Category Archives: Class

MexicoWatch: Anger, protest, parents, science


We begin with the latest, via Al Jazeera America:

Protests rage over missing students in Mexico ahead of national strike

  • Strike and massive marches called for Nov. 20 in capital and abroad demanding end to government corruption

Protests over the disappearance of 43 missing students raged across Mexico and the United States over the weekend. Activists blamed a government they say has ties to organized crime and called for people in Mexico and the U.S. to support a Mexico-wide strike on Thursday.

Coinciding with the Nov. 20 strike, protest marches will be held in Mexico City, as well as dozens of cities across the U.S. including New York City and Los Angeles.

“We want to warn that these acts of protest will not be silenced while the civil and human rights of our Mexican brothers continue to be violated and trampled on by a government that has colluded with organized crime and to those who blamed the crimes committed by the state on [cartels] — thereby evading their own responsibility in the state sponsored genocide that has been committed with total impunity,” #YoSoy123NY, the New York chapter of a Mexican social movement that opposes Mexico’s current government, said in a statement handed out at a protest in New York City on Sunday.

A video report on the upcoming  protests in Mexico City via teleSUR:

Mexico: Major protests planned for Nov. 20 over Ayotzinapa

Program notes:

This past weekend, several demonstrations were held throughout Mexico to demand that the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa be returned alive. Plans for major demonstrations on November 20 are already underway and include 3 separate marches in Mexico City that will converge in the city’s central square and the possible seizure of the Mexico City International Airport.

From the Washington Post, the ripples spread:

Outrage in Mexico over missing students broadens into fury at corruption, inequality

On the day that pipe-wielding rioters set fire to a government accounting office and ransacked the state congress building, Felipe de la Cruz stepped to the microphone in the floodlit plaza of his missing son’s school.

The protests about his son and dozens of others abducted by police had been building for weeks. The next morning, caravans of buses would drive out of these wooded hills to spread their defiant message to far corners of Mexico, as protesters in different states blocked highways, seized town squares, closed airports, and burned cars and buildings.

“The parents are enraged by so much waiting and so few results,” De la Cruz, who has emerged as a spokesman for the victims’ families, told the crowd last Wednesday. As of Monday, he said, “the flame of insurgency has been lit.”

And from CathNews, a plea:

Mexican bishops plead for peace over student protest violence

“With sadness we recognise that the situation of the country has worsened” – since 2010, when the bishops published a pastoral letter on violence – “unleashing a true national crisis,” the bishops said on November 12 during their semi-annual planning sessions in suburban Mexico City. “Many people live subjected to fear, finding themselves helpless against the threats of criminal groups and, in some cases, the regrettable corruption of the authorities.”

The same day, at the end of his general audience at the Vatican, Pope Francis said he wanted to express to the Mexicans present in St Peter’s Square, “but also to those in your homeland, my spiritual closeness at this painful time.” While the students are legally missing, “we know they were killed,” the Pope said. Their disappearance and deaths “make visible the dramatic reality that exists behind the sale and trafficking of drugs.”

Ordinary Mexicans have taken to the streets, condemning the crimes committed against the students and the apparent collusion between criminals and the political class in parts of the country. The bishops lent their support to peaceful demonstrations, which often have been led by students, and called for a day of prayer on December 12, when millions of Mexicans celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The San Antonio Express-News covers context:

Mexico’s Iguala massacre: criminal gangs and criminal government

Gang and government lawlessness plague Mexico. On Sept. 26, a violent gang and a criminal government combined to massacre 43 students near the Guerrero state town of Iguala.

A perceived attitude of elite indifference by Guerrero state and federal government officials has fanned national outrage. Now, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto faces an expanding crisis of confidence in government institutions.

There are two reasons the crisis could damage Pena’s ability to govern.

Reason No. 1: Atrocities far less hideous and institutionally debilitating than the Iguala massacre have sparked mass revolt.

This column’s first sentence sketches reason No. 2: Mexican government corruption facilitates organized crime. Organized crime enriches a corrupt political class. Cartel gunmen and crooked cops on the streets, cartel comandantes and corrupt politicos through institutions ensnare the Mexican people.

From KNSD-7 in San Diego, solidarity:

Kidnappings, Killings of Students in Mexico Fuel SD Protests

The mass kidnappings and killings of college students in Mexico is fueling protests that have spilled over to this side of the border.

Mexican officials have confirmed the students’ remains were found. But the officials’ response is fueling more demonstrations this week, including here in San Diego.

Here at home, more than 200 students at University of California San Diego showed their support at a candlelight vigil.

“This is something that spans time and space, students being persecuted for their beliefs, for their politics,” said Mariko Kuga, a fourth-year UCSD student.

From the University of Washington student paper, the Daily:

UW students raise awareness for ongoing corruption in Mexico

Chanting filled the streets as a procession made its way around the corner of Brooklyn Avenue Northeast and Northeast Campus Parkway on Friday afternoon. With determined faces, students marched toward Red Square, holding signs and posters calling for justice in Mexico.

These students, most involved with the social justice organization Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlán (MEChA), were protesting against the corruption of the Mexican government and raising awareness about the recent massacre of 43 students near the small town of Ayotzinapa, Mexico.

“The whole point of this protest is to raise awareness,” said senior Jessica Ramirez of MEChA, who organized the protest. “This is an issue for Latinos and this is an issue for Mexicans, but mostly this is an issue for everybody that cares about social justice and human rights justice.”

KTVX-4 in Salt Lake City covers solidarity in Utah:

Utahns rally for missing students in Mexico

A rally was held at the Mexican Consulate in Salt Lake City over the weekend. The rally was held to draw attention to 43 missing students in Mexico.

Those at the rally say they believe the Mexican government is somehow benefiting financially from the missing students. They also claim the students were taken to police and then handed over to gangs as a warning to stop protests from the Mexican people.

More solidarity, via the Harvard Gazette:

Murders in Mexico

  • Harvard, Boston experts step in to help

Mexican federal officials now say the 43 students who disappeared were killed by a local drug gang, incinerated in a 14-hour bonfire, and dumped in a local river. (Forensic DNA tests are underway.)

“The brutality of this was huge,” and has to be highlighted to the world, said Miguel Angel Guevara, an M.P.P. candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School. He grew up in Cuernavaca, just a few hours from the scene of the killings. “It reminds me of what the Nazis were doing,” he said.

But unlike the Holocaust’s silent witnesses of seven decades ago, Guevara and other academics are making noise, discussing what may be a six-month blitz of Boston-area events and media outreach. “We felt the story had been underreported,” said Guevara of the missing 43 students — most barely younger than he is. (Guevara, an electrical engineer by training, is 26.)

The project has a pair of YouTube videos up already, on a channel called Boston for Ayotzinapa. One is called “The World Is Watching” and features 136 area students representing 43 countries, one country for each missing student. An Instagram has also appeared, a picture of concerned students demonstrating in front of the gold-domed State House in Boston.

And the video, via Boston for Ayotzinapa:

THE WORLD IS WATCHING: students from 43 countries in solidarity with Ayotzinapa

Program notes:

136 students of 43 countries and 5 universities (Harvard, MIT, Boston University, Berklee College of Music and Tufts) stand in solidarity with the 43 disappeared students in Mexico. Please share this video to raise awareness about the situation and help us pressure the Mexican government.

Countries in solidarity: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, South Sudan, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela.

#JusticeForAyotzinapa #AyotzinapaSomosTodos

Music: Diego Torres and Fernando Faneyte
Edition: Lucia Vergara

From the Nation, a landscape of death:

This Mass Grave Isn’t the Mass Grave You Have Been Looking For

They have found many mass graves. Just not the mass grave they have been looking for. The forty-three student activists were disappeared on September 26, after being attacked by police in the town of Iguala, in the Mexican state of Guerrero. A week later, I set up an alert for “fosa clandestina”—Spanish for clandestine grave—on Google News. Here’s what has come back:

  • On October 4, the state prosecutor of Guerrero announced that twenty-eight bodies were found in five clandestine mass graves. None of them were the missing forty-three.
  • On October 9, three more graves. None of them contained the missing forty-three. The use of the passive tense on the part of government officials and in news reports is endemic. Graves were discovered. Massacres were committed. But in this case, a grassroots community organization, the Unión de Pueblos y Organizaciones del Estado de Guerrero, searched for and found the burial sites.
  • By October 16, the number of known clandestine graves in the state of Guerrero had risen to nineteen. Still none of them held the forty-three.
  • On October 24, the Unión de Pueblos announced that it had found six more clandestine graves in a neighborhood called Monte Hored. Five were filled with human remains: “hair…blood stained clothing,” including “high school uniforms.”
  • The sixth was empty. It was “new and seemed ready for use,” said a spokesperson for the Unión.

From SciDev.Net, scientific solidarity:

Q&A: Finding the ‘disappeared’ in Argentina and Mexico

The story of 43 students that were kidnapped in Iguala, Mexico — all of whom are now presumed dead — has gripped the country for weeks. But it is just one of many stories of grieving families, outrage and mass graves filled with dozens of bodies, many badly burned. Mexico’s wave of violence continues, making headlines worldwide.

Identifying the victims — to help the police and bring closure to the parents — would be a near-impossible task were it not for forensic scientists. One group that is providing invaluable help is based some 7,000 kilometres away: the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF).

Set up to investigate the crimes of Argentina’s military dictatorship of the 1970s, the team has been identifying skeletal remains of “disappeared people”, often found in unmarked graves. Since then the group has travelled to many of the world’s conflict zones, helping to identify victims of massacres in more than 50 countries, from El Salvador, Guatemala and Colombia to former Yugoslavia, the Philippines and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

From ODN, more Argentine solidarity:

Argentines demonstrate ‘solidarity’ with Mexico over missing students

Program notes:

Demonstrators in Argentina took to the Mexican Embassy on Monday in a show of “solidarity” with the people of Mexico over missing students,. Report by Claire Lomas.

And from the Aurora Sentinel, a reminder of those most concerned:

Mexico couple’s desperate search for missing son

“How is it possible that in 15 hours they burned so many boys, put them in a bag and threw them into the river?” Telumbre says.

Maria Telumbre knows fire. She spends her days making tortillas over hot coals, and experience tells her a small goat takes at least four hours to cook. So she doesn’t believe the government’s explanation that gang thugs incinerated her son and 42 other missing college students in a giant funeral pyre in less than a day, leaving almost nothing to identify them.

The discovery of charred teeth and bone fragments offers Telumbre no more proof of her son’s death than did the many graves unearthed in Guerrero state since the students disappeared Sept. 26. She simply does not accept that the ashes belong to her 19-year-old son and his classmates.

“How is it possible that in 15 hours they burned so many boys, put them in a bag and threw them into the river?” Telumbre says. “This is impossible. As parents, we don’t believe it’s them.”

For Telumbre, her husband, Clemente Rodriguez, and other parents, the official account is merely another lie from an administration that wants to put this mess behind it. Their demands for the truth are fuelling national outrage at the government’s inability to confront the brutality of drug cartels, corruption and impunity.

From Mexico Voices, building on tragedy:

Mexico’s Iguala Crisis: Ayotzinapa Students, Parents and Zapatistas Discuss Establishing National Movement to Locate All Disappeared

Commanders of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) and members of the Good Government Council (JBG) agreed with Ayotzinapa Normal School [teachers college] students and parents traveling with the Daniel Solís Gallardo Brigade [part of National Information Caravan] to develop together a national movement for demanding the safe return of Mexico’s disappeared and those extra-judicially executed by the State.

On Saturday morning at the Caracol of Oventic in the Municipality of San Andrés Larráinzar, a four-hour meeting took place with the Zapatistas. Open to all Zapatista supporters, the meeting was attended by Subcomandante Moisés and Comandante Tacho.

That night a press conference was held at the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center during which details of the meeting were unveiled about what they will do in the coming days. Omar García, a student member of the Caravan, said:

“They embraced our indignation and rage. They gave us the greatest attention and expressed their full readiness to support us.”

And to close, via Cube Breaker, a new mural in Ciudad Juarez by the artist Ever to commemorate the missing students:

BLOG Ayoytzinapa mural

MexicoWatch: Shootings, parents, rage, pols


We begin with another shooting, first from teleSUR:

Mexican Students Shot by Police

  • One student was shot in the leg and another grazed by a bullet, according to early reports.

At least two people were shot Saturday as an individual alleged to be a police officer fired on students at the Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) who were meeting to discuss their participation in the upcoming national strike.

One student was shot in the leg while another was grazed by a bullet, although both of them are in stable condition, according to early reports.

The incident occurred around 13:00 pm (local time), when a group of soldiers and federal police officers occupied the entrance of the iconic university as students held a meeting on the national strike called for November 20 in protest of the disappearance of 43 students of the Ayotzinapa teachers’ training college.

According to eyewitnesses, a car of the Office of the General Prosecutor (PGR) parked outside of the auditorium where the meeting took place, with four armed men getting out of the car. A number of the students asked them to leave the grounds before one of men from the car opened fire on the group.

The four individuals managed to escape in a taxi and left the car in the parking lot.

Photos of an injured student from the Pugrider Tumblr:

BLOG Mexico student

The accompanying text:

Around noon, members of the PGJ (Procuraduría General de Justicia. Like, special cops) entered the UNAM, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, which, as it’s name says, is autonomous, so the police has no right to go in and, well, do their job. It’s out of their jurisdiction.

The problem started when these agents were seen taking pictures of some students, (who may have been pacifical anarchists, but were doing nothing at the moment) when these students asked them what were the photos for, they started running. A group of people, including more students, followed them, either to stop them or make them leave, but one of the agents took out a gun and started shooting. Several times. Hitting a student in the leg, and even a dog. Luckily, no one else. Now outside of the University, a couple of these ‘cops’ fled in a cab, while a third one, the one who shot, was arrested by the regular Police Department itself.

Later, members of this Police Department (Public Safety Secretary) went to University grounds (once again, they can’t do this) and, in an attempt of getting students out of where the morning shooting happened, a violent conflict started. The Police retreated but is still in the outside of the University.

Please share this, what we want is to make some noise about our situation. We won’t remain silent about how we’ve constantly been opressed for no reason. Not anymore.

Mexico City, November 15, 2014.

More from teleSUR:

Mexico University Rector Allegedly Aiding Student Repression

  • The case of the 43 missing students has mobilized university students in numbers not seen in many years and the state is responding with repression

Alberto Bravo, a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) told teleSUR in an exclusive interview that the President of UNAM, Jose Narro is, “complicit not only in the repression that occurred this past Saturday but also in other incidents where police have entered the campus.”

Bravo also told teleSUR that Narro, “maintains close ties with the [governing] Institutional Revolutionary Party,” and that as a result he works to preserve the image of the government. He also stated that, “inside the university there are many complaints regarding police harassment and there are many infiltrators.” He added that these complaints have not been pursued and those who speak out against the authorities face intimidation tactics.

On Saturday, police from the office of the Attorney General of the Federal District shot and injured two students. The shooter arrived alongside 3 other officers and university police at the Che Guevara auditorium and began photographing the students at which point they were told to leave, the shooter then took out a gun and fired.

But it’s not just students who have been protesting. Teachers are taking to the streets as well, as CNN reports:

Teachers of missing students riot

Program notes:

With little developments in the mystery of 43 missing students in Guerrero, Mexico, the community is outraged.

From Reuters, more blowback for the abduction of the 43:

Main Mexico leftist party on verge of dissolution, leader says

The elder statesman of Mexico’s main leftist party said on Sunday the group was on the verge of falling apart after a series of mistakes and the disappearance of 43 students in a state it runs in the southwest of the country.

Three-times presidential candidate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas said the opposition Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), which finished runner-up in Mexico’s last two presidential elections, had lost its moral authority and needed urgent reform.

The PRD, which Cardenas helped found in 1989, rules Guerrero state and the city of Iguala, where the government said 43 trainee teachers were abducted by police on the night of Sept. 26 and apparently handed over to a drug gang and killed.

A president besieged, via the Guardian:

Mexico’s president faces wave of fury across country over fate of missing student teachers

The brutal killing of 43 students has become a national cause, and the government’s inaction and perceived disdain risk a social explosion and political instability

The pent-up fury of the parents reflected the intensity of the violent protests that marked a dramatic week in Mexico, which has deepened the political crisis facing President Enrique Peña Nieto as he returns from a week-long trip to China and Australia, seen by many as a sign of disdain for the suffering and anger at home.

The most significant thing the president said during his trip was on an outward stopover in Alaska, when he condemned an arson attack on the door of the ceremonial presidential palace in Mexico City. “Mexican society says no to violence,” he said, referring to the burning door. “We say yes to justice, order, harmony, tranquillity, and we say yes to the application of justice.”

The president made no mention of the fact that, immediately before the door was set on fire, the streets of the capital were filled with thousands of peaceful demonstrators. Many had carried banners proclaiming “ya me cansé”, which means “I’m tired” or “I’ve had enough”. The phrase was used by the attorney general, Jesús Murillo Karam, to cut short questions at the end of a press conference two days earlier, in which he had revealed the government’s new claim that the students were probably massacred in a rubbish tip not far from Iguala, hours after they had been arrested by municipal police and handed over to a local drug gang called Guerreros Unidos on 26 September.

And an inconvenient complication, via Reuters:

Mexican president promises answers on tainted luxury home

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said late on Saturday the government would next week give answers about a luxury house acquired by his wife that has raised questions about the ethical standards of his administration.

Days after the government canceled a $3.75 billion rail contract won in an uncontested bid by a Chinese-led consortium, local media reports identified the property as linking one of the Mexican partners in the group to Pena Nieto.

Reports about the house have swelled a recent tide of public anger about the government, which has been under heavy fire for its management of the disappearance of 43 students in the southwest of the country in late September.

And from teleSUR, presidential thuggery:

Mexican President Warns of Further Force Against Protestors

  • At a press conference, Enrique Peña Nieto said he will address corruption allegations this week and issued a warning over protests demanding justice in the case of the 43 missing the Ayotzinapa protesters

Mexican President Peña Nieto has said that while he will try to establish a dialogue with protesters demanding justice over the 43 missing students but warned that the state will use force “when all other mechanisms to restore order have been exhausted.”

His remarks, during a Saturday night press conference, came just hours after the police in the capital shot and injured two students at a meeting planning solidarity events for the 43. Later 500 heavily-armed police forcefully entered the campus of the university, provoking clashes with students.

Peña Nieto condemned the violent acts of some protesters during recent weeks, although, he said that the government understands the pain and concern of the Mexican population for the atrocities carried out in Ayotzinapa.

While the Latin American Herald Tribune voices neoliberal anxiety:

Mexico’s Central Bank: “Social Developments” Could Hurt Investor Confidence

Recent “social developments” in Mexico could have an adverse impact on investor confidence, the central bank said, according to the minutes of its most recent policy meeting.

Although the Bank of Mexico did not mention any event in particular, all indications are the monetary authority was referring to the case of 43 missing teacher trainees in the southern state of Guerrero – which has made headlines worldwide – and nationwide protests demanding their safe return.

That perception stems from statements Thursday by Finance Secretary Luis Videgaray, who pointed to the potential negative repercussions of the missing students’ case on the national economy.

And CNN turns the focus on those most impacted by the crimes of Iguala:

Crying for justice, clinging to hope: The parents of Mexico’s missing 43

In parental torment over what became of his son and 42 other missing Mexican students, Isrrael Galindo rejects official accounts they apparently were massacred. He hopes that somehow his son and the others are still alive.

“I think they have him arrested or locked up. I don’t know where he is, but if I knew, I would go get him,” Galindo said of Israel, 19, his namesake son with a different spelling.

“I want him to know that I love him,” he added, beginning to weep. “I want him alive.”

Anguish overwhelms Galindo and grows daily, ever since the aspiring primary school teachers disappeared September 26 in a violent clash with police during a political protest that also left six people dead, including three other students.

More on the parents, from Reuters:

Parents of Mexico missing students lead rally

Program notes:

Parents of 43 students who have gone missing in Mexico lead rallies demanding the government bring back their children alive. Yiming Woo reports.

And to close, via the Associated Press, a judicial story:

Mexico begins court proceeding in other crimes for mayor investigated in missing students case

A federal judge has opened a court proceeding against the former mayor of a southern Mexico city in crimes that preceded the case of 43 missing students from a teachers’ college.

The Federal Judiciary Council said in a statement late Saturday that Jose Luis Abarca has been charged with organized crime, the kidnapping of seven people and the killing of another in crimes that occurred before the students disappeared. Abarca was mayor of Iguala, in Guerrero state, when the students went missing.

Abarca has been behind bars since he and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, were arrested Nov. 4 in a crowded Mexico City neighborhood.

Map of the day: Charting an American tragedy


From A Great Recession, a Great Retreat [PDF], a new report on public college funding from the Center for American Progress:

BLOG Colleges

MexicoWatch: Anger, politics, findings, crimes


Lots to cover and little time to write, so we will begin with video reports, first in the form of two segments from Democracy Now!:

Mexico Burns as Outrage over Student Disappearances Sparks Protests Against State-Backed Violence

Program notes:

Protesters in the Mexican state of Guerrero have set fire to the local legislature as outrage spreads over the disappearance of 43 students. The students from Ayotzinapa teacher’s college have been missing for nearly seven weeks after they were ambushed by police. Unrest has intensified since Mexican Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam announced Friday that suspects in the case have admitted to killing the students and incinerating their bodies at a trash dump. More than 70 people have been arrested in the case, including the mayor of Iguala, who is accused of ordering the police attack. Across Mexico, tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in peaceful protests, while groups of demonstrators have laid siege to government buildings, burned cars and blocked highways. The parents of the missing students, meanwhile, have announced they will be traveling across parts of Mexico in three caravans to demand their loved ones’ return. We are joined from Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero state, by John Gibler, an author and independent journalist. “I don’t think it’s possible anymore to talk about corruption,” Gibler says. “What we have is two sectors of an industry that have fully merged — the police and the organized crime gangs themselves.”

And the second part:

Are Mexico’s Missing Students the Victims of U.S.-Backed Drug War?

Program notes:

Amidst outrage in Mexico over the disappearance of 43 students, we look at the U.S. role in the country’s violence. According to the Center for International Policy, the United States has spent approximately $3 billion to fund the so-called war on drugs in Mexico. Since the war on drugs began under President Felipe Calderón in 2006, more than 100,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence. That includes $2.4 billion in taxpayer funds through the Merida Initiative, launched as a three-year aid program for Mexican security forces under the administration of George W. Bush. The Obama administration has extended the Merida Initiative “indefinitely.” We are joined by Laura Carlsen, director of the Mexico City-based Americas Policy Program of the Center for International Policy, and journalist John Gibler.

And from France 24, an exercise in posterior protection in the form of an interview with Juan Manuel Gómez-Robledo Verduzco, Mexican Deputy Foreign Minister for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights:

Mexico ‘still trying to locate’ missing students

Program notes:

Protests are spreading across Mexico over the case of 43 university students who went missing in September, a mass disappearance believed to be linked to powerful drug cartels with the complicity of corrupt police forces and local politicians in Guerrero state.

And from France 24 again, a talking heads segment on the political implications with a Mexican diplomat and an assortment of academic and journalistic political analysts:

Outrage in Mexico: Fury Over Student Massacre Boils Over

Program notes:

Six weeks on, the outrage in Mexico is only growing. Anger over the presumed massacre of 43 apprentice teachers in the southern state of Guerrero is being fuelled by the government’s apparent reluctance to act. Meanwhile, Mexico’s young president Pena Nieto, who ran for office as a reformer, is feeling the pressure. How is he going to restore faith in his reforms? And can the mass killing of those students prove a turning point in the uphill battle against impunity?

From BBC News, parents mobilize outrage:

Mexico missing students: Parents begin protest bus tour

The parents of 43 Mexican students who disappeared seven weeks ago have started a nationwide bus tour in protest at the government’s handling of the case.

Hundreds of supporters joined the convoy of demonstrators in south-western Guerrero state.

It came after violent protests this week as anger over the issue mounts.

The students vanished after clashing with police on 26 September in the town of Iguala.

And from Al Jazeera America, burning anger:

Mexico missing student protesters burn state buildings

Protest movement has hit Guerrero’s tourism industry with vacationers canceling trips during busiest time of year

Demonstrators set fire to the local legislature building on Wednesday in the capital of the southwestern state of Guerrero in protests over the apparent massacre of 43 students by corrupt police and thugs from drug gangs.

Violent demonstrations rocked several other states, where protesters blocked an airport and damaged the local office of President Enrique Pena Nieto’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

In Guerrero’s capital of Chilpancingo, members of a teachers union set fire to the session hall in the state assembly building while also torching several cars outside.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze and no injuries were reported. Protesters also set a fire at administrative offices of the state’s education department.

Next, from AJ+, a celebrated actor/director speaks out:

Gael García Bernal On Ayotzinapa Killings At Rosewater Premiere

Program notes:

AJ+ caught up with Gael Garcia Bernal on the red carpet at the premiere of Rosewater in NYC. But rather than dish about the film, he had more sombre thoughts on his mind.

From Frontera NorteSur, two cities wracked by violence:

Ciudad Juarez and Ayotzinapa

In a border city that became synonymous with the so-called narco war, Ayotzinapa is but among the latest histories stitched into the dozens of paradoxically pretty handkerchiefs that were draped from the fence surrounding the city’s Benito Juarez Monument last weekend.

In a comparison of the 1968 Olympics massacre of pro-democracy students in Mexico City, one handkerchief proclaimed: “October 2, 1968 Tlatelolco and September 26, 2014  Ayotzinapa.” Another handkerchief listed the names of the 43 students forcibly disappeared in Iguala.

With tears welling in her eyes, Magda Rojero voiced a common reaction to Ayotzinapa and the events which have turned a nation upside down.

“We are completely indignant. All these people could have been our children. I consider them my children,” Rojero said. An activist with Stitching for Peace, the international network that produces the hand-stitched, color-lettered handkerchiefs with anti-violence messages,

A helping hand, via the Latin American Herald Tribune:

Regional Human Rights Group to Aid in Mexican Missing Case

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has agreed to assist the Mexican government in clearing up the case of 43 students who went missing after being detained by police.

Meanwhile, protests about the case continued in the country.

Mexican authorities on Wednesday agreed to IAHCR’s terms of assistance and those of the parents of the students who disappeared on Sept. 26 in the southern town of Iguala after being handed over by the local police to a criminal gang.

The accord, signed in Mexico City, calls for the IACHR to oversee the creation of a group of experts who will provide assistance and technical verification concerning the actions of the government which has faced criticism from the families and many Mexicans.

More from the Yucatan Times:

Forced Disappearances, a serious issue in Mexico: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will appoint a group of experts to investigate forced disappearances in Mexico.

Emilio Álvarez Icaza, executive secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), said that the group of experts that will work with Mexico’s government to investigate forced disappearances in the country, including the 43 teachers in training of Ayotzinapa, will be appointed in the next weeks.

“In the next few weeks it will be announced who will be part of the group and when will it begin to work,” Álvarez Icaza said in an interview with Televisa’s Primero Noticias.

The agreement signed yesterday between the IACHR and Mexico’s government includes the development of plans to search for missing persons, a technical analysis of the investigations to determine the indictments to be filed and a technical analysis of the attention plan for the victims of the events occurred between September 26 and 27, 2014, in the city of Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico.

Solidarity, via La Agencia de Noticias del Ecuador y Sudamérica:

Ecuador organizes event for the disappearance of 43 young people in Ayotzinapa, Mexico

Social networks have become a platform for expressing solidarity and social unrest on the disappearance of 43 young students in Ayotzinapa, Mexico, and Ecuadorian citizens are also showing their concern about the case.

With the hashtag #EcuadorConAyotzinapa (Ecuador with Ayotzinapa), Ecuadorians on social networks joined the demand for a response regarding the disappearance of the students on September 26 after they had been repressed in protests by the Municipal police of Iguala, in southern Mexico.

‘#EcuadorconAyotzinapa’ went beyond the networks. Through Twitter, a call was made for a vigil to express solidarity messages. The event is programmed for Thursday, November 13 at 18:00 at the exterior of the Mexican Embassy in Quito, located on 6 de Diciembre Avenue and Naciones Unidas in the north of the city.

In another massacre, selective prosecution, via the McClatchy Foreign Staff:

Mexican soldiers face charges, but not officials who tried to hide massacre

More than four months have passed since members of a Mexican army patrol killed 22 suspected criminals, most of them after they’d surrendered, in a rural area southwest of Mexico City. Three soldiers now await trial on charges of first-degree murder.

But the mass killing June 30 wasn’t the only crime committed.

Once the bodies fell to the ground in an empty warehouse in the town of Tlatlaya, a daisy chain of politicians, prosecutors and other officials glossed over the massacre by altering the crime scene, torturing witnesses and denying evidence.

While the soldiers will face their day in court, none of the more powerful officials or judiciary workers who attempted to hide the atrocity or balked at a serious investigation has been disciplined or charged with a crime.

And a new development in an older massacre via the Latin American Herald Tribune:

Mexico Supreme Court Frees 3 Convicted for 1997 Massacre

Mexico’s Supreme Court ordered the immediate release of three people serving prison terms for a 1997 massacre in which both the accused and the 45 victims were indigenous people.

The justices voted unanimously to overturn the convictions of Lorenzo Ruiz Vazquez, Jose Guzman Ruiz and Alfredo Agustin Hernandez Ruiz, citing irregularities in the original trial.

The court did not address the question of the guilt or innocence of the defendants, Justice Jose Ramon Cossio said, stressing that the decision to three men was based on violations of their rights to due process.

Quote of the day: Why the Obamacrats lost


From former Secretary of Labor and current UC Berkeley Professor Robert Reich, writing at his blog:

If you want a single reason for why Democrats lost big on Election Day 2014 it’s this: Median household income continues to drop. This is the first “recovery” in memory when this has happened.

Jobs are coming back but wages aren’t. Every month the job numbers grow but the wage numbers go nowhere.

Most new jobs are in part-time or low-paying positions. They pay less than the jobs lost in the Great Recession.

This wageless recovery has been made all the worse because pay is less predictable than ever. Most Americans don’t know what they’ll be earning next year or even next month. Two-thirds are now living paycheck to paycheck.

So why is this called a “recovery” at all? Because, technically, the economy is growing. But almost all the gains from that growth are going to a small minority at the top.

MexicoWatch: Protests, anger, and evidence


The latest on those 43 missing student teachers and the growing outrage spawned by their abduction and apparent murder by police and the military.

First a video overview from Al Jazeera’s AJ+:

Ayotzinapa Student Killings Ignite Mexico And The Internet

Program notes:

The disappearance of 43 students at the hands of police in late September has gripped Mexico. Now officials are saying that the students of the rural Ayotzinapa school were handed over to a drug cartel that killed them, burned their bodies and left their remains along a river. Protests in the streets and online are calling for President Enrique Peña Nieto to step down, and for an end to state-complicit drug violence.

The story is getting increasingly wider play, as evidence by this from the Malay Mail:

Mexico’s missing students: State congress up in flames as protesters demand answers

Protesters fuming over the disappearance of 43 college students set fire to a state congress in southern Mexico yesterday in another day of angry demonstrations over the presumed massacre.

Some 500 masked students and radical teachers broke into the empty Guerrero state legislature and burned the library and the chamber where local lawmakers hold sessions.

Moments earlier, protesters torched the education department’s audit office in another part of the state capital Chilpancingo.

From teleSUR, yet another dead end in the search for the students:

Remains Found Don’t Belong to Ayotzinapa Students

According to a report by the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, the remains found in mass burial site do not belong to the 43 disappeared students.

The Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF) which has been conducting an independent investigation into the disappearance of 43 students in Mexico reported that human remains analyzed so far do not belong to the youth.

The non-profit organization released a statement after concluding the exhumation of remains found in graveyards in the region of Cerro Viejo and La Parota and a dump in the town of Cocula, in southern state of Guerrero.

The document was published by the Office of the General Prosecutor (PGR), and the genetic analysis were conducted by The Bode Technology Group, a U.S.-based laboratory. It concluded that 24 of 30 remains recovered do not have biological kinship with the 43 students who were abducted by authorities during a rally on September 26, the rest of the remains are still being analyzed and results are expected shortly.

And from Vocativ, the despicable:

Nestlé Makes Fun of Missing Ayotzinapa Students for Publicity

The disappearance of 43 student teachers from Ayotzinapa, Mexico, in September— believed to have been slain by gangs at the behest of local authorities—has led to ongoing nationwide protests.

When Attorney General Murillo Karam ended a press conference on Friday with the words “Ya me cansé” (“I’ve had enough”), it began trending on Twitter, with outraged citizens co-opting the phrase to express their dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of the crime. And the next day, protesters set fire to the doors of the National Palace.

So when Nestlé decided to get in on the action Monday with a joke—likening the missing students to one of their signature crispy candy bars—it invoked disgust, instead of laughs. “A los de Ayotzinapa les dieron Crunch,” read the tweet from Crunch Mexico. Translation: “They crunched those from Ayotzinapa.”

Though the remark was deleted a couple of hours later and followed up by an apology tweet, public condemnation was swift, leading the company to issue a second apology: “We’d like to express our solidarity with the families of Ayotzinapa and we extend this to the brand, which was part of that bad joke.”

The brand flip-flopped later on Monday, however, and pinned the tweet to a hacker. People were not convinced, and Mario Vera, Nestlé Mexico’s vice president of communications, has promised to get to the bottom of it.

The Associated Press covers collateral damage:

Mexico: Violent protests hit Acapulco’s tourism

Violent protests over the disappearance of 43 college students are putting a damper on tourism in Mexico’s Pacific resort city of Acapulco.

Joaquin Badillo is head of a business association in the southern state of Guerrero, where Acapulco is located.

He says the city’s hotels have seen massive cancellations ahead of this weekend, which coincides with Monday’s national holiday commemorating the 1910 Mexican Revolution. More cancellations have been registered for Christmas week, the busiest time of the year for Acapulco tourism.

And from Bloomberg, one father’s anguish:

Dad’s Disbelief Over Son’s Missing Shows Mexico Reeling

The last time Mario Gonzalez spoke with his son Cesar was on Sept. 26, when the college student phoned home to say he was happy at his new school. Hours later Cesar was gone, disappeared along with 42 of his classmates.

After speaking with his father, Cesar joined friends for a two-hour bus trip to the Mexican city of Iguala to ask passing drivers for money to fund their studies at a live-in public school, said a fellow pupil who asked not to be named due to security concerns. In Iguala, Mayor Jose Luis Abarca had plans for a public event that evening with his wife. He told the local police he didn’t want any protests by the students, said Jesus Murillo, Mexico’s attorney general.

What followed, according to preliminary investigations by Murillo, is so horrifying that Mario Gonzalez says he refuses to believe it.

More collateral damage from CNN:

Mexico facing ‘big political crisis’ in aftermath of student disappearances, says ambassador to U.S.

Mexico is facing a “big political crisis,” the country’s Ambassador to the United States told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday, nearly two months after 43 students were forcibly abducted by the police and are now feared murdered.

“It is a big political crisis for Mexico. We are all outraged by these brutal events and the only feeling that we can have is to share this sorrow and pain from the parents of these students who are still missing,” Ambassador Eduardo Medina Mora said.

In what was the first interview a Mexican government official has given to the international media since the students’ disappearance on September 26, Medina Mora maintained that the government is facing this crisis “with every single tool at our reach in order to impede this to happen again.”

“We have 10,000 people deployed on the terrain as we speak, searching for these students actively. We have a very clear path of investigation. We have hypothesis that actually shows that it might be the case that they are dead, they have been killed.”

Reuters covers papal dismay:

Pope laments ‘murder’ of missing Mexican students

Pope Francis on Wednesday expressed his sorrow at what he said is clearly the murder of 43 missing Mexican students, though the government has yet to officially declare them dead after their abduction and apparent massacre in the southwest of the country in late September.

Mexico’s government has said evidence suggests the 43 trainee teachers were handed over by corrupt police to members of a local drug gang who then incinerated them, but it has yet to confirm the deaths for lack of definitive proof.

“I’d like somehow to say that I am with the Mexicans, those present and those at home, in this painful moment of what is legally speaking disappearance, but we know, the murder of the students,” Francis said in his general audience in the Vatican.

From the Daily Express in London, more dismay:

Alfonso Cuaron demands justice for Mexican students

Mexican director ALFONSO CUARON used his acceptance speech at a benefit gala in New York City to demand justice for slain students in his native country.

The Gravity filmmaker was the guest of honour at the Museum of Modern Art’s annual film benefit gala on Monday (10Nov14), with his family, friends and former co-workers on hand to celebrate his acclaimed body of work.

But when he took to the stage to accept his prize, he used a portion of his time to speak out about the students of the Ayotzinapa Teacher Training College who went missing after taking part in a protest in the city of Iguala on 26 September (14). The students’ convoy of buses came under fire from local police, and it was later confirmed the entire group of young people had been killed. Thousands of Mexicans have subsequently taken part in protests across the country, demanding action from the government.

Cuaron, along with son Jonas and fellow Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro, added their voices to those seeking justice for the students, as they read an official statement, which was co-signed by an absent Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.

The London Daily Mail focuses on the principal suspect:

The bloody rise of Mexico’s First Lady of murder: Beautiful but utterly evil mayor’s wife who ‘ordered’ massacre of 43 students was the ‘Boss of Bosses’ for cartel behind TWO HUNDRED killings and disappearances

  • Maria de los Angeles Pineda was arrested with husband Iguala mayor Jose Luis Abarca following disappearance of 43 students
  • Students believed to have been abducted by corrupt police then handed to cartel who ‘incinerated them’ for threatening to disrupt a party for Pineda
  • Emerged that Pineda ran the brutal cartel – behind 200 disappearances
  • Search for students has led to discovery of mass graves for other victims
  • Her family’s criminal network grew after they sought revenge for kidnapping and murder of Pineda’s sister when she was a girl
  • Family of mayor knew her relatives were dangerous but said: ‘Now it turns out she was the worst of the whole lot’

The wife of the Mexican mayor arrested over the massacre of 43 students not only ordered police to stop their protest but also had them turned over to a criminal cartel which she herself was the boss and founder, it was claimed on Wednesday.

Maria de los Angeles Pineda, the wife of Iguala mayor Jose Luis Abarca, was the mastermind behind the Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors) cartel. It was set up in 2009 and is said to be responsible for over two hundred murders and disappearances in northern Guerrero state – where the tourist hotspot of Acapulco is.

It would be easy to mistake Pineda as an unwitting accomplice to her husband’s schemes from the carefully-manicured public images of her.

Fox News Latino covers protest abroad:

Black handkerchiefs at Mexico-Holland friendly in solidarity with Ayotzinapa

Mexican residents of The Netherlands will carry black handkerchiefs to the Wednesday soccer match between their national team and the Dutch squad in solidarity with the 43 Ayotzinapa teaching students who disappeared in September in Mexico’s southern state of Guerrero.

“I will participate in this initiative simply out of solidarity because right now I can’t do anything else,” Oscar Pina, a Mexican who has lived in Rotterdam for six years, told Efe.

The plan is to wave the black handkerchiefs at the time the Mexican national anthem is being played before the match in Amsterdam to “show support and solidarity with what is occurring in Mexico and since it’s going to be a match that many people are going to be watching, it’s a way to reach more people,” said the 32-year-old.

The Nogales International covers another vigil:

Locals rally at Mexican Consulate for 43 missing students

A parade of candles made its way around the Mexican Consulate parking lot in Nogales on Tuesday evening, as nearly 50 people gathered to call for justice for the 43 Mexican students who disappeared on Sept. 26.

Six students were killed in what appears to be a politically motivated attack in Iguala, Guerrero and 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Normal School disappeared, sparking protests throughout Mexico and forcing the Guerrero governor to resign.

A protest effort known as “Todos a la Calle,” or “everybody to the street,” is spreading via social media and spurred Tuesday’s group to gather at the consulate, according to Nogales resident Veronica Cortez, 41.

From teleSUR English, a report on the ongoing candlelight vigils in Mexico:

Mexican families light candles of hope for the 43 students

Program notes:

While most of the actions and protests demanding the 43 dissapeared students in Mexico be returned alive have marked with rage and in some instances of violence, there are also calls expressing of hope.

And an upcoming rally in the San Francisco Bay area:

#YaMeCanse March and Protest for Mexico

Saturday November 15

12:00 pm

24th & Mission st. San Francisco, CA

Finally, a graphic reminder that Ayotzinapa is the latest in a long line of state conducted or supported massacres and disappearances:

BLOG Ayotzinapa

Cranky old man sounds off again. . .


We’ve vented our frustration about robocalls, so now we turn our attention to call centers, and in particular call centers based in India and Pakistan, where an increasing percentage of both legitimate and scamster mass calling operations are based.

Over the years we’ve followed the migration of call centers with some interest.

Initiatially, centers calling folks in the U.S. were based in the U.S., and save for those based in the Deep South, callers spoke a form of Standard English that was easily intelligible.

Our all-time favorite call center was based in Orem, Utah, in those days when WordPerfect was the leading word processor. WP as a wonderful product, in part because when you bought the software you also got free, unlimited 24-hour tech support, a service we used on several occasions when confronted with problem as book deadlines loomed.

WordPerfect eventually faded from the scene, in part because of one badly designed iteration but mostly because Microsoft, during its initial rise to dominance, bundled free copies of the much-inferior Word with Windows for manufacturers to preinstall on their machines [We remain among the dwindling number still using it, both because we're accustomed to it and because of it's marvelous "reveal codes" feature that makes editing so much easier, though the free call center has long-since vanished and the company was sold to a Canadian firm.]

Sometime in the mid 1980s, call centers took on a subtly different accent, as the speakers intoned “aboot” rather than “about,” leading us to suspect and subsequently confirm in conversations that the centers were migrating to Canada.

Later in the decade, accents took on a delightful Irish brogue as the Canadian Loonie gained strength and the centers headed across the Atlantic to the Emerald Isle.

The callers were still by and large intelligible to someone with fairly decent hearing, and we have to admit at being enticed a time or two by the dulcet tones of a young woman’s voice speaking with a gentle brogue.

But then the accents changed radically, marking yet another evolution as corporations cut costs again and move shop to a country with three times as many English-speakers as the U.S., India, and nearby Pakistan, with more than 90 million English-speakers.

We’re rather found of English spoken with the lyrical meter rounded tones of the Subcontinent, and we had no trouble understanding it, thanks to three years spent living with an Indian family four decades ago.

But having fallen prey to the vicissitudes of years of loud noises [Rock and Classical music at high volume through headphones, plus several years of target shooting early on] and severe hearing loss following chemotherapy [one of those potential complications they don't tell you about beforehand], we have trouble hearing even Standard English in the flat accent of the California Coast, much less they heavily accented sounds spoken by a legitimate corporate call center employee.

When the call is a con artist, the frustration is even worse, given that we have to expend effort in order to determine that we have been targeted by — and let’s call ‘em what they really are — organized crime.

But then that’s globalization. Jobs that could go to Americans are shipped off overseas, by corporations concerned only about the bottom line and enabled by bought-and-paid-for stooges in Washington while scam artists [see our previous post], enabled by communications technology largely developed in the U.S., have at their disposal vast pools of cheap labor trained in English by an educational system created to serve the British Empire.

In the long run, it’s rather ironic. But then in the long run, as someone once said, we’re all dead.

We can’t fault government officials in Indian and Pakistan for welcoming call centers that bring jobs and taxes to their countries, and short of drones, nothing will stop the scammers, but national policies and laws could help return some of those call center jobs to the U.S. And the corporations that did bring the jobs back home would be doing a real service to older and other impaired customers.

But then maybe it’s all just the musings of a cranky old man. . .