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This past December 1st, Enrique Peña Nieto came to power in Mexico. Because his election was controversial, many people, mostly students, took the streets to protest. Some of the protesters were violent, but many people have been unlawfully detained and tortured. In some cases, their whereabouts are unknown. This isn’t being reported enough in the international media, and is extremely concerning for human rights in Mexico and sets a worrisome precedent for the next six years. Here I’m sharing one video, but there are hundreds you can find on Youtube of the unlawful and abusive detentions. If you read Spanish, you might also want to check out the stories of some of the unlawfully detained protesters: http://www.animalpolitico.com/2012/12/las-historias-detras-de-las-detenciones-del-1-de-diciembre/#ixzz2EHmcN3xi Please share this story!

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MÉXICO, D.F. (apro).- La Agencia Antidrogas de Estados Unidos (DEA, por sus siglas en inglés) y el Servicio de Aduanas e Inmigración (ICE) alertaron que menores entre 11 y 17 años son reclutados por los cárteles del narcotráfico para que sirvan como mulas y espías, ya que pasan inadvertidos.

De acuerdo con la agencia EFE, San Diego, California es una de las ciudades donde el reclutamiento de personas en este rango de edad aumentó en los últimos meses de 2011.

Los menores reclutados son principalmente hijos de mexicanos, latinos y estadunidenses que viven en México y en la Unión Americana.

Sin embargo, la tendencia es enrolar a los menores que viven en EU, lo cual les permite tener la ventaja de la nacionalidad aun cuando viajen con adultos, explica la DEA.

Agrega que el número de menores que han sido detenidos en el sur de California ha aumentado.

Señala que entre los delitos por los que son arrestados están: narcotráfico en la modalidad de tentativa o ingreso de cantidades de diferentes tipos de drogas, extorsiones en la modalidad de complicidad, secuestro en la modalidad de complicidad -al cuidar a las personas a las que se plagia-, piratería, corrupción y espionaje.

En algunos casos, indica la información de las agencias estadunidenses, los menores ya formaban parte de pandillas en Estados Unidos y al ser reclutados por los cárteles mexicanos les ponen pruebas para obtener su confianza.

De acuerdo con la DEA, los pagos que reciben los reclutados dependen del grupo criminal que los enrola.
“Los Zetas” y el cártel del Golfo estarían ofreciéndoles un promedio de 500 dólares por paso de droga, mil dólares por cuidar a secuestrados durante un mes o mil 500 dólares por funcionar como espía para informar cuándo se movilizan las autoridades a ciertos puntos.

Source: ht.ly
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“Mientras decenas de miles de mexicanos perdieron su vida en la actual guerra contra las drogas, millones más se han vuelto devotos a la muerte”, inicia reportaje sobre la Santa Muerte publicado este sábado por The Huffington Post.

La Santa Muerte es definida por el autor, Andrew Chesnut, como “un esquelético santo del folclor, cuyo culto ha proliferado en ambos lados de la frontera durante la última década. La Muerte,para él,se ha convertido rápidamente en uno de los más populares y poderosos santos en el panorama religioso en ambos países.

Aunque es condenada por ser satánica por las iglesias católica y protestante, esta “santa” es defendible por millones de migrantes mexicanos y latinoamericanos en EU, con base en su reputación de poderes sobrenaturales.

Los devotos creen que la dama huesuda es una de las santidades que más rápido y más eficazmente concede deseos y, por lo tanto vende estatuillas y veladoras casi como la Virgen de Guadalupe y San Judas, los dos gigantes de la religiosidad mexicana.

En México y EU los medios masivos la han atacado por ser la patrona de los narcotraficantes, lo cual es cierto, peus juega un papel importante como “protectora” de traficantes de cristal, metanfetaminas y mariguana hacia EU.

La DEA y autoridades federales mexicanas frecuentemente encuentra altares suyos en casas de narcos. La administración del presidente Felipe Calderón la ha declarado enemigo religioso número uno de México. En marzo de 2009, el Ejército derrumbó decenas de “recintos sagrados” a lo largo de las carreteras a las afueras de Tijuana, Nuevo Laredo y Matamoros.

Proveer protección a narcos es sólo una de sus facetas, la Santa Muertees también una sanadora natural, doctora amorosa, generadora de recursos y abogada.

Esta santa es una pieza del folclor que personifica a un femenino ángel de la muerte, con la misma guadaña, el mismo atuendo, pero a diferencia de los santos canonizados por el Vaticano, los santos del folclor son espíritus de la muerte considerados santos por sus poderes milagrosos.

En México y América Latina, al folclor como los santos Niño Fidencio, Jesús Malverde, Maximón y San La Muerte (la contraparte argentina de la Santa Muerte mexicana) guían amplía devoción y reciben frecuentemente imploraciones mayores a las de los santos “oficiales”.

Estos populares santos están unidos por nacionalidad y frecuentemente por localidades y clases sociales. Una vendedor callejero de la ciudad de México explicó el atractivo de la Santa Muerte: “Ella nos entiende porque es una cabrona como nosotros.”

En contraste, los mexicanos nunca se referirían así a la Vírgen de Guadalupe, lo cual es tanto como decirle “perra”. En lo que difiere la santa huesuda de otros santos del folclor es que para la mayoría de sus devotos ella es la personificación de la muerte misma y no de un ser humano muerto.

Ninguna presentación de esta santa mexicana estaría completa sin considerar una de sus características mas particulares, si identidad sexual. Mientras los santos del folclor que abundan en el continente, y otros esqueletos sobrenaturales, en Guatemala y Argentina, la Santa Muerte es el único icono de veneración femenino desde Canadá a la Patagonia.

El autor pone un contexto importante para entender este fenómeno religiosoenun país con un nivel educativo promedio de ocho años, con una gran mayoría de sus devotos siendo taxistas, choferes, prostitutas, vendedores ambulantes, amas de casa y criminales provenientes de la vasta población trabajadora mexicana.

Source: animalpolitico.com
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Este sábado fue inaugurada por Felipe Calderón la polémica torre “Estela de Luz, en el Paseo de la Reforma a la altura de Chapultpec.

Después de más de 15 meses de retraso y un presupuesto superior a los mil millones de pesos, la Estela de Luz fue inaugurada ayer por el presidente Felipe Calderón en una improvisada ceremonia con juegos pirotécnicos.

El monumento con motivo del Bicentenario del inicio de la Independencia fue inaugurado ayer por la noche en una ceremonia confirmada de última hora por la Presidencia de la República, ante la posibilidad de que hoy domingo, cuando estaba programada la inauguración, se presente una protesta contra el retraso y el elevado presupuesto en la construcción.

Acompañado por su esposa Margarita Zavala, funcionarios del gobierno federal, secretarios de Estado, el cuerpo diplomático acreditado en el país y funcionarios del Gobierno del Distrito Federal, el presidente Calderón expresó que “más allá de las controversias”, la Estela de Luz será un icono de la capital del país y un emblema de una nueva era para México.

La inauguración de la Estela de Luz estuvo acompañada con un espectáculo de luz y sonido que arrancó con la interpretación del “Huapango” de José Pablo Moncayo, seguido del himno dedicado a este monumento y finalizó con la iluminación de la palabra “México” en los cuarzos que componen la obra.

Sin embargo, en los alrededores –sobre la calle de Lieja- algunos ciudadanos se manifestaron contrala Estela de Luz, a la que consideraron “El gran monumento a la corrupción” por el retraso en su construcción y el importante alza en el monto final de su presupuesto.

De acuerdo con una convocatoria difundida por internet  para hoy a las 18:00 horas se tiene programada una manifestación en la Estela de Luz para convertirla en un monumento a los más de 50 mil muertos que ha provocado la llamada guerra contra el narcotráfico.

El retraso

La Estela de Luz fue presentada con más de 15 meses de retraso, ya que estaba programada para el pasado 15 de septiembre de 2010, día del Bicentenario de l inicio de la lucha de Independencia, pero su construcción se fue atrasando por dificultades técnicas y cambios en el presupuesto inicial.

La convocatoria al concurso nacional del anteproyecto para su construcción fue anunciada el 26 de enero de 2009 en un evento encabezado por el presidente Felipe Calderón en el Patio del Chapulín, Terraza Oriente, que se encuentra en los jardines del Castillo de Chapultepec.

En el acto, el primer mandatario convocó a los mejores arquitectos de México  para construir lo que entonces se planeaba como el “Arco Bicentenario”. El ganador de la convocatoria sería elegido de manera conjunta por el Gobierno Federal y el Gobierno dela Ciudadde México.

El proyecto ganador fue a dado a conocer el 15 de abril 2009 en el Mueso Rufino Tamayo, durante una ceremonia fue encabezada por el entonces secretario de Gobernación, Fernando Gómez Mont. El arquitecto elegido fue César Pérez Becerril.

Las obras fueron iniciadas en 2009 y finalmente concluidas el pasado 31 de diciembre, más de 15 meses después de lo planeado en un principio.

Se dispara el presupuesto

En un principio y de acuerdo con lo estipulado en el contrato inicial se tenía contemplado un presupuesto total de 398 millones de pesos para la construcción de la Estela de Luz, que debía concluir en agosto de 2010.

Sin embargo, desde el 18 de diciembre de 2009, fecha en que se firmó el contrato principal, se han celebrado tres convenios modificatorios que elevaron el presupuesto de 398 millones de pesos a más de mil millones 35 mil pesos.

Source: animalpolitico.com
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Here’s the Colom administration tooting its own horn. Maybe now people will ask why is the murder rate going down rather than up?
Is the decrease the result of effective government policies (e.g., better policing, less corruption, more police, etc.)?
Is the decrease the result of the state’s withdrawal from certain conflict-prone areas of the country or the consolidation of power by local gangs and transnational criminal networks?
Have Guatemalans somehow changed the way they behave (don’t go out at night, pay extortion) so as to avoid death?
Was the murder decline simply the result of a successful state of siege in Alta Verapaz rather than broad-based success?
I don’t think anybody actually knows why the rate has gone down two years in a row. Partly that’s because they’ve been asking why it has been going up. That’s why I had a hard time taking many of their analyses seriously.

People would keep writing about a security situation spiraling out of control by presenting 2009’s horrific murder statistics and/or they would neglect evidence that a decline in murders had been occurring over the last 24 months. Prensa Libre would support its Murders Continue headline with evidence that the murder rate in Coatepeque, Quetzaltenango had dropped 25%. There was also all the reporting that 2011 election cycle was the “most violent” in recent history with 43 dead in campaign-related killings. However, a US CRS Report to Congress reported 56 dead in 2007. Likewise, an EU report claimed over 50 dead in 2007. While 2011’s election might have been more violent than those of the past, using statistics on the number of murders committed during the campaigns did not support that conclusion. Then there was El Periodico’s October reporting of a sharp increase in the murder rate when its number showed the opposite.

Anyway, here’s one possible explanation for the decline in murders that I haven’t heard in a while. In Wikileaks cable from May 2008, Carlos Castresana told the US Embassy that he thought 25% of the murders in the country had been of the extrajudicial killing variety. Perhaps the government hasn’t been as effective at reducing murders carried out by criminal elements. They’ve only been successful at reducing the number of murders committed by on-duty and off-duty security personnel. Maybe someone who is in the country can ask “people in the know.”

Source: centralamericanpolitics.blogspot.com
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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico’s ruling conservative party had been in power just 50 days when drug lord Joaquin Guzman slipped out of a dark prison and into Mexican folklore.

Guzman’s flight from a maximum security prison in a laundry cart on January 19, 2001, was a major embarrassment to Calderon’s predecessor Vicente Fox, who had just begun a new era as the first National Action Party (PAN) official to lead Mexico.

Now, Guzman is the greatest symbol of the cartels’ defiance of Calderon, whose war unleashed a wave of gang violence that is eroding support for the PAN ahead of presidential elections on July 1. Calderon is barred by law from seeking a second term.

In the last few months, authorities have arrested dozens of Guzman’s henchmen, seized tons of his contraband and razed the biggest single marijuana plantation ever found in Mexico, subsequently chalked up as another setback for El Chapo.

Over Christmas, three senior Guzman associates fell into Mexico’s hands, including one named as his chief of operations in Durango, a state where he has been rumored to hide out.

"He’s certainly aware people very close to him have been captured over the past two weeks, so he must be seriously concerned," said Vanda Felbab-Brown, a Brookings Institution expert on the drug trade. "The noose seems to be tightening."

Since his nighttime escape, Guzman’s legend has grown daily, as the wily capo evaded capture, eliminated rivals and sold billions of dollars worth of drugs across the border.

Meanwhile, the PAN, who won office under Fox pledging to restore law and order in a country tired of the corruption that marred the 71-year reign of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), has become more and more bogged down in the drug war.

Calderon staked his reputation on rooting out the cartels, but the army-led struggle has cost over 46,000 lives in five years, spooking tourists and investors alike.

As Calderon fought to contain the violence, he had to watch Guzman feted for success when the kingpin placed 41st in a Forbes list of the world’s most powerful people in 2009.

Immortalized in song both in Spanish and English, Guzman seemed so untouchable that rumors began spreading the Mexican government had made a deal with him to keep the peace.

That talk has now faded, and Attorney General Marisela Morales said in October Guzman would be captured “very soon.”

North of the border, things have also turned sour for the fugitive trafficker, who made headlines as the world’s most wanted man after the death of Osama bin Laden.

In last few weeks, U.S. authorities in Arizona announced details of raids in which they arrested over 200 people linked to the Sinaloa cartel, named for the northwestern Pacific state where Guzman was born, probably in 1957.

DRUG LORD PROTECTOR

Surveys show the public backs the crackdown on the cartels. But it also believes Calderon is losing the drug war.

Alberto Vera, director of research at pollster Parametria, said only something of the magnitude of Guzman’s capture would persuade voters Calderon was winning. That could boost support for his party by two or three points if it happened not long before the election, he added.

"Catching him would do Calderon credit," said Luis Pavan, 40, a Mexico City insurance agent. "Fighting the gangs is one of the few good things the government has done."

Weakened by the mounting death toll, Calderon’s PAN lags the opposition PRI by about 20 points, recent polls show.

Capturing Guzman could also benefit U.S. President Barack Obama, who faces a tough re-election battle against Republicans that accuse him of being weak on border security.

Arturo R. Garino, mayor of Nogales - an Arizona border city lying right on Guzman’s main smuggling routes - said the kingpin’s arrest would be a boost to both governments. “Cutting the head off the snake would help our economy too,” he said.

Read more here.

Source: The New York Times
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SANTA MARÍA ATZOMPA, Mexico — When the old-timers here look around their town, all they see are new arrivals: young Mexican men working construction and driving down wages; the children of laborers flooding crowded schools; even new businesses — stores, restaurants and strip clubs — springing up on roads that used to be dark and quiet. A Mexican sociologist has called the growth of Santa María Atzompa and the surrounding area “fast, barbaric and anarchic.”

The shock might seem familiar enough in countless American towns wrestling with immigration, but this is a precolonial Mexican village outside Oaxaca City, filling up with fellow Mexicans. Still, grimaces about the influx are as common as smiles.

“Before all these people came, everything was tranquil,” said Marcelino Juárez, 61, an artisan at the local ceramics market. “They bring complications. They don’t bring benefits.”

Throughout Mexico and much of Latin America, the old migratory patterns are changing. The mobile and restless are now casting themselves across a wider range of cities and countries in the region, pitting old residents against new, increasing pressure to create jobs and prompting nations to rewrite their immigration laws, sometimes to encourage the trend.

The United States is simply not the magnet it once was. Arrests at the United States’ southwest border in 2011 fell to their lowest level since 1972, confirming that illegal immigration, especially from Mexico, has reached what experts now describe as either a significant pause or the end of an era.

But this is not a shift in volume as much as direction. Nearly two million more Mexicans lived away from their hometowns in 2010 than was the case a decade earlier, according to the Mexican census. Experts say departures have also held steady or increased over the past few years in Guatemala, El Salvador, Peru and other Latin American countries that have traditionally been hubs of emigration.

The migrants are just not always going where they used to.

Mexicans, for example, are increasingly avoiding the United States and the border region, as well as their own capital, and are moving toward smaller, safer cities like Mérida, Oaxaca City and Querétaro. Experts say more Guatemalans are also settling in Mexico after years of passing through on the journey north.

To the south, the pull of Chile, Argentina and Brazil is also strengthening. The International Organization for Migration reports that the Bolivian population in Argentina has increased by 48 percent since 2001 (to 345,000), and that the country’s Paraguayan and Peruvian populations have grown even faster.

All of this movement is reshaping the region, making it less like a compass pointing north and more like a hub with many spokes. From the papayas grown by Bolivian farmers in Argentina to the recent discovery of exploited illegal workers in Chile and conflicts over local government in southern Mexico, this intraregional migration in Latin America has become both a challenge and a promising surprise for a part of the world that has generally framed the issue in terms of how many people leave for the United States.

“It’s like a river changing course,” said Gabino Cué Monteagudo, the governor of Oaxaca. “It’s the process of development — it’s inevitable.”

For the United States, the collective shift means fewer migrants crossing the border illegally and possibly more debate over whether the expanded budgets for immigration enforcement still make sense.

But the greatest impacts are being felt in fast-growing towns like Santa María Atzompa, where thousands of mostly poor, rural families have chosen to seek their fortunes. In the case of this town and the surrounding area, the growth has been “fast, barbaric and anarchic,” said Jorge Hernández-Díaz, a sociologist at the Autonomous University of Benito Juárez de Oaxaca.

A generation ago, he said, the road from Oaxaca City to the main plaza of Atzompa passed by fields and farmers, little more. The total population for the municipality in 1990 was 5,781. Now, this small piece of land has filled in with a labyrinth of dirt roads with dead ends, new businesses and thousands of homes in varying levels of construction and quality.

Residents say the population boom accelerated around 2006, as opportunities in the United States fell away and the dangers and cost of crossing the border became prohibitive amid drug cartel violence and stepped-up border security. Now, more than 27,000 people live in Atzompa, according to the 2010 census, and more keep coming.

Read more here.

Source: The New York Times
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hurtador:

Latinoamérica unida por educación pública gratuita y de calidad!

(via vamoscaminando)

Source: hurtador
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"Drug cartels though are essentially money-making organisations, and to the degree that they engage with politics it’s only to the degree that they need to in order to continue making profits."

- Daniel Brito, Drug Policy Alliance
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On July 1, 2012 Mexicans will go to the polls to choose a new president, new senators and federal deputies - and if opinion polls are to be believed, possibly a new governing party.

A major election issue is the country’s crackdown against organised crime which is now in its sixth year. It has caused violence to flare in states that are on the drug route to the US and more than 50,000 people have been killed since 2006.

With an increasing inequality between rich and poor, the economy is another big election issue.

The level of frustration that exists in Mexico, very much aggravated by the violence, is not going to be satisfied by offering a labour reform. It has to be satisfied by offering a new future.

- Manuel Camacho Solis, Mexico’s former secretary of foreign affairs

Due to political paralysis, President Felipe Calderon has been unable to push through some reforms which many consider necessary, such as liberalising the labour market.  

There are three main parties which have candidates running in the election.

First of all there is the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled Mexico as a one-party-state for most of the last century but lost power in 2000.

Its candidate for 2012 is Enrique Pena Nieto, who is a former governor of Mexico State.

The Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), is an off-shoot of the PRI party. Its candidate is Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a former mayor of Mexico City, who lost in the 2006 election but contested the results and led weeks of protests in the capital.

The ruling National Action Party (PAN) is the party of Felipe Calderon, the current president. It is not yet known who its candidate will be in 2012.

Given the issues of drug violence and growing poverty, why is Mexico’s election important to the region?

Inside Story Americas discusses with guests: Manuel Camacho Solis, Mexico’s former secretary of foreign affairs and also the former mayor of Mexico City, and a supporter of the PRD party; Christopher Wilson, who works on Mexico’s economy and US-Mexico border affairs at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC; and Daniel Brito of the Drug Policy Alliance, a group that promotes alternatives to current drug policy, and he has also studied Mexico’s drug war.

Source: aljazeera.com