Category Archives: Education

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Exposed as a corrupted institution, the municipal police force was withdrawn for retraining and security assigned to a new federal police force, the National Gendarmerie.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

EbolaWatch: Numbers, pols, cases, economics


We begin with the latest case numbers for the three African nations hardest hit by the crisis, via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

BLOG Ebola

From FrontPageAfrica, screening countries:

New Tool Can Help Identify Nations Vulnerable To Ebola

Public health experts can identify nations that are vulnerable to the occurrence and impact of future outbreaks of Ebola or other emergencies by using a screening tool that evaluates a nation’s strengths across a wide range of measures such as political strength and health care capabilities, according to a new analysis from the RAND Corporation. The process is part of a suite of “proof-of-concept” tools developed to help policymakers prepare for and respond to health disasters, such as Ebola.

“While these tools need further refinement, our work suggests these methods can be useful to identify future ‘hot zones’ before they develop and help emergency workers evaluate their options for response,” said Dr. Melinda Moore, the project’s leader and a senior natural scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization.

The tool uses widely available statistical indicators to assess nations across four broad domains — political, economic, socio-cultural and health. Individual topics that make up each of the domains include items such as government effectiveness, availability of communications, and the status of a nation’s health care infrastructure and workforce. RAND researchers used the preliminary tool to show how it could help identify possible future hot zones for Ebola. For illustrative purposes, they selected a handful of nations to examine in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and Southeast Asia.

On to Liberia and a deal, via Monrovia’s Liberian Observer:

Liberia, EU Sign €279m for Development

Liberia and the European Union (EU) have signed a €279 million development package under the European Union National Indicative Program (NIP) for EU 11th Development Cooperation in Liberia.

The EU cooperation program with Liberia, which covers 2014 to 2020, will seek to address key priority areas that are essential to growth and recovery from the medium to the long-term.

According to a dispatch from Brussels, Belgium, at the ceremony, which was witnessed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia’s National Authorizing Officer and Finance and Development Planning Minister, Amara M. Konneh, signed on behalf of the Liberian Government while the European Union Commissioner for International Development, Neven Mimica signed on behalf of the EU. The event took place on the sidelines of the high-level international conference on Ebola.

The New York Times covers not unreasonable reticence:

Trickle of Liberian Children Returning to School Reflects Lingering Ebola Fears

About eight months after governments in the region closed schools to stop the spread of Ebola, uniformed and backpack-carrying schoolchildren have returned to the streets of Monrovia, the capital, perhaps the most visible sign of the epidemic’s ebb.

Though Ebola cases have all but disappeared in Liberia, with the Health Ministry saying Wednesday that the last patient in treatment had tested negative for the virus, lingering fear and a depressed economy have dampened the turnout at schools. Many have yet to reopen, having failed to meet the minimum requirements put in place to prevent transmission of the virus.

Many of those that have reopened are struggling. Just as Liberia’s weak health care system collapsed as Ebola began raging across the country, many people here worry that the nation’s schools may be ill equipped to handle even the tail end of the epidemic.

And a university prepares to reopen, via the News in Monrovia:

UL Resumes Classes March 17

An official of the University of Liberia has disclosed that plans are underway to re-open the institution on March 17 with the resumption of classes for only junior and senior students.

UL Vice President for Media Relations, Norris Tweah, said this is to afford pending and would-be graduating seniors the opportunity to complete their courses, while awaiting the timetable for graduation later this year.

Speaking on the Truth FM ((96.1) Breakfast Show Wednesday, Mr. Tweah further disclosed that the entity would endeavor to reopen for regular classes, including the freshman and sophomore students, by September this year.

In July 2014, the Liberian Government ordered the closure of all academic and vocational institutions as part of measures to stop the spread of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

From the Liberian Observer, claims of a clean slate:

Liberia Discharges Only Confirmed Ebola Case Today

Liberia will today discharge the only confirmed Ebola case remaining in the country, according to the Incident Management System (IMS) boss and Assistant Minister for Preventive Service, Tolbert Nyenswah.

Making the disclosure yesterday at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism on Capitol Hill in Monrovia, Minister Nyenswah explained that with the current status of the fight against the Ebola virus in the country, Liberia is close to reaching zero Ebola case, but “we need to be vigilant in our fight against the virus throughout the country.”

“Liberia has clearly passed 12 days without any new confirmed Ebola case. The only patient remaining in an ETU will be discharged from the Chinese ETU as a special event.

But another story, this time from StarAfrica, casts doubt on the official account:

Refugees in Liberia record seven Ebola deaths- official

The Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC) has disclosed that a total of seven refugees residing in former refugee camps and host communities in Montserrado County have succumbed to the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

LRRRC Executive Director Cllr. [Counseloresnl] Abla Williams said of the total number of deaths, six were Sierra Leonean nationals, while one was a Ugandan doctor, all of whom were residents of communities that previously hosted refugee camps in Montserrado County.

Cllr Williams made the disclosure at the Ministry of Information daily Ebola press conference in Monrovia on Wednesday.

The LRRRC boss noted that there were also several cases of Ebola infection in the former refugee communities of VOA, Low Cost Village, Banjor and Samukai Town in Montserrado county, but indicated that none of the infected persons had died from the virus.

And from the Monrovia Inquirer, another remedial measure:

Cash Assistance To Former Bush Meat Sellers Enters Third Phase

One Hundred and Twelve marketers, mainly women, have benefitted from cash transfer assistance from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The marketers, former Bush Meat Sellers, each received US$100. They are from the Rally Time market, one of four markets in Monrovia, designated to benefit from the cash transfer assistance. The other markets are Red-light, Waterside, and Duala.

The cash assistance is to help women in this category, find alternative livelihoods in the wake of the ban placed on the sale of bush meat. According to health authorities, Bush meat is one of the major sources for the rapid spread of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

On to Sierra Leone with the Guardian:

Ebola ‘leaves 12,000 orphans in Sierra Leone’

  • UK charity’s survey shows scale of crisis caused by disease, with children who lost parents facing a dire future

The devastating impact of the Ebola crisis was laid bare this week with a report showing more than 12,000 children have been orphaned by the disease in Sierra Leone.

They have been identified in the first national survey of orphans, which was conducted by the British charity Street Child. It says the future for these children is dire. Many are living in fear without the support and security of parents, but the charity says there is light at the end of the tunnel “if the international aid community works together”.

The charity found that some children, rejected by their friends because of the stigma of Ebola, have tried to take their own lives, while girls are being forced into commercial sex work to earn money for food their parents would have previously provided.

Its case studies expose the vulnerability of those left behind without an adult for support.

CCTV Africa covers economic impacts:

Ebola’s Devastation on Sierra Leone’s Economy

Program notes:

Sierra Leone is to receive more than 80 million dollars immediately to help the country end the Ebola outbreak and recover from its effects. The IMF pledged a 187 million dollars financial aid package for Sierra Leone to support the country’s struggling economy.

And StarAfrica offers some criticism:

S/Leone CSOs fault post-Ebola plan

Three civil society organizations have criticized the Sierra Leone government`s approach towards its post Ebola development plan, describing it as deeply flawed.

Health Alert, Health for All Coalition and WASHNet Sierra Leone in a joint statement released Wednesday said the government’s failure to engage local communities in drawing the plan, which is being presented at the ongoing anti-Ebola conference in Brussels, makes it unlikely to succeed.

“We noticed that the engagement process has been going on but not participatory. There is no real involvement of community people,” said Victor Lansana Koroma, Executive Director of Health Alert.

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.”

Abby Martin’s swan song: An insightful look at Cuba


Abby Martin’s final week at the helm of RT America’s Breaking the Set with an insightful look at Cuba, offering a rare, and comprehensive, look at the people and its political, economic, and agricultural systems.

In the face of overwhelming opposition and subversion from Washington, fueled by the Cuban exile dominance of the electoral votes of Florida, the small island nation 90 miles from U.S. shores, and the subsequent fall of the Soviet Union, its main base of support, Cuba faced enduring struggles, yet endured.

In the process, it has created revolutions in healthcare and agriculture, becoming the only nation in which cities provide most of their own food from intensive and organic neighborhood gardens and educating a cadre of physicians who have provided much, often most, of the total global response to medical emergencies around the world.

The outstanding examples set by Cuba in these fields have made a mockery of the enduring U.S. embargo against the island nation, leaving Israel Washington’s only ally in opposition to full normalization of relations.

In these three segments, Abby Martin demonstrates the skills she has honed during, first, her years as an unsalaried journalist at Berkeley Community Television, then during the three years at the helm of her RT America news magazine.

So sit back and enjoy a remarkable work of journalism.

From Breaking the Set:

Cuba Part I: Revolution, Sabotage & Un-Normal Relations

Program notes:

On this special episode of Breaking the Set, Abby Martin highlights BTS’ eight day trip to Havana, Cuba, starting with a historical look at the tensions between the US and Cuba that have led the two countries to the negotiating table to normalize relations. Abby then discusses the major areas of contention when it comes to these negotiations and where they currently stand. BTS producer, Cody Snell, then speaks with members of the largest delegation of peace activists to visit Cuba since the normalized relations announcement, highlighting the role of grassroots diplomacy. BTS than talks to average Cubans both in Havana and in Miami about their views on the state of US-Cuban relations. BTS wraps up the show with an interview with Kenia Serrano, a high ranking Cuban parliament member and President of The Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples, about everything from internet access to the crackdown on free speech in the country.

Cuba Part II: Ebola Solidarity & Castro’s Daughter on Gay Rights

Program notes:

On this special episode of Breaking the Set, Abby Martin highlights part II of BTS’ eight day trip to Havana, Cuba, starting with an interview with Cuban doctor, Katiel Llorente Izabelez, who explains how Cuba has managed to maintain such a high life expectancy rate, despite the lack of access to up to date medical supplies. BTS producer, Cody Snell, then speaks with students at the Latin American School of Medicine, an international medical school set up by the Cuban government that provides free tuition to low income individuals that want to become doctors. Abby then discusses how Cuba managed to send the largest contingent of doctors to fight the ebola crisis in West Africa, and how this is just the latest example of the country’s medical internationalism. Abby then goes over the US programs meant to encourage Cuban doctors to defect and how this undermines international health efforts. BTS wraps up the show with an exclusive interview with Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President, Raul Castro, and director of Cuba’s sexual education program CENESEX, about the biggest challenges facing Cuba’s gay community.

Cuba Part III: The Evolution of Revolution

Program notes:

On this special episode of Breaking the Set, Abby Martin features the third installment of BTS’ trip to Cuba, focusing on reforms to the country’s economic and agricultural models. Abby first gives an overview of how Cuba’s organic movement evolved and the challenges of the country’s food subsidy system. Abby then speaks with agricultural co-op founder, Miguel Angel Salcines Lopez, about how Cuba’s cooperative and food system works. Abby then talks to Ernesto Blanco, owner of La Fontana restaurant in Havana, about the difficulties of operating a private business in Cuba and how entrepreneurs are being impacted by recent economic reforms. Abby then speaks with Ricardo Alarcón, Cuba’s former minister of foreign affairs and president of the People’s National Assembly of Power, about the normalization process with the US and the biggest hurdles still remaining in the negotiations.

David Horsey: Getting schooled by the Tea Party


From the editorial cartoonist of the Los Angeles Times, a look at what lies ahead in states where Tea Party Republicans hold the reins — as in Kansas, where legislators want prison time for teachers who offer “harmful” literature to their pupils:

BLOG Horsey

MexicoWatch: Protests, politics, plans, graphics


We begin with protest, first from The News.mx:

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

MexicoWatch: Protests, violence, politics, laws


We begin with an image, via Sailor Lunita, of family members with images of their missing students in a protest in Mexico today, held as part of the global day of action on behalf of the missing students of the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College of Ayotzinapa who were disappeared on 26 September 2016:

BLOG Ayotz

Next, from teleSUR, marking an anniversary:

Mexico Protests Mark 5 Months Since 43 Students Disappeared

  • The forced disappearances have brought to light the deeply entrenched state violence and corruption in Mexico.

Families and supporters of the 43 forcibly disappeared Ayotzinapa students continue their fight to find their loved ones in demonstrations Thursday, marking exactly five months since they went missing.

The families called for a national day of action on Feb. 26 to pressure the Mexican government to be more transparent about the details of the case and to put more resources into locating the students. Mass protests are scheduled in Mexico City to begin at 4 p.m. local time.

Tensions have grown in the country since the students went missing, which has become the highest profile example of the entrenched corruption within Mexico’s government.

So far, Iguala’s mayor and his wife, which is where the students went missing, have both been arrested for their involvement in the disappearances and allegedly ordering local police to arrest them and hand them over to a local drug gang called United Warriors (Guerreros Unidos).

From AJ+, anger over a protester’s death:

Anger Continues In Guerrero Mexico After Protester Is Killed

A 65-year-old man has died after sustaining injuries at a protest in the state of Guerrero, Mexico, demanding better pay. The region has seen near-daily protests ever since 43 students disappeared five months ago.

From teleSUR, more revelations:

Mexico: Photos Shed Light on Military Role in Ayotzinapa 43

  • New photographs suggest the military knew more about the disappearance of the 43 Ayotzinapa 43 than previously thought.

Mexico’s military released previously unseen photographs of students who survived a massacre in Guerrero state Wednesday that have sparked renewed controversy over the case of the 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa teachers training college students.

Published in Mexican newspaper Milenio, the photos allegedly show 25 students that survived the initial shoot out in Iguala, Guerrero on Sept. 26, 2014.

From teleSUR again, more protests planned:

Mexican Teachers Union Preparing for Civil Disobedience

  • Angered at the violent repression unleashed by police against teachers, unions in Mexico have put their members on maximum alert.

A teachers’ union in Mexico announced Thursday that it will escalate its tactics, declaring itself on maximum alert and preparing its members for civil disobedience and rebellion.

The National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) issued its warning in response to the violent repression against teachers by federal police in Acapulco earlier this week.

Mexico News Daily covers a law we suspect, given the vote, to be yet another instance of impotent window dressing:

Anti-corruption plan approved by deputies

  • Legislation to establish the national system will now move on to the Senate

A National Anti-Corruption System was approved today by the Chamber of Deputies after ironing out a number of differences that have stalled its passage.

It was approved by 409 of the 500 deputies.

The legislation establishes a system to coordinate efforts to implement policies to prevent and deter corruption and to promote integrity, and strengthen the Public Administration Secretary to allow it to audit, investigate and apply sanctions against crimes of corruption.

Finally, another image, this time from Insurrection News, with and image from today’s protest in Mexico City, bearing a message we suspect is true, tranlsating as “Justice will come when the blood of the bourgeois begins to run.”:

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