Category Archives: Schools

MexicoWatch: Blunders, rage, protest, questions

We begin today’s coverage with yet another blunder by the Mexican president, via teleSUR English:

Mexico: Peña Nieto’s statement sparks outrage on social networks

Program notes:

In Mexico, outrage is growing on social networks such as Twitter and Instagram over the statement made by President Enrique Peña Nieto calling on society to “move beyond” the tragedy of Iguala, in reference to the 43 students of the Ayotzinapa Rural Teacher Training College who were kidnapped by police and are reported missing since September 26.

From the Guardian, a call for protection:

UN: parents of missing Mexican student teachers are at risk and need protection

  • High Commission for Human Rights says parents and protesters have been put at risk by a social media campaign to ‘vilify and insult’ their sons

The UN High Commission for Human Rights has warned that the parents of 43 Mexican students who disappeared after they were attacked by police have been put at risk by a campaign to demonise their missing sons.

Javier Hernández, the representative in Mexico for the UN High Commission, told the Guardian that the parents – and protesters calling for justice – needed protection amid a campaign to denigrate the trainee teachers who vanished 10 weeks ago.

“Some are starting to vilify and insult the disappeared students and demonise their parents and their demands,” said Hernández. “The vast wave of protest generated by the case of the 43 students needs to be protected.”

Reuters covers the ongoing search:

Spurred by mass abduction, Mexicans scour for remains of their dead

Terrorized by brutal drug gangs and corrupt police, residents around this town in southwestern Mexico have for years kept silent when relatives disappeared, fearing they would be targeted next if they made a fuss.

Some tried their own low-profile searches, even going to spots where they saw vultures circling above, but most kept quiet and others simply fled the area when they were threatened.

Then, 10 weeks ago, 43 trainee teachers were abducted by police in Iguala and handed over to hitmen from a local gang which the government says murdered and incinerated them.

And from teleSUR, another contingent marches:

Farm Workers March for Ayotzinapa

  • More than 1,500 members of the Barzon farm worker organization marched in Mexico City demanding justice for Ayotzinapa and support for the agircultural sector.

Shutting down parts of the city center of the Mexican capital, farm workers of the Barzon organization drove 43 tractors with the faces of the 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa students in a protest demanding the student be returned alive, and expressing indignation over what they call the government’s abandonment of the country’s agricultural sector.

“The Mexican government under Enrique Peña Nieto has turned everything over to foreign companies. He has done it with our oil and now it is happening with support for us farmers,” explained one of the farm workers from the state of Chihuahua.

The protest ended and turned into a rally in front of the offices of the Interior Secretary, where leaders of the group were to hold a meeting with officials.

The Guardian talks to a parent of one of the 43:

Missing Mexico student’s dad: ‘The government is waging war against our children’

  • Emiliano Navarrete talks to the Guardian about his son’s disappearance and his government’s response

Emiliano Navarrete is the father of 17-year-old José Angel Navarrete, one of 43 Mexican students who disappeared in the southern city of Iguala after they were attacked by corrupt municipal police on 26 September.

The students, from a radical teacher training college in the town of Ayotzinapa, are believed to have been killed after they were handed over to a local drug gang known as Guerreros Unidos.

Seventy-nine people have since been arrested in connection with the case, including the mayor of Iguala, who was closely linked to Guerreros Unidos and allegedly ordered police to attack the students because he feared they would disrupt an event to promote his wife’s political ambitions.

And from VICE News, a significant casualty of repression blowback:

Mexico City Police Chief Resigns Amid Criticism Over Police Behavior

Mexico City police chief Jesus Rodriguez Almeida resigned abruptly on Friday, ending his stint just two years after taking the helm of a department that has faced mounting reports of abuse during recent demonstrations over the 43 missing students in Guerrero state.

Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera released a short statement saying he received Rodriguez’s notice of resignation on Friday morning.

Mancera made no other comment about the police chief’s tenure, adding only that he would submit a new candidate for police chief to Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto, who must confirm the head of public-safety in Mexico’s Federal District.

More from teleSUR English:

Mexico City’s Chief of Public Security Renounces

Program notes:

The chief of Public Security of Mexico City renounced as the protests continue. Our Correspondent Clayton Call with further details

The Latin American Herald Tribune covers a belated road trip:

Mexico’s Peña Nieto Visits Guerrero to Address Missing Students Crisis

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has undertaken his first visit to the southern state of Guerrero to tackle the crisis caused by the disappearance of 43 students more than two months ago, and announce measures for economic stimulation in the region.

Economic activity and tourism has witnessed a slump as a consequence of the protests, some of them violent, that have rocked the state owing to the disappearances.

Demonstrations and the blocking of roads, offices and businesses have led to a drop in economic activity, employment and tourist arrivals.

“This obligates the government of the Republic (of Mexico) to come here and address the people, like it has been doing to the entire nation. We will take actions to reactivate the economy of these tourist spots of Guerrero,” Peña Nieto said Thursday in Acapulco.

From the Guardian, governmental chutzpah:

Mexico government denies neglecting corruption amid missing students fury

  • As Iguala incident and growing inequality fuel national security crisis, human rights minister describes student disappearances as ‘wake-up call’ to country

A senior Mexican minister has described the disappearance and possible murder of 43 student teachers as a “wake-up call” for the country, but has rejected accusations that the government has been too focused on its economic agenda to tackle violent crime and corruption.

The disappearance of the students 10 weeks ago in the southern city of Iguala – allegedly after corrupt municipal police handed them over to a local drug gang – has provoked protests across Mexico and led to a slump in the popularity of President Enrique Peña Nieto amid accusations that he has done little to address the country’s security crisis.

Juan Manuel Gómez Robledo, undersecretary for multilateral affairs and human rights at Mexico’s foreign ministry, said the students’ disappearance had strengthened the government’s determination to root out corruption and fight drug gangs. “[The disappearance] is a big challenge, but it does not mean we were not working on these issues before,” he said. “It sounds a warning and tells the people, the government and the private sector that economic reforms will never bear their fruit if rule of law does not prevail.”

Despite the discovery of at least 38 bodies in mass graves near Iguala – and the official report that dozens of young people were killed and burned in a rubbish tip outside a neighbouring town – Gómez Robledo said the government was still treating the students’ disappearance as a missing persons case.

teleSUR covers a telling refusal:

Mexico Attorney General Refuses Student Search at Army Base

  • An increasing number of voices appear to be pointing the finger at the complicity of Battalion 27 in the forced disappearence of the Ayotzinapa students.

Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo has flatly rejected family demands to search for the 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa students at military bases.

The attorney general said that as the National Defense Department is “more concerned than anyone” with finding the students, it would be “absurd” to think the students could be hidden there. “We know they are not there,” he added.

His response came as journalist Marcela Turati asked him if the search would include the grounds of the 27th Battalion of the National Defense Department.

And from the Latin American Herald Tribune, another armed confrontation:

Five Alleged Kidnappers Die in Clash with Police in Eastern Mexico

Five alleged kidnappers died Thursday in a shootout with police in the city of Poza Rica, in the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz. Police rescued two kidnap victims, authorities said.

The shootout began when the kidnappers opened fire on police with the elite Public Safety Secretariat at a house in Poza Rica, the state government said in a communique.

During the shootout, five of the alleged kidnappers were killed and the two victims were rescued by police.

Finally, via teleSUR, censorship strikes:

Mexican Anti-Government Hashtag Disappears

Internet users have switched to #YaMeCanse2 after the #YaMeCanse hashtag, used since protests agaist government corruption and forced disappearences errupted, has disappeared. The Mexican government uses automated online softwards to detect criticism.

Over the past month top-trending hashtag #YaMeCanse has been used in all anti-government protests, but its sudden disappearence from the web, possibly due to government “bots” has seen the emergence of #YaMeCanse2.

The hashtag was trending for 26 days until, it suddenly disappeared, despite the fact it is still being widely used. The fall was so unexpected — it had stayed in first place for weeks, and suddenly it was gone — that it immediately raised some suspicions as to whether it had been purposefully removed.

Internet forums and technology sites drew attention to what are known as “peñabots,” an army of false Twitter and Facebook accounts, created specifically to confront criticism toward President Enrique Peña Nieto and his government.

Reminder from Chile: It doesn’t have to be this way

The seizure of the commons by corrupt corporateers, aided and abetted by pet legislators, has seen the once mighty California university system transformed into a service industry for training global elites, a far cry from the dream of providing free higher educations to all California’s youth who wanted one.

University of California Regent Richard “Greasy Thumb” Blum, spouse of powerful Democratic [sic] Sen. Dianne Feinstein, has been a major player in the transition while owning a big chunk of a corporate “university” chain in direct competition with the public university he is sworn to serve.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Consider the case of Chile, a nation not nearly so rich as state of California, but one which has taken seriously what was promised to Californians back when esnl first started reporting in the Golden State back in 1968 at the very same moment Blum and his co-conspirators on the Board of Regents are trying to hike tuition yet again so as to enable the plutocratic salaries they pay those at the peak of the administrative ladder while refusing to pay workers at UC Berkeley the city’s own minimum wage.

From teleSUR:

Chile to Have Free Higher Education by 2016

  • The Chilean students have been demonstrating since the conservative government of Sebastian Piñera (2010-2014) to demand more equality in access to education.

Chile’s Minister of Interior Rodrigo Peñailillo announced Thursday that university education will be free by 2016.

“In March 2016 we will start with the free higher education, now that we have the resources [to implement the reform], as we approved the fiscal reform,” said Peñailillo.

His announcement came after a survey released Wednesday claimed that the popularity of President Michelle Bachelet’s government had dropped to 38 percent amid heavy criticisms of the education reform.

More power to Chile, and isn’t it about time to dump the megamillionaire Blum and his plutocratic chums from their posts at the helm of the people’s university?

Bernie Sanders launches his own 12-step program

And like the familiar 12-step programs, it’s about curing an addiction, the addiction to neoliberal policies that have brought us levels of inequality unparalleled since the Gilded Age.

The program is simple, and harkens back to the age of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal:

  1. Rebuild crumbling infrastructure
  2. Transform energy systems away from fossil fuels
  3. Economic reforms to benefit workers
  4. Eliminate curbs on union recruiting and membership
  5. Raise the federal minimum wage
  6. Equal pay for women
  7. Trade policy reform
  8. Affordable college education and child care
  9. Big bank breakups
  10. Provide healthcare for all as in the other industrialized nations
  11. Expand Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and nutrition programs
  12. Tax reform

Here’s Sanders delivering his message from the Senate floor:

An Economic Agenda for America: 12 Steps Forward

MexicoWatch: Protests, prisoners, & abductions

We begin with a video from #YaMeCansé:

What’s Happening in Mexico. Why we say #YaMeCanse

Program notes:

JOIN US at #YaMeCansé that means “I’d have enough”.
Sign the petition here:…

We didn’t react when 49 children were burnt to death and 76 were injured in Sonora.

22 people were murdered in Tlatlaya

45 in Acteal

17 in Aguas Blancas

In all of these cases, the State was implicated.

If we want to make a change we must make people aware of this, create greater consciousness.

To do so, we must spread the news.

We must spread the #Ayotzinapa name everywhere.

Next, from teleSUR, a sad confirmation:

Governor Confirms Abduction of 31 More Mexican Students

  • The interim Guerrero governor says the kidnap actually took place in 2013 and says the local government knew about it.

Thirty-one teenagers were abducted in the Cocula municipality of Guerrero state in July, acting governor of the state, Rogelio Ortega, confirmed Thursday. Cocula is the same place where the 43 Ayotzinapa students were also kidnapped, and possibly killed.

Earlier reports from France 24 said that the abduction happened on July 17 this year, but Ortega confirmed it actually took place July 2-3, 2013.

“The information on this abduction is available on the Guerrero state government website … it was reported there despite nobody coming forward with the crime,” said Ortega, after attending a security briefing by President Enrique Peña Nieto.

What we find amazing is the total lack of coverage this even was given, both at the time and later when Agence France-Presse announced it to the world earlier this week.

Imagine what would have happened had, say, 31 Canadian teens met the same fate? Or Britons? Or French?

But, hey, just Mexicans, right?

From the Latin American Herald Tribune, bringing it home:

Mexicans Occupy Police Academy to Protest Students’ Kidnapping

Hundreds of people on Friday occupied the police academy in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero to protest the abduction and apparent murder of 43 students two months ago.

Demonstrators parked vehicles in front of the University Institute of Police Science to denounce the failure of the state police to aid the 43 students from Ayotzinapa teachers college who were abducted Sept. 26 by municipal cops in the town of Iguala.

The institute overlooks the Autopista del Sol expressway, which links Mexico City with the Pacific resort of Acapulco.

Next, from CBC News, a notable story, especially because of the reason the the drivers are staying, which would indicate that the word “held” in the headline is an egregious editorial spin:

Mexico missing students: Bus drivers held at teachers college

  • Drivers say they’re being forced to ferry students to demonstrations

About three dozen men are holed up with their buses on the soccer field of a Mexican college where 43 students went missing, triggering massive protests. They say they are being held hostage.

They sleep in the compartments that once held passenger luggage.

While attention has focused on the kidnapping and disappearance of the students from the Raul Isidro Burgos teachers college in Tixtla, few have paid much attention to the three dozen or more bus drivers who say they are being forced by activists from the school to live as captives and act as chauffeurs for the very people who commandeered their vehicles.

The drivers, some of whom have been at the southern Mexico school more than a month, say they cannot abandon the buses because their companies hold them financially responsible for the vehicles, some of which are worth well over a hundred thousand dollars. And with authorities unwilling to inflame tensions over the disappearance and presumed massacre of students from the school, no one is coming to their rescue.

teleSUR covers a release:

Mexican Authorities Release Protesters From Ayotzinapa March

  • They were accused of terrorism, attempted murder, organized crime and riots.

Saturday was the deadline for Mexican authorities to define the legal status of the 11 people arrested during last Tuesday’s march for Ayotzinapa, #20NovMx. When the deadline was not met Saturday morning, a judge of the city of Xalapa, Veracruz, withdrew the charges against the 11 arbitrarily arrested.

The judge informed the detainee’s attorneys that there was not enough proof to indict them, and ordered their immediate release. They are expected to be released sometime Saturday.

Witnesses of the detentions, mostly people who also participated in the peaceful protest, confirm that their comrades were arbitrarily arrested by the riot police. The detentions took place when, after the peaceful demonstration arrived at Zocalo Square, a group of few people in balaclavas started throwing molotov cocktails at the riot police, who in response started beating indiscriminately the people who attended the march and arresting some of them.

From teleSUR again, a notable arrest:

Mexican Police Arrest Famous Activist

  • Famous activist Sandino Bucio was brutally assaulted and detained by Mexican authorities.

Mexican police officers arrested and physically assaulted Sandino Bucio a famous activist and author at Mexico’s National Autonomous University (UNAM).

Initial reports and eye witness reports were unable to confirm if Bucio had been arrested or kidnapped.

However, later it was discovered that he had been transferred to the Specialized Organized Crime facility where protesters gathered demanding his release.

According to reports from Bucio’s parents, authorities interrogated Bucio over his involvement in the clashes between protesters and police after a march for the 43 missing Mexican students on November 20th.

According to a subsequent blog report, Bucio was released after being forced to part with the passwords for his Faceboom and Twitter accounts.

From the vlogger Jorge Augusto Sanchez Garrido, a dramatic video of a secret police on-campus abduction, via the Nayesakura Tumblr:

Program notes:

To all the people in Tumbrl please spread this to everubody in the world. The goberment is kidnapping students inside of the UNAM. THIS CAN HAPPEN ANYMORE THE GOVERMENT ARE KILLING THE STUDENTS, THE WORLD NEED TO KNOW WHAT IS REALLY HAPPENING IN  MEXICO

And we close with another report from teleSUR English:

Disappeared persons cases in Mexico top 26,000

Program notes:

Human rights organizations in Mexico report 26,000 cases of disappeared persons, many of whom are migrants from Central America en route to the United States. Central American mothers travel throughout Mexico in a caravan, with the hope of finding their missing children.

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

MexicoWatch: Protest, politics, and posturing

And do see the previous post revealing yet another mass abduction of Mexico’s youth. . .

First, from Agence France-Presse, ongoing protest:

Mexico protest demand release of detained demonstrators

Program notes:

Hundreds of people protested in Mexico City on Tuesday, demanding the release of 11 demonstrators who were detained when marches last Thursday turned violent.

More on the latest protests from teleSUR:

Protests Shake Mexico as 2 Months Pass with No Sign of Students

  • Thousands protest peacefully for the missing 43 and the 11 students arrested last Thursday

Demonstrators took to the street across Mexico Wednesday to mark two months since 43 students of the Ayotzinapa Teacher Training College in the state Guerrero were disappeared by Iguala policemen.

At similar nationwide protests on November 20, federal authorities repressed protestors, arresting at least 11 students under circumstances that human right activists have called “unconstitutional.”

Wednesday’s protests also called for the release of the 11 students at the November 20 protests.

The accompanying video report from teleSUR English:

2-Month Anniversary of the Ayotzinapa Disappearances

Program notes:

Today marks two months since the Police in Guerrero, Mexico, killed six and disappeared 43 students from the Ayotzinapa teacher training college. The even has caused deep discontent and widespread social shockwaves across Mexico and the world. Clayton Conn has more.

And from the retro girl Tumblr, a remarkable image reconfiguration of an arrest from the 20 November protest in Mexico City:

BLOG Mexiarrest

Next, via Reuters, the latest scandal to surface uinvolving the now badly tarnished president, Enrique Pena Nieto:

Same firm, new house: Mexico leader’s conflict-of-interest storm grows

On Nov. 3, the government announced a Chinese-led consortium had won a no bid contract to build a $3.75 billion high-speed rail link in central Mexico.

Three days later, the government abruptly canceled the deal, just before a report by news site Aristegui Noticias showed that a subsidiary of Grupo Higa, a company that formed part of the consortium and had won various previous contracts, owned the luxury house of first lady Angelica Rivera.

Under public pressure, Rivera said she would give up the house. But neither she nor Pena Nieto have addressed the apparent conflict of interest stemming from the government’s business with Grupo Higa.

On Wednesday, Aristegui Noticias published a new story that said Pena Nieto used a different property belonging to another Grupo Higa subsidiary as an office when he was president-elect in 2012.

From the Washington Post, an opposition in disarray:

Mexico’s left faces problems as leader quits

Mexico’s left faces huge problems following the resignation of former presidential candidate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, a pillar of progressive politics and son of the revered president who nationalized the oil industry.

In 1989, Cardenas founded the Democratic Revolution Party, known as the PRD. On Wednesday he said he is not only leaving the PRD, but party politics entirely.

“I think that, with this, my life in a party is over … I’m not going to any other political party,” Cardenas told the Radio Formula station, adding that he would continue to work on his favorite cause, reversing recent government reforms that opened the state-run oil sector to private investment and concessions.

PRD’s worst failure came when it allowed Jose Luis Abarca to run for mayor of the southern city of Iguala, in Guerrero state, on the PRD ticket.

Abarca was, in fact, aligned with a local drug gang and allegedly ordered the kidnapping of 43 students from a local teachers college. The drug gang then allegedly killed the students and incinerated their remains.

More on the political crisis from Reuters:

Sound and fury spurs political crisis in Mexico

Program notes:

Pena Nieto’s government is in the deepest crisis of his two year presidency marred by the apparent massacre of 43 students in Mexico. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.

And from VICE News, the opening words of text accompanying a must-see photo essay:

In Photos: The Ayotzinapa Normal School, Before and After the Disappearance of 43 Students

The experiences of life as a college student are as diverse as the personalities on campus.

At the all-male Raul Isidro Burgos Normal School in Ayotzinapa, in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero, the students lead lives that are entirely different from those of their peers elsewhere. Their day-to-day depends greatly on the volatility of the political and social reality that surrounds them.

The Missing 43: Mexico’s Disappeared Students. Watch part one of the VICE News documentary here.

In August 2013, I had the opportunity to spend three days at the school. I got to know the campus and the students, saw the murals of revolutionaries and fallen guerrilla leaders, and learned about the school’s history. I shared homemade mezcal with a group of normalistas, as the teaching students are known, while the graduating students prepared for a traditional, modest farewell ceremony.

More on the ongoing protests at Ayotzinapa itself from teleSUR:

Ayotzinapa: Guerrero Teachers, Students Protest at 2-Month Mark

  • Classmates of the disappeared 43 Ayotzinapa students, along with public school teachers, block highways in Guerrero state, protesting two months of what they call injustice

With two months since the disappearance of 43 students of the Ayotzinapa teacher’s training college, classmates, teachers and social organizations blocked a major highway connecting the Mexican capital to the resort beach city of Acapulco.

Members of the State Coordinator of Education Workers of Guerrero and ‘normalistas’ – as teacher training students are called – began blocking the Mexico-Acapulco Sun Highway in the late Wednesday morning, expressing the continued demand that the missing 43 students be returned alive.

The group reportedly stationed a trailer rig and buses to prevent the passage of motorists. Several other groups moved to various other points of the Guerrero state capital Chilpancingo.

From the Guardian, the growing count of the Disappeared:

Bringing up the bodies: Mexico’s missing students draw attention to 20,000 ‘vanished’ others

  • The shocking disappearance of 43 student teachers lifted the lid on the open secret of Mexico’s many others who’ve disappeared amid drug-fuelled violence

The disappearance and probable massacre of 43 student teachers after they were attacked and arrested by Iguala’s municipal police two months ago has focused world attention on the horror of Mexico’s drug violence – and the official corruption that allows much of it to happen.

A wave of protests triggered by the massacre put President Enrique Peña Nieto under acute political pressure.

But the incident has also lifted the lid on the open secret of Mexico’s many other disappeared: amid the drug-fuelled violence of recent years, some 20,000 people have simply vanished.

Relatives of the missing have largely remained silent for fear of retribution. Now, however, many have found new strength to denounce the terror imposed by criminal gangs – often in blatant collusion with state authorities.

And we close with an emerging meme via historianart, incorporating the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa, the 11 students arrested and imprisoned during the 20 November protests in Mexico City, and the 30 missing high school students from Cocula revealed Wednesday by Agence France Presse [see the previous post]:

BLOG Meximeme

MexicoWatch: Enabling, outrage, action, images

We open with a graphic from, via Babybat, depicting the plight of justice in Mexico:

BLOG Ayotzinapa

Enabling, via Al Jazeera America:

US policies in Mexico have made bad situation worse

  • Missing Mexican students are collateral damage of drug-war capitalism

The whole episode is emblematic of Mexico’s corruption, impunity and weak democratic institutions, with elected officials and security forces colluding with the drug cartels. In this case, the students were apparently abducted by local police on direct order from Iguala’s mayor and handed over to the local Guerreros Unidos gang, which has close ties to the mayor’s wife, who claim to have killed them, burned the bodies and dumped the ashes in Cocula. And though nearby, the military evinced indifference to the students’ plight.

Despite these entanglements, however, the U.S. continues to engage in a bi-national strategy with Mexico to combat drug trafficking, entrusting the very politicians and security forces whose ties to criminal enterprises are readily apparent.

In the last six years alone, Washington spent $3 billion on the Mérida Initiative, a border security, counter-narcotics and counterterrorism program established by the George W. Bush administration in 2008. The U.S. also funnels millions of dollars through the Department of Defense to train state security forces. In 2006, Peña Nieto’s predecessor Felipe Calderón declared war on the cartels, and the human cost has been staggering. During his six-year tenure from 2006 to 2012, 83,000 people were killed and at least another 26,000 disappeared. The death toll has now reached 100,000.

Mexico’s U.S.-backed anti-drug policies are inherently counterproductive. The criminal networks associated with the illicit and unregulated drug trade are intrinsically violent, and dismantling one cartel does little to curb overall drug trafficking and violence. Instead, interdiction and drug-related arrests can escalate violence by creating power vacuums that spur fragmentation, decentralization and competition among cartels for the freed-up market share.

teleSUR English covers parental initiative:

Ayotzinapa students’ families plan take up arms and continue search

Program notes:

Nearly two months after the disappearance of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa, Mexico teachers college at the hands of local police and criminal gangs, some parents are fed up with government excuses and inaction, and plan to begin an armed search for their missing loved ones with the aid of new, community-led police forces. Many feel the time for peaceful protests is over over and plan to arm themselves and look for their children.

One result, via teleSUR English again:

Ayotzinapa students’ families find 6 new clandestine graves

Program notes:

In the absence of progress by the government in finding their loved ones nearly two months after the 43 students from Ayotzinapa disappeared while in custody of local police, families of the missing students decided to form independent search groups, some of them armed, to search for their missing loved ones with the aid of community-led police forces. The groups’ first discoveries were 6 more clandestine graves.

The Latin American Herald Tribune covers a demand:

Students Call for Mexican President to Step Down Within 6 Days

A group of students from a teachers’ training college from which 43 of their colleagues went missing and are presumed dead has called for the resignation of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto within six days.

“President Peña Nieto has six days to resign because the Mexican people want him to, and if he doesn’t, then the protests against him will increase all over the country,” said one of the students in a broadcast from a radio station the protesters had taken over.

The students issued the demand on Sunday after around 100 seized control of two radio stations in Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero state, to air messages demanding that the 43 students who went missing after a night of violence on Sept. 26, be returned alive.

And from teleSUR, the self-evident:

Mexican Police Repression ‘Backfiring,’ ‘Not Stopping Protests’

  • Eleven protestors arrested during mass protests on November 20 are being charged with attempted murder, rioting and conspiracy

On the evening of November 20 in the historic Zocalo square, in Mexico City, police clashed with protestors, beating them with batons and riot shields. Videos and photos uploaded to social networking sites show protesters who were not involved in agressions towards the authorities, including the elderly and children, were targeted and arrested by the police.

“There are patterns of systematic repression, arbitrary detentions and one element that I think is important to express which is to send a message to the public that mobilizations and social protest are bad,” said human rights defender and analyst, Miguel Moguel, from the Mexican NGO, Fundar in a press conference on Sunday, Novemeber 23.

Moguel and other human rights experts and lawyers describe the police operation on November 20 as excessive, “without control or end point” and brutal.

Yet while some analyze the use of police force as a means to quiet social protest, some such as Isabel Sangines, professor and activist, believe that the measures provoke greater protest and dissatisfaction with the authorities.

Evidence thereof, again from teleSUR English:

Mexico: new wave of protests slam gov’t repression

Program notes:

A new wave of protests has erupted in Mexico over the police attack on and detention of demonstrators at the November 20 “mega-march” in solidarity with the 43 missing Ayotzinapa Teacher Training College students. Many feel the police operations are designed to limit and criminalize social protests. Clayton Conn reports from Mexico City.

On an ancillary note, this from Reuters:

Mexico to discuss canceled $3.75 billion train contract with China

Mexico’s transportation minister will meet with Chinese government officials on Monday to discuss the cancellation of a $3.75 billion high-speed rail contract that was awarded to a Chinese-led consortium, Mexico said on Sunday.

The deal for the project, which had earlier this month been granted to a group led by China Railway Construction (601186.SS), the sole bidder, was abruptly revoked after opposition lawmakers claimed it was fixed.

Local media later revealed that a Mexican group in the consortium owned a $7 million house that Pena Nieto’s wife was in the process of acquiring, raising questions about a possible conflict of interest in the bidding process.

The Monday meeting will take place in China, where Mexico’s communications and transportation minister Gerardo Ruiz Esparza will also discuss Mexican plans to build a $10 billion state-owned and privately operated mobile network, according to a statement from the ministry.

Finally, while we can’t definitively trace the original source of this photo-comparison posted on the Naila Twitter feed, showing very similar looking fellows to occupants of a police bus throwing flames during the outbreak of violence by a few in Mexico City during the 20 November mass protest over the 43 vanished students and ensuing government bungling and butt-covering, we pass it on as entirely too plausible though we can make no conclusive assessment on identity absent both attribution and a higher resolution image:

BLOG Provocateurs