Category Archives: Class

MexicoWatch: Conflict, college, crime, & cartels

We begin with the conflict, in a followup to a report cited in yesterday’s MexicoWatch, via teleSUR English:

Argentina forensic team questions Mexican gov’t version

Program notes:

The independent Argentine forensic team investigating the scientific evidence in the disappearance of the 43 Ayotzinapa students issued a statement taking issue with the Mexican government’s claim that no doubts remain that the youth were killed and their bodies incinerated. The forensic team’s arguments on the irregularities in the government investigation have given new hope to the family members of the missing students. Clayton Conn reports from Mexico City.

From the Latin American Herald Tribune, the inevitable response:

Mexican Prosecutors Rip Argentine Specialists in Missing Students Case

The Attorney General’s Office on Monday criticized the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, or EAAF, for raising doubts about the investigation into the disappearance of 43 education students in southern Mexico last year.

The investigation is being conducted “with transparency and professionalism,” the AG’s office said in a long statement.

The EAAF said numerous irregularities had been found during the investigation with federal prosecutors into the disappearance of 43 education students last September in the southern state of Guerrero.

From teleSUR, reasonable concerns:

Families of Ayotzinapa Students Worried for Argentine Experts

  • A group of foreign forensic anthropologists has highly criticized the state’s investigations into the missing students.

The families of the 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa students said they stand behind the recent revelation by Argentine experts who called the state’s investigations into the case slanted, and asked for extra security for the group of foreign experts.

In a press conference Monday, Felipe de la Cruz, the spokesperson for the families, said the experts need extra protection “because we know that when things do not go as the government wants them to, they retaliate.”

The team of 30 foreign experts was hired as an independent party on behalf of the students’ parents who did not trust Mexican officials to carry out the investigation on their own.

The Latin American Herald Tribune covers a crisis and a shutdown at yet another college:

Mexican University Closes Down Due to Gang Threats

The campus of the Universidad Valle De Mexico, UVM, in Nuevo Laredo in the north-eastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas has closed, weeks after it announced the suspension of on-campus activities due to gang threats of extortion, kidnapping and attacks.

“From today onwards, we will be communicating with each of our students to let them know the alternatives that we offer them to continue their studies,” said the university in a Facebook post on Monday.

It further said that the UVM “has 36 campuses throughout the country and a solid platform of online degrees,” which makes it confident that each of its students “will find an alternative to suit their needs.”

From teleSUR, sad confirmation:

Kidnappings, Murders Continue in Guerrero State, Mexico

  • The population of the state of Guerrero, rewnowned for the disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa, continues to face violence.

An armed group murdered five people and kidnapped three others in the town of San Geronimo Palantla, district of Chilapa, reported Proceso on Monday.

On Sunday at 10 p.m., armed people traveling in six vans attacked the police station and killed four inside, hurt others, and kidnapped three more. Three hours beforehand, two indigenous people, accompanied by various residents, had filed a complaint about the kidnapping of their husbands by armed civilians coming from Rincon de Chautla; the commissioner told them then that their husbands will be shortly released, but a couple of hours later the same armed civilians attacked the place, shot at the people inside, and returned to Rincon de Chautla with three hostages.

The district of Chilapa is known for heroine and marijuana production, as well as violent confrontations between local criminal gangs, the Rojos and Ardillos, led by the family of the president of the state congress, Bernardo Ortega Jimenez of the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), according to Proceso.

Additionally, the armed group allegedly went back to San Geronimo in order to drop off the corpse of another victim; it also left one woman injured.

From China’s Global Times, a Chinese response to an act that was soon followed by a really good deal on a mansion for the president’s spouse:

Chinese firm files for compensation over suspended Mexico rail project

The China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) has filed for compensation following the suspension of a high-speed rail project it won in a bidding in Mexico, Mexican media reported on Monday.

The firm submitted the relevant paperwork “at the end of January,” confirmed Pablo Suarez Coello, director-general of rail transport at the Communications and Transportation Ministry, according to Mexico’s state news agency Notimex.

Suarez made the remarks when interviewed by reporters at the inauguration of Expo-Rail 2015, being held in the Caribbean resort of Cancun by the Mexican Association of Railroads.

Mexican officials have yet to negotiate such compensation with the Chinese firm, said Suarez.

From Latin American Herald Tribune, where the bodies aren’t buried:

Mexicans Say It Will Take Weeks to ID Bodies Left at Crematorium

The preliminary identification of 60 embalmed bodies discovered at a shuttered crematorium in the resort city of Acapulco will require at least three weeks, the attorney general of the southern Mexican state of Guerrero said Monday.

Authorities will need “around 20 days at a minimum,” Miguel Angel Godinez told MVS radio.

He said investigators have found no evidence conflicting with their hypothesis that the bodies were simply left behind by the crematorium’s operators when they abandoned the failed firm.

And to close, another protest image from Mexico, via Valkiria_VK, featuring images of the missing:

BLOG Ayotz

Quote of the day: Rushing into the 19th Century

From an essay by UC Berkeley’s own Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor under the Clinton administration and a consistent critic of today’s raptor capitalism, writing at his blog:

During the thirty years after the end of World War II, as the economy doubled in size, so did the wages of most Americans — along with improved hours and working conditions.

Yet since around 1980, even though the economy has doubled once again (the Great Recession notwithstanding), the wages most Americans have stagnated. And their benefits and working conditions have deteriorated.

This isn’t because most Americans are worth less. In fact, worker productivity is higher than ever.

It’s because big corporations, Wall Street, and some enormously rich individuals have gained political power to organize the market in ways that have enhanced their wealth while leaving most Americans behind.

That includes trade agreements protecting the intellectual property of large corporations and Wall Street’s financial assets, but not American jobs and wages.

Bailouts of big Wall Street banks and their executives and shareholders when they can’t pay what they owe, but not of homeowners who can’t meet their mortgage payments.

Bankruptcy protection for big corporations, allowing them  to shed their debts, including labor contracts. But no bankruptcy protection for college graduates over-burdened with student debts.

Antitrust leniency toward a vast swathe of American industry – including Big Cable (Comcast, AT&T, Time-Warner), Big Tech (Amazon, Google), Big Pharma, the largest Wall Street banks, and giant retailers (Walmart).

But less tolerance toward labor unions — as workers trying to form unions are fired with impunity, and more states adopt so-called “right-to-work” laws that undermine unions.

We seem to be heading full speed back to the late nineteenth century.

Cooperatives: Establishing workplace democracy

The vast disparities of wealth in the United States derive from two sources, the fruits of the industry of American workers and the chimerical financial manipulations of avaricious banksters.

The cooperative movement is primarily aimed at the first of these sources of inequality by conferring ownership on the workers who actually produce the goods and services, although credit unions are an alternative institution to the Wall Street dominated banking system.

This video from GRITtv looks at cooperatives from New York to San Francisco Bay, and offers insights into an alternative economic movement. And while it’s not mentioned in the video, the movement has very deep American roots, from the communes of the early 19th Century to the farm coops still thriving throughout the Midwest. Perhaps the best know American cooperative is the Associated press, which is owned by member publications and electronic media.

From GRITtv:

Own The Change: Building Economic Democracy One Worker Co-op at a Time

Program notes:

A short documentary in partnership with Toolbox for Education and Social Action. Watch as we go through concrete steps for building economic alternatives by creating worker-owned cooperatives. Featuring conversations with worker-owners from Union Cab; Ginger Moon; Arizmendi Bakery, Anti-Oppression Resource and Training Alliance (AORTA); New Era Windows; and more.

For supplementary materials from Toolbox for Education and Social Education, visit

Sen. Bernie Sanders at the Brookings Institution

The s only democratic socialist in the U.S. Congress, Sen. Bernie Sanders has also been the only voice consistently calling out for a toppling of the system of tax loopholes, international trade agreements, and financial deregulation which has looted the wealth of the nation and is systematically endeavoring to impoverish the elderly and weaken the working class.

In this address to the Brooking Institution, Sanders begins with the story of his own political rise, the systematically rips into the corruption which has enabled a handful of families to amass as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.

Sanders has tapped into a vein of outrage which flows beneath the rotten surface of American politics, and his voice deserves to be heard.

And while we disagree with him on a number of issues, starting with Israel, we can see no other figure on the political horizon who is so relentlessly on target, including Elizabeth Warren.

He’s worth a listen.

From his YouTube channel:

Sen. Bernie Sanders at The Brookings Institution

Map of the day: State One Percenter theshholds

From Business Insider via Sociological Images [and click on the image to embiggen]:

BLOG Percenters

Chart of the day: A case of ivy-covered plutocracy

From Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States: 45 Year Trend Report [PDF], a new report from the Pell Institute and the University of
Pennsylvania Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy:


How about some real Hope™ and Change™?

If that’s what you’re looking for that, better move to Croatia.

From the Independent:

Croatia wipes out the debts of thousands of its poorest citizens in ‘fresh start’ scheme

Starting Monday, thousands of Croatia’s poorest citizens will benefit from an unusual gift: They will have their debts wiped out. Named “fresh start,” the government scheme aims to help some of the 317,000 Croatians whose bank accounts have been blocked due to their debts.

Given that Croatia is a relatively small Mediterranean country of only 4.4 million inhabitants, the number of indebted citizens is significant and has become a major economic burden for the country. After six years of recession, growth predictions for Croatia’s economy remain low for this year.

“We assess that this measure will be applicable to some 60,000 citizens,” Deputy Prime Minister Milanka Opacic was quoted as saying by Reuters. “Thus they will be given a chance for a new start without a burden of debt,” Opacic said earlier this month.