Closer Look At Massacre In Mexico Reveals Glimpse Of Corruption…Al Jazeera America

Below is another excellent report on the massacres in Allende, Coahuila…Yesterday I posted the piece from VICE.COMHow a Mexican Cartel Demolished a Town, Incinerated Hundreds of Victims, and Got Away, by Diego Enrique Osorno.

The July 5 report below by Michelle Garcia and Ignacio Alvarado at Al Jazeera America goes further in pointing out the actual involvement of Mexican government forces in the disappearance and killing of more than 300 people–activities that went on for months in 2011. Only after three years has a Coahuila state prosecutor begun to investigate and probably only now because of testimony provided by several people who left Mexico and are now protected witnesses in a Texas court proceeding.

A few excerpts:

“Missing from the official statements was any explanation as to how the Zetas — whose name means Z — were able to carry out days, if not months, of killings unimpeded by law enforcement. There was no indication that the military, which was posted at a base in Piedras Negras and operated a checkpoint outside of Allende, intervened.”

“… Questions about possible government complicity — directly or indirectly — generally dissipate when violence is branded as Zeta-related. Indeed, as violence in Mexico’s northern region continues unabated, in lieu of investigations and convictions, Zeta is the catchall explanation applied to criminality, one that has the effect of silencing further questions.”

…“Let’s suppose that there had existed a small, tenuous difference between the supposed legal and political system and the narco organizations, the cartels,” said Vera, who operates the Center for Human Rights Fray Juan de Larios, which defends migrants’ and prisoners’ rights. “That line is faded now because of the degree of corruption.”

The discovery of this latest atrocity can be added to years of similar events, some of which I tried to explain last summer here: The Mexican Undead: Toward a New History of the “Drug War” Killing Fields…  

These questions remain: Which criminal element is actually the driving force–the cartels, or the government? And where in the mainstream US press can we find any reference to Merida Initiative billions of US taxpayer dollars going directly to corrupt and murderous Mexican police and military? And to what end? I think we need only look at the exodus of children and families from Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala to get a glimpse of how such policies play out on the ground. -molly

Closer Look At Massacre In Mexico Reveals Glimpse Of Corruption (Al Jazeera America)

At Least 22 Killed In Gunfight Southwest Of Mexico City

I am not certain, but I believe this new story from the AP is a rare follow-up to this initial report of a shootout that took place on June 30.  The original story says it happened in Michoacan while the new story is in a small town in Estado de Mexico.  There are corresponding details–the “gang” consisted of 21 men and one woman–that lead me to believe this is the same incident.

In all of my efforts (and those of many others) to track the death toll in Mexico during the past 7 years, it is very rare that any information is released on the numbers of military deaths.  Years ago, there was one odd report of a death toll of about 200 soldiers–this in contrast to a civilian death toll at the time of nearly 100,000. I could be wrong, but I do not think there is ever any official reporting on deaths in the Mexican military. And as this AP story notes, there are many incidents reported in which the army encounters what are reported to be “gangs of criminals” and kills them all–no witnesses and few or no military casualties noted…

“The shootout was the most dramatic in a string of battles in which the army says criminals fired first at soldiers who then killed them all, while suffering few or no losses. There have been so many such incidents that human rights groups and analysts have begun to doubt the military’s version.”

From the details described below and the fact that the United Nations’ High Commission on Human Rights was on the scene shortly after this massacre, it appears that the people killed inside the building were shot at close range. It is gratifying to see the AP reporting on this… Thanks to Margie Lilly for sending me the article. I would have missed it…  -molly

In Mexico, Lopsided Death Tolls Draw Suspicion (Miami Herald)

At Least 22 Killed In Gunfight Southwest of Mexico City (Toronto Sun)

Border Reflection & Debunking Myths

Listera Kathy Nicodemus sent this reflection (posted with permission) on the current border situation and below is an excellent article by David Bacon published in IN THESE TIMES with details on how US economic and security policies have exacerbated the situation that forces people to flee their homes in Central America. -molly

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Border Reflection – Support Non-violent solutions in Central American Countries. My thoughts on the Central American immigrant-refugee situation at the moment.

We need to deal with the immediate need, however, if we don’t deal with the systemic issues, the situation will only continue. First we need to stop contributing our (US) part- Corporations that use the land, cheap labor (including Maquilas), our cheap products sold to these countries (taking away their ability to make a living). Need to stop-Selling weapons, supporting bad leaders, US need for drugs. I know there are many other issues. What might be of help–The US supporting these countries to be self-sustaining economically and non-violent.

Debunking 8 Myths About Why Central American Children Are Migrating (In These Times)

Maybe Pope Francis Should Visit The Border?

PanAmerican Post has a brief analysis of the issues today with links to several good articles. And NPR Morning Ed. covered the Washington politics pretty well (also posted below). The irony (not quite the right word) of Obama’s proposal for more immigration court funding is that people will most certainly be processed and deported more quickly.  I find it unlikely that the US will ever agree to treat these people as refugees. Even during the height of the Central American civil wars of the 1980s, only a tiny percentage of Guatemalans and Salvadorans were granted political asylum.  The current refugees are less of a fit for the asylum criteria as they now stand. Eventually, some Central Americans rec’d Temporary Protected Status (TPS), but I don’t see the political will in Congress or the White House for this to happen now.

The environmental disaster of Hurricane Mitch in 1998 created another refugee crisis and it seems that the US responds better to natural disaster crises than to those involving war, drugs and gang violence. And hardly ever a mention of the economic disasters wrought by free trade policies.

I am not advocating for the way the administration is responding to the political hysteria drummed up by the right wing in Congress and in the country, simply trying to report.  I have followed the politics of immigration, asylum and military/security involvement in Central America and Mexico for several decades and I think it is unlikely that there will be a positive policy outcome from this situation. What we can hope for is continued humanitarian response from people. I wish Pope Francis would weigh in.  Wouldn’t it be amazing if he decided to visit the border?  Right here, right now? -molly

Border Crisis: Migrants or Refugees? (Pan-American Post)

Obama To Ask Congress For $2B To Ease Immigration Crisis (NPR News)

The Refugee Option Obama Will Ignore (Huffington Post)

Q & A with Fronteras Desk Reporter Monica Ortiz Uribe

Mónica Ortiz Uribe is a native of El Paso, Texas, where she works as a reporter for the public radio network Fronteras. She covers a range of topics from politics, to industry and environment in New Mexico, west Texas and northern Mexico. Previously she freelanced for National Public Radio on the drug-related violence in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Her first reporter gig was for the Waco Tribune Herald in Waco, Texas. Mónica graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a degree in history. Follow her at @MOrtizUribe

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In all your years covering the border, is there any story that stands out to you?

The story of the disappeared young women of Ciudad Juárez. These are young women who vanished without a trace during the height of drug violence in the city. They lived in poor neighborhoods and rode the bus to school or to work. One day they didn’t come home. They left devastated families behind whose lives were transformed. Unsatisfied with the police’s response, the families tried doing their own investigations. As of today none of the women I tracked have been found and the families still have no answers.

What has been the most difficult border-related story to write about? Why?

The same story as above. It’s difficult because there is no resolution, no answers, no rest. The families’ lives can never be the same.

In a recent story, you mentioned that apprehensions have risen 74 percent since last year. With so much controversy surrounding the border, what changes have you noticed in the last year?

I can say that the hot spot on the border now is south Texas. I visited that region last year and saw for myself the incredible amount of traffic coming across. Border Patrol is overwhelmed. At night their radios are non-stop. I witnessed two apprehensions. One woman was traveling alone from Guatemala with two toddlers, she was coming to meet her husband in the United States.  The other was a Mexican teenager and his 70-something year-old grandfather. It’s a humanitarian crisis, people are trying to come across every single day. When they are caught they need to be processed, fed, housed, etc. The federal government has only recently acknowledged their inability to keep up.

What do you wish more people knew about the border?

There is so much. I think we all need to reconsider how we spend our tax dollars on the border. The amount of money we spend on border enforcement is more than all other federal law enforcement agencies combined. And still we can’t keep up. Meanwhile legal traffic coming across the border is bottle necked. Our immigration system is backed up beyond a decade in some cases. It will take some bold thinking and brave decisions to change the status quo.

First Central American Immigrants To Arrive Thursday In Las Cruces…Sun News

A friend and I went by yesterday to volunteer. It is gratifying to see Las Cruces respond this way…and in contrast to some of the media-grabbing protests other places. Las Cruces is not a wealthy town, but in terms of helping those who have a hard road, we seem to come together. As someone said to me yesterday: “We have to respond to the moral issue now…”

I also recommend NPR’s reports from California and Guatemala on Morning Edition today. -Molly

First Central American immigrants to arrive Thursday in Las Cruces (Las Cruces Sun News)

Why Are Kids From Central America Risking Solo Travel To The U.S.? (NPR)

29 Murder Victims in Juarez in June; 229 For The Year So Far

There were 29 homicides in Juarez in June, the lowest monthly toll so far in 2014, according to El Diario. The tally for the year is 229: Jan 32; Feb 41; March 40; April 35; May 52; June 29…these are the statistics provided by the Fiscalia. The victims in June include an unidentified woman found on June 28 whose body had been cut up. In another case, a woman who suffered from severe depression murdered her two children and then killed herself. A transit policeman was also a victim in June.  Two men were killed on Sunday at a horse race in San Isidro in the Valle de Juarez.

This morning, the first homicide of July took place with the murder of a bus driver.

In terms of national homicide statistics, the SNSP reports a total of 1,423 homicidios dolosos (intentional homicides) in May (latest available). This is up slightly from April’s numbers.

HOMICIDIOS (H)

14,299 (Total)

2,804 (Jan)

2,690 (Feb)

2,896 (Mar)

2,963 (April)

2,946  (May)

CULPOSOS (HC)

7,423 (Total)

1,436 (Jan)

1,418 (Feb)

1,480 (Mar)

1,566 (April)

1,523 (May)

DOLOSOS (HD)

6,876 (Total)

1,368 (Jan)

1,272 (Feb)

1,416 (Mar)

1,397 (April)

1,423 (May)

http://www.estadisticadelictiva.secretariadoejecutivo.gob.mx/mondrian/testpage.jsp

Cierra Junio Con 29 Homicidios http://diario.mx/Local/2014-06-30_badc3397/cierra-junio-con-29-homicidios/

Ejecutan A Hermanos Al Salir de Una Carrera de Caballos en San Isidro http://diario.mx/Local/2014-06-29_2d597764/ejecutan-a-hermanos-al-salir-de-una-carrera-de-caballos-en-san-isidro/

Hallan Mujer Descuartizada en Colonia Francisco I. Madero http://diario.mx/Local/2014-06-28_3a3bc53d/hallan-mujer-descuartizada-en-colonia-francisco-i-madero/

Ejecutan A Chofer de Transporte de Personal http://diario.mx/Local/2014-07-01_993dc39c/ejecutan-a-chofer-de-transporte-de-personal/

 

U.S. Visas Helped Fuel the Juárez Drug Wars…Jason McGahan in The Daily Beast

There is more information about Julio Porras (the main ICE informant in the Daily Beast piece) in this 2012 article from Reporte Indigo. Apparently Julio Porras is also Ramiro Chavez and he worked as an informant for the PGR during the same time he was providing information on Juarez Cartel activities to ICE.

http://www.reporteindigo.com/reporte/mexico/otro-gobernador-en-la-mira?page=1 (Reporte Indigo) 

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/07/01/u-s-visas-helped-fuel-the-juarez-drug-wars.html (Daily Beast)

Blood, Sweat and Knobby Knees by Peg Bowden

Peg Bowden is a retired nurse living in southern Arizona on a ranch near the border. She volunteers each week with the Green Valley Samaritans at an aid station known as  El  Comedor in Nogales, Sonora. The aid station/soup kitchen is a project of the Kino Border Initiative, directed by a binational Jesuit ministry.

*******************************************************************************************************It It is 11 a.m. and 103 degrees outside in Nogales, Sonora. An ancient fan wobbles and clickety-clacks from the ceiling of el comedor, the aid station where I volunteer each week. The fan tries to make a dent in the intense heat and humidity of this monsoon morning. The legendary dry heat of southern Arizona is gone; the air feels like steam.

I am on my bony knees on a concrete floor gently placing the blistered, bleeding feet of my migrant friend into a plastic basin of cool water. He rolls up his jeans and gingerly submerges his feet. Caked dirt and blood cloud the water. Sweat drips from my nose. My back is killing me. Wobbling back and forth on the unforgiving floor, I wonder what in the hell I am doing here. My friend winces as I gently take some forceps and remove the dead skin and small pebbles embedded in his feet.

He is heading to Bakersfield and a job he has held for ten years in a restaurant where he claims to make the best chile rellenos in California. I believe him. Speaking perfect English, he tells me that he has lived in Bakersfield for 20 years. He decided to return to Guadalajara to see his grandmother. He ended up burying her, and is grateful for the time he had with her. With no memory of his grandmother as a young boy, he wanted to meet her before she died. Attempting to cross the border and head back to Bakersfield, he was picked up in the desert two days ago. Deported to Nogales, he ended up at here at el comedor.

I am a retired nurse, a grandmother, and a volunteer at this aid station. Never in my nursing days have I had this sort of experience. It is an act of pain. It is an act of love. I feel like I am a character in the Bible washing the feet of a weary pilgrim. The intimacy is profound and unsettling. There are no charts and paperwork and the slick high-tech machinery of the American health care system. Just a wounded man, a basin of water, and a retired nurse diving into the drama of connecting as best we can. It is all hands-on.

We are both self-conscious and bumble through this together. He wipes his eyes as I pick away at his chewed-up feet. I examine his toes and decide how to best treat the open sores and broken blisters. I am all business and try to put on my nurse face.

We talk about his children. I talk about my grandchildren. He pulls a crumpled zip-lock bag out of his jeans pocket and spreads the wrinkled photos on the table. Two adorable little munchkins in school uniforms are smiling in front of a bus stop. He tells me he must get home to them soon. They need their dad. His wife needs the money from his job at the restaurant.

I tell him he cannot walk for several days. If your feet are abscessed and infected, you don’t migrate. He is staring at the photos; he doesn’t hear a word I say. I find him some over-sized slippers to wear over his bandaged feet. He tells me to look him up if I ever come through Bakersfield. He crosses himself and hobbles out the door.

I never saw him again.