Mexico: The People Strike Back


November 5, 2013: The government is considering changing tax policies which support maquiladoras manufacturing plants that are foreign owned plants that operate in Mexico because of tax breaks. Many of these business operations are in northern Mexico near the U.S. border and in areas plagued by drug cartel violence. Maquiladoras export almost $200 billion a year in goods and they are a significant source of foreign exchange. However, the government has promised to lower tax subsidies and open up the economy. The new administration has also promised a fairer, more open tax policy. However, after announcing that it was examining the maquiladoras tax rules, other government officials pointed out that many maquiladoras plants would move to Asia. The result would be more unemployed people in cities like Ciudad Juarez. Social and economic disruption could lead to more violence.

November 4, 2013: The Mexican Navy has taken control of the seaport of Lazaro Cardenas (Michoacan state). The government made the decision because of continuing unrest in the state due to drug cartel violence. Recent attacks on infrastructure (electrical substations in particular) have worried security officials but drug cartel corruption of local officials may also be a factor in the decision. Navy personnel will run the seaports administrative functions. They will replace customs and tax inspectors. Several thousand Mexican Army soldiers and federal police continue to run counter-cartel operations in Michaocan state.

November 3, 2013: Government security officials reported three major firefights in the city of Matamoros (Tamaulipas state, across the border from Brownsville, Texas). One gun battle pitted Los Zetas cartel gunmen against Gulf cartel gunmen. Four gangsters died in that fight. One other person was killed, a civilian caught in the crossfire. In the other two battles Mexican Navy marines fought with armed civilians. The officials did not call the armed civilians cartel gunmen. Casualty figures for these two battles are uncertain, but at least eight of the armed civilians were killed in the battles. The Gulf and Zetas cartels are fighting over control of the city.

October 30, 2013: U.S. security agents discovered a large and well-built tunnel running under the border from Tijuana to San Diego. The tunnel is over 10 meters (31 feet) below the surface. It has electricity, a ventilation system, and has side passages. It also has its own rail link, and it needs a rail line because it is over 3.5 kilometers long. U.S. section terminated in a warehouse some 600 meters from the border. The tunnel extended for almost three kilometers into Mexico. The Mexican terminus was another warehouse located near the Tijuana International Airport. Investigators call this one the super tunnel.

October 28, 2013: Security forces in Michaocan state fought a gun battle with a group of gunmen investigators believe launched gasoline bomb attacks on electrical facilities on October 24. The security personnel killed two members of the group and arrested three other members. The October 24 attacks knocked out power in several towns and cities in Michoacan. An estimated 400,000 people were affected. Targets included 19 electrical substations in 14 different towns and villages. The group also attacked several gas stations. Though security officials did not identify the group, regional media claimed that the three men arrested today were gunmen belonging to the Knights Templar cartel. The gun battle and arrest reports support the October 24 assertion made by citizens of the town of Aguililla that five Knights Templar cartel gunmen attacked their community.  Local militia volunteers killed the gunmen before they could damage any facilities. However, the local militia now reports that one member of the militia died in the October 24 fight.

October 25, 2013: The Mexican Army is hosting the 2013 Commanders Conference of American Armies. 20 countries in the Western hemisphere, including the U.S. and Canada, belong to the Commanders Conference.

October 24, 2013: A community defense militia (community self-defense force) in Aguililla (Michoacan state, near the city of Apatzingan) claimed it killed five cartel gunmen who attempted to attack their town. Officials acknowledge that the Knights Templar cartel is very powerful in the area. Many people in the towns and villages outside of Apatzingan claim they have been abandoned by the police. A local source said the gunmen belonged to the Knights Templar cartel and one of them was armed with a light machine gun. Meanwhile, government officials reported that a group in the city of Apatzingan demonstrated at a Mexican Army base and protested the army’s presence in the city. The government said that it suspects the protestors were paid by the Knights Templar cartel.

October 22, 2013: The government announced that it has lodged complaints with the U.S. State Department about U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) spying in Mexico and on Mexican officials. The government is considering summoning the U.S. ambassador to make a formal complaint. Government officials called U.S. spying in Mexico a breach of trust.

October 18, 2013: An assassin dressed as a clown murdered Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix. Arellano Felix was once the senior commander of the Tijuana cartel. The murder took place in Los Cabos (Baja California Sur). Arellano Felix went to prison for 15 years for drug trafficking and served part of his sentence in the U.S. He was paroled in 2008.

October 17, 2013: On October 9 three police officers and four Jalisco New Generation cartel gunmen died in an extended firefight in Tepatitlan (Jalisco state, near Guadalajara). The battle got headlines throughout Mexico because the cartel gunmen used hand grenades – lots of grenades. Now media in the U.S. and Mexico report that the grenades have been sourced to a U.S. weapons trafficker. The reports claim that U.S. security officials let the weapons trafficker operate even though they knew he was selling grenade components and explosives to known drug cartel gunmen. The reports allege the grenade component sales were used to identify cartel personnel and possibly identify and locate cartel commanders. This was the goal of the failed (and now notorious) Fast and Furious “gun walking” operation. U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives denies the “grenade walking” allegations.



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