Uruapan, Michoacan…7 bodies displayed in public park…

Early Sunday I saw the notice in El Diario that 7 men had been found dead in Uruapan, Michoacan. Later that afternoon, the report was expanded and the photographs appeared–the seven men were displayed in the grassy area of a traffic circle, sitting in white plastic chairs, shot in the head and with posters displaying messages:
Cartulinas said, “Warning, this is going to happen to all muggers, pickpockets, thieves of cars, homes and pedestrians, kidnappers, rapists and extortionists.”
And variations on that theme… Several of the dead have been identified and they are small-time thieves and beggars.  Hmmm.  Meanwhile, Proceso reported that the Secretary of Government of the state of Michoacan told the media that they should not magnify the multiple execution in Uruapan without being sure to put it into context and explain that it was related to narcotrafficking. Otherwise, the incident would be used to say something bad might be happening in Uruapan.  Did anyone think to ask how such a work of “installation art” could be completed without the help (or at the least the non-interference) of authorities?
And perhaps I am mixing up too much here, but today there was a long AP article reporting on the involvement of the Honduran police in death squads involved with social cleansing…all paid for by the US.But this incident seems a clear case of social cleansing. Also, there have been many articles lately in both Mexican and US press noting the growth of  vigilante groups. Most of the articles present this as a positive development.  And this was not the only multiple homicide reported today in Mexico… More to follow… molly

In Mexico, Self-Defense Groups Move to Fill Security Vacuum–World Politics Review

At least the term “social cleansing” is being mentioned.
“Things like land grabs or social cleansing [in Mexico], we haven’t heard of that yet. But it’s only a matter of time in my view,” Isacson warned, explaining that there is not a check on the power of such groups in Mexico. “There is no state. There is no one there to punish you if you overstep your authority.” 
But it is not true that it is not occurring YET in Mexico.  President Calderon himself has said it. And human rights activists in Chihuahua first mentioned it back in 2009.  I do not know if all of these articles are still online, but they are archived in the frontera list.
Here are just a few where social cleansing is mentioned as being a very important factor in the huge numbers of killings. molly

Mexico’s Disappeared: the Enduring Cost of a Crisis Ignored–Human Rights Watch

Mexico’s Disappeared: the Enduring Cost of a Crisis Ignored

Human Rights Watch is pleased to invite you to Casa Lamm in Mexico City on Thursday, February 21, 2013, at 10:15 a.m. for the launch of a new report on the human rights situation in Mexico. 

What: Release of Human Rights Watch report on Mexico

Who: José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch 
Nik Steinberg, Mexico researcher at Human Rights Watch

When: Thursday, February 21, 2013, at 10:15 a.m.

Where: Casa Lamm, Room Espacio Visual
Álvaro Obregón 99, Roma Norte

Cuauhtémoc, 06700 Mexico City



For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Mexico, click here



For more information and to arrange interviews, please contact:

In Mexico City, José Miguel Vivanco (English, Spanish): +52-1-55-5450-4934 (mobile); or vivancj@hrw.org
In Mexico City, Nik Steinberg (English, Spanish): +52-1-55-1578-1277 (mobile); or 
steinbn@hrw.org
Please RSVP to: dambolm@hrw.org; or +1-202-612-4335
Note to journalists: The full report is embargoed until the news conference. The news conference will be held in Spanish. Complimentary copies of the report in English and Spanish will be available.

 

***Conferencia de prensa***
Los Desaparecidos de México: El persistente costo de una crisis ignorada


Human Rights Watch tiene el agrado de invitarle a la presentación de un nuevo informe sobre la situación de los derechos humanos en México en Casa Lamm a las 10:15 a.m. el próximo jueves 21 de febrero.

Evento: Lanzamiento de nuevo informe de Human Rights Watch sobre México
Expositores: José Miguel Vivanco, Director para las Américas de Human Rights Watch
                      Nik Steinberg, Experto a cargo de México de Human Rights Watch
Fecha: Jueves 21 de febrero de 2013, 10:15 hrs
Lugar: Casa Lamm, Salón Espacio Visual
Álvaro Obregón 99, Roma Norte
Cuauhtémoc, 06700 DF, México
Para mayor información sobre el trabajo de Human Rights Watch sobre México, por favor diríjase aqui.


Para obtener más información, comuníquese con las siguientes personas:
En México D.F., José Miguel Vivanco (inglés, español): + 1-202-612-4335 (oficina); + 52-1-55-5450-4934(celular); vivancj@hrw.org
En México D.F., Nik Steinberg (inglés, español): +52-1-55-1578-1277 (celular); steinbn@hrw.org
Por favor confirme su asistencia a: dambolm@hrw.org; o +1-202-612-4335
Nota para periodistas: El informe está embargado hasta la conferencia de prensa. La conferencia de prensa se llevará a cabo en español. Habrá copias disponibles del informe en inglés y español.
 

Mexico’s drug cartels target journalists in brutal killing spree…Observer

I admire a lot of Ed Vulliamy’s reporting from Mexico, but based on known research that has been posted repeatedly on this list and elsewhere, it is just WRONG to repeat the number of Mexican dead as “60,000 since 2006.” That number MAY have been true 2 years ago and the killings have only increased since.  And these numbers are not wild estimates from human rights groups. These are the hardest numbers available from Mexican agencies: INEGI and SNSP. Jim Creechan and I have posted and published these numbers often in the past few months.  Mexican journalists have also written estimates from 100,000–150,000 dead in Calderon’s sexenio. LE MONDE, the major French newspaper, reported 120,000 back in August.  What kind of data do the mainstream English-language press require to update their reports of the death toll from homicide in Mexico?

I would also note again the unquestioned reporting of the government line as to who (or what) is behind the killings of journalists in Veracruz.  This report mentions the killing of Miguel Angel Lopez Velasco in 2011, but ignores the testimony of his surviving son, Miguel Angel Lopez Solana, who implicates the state government and the military in the slaughter of his family. The reason Miguel Jr. is seeking political asylum in the United States is because criminal organizations working in tandem with corrupt government entities murdered his family and will come after him also as they have subsequently murdered many of his colleagues in Veracruz.
His story is told here and much of it is in his own words.
In this passage highlighted below from the Observer article, why believe a note left by supposed Zetas when there is eyewitness testimony that the note was not there when the body is first discovered? Apparently, it is only after the police and marines come to investigate that a note from Zetas appears:

Apart from the barbarism of his killing, Víctor Báez’s death bore another hallmark of a narco execution: a note pinned to his torso, this one reading: “Here’s what happens to traitors and people who act clever. Sincerely, the Zetas.” But Báez’s colleague says that he learned from the marines “that the note was not there when the body was discovered by a neighbour who found Víctor’s door open – it was put there later… by someone, for some reason”.

Compare this information with the similar account of one of the most spectacular massacres officially attributed to Zetas also in Veracruz. News reports in REFORMA (a conservative paper affiliated with the PAN government) at the time said that the bodies bore hallmarks of military-style torture. Family members of some of the victims proved that their dead relatives (most of them young men and women) had no criminal records and no involvement in any criminal activity. In fact, there was evidence that they had been picked up at random, tortured, killed and dumped in Veracruz with messages penned on their bodies supposedly from Zetas…  These stories have been cited in published articles and also posted in full on this list and elsewhere. Feel free to search for them or ask me and I can repost if necessary.  molly
Scores of journalists have died in a country gripped by violence that has claimed an estimated 60,000 lives since 2006

 

Response to: On Drug War Violence Along Texas Border…. via Huffington Post

I wish that the people who write these stories would consider the statement from many years ago from Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan:

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”

It is also interesting that the clamor for MORE SPENDING on border security, regardless of the facts that show constant increases in border security spending since 2004 and a steady decrease in violent incidents on the US side of the border, come from the same right-wing citizens and politicians who berate the democratic administration for government spending…

And, even the “facts” provided on the violence in Juarez seem disconnected from reality:

“Juarez has seen well over 2,000 people killed each year in the drug war, he said. In 2009, that figure peaked at 2,754 murders, according to El Diario, the city’s major newspaper. The number of murders in Juarez fell to 2,086 last year, a 24 percent drop.”

Apparently the 3,622 people killed in Juarez in 2010 (by far the most violent year ever in the border city since the Mexican Revolution) don’t count. And the story repeats the old “50,000″ number for those killed in Mexican violence. And not a shred of evidence is provided on any people killed on the US side of the border. But, if you would really like to escape reality (without taking drugs), take a look at the readers’ comments on this story… molly

Human rights and the Mexican military…Council on Foreign Relations

For those who care to look back at the record, the reports of severe human rights abuses in the current Mexican context first came to light just a few DAYS after the Mexican Army troops came to Juarez in March 2008. Municipal police walked out in protest; citizens protested home invasions and abductions, notably in the Valle de Juarez. One of the most vocal protesters was Josefina Reyes–she was later murdered by the Mexican Army… Here are her words from early summer, 2008:
“Now you see all these big billboards, ‘We [the army] have come to help you’ — but it isn’t true. They have come to pillage us, to ransack our homes. They take the food in the refrigerator, jewelry, anything . . . and they destroy property. It is not a secret who they are.”
There are many Mexicans who have documented the abuses carried out by the Mexican military against the Mexican people.  It is about time that the international community take note…  molly

LEGITIMATE HOMICIDE…

As I was driving home today and listening to the news about Todd Akin and “legitimate rape“…

I thought, well, what we have been seeing in Mexico for (at least) the last 6 years is a government that says there is homicide and then, there is “legitimate homicide.” And government mouth-pieces ranging from mayors and police chiefs of Juarez, to governors of Chihuahua and on up to Secretaries of Gobernacion, Defense, and Public Security and on up to President Calderon himself have consistently said that “90 percent of the dead are criminals being killed by other criminals.” [legitimate homicide...] The recent Washington Post article quotes numerous government spokespersons in Juarez reinforcing this idea that all of the killing happened between criminals — “legitimate homicides”– and government forces are now bringing calm to the city… All this at the very moment when the Mexican government is being forced to admit that it cannot legitimately classify homicides at all since it lacks the capability to investigate more than one or two percent of the crimes and now the national statistical agency says that despite all the claims of “winning the drug war,” there were more homicides (by far) in 2011 than in any other year since Calderon took office (or any year prior to that since the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920)… Here is the REFORMA article from today on the new INEGI numbers.  I’ll post something more comparative tomorrow…a GOOGLE translation of the REFORMA piece is below…and a little chart I am working on comparing the INEGI releases from 2011 and today. According to my first look at this new data, with estimates of what will happen for the remaining months of Calderon’s term, we are looking 116,869 homicides during the sexenio. And these are all connected to real government data and real body counts. NOT including estimates of disappeared people or bodies yet to be uncovered from clandestine graves… [feel free to check my arithmetic]  Molly Molloy
GOOGLE TRANSLATION: 
27,199 murders recorded in 2011
Chihuahua, according to INEGI, is the state with the highest number of violent deaths with an average of 131 murders per 100,000 inhabitants
By REFORM / Writing
Mexico City (August 20, 2012). – In 2011 there were 27,199 intentional homicides in Mexico, the highest in the six-year period, according to data released by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI). The figures are derived from the information provided by the administrative records of the Registry Offices 723 4000
Civil Registry and 96 thousand prosecutor agencies that provide monthly data on deaths accidental and violent, precise INEGI in a statement. The Institute notes that the company with the highest number of deaths was Chihuahua, which occurred in
average of 131 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, and the lowest rate was Yucatan, with three cases. “To facilitate comparison of data from homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, was an exercise by the INEGI, for population estimates for each of the years of the series to be present, consistent with the results of the Census of Population and Housing 2010, “says the Institute. “So these calculations will not match other data generated from official projections current population are based on the Second Population and Housing 2005 and conciliation
population of 2005. ” According to the annual breakdown presented by the Institute, in 2006 there were 10,452 deaths, while in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 occurred 8,867, 14 006, 19,803 and 25,757, respectively. However, last year, according to the cut last July, have not finished it processes generation of statistics, the figure reached 27,199 deaths.
Copyright © Grupo Reforma Information Service
And here is a comment on the earlier post by my colleague at Cal State Northridge on the news media complicity in this continuing falsifying of the record:
_______________________
Amazing (but not surprising) to think this is not a big story in the U.S. Plus, a great example of how government agencies shape and manipulate reality. The Mexican government definition of drug-related crime is as bogus as the definition of gang-related crime in the U.S. The purpose, of course, is different, but the effect has been catastrophic for poor people in both instances.
The result of this, as pointed out by Molly, is that news media organizations have been reporting Mexico’s government figures without challenging the government, which means a reduction of the size of the impact on Mexican society. Instead of 50 or 60,000 drug-related killings, we should be talking about 100,000+. Think of Vietnam: 50,000 U.S. soldiers killed (and the impact on American society). Now, imagine double that size with a population half the size of the U.S. during Vietnam. Nobody in Mexico has remained untouched by this. And this is not the end yet… From Jose Luis Benavides
LINKS TO SOURCES FOR NUMBERS ARE BELOW:
  INEGI total homicides reported Aug 2012* INEGI total homicides reported July 2011+ SNSP
2005 9,921 9,921  
2006 10,452 10,452  
2007 8,867 8,867  
2008 14,006 14,006  
2009 19,803 19,803  
2010 25,757 24,374  
2011 27,199  
2012 (Jan-June estimate from SNSP)# 10,617    
July-Dec est. @ 1770 per month 10,620    
TOTAL 2007-2012 Calderon’s term 116,869   104,977 (estimate SNSP as per Reforma, Aug 15 2012 + July-Dec 2012 est.)&

Mexicans Pay in Blood for America’s War on Drugs…Mexico’s Magical Homicides…New Times Online

Folks–Charles Bowden and I have articles coming out online in the “New Times” chain. A longer version should appear in print in Phoenix and Dallas and possibly in other papers in the chain. The first edition to come out online is in the Miami New Times. It features photographs by Miguel Angel Lopez Solana, the photo-journalist now seeking asylum in the US after his parents, brother and several colleagues in Veracruz were murdered. Just yesterday, Miguel sent me an email about another colleague in Veracruz who is missing. Go to the link to read the stories and if you live in a city with a New Times, look for it on the newsstand. molly

 

Mexico’s Magical Homicides

 

Mexicans Pay in Blood for America’s War on Drugs

More Mexicans requesting asylum–report from Atlanta

An interesting article from Atlanta GA concerning an increase in asylum
claims from people not directly affected by the violence…This legal
tactic seems to have potential to make asylum more difficult for those
Mexicans with more serious claims.
“We [attorneys] are trying to create this new class of protected people,”
she said. “The more Americanized they are, the more tied they are to the
United States. We have to litigate this class into existence, because it
doesn’t exist.”

 

Mexico: Family of 20 Crosses into Texas Seeking Asylum after Drug Cartel Murders

This story has been reported in El Diario for the past several days…Two
members of the family–a father and son–were murdered. The son was at his
father’s grave in the Villa Ahumada cemetery when he was shot. Others
received death threats by phone. They left the town early in the week and
have been camped out in the offices of the federal Attorney General (PGR)
in Juarez. In a dramatic move, all 20 family members have crossed into the
US to seek asylum, although the latest Diario article said that the Mexican
Attorney General was going to meet in Juarez and discuss how to provide
protection for the family.
There have also been several recent articles in EL Diario on the lack of
any police protection in many of the towns and villages in northern
Chihuahua since 2008 when many police were killed, many fled and others
were dismissed. In 2009, a gun battle took place in Villa Ahumada in which
more than 22 people were killed. Earlier, in May 2008, the Army entered
Villa Ahumada and killed many more then…
Perhaps this case will bring attention to the ongoing and almost unreported
violence in the rural towns and villages surrounding Juarez…

UPDATE:
the Porras family from Villa Ahumada are all seeking political
asylum in the US.  Several houses and businesses in and around Villa
Ahumada owned by the family have been robbed, vandalized and burned
according to an article in El Diario.