that useful for comparison. 4)The levels of homicide, forced disappearances and kidnapping are still extremely high in Mexico.
Even using the more conservative figures reported by INEGI and the lower homicidios dolosos numbers reported by the SESNSP, “more than 153,000 people–an average of more than 1,600 per month–56 people PER DAY–have been murdered in Mexico since 2007.”
An English translation of the article published in El Diario de Coahuila is provided from Borderland Beat. Also posted below… -Molly Molloy
The articles below are sent by Taylor Levy, Certified Representative for Immigration Cases with Las Americas in El Paso. Please consider a donation to Las Americas to provide legal representation for asylum seekers detained in Artesia… (information provided below). THANKS Taylor and keep up the great work! -molly
Donations can be made via check marked “Artesia Project” to 1500 E Yandell, El Paso, TX 79902 or online at www.las-americas.org.
Federal prosecutors visit Nogales, Sonora along with investigators from the PGR, to investigate the fatal shooting of Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez… After searching it looks like the Nogales International had the only onsite coverage of this important advance in the investigation of the cross-border shooting that happened in October 2012–nearly 2 years ago. It’s interesting to note that there was no US Attorney involvement in the investigation until the ACLU filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of the teenager’s mother. Stories below… -m.
Courthouse News reports on the Artesia lawsuit filed [August 22nd]. The editor at Courthouse News, Robert Kahn, worked with asylum seekers at the Oakdale Detention Center in the 1980s. His book, Other People’s Blood: U.S. Immigration Prisons in the Reagan Decade (Westview, 1996) is required reading on the shameful history of that period.
What are the current stats and how do they compare to previous years?
There are two main sources of official Mexican government statistics on homicides. INEGI, Mexico’s National Statistics Institute, tallies numbers of murder victims based on data from medical examiners in morgues across the country. A death is counted as a homicide when a legal medical specialist determines that homicide was the cause of death. These statistics are cumulated and generally reported in July or August for the previous year. The INEGI report for 2013 came out in late July and provided the figure of 22,732 intentional homicides—an average of 1,894 homicides each month. This figure is down from the figure of 25,967 in 2013 and from the highest number of 27,213 in 2012—an average of more than 2,200 murders per month.
The national murder rate in Mexico in 2013 was 19 per 100,000, down from the highest point of about 24 in 2012. When evaluating murder rates, we also have to consider that many cities, states or regions in Mexico have much higher rates than the national average. The state of Guerrero has a murder rate of 63—the highest in the country—and the city of Acapulco is at the top of the list of violent cities. Chihuahua state had a murder rate in 2013 of 59, about the same as the murder rate in Ciudad Juarez. This is a dramatic decrease from the highest murder rate in the world in 2010 (approaching 300 per 100,000) but still the second highest state murder rate in the country.
The other major source of crime statistics is the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System (SESNSP), part of the Secretariat of Government (SEGOB). SESNSP provides data on homicides from crime scenes as reported on a monthly basis by the Fiscalias (the Attorneys General) in each state. These numbers are generally lower than the cumulative figures reported by INEGI and can probably be explained by the fact that those injured in violent crimes may die later and eventually be categorized as homicides. Also, SESNSP data reports a separate category of homicidios culposos (negligent or unintentional homicides) in an initial crime scene investigation, but some of these may also be determined to be intentional at a later stage of investigation. A total of 9,303 homicidios dolosos (intentional homicides) are reported for January-July 2014, an average of about 1,300 homicides each month. In comparison, there were a total of 18,388 intentional homicides in 2013—an average of about 1,500 per month—somewhat lower than the cumulative INEGI total. For more on the SESNSP data, see: http://www.secretariadoejecutivosnsp.gob.mx/es/SecretariadoEjecutivo/Incidencia_Delictiva_Nacional_fuero_comun
Adding the INEGI numbers for 2007-2013, and the SESNSP numbers for January-July 2014, there were a total of 153,648 murder victims in Mexico during the past 7.5 years. That averages to 1,688 homicides per month since the hyper-violence began in Mexico.
And, these numbers do not include the estimated 30,000 people who have been officially reported missing or disappeared. Mexican government spokespeople have addressed the issue of the disappeared, most recently in a press conference yesterday resulting in a flurry of media coverage trying to explain the “disappearing disappeared.” See: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2014/08/22/politica/005n1pol
The reality is that there are no accurate or reliable numbers on people who have disappeared. The government never says how many were found alive and how many are confirmed dead. And it is certain than many of the dead are never found. One recent report by Michelle Garcia and Ignacio Alvarado Alvarez for Al Jazeera America concludes:
“People began to disappear in Mexico in large numbers after President Felipe Calderón launched his war against drug traffickers in 2006. By 2013, the Mexican government, under a new administration, pegged the number of disappeared at 26,121, adding that not all were criminally related.
Experts and several human rights groups, however, estimate that reported cases represent roughly 10 percent of the total, as most people are reluctant to appeal to authorities who were either involved in or suspected of having ties to organized crime groups. Based on their calculations, the actual number could be closer to 200,000 people.”
What is the most informative literary work to come out in the last year regarding the violence in Mexico? Why?
The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail, by Salvadoran journalist Oscar Martinez.
Amnesty International estimates that as many as 70,000 Central American migrants have disappeared in Mexico in the past 10 years. Published in Spanish as Los migrantes que no importan…The Migrants who Don’t Matter, The Beast is by far the best account I have read of how criminal/government networks actually work and how and why the massive death toll in Mexico and in Central America keeps rising. The book not only helps us to understand Mexico, but it also is the skeleton key to understanding the recent crisis in child migration from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. At least 60,000 unaccompanied minors have made it to the United States border in the past year and we do not begin to know how many have been lost on the journey—not to mention the numbers of adult men and women who die in the migration. Here is one paragraph from Oscar Martinez’ interview below with the Texas Observer:
“TO: What do you hope Americans will learn from your book?
OM: I believe the worst tragedies along the path—the rapes, the mass kidnappings, the torturing done by Los Zetas, the fee to cross the border—are things that the migrants who have suffered them, in my experience, don’t even tell their own families. I’m convinced that it’s something they don’t tell their employers or their friends if they have any friends in the United States. I think people in the U.S. know that migrants have a long and hard journey. But I’m convinced that the country in which they work—where they cut tomatoes and clean houses—has no idea at all that what the migrants are going through is actually a humanitarian crisis. In other words, it’s a humanitarian crisis where organized crime takes care of extracting the very last drop it can from people who are already leaving their country with practically nothing.”
What has been one of the most surprising news story you’ve read this year? why?
The rise of ISIS, or the Islamic State terrorist military force and its lightning take-over of much of Iraq and Syria. I know, it has nothing to do with Latin America. Or does it? I think of the several trillion dollars and thousands of U.S. lives and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives lost since our invasion of that country in 2003 and even more deaths caused by massive destabilization in the region, in part sparked by our interventions. And for what? The result seems to be the creation of one of the most violent and dangerous threats the U.S. has faced, ever.
Then I look at the media storm in response to the massive numbers of children fleeing from intolerable violence in the small Central American countries. And I think about the illegal U.S. proxy wars against “the Communist threat” in those countries resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Central Americans in the 1970s and 1980s. Our policies and actions 30+ years ago sowed the seeds for the destruction of these societies and now we are reaping the crops.
What do you see happening with immigration in the U.S. and how will it affect Latin America?
I am appalled by the inhumane reaction of our government to the recent Central American migration. Instead of seeing the migration as a human rights crisis, our government is determined to detain and deport people as quickly as possible with not even lip-service to human rights, international law, or due process in our own courts.
The American immigration gulag is expanding and becoming more repressive at every turn. And the loudest protests call for more repression, not less.
While the administration and activists continue to talk about the president bypassing the stonewalled Congress to mandate immigration reform through executive action, I fear such action will result in more draconian border security measures and provide little if any benefit to the immigrants most in need of relief.
I hope my sad predictions are all wrong.
Six people were murdered in a recent 24-hour period beginning Tuesday afternoon in Juarez. One victim was a woman in her 30s who has not yet been identified. The story says she was leaving her house for work. I don’t know exactly where all of the locations are in the city, but the six cases seem scattered in various places from the far eastern area (Zaragoza) to the central commercial district (a bar in a shopping mall near Ave. De la Raza y López Mateos) to poor barrios on the west side (colonia Franja del Río). The article indicates that no arrests were made in any of these cases.
The total number of homicides for the month of August now stands at 25.
Update 3:32 PM August 21, 2014:
Chihuahua Governor Duarte said that Juarez has gone a full year with NO kidnappings reported. He was in the city for the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the maquiladora association, now known as Index. Considering that national statistics show kidnappings on the rise, it is hard to believe that there have not been any kidnappings in Juarez. As most reports have indicated, less than 10% of kidnappings even get reported to authorities. Duarte was asked about the 6 murders reported yesterday in the city and he said it was normal for such upturns to occur and that the tendency is toward the reduction of homicides. -Molly
Last weekend in Juarez was somewhat violent. There were at least 5 people murdered between Friday and Monday morning. Several were shootings in bars, others took place inside homes. At least one victim was a young woman killed in her home–the incident is thought to be domestic violence. Also, an incident reported previously of two dismembered bodies found last Thursday, an update said that there were three victims in that incident. I have not seen a cumulative total for murders in Juarez so far in August. -molly
NPR did post a bit of a correction in the online transcript (posted below) concerning the fact that the police had arrested 11 people accused of the attack on July 19 that killed 5. But they were presented in court and charged–no one has been disappeared. I would recommend reading comments from people who seem much more knowledgeable about Nicaragua than the NPR reporter. See comments at this link… The posting below comes from an email bulletin from the Nicaragua Network.
On a personal note, I lived in Nicaragua during the height of the contra war in the mid-1980s. People suffered terribly from the US-sponsored violence. Every family I knew had someone serving in volunteer militias or police or other self-defense forces and I knew many families who lost people to the contra violence–imposed by illegal US arms-trafficking, much of it funded by drug trafficking.
I visited in 2013 and while joblessness and poverty are an issue, there is not the kind of criminal violence and police and military oppression that exist in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. The Nicaraguan people made real changes to their government and security forces during the revolution (it took more than 20 years and a lot of people died). And in the years since, Nicaragua has had several substantive regime changes brought about by democratic elections. I recommend reading the comments posted to NPR. Others with more recent experience provide some excellent corrections to the NPR story. -molly
August 14, 2014
“This publication may be reproduced in whole or in part. Please credit the Nicaragua Network.
National Public Radio ran an interview this morning, Aug. 14, 2014, entitled “Nicaragua Seems To Escape Problems Suffered By Its Neighbors,” with reporter Carrie Kahn which contains a few good factoids such as “Nicaragua is unique in Central America for its low crime rate,” has an economic growth rate unrivaled in the region, and its police have not adopted strong arm tactics.
However, it also contained many untruths and mistaken analyses…”
Absent States, Stolen Lives: Forced Migration in the Americas
The Spanish Cultural Center in Mexico City is currently hosting an exhibition titled “Childhood” and put together by UNICEF in collaboration with the renowned Spanish photographer Isabel Muñoz. The display, organized on occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, comprises 20 photos of children from five continents. The simple yet beautiful images are meant to convey situations of abuse that youth around the world continue to endure, including violence, malnutrition, sexual exploitation, and slave labor.
The children are portrayed with their most cherished belongings; sometimes these are a collection of stuffed animals, at other times music instruments. Featuring in the show is Belize, a country on the northeastern coast of Central America with a 340,000-strong population that boasts lush scenery, yet has dramatic human development needs and is wrecked by drug and gang violence. One of the photos shows Tyrel Arzu, a 13-year-old Garifuna who stands barefoot on a pier, dressed in knee-long denim shorts, a pair of sandals in his left hand, and a white tank top lying to his right on the ground. With a serious look on his face, the youth had stated for the record that he dreams of one day going to the place “called California.”
The recently publicized exodus of undocumented migrant children from Central America –mostly the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras– to the U.S.-Mexico border, has triggered all kinds of reactions. Expressions of solidarity aside, their arrival prompted a deplorable outburst of hate messages, the launch of futile government campaigns warning of the dangers of undocumented migration, and renewed calls within the United States for greater border security. Sorely missing, however, are signs of rational policy debates about the factors for the current migration dynamics and how to tackle them.
One of the factors that have for years been driving people out of their communities of origin is that of poverty and social exclusion, affecting both rural and urban residents. In Honduras, for example, where the 2009 coup that unseated President Manuel Zelaya ushered in a steady decline of the social and human rights situation, UNDP data indicate that 66.5 percent of the population lives in poverty. Unemployment, affecting –along with underemployment– particularly younger sectors of society, stands at whopping 54.1 percent. Experts often counsel those who stay behind to create micro-enterprises for a living. Pervasive extortion, however, stifles most business activity and requires those unable to meet the demands to run for their life.
Generalized violence, another driver of irregular migration, has been raging especially in the countries of the Northern Triangle. In 2013, the per capita murder rate reached 34/100,000 in Guatemala, 43/100,000 in El Salvador and a staggering 79/100,000 in Honduras. Much of the social and criminal violence is perpetrated by members of Barrio Dieciocho and Mara Salvatrucha. These Los Angeles-born street gangs were formed by Latino youth, including many civil war refugees who banded together in the face of discrimination and exclusion in their new homeland. Mass deportations imported both groups into Central America where repressive gang policies helped make them increasingly sophisticated and brutal. Today, they are associated chiefly with homicides, extortion and drug sales. Youth who prefer to stay out of gangs often have no choice but to flee abroad in order to escape forced recruitment or rape. A similar fate has befallen entire families who, intimidated by gangs, had to abandon their homes. More recently, members of the LGBTI community have been forced to escape threats to their life because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
People are at the mercy of violent non-state actors, because those who are meant to protect them fail to do so or prey on the vulnerable. After years of U.S.-sponsored civil wars and repression in the region, police and justice reforms stalled as stronger institutions were not in the interest of the governing elites. Today, these institutions remain weakened by corruption, politicized, and infiltrated by organized crime and street gangs. U.S. security assistance has responded to that situation, but has done so mostly by stepping up law enforcement cooperation in the hope of preventing perceived security threats from reaching the United States. Largely absent are efforts to root out sleaze, address the structural factors of crime and violence or improve prison management and offender rehabilitation.
In the “Childhood” exhibition, 17-year-old Marie Claire from Rwanda pleads: “You, as members of mankind, why have you allowed this to happen?” Her remarks, recalling the atrocities that her country experienced 20 years ago, are apt also in the context of the contemporary exodus from Central America. Calls encouraging people to refrain from making a perilous journey will fall on deaf ears, because “home” offers neither security nor opportunities for a bright and rewarding future. It is time for governments in the region to muster the political will and pool resources in order to genuinely address a shared problem, instead of continuing to shun their responsibility. Too many lives are at stake.