Mexico: Fighting For The Right To Steal

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July 27, 2016: Earlier this month the government resumed negotiations with the CNTE (education union). The negotiations are not working and this is not a surprise. CNTE is not really a union. Rather it is the armed wing of the SNTE (national teachers union). For decades the national union has been criticized because it had become corrupt and anti-education. Parents saw SNTE as an obstacle to their children’s education because too many teacher jobs were not for teachers but for whoever could afford to pay a bribe to get a no-show job. You were paid but you did not have to teach or do any work. That was a job worth fighting for. The state-supported schools had become useless and the CNTE would be called out to stage violent protests whenever local or national governments tried to change this. CNTE claims to have popular support but beyond the families of teachers the CNTE is hated and feared. Open criticism is often violently suppressed. CNTE and SNTE supported whichever political party would help them and was part of a larger corrupt system that most Mexicans want gone. The current reform effort by the federal prosecutors centers on former SNTE head, Elba Esther Gordillo Morales. In 2013 she was indicted on embezzlement and theft charges and arrested. Gordillo allegedly embezzled $160 million in union and education funds and was notorious for her luxurious lifestyle. The government is now trying to clean up the union. To aid with that the government passed a law that gives the federal government control over education. Who had controlled education policy before that? The teachers union did so, with minimal government oversight. Based on the embezzlement scandal, there was also minimal financial oversight. Until the new law was passed, the SNTE determined who was hired and fired. The new law says hiring will be based on qualifications and merit. The teachers union has been one of the most powerful (and allegedly most corrupt) unions in Mexico. It has around 1.5 million members and most of them are not qualified to be teachers. Currently the union maintains roadblocks in Oaxaca state and threatens widespread protests throughout Mexico. The union continues to demand that the government repeal the 2013 laws that required routine evaluations of teacher efficiency. The union also want the government to free two union leaders currently under arrest.

It is very likely Sinaloa cartel commander Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzman will be extradited to the United States. If and when that happens, Mexican and American authorities believe he will be put in a prison located in Brooklyn, New York.

July 23, 2016: Federal police in Acapulco (Guerrero state) arrested six members of the Beltran Leyva cartel. One of the men arrested allegedly coordinated drug trafficking throughout the city. Security forces have severely damaged the Beltran-Leyva cartel. The U.S. DEA now says that Beltran-Leyva operates as an ally of the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas.

Five people were murdered and 12 wounded during a protest in Tuxtla Gutierrez (Mexico state). The town’s mayor and two municipal officials were among the dead. Witnesses reported gunmen opened fire on a demonstration in the city.

July 19, 2016: A Canadian mining company reported that gunmen attacked its La India mine in Sonora state (200 kilometers east of the city of Hermosillo) and stole significant amounts of gold and silver. One guard was injured in the attack.

July 18, 2016: The government approved long anticipated corruption reform legislation. The law is actually a package of seven new laws and definitely an improvement. It was soon noted that none of these new laws required that government officials make public full details of their personal business dealings. Access to the few disclosure statements that are required is limited. In other words, the new anti-corruption laws were mainly for show, not effect.

July 14, 2016: Police in Guatemala arrested 106 men suspected of being narco-gang members. The operation consisted of 146 different raids conduct nation-wide but focused on two criminal organizations, the Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 gangs. Authorities said many of the gangsters were allied with Mexican cartels.

Meanwhile, in Tamaulipas state, a Los Zetas faction is demanding the government protect them from their rival criminal gangs. In exchange the Zetas say they will stop murdering innocent civilians.

Navy personnel discovered 13 tons of cocaine hidden in drums of salsa sauce. The drums were shipped from Guayaquil, Ecuador and headed for the port of Mazatlan (Sinaloa state).

July 13, 2016: The navy recovered 900 kilograms of cocaine floating in barrels off the southern Pacific coast. Authorities believe traffickers left the drugs in the sea for retrieval by cartel operatives in Mexico.

July 10, 2016: The government announced Mexico had 1,746 homicides in the month of May. The previous high for the current government was December 2012 with 1,726 murders.

July 9, 2016: Gunmen have killed 11 people in Cuidad Victoria (Tamaulipas state). The victems belonged to two families and died because the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas are waging a turf war in the city. Though authorities would not identify the gangs, a spokesman said that the murders involved a dispute between two rival gangs in the city.

July 7, 2016: Government security officials believe Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua state) is on the verge of another outbreak of violence. A security official told Mexican media that a local gang intend to try to drive the Sinaloa cartel out of the city.

July 5, 2016: Teachers in Mexico City announced that they are beginning a strike that could last for an indefinite period of time. A group of 4,000 teacher conducted a protest march in the capital protesting the current administration’s education reforms.

July 4, 2016: Los Zetas gunmen in Nuevo Leon state attacked a security force convoy near the town of Los Aldamas (about 100 kilometers south of the Texas border). Officials said military and Federal police in the convoy returned fire and captured a Zetas SUV which was found to contain several weapons.

July 1, 2016: A new law passed in June has created four special economic zones in the country; the Pacific port of Lázaro Cárdenas; the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (Veracruz and Oaxaca states); an ares in and around Puerto Chiapas (Chiapas state), and the Coatzacoalcos Corridor /Ciudad del Carmen (Campeche state).

June 28, 2016: The government issued a statement acknowledging that a number of citizen search committees (sometimes called search collectives) have formed throughout the country. The groups are trying to search for missing persons, often lost loved ones of members of the search committees. In several cases, state and federal authorities are supporting the groups.

 

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