Category Archives: Art

MexicoWatch: Protests, anger, shootouts, more

We begin with a graphic, this one with a presidential twist from the Mexicanisimo Tumblr:


From teleSUR, direct action:

Ayotzinapa Supporters Take Over Local Governments in Guerrero

  • Members of the National Popular Assembly in Guerrero have taken over 43 percent of all local governments in the state, according to news reports.

Recent takeovers and new forms of government are scarcely publicized, yet highly significant responses to the police attack on the students of the Raul Isidro Burgos teacher training school at Ayotzinapa las September 26, resulting in six deaths, 25 injuries and 43 forced disappearances.

After the massacre, massive protests prompted former Governor Angel Aguirre to resign and some arrests to be made, yet family, teacher and self-defense groups were not satisfied with such token gestures. They came to a decision that the total complicity of government officials, organized crime groups, police and military formations made it impossible to gain justice uwithout making structural changes.

As part of their program of action, they decided that the indefinite takeover of all 81 town and city councils in the state of Guerrero would be a first step towards setting up Zapatista-style autonomous governments.

Protest in Mexico City, via the Latin American Herald Tribune:

Religious Protesters Light Christmas Tree in Solidarity with Missing Students

Catholics, Protestants and members of other religious groups gathered in the Mexican capital to light a Christmas tree decorated with the photos of missing trainee teachers.

“It’s an ecumenical act that unites us (in solidarity with) the Ayotzinapa students,” Noe Amezcua, one of the organizers, said Tuesday.

Participants in the event read aloud the names of the 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Normal School, a teacher-training facility in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero, who disappeared on the night of Sept. 26 in the nearby city of Iguala.

One of the missing students has been identified from charred remains found near the town of Cocula.

And from teleSUR English, things to come:

Mexico: No vacation break for Ayotzinapa protests

Program notes:

While Mexicans are beginning their holiday festivities, activists say there will be no vacation break for demonstrations and other protests demanding the safe return of the 42 missing Ayotzinapa students. Anger over the injustice remains high and police repression will only inflame tensions. Clayton Conn reports from Mexico City.

From teleSUR, action taken abroad:

German Parliament Moves to Suspend Security Agreement with Mexico

  • The move by the EU nation comes in the midst of allegations that Mexican federal police were involved in the Iguala massacre.

Arguing that “the human rights situation in Mexico is disastrous,” the opposition in the German parliament will present this Thursday three motions designed to suspend negotiations of a security agreement with Mexico, and to force the German government to adopt a critical stance following the disappearance of 43 Ayotzinapa teachers’ college students in Iguala.

Tom Koenigs, representing the Green Party, is scheduled to unveil a document regarding the lack of human rights in Mexico. The report considers the Iguala case not as an isolated incident, but as the tip of the iceberg of what is happening in the Latin American country.

The Left Party spokesperson Heike Hänsel will likewise present a motion to suspend the security agreement with Mexico and urge Germany, as a European Union member state, to lead in the cancellation of the Global Accord and that future collaboration with Mexico is conditioned with clauses that protect human rights.

BBC News covers a deadly vigilante clash:

Mexico vigilantes in deadly shoot-out in Michoacan

At least 11 people have been killed in clashes between rival vigilante groups in Michoacan state, western Mexico. The two groups confronted each other in the town of La Ruana.

The vigilante groups were created almost two years ago by locals who said the security forces had not done enough to protect them from drug cartels.

Earlier this year, the government tried to gain control of the vigilantes by integrating them into a rural police force and registering their weapons.

Michoacan Security Commissioner Alfredo Castillo said the clashes were triggered by a “historic rivalry” between their leaders.

A video of the attack via Borderland Beat:

From teleSUR, the imperial presidency:

Mexican President Spent $590M on Trips, Expenses: Report

  • The report revealed the expenses of officials from the Executive, Judicial and Legislative branches of Mexico’s government.

The administration of Mexican President, Enrique Peña Nieto, spent hundreds of millions on trips and expenses during 2013, according to the Federal Institute of Information Access (IFAI).

The organization announced this week that the President and his team, which have been criticized for the high number of external visits made during the two first years at office, expensed US$590,482,924 on more than 20 trips.

The IFAI also noted that the Presidency is, by far, the governmental institution or organization that highest spender of all government branches..

The Executive branch was followed by the Legislative power in spending, with the IFAI noting that Mexican lawmakers spent US$10,537,373 dollars on trips during the same period. The Judiciary spent US$10 million.

And we conclude with another graphic, this time from photographer Diana May and shot at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Unidad Xochimilco:

BLOG Skull

MexicoWatch: Remains, anger, numbers, more

We begin with another graphic, this time from the Accomplished Ignorant Tumblr:

BLOG Mexico

Next, the major development of the day from teleSUR:

Mexico: Human Remains Found in Ashes of Village Bonfire

  • Local media reports that remains found in Cocula may belong to missing Ayotzinapa students.

Members of the Union of Peoples and Organizations of the State of Guerrero (Upoeg) claim to have found human remains in the ashes of a bonfire burnt in La Barranca de la Carniceria, located in Cocula reports local media. According to Upoeg members, the remains are charred bones that may belong to the disappeared 43 Ayotzinapa teacher college students.

The remains were located based on information from witnesses that reported smoke.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, Upoeg representative, informed the Attorney General’s Office about the finding. Experts are expected to arrive at the scene on Monday to examine the remains.

National Public Radio covers a survivor:

Survivor Of Mexican Student Attacks Tells Of Bullet-Riddled Escape

  • In Mexico, authorities continue the investigation into the kidnapping and presumed murder of 43 students from a college in the southern state of Guerrero.

On a recent afternoon at the teaching school in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, I spoke to one man who says he survived the attacks on Sept. 26. NPR couldn’t independently confirm 22-year-old Carlos Martinez’s account, but it is consistent with other eyewitness versions and investigator’s statements.

That night back in September, three buses loaded with students headed out of the school toward Iguala, Guerrero, about an hour and a half away. Martinez, a junior at the school, says unfortunately they arrived just as the mayor’s wife was giving a political speech.

Thinking the students came to disrupt the event, and on orders of the mayor, police chased the students out of downtown and onto the main road, where Martinez says more patrol cars arrived and surrounded the buses.

The police jumped out and started shooting, Martinez says. More would come and start shooting, too. “You just heard shots everywhere,” he says.

From Turin, Italy, La Stampa’s Vatican Insider covers the religious response:

“They took them alive, we want them back alive!”

  • On the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, millions of Mexicans prayed for the missing students from Ayotzinapa

While the hymns of the Missa Criolla were being sung in St. Peter’s Basilica, 10 thousand kilometres away, in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, the following slogan was rolling off people’s lips: “They took them alive, we want them back alive!” The voices of protest at the disappearance of the students from Ayotzinapa did not stop even on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The day marked the 483rd anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Mount Tepeyac. But this anniversary will probably be remembered as the year of prayer for victims of violence in Mexico.

It was religious leaders themselves who referred indirectly to the events which shook Mexican public opinion. During the traditional Mass of Roses – the main celebration that marks the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe –, the Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico, Mgr. Christopher Pierre, prayed to the Virgin Mary to “comfort” victims of “violence” and “poverty” in Mexico.

From the altar of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Nuncio said: “We give thanks to you and pray for our many brothers and sisters in Mexico and around the world who are suffering as a result of violence, poverty and illness. May the Lord give them consolation and free them from evil, through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe.”

From teleSUR, another major confirmation of what was suspected:

New Study Shows Federal Police Involved in Ayotzinapa Attack

  • The participation of federal forces in the attack opposes the official explanation of the events.

A new investigation on the case of the 43 Mexican students that disappeared on September 26 in the city of Iguala, Guerrero, shows that agents from the Federal Police planned the attack and took part in it.

On the night of September 26, Iguala municipal police and armed masked men shot and killed six people, including three students, in a confrontation while 43 other students were taken away. Their whereabouts remain a mystery.

According to the version by Mexican authorities, the armed men kidnapped the students and handed them to a local criminal gang known as United Warriors (Guerreros Unidos), then the students were burned to ashes in a dump near Iguala, which has not been confirmed by forensic experts.

From Deutsche Welle:

Mexicans fight back after student kidnappings

Program notes:

More than two months ago, 43 students disappeared in the Mexican state of Guerrero. They were abducted and then murdered, allegedly by local drug cartels with the assistance of the police and the mayor. Relatives and demonstrators are now campaigning against corruption and poverty.

More police violence against protesters, via teleSUR:

Mexico: Ayotzinapa Students and Teachers’ Repressed by Police

  • Parents of the 43 abducted students, journalists, as well as students and teachers from the Ayotzinapa teacher training college were injured during clashes in Chilpancingo.

Mexican Federal Police repressed early Sunday, in Chilpancingo, Guerrero, a group of students from the Ayotzinapa teacher training school, parents of the 43 Ayotzinapa abducted students, members of the State Coordinator of Education Workers of Guerrero (CETEG) as well as other students and journalists.

Around 17 people were injured during the clashes. They were denied medical care at the Chilpancingo Red Cross, therefore they were taken to other hospitals.

According to a statement published by the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (ANAD), a group of students from the Ayotzinapa teacher training college were heading towards a place called “El Caballito” in Chilpancingo to begin preparations for a concert in support of their 43 missing partners, which was scheduled for Sunday afternoon.

More Chilpancingo violence, via Borderland Beat:

Family Members of the Three Youths Found Executed in Chihuahua Flee in Fear

  • As reported by El Diario Juárez

Members of the Archuleta family fled from the municipality due to the fear of suffering a new attack and the absence of security guarantees, as the authors of the forced disappearance and later assassination of three young men remain free and remain in the town, they denounced.

“We can no longer be here”, one of the members of this family told El Diario that he had to decline participating in the funeral service of his loved ones, but he refused to identify the site in which he was refuging.

In this town one can not bury their dead, lamented the bereaved.

“We are afraid to remain longer in the town”, said the person interviewed upon making what would be his last communication.

The fear, he affirmed, is because they are poor people, laborers, and without any relation with organized crime, despite the fact that they kidnapped his three relatives, tortured them, and killed them.

From Al Jazeera America, a logical suspicion:

Mexico’s police overhaul may not curtail violence, corruption

  • President Peña Nieto’s proposal to dismantle country’s municipal forces ignores state and federal collusion

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has a launched a proposal to overhaul the police force in Mexico, finally acting in response to the thousands of marchers protesting the deteriorated security system and disappearance of 43 students in Guerrero.

The proposal, which Peña Nieto introduced to Congress on Dec. 2, would radically reshape the structure of policing in Mexico, dismantling municipal police forces and replacing them with 32 state police corps. It’s a move designed to show action against corruption on the local level — tragically illustrated by the Iguala police officers who dutifully handed over the students to organized crime at the command of the mayor.

The plan, however, point blank ignores state and federal collusion, despite their obvious contribution to a growing sense of lawlessness in Mexico, and the overall proposal strikes many as a hodgepodge of old ideas.

“This is an improvised and ill-prepared strategy,” said Alejandro Orozco, a Mexico City–based senior security consultant with FTI Consulting. “The way it has been planned and presented contrasts sharply with the energy reform and other sets of reforms that had been developed since the beginning of Peña Nieto’s term and had involved negotiations with the opposition [parties].”

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times publishes the final of four major investigative pieces on the plight of the Mexican people who harvest the food for tables in the U.S.:

Children harvest crops and sacrifice dreams in Mexico’s fields

An estimated 100,000 Mexican children under 14 pick crops for pay. Alejandrina, 12, wanted to be a teacher. Instead, she became a nomadic laborer, following the pepper harvest from farm to farm.

Child labor has been largely eradicated at the giant agribusinesses that have fueled the boom in Mexican exports to the United States. But children pick crops at hundreds of small- and mid-size farms across Mexico, and some of the produce they harvest makes its way into American kitchens and markets.

The Times pieced together a picture of child labor on Mexican farms by interviewing growers, field bosses, brokers and wholesalers, and by observing children picking crops in the states of Sinaloa, Michoacan, Jalisco and Guanajuato.

Produce from farms that employ children reaches the United States through long chains of middlemen. A pepper picked by a child can change hands five or six times before reaching an American grocery store or salsa factory.

Data on child labor are scarce; many growers and distributors will not talk about it. About 100,000 Mexican children under 14 pick crops for pay, according to estimates in a 2012 study by the World Bank and other international agencies. It is illegal to employ workers younger than 15.

And the plight of Mexicans who work on farms across the U.S. border via Frontera NorteSur:

Border Farmworkers Still Lack Health Care

According to Harald Bauder, academic director of the Ryerson Centre for Immigration and Settlement, they are part of a larger global migration phenomenon that produces labor segmentation whereby the labor market is divided into primary and secondary segments.  In the secondary labor market, jobs are unstable and the market lacks enforcement of labor standards.  It is evident that farmworkers are laboring in the secondary labor market.

Over the summer, I interviewed 58 farmworkers in El Paso, Texas about their access to health care.  The farmworkers surveyed live and work in the U.S.-Mexico border area of West Texas and Southern New Mexico. The area studied contains approximately 12,000 farmworkers and, according to the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, the workers in question earn an average of $9,000 per year for a family of four.  This is well below the annual income of $23,850, tagged as the poverty level for a family of four in 2014 by the U.S. Health and Human Services.

The abysmal wages earned by these farmworkers is even puzzling considering that, according to a 2012 report written by the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, the net profit in 2011 for New Mexico’s agricultural industry was $1.35 billion. The farmworkers primarily labor in the chile and onion fields, two of the biggest cash crops in New Mexico.

A double tragedy, via teleSUR:

Most Missing People in Mexico Are Under 17

There are currently over 22,000 missing people in the country – 41 percent of them went missing during President Pena Nieto’s time in office.

More than 20,000 people are currently missing in Mexico, most of whom are underage children, according to nongovernment organizations in the country.

“We found out that six out of 10 missing people in Mexico are children, but there is no information of how they were kidnapped. We need much more information to take the right measures and find these kids,” said advocate Luis Alberto Barquera, from the Organization for Social Development and Education For All (ODISEA A.C).

Barquera also told the Mexican news site Sin Embargo that according to the National Registration of Missing People 2013, at least 59 percent of the disappeared people are children and teenagers from 0 to 17 years old.

And from the New York Times, the same is true on both sides of the border:

Mexico Faces Growing Gap Between Political Class and Calls for Change

As the Nobel Peace Prize was being awarded in Oslo this week, a young man dashed on stage, unfurled a Mexican flag streaked with red paint and begged for help for his country because more than 40 college students have been missing for months after clashing with the police.

At the Latin Grammy Awards ceremony in Las Vegas last month, the big winners, Calle 13, shouted solidarity with the victims as they performed. At home, mass marches have regularly filled Mexican streets with angry calls for the government to act against corruption and crime.

But is the country’s political class listening?

In the coming days, Mexico is expected to name a special prosecutor to investigate corruption — a supposed Elliot Ness who would spare no sacred cows and answer the clamor of the public. The prosecutor is supposed to finally root out bribery, favoritism, kickbacks and reveal the kinds of organized crime that prosecutors say were at play in the case of the missing students.

That kind of prosecutorial determination may be what the public demands. What it is getting, however, is a prosecutor with little of the independence necessary to carry out the stated mission, government watchdog groups say.

MexicoWatch: Body ID, anger, protests, warnings

We begin with a confirmation, first from Sky News:

Victim From Mass Mexican Kidnapping Identified

  • The 43 missing students are thought to have been killed by a drugs gang after being handed over by corrupt police.

At least one of the 43 college students abducted in Mexico has been identified among charred remains found near a landfill site, an official has confirmed.

Forensic specialists from Argentina and Austria have been examining body parts found in mass graves and a rubbish dump in southwestern Mexico.

The students went missing on September 26 after clashes with police in the southern city of Iguala, that claimed the lives of six people.

The attorney general has said they were attacked by officers on the orders of the city’s mayor Jose Luis Abarca, who has since been arrested.

More from the Associated Press:

A family member of a missing student told The Associated Press that the remains were of Alexander Mora. The families were given that information late Friday by an Argentine team of forensic experts working on behalf of the relatives and with the Attorney General’s Office, said the man, who also would speak only on condition of anonymity.

Parents of the students declined comment, addressing a crowd that gathered Saturday afternoon at an already planned protest at the capital’s Monument to the Revolution to demand the return of the students alive.

Omar Garcia, a student at the march who attended the same rural teachers college in Ayotzinapa as the missing young men, relayed the reaction of Mora’s father when he learned the fate of his son: “He will never give up. He will never get over his pain, but what he wants to tell all of you, and what we all want to say is this: We want justice!”

His portrait, from the artists at #IlustradoresConAyotzinapa:


Next, another protest from the Latin American Herald Tribune:

Mexican Small Farmers Stage Missing Students Protest

Mexican small farmers on Friday carried out a protest in solidarity with the family members and classmates of trainee teachers who disappeared more than two months ago at the hands of corrupt police officers, using 43 tractors in the demonstration to symbolize each of the missing students.

The protest began at the El Angel monument at 11:45 a.m., covered a portion of the Paseo de la Reforma thoroughfare and was to end up at the interior ministry building, organizers told Efe.

Some 2,500 small farmers from 27 of 32 Mexican states took part in the march, according to El Barzon, the association that headed the demonstration.

Each tractor had a photograph of one of the students from the teachers college in Ayotzinapa, a village in the southern state of Guerrero, who were abducted Sept. 26 by municipal cops in the nearby town of Iguala.

teleSUR looks at the breadth of public outrage:

Protesters Step Up Actions Across Mexico

  • Opposition to Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto grows as he continues to deliver empty threats and promises.

In the last three days, students, farmers, union groups and autonomous collectives have once more filled the streets of Mexico City by foot, on horseback or on tractors to demand that the 43 Ayotzinapa students be brought back alive. Theology students also marched in Saltillo and highway shutdowns continued in the state of Guerrero.

In Guerrero, local media reported that Ayotzinapa students took over radio stations, including Radio Universidad, ABC Radio and Capital Máxima, where they accused Peña Nieto on air of being incapable of offering any real solutions. The president came to Iguala just to “give some little kisses to his organized crime friends and do business,” they said.

The students also recalled Nieto’s violent history in ordering massive repression in Atenco when he was previously governor of the State of Mexico.

They also slammed Guerrero’s interim state governor, Rogelio Ortega, for doing absolutely nothing to bring about justice, while projecting an image of a concerned public official.

In Ayutla, Guerrero, rural school students detained Ortega and obliged him to march with them for two hours before signing an agreement to publicly join future protests, according to a report in La Jornada.

Another farmer’s desperation, via the Associated Press:

Mexican farmer immolates self during protest

A young farmer in southern Mexico set himself on fire outside the Chiapas state legislature building to demand the release of his father, an indigenous leader who was arrested last year on charges stemming from a series of demonstrations in 2011 that turned violent.

Agustin Gomez Perez, 21, lay down and allowed another protester to douse him with gasoline and set it alight Friday in the state capital of Tuxtla Gutierrez. He was taken to a hospital, and his stepmother, Araceli Diaz, said Saturday that he was “serious but stable” condition with second- and third-degree burns.

Gomez Perez and other indigenous farmers have been protesting last year’s jailing of his father, Florentino Gomez Giron. The father is charged with murder, stealing cattle, organized crime and causing 39 families to flee the Ixtapa municipality as a result of leading indigenous protests in 2011 to demand improved basic services. The protests culminated in violence that included the destruction of police cars and the burning of the Ixtapa town hall.

And the Christian Science Monitor raises a question:

Can reforms change Mexico’s corrupt police culture?

Police practices came under harsh scrutiny after the disappearance of 43 college students. Mexico’s Congress is debating security reforms, including one that would put a state police command over local police forces.

The concern is not limited to Mexico. Across Latin America, citizens’ fears about insecurity have risen  over the past decade, according to 2014 data released by the Latin American Public Opinion Project’s (LAPOP) AmericasBarometer. Approval for local police performance has fallen, and the average level of trust for national justice systems has hit its lowest level since the survey began in 2004.

“When there’s less trust in a justice system, it tends to decrease support for the [government] system as a whole,” says Elizabeth Zechmeister, director of LAPOP at Vanderbilt University. “The exact consequences will vary across countries, but … it’s symptomatic of a system failing to deliver,” she says, adding that citizens may decide to circumvent institutions like the police or courts, as seen in Mexico with the rise of vigilante self-defense groups.

Mexico has the fifth lowest level of satisfaction with its local police in the region, and just over half the population say the country isn’t safe, according to the 2014 AmericasBarometer report. The surveys in Mexico took place before the mass abduction and suspected massacre in Iguala.

“Wherever you put [police] control, there needs to be accountability. The real problem we’ve seen is the sense that police at any level can get away with abuses,” says Daniel Wilkinson, managing director of the Americas division at Human Rights Watch in New York. “There needs to be a change, where the sense that police who commit crimes will actually be held accountable…. Instead [Mexico] is reforming the command structure.”

teleSUR covers an admonition:

UN Urges Mexican Government to Respect Freedom of Speech

  • In a press statement, the UN also said that forced disappearances don’t expire as time passes.

United Nations general-secretary Ban-Ki-moon, defended the right to freedom of speech and the need to channel legitimate demands from the Mexican people “in a peaceful way and with full respect to human rights and the state of law.”

He was referring to the protests against the government of Mexico over the last two months. He also urged the Mexican government to investigate every disappearance, especially those of the 43 missing Ayotzinapa students.

A spokesperson issued the secretary-general observations during a short interview, he also mentioned the U.N. grief for the incidents of September 26 in Iguala, on the southern Mexican state of Guerrero, referring to the disapparition of 43 students of the Ayotzinapa teachers Training School and the death of three students and three bystanders.

“The United Nations, through the High Commissioner for Human Rights is ready to help the Mexican Government to address it’s current problematics,” said the U.N. spokesperson.

And from the Latin American Herald Tribune, too little and too late:

Mexico Governor Agrees to Meet with Parents of Missing Students

The governor of the southern Mexican state of Guerrero and the parents of 43 teacher trainees who disappeared in late September have agreed to meet for talks on Dec. 11 in the town of Ayutla de los Libres.

Rogelio Ortega marched Friday in Ayutla alongside relatives of the missing youths to express his solidarity with their demands, the state government said in a statement.

“I marched with the relatives of the (trainee teachers) to show my solidarity and generate a public dialogue,” the governor said on Twitter.

The government said the meeting will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday and be aimed at establishing a public, positive and proactive dialogue.

Charts of the day: Low end jobs in the U.S.A.

First,  a look at minimum wages in the U.S. from Reuters, which notes that the “current Federal minimum of $7.25 per hour comes out to just $15,080 a year—well below $22,283 poverty line for a family of four”:

BLOG Minimum wage

Next, from the Pew Research Center, a look at the ups and downs of seasonal holiday jobs, with dismissals after the holidays rising about the holiday hires, As the report notes, “Retail payrolls typically fall 5% to 6% between December and February, as retailers with disappointing holiday sales lay off staff and close unprofitable stores. (This past year, retailers shed a combined 880,000 jobs in the two months after Christmas.)”:

BLOG Holiday jobs

Clearly life is hard for the increasingly large numbers of us at the bottom, a precariat in every sense of the word.

The flextime worker, scrambling from job to job, has even inspired the creation of a notional and satirical “saint” in the Catholic countries of the European South, embodying the endless angst of life at the bottom.

Welcome, then, San [and sometimes Santa] Precario, an icon surely right at home here in the U.S.A.:

BLOG San precario

MexicoWatch: Releases, arrests, drugs, & theory

From the Los Angeles Times, released:

Mexico releases 11 protesters from prison after international outcry

Eleven people arrested in recent anti-government demonstrations and sent to maximum-security prisons have been released without charges after their detention created an international uproar.

A 12th person arrested separately in connection with the same case was also freed, and publicly denounced what he described as beatings and threats by state security services.

Amnesty International said the charges that the detainees would have probably faced — including attempted murder and incitement to riot — were “disproportionate.”

“The evidence against the 11 demonstrators is so weak that it is difficult to understand why they are still in prison — especially in high-security installations, being treated as highly dangerous criminals,” Erika Guevara Rosas, director of the Americas section of Amnesty International, said in a statement Friday. “Such treatment begs the question of whether there isn’t a deliberate effort to discourage legitimate protest.”

Next up, grabbers grabbed, via teleSUR:

Mexican Police Officers Suspended

The agents will face a legal process to determine their responsibility in the event.

The police officers who arrested Mexican activist Sandino Bucio on Friday have been suspended and are under investigation by the internal affairs department of the Mexican Federal Police.

The officers involved arrested him on Friday at Mexico’s National Autonomous University (UNAM).

According to the National Security Commission (CNS), at the time of the arrest the two agents were traveling in an unmarked vehicle lacking proper police identification.

Public Radio International covers cultural accomplices:

Mexico’s ‘narco state’ gets a cultural boost from new, more gory pop ballads

Protests have erupted across Mexico in the last month after the probable massacre of 43 students by a drug gang affiliated with police. Yet, hit songs in Mexico have long glorified the drug cartels and are getting ever more graphic.

A new trend known as Movimiento Alterado are “narcocorridos that don’t tell cinematic, poetic stories about smuggling, the way Los Tigres do,” Miranda says. “They’re about chopping heads off, they’re about killing. The singers carry bazookas. It is as hyperviolent as violence can get.”

Some songwriters even work on commission from drug lords. “I don’t want to imply that everyone is doing this, but there is this very direct connection,” Miranda says.

Narcocorridos are even popular in the US. In fact, many of the most popular songs are produced by the American Twiins Music Group based in Burbank, California.

More from Global Consilium:

Bloodstained: Narco-Culture

The narco-state is a platform where the systematic control of organized crime expands. It is a phenomenon that works as a vortex, sweeping away everything it encounters on its way.

Those elements that we acknowledge as proper of the nation-state have been slowly appropriated by the narco-states. The political apparatus, culture,  and national territory have fallen prey to this new operational cell. What’s more, throughout the years organized crime has become a niche from which nations are producing entire generations soaked in violence, crime, and corruption.

Similarly, in an alarming way organized crime is infiltrating popular culture. In the last few years, the drug lord has adopted a figure of benefactor, a kind of Robin Hood that executes the obligations of the state, thus gaining the approval of the masses.

In recent years there has also intensified a media campaign that presents the leaders of drug trafficking as heroes and heroines. Following the popularity of the so called narco-corridos (subgenre of Norteño music in which themes and personalities of drug trafficking are commemorated), there have also spread the “narconovelas” (narco-soap operas), in which the drug lord’s figure is romanticized, violence is portrayed as something ephemeral, and the entrepreneurial skills of these individuals to build drug empires are magnified.

And then there is this from Guillermo Galdos, a reporter for Britain’s Channel 4 News:

In Mexico I have learned to trust no one. You never really know who is who. Rumours abound about what happened with the students. The official version is that the students were captured by the local police and then passed on to the Guerreros Unidos cartel, who later killed them and burned their bodies. The parents don’t believe the government account – but in Mexico anything is possible.

Then there is another theory that I heard in Guerrero.

“The real problem is that they stole the wrong bus,” a contact told me. The bus they stopped and stole was loaded with a drugs and money from the Guerreros Unidos cartel.

“They really thought the students were from a rival cartel. That is why the police fired at the bus and then handed over the students to the cartel hitmen”.

It makes sense. The narcos are not stupid. They know that killing students is not good for business. My contact also believed that the students are alive and that the traffickers took them up to the mountains to give them a lesson and to make them work in the drug plantations.

Meanwhile, it’s business as usual, as teleSUR reported today:

More Bodies Discovered in Southern Mexico

The five bodies were found not far from where 43 teachers students went missing, but authorities have concluded that the latest corpses are most likely unrelated to the case.

Mexican authorities say they have found another five beheaded bodies inside of a van in the indigenous community of Chilapa, located in the country’s southwestern state of Guerrero.

The corpes found Saturday night were not far from where 43 missing Ayotzinapa students are feared to have been killed by drug gangs.

The five people appear to have been kidnapped last Wednesday and were traveling in the van, according to local press reports. The bodies were discovered after rescuers and municipal police put of the fire that had engulfed the van.

Visions of 21st Century Mexico: Faces of death

Since the abduction of 43 students at a rural teachers college in the state of Guererro, the face of death has hovered over Mexico.

Here are three artistic expressions of the thanatology consuming the spirit of the country, first in the form of a protester taking a beverage break and captured by Daniel, a San Diego musician/photographer who blogs at Serpent City:

BLOG Death

Next, from the garomtzsnchzgraphicdesign Tumblr, a reconfiguration of the iconic official portrait of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto:


Finally, from Future is Now, the national seal reimagined:

BLOG Death 3

MexicoWatch: Protests, demands, politics, death

We open with a documentary from VICE News:

The Missing 43: Mexico’s Disappeared Students

Program notes:

On September 26, students from the Teachers College of Ayotzinapa in Mexico en route to a protest in Iguala were intercepted by police forces. In the ensuing clash, six students were fatally shot and 43 were abducted. Investigations over the following weeks led to the startling allegations that the police had acted at the behest of the local mayor, and had turned over the abducted students to members of the Guerreros Unidos cartel. All 43 students are now feared dead.

The case has come to represent the negative feeling of the Mexican public toward the state of justice and the rule of law in Mexico. The events have now galvanized the survivors of the attack and the disappeared students’ parents. Nationwide demonstrations have increased in intensity, and recently led to government buildings in the state of Guerrero to be set on fire.

VICE News travels to Guerrero, ground-zero for the protest movement that has erupted since the disappearance of the students. We meet with survivors of the Iguala police attack and parents of the missing students, accompany volunteer search parties, and watch as protests against the government and president reach boiling point.

Next, BBC News covers the latest desperate move from an embattled president:

Mexican president Pena Nieto to overhaul police

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has announced plans to overhaul the country’s municipal police forces after the disappearance of 43 students.

Mr Nieto said he would place all local police units under federal control.

He announced proposals for a series of constitutional reforms that would allow the country’s 1,800 municipal forces to be dissolved and taken over by state agencies.

The overhaul would begin in Mexico’s four most violent states, he added – Tamaulipas, Jalisco, Michoacan and Guerrero.

Reuters has a breakdown of the new police regime here.

A video report from teleSUR English reveals that the president may have already irrevocably tarnished his own once seemingly efullgent political star:

Senator in Mexico demands president’s resignation

Program notes:

Senator Layda Sansores called on the Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto, to resign from office. Commenting on the events on November 20th, when the Mexican police attacked demonstrators in Mexico City who were calling for justice for the families of the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa, Sansores said: “Fear will transform into anger, and anger into the courage to continue fighting.”

From teleSUR, another demand:

Mexican Teachers, Artists Demand Release of Student Protesters

University teachers said that the accusations against the #20NovMx protestors were unfair and poorly made.

Teachers from Mexico’s National Autonomous University (UNAM) demanded Thursday that the country’s authorities release the 11 people arrested during the clashes between protestors and police after a march over the 43 missing Ayotzinapa students.

“Human rights organizations, press, and society have showed the brutality and violence of the police operation and the arbitrary detentions,” the teachers told reporters in a press conference, according to Mexican newspaper La Jornada.

“We do not like this way to drive the repressive forces, especially when officials provoke violations tohuman rights and freedom of expression,” they added.

Another voice weighs in, via the Latin American Herald Tribune:

AI Says 11 Detained Protesters Being “Unfairly Held” in Mexico

Eleven people who were arrested after a large-scale protest over the disappearance of 43 teacher trainees in southern Mexico are being “unfairly held” and should be released immediately unless further evidence is presented, London-based human rights group Amnesty International said Thursday.

The individuals who were detained earlier this month and remain in custody include Chilean citizen Lawrence Maxwell and three women.

The detainees, who have been charged with criminal association, mutiny and attempted homicide of a police officer based only on the testimony of the five police who arrested them, are being held at two remote high-security prisons and treated as “high-value criminals,” AI said, noting that a hearing on their case will take place on Saturday.

And a video report from TeleSUR English:

Mexican government ‘criminalizing’ the right to protest

Program notes:

Family and friends of 11 student activists illegally detained by Mexican authorities during the pacific November 20 march for solidarity with Ayotzinapa are demanding the immediate release of the detainees, who were sent to maximum security penitentiaries on charges of terrorism and murder.For many detainees, their only crime is having a social conscience. NGOs and social organizations consider the 11 jailed youth as political prisoners and demand their immediate release from the government of Enrique Pena Nieto. Clayton Conn has more for us from Mexico.

From the Guardian, the latest additions to the body count:

Mexico: eleven bodies found dumped in state where 43 students went missing

  • Grisly discovery came just hours before president set to announce series of measures to improve law and order in land grappling with daily violence

Eleven mutilated corpses, many of them decapitated, were found dumped by the roadside in southwest Mexico on Thursday in the same state where 43 trainee teachers were abducted and apparently massacred two months ago, local authorities said.

The grisly discovery came just hours before embattled President Enrique Pena Nieto was set to announce a series of measures to improve law and order in a land grappling with daily drug gang violence.

Some of the naked torsos of the corpses were burnt, photographs published by local media showed.

The attorney general’s office in the restive Guerrero state said the bodies were found in Chilapa, a municipality in the same region as the radical leftist college attended by the abducted students.

More from United Press International:

Mexican federal authorities take over investigation of new mass grave

The murders are most likely unrelated to the case of 43 students missing since September.

Mexican federal authorities took over an investigation Friday relating to 11 burned and decapitated bodies found near a rural road in the state of Guerrero.

The bodies, along with a message from the perpetrators, were found by local authorities Thursday. The sign read, “Here goes your trash” followed by expletives, and allegedly signed by a criminal gang.

Murder investigations are usually handled by state or local authorities, and in this case, Guerrero authorities began the investigation before it was formally taken over by federal officials. The bodies were then taken to Mexico City to be examined by forensic experts.

All 11 bodies were male. Guerrero investigators said “it’s worth pointing out that the bodies are missing their cephalic extremity, which were not placed in the immediate surroundings of the find.” The bodies were also partially incinerated.

Another casualty, via the Los Angeles Times:

Mexican activist who fed train-hopping immigrants is slain

A Mexican good Samaritan who dedicated his scarce resources to feeding Central American migrants passing by on La Bestia train was slain this week along with a friend who assisted him, fellow activists said Wednesday.

Adrian Rodriguez, who was featured in a Los Angeles Times article in June, was shot three times late Sunday afternoon as he visited his parents, receiving wounds to the head, chest and leg. He died immediately.

His friend, a Honduras native named Wilson, was shot five times and died the next morning, fellow activist Jorge Andrade said in an interview.

Gangs notoriously prey on migrants crossing Mexico, threatening, raping, extorting money from and even killing hundreds a year. People like Rodriguez, who for the last decade had trudged almost daily to the railroad tracks near his home, lugging bread, coffee, rice, beans and other supplies for migrants, work at great risk, Andrade said.

The killings in a broader context, via Borderland Beat:

President Peña Nieto moves to abolish municipal police….really Enrique?

Any BB reader knows what the world is yet to discover, that here at BB were have reported over 50 stories in the last year of  the Iguala region where hundreds of people have been taken, in groups of 10, 20, 30, entire families, school children, just regular citizens not remotely connected to criminality.   Kidnapped, and never seen again.  We have reported dozens of bodies discovered by citizens, and authorities, 32 in August, over 100 in the 6 months before the 43.

People near the landfill, who cut across the landfill,  as a short cut, reported finding 300 bodies in 2 years.  In that landfill alone.  They report that treading on the landfill area after dark is the kiss of death.  That is when the executions occur.  Gunshots heard….6-8-10 or more, pierce through the silence of the night.  And people know, in the morning corpses will be seen.  People say it is not every night, but regularly.

People, including the parents of the 43, say they reported the acts genocide to both the Calderon administration and  Peña administration.  They called on the PGR federal agency to conduct investigations, they pleaded with them.  They were told it was a state issue, a local issue.  But… pleaded the people, the state and local government are criminals, they are in collusion with the bad guys, they ARE the bad guys.   Yet, they were turned away.

And the killing continued.

I ask how is it that a town of only 120k population have hundreds of bodies discovered?  A resident wrote to me and said I was wrong, the numbers are over 1000.  At first I thought that was emotion doing the calculation,  I then did the math, and concede over 1000 is very feasible.

And from Al Jazeera America, a parallel phenomenon:

Turning Mexico’s kingpins into cartelitos

  • Drug trafficking organizations are rapidly splintering, but there?’s no end in sight to the violence

Bruce Bagley has a theory to explain the proliferation of drug gangs in Mexico. A University of Miami professor and an expert on drug trafficking in Latin America, he calls it the “cockroach effect.” Flick on the lights in a dirty kitchen and roaches may scatter. And if that kitchen is Mexico, they don’t just scurry behind stoves and under fridges; they burrow into small states and rural municipalities throughout the country.

Despite a history of collusion between criminal groups and local politicians, as seen in the case of the 43 missing students in Guerrero, Mexico’s federal government has for years focused efforts on taking down the country’s kingpins. This strategy has resulted in the arrests, extraditions and deaths of dozens of drug lords over the past decade but also unprecedented waves of violence. “Every time you knock off a capo,” Bagley said, “you run the risk of unleashing higher levels of violence.” Once the leader is removed, underlings compete for power, or rival groups try to seize territory. By cracking down on the kingpins, the Mexican government also risks clearing niches in which smaller, more regional criminal groups can flourish.

In the mid to late 2000s, there were six drug syndicates in Mexico — the Sinaloa Federation, Gulf cartel, Tijuana cartel, Juárez cartel, Zetas and Familia Michoacana. Today there are 45 active syndicates in Mexico, according to a September tally by the Mexican government, and Bagley said he has seen estimates as high as 80. These new splinter groups popping up like whack-a-moles around the country include the Guerreros Unidos, or United Warriors, the group believed responsible for the disappearance of the 43 normalistas in Mexico’s southwestern state of Guerrero in September.

And to close, another protest poster, this time from Humanos Mexicanos:

BLOG Mexart