4 murders yesterday in Juarez…

Three people were found dead yesterday in Juarez, including two bodies that were wrapped in tape and with a sign reading: “por rateros…”  Another body was found in a different area. None are identified in the reports. Click here to read the story.

Later in the evening, a municipal policeman, dressed in civilian clothes was gunned down at a shopping mall at avenida Manuel Gómez Morín and Francisco Villarreal Torres. The policeman used his pistol but to no effect…The attackers fled. No one arrested. None identified. Read the story here.

This would bring the total for May so far to about 30 victims; and about 180 for the year.  The average number of killings per day is rising slightly, now about 1.3 per day. -Molly

Woman and 3 Children Found Dead In a Home In Juarez

El Diario reports little new information on the deaths of this family in Juarez yesterday, other than reporting the postings on the mother’s facebook page. The police have not released any information and it is unclear whether anyone has been arrested or if the father has appeared at the Public Ministry as ordered. Apparently, there was nothing disturbed in the house, indicating that the murders were not perpetrated by intruders.

Conmociona Aquí Hallazgo De Madre Y 3 Hijos Muertos (El Diario)

Murder of Sinaloa activist Sandra Luz Hernandez

For a week now, the Mexican press has been reporting on the death of Sandra Luz Hernandez in Culiacan. The LATimes has the story today. I noted the number of missing and disappeared has been raised to 30,000, though the low figure of 70,000 dead continues.  As best I can tell from the official SNSP data that is posted every month, at least 50 people continue to be killed DAILY in Mexico.

So, it makes no sense to keep using a figure for the murder victims that has not increased since 2011. And it is unclear whether this data includes the dozens of people killed in ongoing confrontations with military forces in Tamaulipas, Michocan, Sinaloa and other places now experiencing hyperviolence.

Here is a compilation of articles in Spanish. molly

WikiLeaks Highlight Concerns About Juárez Drug Abuse, Mexican Drug Wars…EPTimes

Many of the Wikileaks revelations about Juarez were detailed in earlier reports (from 2012) in the Narco News Bulletin:

Mexican Diplomat Traded Secrets with Private Intel Firm Stratfor, WikiLeaks Documents Reveal

Mexican Special Forces Employed as Death Squads in Drug War, Email Records Released by WikiLeaks Reveal

This current info is from the El Paso Times.

WikiLeaks Highlight Concerns About Juárez Drug Abuse, Mexican Drug Wars

Drug addiction in Juárez represents a daily drug-trafficking market of about $2.3 million, according to files disclosed by online whistleblower WikiLeaks.

The leaked file cites a Mexican official who is referred to only as “MX-1.” During a meeting with U.S. and Mexican officials, the official identified as MX-1 said “that Juárez has a drug abuse problem which amounts to about 30 million pesos a day.”

“It’s a 30 million peso a day market for Juárez, with anywhere from 2,000 to 2,500 individuals,” MX-1 said. “He (MX-1) added, for example, they know that most of the people that are participating in the kidnappings are addicts,” according to the leaked file…

4 Murders In Juarez In Less Than 6 Hours Saturday May 17

After three days without a murder, four men were killed on Saturday in less than 6 hours. No one was apprehended in any of the cases.  With these murders, the tally for May stands at 21, with 169 so far for the year (Jan 32, Feb 41, March 40, April 35) according to statistics from the Fiscalia General del Estado de Chihuahua. The daily average remains steady at about 1.2 murders per day. This has been the case since mid-2013. The google translation is also posted below.

Matan A 4 Hombres En Menos De 6 Horas (El Diario)

4 Men Killed In Less Than 6 Hours (Google Translation)

Q & A with Alfredo Corchado, author of Midnight in Mexico

Guest Post: Alfredo Corchado

Corchado is the Mexico bureau chief for Dallas Morning News. He’s written extensively on the drug war and recently released his memoir, Midnight in Mexico:Reporter’s Journey Through a Country’s Descent into Darkness. The paperback version comes out May 27. To learn more about Corchado, visit his website.

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 Q & A with Alfredo Corchado

In the book you mention that in Mexico “you do what you can, not what you want”. Would you say that this survival tactic is due to the drug war violence or due to centuries of political corruption? both?

Definitely both, although it is Mexico’s centuries’ long struggle with building a country of rule-of-law, more equality and opportunity that in many ways led to the increased drug violence we have seen in recent years. For too long Mexicans, as the only way to survive, have had to flee their homeland, go north because of lack of opportunity, because the youth and its energy was sucked away north. In recent years many stayed behind, or were deported from the United States. That only increased the social pressure in Mexico and in some cases, led to more vulnerable recruits for cartels who prey on poor youth desperate to put food on the table, or drive that shiny new car, or truck. In recent years the saying Prefiero vivir 5 años como rey que 50 años como buey – I rather live 5 years as a king than 50 years as a slave – spread away from places like Sinaloa to other regions like Michoacan, Tamaulipas and Chihuahua. 

How have the responses to your book differed between Americans and Mexicans?

Certainly, on the U.S. side while there’s been much curiosity and interest on the drug violence in Mexico, I would say the focus has been more about identity, the universal search for home, where one belongs. It’s the timeless immigrant story that still resonates with Americans. That plus guilt-questions about drug legalization. Is legalization the answer?

In Mexico, the interest is more about drug violence, and obviously the role of the United States. That is quite surprising and in a way a contradiction because I’ve sensed fatigue among Mexicans when it comes to the topic drug violence. It’s an issue that many Mexicans rather not talk about, a time, place and reputation that they rather forget, and yet I’ve been surprised by the number of times I have been asked about Ciudad Juarez, the Zetas in Nuevo Laredo and why Americans are so obsessed with guns, pot and other illicit drugs, and why, how the US media allegedly losses over drug trafficking organizations on the U.S. side. Yes, the drug cartel network is international and the United States has the biggest role, but we don’t see the kind of violence on the U.S. side and so the coverage is different. I do think we as a U.S. media need to do much more, simply by looking at violent crimes committed in the United States and asking the right questions. More often than not we’d see more clearly how U.S. and Mexican drug cartel organizations are that much more intertwined.
In the book you chronicle your search to find out if you are really being targeted by the cartels.  Since the book came out, have you received anymore threats?

I’ve had some questionable moments since the book came out, but I haven’t received a specific threat like those I describe in the book. In this book I am as honest as possible because I still believe that truth matters and truth makes a difference and that truth is our best protection, the best weapon against criminal organizations. Truth, however, may not be the best weapon in a country like Mexico where impunity remains the biggest enemy as homicides are rarely solved. It takes a lot of courage for my colleagues in Mexico to report in areas that are essentially taken over by drug traffickers. We stand as one community in solidarity. No color, no story is worth one’s life. I do think journalists with more protection have an added responsibility to tell these stories, but how and whether we tell those stories is based on a very personal decision. I want to believe that in the United States if and when journalists are targets that law enforcement will actually do something, offer protection and that society in general will speak up because a threat against freedom of expression is also a threat against them.  I don’t see that in Mexico yet and that makes the job of a journalist there that much more lonelier and dangerous.
Now that the book is set to be adapted into a movie, what do you hope audiences who might not have read the book will take away from the film?

Hope. That’s the takeaway because even in the worst of moments Mexicans have taught me about hope and the importance of holding on to that, a resilient spirit and of believing in that flickering light even in the darkest of nights. Writing this book was like therapy, of learning not to give up. I spent a lot of time in places like Nuevo Laredo and Ciudad Juarez during some very terrible, bloody, uncertain moments, but it was in that fusion and story of two worlds, in my search for home, that I always find the sweet spot of who I am, who we are. And that’s very hopeful. Turning the book into a movie will be a long process, may take several years, so between now and then here’s to more people reading Midnight in Mexico, especially now that the paperback version is coming out, which will make it more accessible and affordable to readers.

In your book you mention a group called La Linea. Can you explain a little bit about your findings about murdered women in Mexico? Do you feel the media coverage has evolved/improved through the years?

It was the issue of murdered women that compelled The Dallas Morning News to assign me the story for as long as it took to get some answers. And during our investigation we discovered, through documents and interviews, old fashion reporting, that there was a group called La Linea which were the enforcers of the Juarez cartel. They were the real power behind the cartel and the power in the city of Juarez itself. We also discovered a U.S. informant who, with the knowledge of U.S. officials, was taking part in crimes across in Ciudad Juarez. That informant also helped provide insights into La Linea and their role in the killings of men and women. At the time I focused mostly on the cases of some 100 women, but the more I looked and the more I dug I came face-to-face with a sad fact, a fact that remains to this day: Just about anyone is vulnerable in Mexico. Women, men of all ages, many of them innocent people who were at the wrong place and time. In a country with weak judicial institutions and even institutions of corruption anyone can be killed and, aside from loved ones, no one really cares. So yes, many women have been killed, and no justice has been served. Unfortunately, an estimated 100,000 people have either been killed or disappeared in the past seven years and there’s little, if any justice. I personally credit the women of Juarez for helping me understand the endemic impunity. It’s these families who remain vigilant, insisting on justice and became an inspiration to many others. It’s a cry that many other groups share, including journalists. Ni uno mas (not one more).
You are critical of Calderon’s presidency. What do you think of Pena Nieto’s take on the drug war? Do you see any hope for real change in Mexico?

The hope in Mexico lies not in the politicians, whether PRI, PAN, or PRD. Hope lies in the people themselves, in civil society. I can understand how things look bleak from abroad, from the United States. But in Mexico I see a people who are gradually changing Mexico. At times they take one foot forward, and three back, but they keep moving, learning not just to blame the powerful, but also to shame them, hold them accountable. Sometimes in Mexico you learn to walk between fear and hope, hope and fear. And you learn to wait and wait some more, but from time to time you glimpse over and see that some things have changed for the better.

It was clear that the EPN administration came in with the task of changing the narrative, focusing on issues beyond violence. And I get that. A lot of us get that because there is another Mexico in the horizon, a more prosperous country, regions that are creating more job opportunities, some even with higher salaries, but that Mexico continues to be overwhelmed by lack of rule-of –law. It’s difficult to change the narrative when you still have regions with no freedom of expressions, where reporters have to ask cartels permission even to print a condolence, where families have no idea what happened to their loved ones, or where justice is a luxury for the wealthy, the influential. A new narrative doesn’t resonate much in a country with so much inequality and injustice.

Two murders, bodies dismembered in Juarez; 4 more killed in Tamaulipas

The body of a woman was found dismembered this morning, wrapped in a blanket and thrown into a garbage barrel. The remains were found at the intersection of Lazaro Cardenas and Malaysia in the Infonavit Oasis neighborhood. The body was found by garbage workers. As of the time the story below was posted the body had not been identified.

In another incident, a man was assassinated, dismembered and his remains were placed in 5 plastic bags. The head, wrapped in tape was placed at the side and all were left in the colonia Division del Norte. There have been no statements from authorities in these cases.

Below, 4 more people are reported killed in continuing confrontations in Tamaulipas.

Click on the links below to read the stories in spanish.

Hallan Mujer Desmembrada En Bote De La Basura (El Diario Digital)

Lo Matan, Descuartizan Y Dejan En Bolsas En La Vía Pública (El Diario Digital)

Suman 4 Muertos Por Tiroteos En Tamaulipas (El Universal)

Mexico is not Colombia (and other things you didn’t need the RAND Corporation to tell you)

Guest Post Series: Dawn Paley

Dawn Paley is a contributing editor with The Dominion, Canada’s only independent news cooperative, and a co-founder of the Vancouver Media Co-op. She’s been featured in a variety of publications including The Guardian, The Nation and NACLA. A listero, she’s written quite a few articles on the drug war in Mexico which have been featured on Frontera List.

To learn more about Dawn, visit her website.

Every Friday we will have a new guest post so stay tuned!

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The RAND Corporation recently released a report entitled “Mexico is not Colombia: Alternative Historical Analogies for Responding to the Challenge of Violent Drug-Trafficking Organizations.”

If you thought Mexico and Colombia were the same thing, think again! They are actually two different countries. Thanks to RAND for getting that sorted. Ahem. So let’s say you feel like reading beyond the somewhat silly title of the report, you’d learn a few things. There’s often hidden gems lurking for those in the mood to scour these types of reports. I’m going to elucidate, in broad strokes, my overall impressions of this one.

First, this report proposes an even more convoluted acronym for what are commonly called drug cartels, or Drug Trafficking Organizations (also known as DTOs), and which I refer to in my work as paramilitary groups. RAND would prefer that we now call these groups VDTOs, as in, Violent Drug Trafficking Organizations. It’s not clear to me why that distinction is necessary, other than simply to make everything more confusing, which I would argue is a key function of mainstream think tanks.

According to the report authors, “The full scope and details of the threat posed by VDTOs are not well understood, and optimal strategies to combat these organizations have not been identified.” So we’re meant to believe that even after billions of dollars of US funding for the war on drugs in Colombia, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and elsewhere, there’s still no optimal strategy?

I call bullocks on that. More on why here. The report parrots the myth of spillover violence. More on that here.

The report also insinuates that the social cleansing that has taken place as part of the drug war in Mexico is capricious, as in “given to sudden and unaccountable changes of mood or behavior.” I quote: “Then, there is the capricious, inexplicable violence: ‘The massacres of young people and migrants’ and ‘the use of torture.’”

It is morally outrageous that this violence can be written off as random and beyond understanding. Fundamentally, that stance means that this report, like so many others, misses the point entirely. Violence against young people, migrants, workers in the informal sector, prisoners, drug users, and others is not just a capricious side effect of the drug war. It is an integral part of this war, as are the systems that allow it to carry on in near total impunity. But don’t expect to learn about that from RAND.

In short, the report analyses the comparison of the conflicts in Mexico and Colombia, and finds that what happened in Colombia is not an acceptable analogy for what is happening in Mexico. RAND’s exact words: “Mexico Is Not Colombia, Nor Is It Any of the Other Cases.” (Yeah, just in case you thought maybe Mexico was, in fact, Tajikistan).

I don’t know enough about how the drug war has played out in other parts of the world to say whether or not RAND’s conclusions in that respect are accurate. The overall recommendations in the report regarding security in Mexico, however, are tried, tested and true, representing a continuation of current US policy.

I must say I found the last recommendation particularly interesting: “Increase policymakers’ willingness to accept international support, especially from the United States.” That brings us to the crux of things, which is that the comparison between Mexico and Colombia isn’t based on comparing the domestic circumstances in both countries. Where the Mexico-Colombia comparison gains a foothold is in comparing US involvement in both places.

Just ask Hillary Clinton.

“We know from the work that the United States has supported in Colombia and now in Mexico that good leadership, proactive investments, and committed partnerships can turn the tide,” then Secretary of State Clinton told delegates to the Central America Security Conference in Guatemala City in 2011. The US transition to funding militarization in Colombia to funding it in Mexico was nearly seamless, as the first phase of Plan Colombia ended in 2006, and Plan Mexico got off the ground in 2008.

So, RAND, thanks but no thanks. The VDTO label deserves to be relegated to the trash can. And critical thinkers, journalists and scholars can remain on solid footing knowing that hundreds of pages of RAND research don’t do much to counter the validity of comparing US policies in Colombia and Mexico.

Mexico’s Vigilante State…Al Jazeera English

This new report from Al Jazeera is not available online to those of us in the US.  Perhaps a listero in another country can figure out a way to post this via Facebook or some other platform that would be viewable in the US…  It sounds like an interesting piece with on-the-ground reporting.

Mexico’s Vigilante State

“Correspondent Teresa Bo takes viewers to the troubled state of Michoacán for an immersive examination of the autodefensa movement.  With tension between the vigilantes and the government increasing this week, a tenuous disarmament deadline looming, and new allegations of cartel affiliations…I think the story will shed some light on how things have been unfolding on the ground.”

Click here for some background and preview to the new Fault Lines on Michoacan.