News and Analysis: NOV 28 - DEC 4, 2011

1 - NEWS FROM THE OTHER CAMPAIGN (http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/)
2 - PRESIDENT THREATENS ICC ACCUSERS
3 - HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS UNDER ATTACK
4 - DEA LAUNDERING MEXICAN DRUG MONEY
5 - PRI LEADER RESIGNS AMID GROWING SCANDAL
6 - CELAC FOUNDED, WITH LITTLE HELP FROM MEXICAN POLITICAL CLASS
7 - ECONOMY GROWS WHILE POVERTY INCREASES
8 - MARCELO EBRARD AND BRITNEY SPEARS?

1 - NEWS FROM THE OTHER CAMPAIGN (http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/)
Communal land owners in Bachajon denounced government displacement from their lands in northern Chiapas and declared their intention to recover the lands.

2 - PRESIDENT THREATENS ICC ACCUSERS

President Felipe Calderon threatened legal action against activists who accused him in the International Criminal Court (ICC) of allowing torture and murder as part of his "war on drugs."  

Calderon's office characterized the accusations as "absurd," and assumed no responsibility for the 45,000 deaths that have come to characterize the President's signature policy.  The allegations "constitute in themselves clear slander, reckless accusations that hurt not only people and institutions, but also affect the good name of Mexico, for which we will explore all alternatives to act legally against those who make them in different forums and courts, both national and international."  Natzai Sandoval, a human rights attorney, along with 23,000 Mexican citizens, filed the complaint with the ICC in The Hague last week demanding an investigation into hundreds of civilian deaths at the hands of military, police and drug traffickers.  The complaint names President Calderon, his top security officials and Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman, leader of the Sinaloa cartel and widely believed to be aligned with many federal and local officials.  Sandoval discounted the threats, characterizing them as essentially a presidential hissy fit with no legal standing.

 

3 - HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS UNDER ATTACK

A leading human rights activist demanding justice in the case of his son's murder was killed this week, while a founder of the Juarez-based Return our Daughters Home (Nuestras Hijas Regresan a Casa) was shot.  Nepomuceno Moreno from Sonora was likely murdered by corrupt local officials upset at his public campaign accusing police of kidnapping his teenage son.  Moreno was nationally known for his participation in the Movement for Peace and Justice with Dignity led by Javier Sicilia.  In keeping with President Calderon's rhetoric that most violence is cartel-related, police accused Moreno of participating in organized crime and blamed his death on criminal elements.  Last month Moreno met with Calderon, offering evidence in his son's case and complaining that he feared for his own security.  Moreno received repeated death threats from local police aligned with organized crime.

 

Two days later, Norma Andrade, one of the most visible anti-femicide activists in Ciudad Juarez, was shot twice outside her home in what police called an attempted robbery.  She is in stable condition in a local hospital.  Andrade founded Return our Daughters Home after her 17-year-old daughter Lilia Garcia Andrade was found tortured, raped and killed in 2001.  Malu Andrade, her other daughter who is also active in the anti-femicide movement, said teachers at the middle school where her mother works reported suspicious men inquiring about her whereabouts only hours before the attack.  Mexican human rights groups and Amnesty International demanded a thorough investigation and protection for the Andrade family.

 

4 - DEA LAUNDERING MEXICAN DRUG MONEY

Undercover agents for the Drug Enforcement Administration have adopted an interesting strategy in Mexico - laundering millions of dollars for drug cartels.  The New York Times reported this week that DEA agents transport cash shipments across the US-Mexico border in an effort to identify how cartels move their money.  Funds are deposited in accounts designated by cartels or in shell accounts established by agents.   It is not unusual for the DEA to facilitate two or three loads of cash a week, with quantities of up to US$10 million processed without special approval from superiors. The strategy threatens Mexican sovereignty, blurs the line between surveillance and facilitating crime, and often allows cartel activities to continue for months or even years before making arrests.  Laundering strategies, utilized in other parts of the world, were prohibited for many years in Mexico, but were instituted in recent years as US law enforcement agencies developed close ties to the Calderon administration.  The impact is doubtful.  Cartel activities generate from US$20 to US$50 billion per year, and only about a billion was interdicted last year by US and Mexican officials, with no significant decrease in the movement of illegal drugs across the border.

 

5 - PRI LEADER RESIGNS AMID GROWING SCANDAL

Humberto Moreira resigned on Friday as head of the PRI amid a growing scandal over misuse of state funds in Coahuila, where he served as Governor and left a US$2.8 billion debt.  Moreira is a powerful and well-connected politician who reportedly knows "where all the skeletons are buried" in the PRI.  With Enrique Pena Nieto recently sowing up the PRI's nomination for the 2012 presidential race, Moreira likely cut a deal - in exchange for his resignation, he will likely avoid prosecution under a Pena Nieto presidency.

 

6 - CELAC FOUNDED, WITH LITTLE HELP FROM MEXICAN POLITICAL CLASS

Heads of state from 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries meeting in Caracas this week gave birth to the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States (CELAC), an alternative to the Organization of American States (OAS).  CELAC includes every country in the western hemisphere except the US and Canada.  The brainchild of Venezuela President Hugo Chavez, CELAC will meet next year in Chile to discuss decision-making processes.  For the time being, the group will function by consensus rather than majority, with Venezuela, Chile and Cuba forming the initial governing triad.  Mexico attended the meeting, but was anxious to align itself with the US by highlighting the importance of the OAS.  President Calderon not unexpectedly called for CELAC to focus on organized crime and violence.  Cuban President Raul Castro received the warmest welcome of the conference with a standing ovation and chants of "Fidel," a reference to his older brother.

 

7 - ECONOMY GROWS WHILE POVERTY INCREASES

Mexico's central bank reported a strong third quarter, with 4.5 % growth compared to the same period last year.  Meanwhile, the UN reported increasing poverty, with 36.3% of Mexicans living below the official poverty line last year compared to 34.6% in 2009.  Mexico joined Honduras as the only countries in Latin America with increasing levels of poverty.

 

8 - MARCELO EBRARD AND BRITNEY SPEARS?

US pop star Britney Spears performed a free concert Sunday at Mexico City's Monument to the Revolution, part of Mayor Marcelo Ebrard's infamous "bread and circus" Christmas celebrations.  The concert was free to fans, but cost the city a bundle.  Ebrard also spent tax dollars on a giant ice skating rink, in a city where temperatures never reach freezing, and the world's largest Christmas tree, a 165- foot monstrosity.

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