The government has charged Jose Luis Abarca with being involved in the kidnapping of 43 teachers college students in September 2014. Abarca is the former mayor of Iguala (Guerrero state). So far 45 people have been charged with kidnapping in the disappearance of the students. Abarca may ultimately face murder charges. Despite the charges levied against Abarca (and his wife as well), president Pena still confronts an angry nation. Several demonstrations protesting Pena’s handling of the Iguala Massacre have occurred since January 1.
January 20, 2015: Prosecutors investigating the Iguala Massacre said that the University of Innsbruck (Austria) lab conducting DNA testing on the suspected remains of the missing teachers college students has concluded that the badly burned remains defy conventional DNA identification methods. Investigators sent the lab the remains of 16 people. The lab succeeded in identifying the remains of only one missing student. The lab is preparing to use what it described as unconventional methods on the other 15 remains. The Innsbruck lab was selected because of its international reputation in DNA identification. The federal government is already facing charges that it has conducted a fault-ridden investigation of the massacre and it concluded that many Mexican citizens would distrust a Mexican laboratory. A failure by the Austrian lab to identify any more of the dead will likely incite more protests.
Earlier this month (January 6) president Pena refused to apologize for his wife’s acquisition of house under suspect circumstances. Now reports are cropping up Pena and his wife acquired another luxury property from a housing developer who won major contracts from the state of Mexico while Pena served as its governor. The new reports will rekindle charges that Pena is guilty of cronyism if not outright corruption. Mexico has a state named Mexico (the country’s largest in terms of population, around 16.7 million). Pena was state governor from 2005 to 2011. This week a federal government spokesman denied that Roberto San Roman Widerkehr, the developer and contractor, received any special consideration from then-governor Pena. However, since Pena became president in late 2012, companies owned by San Roman’s heirs (San Roman died in 2010) have received several federal contracts. San Roman and his family were a long time supporters of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Pena’s party.
January 17, 2015: Security officials announced the arrest of a senior member of the gang involved in the kidnapping and murder of the 43 student protesters in Iguala. Police allege that Felipe Rodriguez ordered members of the Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors) gang to incinerate the students’ remains after gang members murdered the students. Local Iguala police handed the students over to the gang on September 26, 2014. Several Guerreros Unidos gang members have reportedly told investigators that they believed the captured students were members of a rival drug gang.
U.S. and Mexican security officials announced that so far 117 people associated with the Sinaloa cartel now face criminal charges as a result of a multi-national investigation into the cartel’s Mexican and South American drug smuggling operations. The Mexican investigation focused on methamphetamine and marijuana smuggling. The South American component focused on cocaine and heroin.
January 15, 2015: Pemex, the national oil company, formally proposed an oil trading deal with the U.S. The proposal could face political resistance in Mexico and the United States because the trade would involve importing American crude into Mexico. For four decades the U.S. has had a ban on most crude oil exports (there are some loopholes). For decades Mexico has been proudly self-sufficient in oil production. Pemex wants to mix lighter grades of American crude (up to 100,000 barrels a day) with heavier Mexican crude at its refineries. Currently Mexico exports around 800,000 barrels a day to the U.S. (number three, behind Canada and Saudi Arabia).
January 13, 2015: Demonstrators protesting the September 2014 disappearance of 43 Mexican teacher college students were denied access to an army base in Iguala. The demonstrators included relatives of the missing students. In October 2014 demonstrators accused the army of ignoring reports that Iguala police had kidnapped the students. They now accused the military of colluding in the students’ kidnapping. There is evidence that soldiers witnessed the clash between students and the police. Prosecutors now allege that corrupt police, operating on the orders of the local mayor and his wife, colluded with the Guerreros Unidos drug gang to kill the students.
January 12, 2015: Prosecutors confirmed that DNA extracted from bone found near Iguala matches that of one of the missing students, Alexander Mora. Other remains are being test at a lab at the University of Innsbruck (Austria).
January 8, 2015: Police discovered ten headless corpses and 11 heads in graves 50 kilometers east of Chilpancigo (capital of Guerrero state). The corpses show definite signs of torture, to include hands tied behind the back. The heads were found inside four black plastic bags.
January 6, 2015: Government security personnel killed nine drug gang members in two incidents in the city of Apatzingan (Michoacan state). Soldiers killed eight gang members in a firefight in Apatzingan. Gang members raided the mayor’s office and the soldiers responded. The ninth gang member was killed when a federal officer in a vehicle ran over him while trying to arrest him.
President Pena has decided that he will not apologize for his wife’s acquisition of a luxurious house given by a wealthy Mexican businessman. Companies owned by the businessman, Juan Armando Hinojosa, were awarded contracts worth several hundred million dollars from the state of Mexico when Pena was the state’s governor (2005 to 201). A Pena spokesman denied any wrong doing by the president. That noted, for many citizens the house has become another symbol of high-level political corruption and bribery; some media call it The House Scandal. A senior politician in the left wing Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) claimed that if a U.S. president in this situation would face impeachment.
January 4, 2015: Senora Macbeth will stay in jail. Federal prosecutors said that Maria de los Angeles Pineda, the wife of Iguala’s former mayor, Jose Luis Abarca, will remain jailed indefinitely on charges of organized criminal activity. She had been held under what authorities called provisional arrest, pending further investigation. She may well be the person who instigated the Iguala Massacre. Investigators have evidence that she told her husband to keep protestors away from a political event she was holding in Iguala on September 26, 2014.
The wife is believed to be the one who urged that the students be murdered and has thus been nicknamed “Senora (Lady) Macbeth” after the similar character in the Shakespeare play “Macbeth”. Some Mexicans also see parallels to the telenovelas Mexico is famous for. Telenovelas are Latin American versions of the original American TV soap operas. But the telenovelas feature more spirited acting and scripts. Thus the telenovelas thrive (while the original soaps fade away) and have become popular worldwide (including in the United States). The current presidential crises seems like it was created by a telenovela script writer and Mexicans wonder if the private discussions between the husbands and wives involved are also similar. Some believe that if Shakespeare were alive today he would be writing telenovelas (perhaps under a pseudonym).