Category Archives: Art

MexicoWatch: Murders, politics, hypocrisy, art

We begin with murders, via teleSUR:

Mexico’s Murders Are Reducing Life Expectancy

  • Mexico’s high homicide rates have dragged down the country’s average life expectancy.

The roughly 138,000 homicides reported in Mexico in the first decade of the new century have negated public health gains from disease prevention, according to compiled figures released Thursday.

Speaking to La Jornada, researcher Carlos Echarri from the university El Colegio de Mexico, said the homicide rate had dragged down Mexcian life expectancy by over two years.

Citing data from the National Institute for Statistics and Geography, Echarri told the newspaper that between 2000 and 2010, the average life expectancy fell from 74 years to 72. The murder rate negated the life expectancy gains that would have been made by decreases in childhood mortality and deaths from some non-communicable diseases.

From Frontera NorteSur, more on murders and disappearances:

Bloody, Bloody Iguala

The police killings and forced disappearances of students and civilians last fall in Iguala, Mexico, put the city in the international spotlight.  As outrage and protests spread across Mexico and the world, attention focused on the goings on in the city before and after the attacks on the students from the Raul Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers College of Ayotzinapa.

Implicated in the killings and kidnappings of the students, Iguala Mayor Jose Luis Abarca and his wife fled the city and eventually were arrested by the federal government. Similarly linked to the brutal crimes, dozens of police officers and individuals connected to the Guerreros Unidos organized crime group were detained.

Exposed as a corrupted institution, the municipal police force was withdrawn for retraining and security assigned to a new federal police force, the National Gendarmerie. Order and public safety were restored, right?

World attention on the city located in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero notwithstanding, day-to-day events on the ground indicate that little or nothing has fundamentally changed since the bloody assault on the Ayotzinapa students last September.

A teleSUR English video report offers at least one small consolation for the grieving families of the disappeared:

Mexico: New Attorney General says Ayotzinapa case not closed

Program notes:

Contradicting statements made by her predecessor, Mexico’s new Attorney General Arely Gomez said the case of the missing Ayotzinapa students is not closed. Yesterday, Gomez met yesterday with a team from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and promised to give them access to government documentation on the case. Clayton Conn reports from Mexico City.

From teleSUR, a quintessential insider’s elevation questioned:

Controversy Plagues Mexican Supreme Court Nominee

  • The nominee is the current ambassador to the U.S., a former attorney general, and was once director of Mexico’s intelligence agency.

A storm of controversy is engulfing Mexican official Eduardo Medina Mora as he is put up for candidacy for a spot on the country’s highest court.

Medina has been proposed, along with two other candidates, by President Enrique Peña Nieto to fill the position, which arose after the the death of Supreme Court Minister Sergio Valls in December last year.

Medina, who is currently ambassador to the United States, faced a Senate committee hearing Monday, during which several senators grilled him for his professional record in government.

In the previous administration of Felipe Calderon, Medina occupied the attorney general’s seat during polemic events such as the so-called “Michoacanazo,” which resulted in 38 Michoacan State officials, pertaining to opposition parties, being detained and accused of corruption weeks before elections: they were all later released for lack of evidence.

The Guardian notes the sadly obvious:

Mexico drug kingpins behind bars but violence and corruption go unchecked

  • Mexican authorities’ successes in jailing top narco-gangsters has led drug cartels to fragment while leaving politicians and businessmen unpunished

The routine has become almost familiar: a fugitive mafia boss is cornered by Mexican security forces and captured without a shot fired.

The stony-faced kingpin is marched by a masked special forces escort across airport tarmac dotted with army helicopters, to be whisked away for questioning.

Mexican politicians and police hail another victory in the drug war, warning that no mafia boss is too powerful to escape justice. US officials shower praise on their colleagues, and chalk up another victory in the drug war.

But all the while, violence fuelled by drug-trafficking and corruption continues to rage across Mexico, and shipments of marijuana, heroin and methamphetamine keep crossing the border into the US.

And from teleSUR, again, hardly surprising but sad nonetheless:

Mexico’s Ruling Party Blocks Probe on Electoral Fraud

  • Accusations of fraud during the 2012 elections are being reviewed by the Mexican Congress.

In a press conference Wednesday, the head of Mexico’s Congressional Investigative Commission investigating fraud accusations against the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) said the party and its allies are blocking efforts to carry out the probe.

“On more than six ocassions, the PRI, the Green Party and New Alliance have impeded the work of this commission,” said Roberto Lopez Suarez, who heads the probe. “The sub-commissions continue working (…) on a document that we will reveal next Tuesday. There we will show the mistakes and irregularities made by the National Electoral Institute (INE) to exonerate Monex.”

Monex – one of Mexico’s biggest credit card companies – allegedly helped president Enrique Peña Nieto’s PRI win the 2012 elections by issuing massive numbers of special credit cards in exchange for votes.

And we close with images from Poesía Visual Morelia featuring a graphic creation by Felipe Ehrenberg, symbolizing the remains linked to Alex Mora, the only one of the missing students of the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College of Ayotzinapa in Iguala, Guerrero, identified from a sack of ashes found near the alleged cremation site in nearby Cocula, photographed by Hersalía Cantoral:

BLOG Ayotz

MexicoWatch: Investigations, murders, & pols

We begin with an investigation, via teleSUR English:

Independent Ayotzinapa investigation begins

Program notes:

The 5-member Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will begin an independent analysis of the disappearance of the 43 Ayotzinapa students, meeting with family members and lawyers as a first step. Clayton Conn reports from Mexico City for teleSUR

From Mexico News Daily, one investigation challenges another:

Fire experts confirm Ayotzinapa findings

  • They dispute UNAM physicist’s claims regarding the fuel required

How much fuel — such as wood and tires — does it take to turn 43 bodies to ash?

Of the doubts that have been sown over the official version of what took place on the night of September 26 in Iguala and Cocula, Guerrero, the most credible is that concerning the incineration of the 43 bodies of the missing students of Ayotzinapa.

A physicist at the National Autonomous University (UNAM) has disputed the official findings, claiming that the fire would have required 33 tonnes of four-inch-diameter tree trunks — or 995 tires — to achieve the required temperature of 900 degrees C for a sufficient length of time to completely burn the bodies.

But the newspaper Milenio reports today it has consulted two international experts in the behavior of fire and its effects on the human body. One of the them, American forensic anthropologist Elayne Juniper Pope, has actually conducted experiments on bodies, burning them on the surface of the ground and inside excavated pits.

The verdict: yes, it would be possible to incinerate that number of bodies within 24 hours and without the volume of fuel suggested by researcher Jorge Antonio Montemayor of UNAM. Pope said subcutaneous body fat alone is a fuel source that can feed a fire for hours.

From VICE News, and not surprising:

Human Rights Crisis Threatens to Overshadow Mexican President Peña Nieto’s Visit to UK

Mexico’s beleaguered President Enrique Peña Nieto touched down in London on Monday for a three-day state visit intended to strengthen trade and cultural ties between Mexico and the United Kingdom.

Peña Nieto has been lauded on the international stage for passing an array of market-friendly reforms and jailing some of Mexico’s top drug lords, including Servando “La Tuta” Gomez, the head of the Knights Templar cartel, who was captured on Friday after an eight-month manhunt.

However, his image has been tarred by recent corruption scandals and the likely massacre of 43 teachers college students last September, which caused the United Nations to condemn Mexico’s record on forced disappearances last month.

Murders, via teleSUR:

14 New Murders in Town Where 43 Mexican Students Disappeared

  • The fresh bloodbath took place over 72 hours.

Bloodshed has returned to the Mexican town of Iguala, where 14 murders took place in less than 72 hours last week.

In the the same town where 43 students were kidnapped by police after protesting in September last year, more than a dozen people were killed in the space of a few days last week.

The scope of victims in the town in the ultra-violent state of Guerrero was broad and apparently indiscriminate: a pregnant woman stabbed to death; a doctor gunned down; an official killed outside his home; two young men killed in plain view in the middle of the town.

More murders from Borderland Beat:

Dozens of Catholic Priests murdered by Organized Crime during Calderon-Peña Administrations

The fact that Mexico is one of the most dangerous places on earth for reporters is well known, what is far less written about is the violence perpetrated against  Catholic Priests.

Mexico is officially now the most dangerous place on earth for Catholic Priests.  While long in the top group of most dangerous places for priests, Mexico is now its leader.  For the sixth consecutive year, Mexico tops the list in murders and disappearances of Catholic priests in Latin America.

What must be established, murders and kidnappings of priests receive little attention outside regional reporting hubs.  It is a perplexing, how a story of dozens of  priests being murdered by cartels during  2 administrations goes unrecognized, or for example, a story  about 5 priests being killed in November–December of 2013 in Tamaulipas and Veracruz,  is but a tiny blip on the media radar.

And some controversy, via teleSUR:

Controversy Hovers Over Mexico’s New Attorney General

  • Arely Gomez is set to take the country’s highest law enforcement post, yet her connections to a private media company is shadowing her credentials.

Gomez is the sister of a vice president of media giant, Televisa, a company that owns more than 70 percent of Mexico’s television market.

In recent years Televisa has been accused of playing an influential role in Mexican politics. During the 2012 presidential campaign, the company was accused of giving favorable coverage and airtime to then candidate Peña Nieto. Meanwhile the president’s wife, First Lady Angelica Rivera, is a former soap opera actress who worked on Televisa productions.

Arely Gomez’s appointment will be voted upon by the entire Senate Tuesday.

More controversy, via the Latin American Herald Tribune:

Former Mexico City Mayor Quits PRD

Former Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard has resigned from the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD.

The former mayor said in a letter to PRD chairman Carlos Navarrete that was posted on Twitter this weekend that his successor, Miguel Angel Mancera, had blocked his efforts to run for the presidency and the PRD had moved too close to the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.

Ebrard, who served as the Mexican capital’s mayor from 2006 to 2012, said his resignation was final and “irrevocable.”

“The progressive alignment of the party’s leadership with (Mexican President) Enrique Peña Nieto” and the PRI “is incompatible with the political objectives and duties of the Mexican left,” Ebrard said.

And our graphic of the day, featuring the names of Aytozinapa students, via Puro Pinche:

BLOG Ayotz

MexicoWatch: Politics, disappearances, crime

We begin with the political, via teleSUR:

Murillo Sparks Final Controversy with Resignation Contradiction

  • The Attorney General said the Ayotzinapa case should be kept open, after declaring it closed more than a month ago.

Former Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam prompted yet more derision when he apparently contradicted himself during a speech announcing his resignation.

The fumbling official, who has repeatedly bungled the case of the 43 students forcibly disappeared from a protest for a teacher training college in Ayotzinapa, told the press conference that the case could not be closed because the remains of 42 of the 43 young people had not been identified.

Yet in January Murillo sparked major controversy after announcing the Ayotzinapa case closed.

More politics, from teleSUR:

Mexican President’s Relationship With TV Station Deepens

  • The Mexican President’s selection for attorney general is the sister of a high-ranking executive at Televisa.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto named Arely Gomez as his choice for attorney general Friday, in a move that raised eyebrows due to Gomez’s connection with media giant Televisa.

If confirmed by the Senate, Gomez would replace Jesus Murillo Karam, who stepped down after facing months of criticism over his handling of the case of the 43 forcibly disappeared students.

Gomez happens to be the sister of the vice-president of news at Televisa. It was Televisa who broke the news that Murillo was stepping down and was to be replaced by Gomez.

Next, today’s Ayotzinapa protest image, via Sith Spider:

BLOG Ayotz

From teleSUR, disappearances:

400 Women Disappeared in the State of Mexico in 2014

  • Over 10,000 people have disappeared since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office in 2012.

As disappearances are on the rise since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office two years ago, Mexican activists and politicians on Saturday called on authorities to declare a state of gender alert in the central State of Mexico after local reports revealed that in 2014 about 400 women have been disappeared in the entity.

Mothers of minors, social activists and members of the center-left PRD party demanded that the government put in place “drastic” measures to eradicate this crime, according to Mexican daily newspaper La Jornada.

Families and relatives of the disappeared women offered heart wrenching testimonies during an event called “Enough of Disappearances, Femicides and Human Trafficking” in Ecatepec, just north of Mexico City.

More from Frontera NorteSur:

The Missing Faces of February

Martha Cecilia Gomez was visibly shaken as she pleaded for the whereabouts of her daughter. According to the Mexican mother, her 16-year-old daughter Paola Yaneth Alvarez left the family home in the central Mexican state of Aguascalientes the morning of February 1 to go shopping for pork rinds and never returned.

“We don’t know anything about her,” Gomez told FNS. “As the mother of a family, I ask people who might have seen something to come forward, but nobody has”  Along with relatives of other missing or murdered persons, Paola’s family members staged a march earlier this month through the state capital of Aguascalientes to press for answers.

The other presumed and confirmed victims spotlighted in the demonstration included Sergio de Lara Quezada, 28, disappeared on August 30, 2011; Maria del Cristal Acevedo Gomez, 29, missing since July 26, 2014; and Cecilia Martinez Mota, murdered in 2014.

In the days following the march, stickers affixed to structures lining one of Aguascalientes’ main streets asked passerby, “Where is Cristal Acevedo?”

More disappearances, via BuzzFeed News:

Mexican Lawyers Are Disappearing, Leaving Nothing But Fear And Questions Behind

More than 60 lawyers disappeared or were killed during a wave of violence in Durango. Their families mourn them and hope for justice while their colleagues scurry away from certain criminal cases.

When Claudio Hugo Gallardo disappeared in 2013, his sons scoured the local hospital, prison, and morgue frantically. They combed through video footage recovered from Gallardo’s last known location and even inquired with the cartels whether their operatives had picked up the well-known lawyer.

But before Gallardo’s family could find him, they stopped looking.

“It’s for our own peace. We don’t want threats,” said Claudio Gallardo, one of the attorney’s sons. The family has floated several theories, including the involvement of government officials, cartel thugs, and a combination of both, but prefer to be discreet about their findings, citing orders by local authorities to stop prodding.

Gallardo is one of more than 60 lawyers killed or disappeared here during a spate of crimes against litigators that began in 2008, according to members of Durango’s Benito Juárez Bar Association. Some of the bodies that have been recovered carried messages from criminal groups saying the litigator should not have been defending certain clients, said Celina López Carrera, who is in charge of the state’s public prosecutors.

From teleSUR, demands:

Mexican Teachers Demand Justice

  • Members of the CETEG teachers union have demanded the appearance of 11 teachers, and justice for the death of Claudio Peña Castillo outside the headquarters of the Federal Police in Chilpancingo.

Members of one of Mexico’s teachers unions marched on the headquarters of the Federal Police in Chilpancingo on Saturday to demand justice for the death of a retired teacher, and the return of 11 missing teachers

Claudio Peña Castillo was killed in a protest on Tuesday, and 11 teachers who were also at the demonstration have not been seen since then.

The protesters chanted “murderer” at the leader of the federal police in Chilpancingo and pointed out the numerous injuries people had suffered at the hands of the police.

And from Mexico News Daily, an activism incentive denied:

Feds nix Oaxaca’s promotion scheme

  • Teachers who want an administrative position must turn up for protests

The National Institute for the Evaluation of Education (INEE) gave Oaxaca Gov. Gabino Cué a deadline to invalidate an agreement that specifies how teachers are promoted to administrative positions in secondary schools. That deadline was yesterday.

INEE head Sylvia Schmelkes said if it wasn’t met it would fall to the Public Administration Secretariat of the federal government to take punitive action against the state government.

Promotions to administrative positions bring higher salaries but the process, designed by the teachers’ union CNTE, violates the constitution, according to the INEE. Federal law stipulates that such promotions can only be awarded following competitive examinations that adhere to parameters and assessment tools that will be defined in the next few months.

But for promotion in Oaxaca, under the CNTE plan, teachers must produce documents that show they participated in protests in Mexico City and Oaxaca.

From Justice in Mexico, the war on the Fourth Estate continues:

Reforma distribution center attacked in Edomex

A distribution center for the newspaper Reforma was attacked early in the morning of February 15 in Tlalnepantla, near the border with the municipality of Naucalpan, in the State of Mexico (Estado de México, Edomex). The attack occurred at approximately 2:00am on Sunday morning in the neighborhood of Viveros del Valle, and has left a franchisee employee in critical condition after he was shot in the nape of his neck during the attack. A truck owned by Reforma was also fired upon four times. No suspects have been detained yet in the case.

The attack comes on the heels of a series of publications made by Reforma in previous weeks that addressed the insecurity in nearby Naucalpan and the local police force’s alleged involvement in several incidences. On February 1, Reforma reported that Naucalpan Councilmember Esther Tapia accused the local police of kidnapping and beating her 23-year-old son to intimidate him, though it is unclear why he was targeted. Video footage of the event captured by nearby security cameras show a vehicle approach her son, and police officers exit from the vehicle and detain and physically assault him. The police vehicle, reports El Universal, is one of the Naucalpan Police’s nine new patrol cars, though it lacked official police insignia and police license plates.

From the Guardian, a cartel capture:

La Tuta captured: Mexico’s flamboyant primary teacher turned drug kingpin

  • Servando Gómez Martínez, the head of the Knights Templar crime cartel and nicknamed ‘La Tuta’, was captured by federal police early on Friday morning

Mexican police have captured a former primary school teacher who became the head of one of the country’s most bizarre and bloodthirsty drug-trafficking groups, putting an end to a flamboyant criminal career that stood out in a country where underworld bosses have traditionally sought to avoid the spotlight.

Servando Gómez Martínez, nicknamed “La Tuta” was captured by federal police in the early hours of Friday morning in the city of Morelia, capital of the Pacific coast state of Michoacán.

He was taken to Mexico City for questioning, before being marched in front of TV cameras to a helicopter to be flown to prison the same night.

And from the Associated Press, consequences:

Mexico drug lord captures change but don’t lower trafficking

It’s another big score for the Mexican government, which has been tearing through its list of most-wanted drug lords in recent years.

Still, no one expects drug trafficking or violence to decrease after the capture of Servando “La Tuta” Gomez, a former grade-school teacher whose Knights Templar cartel once terrorized the western state of Michoacan.

Crime will only shift around as the now weakened cartel regroups, or even splinters, as has happened with some of Mexico’s drug gangs after the killings or capture of top leaders. Others continue business as usual after top leadership hits.

“Dismantling them was a necessary step, but that does not end the problem of insecurity,” Alejandro Hope, a Mexico City-based security analyst, said of the Knights Templar. “The next part is more complicated. There are still small groups, remnants, which will be extorting, robbing and perhaps even producing methamphetamine.”

MexicoWatch: Protests, politics, plans, graphics

We begin with protest, first from The

Nationwide protests for students continue

Five months after the disappearance of the 43 students from the Rural Teachers College of Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, thousands of protestors, led by relatives of the students, marched from the Ángel de la Independencia to the Los Pinos official presidential residence in Mexico City Thursday.

Teachers from the State Coordination of Guerrero Education Workers (CETEG) in Acapulco marched to demand the students be brought back alive and to protest the death of retired teacher Claudio Castillo Peña.

Manuel Salvador Rosas, from the Political Commission of the CETEG, said that the federal police apprehended at least 11 teachers on Feb. 25 who have not yet been released. Thirty other teachers have been hospitalized, 15 with serious injuries, he said.

Next, a video report from teleSUR English:

Mexico: Omar Garcia, “the 44th,” of Ayotzinapa, demands justice

Program notes:

Omar Garcia is one of the 43 student teachers in Ayotzinapa who was able to escape with his life from the attack on September 26th. He says that he is a living symbol of the fact that anyone in Mexico could be “the 44th.” Surviving the violence against the students by municipal police, Garcia has become one of the group of full-time activists who travel the country to seek support for the demands of Ayotzinapa: the safe return of the missing students, and the punishment for those responsible.

More protest news from the Latin American Herald Tribune:

Mexican Teachers Protest Police Repression

Some 1,000 teachers marched in this Pacific resort city on Thursday to protest the police response to a protest here earlier this week that left one demonstrator dead.

The marchers, most of them members of the State Coordinator of Education Workers of Guerrero, or CETEG, union, held a rally outside the Federal Police offices in Acapulco to demand an investigation into the death Tuesday of 65-year-old retired teacher Claudio Castillo Peña.

Federal authorities say Castillo was struck by a vehicle, but CETEG rejects that explanation.

“We will not let them come to us now and say our comrade didn’t die from the direct blows he suffered,” one teacher said Thursday. “May they not try to deceive the people, may they not try to deceive Mexico, may they accept responsibility for the death.”

And a change of tactics, via Mexico News Daily:

Stopping elections parents’ new objective

  • Marches aren’t enough, says spokesman, as only 3,000 people turn out

The protest marches are not enough, says the spokesman for the parents of the missing students of Ayotzinapa, so the new plan is to prevent the mid-term elections from being held June 7.

Felipe de la Cruz made the statement after yesterday’s ninth day of global action for Ayotzinapa, for which only 3,000 people turned out in Mexico City, according to estimates by the Federal District government. That’s a big drop from the more than 15,000 who marched in the first event held to draw attention to the violence in Guerrero on September 26, when the 43 students disappeared.

Their families refuse to accept the findings of the official investigation.

De la Cruz said it was the job of all Mexicans to organize, “neighborhood by neighborhood, municipality by municipality,” to ensure there are no elections this year.

And a dose of politics form the Associated Press:

Mexico to replace embattled attorney general

Mexico’s embattled attorney general is leaving the post to take a new cabinet-level job as head of urban and rural development.

Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam had weathered scathing criticism over his handling of the Sept. 26 disappearance of 43 students in southern Guerrero state.

Murillo Karam had also been criticized for being slow to investigate evidence that soldiers killed between 12 and 15 criminal suspects after they surrendered in June.

To close, another protest graphic, this time from Creators:

BLOG Ayotz

ISIS emulates the GOP in destroying history

Hoe is ISIS like the Grand Old Party?

Consider the following ISIS video, depicting the destruction of 4,000 years of history in the museum of Mosul, Iraq, located in the region of the world that served as cradle of  Western Civilization:

The story, via Newsweek:

ISIS Smashes Thousands of Years of History at Museum

Ultra-radical Islamist militants in northern Iraq have destroyed a priceless collection of statues and sculptures from the ancient Assyrian era, inflicting what an archaeologist described as incalculable damage to a piece of shared human history.

A video published by Islamic State on Thursday showed men attacking the artifacts, some of them identified as antiquities from the 7th century BC, with sledgehammers and drills, saying they were symbols of idolatry.

“The Prophet ordered us to get rid of statues and relics, and his companions did the same when they conquered countries after him,” an unidentified man said in the video.

Lamia al-Gailani, an Iraqi archaeologist and associate fellow at the London-based Institute of Archaeology, said the militants had wreaked untold damage. “It’s not only Iraq’s heritage: it’s the whole world’s,” she said.

“They are priceless, unique. It’s unbelievable. I don’t want to be Iraqi any more,” she said, comparing the episode to the dynamiting of the Bamiyan Buddhas by the Afghan Taliban in 2001.

The action follows the destruction of thousands of manuscripts and books in libraries in ISIS-occupied areas of Iraq and Syria.

Even before we learned to write our own name in cursive, we insisted that our teacher help us write out the word “archaeology,” and between the years five and eighteen, we were resolved to become an archaeologist working on digs in Mesopotamia, the land between the rivers.

After witnessing firsthand the vicious pettiness that all too often marks the world of academic politics, we surrendered our trowels and camel hair brushes to dig in more contemporary dirt as a journalist.

But we never relinquished our first love, and have kept abreast from afar of some of the remarkable discoveries made since we wrote our first newspaper story a half-century ago.

In covering politics, we discovered that fundamentalist zealots are ever eager to annihilate a past that contradicts their version of events, along with the artifacts and institutions that would remind them of a time when things were different.

While ISIS seeks to annihilate five thousand years of history and purge culture of anything reminding them of that “idolatrous” past, the GOP seeks similarly to purge America of the institutions and creations evolved under a different vision of humanity in the form of the institutions of the relatively mild social welfare state implemented by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight David Eisenhower, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Just as ISIS smashes statues, the GOP would destroy Social Security, Medicare, the Post Office, public schools, public land, public health, and so much more. And along with government institutions, they would also smash our historical legacy in the form of the architectural creations of the past, eager to build those stark, cheaply built high rises and McMansions they so deeply love.

Similarly, GOP radicals would purge classrooms and school libraries of thousands of books contradicting their own versions of religious, pseudoscientific, and political beliefs.

The one notable difference between the GOP radicals and ISIS lies in the domain of honesty, where ISIS holds all the cards.

Very few in the GOP are so frank, knowing that even with their control of campaign money and much of the media, frank expression of their real agenda would turn off even many in their own party — people with children and parents who benefit from those very programs the Koch-heads would annihilate in order to increase their already dominate control of the world’s money and resources.

We’ll leave the last word to Bernie Sanders:

Pope Francis

Quote of the day: Mr. Fish on his calling

Dwayne Booth, better known to esnl regulars as Mr. Fish, is perhaps the most innovative polemical cartoonist of the day, creating images that are both darkly humorous and scathingly insightful.

Currently teaching at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, he is the creator of two books — most recently WARNING! Graphic Content: Political Cartoons, Comix and the Uncensored Artistic Mind.

The quote comes from an interview by Henry Jenkins, Provost’s Professor of Communication, Journalism, and Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, at his blog, Confessions of an Aca-Fan [Aca being shorthand for academic]:

Broadly speaking, I think there are two major factors that have contributed to the demise of the editorial cartoonist as a viable and sought after contributor to the national debate regarding news, politics and culture over the last hundred years. The first and most obvious is the concentration of media ownership and the elimination of independent voices by the formation of publishing and broadcast oligopolies whose power and influence derive from their disdain for creative competition and dissent. Through corporate mergers and outright acquisition of media outlets by companies motivated by the procurement of profit above all else, the very mission of the free press to inform, enlighten, agitate and educate has, over time, become less about serving the public good and more about catering to the demands and expectations of multinational corporations who have an active contempt for a diversity of viewpoints, in particular those that undermine the revenue-centric values of advertisers, shareholders and, by proxy, the consumers who revere and respect the absolute power of the marketplace. As a result, the propagation of any idea deemed inappropriate by the business and political elite for which the publishing industry serves and advocates for is prohibited, hence, the power and purpose of the editorial cartoonist as an agitator and outspoken critic of partisanship and complacency is recognized as a liability rather than an asset when it comes to servicing the ways and means of the revised version of the Fourth Estate.

The second reason why cartoonists can no longer earn a living wage is, of course, due to the total collapse of the print media industry and the inability of online publishers to pay contributors for content, having not yet figured out a financial model that is self-sustaining. And while the aforementioned consequences to the profession of editorial cartooning are certainly devastating, they have no effect whatsoever on the drive and instinct of the visual artist for whom graphic radicalism and pictorial civil disobedience are his or her best weapon against systemic injustice and institutionalized dogmatism made harmless by the status quo.

As it’s always been, the best and most insightful visual art has never appeared in newspapers, nor has it been produced by cartoonists for mainstream publication if only because the very definition of the mainstream insists on pulled punches and language that has been compromised for taste and easy digestion.

MexicoWatch: Protests, artists, and politicians

We begin with the protests, first from teleSUR English:

Mexicans call for another global action day in support of Ayotzinapa

Program notes:

Social organizations, relatives of the missing students and general supporters are using social media to call for a massive protest to continue demanding answers from the government about the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa. The march will take place this Thursday, five months to-the-day since the disappearance of the teaching students.

Here’s a poster for one of the events, from the Asamblea Popular de Houston:

BLOG Ayotz

Next, from teleSUR, a dubious presidential legacy in the making:

Violence on the Rise in Mexico Under Peña Nieto

  • Over 130,000 kidnapping cases took place in Mexico in 2013, while 173 have been executed in two weeks.

Violent crimes, including kidnappings and executions, have increased exponentially under President Enrique Peña Nieto according to Mexican newspaper Reforma Tuesday.

The new statistics show one kidnapping was reported every five hours in January 2015 alone. The recent spike has seen kidnappings increase 7.2 percent compared to December 2014, while over 170 executions took place in the last two weeks.

“In the first month of 2015, 163 kidnappings have been reported, which is 7.2 percent more than December 2014,” said the anti-kidnapping coordinator, Renato Sales Heredia.

From Mexico News Daily, a reasonable move:

PRD rejects candidate: her husband’s in jail

  • The ex-mayor of Lázaro Cárdenas was arrested on suspicion of criminal links

The national council of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) has the edge on its state-level officials in Michoacán when it comes to recognizing bad optics.

On Friday, the party’s state council approved the list of proportional representation candidates for the federal Chamber of Deputies. No. 2 on the list was Nalleli Pedraza Huerta, whose husband, Arquímedes Oseguera, is a former mayor of Lázaro Cárdenas.

He became a former mayor after he was jailed last April on suspicion of kidnapping and extortion and for having links to organized crime. One piece of evidence is a video showing Oseguera at the side of Servando Gómez, “La Tuta,” leader of the Caballeros Templarios cartel.

And from the Washington Post, politics by other means:

Mexican party turns to lottery to pick candidates

Mexican political parties are desperate to convince voters their candidates aren’t tied to drug gangs, violence or corruption. But one party has gone to extreme lengths to pick candidates in an open, transparent way: It held a lottery.

The National Regeneration Movement, known as Morena, had some 3,000 vetted hopefuls put their names in a drum on Sunday, and the names of more than 100 candidates for the June 7 congressional races were pulled out at random. Many have little previous experience in political office.

“We have decided to break the mold, and break with the corrupt way politics has always been done in our country,” said Morena leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. “The candidacies going to be decided by a lottery.”

Reuters covers a complaint:

Mexico complains about remarks attributed to pope over drug image

Mexico said on Monday it would send a letter to the Vatican to complain about remarks attributed to Pope Francis about the risk of Argentina suffering a criminal “Mexicanization” due to the spread of drug gangs there.

Mexico’s Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Meade said his government had expressed concern that the country was being “stigmatized” as a land of drug traffickers in an email attributed to Francis published in Argentina over the weekend.

“We had a meeting with the (papal) nuncio and we will indeed send a note, and what worries us is that the drug trafficking challenge is a shared challenge. It’s a challenge that Mexico is undertaking massive efforts on,” Meade said in Mexico City.

While Mexico News Daily looks at the other side of the rhetorical coin:

Poppy cultivation grows with demand

  • It’s a lucrative crop for rural farmers in Guerrero and other states

The only publicly available statistic that gives some indication of opium poppy production in Mexico is that which reveals how many hectares of poppies were discovered and destroyed.

And in 2014 that figure was up 46% over the previous year for a total of 21,425 hectares. In terms of worldwide cultivation, that’s 7% of the total, well behind No. 1 producer Afghanistan with 70%, but still in third place behind Myanmar with 57,800 hectares.

Colombia was at one time the biggest producer in Latin America (although it never came close to Afghanistan’s output) but that changed in 2005 when its production began to drop. A year later, the area under cultivation in Mexico began to climb, rising from 3,300 to 5,000 hectares between 2005 and 2006.

Via Borderland Beat, another awards ceremony, another opportunity to call out for justice:

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And from teleSUR, the response:

Mexico Ruling Party on Defensive over Inarritu’s Oscar Comments

  • The Institutional Revolutionary Party or PRI responded sharply to the critical comments made by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu at Sunday’s Oscar awards ceremony.

In response to critical comments made on Sunday night at the Oscar awards ceremony by Mexican director, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Mexico’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party or PRI published a sharp congratulations on Monday morning on its Twitter feed. Later, the country’s PRI president Enrique Pena Nieto responded to the acclaimed director’s message.

When accepting the Oscar trophy for best film for the highly acclaimed Birdman, Inarritu told the crowd, “I want to dedicate this award to my fellow Mexicans, the ones who live in Mexico … I pray that we can find and build the government that we deserve.”

The response given by the PRI party, which returned to power in 2012 with Pena Nieto after a 12 year hiatus from a 71 year long stint, was, “Rather than just deserving it, it’s a fact that we’re building a better government, Congratulations #GonzalezInarritu.”

And one more image to close, via Camilo José Villa:

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