Saturday, June 30, 2012

Mexico poised to vote, amid heavy security

But how many will turn out?

*Update Sunday, July 1, 6:00 p.m.* - Polls throughout the nation have closed or are now in the process of doing so. Everybody's waiting for the first numbers and exit polls.

Mérida, Yucatán --
Mexicans go to the polls in less than 12 hours to select their next president. One of four contenders will replace outgoing PAN chief executive Felipe Calderón. The new leader will be sworn in Dec. 1, allowing five months for an orderly transfer of governmental power at the federal and state level.

Not only will Los Pinos, Mexico's White House, change hands, but governorships in 7 of 32 states are open for grab, as are senate and federal deputy seats. Mexico has a bicameral legislature, exactly like the United States, consisting of a Senate (Senado) and a House of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados). The entire national congress will be elected tomorrow.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mexico offers $5 million pesos for "traitor agents" in slaying of three fellow officers

Wanted killer posed in Facebook with guns in hand

Two Mexican Federal Police agents who executed three fellow officers in the Mexico City International Airport on Monday morning (June 24) have been identified by the Secretary of Public Security (SSP) as Daniel Cruz García and Zeferino Morales Franco. Another agent, Bogard Lugo de León, was named as an accomplice. Their whereabouts are not known.

A five million peso reward (about $357,000 USD) has been offered for their capture. A high ranking SSP official told a press conference this afternoon that they were "traitors."

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mexico's campaign closes; final poll shows Enrique Peña Nieto up 18.4% on Manuel López Obrador; Josefina calls for Felipe Calderón to serve as next Attorney General

Mexicans head to the polls this Sunday, July 1

Mérida's Monumento a la Bandera, Monday, June 25, 2012

Mexico's long 2012 presidential campaign is over. Under federal election laws, campaign activity had to cease by midnight tonight. Voters will cast their ballots in just over 72 hours.

The so-called "period of electoral reflection" is designed to cool political tempers by prohibiting any form of overt campaigning from now through Sunday. Further polling is also forbidden to ensure that voters are not swayed by reported results. There are civil and criminal penalties for violators of either rule (Inicia periodo de veda electoral).

A reader and MGRR trade thoughts on a free press, independent journalism and who's NOT paying the tab

Opinion -

Mérida, Yucatán --
On May 31 I published this article: A "free press" in Mexico - but who's really paying the tab?. It only got about 100 reads, a very small number for MGRR. That's a shame, because it was and is a worthwhile piece . . . in my unbiased opinion.

Today an anonymous reader left a comment in response to that article which greatly moved me - perhaps "agitated" would be a more descriptive and accurate word. So I replied to his/her comment.

One of the nice things about having you own rag is that you can publish what you want. Nobody can fire you, cut your pay or demote you to traffic accident stories or the local police court docket. Nobody, even here in Mexico, can arrest you for writing. What you lack in a regular paycheck you gain in that which is priceless - freedom of expression.

The following is my exchange with the reader. And don't miss the Comments following this post, two of which were written by professionals with years of experience in journalism and publishing. One describes the state of the industry in Mexico - both Spanish and English journalism - as "pathetic."

"Narco Feds" operating out of Mexico City airport sent huge amount of drugs to U.S., Europe, aided by Mexican customs agents

Mexican federal police and customs agents implicated in Federal District trafficking ring

Corrupt federal law enforcement agents in this country were part of an elaborate drug smuggling network which imported "huge quantities" of narcotics from Colombia, Peru and Guatemala and shipped them on to the United States and Europe, news sources here say.

The agents worked with corrupt Aduana officials at Mexico City's International Airport (AICM). The Aduana is Mexico's customs enforcement department, similar to a U.S. agency known as ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).

The smuggling ring did business on a "grand scale," according to sources which reviewed preliminary reports by the Secretary of SSP, a federal agency which supervises Mexico's Federal Police.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Suspects in murder of Mérida American expat indicted and ordered to stand trial

Court finds sufficient evidence for trial in brutal stabbing of Pennsylvania man

*Update below*
Mérida, Yucatán -
Four men who are suspects in the murder of former Arizona resident Robert Leon Wickard have been ordered to stand trial after a local criminal judge Monday found enough evidence to proceed with the case.

On May 29 the judge ordered that Martín Alejandro Gómez Gómez, 26, Gianri Lorenzo Matos Montalvo, 18, Edward Jesús Gamboa Salas, 36 and David Wilfrido Pérez Morán, 26, be held for 30 days while the case was investigated. Yesterday (June 25) he ruled there is "sufficient evidence of the commission of the crime of homicide" to warrant a trial. A fifth suspect, Angel Javier Segovia Domínguez, remains at large and is being sought. Monday's ruling is the functional equivalent of an indictment or probable cause finding in the U.S. legal system.

Josefina ends 2012 campaign in Mérida

"We have already won," candidate tells the PAN party faithful

Mérida, Yucatán --
Mexico's presidential election is next Sunday, July 1, and under federal law formal campaigning must terminate this week. The four candidates have been staging official "closure ceremonies," as they're called here, for several days, and PAN hopeful Josefina Vázquez Mota did so in this historic capital city last evening.

Twenty thousand came out to see the National Action Party nominee in Mérida's main plaza at 8:30 p.m. (an hour beyond the scheduled start time). Her voice was tired and hoarse from the arduous 12 week campaign, but the candidate sounded as determined as ever as she spoke of her vision for Mexico. Mérida's most famous landmark, the massive Cathedral of San Ildefonso built less than 100 years after Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas, served as an impressive backdrop on a muggy Monday evening. A sea of blue and white PAN flags, banners and campaign placards ruled the jam-packed plaza.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Three dead in Mexico City International Airport shooting

Federal agents executed by corrupt fellow cops in the nation's capital

Mexico City, D.F.-
Three federal police officers were killed during a shooting at Mexico City's International Airport about 8:50 a.m. today.

An ongoing investigation into narcotics trafficking through the airport and the involvement of corrupt federal agents working with drug dealers is behind the events, sources say.

The shootings were in Terminal 2, which handles foreign arrivals and departures. Some disruptions in service were reported, as emergency personnel, criminal investigators and heavily armed police and military units rushed to the scene. A contingent of Mexican marines arrived within a half hour.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Playa del Carmen police officer executed, after hit men arrive by taxi

Grenades in a cab, along the luxurious Riviera Maya - the work of Los Pelones

*Updated June 23*
Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo -
A 36 year old commander on the Playa del Carmen municipal police force was executed last night as he arrived home at the end of his shift. His brother-in-law, 30, was riding with him, and was also killed in the attack which occurred about 8:30 p.m.

The men had just parked in front of the nine year veteran's home in Solidaridad when two sicarios arrived in a taxi and opened fire with semi-automatic weapons. The victims were hit by .9 mm rounds, and both died at the scene.

Mexican drug cartels will likely morph into "super gangs," says U.S. security firm

Dire prognosis for Mexico's next government, with violence threatening Guadalajara

Mérida, Yucatán -
An American consulting firm which advises businesses and governments on security challenges predicts that Mexico's powerful drug cartels will evolve into a much larger number of superpandillas, or super gangs, within a few years.

A summary of a comprehensive analysis prepared by Southern Pulse (SP) was reported here yesterday (June 21) by the peninsula's largest newspaper, Diario de Yucatán.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Family of ICE agent murdered in Mexico by Los Zetas gives U.S. notice of intent to sue

$25 million claim for negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress

Family members of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent who was murdered in Mexico by Los Zetas gunmen today gave the United States government formal notice of their intent to file a lawsuit over his death.

The brutal attack occurred on Feb. 15, 2011. Today's notice was a legal prerequisite to the civil lawsuit, which will be filed under a law known as the Federal Tort Claims Act. The U.S. Justice Dept. had no comment.

ICE Agent Jaime Zapata was 32 at the time of his death, and had worked with the Human Smuggling and Trafficking Unit and the Border Enforcement Security Task Force. On the day of the attack Zapata and his partner Víctor Ávila were on official business, traveling from Laredo, Texas to Mexico City. They were riding in a government vehicle carrying U.S. diplomatic tags. As they passed through the north central state of San Luis Potosí, on a major four lane highway from Monterrey to Mexico City, two vehicles began following them and forced them off the road. According to Ávila, as many as 15 men dressed in military uniforms and carrying assault weapons circled their car. Zapata rolled down his window to confirm that they were federal agents, and the men began firing at point blank range. The assailants fled immediately.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

As 2012 presidential campaign draws to a close, Mexico's inconvenienced children hope, and dream of better days

"Niños orgullosos hablan a los candidatos" - Mexico's proud and hopeful children speak one last time to three men and one woman who are vying for the right to lead the nation for the next 72 months

You don't have to understand a single word of Spanish to be moved by this very touching video called "Proud Children," which made its debut last week. Speaking directly to each of the four presidential candidates, these handsome kids share a glimpse of what they see - and expect - for Mexico, "in the shortest time possible." As the clip illustrates, prominent in their dream for a better day is a political house thoroughly cleansed from top to bottom.

Compare and contrast it to their organization's April release (below), which carried a much more sinister, and depressing, message. Click on the MGRR April 12 story for a detailed description of what happens in that video.

All about Mexico's presidential candidates

Selected MGRR articles on Mexico's 2012 candidates, and what the polls have said

Mexico's election is only 11 days away (Sunday, July 1). Below are selected articles about the candidates published by the Mexico Gulf Region Reporter since late 2011. Within most articles are multiple links to others. At the bottom is a list of posts dealing with the almost daily presidential preference polls which have been conducted here. Less than two weeks from today we´ll know how accurate they were.

All about Mexico's election, 2012

Selected MGRR articles on politics south of the border, with news analysis

Mexico's election is only 11 days away (Sunday, July 1). Below is a selected list of articles published by the Mexico Gulf Region Reporter since late 2011. The list does not include every post, but the majority of them, and within most articles are multiple links to others. For much of what you need to know about the impending election in the convenience of just one article, MGRR's base story of March 30 has been read by hundreds of readers, and has been relied upon or referred to by news blogs, services and publications in the United States and Mexico. Here it is: Mexico's presidential campaign begins.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Riviera Maya hotel owner refuses to pay the "rent," so extortionists execute him

*Updates below*
Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo -
In this world-famous resort just minutes south of Cancún, a hotel owner bucked the odds and paid with his life.

Prominent businessman Juan Manuel Díaz Moguel, 48, was kidnapped from his establishment about 3:30 p.m. Friday (June 15), and was found dead on a quiet side street at 7:00 p.m. Police say his execution was almost surely the result of refusing to pay the obligatory derecho de piso, or "floor charge," assessed against virtually every business owner in town by organized crime. It might be described as a rent surcharge. And it's not optional.

Yo NO Soy's "summer of discontent"

News Analysis -
Will an already fractured protest movement fizzle and fade after July 1 elections?

June 10 - "Merida, wake up"

Mérida, Yucatán --
A little more than a month after its unheralded birth, some are asking whether the national, largely student-driven protest movement known as YoSoy 132 will survive its greatest challenge to date -- Mexico's presidential election, which is now just 14 days away. Some suggest that the loose-knit organization's raison d'etre will automatically cease once the nation has decided who's going to be at the helm for the next six years.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mexican marines arrest top financial aid to Z-40, Zeta # 2

U.S., Mexico jointly turn up the heat against Zeta financial operations; $4 million seized in latest raids

Seventy-two hours after U.S. authorities busted a huge Los Zetas money laundering operation on American soil, Mexico's Infantería de Marina, or Marines, have nabbed a key aid to Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales, the number two Zeta who is wanted on a variety of pending charges in the United States.

The Zeta operative was arrested in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas with "a large quantity of money," press sources say. He is identified as Eric Jovan Lozano Díaz. Tamaulipas is a hot zone of cartel activity and drug violence. The U.S. Consulate in Matamoros issued a Mexico-wide security alert for Americans on Tuesday (June 12): U.S. State Dept. issues Mexico-wide alert.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Felipe Calderón tells Wall Street Journal, "violence in Mexico is declining"

U.S. stands by latest alert, but Mexican president says things are actually looking up

Mérida, Yucatán --
Forty-eight hours after the U.S. State Dept. issued a nation-wide alert for Americans living or traveling in Mexico, and on the same day the body of another journalist was discovered in the violent city of Veracruz, this country's president was quoted in a Wall Street Journal interview which said that during the first five months of 2012, narco violence here fell 12% compared to the same period in 2011. The claims were summarized today in El Universal, a Mexico City newspaper (Cae 12% violencia por narco en 2012, dice Calderón a WSJ).

Milenio reporter executed in Veracruz

"We can't and we shouldn't live in fear, in darkness; we can't allow fear to become a way of life" -- Words of victim Víctor Manuel Báez Chino, a few days before his death.

A reporter for the Milenio network, one of the largest and most influential news agencies in Mexico, was found dead early this morning in the capital of Veracruz state on the country's Gulf coast. Authorities say he was murdered.

The reporter, who was identified as Víctor Manuel Báez Chino, was kidnapped about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday (June 13) by three men in a vehicle. Police say he was almost surely the victim of professional executioners, not street crime. From 2000 to date, more than 80 Mexican journalists have been murdered or disappeared under mysterious circumstances, most of them since the nation's 66 month old drug war was launched in December 2006. Several international organizations say Mexico is the most dangerous country in the world for reporters, outranking even war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Treviño Morales Indictment Unsealed

An inside look at Los Zetas money laundering operation in the U.S.

Federal authorities have unsealed charging documents against brothers José, Miguel and Omar Treviño Morales, as well as 11 other Mexican nationals who were indicted on May 30 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. Seven defendants are in custody, and seven others are still being sought. Miguel Morales, known as Z-40 and the second in command of the Los Zetas drug cartel, is pictured in an old photo. He is believed to be in Mexico, but his whereabouts are unknown. Mexican prosecutors also hold warrants for him.

The U.S. Attorney issued a press release yesterday which summarizes the case. But the Indictment provides many more details and a fascinating description of exactly how Los Zetas laundered millions of illicit drug profits -- all while on U.S. soil.

Feds bust Los Zeta money washers in U.S.

Mexican drug cartel cleans its cash while racing the ponies in four states

*Criminal Indictment unsealed; see link below*

U.S. federal agents yesterday raided a ranch in Oklahoma and properties in three others states which they say were being used by Mexican nationals to launder profits for the Los Zetas (the "Zs") drug cartel, one of Mexico's most powerful and most feared criminal organizations.

The story was broken by the New York Times in its Tuesday’s (June 12) edition, and was widely reported today in Spanish by the Mexican press.

A shell corporation controlled by the Mexicans, Tremor Enterprises, is headquartered in Ruidoso, New Mexico. Tremor’s purported business is the breeding and raising of quarter horses destined for the racetrack. But the Justice Dept. says that it was a mere front for a massive money laundering operation run by Mexico's feared Los Zetas.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

U.S. State Dept. issues Mexico-wide alert, warning of "anti-American violence"

Bust of Los Zetas money laundering operation in U.S. is behind latest alert

The United States Dept. of State today issued an alert for all U.S. citizens throughout Mexico, warning of the possibility of "retaliation and/or anti-American violence" after several Mexican nationals alleged to be associated with drug cartels were arrested within U.S. territory. It is the second security alert issued by the State Dept. in the past eight days. A previous warning on June 4 was specific to Americans in Tamaulipas state, and adjacent areas along Mexico's northern frontier.

U.S. diplomats troubled by Televisa-Peña Nieto links in 2009, charges The Guardian

"Journalists and their bosses have been more or less free to engage in the time-honored Mexican electoral tradition of selling favorable print and broadcast coverage to candidates and parties." - U.S. diplomatic cable, 2009

Quick on the heels of its recent disclosures about alleged ties between the mega Spanish language network Televisa and PRI presidential candiddate Enrique Peña Nieto, The Guardian reported yesterday that American diplomats in Mexico City were worried about the same thing three years ago. In a story published Monday (June 11), the Britsh newspaper said "U.S. diplomats raised concerns that the frontrunner in Mexico's presidential election, Enrique Peña Nieto, was paying for favourable TV coverage as far back as 2009." The Guardian based its analysis on a review of confidential diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks in 2010 and 2011 (see note below).

In a September 2009 cable to the U.S. State Dept., American diplomats wrote, "It is widely accepted that the television monopoly Televisa backs the governor and provides him with an extraordinary amount of airtime and other kinds of coverage." The governor to whom they were referring was Enrique Peña Nieto, then chief executive of the State of Mexico (Edomex).

Monday, June 11, 2012

New York Times got Mexican presidential candidates' drug war strategies wrong

NY Times' analysis at odds with what major contenders have said about their drug war plans

The New York Times usually does a pretty good job of getting all of its ducks in a row, but a story published yesterday (June 10) about the alleged drug war positions of Mexico's three major presidential candidates did less than justice to PAN candidate Josefina Vázquez Mota. In fact, it did her a real injustice, by significantly mischaracterizing her consistently announced position on the issue. The article wasn't particularly accurate in its analysis of the positions of the other two leading candidates, either.

The Times story is here: Candidates in Mexico Signal a New Tack in the Drug War, and it's worth a read - even with the erroneous impressions it will leave many readers.

Mexican Supreme Court will again review Florence Cassez case, under continuing pressure from France

A second trip to high court for French national serving 60 years - and maybe the last

Jan. 23, 2013 - Mexican Supreme Court orders immediate unconditional liberty for Florence Cassez

*Updated Jan. 23, 2013*
Mexico's Supreme Judicial Court, the nation's highest appellate tribunal and the court of last resort, will take up the Florence Cassez case again in August. The announcement was made today by one of the court's judges, minister Olga Sanchez Cordero.

Cassez is a 37 year old French woman who is serving a 60 year sentence for kidnapping and organized crime activity. Mexican prosecutors say she and her boyfriend were the ringleaders of a group known as the Zodiacs (Los Zodiaco), which kidnapped for ransom. Both were arrested in December 2005. Cassez' boyfriend claims that she had nothing to do with the organization, and was unaware of his activities. There is strong circumstantial evidence to suggest the contrary.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mérida YoSoy 132 promises to turn up the heat, and calls for more demonstrations

"First General Assembly" of Yucatán chapter convenes and organizes

Yo Soy 132 demonstrators in Mérida, Sunday, June 10. "People who don't defend what's theirs end up being tenants in their own country."

Mérida, Yucatán --
Local members of the national student protest movement known as YoSoy 132 today promised to ratchet up the thermostat in this already sweltering capital city of Yucatán.

They gathered at Mérida's Pasaje de la Revolución late this morning, turbo charged by the rising poll numbers of PRD candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador and outraged by the revelation of campaign funds allegedly paid by PRI front runner Enrique Peña Nieto to Televisa, the world's largest Spanish language network. According to stores published by the British newspaper The Guardian, Peña Nieto hired Televisa while he was governor of the State of Mexico (2005-2011) to "raise his national image," and to position himself for a run at Mexico's presidency in 2012. The election is July 1.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Peña Nieto is "linked to organized crime," claims Josefina in toughest words to date

"Mexico does not deserve this man as president"

With Mexico's presidential race about to enter the home stretch, and the last two polls showing her far back in third place (López Obrador surges to 29% in latest poll:, PAN candidate Josefina Vázquez Mota unloaded with everything she had today on front runner Enrique Peña Nieto.

Speaking at a campaign rally in Guadalajara, Vázquez Mota told a crowd of supporters that her PRI opponent represents "complicity with organized crime. And Mexican families don't deserve that," she added.

The PAN hopeful, once comfortably in second place and thought to present the only real challenge to Peña Nieto, has been eclipsed in recent weeks by leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Some political experts believe that the race is now solely a PRI-PRD contest.

López Obrador surges to 29% in latest poll

PRI candidate losing steam, with election just 21 days away and 20% yet undecided

June 9

June 8

The latest numbers aren't pretty for PRIstas. Call it The Guardian effect. Or perhaps the YoSoy 132 effect. In any case, 29% is the highest AMLO has ever posted, and brings him to within 16% of front runner EPN. The undecideds still remain very significant -- 20% -- and there's no good reason to believe that most of them are going to punch the red, white and green emblem on the ballot. It seems unlikely that voters with sympathies gravitating towards PRI would be fence straddling at this late date. Josefina Vázquez Mota appears out of the picture entirely, barring a last-minute miracle. Her campaign never caught fire. And of course, she took an ice pick or two in the back along the way Vicente Fox, a PRIsta in very thin disguise.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Televisa responds to The Guardian

Spanish language media monolith puts one over the bow of British newspaper

The text of Televisa's formal response to The Guardian, released today, is below. Grammatical errors or stylistic oddities are those of the writer. One might read the letter as an implied threat of legal action. But interestingly, it doesn't formally demand a retraction, which in many countries is an absolute prerequisite to a libel suit.

Letter of protest from Grupo Televisa to The Guardian, June 8, 2012:

"It's worrying that such a prestigious newspaper as The Guardian publishes an article like the one you published on your website on Thursday and in your print edition on Friday (Computer files link TV dirty tricks to favourite for Mexico presidency, 7 June), written by Jo Tuckman, without verification.

U.K.'s The Guardian alleges Televisa-Peña Nieto deal

Televisa "sold prominent politicians favorable coverage in its flagship news and used programs to smear a popular leftwing leader," charges British newspaper

In a crushing indictment published yesterday (Jun. 7), the respected British newspaper The Guardian claims that the Televisa network -- the largest in the Spanish speaking world -- was literally bought by several politicians in this country, among the most prominent of whom is PRI presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto. The "popular leftwing leader" is the 2012 PRD presidential nominee, whom the paper says establishment politicians are determined to crush (The Old Guard's worst nightmare: Andrés Manuel López Obrador).

If the allegations are true, they confirm much of which the student movement YoSoy132 has been saying about the Mexican media in recent weeks, especially with respect to the powerful and influential Televisa news network.

They also paint former PAN president Vicente Fox as a political conspirator in his own right, heavily preoccupied with the destruction of López Obrador in the 2006 election.

14 corpses left at a Tamaulipas city hall

More border butchery, just 72 hours after U.S. State Dept. issues latest travel alert

*Update below*
Just four days ago the U.S. State Dept. issued a warning for Americans in Mexico, particularly those in or near Tamaulipas state, next to the Texas border. It was the second such U.S. warning for the area since March, and the third since February (all three alerts are linked just below). The latest warning has proved prophetic, after 14 dismembered bodies were found in an abandoned cargo vehicle parked in front of a town hall.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Peña Nieto rejects YoSoy debate demand

*Update below*
PRI presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto has rejected yesterday's demand by the national student movement known as YoSoy132 to participate in a final political debate on June 19. The three other candidates accepted the challenge today, and said they look forward to participating in what will be their last joint appearance before the July 1 election.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Canadian woman facing long sentence in Gaddafi smuggling case will stay in jail

Chetumal, Quintana Roo --
The Canadian woman accused of being the brains behind a conspiracy to smuggle a son of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi into Mexico must remain in jail, according to a Canadian news blog which is monitoring events closely.

In a June 1 story, La politica es la politica ("Politics are Politics") reported that on May 24, a Mexican judge refused to dismiss criminal charges against the woman. (The private trials of Cynthia Vanier).

YoSoy 132 demands final debate between candidates - to be moderated by students

"No excuses," they say - "it's our right to be heard"

*Updates below*
The second and final official debate conducted by Mexico's electoral commission is set for this weekend. But YoSoy representatives have asked -- demanded, really -- that all four show up for another one on Tuesday, June 19, to "confront the face of Mexico's youth."

YoSoy proposes to accept questions via the internet (from anyone, but especially young people), during and just before the debate.

Press crimes become federal crimes in Mexico today, as new law takes effect

Effective today, all crimes committed against the press or against journalists in Mexico are federal offenses. About 85 Mexican journalists have been killed or disappeared under suspicious circumstances since the year 2000.

A proposed constitutional amendment which was passed by Mexico's Senate in March has finally made its way into the law books. It passed the lower legislative body, the Cámara de Diputados, in April, and then was submitted to the 32 states, half or more of which have now endorsed it. (The law was signed by president Calderón Jun. 22).

Details here: Mexico poised to increase protection for journalists, federalizing anti-press crimes:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

U.S. State Dept. Warning to Americans in Mexico - issued June 4, 2012

*Updated content below*
The following text is the verbatim warning issued yesterday:

Mensaje de Emergencia para los ciudadanos de Estados Unidos: Ataque con Artefactos explosivos en Matamoros Tamaulipas (04 - Junio - 2012)
Since May 31, multiple explosive devices have been reported in Matamoros, several of which have detonated. The majority of these devices were located in Matamoros at Fraccionamiento Victoria Seccion Fiesta, but are not limited to that area. U.S. Consulate General employees are being advised to exercise appropriate caution in their movements.

The Old Guard's worst nightmare: Manuel López Obrador

MGRR News Analysis -
Old Guard PANistas ready to abandon Josefina, all to stop The Leftist - so says PRD

Politics make strange bedfellows, it is said. As Mexico counts down the remaining 25 days to July 1, all of the old PAN bosses in this nation are forging an off-the-books alliance to do whatever is necessary to stop that which terrifies them most: a victory by Democratic Revolution Party candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The old PAN power-breakers are prepared to abandon party, to abandon all the political ideals upon which their careers were built, to abandon millions of the party faithful, to abandon personal integrity. They're most certainly prepared to abandon Josefina Vázquez Mota, PAN's standard bearer, who soundly trounced her two male opponents in last February's primary (Josefina Vázquez Mota sweeps PAN primary). They're prepared to make a temporary truce of sorts with PRI, all to crush a common enemy.

Proposed Tamapa-Quintana Roo ferry service officially on hold until summer 2013

Problems with government permits stalls project for this year

Cancún, Quintana Roo --
A proposed ferry service from Tampa, Fla. to the Quintana Roo industrial port of Calica on Mexico's Caribbean coast is on hold for at least a year, news services report. The plan's primary sponsor is U.S. based United Caribbean Lines.

Vicente Fox, a PRIsta in very thin disguise

News Analysis -
'Vaquero' Fox also takes a slam at YoSoy 132, calling its members hired guns

On April 12, I wrote a story about the two-faced politics of former Mexican president Vicente Fox, who had just gone out of his way to fire a torpedo at his own National Action Party. Suggesting that the presidential contest is "already decided," the PAN ex-prez (2000-2006) said that Josefina Vázquez Mota would need a milagrito to prevail -- a little miracle. Two weeks later, on April 25, Fox and Vázquez Mota had a tête-à-tête in Monterrey. Afterwards, addressing her as "Madame President" and elegantly kissing her hand for assembled reporters, Fox told Josefina, "You can count on me unconditionally. I know that Mexico will benefit from your victory, from your talents, from the better future you're going to bring to all of us." Fox, a master at playing both sides of the fence, was smooth, polished and deferential (Vicente Fox does his best to sink Josefina). Now he has skillfully replanted the knife squarely in Josefina's back.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Students heckle Josefina over daycare fire

On the three year anniversary of Guardería ABC, was YoSoy behind the protest?

On the third anniversary of a horrific fire at a daycare facility in Hermosillo which killed 49 young children, PAN candidate Josefina Vázquez Mota was heckled by students and the victim's parents today during a campaign stop at Mexico City's prestigious Universidad Iberoamericana (UIA). The national student protest movement known as YoSoy 132 was born at UIA several weeks ago, and has already given PRI candidate Enrique Peña Nieto a taste of the bitter medicine it's quite capable of administering. First, here's a brief report on the fire case: Mexico has a new federal child care law.

Mexicans surveyed on YoSoy 132 attitudes

El Universal, a highly respected Mexico City newspaper, conducted a presidential preference poll recently (May 24-28). It’s survey showed Enrique Peña Nieto with 43.8%, Andrés Manuel López Obrador with 27.7%, Josefina Vázquez Mota with 26% and Gabriel Quadri de la Torre with 2.5%.

The paper attributes EPN's loss of ground in recent weeks to the effects of YoSoy132. So it decided to ask respondents how they view the student-driven movement. For some that may be the more interesting part of the survey, which was published today.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

YoSoy 132 returns to Mérida streets, this time showing its true colors . . .

. . . and they're ANYTHING but red, white and green

"Vote for PRI? I'd die first"

Mérida, Yucatán --
The national student protest movement known as YoSoy 132 hit local streets again this afternoon, for the second time in 10 days. Perhaps 300 demonstrators (very generously estimated) gathered in the main plaza at 5:00 p.m., and listened to impassioned speeches by organizers. Later they marched north through downtown. The gathering was orderly.

MGRR reported on the group's local debut May 23. ("YoSoy 132" protest arrives in Mérida). Today's encore mirrored the first, although with noticeably less enthusiasm, and a much smaller crowd. A light shower didn't help fire up anyone's revolutionary zeal, and 45 minutes after it started it was all over. There was far more interest in the traditional Yucatecan street dancing (a standard Sunday evening fare in this city) than in YoSoy.

Ten dead in 11 hours of Acapulco violence

Acapulco, Guerrero -
In this famed Pacific coast resort which has been under federal military control for six months, the violence is far from over. Earlier this year I reported on what seemed to be an improved security climate. But now the old patterns appear to have resumed.

On Saturday (Jun. 3), the city recorded 10 new drug related murders. In one case a taxi driver flagged down police to report that a group of five armed men had just stolen his cab. Officers located the vehicle minutes later, but as they approached the men opened up with AK-47s. Police returned the fire, killing one of them. The other four were taken into custody. In this city, as in Cancún and many locations, taxis are frequently stolen and placed into service by drug dealers and hit squads. They easily camouflage the occupants' intentions, since so many are on the streets at all hours.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

More dope comes ashore in Quintana Roo

Cancún International Airport serves as major gateway for Europe-bound cocaine

*Updated Feb. 11, 2013*
Cancún, Quintana Roo --
Famed Charles Manson prosecutor turned criminal defense attorney Vincent Bugliosi wrote an entertaining book three decades ago, detailing a bizarre 1970s murder case on hauntingly remote Palmyra Atoll in the South Pacific. The title, And the Sea Will Tell, might well describe what regularly occurs along Mexico's Caribbean coast, known as the Riviera Maya. I've written about this subject before (Drugs float ashore on Playa del Carmen), and Google tells me that readers remain attracted to it long after it was published. This is an update.