Thursday, October 30, 2008

Narcos Infiltrate the Mexican Military

from Reforma
translated from the original Spanish by Kristin Bricker

A list of over 20 military agents allegedly for hire was found in one of the Beltrán Leyva brothers' safe houses in Culiacán, Sinaloa.

The information that was in a house belonging to Alfredo "El Mochomo" Beltrán Leyva, detained this past January 21, reveals that the Sinaloa clan had in its possession files from the Assistant Attorney General's Office for Specialized Investigation of Organized Crime (SIEDO in its Spanish initials) and from the Sinaloa Attorney General's office about investigations that were in process.

There was, for example, a two-page official letter from the SIEDO and a bundle of 148 pages of proceedings that the assistant attorney general's office was carrying out, documents which bore the official seal of the State Attorney General's Office.

But the most revealing finding in the search of the house at 1970 Juan de la Barrera, in the Burócratas de Culiacán district, was a professional notebook with red and blue pages, and yellow letters on the cover which say WOW. It was the Sinaloa Cartel's payroll for 2002 to date.

The Beltráns' notebook, with many different paystubs, mentions payments to the "Cousins," the name the drug traffickers gave to a network of military agents who allegedly passed on information about operations. For example, the Major of Military Justice Francisco de Jesús Pérez Chávez is listed with a payment of $150,000.

To Humberto Ramiro López Cornejo and Humberto Solís Galicia Barragán, a deposit of $70,000 each; for Alberto Cortina Herrera a sum of $75,000 is written; and to Pedro Sergio Jonguitud Barragán, $100,000.

Four of the five agents assigned to the Ninth Military Zone, located in Culiacán, as well as Ricardo Ramírez León, were detained on January 26, one week after the military captured "el Mochomo."

Those military agents were detained in April and are imprisoned in Occidente, Jalisco, charged with organized crime and crimes against the public health, in the category of collaborating to facilitate the trafficking and sale of drugs.

But they aren't the only ones mentioned in the list. Another page indicates payments to a Second Lieutenant "Calleja Bendaño" and specifies a bank account for depositing $100,000.

In another notebook there's another, larger account of people with military ranks who were also allegedly receiving money. There are others who don't have a military rank indicated.

That list mentions Captain Bernal Román Parra and a Captain Pacheco, as well as Second Lieutenants Izat Rodríguez Meza and Édgar Villatoros de los Santos.

There were also the following names: Gabriel Álvarez Guevara, Gregorio Pérez Manjarrez, Francisco Javier Mejía Rodríguez, Efrén Lugo, Óscar Pardo Jiménez, Juan Carlos Facundo López, Cristóbal Santiago Luna, Cesáreo Martínez Cruz, and Óscar Ramos, whose name has a note that says "El Rojo por Tapia". Their military ranks aren't listed, although they are on the same list.

The notebook contains entries that date from 2002. Second Lieutenant Fidencio Hernández Martínez, Lieutenant Marco Antonio Vázquez Herrera, and José Inocente Santana García, all members of the 65 Infantry Battalion, are also listed. They were imprisoned in 2002 for protecting drug cultivation on Sinaloa's border with Chihuahua.

After finding this information, the Mexican Military proceeded to capture some of its agents and handed them over to the Federal Attorney General's Office (PGR in its Spanish initials). It was the only institution that has initiated proceedings against its own.


Timeline

Arturo, Héctor y Alfredo Beltrán Leyva built their drug empire in Sinaloa, Morelos, and Mexico City with bribes and complicity.

2008

January 21
Alfredo Beltrán is captured in Culiacán. A week later, five military agents accused of leaking information to the Beltrán cartel fall.

January 22
In Mexico City, eleven members of a cell that operated out of houses in Coyoacán, San Ángel, and El Pedregal fall, with bullet-proof vests that said FEDA (Arturo Federal Forces). [translator's note: the REDA is the private army of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, head of the Sinaloa cartel.

April 30
Following a confrontation that lasted over 45 minutes in Culiacán, 13 alleged Beltrán hitmen are detained; three more die in the confrontation.

May 7
Three ex-military agents are detained along with another seven Beltrán hitmen following a confrontation on the Cuernavaca-Acapulco highway. Arturo Beltrán allegedly managed to escape.

May 8
Édgar Millán is executed in Mexico City, allegedly under the Beltrán Leyva family's orders. [translator's note: Édgar Millán was Mexico's top federal drug cop. He was executed just before US Congress voted on Plan Mexico. His assassination was an important lobbying tool utilized by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in convincing Congress that Plan Mexico was necessary and desired in Mexico. Millán's assassination was obviously an inside job: his assassins knew which of his multiple houses he would be staying at that night, they knew how to evade his bodyguards, and they appeared to have entered his house with keys.]

May 9
Édgar Guzmán Beltrán, son of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, is executed in a shopping center parking lot.

May 27
Eight federal police die during a confrontation with Beltrán hitmen in Culiacán.

July 14
Car bombs explode in front of a house in Culiacán where a Beltrán cell was at the time. The cell managed to escape.

September 14
Military and federal agents seize over USD$26 million from the Sinaloa Cartel.

October 27
The PGR makes known a red of high-ranking officials and AFI [Federal Investigation Agency] agents who were leaking information to the Beltrán family.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rice Refuses to Rule Out Deployment of Armed US Agents under Plan Mexico

During a recent visit to Mexico, the US Secretary of State discusses Plan Mexico, security cooperation, and the war on drugs

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice refused to rule out the deployment of armed US agents to Mexico under Plan Mexico during a recent visit to Mexico. While US and Mexican officials have been adamant that US military forces will not be deployed to Mexico, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will be deployed to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean as part of the initiative. Now the big question on everyone's mind is, "What other US agents will be deployed, and will they come armed?"

Reporters questioned Rice about the possibility of armed US agents on Mexican soil on at least three separate occasions during her visit to Mexico. Each time she avoided answering definitively.

In an October 23 interview, Rice told Televisa's Leonardo Kourchenko that some aspects of the Merida Initiative, also known as Plan Mexico, can already go forward. Kourchenko responded, "Armed agents, for instance."

Rice replied: "Yes. And so we think that this is--" Then she corrects herself: "Armed agents? No. We're going to respect Mexican law, and the Mexican Government is in control on this issue."

Kourchenko pushes for a more concrete answer. "There won't be American agents armed in the Mexican territory?"

Rice stumbles to avoid a yes-or-no answer yet again: "We will--the Mexican Government has complete control over how this is carried out. But this is to make Mexican security forces more capable, not to impose American security forces on Mexico."

Later, in a press conference with Mexico's Foreign Relations Secretary Patricia Espinosa, reporters pose the armed agents question to Rice again: "With regards to the arrival of the United States companies and the Merida Initiative, what relationship will the Mexican Government have with the private contractors from the United States? And I would like to ask you, in particular, will we allow armed personnel to be here in Mexico?"

This is a very important question. The day after George Bush signed Plan Mexico into law, leaked videos appeared in the press that depicted US-based private contractors teaching torture tactics to Leon, Guanajuato, police as part of the war on organized crime. Government officials from Calderon's PAN party paid for the training and publicly defended its legality and usefulness after the tapes hit the international press. And while both Mexican and US officials have publicly stated that no US soldiers will be deployed to Mexico under Plan Mexico, Mexican critics have argued that the US Defense Department is skilled at using private contractors to fulfill military functions, often with disastrous consequences. So how does Rice respond the third time reporters ask her if the US government will deploy armed agents to Mexico?

"Well... on the matter of migration and [inaudible] policies. The problem--we all have problems with migration. We and Mexico have discussed this issue. In fact, the President has been a major proponent of comprehensive immigration reform in the United States.... I sincerely hope that comprehensive immigration reform will come in the United States in the next administration. It really needs to."

Rice goes on to rail against Cuba, and then wraps up her answer by declaring how proud she is that Mexico and the United States are friends.

Secretary Espinosa then steps up in an attempt to answer the question without really answering it: "In no way will there be any North American agents armed in our country that will be performing activities that are limited by our law for the Mexican Government officials."

The big question, then, is: what activities are limited by Mexican law, and--perhaps more importantly--which ones are not?

One of the stated purposes of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP)--of which Plan Mexico is a significant component--is increased cooperation between various militaries and law enforcement agencies. As a result of the SPP, Canada and the US signed an agreement on February 14, 2008, that allows both countries' troops to cross into the other's territory in the event of an emergency.

Secretary Rice's trip to Mexico included work on a similar cooperation agreement between Mexico and the United States for emergency management in the case of natural disasters and accidents. The details of the agreement have not been released, and it is unknown if the new agreement would permit US troops to cross into Mexican soil in the case of an "emergency."

However, Mexican troops have already been deployed to the United States in response to a national disaster. Following Hurricane Katrina, 196 uniformed Mexican soldiers helped out with relief operations in San Antonio, Texas.

"No Other Way"

During her visit, Rice shed some light on the Bush administration's priorities in the war on drugs in Mexico. Despite numerous criticisms that law enforcement strategies for dealing with the drug trade are bound to fail if the demand for drugs is not addressed, the Bush administration did not prioritize treatment in Plan Mexico. Bush's original proposal contained no money for drug treatment in Mexico, and Congress added only a nominal amount for drug treatment in its plan. Plan Mexico has not been met with a corresponding increase in funds for drug treatment in the US, which is the primary market for drugs that pass through the Central America-Mexico corridor.

When asked if a military/law enforcement strategy is "the proper and right strategy" to combat the drug trade, Rice responded, "I see no other way than to be very tough on organized crime, to be capable of dealing with these very violent people who are trying to terrorize the population, who are trying to carry out their criminal activities. I see no other way."

Dr. Rice has obviously not read studies that show that drug treatment is much more cost effective than law enforcement strategies.

Rewriting History

Rice also rewrote Mexican history during her interview with Televisa in order to justify President Felipe Calderon's highly controversial use of the military to combat drug cartels and perform police duties in the war on organized crime. When asked for her opinion on Calderon's military strategy, Rice told Televisa, "Mexico is a democratic country with a democratically elected president who has gone to his people, gone to his legislative branch, and developed this strategy."

There are several factual errors in Rice's statement. The first is regarding Calderon's status as a "democratically elected president." Calderon took the presidency thanks to massive voter fraud in 2006. Urns stuffed full of uncounted votes turned up in dumpsters in zones that overwhelmingly supported opposition candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Vote tallies were padded in favor of Calderon. Entire pro-Calderon precincts were counted twice in the final tally. Ballot boxes were found stuffed full of illegal votes. In some polling places, there were more illegal votes than actual voters. Narco News has demonstrated that these fraudulent practices combined clearly tipped the election in Calderon's favor.

Rice is also incorrect when she states that Calderon went to the legislative branch to develop his military strategy. Far from being a plan developed along with the legislative branch, Calderon deployed the troops without seeking Congress' approval first. Calderon's strategy of utilizing the military for policing functions is highly controversial, to the point where some members of Congress have considered revoking Calderon's authority to deploy troops without congressional approval. It's not even clear if Calderon's use of the troops is legal: Gen. Jose Francisco Gallardo notes that the use of the military in civilian police jurisdictions violates Article 21 of the Mexican constitution.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

High-ranking Mexican officials detained; they were working for the Beltrán Leyva cartel

Arrests within the Mexican Assistant Attorney General's Office on Organized Crime are only the latest; Drug traffickers may also have informants in Interpol and the US Embassy

by Agencias and La Jornada On Line
translation and notes by Kristin Bricker

Mexico City - The Federal Attorney General's office (PGR in its Spanish initials) announced the detention of two high-ranking officials from the Assistant Attorney General's Office for the Specialized Investigation of Organized Crime (SIEDO in its Spanish initials) for alleged connections with with the Beltrán Leyva brothers' criminal organization, which paid them up to USD$400,000 monthly.

The head of SIEDO, Marisela Morales Ibáñez, stated that Fernando Rivera Hernández was handed over to the Federal Prosecutor's Office. Rivera Hernández acted as deputy director of Intelligence in SIEDO's Technical Coordinating Body.

Rivera Hernández is accused of receiving "large sums of money" on behalf of the Beltrán Leyva brothers. On August 4 he was held for 40 days under pre-trail detention following a deposition from a protected witness. He was then held for an additional 30 days.

Morales Ibáñez said that on October 10 criminal proceedings were initiated against Fernando Rivera for crimes related to organized crime and against the public health,* in the category of conspiracy to encourage the possibility of committing those crimes. The 9th Criminal Court in Jalisco issued an arrest warrant for him on October 11. A few days later he was indicted and formally imprisoned.

Miguel Colorado González, SIEDO's technical coordinator, was also targeted by the criminal proceedings. Both were providing information about operations that the Federal Investigation Agency (AFI in its Spanish initials) would carry out against drug trafficking, stated Morales Ibáñez in the press conference.

Both ex-officials are being detained in the Puente Grande maximum security prison in Jalisco, where Alfredo Beltrán Leyva, aka El Mochomo, is also being held. Alfredo Beltrán is one of the leaders of the cartel that Arturo Beltrán runs. Arturo Beltrán is currently at large.

Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora stated that between July and now, 35 Mexican Prosecutor's Office agents have been detained for receiving bribes of between $150,00 and $450,000 USD monthly, according to his data.

The process of purging and investigating personnel will continue, said Medina Mora. Likewise, the assistant attorney general said that the investigations against SIEDO agents began in 2004, "as a result of thwarted operations and a formal deposition that stated that there were public servants who were passing information to the Sinaloa cartel."

The arrests of more public servants from this institution are expected. The arrests began this past July. The public servants belong to a wide network of corruption within the SIEDO. The investigations have not concluded, said Morales.

It was unofficially said that the government will investigate a series of statements which indicate that drug traffickers have informants in Interpol and the United States Embassy in Mexico.

Notes:
* Mexico has a highly controversial track for crimes related to organized crime. This track is different from the standard criminal track: organized crime suspects have fewer rights, can be held incomunicado for longer periods of time, and face longer prison sentences. Crimes against public health also fall under the organized crime rubric.
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Sunday, October 26, 2008

CIPO calls for political prisoner defense on anniversary of Brad Will's murder

We won't let them silence this Voice!
-Dr. Shotgun-Oaxaca

Urgent Action

Support and stand with Miguel Cruz Moreno, Leonardo Ortiz Cruz y Marco Antonio Rojas Lázaro

The family of journalist Brad Will, murdered on October 27, 2006, was in Oaxaca on March 21, 2007, to present four eyewitnesses to the crime to the PGR [Attorney General of the Republic] in order to refute the PGJEO's [Oaxaca State Attorney General's] version that the APPO [Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca] killed Brad Will, and so that the true PRI [Institutional Revolution Party] paramilitary murderers from Santa Lucia del Camino would be punished.

Just days before the second anniversary of the murder, the PGR is using the 4th Criminal Court of Oaxaca to secure arrest warrants against members of the social movement. The AFI [Federal Investigation Agency, the PGR's police force] has illegally detained Juan Manuel Martínez Moreno, accusing him of being the intellectual author of Brad Will's murder. It has also detained Octavio Pérez Pérez and Hugo Jarid Colmenares Leyva for covering up the crime, and it has arrest warrants for six other compañeros.

Faced with this situation we ask all of you for your support and accompaniment on Monday, October 27, 2008, at 10:30 a.m. at the 4th Criminal Court in Oaxaca where compañeros Miguel Cruz Moreno, Leonardo Ortiz Cruz, and Marco Antonio Rojas Lazaro will be presented under the protection of orders 1242/2008 and 1240/2008 before the 4th Criminal Court judge in Oaxaca City in order to confront the criminal proceedings that the government has unjustly fabricated against our brothers for the crime of cover-up, dossier 155/08. Gather to demonstrate that the PGR, Felipe Calderon, and Ulises Ruiz Ortiz are persecuting innocent people.

We call for international and national solidarity, for actions from where you are on October 27, 2008, at 10:30am to support the presentation of the compañeros Miguel Cruz Moreno, Leonardo Ortiz Cruz, and Marco Antonio Rojas Lazaro and to demand:

1. The immediate release of the compañero Juan Manuel Martínez Moreno.
2. Cancelation of the arrest warrants for all of the compañeros in the movement.
3. Punishment of the true assassins: Manuel Martínez Feria, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, and Felipe Calderón

More information- call 011-52-(951) 517-8190 or 011-52-(951) 517-8183.

Freedom for Political Prisoners!

****************************************
For those outside of Oaxaca:

San Fransisco, California
Friends of Brad Will will be gathering in San Francisco on Monday, October 27th, on the 2nd anniversary of Brad Will's murder, to remember him and the people of Oaxaca and to issue a statement of demands to the Mexican Consulate. Please join us at the Mexican Consulate, 532 Folsom St, San Francisco at 3pm. Call 917-991-2415 for more information. If you can't make it, please call the Consulate at (415) 354-1700 and e-mail the PGR (Mexico's Federal Attorney General's office) directly at http://www.pgr.gob.mx/Servicios/mail/plantilla.asp?mail=1 and demand that the APPO members who were outrageously arrested for Brad Will's murder be freed and found innocent and that the real murderers, who are government officials and police, be held accountable.

Portland, Oregon
When: Monday, October 27, 2008, 10:00 - 11:30am.
Where: Mexican Consulate, 1234 SW Morrison St., Portland
Why: on the Second anniversary of Brad's murder by security forces
in Oaxaca, demand justice for his companeros charged with his
murder!

New York, New York
Monday, October 27th at Noon.
A gathering in remembrance of Brad Will at the Mexican consulate on MONDAY, OCTOBER 27, at 12 NOON, Press conference at 12:30 pm there.
The Mexican Consulate is located at 27 East 39th Street in Manhattan, just east of Madison Avenue.
Even if you can't make, it, make the call to the consulate!
Phone: (212) 217-6400
Fax: (212) 217-6493

Contact the PGR directly
Lic. Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza,
Procurador General de la República
Av. Paseo de la Reforma #211-213 Col. Cuauhtémoc, Delegación Cuauhtémoc.
México
D.F., C.P. 06500
Email: http://www.pgr.gob.mx/Servicios/mail/plantilla.asp?mail=1
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Mexico's National Human Rights Commission Blames Plan Mexico for APPO Arrests

Official human rights ombudsman says the government believed Plan Mexico funds were conditioned on resolving Brad Will case

The Mexican government's human rights watchdog, the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH in its Spanish initials) slammed the Federal Attorney General's office (PGR) yesterday over the arrests of Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) supporters in the Brad Will murder case.

The PGR arrested three APPO supporters and has issued warrants for eight more in the Will case. José Luis Soberanes Fernández, the head of the CNDH, said that with the arrests, the PGR made the decision "to ignore the body of evidence that we sent it" regarding the case.

One principal component of the CNDH report that the PGR explicitly rejected was that Will was shot from a distance of 35-55 meters, not the 2 meters that the PGR claims. Despite the fact that a forensic video specialist hired by the Will family has found bullet streaks in the last two frames of Will's video, and that anyone who shot Will at close range would have appeared in his video since he was shot head-on, the PGR maintains that the APPO supporters standing around Will were the ones who murdered him.

The CNDH and the PGR have exchanged harsh criticisms since the APPO arrests. The CNDH accuses the PGR of making arrests "on a whim" and that its behavior "lacks professionalism and responsibility."

The PGR criticized the CNDH after it publicly released its report and recommendations in the Will case, saying that the CNDH had "leaked" information about the case, and threatened legal action as a result.

The CNDH's Soberanes Fernández shot back, saying, "Whatever. There will be more [threats]. They've gotten into that nasty little habit recently. It's all part of the job. It's a very despicable way for the PGR to fight: instead of using reason and arguments, it fights with threats. This dispute will have to go to court."

It's all about the money


Soberanes Fernández believes Plan Mexico is to blame for the recent and sudden arrests in the Will case. He says the government arrested the APPO supporters "because in the United States they are pressuring them," he responded. "It's said that they weren't going to give them the Merida Initiative resources if they didn't resolve this case, and therefore they had to clear it up at any cost, and now we see the results."

While Plan Mexico funds are not legally conditioned on resolving the Will case, an earlier House version of Plan Mexico did call for a "thorough, credible and transparent investigation" of the murder, along with investigations into police behavior in San Salvador Atenco, where 26 women reported physical, verbal, and sexual violence--including gang rape--perpetrated against them by police. This language was removed from the version of the bill that was signed into law, but it remains in an explanation that accompanies the bill.

Mexico and the United States are currently in final negotiations over the release of Plan Mexico funds. The arrests in the Will case came just six days before US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited with her Mexican counterpart to discuss Plan Mexico, and just one day prior to US drug tsar John Walters' visit to Mexico city to discuss the release of funds.

Human rights conditions backfire

Friends of Brad Will, an organization of Will's friends and family who are fighting for justice in the murdered Indymedia journalist's case, have opposed Plan Mexico since it was first proposed in October 2007. They were joined in their opposition by Global Exchange, Witness for Peace, the Center for International Policy's Americas Program, the AFL-CIO, Tikkun, CISPES, Alliance for Democracy, Maryknoll Global Conerns, the Latin American Solidarity Committee, and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.

According to Robert Jereski from Friends of Brad Will, his organization chose to oppose Plan Mexico outright instead of pushing for human rights conditions because "we saw what happened with Plan Colombia and those human rights conditions. They didn't stop that country from becoming the worst country in the world for rights for labor activists, where hundreds have been assassinated by the government or government-supported paramilitaries. We saw how ineffective the conditions were, that [Plan Colombia] resulted in 4 million displaced people driven off of resource-rich land by the same thugs the US government has been supporting through the Uribe government and military. We had serious doubts about the value of human rights conditions."

The big players in human rights, however, remained silent throughout much of the debate over Plan Mexico. Human Rights Watch did not take a stance on the initiative until after it was passed. Amnesty International only weighed in publicly after the measure had passed both houses of congress. Its Mexico office circulated a letter calling US collaboration with Mexico "appropriate and timely" and simply requested that human rights conditions be included in the final version that would be sent to the president.

Only the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) testified before Congress regarding the initiative. WOLA strongly criticized the bill, saying that it would not lead to an overall reduction in drug trafficking and noting that US training has often backfired in Mexico, as in the case of Los Zetas, an elite special forces team that defected from the Mexican military to become the armed wing of the Gulf drug cartel. WOLA did not, however, oppose the bill; it merely offered suggestions for how to improve the military and law enforcement strategy of combatting drug cartels, such as "be careful who you train."

When Plan Mexico passed, Amnesty International praised the human rights conditions and failed to take a strong stance on further US support for corrupt and brutal Mexican military and police forces and the continuance of the failed policy of using the military to combat cartels. Amnesty International's post-passage press release stated, "the final bill is an important first step to prevent military and police abuses, including torture."

Tamara Taraciuk from Human Rights Watch revealed her organization's position on the Initiative on Al-Jazeera English's Riz Khan show: "The question from our point of view...has not been whether or not to pass Merida...the question has been whether the package will include some sort of human rights requirements.... The debate has been how to ensure that this money that is given to Mexican security forces, both the military and the police, which have very poor human rights records, could be used somehow as leverage to improve their human rights records and accountability."

Those organizations that opposed Plan Mexico from the beginning were horrified--but not at all surprised--that the human rights conditions regarding the Will case backfired. Laura Carlsen of the Center for International Policy's Americas Program, said, "Of the cases that Congress demanded progress on as a precondition to releasing finds under Plan Mexico, both have resulted in movement by the Mexican government--to scapegoat the protesters. One was Brad Will where pressure by the family and Friends of Brad Will has kept the issue alive and made it impossible for the US government to ignore. The Amendment Three to the House version demanded proof of progress within 45 days of enactment although the final version omitted this particular demand. Now the government has imprisoned not the government-affiliated thugs directly implicated by videos and forensics examinations, but APPO members."

Carlsen noted that Will's case was not the only one that seemed to be affected by Plan Mexico's human rights conditions. Plan Mexico also called for a "thorough, credible and transparent investigation" of police behavior in San Salvador Atenco in May 2006. According to Carlsen, "the response [in this case] was to sentence movement leaders to 69 years while granting impunity to the police and politicians who orchestrated the rape, torture and beatings of protesters in police custody."

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Friends of Brad Will declare dry hunger strike at Sen. Clinton's office


Friends of Brad Will, an organization founded by friends and family of murdered Indymedia journalist Brad Will, has declared a four-day dry hunger strike and vigil in front of Sen. Hillary Clinton's Manhattan office to demand that she take action on Will's case. During the hunger strike, the protesters will not drink or eat.

Will was murdered in Oaxaca, Mexico, on October 27, 2006, while covering the popular uprising there. Despite all evidence to the contrary, the Mexican government has blamed members and supporters of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca for the murder. It has already arrested three people in the case, and says it has arrest warrants for eight more. All are APPO members or supporters.

Witnesses, journalists, ballistic evidence, the autopsy results, video evidence, and photographs all point to Juan Carlo Soriano, municipal police officer; Manuel Aguilar, council personnel chief; Able Santiago Zarate; and Pedro Carmona, mayor of Felipe Carrillo Puerto de Santa Lucia del Camino as the most likely culprits.

The Mexican government's own National Human Rights Commission (CNDH in its Spanish initials) has strongly condemned the government's investigation of the case, saying that Will died of two long-range shots, not two short-range shots fired by APPO members standing around Will, as the attorney general claims. According to the CNDH, "We are concerned because the person the Attorney General's office detained as the person allegedly responsible for the homicide of US journalist Brad Will could be charged without evidence, and he runs the risk of being convicted."

On October 16 the Mexican government arrested APPO activist Juan Manuel Martínez Moreno as the intellectual author of the crime and Octavio Perez Perez as a co-conspirator. A day later it arrested Hugo Colmenares Leyva as another co-conspirator. The government claims that Martínez Moreno pulled the trigger as he stood to the side of Will, even though the first shot Will received came from straight-on.

This is not the first time Martínez Moreno has faced problems for his activism: in 2007 he was kidnapped along with two other APPO members while performing election observation in Santa Lucía del Camino, where Will was murdered in October 2006. The kidnappers beat the three APPOistas severely in the face and abdomen under a bridge and then dumped them in a community 38 kilometers from Oaxaca City.

Friends of Brad Will has decided to target Sen. Clinton because she supports the military aid package to Mexico called the Merida Initiative, also known as Plan Mexico. Plan Mexico will provide training, resources, and armament to the Mexican government, military, and police forces to continue its highly controversial war on organized crime, which has already resulted in skyrocketing drug-related homicide rates and human rights abuses. Robert Jereski, a member of Friends of Brad Will who is on his third day of hunger strike, told Narco News, "Clinton's supporting a security package that's arming the security forces who killed a US journalist who worked in New York City."

The hunger strikers delivered a list of six demands to Sen. Clinton's office yesterday morning. They include:

  • That Hillary Clinton issue a public statement demanding protection for witnesses to Will's murder, the arrest of the government agents filmed shooting at him, and a public statement opposing the Merida Initiative. Witnesses in the Will case claim they and their families have suffered harrassment, including being followed and having their homes watched.
  • That the Mexican government arrest the real killers in the Will case.
  • That the the charges against Juan Manuel Martinez Moreno and Octavio Perez Perez be dropped. FoBW calls these charges "an absurd attempt to divert attention from the real killers."
  • The end of the "corrupt brutal rule by Ulises Ruiz" Ortiz, the current governor of Oaxaca whose destitution was the central demand of the 2006 uprising.
  • An end to the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), and Plan Puebla Panama, now known as the Mesoamerica Project.
  • No to the Plan Mexico military aid package, officially known as the Merida Initiative.

Thus far Clinton has not met with the hunger strikers, even though she was reportedly in her Manhattan office yesterday. She has also not responded to the demands, which were delivered directly to her staff and are also being faxed to her office by protesters all over the United States.

Friends of Brad Will is undettered. They are encouraging supporters to continue calling Sen. Clinton's office at (212) 688-6262 to support the hunger strikers' demands. According to Jereski, "It is our duty to stand up for human rights in solidarity with the victims of those security forces, and not with the perpetrators of human rights violations....US tax money will be used to send lethal aid to Mexico to wholely unaccounatable police and military forces there. We have a resonsibility to take action." Jereski says that U.S. weaponry and training have been used by Mexican officials to violently repress dissent and leftist and indigenous movements, "the very actions that journalist Brad Will was exposing."

Calls on Thursday to Sen. Clinton's press office for a comment on the hunger strike went unanswered.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Integration with the United States?

by Jorge Camil, La Jornada
translated by Kristin Bricker
October 17, 2008

Every year since 2005, a group of military officials, ex-directors of the CIA, and officials and ex-officials from Mexico, Canada, and the United States have secretly met in some isolated place in North America to discuss, however unbelievable it seems, the scenarios that could bring us to the integration of the three countries. Luxury hotels and exclusive retreats set the scene for a troubling "integration" that we know nothing about, because the group doesn't publish its agenda or its resolutions.

The directors of the continent's most important oil companies also attend these meetings, which feel like a SPECTRE meeting from James Bond movies (with wealthy gentlemen, luxury cars, and decorated high-ranking military officials). But we shouldn't give them more credit than they deserve, because in reality the forum is this side of the Atlantic's copy of the Bilderberg Club, a European group of aristocrats and "dignitaries," of which little is known, formed in Holand in 1954 in order to promote understanding between the United States and Western Europe after a great war, and later to influence the formation of the European Community.

The North American Forum conspirators are presided over by a triumvirate made up of Pedro Aspe Armella, ex-secretary of the Mexican Treasury under Carlos Salinas de Gortari (which explains a lot); George Shultz, ex-secretary of State and current advisor to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney (which explains even more); and Peter Loughheed, ex-prime minister of Alberta province, involved during his term in petroleum and natural gas issues.

With so many "exes" it could just be--although evidence demonstrates the opposite--a discrete group of friends who periodically get together to drink, play a game of golf or blackjack (going with the 007 theme), and remember the good old days when they had political power, because today the majority devote their time to making money.

The four annual meetings that have taken place since 2005 have occurred in Sonoma, California; Banff, Alberta; Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco; and Washington DC. Even though they're not open to the public and the forum doesn't have a website, we know the names of some participants thanks to The Council of Canadians, a diligent NGO founded in 1985 to oppose the loss of "cultural sovereignty" that occurred with the first free trade agreement between the United States and Canada.

Since 2004, the Council of Canadians has vehemently opposed greater economic integration with the United States, creating popular consciousness against the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), which Vicente Fox, the most ingenious of our rulers, proudly and cheerfully signed in George W. Bush's ranch in March 2005. (Afterwards his secretary Eduardo Sojo, with even greater ingenuity, tried to sell us on the United States-imposed "agreement" as "NAFTA plus.")

In reality, the SPP is a mechanism for protecting the United States' borders and assuring that county a steady oil supply (the two central themes of its national security policy). It's an organization parallel to the forum, and both are part of a bigger strategy to integrate our national security with that of the United States, and to hand over control of our energy sources to that country. John McCain already declared on national television a few days ago, "for the United States, energy and national security are one and the same."

Should we be surprised? Not at all! Remember the invasion of Iraq? Can you imagine 1,200 war tanks and 150 Apache helicopters crossing the desert at a dizzying speeds without a drop of gas? According to Nobel Prizer winner Joseph Stiglitz, the only beneficiaries of the war in Iraq have been oil companies, because due to the conflict the cost has gone up $30 to the current astronomical price.

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Why the APPO didn't kill Brad Will, and how the government did

This article has been widely circulated in the past few days, but for anyone who hasn't read it, I'm posting an excerpt here. If you read one article on Brad Will's case, this is the one you must read start-to-finish. That says a lot coming from me, considering I've put out a few articles on Brad's murder myself.

The Rule of Impunity: Mexican Government Ignores Overwhelming Evidence, Charges Oaxacan Activists with Brad Will’s Murder

By John Gibler
From the October 22, 2008 issue of The Indypendent

...“Look at the hard evidence,” said Hardy Will, Brad’s father, in a telephone interview, “Brad was shot straight on. He had a high-quality camera with a wide-angle lens that would have picked up any shooter within 35 meters. There were 12 witnesses, including journalists, none of whom saw a shooter near Brad. Our video analyst detected bullet streaks on the last two frames before Brad was hit. The Attorney General Medina Mora and Doctor Wiarco [the special prosecutor in charge of the case] have all this information, but they have chosen to ignore it.”

Read the whole article at The Indypendent
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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Capitalist Games Cause Peso Crash

Mexican companies' scramble for dollars caused the peso to fall 50% against the dollar

The Mexican peso hit a 10-year low against the dollar two weeks ago, falling almost 50% to 15 pesos to the dollar. The crash was precipitated by Mexican companies' scramble for dollars to cover their losses as the dollar unexpectedly increased in value two weeks ago.

The companies' losses have two principal causes: the companies' dollar-denominated debt and their positions in foreign exchange rate derivatives.

Holding debt in a foreign currency is a gamble. The numerical value of the foreign currency-denominated debt stays constant despite fluctuations in the value of the local currency against the foreign currency in question. For example, if a Mexican company takes out a USD$1 million loan when the dollar is worth 10 pesos, the debt is worth 10 million pesos at the time of the loan. However, if the peso suddenly falls to 13 pesos to the dollar while the company still owes USD$1 million, that million-dollar debt is now worth 13 million pesos, meaning the company instantly owes 3 million pesos more than it did before.

However, the gamble of holding foreign currency-denominated debt is nothing compared to the risks associated with the purchase of foreign exchange rate derivatives, one of the numerous forms of capitalist gambling on the global economy. Derivatives are calculated using a complex formula that is based on the value of underlying financial instruments--in this case, the exchange rate between the dollar and the peso. With foreign exchange rate derivatives, investors can literally bet on the value of the financial instrument.

In Mexico's case, investors bet wrong. When the dollar unexpectedly rose two weeks ago, Mexican companies posted enormous losses. Comercial Mexicana, Mexico's third-largest retailer, declared bankruptcy after racking up a USD$2 billion debt, $1 billion of which is due to bad "positions" (bets) in foreign exchange rate derivatives.

Comercial Mexicana isn't the only Mexican company that lost out in the deriviatives game. The Financial Times reports that Gruma, the massive corn conglomerate that produces Maseca corn flour for tortillas, posted USD$684 million in derivative losses on October 8. Cemex, North America's largest cement producer, lost over $700 million on derivatives.

The combination of derivatives losses and increased debt due to the unexpected increase in the dollar's value set off Mexican companies' scramble for dollars to cover their debts. The sudden Mexican speculation on the dollar caused the peso to plummet. Currency values are determined through supply and demand. Because Mexican companies were using pesos to purchase dollars, the demand for pesos dropped while the concurrent demand for dollars increased.

In order to stop the crash, Mexico's central bank spent about 11% of its international reserves in less than three days. The peso is slowly recovering, standing at about 13 pesos to the dollar today.

Last week the Mexican treasury department announced a probe into several Mexican companies who had recklessly purchased foreign exchange derivatives. Yesterday the National Bank and Values Commission (CNBV) told the Financial Times that it was expanding its probe to include the banks who sold the derivatives to the companies. The probe, however, is limited to determining whether or not the companies complied with Mexican law, which requires companies and individuals to report derivatives purchases.

The head of CNBV, Guillermo Babatz, lays the blame on the financial institutions who sold derivatives to the companies. “We would be shutting our eyes if we didn’t think that the people who were selling these instruments should have known better,” he told the Financial Times.

However, derivatives are notoriously complicated. Banks are often criticized for selling clients derivatives without adequately explaining the risks involved. But Dean Baker of the Center for Economic Policy Research in Washington, DC, stated in a recent Guardian article that banks often don't thoroughly understand the derivatives that they themselves create, which he argues was a contributing factor in the US economic crisis.

Despite the derivative-caused peso disaster, Babatz told the Financial Times that the CNBV does not want to consider greater regulation of currency speculation to protect, or at the very least insulate, the peso. “When you start restricting these sorts of things, usually you just end up throwing up inadequate restrictions. You should only resort to regulation when there is no alternative.”

Even if Mexico wanted to regulate derivatives and other forms of currency speculation, it's not clear that it could. Currency controls are strongly frowned upon by international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, who play an important role in the Mexican economy. Furthermore, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) only allows short-term currency controls during a financial crisis. This means that governments are only allowed to implement temporary controls after a crisis has already occurred, and they're not allowed to use currency controls to prevent a crisis.

The Mexican government claims that the peso crash will have no impact on poverty in Mexico. It says that it has taken appropriate measures to counter rising food costs by investing more money in social welfare programs. However, the crisis' impact on the poor in Mexico remains to be seen: Mexico's social welfare programs are notoriously insufficient.
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Monday, October 20, 2008

Mexican Defense Department Plans to Expand Anti-drug Operations

The military will carry out joint operations in Chiapas, Oaxaca, Sonora, Tabasco, Coahuila, and Campeche

by Jorge Alejandro Medellin
jorge.medellin@eluniversal.com.mx
El Universal
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Translation and notes by Kristin Bricker

Everything is ready for the National Defense Department (Sedena in its Spanish initials) to extend its joint anti-drug operations to Sonora, Coahuila, the Isthmus region[1], and in strategic points in Tabasco and Campeche.

According to the plan, which Sedena passed on to legislators, the operations will cover zones in Oaxaca and Chiapas, where it hopes to halt drug cartels' trafficking of explosives, weapons, and money.

With these operations the Sedena seeks to expand and strengthen the federal government's offensive against organized crime in the north of the country with a force of a couple thousand agents.

With the expansion of the anti-drug strategy, Felipe Calderon's government hopes to strangle about 50% of the cartel's operations in the north of the country and disperse their operative cells[2].

According to sources in the legislative branch, Sedena is fine-tuning the details of the operations and expects to announce them in a few days. In this new stage in the expansion of the scope of operations to combat the drug cartels, the initiative and planning will be the Defense Department's responsibility[3].

With the measure, Sedena will also speed up its timeline for maintaining the 90,000 agents involved in the anti-drug struggle (45,000 every 40 days) in permanent operations, which should conclude in 2012.

At that time, the police forces will have been cleaned up, restructured, re-armed, put under a central command, and with homogenous operational criteria so that the military can retreat from anti-drug combat and return to its barracks.

If the premise and timeline is not met by civilian authorities, the Army will remain in the streets for an undefined period, carrying out the more delicate actions due to a lack of confidence in the Federal Preventive Police (PFP) and the Federal Investigation Agency (AFI), according to high-ranking officials in Sedena.

Second Offensive

In the southeast, the Army, in combination with federal departments, hopes to cut off the entrance of drugs and weapons into the Gulf region.

Now, Sedena is developing five joint operations in different points in the country, mobilizing close to 8,500 agents in conflict areas.

The joint operations in which the Defense Department participates are: Michoacán (December 2006), Guerrero (January 2007), Chihuahua (March 2008), Tijuana (December 2007), Nuevo León-Tamaulipas (February 2007), and Culiacán-Navolato (May 2008).

An average of three thousand agents participate in each operation, including personnel from the Mexican Army. Not withstanding, in the Nuevo León-Tamaulipas Joint Operation it was necessary to deploy ten thousand due to the reaction of the Gulf Cartel and the groups that support it.


Footnotes
:
[1] This refers to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the narrowest point in Mexico between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans or, more precisely, between the Gulf of Tehuantepec and the Gulf of Mexico. It includes parts of Oaxaca, Veracruz, Tabasco, and Chiapas. The Isthmus region has one of the highest concentrations of indigenous peoples in the country.
[2]The dispersion of drug cartels' operations is widely considered to be one of the biggest failures of Calderon's predecessor, Vicente Fox. As part of "Mexico Seguro" (Safe Mexico), in 2005 Fox deployed federal soldiers to three states in an attempt to crack down on the drug trade. The operation sparked a sharp increase in violence. Drug cartels took advantage of the government's desperate mobilization and redeployed to various parts of the country where they carried out hits on rival cartels.
As in the case of Plan Colombia, dispersion of drug cartel activities is a sign of the drug trade's evolution and adaptation to law enforcement tactics. It is not a benchmark for victory.
Calderon's goal of dispersing cartel operations is an obvious attempt to anticipate the results of his anti-drug strategy and define them as victories even when they are not. One example of this drug war doublespeak is Calderon and Bush's claim that the exponential increase in drug-related violence and homicides since Calderon deployed over 45,000 federal agents in the war on drugs is a sign that the drug cartels are weakening.
[3] This has been Sedena's responsibility since Calderon took office almost two years ago. Previously, these operations were primarily the responsibility of the police (SSP in its Spanish initials) and the Attorney General's office (PGR in its Spanish initials). Calderon's Security Cabinet is comprised of Sedena, the PGR, and the SSP. The cabinet has been plagued with disagreement over how to handle the war on drugs since Calderon deployed the military in the war on drugs. Rather than being a drastic shift in Mexico's drug war strategy, Sedena's increasing responsibility in and control over the war on drugs should be seen as a further concentration of military control over civil affairs.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Another activist arrested in Brad Will case; government seeks eight more

This is very, very, very bad and comes in the context of other arrests of APPO members for other protest-related crimes. As Angry White Kid points out, this is quite possibly an attempt to pick off as many leaders as possible before a very important moment in Oaxaca: the anniversary of Brad's death (along with so many others) and the PFP invasion of Oaxaca is coming up, the Day of the Dead is coming up (when I almost got kidnapped at gunpoint last year by Oaxacan cops), and a huge APPO assembly is also coming up.

Everyone who protested in front of the Mexican embassy and consulates when Oaxacan government officials murdered Brad, now is the time to mobilize, because it's getting ugly.

Octavio is free on bail, and another man is arrested in Bradley case

Three activists have been arrested so far; authorities seek another eight

by Sayra Cruz
translated by Kristin Bricker

Oaxaca, Oax. October 17, 2008

(Quadratin).- After being detained in Santa Maria Ixcotel for over 24 hours, Octavio Perez Perez, the person who allegedly covered up the murder of Bradley Roland Will, was released Friday evening after paying a MX$25,000 bail, according to Alba Cruz Ramos, a member of the "November 25" Judicial Freedom Commission.

In an interview with Quadratin, the lawyer noted that this committee is only helping out in the judicial situation of those allegedly involved in the death of US journalist Bradley Roland Will, which occurred on October 27, 2006.

She also noted that because of the nature of the crimes that were attributed to Perez, in this case "cover up, his release on bail was possible after the family paid $25,000 pesos."

Cruz Ramos said that Juan Manuel Martinez Moreno's situation is more complicated because he is directly accused of being responsible for the murder of the independent videographer.

"We will continue help out in defending these people. We're not the ones responsible for the case, but we are following how it advances and the continuing proceedings," she said.

She said that the dossier that was presented to the Fourth Instance Criminal Court judge in the Criminal Case 155/2008 consists of 18 volumes, meaning that reviewing it will be difficult and will take time.

Yesterday they detained Hugo Colmenares Leyva as another one of the people who allegedly covered up for Juan Manuel, and at 6pm he appeared before the judge in charge of his case to make his statement.

Alba Cruz Ramos was confident that he, too, will be released on bail like Octavio Perez.

For it's part, the Attorney General's Office (PGR in its Spanish initials) had said in a press release that it will detain nine other people. With Colmenares Leyva's detention, 8 remain.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Oaxacan Activists Arrested for the Murder of Brad Will

Mexican federal police arrested five Oaxacan activists on Thursday afternoon. At least two were arrested for supposedly murdering US citizen and Indymedia journalist Brad Will on October 27, 2006.

Brad Will was assassinated while reporting and filming the 2006 uprising in Oaxaca. Multiple witnesses say he was shot by paramilitaries who are seen in photos shooting towards Will. The paramilitaries are: Juan Carlo Soriano, municipal police officer; Manuel Aguilar, council personnel chief; Able Santiago Zarate; and Pedro Carmona, mayor of Felipe Carrillo Puerto de Santa Lucia del Camino.

Brad Will shooters

The government claims that Will was shot at close range, therefore implicating the APPO activists around him. To prove this claim, the government at one point stated that the autopsy found powder burns on Will's body consistent with a close-range shooting. However, the medical examiner who performed the autopsy contradicted this claim, saying he did not find powder burns on Will's body.

The man the government accuses of being the intelectual author of Will's murder is Juan Manuel Martínez Moreno. Martínez Moreno has supported the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO in its Spanish initials). Martínez Moreno made headlines in 2007 when he was kidnapped along with two other APPO members while performing election observation in Santa Lucía del Camino, where Will was murdered in October 2006. The kidnappers beat the three APPOistas severely in the face and abdomen under a bridge and then dumped them in a community 38 kilometers from Oaxaca City.

Police also acknowledged arresting Octavio Perez Perez for covering up the crime. Perez participated in the 2006 uprising in Oaxaca.

The Angry White Kid blog reports that three other activists have been arrested: Lirio Lopez, Miguel Lopez, and Guadalupe (last name unknown). It is unknown if these activists are also accused of Will's murder or if the arrests are part of a larger crackdown on dissent in Oaxaca.

According to Angry White Kid: "Activists here first learned of the detention of Juan and joined his family this evening at the Penitenciaria Central de Santa Maria Ixcotel, Oaxaca. Juan's mother and wife have not been allowed in to see him. Later it was learned four others had been detained. A planton is planned at the Ixcotel penal beginning at 9am on Friday."

APPO activists and members of the Indigenous Popular Council of Oaxaca (CIPO) say the government is blaming activists for Will's murder in order to cover up its own involvement in the crime.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Plan Mexico: Calderon's Endless War

by Kristin Bricker
Left Turn Issue #30, Oct/Nov 2008

Military convoys patrol the streets. Soldiers kick down doors to carry out warrantless house searches, terrorizing families in the name of “security.” At military checkpoints, nervous, trigger-happy soldiers massacre families. Soldiers rape young girls with impunity. US-based private contractors teach police sadistic variations on waterboarding.

This is not occupied Iraq. This is Mexico.

The “war” on organized crime is Mexico’s “war on terror.” President Felipe Calderón kicked this endless war into high gear when he deployed 25,000 federal soldiers into drug-cartel dominated states just days after he took office, thanks to widespread electoral fraud. He claims this exponential increase in the militarization of Mexican society is necessary to reclaim territory occupied and dominated by drug cartels. However, civil society organizations on both sides of the border see it as his attempt to bolster his weak presidency with a strong military alliance against an internal enemy – historically a popular strategy among dictators.

Read More at leftturn.org
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Alleged Zetas and Municipal Police from Puebla Kidnap 32 Undocumented Migrants

  • Those responsible demanded ransom from the victims' families in the United States
  • Upon escaping, the Central Americans were helped by the population, who attacked the agents

by Martín Hernández Alcántara (La Jornada de Oriente)
translation and notes by Kristin Bricker

Lara Grajales, Puebla, October 12, 2008. Some 32 undocumented Central Americans had been kidnapped and tortured since last Thursday by at least twelve men who were identified as members of the Los Zetas* group and received support from municipal police with the goal of extorting money from their family members who reside in the United States. They demanded USD$3,500 ransom for each one.

The victims managed to escape this morning, and their testimony about the complicity of the police provoked the wrath of the population, who during the night burned a patrol car and two police motorcycles in retaliation against the authorities.

The migrants, who come from Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, were detained in the Lara Grajales municipality--50 kilometers from the capital of Puebla--while they were traveling hidden in a train coming from Tierra Blanca, Veracruz. Two municipal police searched the freight cars, forcing the stowaways off the train at gunpoint and bringing them to a safe house two blocks from the city council building.

On the property there were a dozen men with military-style haircuts--commanded by a bald and robust individual--who threatened to kill the Central Americans so that they would write down the names and telephone numbers of their families and friends in the United States. When the victims refused they began to torture them. They burned the abdomen of one of them, they stabbed the hands of others, and they beat the rest in the ribs and testicles.

Upon obtaining the information, the kidnappers made the phone calls, putting a few of the undocumented migrants on the phone and demanding USD$3,500 ransom for each one. Later--on Friday and Saturday--other migrants arrived at the safe house, amongst them five women, and the torment continued.

However, this morning the victims took advantage of the fact that the property was guarded by only two men, and they escaped. Many ran naked and they arrived at the Lara Grajales town center, where witnesses saw one of the captors wound one of the escaping hostages.

The residents helped them and captured two people: Carlos Alvarado Espinoza and Tomás del Ángel Muñoz, who the undocumented migrants identified as the police who forced them off the train. The accusations provoked the rage of the neighbors, who during the night started disturbances and were dispersed with tear gas.

Towards midnight at least six state and municipal police remained entrenched in the municipal palace, repelling the neighbors' attacks, and the state government was preparing an intervention with SWAT teams in order to calm the crowd.

During the disturbances some reporters were hit with rocks that the neighbors threw, although there were no reports of serious injuries.

Translator's note:
* Los Zetas was a specialized unit of the Mexican military that received training in the US School of the Americas. After completing their US taxpayer-funded training, they defected from the military and became the armed wing of the Golfo drug cartel. The DEA recently reported that Los Zetas may be trying to break off from the Golfo cartel and form their own independent cartel. The DEA's theory is supported by numerous recent executions of Golfo cartel members and police in Tamaulipas by Los Zetas.

Los Zetas was also involved in the terrorist attack on the Morelia, Michoacan, Independence Day celebration this past September 15 that left eight people dead. Suspected Zetas members were arrested for the attack. A competing theory suggests that the La Familia cartel that controls Michoacan carried out the attack in order to provoke a military response against Los Zetas, which also operates in Michoacan.

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Plan México: el contexto de la militarización, la violencia relacionada al narcotráfico, y los derechos humanos

La ponencia de Kristin Bricker de Narco News en el Foro Social Américas en Guatemala como parte del taller “Plan Mexico: Nueva ofensiva del Imperialismo.”

El Plan México incluye llamadas condiciones de derechos humanos. Son:

  • Policías y militares acusados de violaciones de derechos humanos deben ser investigados por fiscales civiles y juzgados en tribunales civiles por jueces civiles.
  • El gobierno Mexicano debe mejorar la transparencia en las fuerzas policíacas al nivel municipal, estatal, y federal. Eso incluye establecer comisiones policíacas para recibir e investigar y resolver quejas de violaciones de derechos humanos.
  • Que el gobierno Mexicano establezca un mecanismo para consultar organizaciones Mexicanas de derechos humanos y otras organizaciones de la sociedad civil Mexicana para que dichas organizaciones aconsejen sobre la implementación de la Iniciativa Merída.
  • Aplicación de la prohibición del uso de testimonio obtenido por tortura o maltrato.
  • Todas las fuerzas que reciben fondos del Plan México deben ser sometidas a investigaciones llevado a cabo por el Departamento del Estado gringo para asegurar que no cometen violaciones de derechos humanos. Las compañeras de la Comisión de Derechos Humanos de Guatemala van a entrar en detalles sobre este punto.

Muchas de esas condiciones ya son la ley en México, pero el gobierno Mexicano no está haciendo nada para que la ley se aplique de hecho.

Cuando el Congreso gringo aprobó la primera versión del Plan México, políticos mexicanos discreparon de las condiciones de derechos humanos, diciendo que quebraban la soberanía nacional de México. Y si, hasta un cierto punto tenían razón. Los Estados Unidos nunca permitiría que los países donde hay bases militares estadounidenses sometan los soldados gringos a investigaciones. Fíjense si el pueblo de Irak o Afganistán o el gobierno cubano pudieran someter soldados y contratistas gringos a investigaciones y rechazar soldados y contratistas que no cumplen con sus estándares de derechos humanos. De hecho, cuando contratistas de Blackwater hicieron un masacre en Irak en 2007, el gobierno de Irak anunció que los echaría de su país. Pocos días después se cambio su postura por presión de George Bush, y Blackwater sigue trabajando allá.

Sin embargo, los políticos mexicanos no se quejaron del despliegue de agentes y contratistas estadounidenses que entrenarían fiscales y jueces y policías mexicanos para seguir con la gringoizacion del sistema judicial mexicano y para que los Estados Unidos amplíe el alcance de sus servicios de inteligencia. A lo mejor los Estados Unidos desplegara’ agentes de la Agencia de Alcohol, Tabaco y Armas de Fuego (ATF por sus siglos en ingles) a México para vigilar el trafico de armas ilegales como parte del Plan México y el Operativo Gunrunner.

Muchas organizaciones mexicanas de derechos humanos rechazaron la idea de que condiciones de derechos humanos quiebren la soberanía nacional de México. Dicen que los derechos humanos son una responsabilidad mundial, protegidos por tratados internacionales que el gobierno mexicano firmó. Por eso, dicen, cuestiones de la soberanía nacional no aplican cuando tiene que ver con los derechos humanos.

Sin embargo, la ironía que los Estados Unidos exija cumplimiento con condiciones de derechos humanos no se escapa en México. La Jornada, el periódico mas leído en todo México, comentó: “la exigencia estadounidense de verificar el respeto a los derechos humanos en otras naciones constituye una pretensión grotesca y disparatada, habida cuenta de que, a escala planetaria, la superpotencia es la principal violadora de tales derechos. Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo, los vuelos secretos de la CIA, el severo recorte legal a las libertades ciudadanas y a las garantías individuales, así como los crímenes de lesa humanidad perpetrados en Afganistán e Irak son referentes ineludibles de un gobierno que ha convertido el asesinato, el secuestro, el bombardeo de civiles y el terrorismo en general en política de Estado.”

Pero las condiciones de derechos humanos incluidas en el Plan México no fueron diseñadas para proteger o mejorar los derechos humanos en países afectados por el Plan México. Solo 15% de los fondos destinados a la seguridad publica y las fuerzas militares son condicionados. Eso significa que el gobierno de los Estados Unidos dará 85% de los fondos para la seguridad publica y el ejercito aun si México no cumple con las condiciones de derechos humanos.

Además, la persona encargada de certificar el conforme de México a las condiciones de derechos humanos es la Secretaria de Estado, actualmente Condoleezza Rice. Es la misma Condoleezza Rice que sigue encubriendo al gobierno de Bush y sus crímenes de lesa humanidad. También es la misma Condoleezza Rice que llamó a todos los miembros del congreso gringo el día antes de la votación del Plan México para decirles que aprobaran la Iniciativa. No es muy probable que Condoleezza Rice no confirme el conforme de México a las condiciones de derechos humanos.

Al final, el debate sobre los derechos humanos fue una distracción. Washington se apropió del discurso de derechos humanos y quiere apropiar organizaciones de derechos humanos para impulsar su doctrina militar y de seguridad publica en México, Centroamérica, y el Caribe. La condición que la sociedad civil mexicana aconseje al gobierno mexicano sobre la implementación del Plan México significa que organizaciones que están en contra del Plan y dicen “no” a la militarización no tendrán lugar. Además, hay fondos en el Plan para entrenar las organizaciones de derechos humanos mexicanos a monitorear el Plan, a lo mejor de manera que les conviene a los gobiernos de los Estados Unidos y México.

El Plan México apoya la politica fracasada de utilizar la seguridad publica y el ejercito para combatir el narcotráfico y las maras. Esta politica de mano dura ha resultado en una aumentación exponencial de violencia y violaciones de derechos humanos en México y Centroamérica, pero desde todo punto de vista fracasó en contener el narcotráfico y las maras. Ninguna cantidad de condiciones de derechos humanos cambiará el hecho de que es una política que no logró sus metas, y que es una política que aumenta la violencia y represión.

En México, el presidente Calderón desplegó cuarenta mil soldados militares y cinco mil policías federales a once estados a partir de hace un año y medio cuando declaró la guerra contra el crimen organizado. Eso ha convertido muchas partes del país en una verdadera zona de guerra.

  • Convoyes militares con tanques patrullan las calles.
  • Hay retenes militares en las carreteras y calles, y ha pasado que los militares han matado familias enteras en dichos retenes.
  • Soldados revisan las casas sin ordenes de cateo.
  • Soldados han violado mujeres y niñas.
  • Mas que cinco mil muertes relacionadas al narcotráfico y la guerra contra el crimen organizado. Son torturados y ejecutados o son personas o niños atrapados en el fuego cruzado, y ahora también mueren por ataques terroristas, como lo que pasó en Morelia hace dos semanas.
  • 87 quejas de crímenes en contra de los periodistas se han acumulado en la oficina del Procurador General de la Republica.
  • La Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos ha documentado 634 casos de abuso por militares
  • La cifra nacional de homicidios se ha aumentado 47% del año anterior.
  • Han sido por lo menos 223 desaparecidos durante el sexenio de Calderón hasta ahora. Entre 23 y 30 son desaparecidos políticos, y 200 fueron levantados por carteles.
  • Encontraron contratistas privadas de los Estados Unidos entrenando policías en el estado de Guanajuato en tácticas de tortura. Fueron contratados por políticos locales del partido del presidente, el PAN. Y cuando salieron a luz los videos del entrenamiento, esos políticos defendieron el entrenamiento, diciendo que era necesario para preparar los policías para combatir el crimen organizado. Pero la pagina web de la empresa dice que entrenan “tortura sicológica” a policías. Entre los métodos enseñados, los contratistas enseñaron a los policías de Guanajuato waterboarding o el tehuacanazo. Es un método de tortura para simular ahogamiento, y ha sido un método muy popular dentro de las fuerzas policíacas mexicanas. En el video, policías meten agua mineral en la nariz de un policía mientras meten su cabeza en un hoyo lleno de ratas y heces. No es un método que utilizan los carteles. Los carteles te quitan un dedo o una oreja, pero su patrón no es hacer el tehuacanazo. Es el patrón de la policía. A pesar de que se han identificado los entrenadores de tortura, el gobierno Mexicano dice que los entrenadores no quebraron la ley porque los policías que torturaron eran voluntarios. Cabe mencionar que uno de los entrenadores es un líder de los Comandos F4, un grupo paramilitar con sede en Florida que dicen que quiere hacer un golpe de estado en contra del gobierno cubano. Ese grupo tiene vínculos con el gobierno estadounidense y entrena los militares que realizaron el golpe de estado en Venezuela. Es uno de los grupos paramilitares que los compañeros presos los cinco cubanos estaban vigilando.


Bush y Calderón dicen que el aumento de violencia y muertos vale la pena. Dicen que demuestra que la estrategia militar esta funcionando bien. Sin embargo, índices de interdicción de las drogas que entran los Estados Unidos por México han sido constantes en 10%. Solo parece que los índices de interdicción se han aumentado porque ahora cada vez que el gobierno mexicano confisca drogas, organiza una conferencia de prensa.

Represión de movimientos sociales también se ha aumentado bajo Calderón y su militarizacion del país.

En Chiapas, incursiones militares en comunidades en resistencia se han aumentado. Durante un plazo de siete semanas entre abril y junio de 2008, el Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas documentó 13 operativos militares o policíacos en comunidades indígenas en resistencia. Eso no solo ocurre en comunidades zapatistas, pero también en comunidades donde hay presencia de la Organización Campesino Emiliano Zapata (OCEZ) y aun comunidades del PRI, un partido político conocido por su dictadura de mas que 70 años, y que todavía tiene mucho poder en el gobierno.

Los gobiernos estatales y federales colaboran en operativos militares-policíacos en estas comunidades. Muchas veces entran sin ordenes de aprensión, y actualmente su pretexto es casi siempre drogas y armas ilegales. No confiscaron ni siquiera una bolsita de marihuana ni una pistola en ninguno de los operativos en comunidades en resistencia. Su objetivo verdadero es obvio: reprimir comunidades en resistencia.

  • El ejemplo mas obvio es el operativo que intentaron realizar en La Garrucha, un caracol Zapatista: utilizaron el pretexto de drogas y armas ilegales para intentar entrar a la Garrucha, donde estuvo el Subcomandante Marcos pocos días antes.
  • Hace muy pocos días, policías chiapanecas y agentes federales invadieron una comunidad que había tomado ruinas cerca de los Lagos de Montebello. Abrieron fuego, matando 6 campesinos. Tres de ellos fueron asesinados cuando los policías estatales pararon la camioneta que llevaba los campesinos heridos al hospital. Los policías los bajaron de la camioneta y los ejecutaron.
  • También policías y agentes federales entraron la comunidad chiapaneca de San Jerónimo Tulija con paramilitares como guías. Los paramilitares enseñaron las casas de las autoridades zapatistas a los militares y policías, donde entraron y amenazaron una mujer zapatista y su bebe con muerte. Cabe mencionar también que los militares en Chiapas entrenan y arman los grupos paramilitares.

Pero militarización y ocupaciones militares no son novedades en Chiapas. Las tácticas del gobierno y su pretexto de represión cambia tras los años, pero la represión sigue siendo constante.

Sin embargo, en el norte donde Calderón desplegó las tropas, ciudadanos ven que recursos para combatir el crimen organizado se utilizan contra lideres sociales y activistas. El 27 de marzo de este año, el gobierno federal emprendió el Operativo Chihuahua para, en sus palabras, “localizar, combatir, y desmantelar la redes del narcotráfico, el crimen organizado, y el blanqueo de dinero.” Bajo el Operativo Chihuahua, se desplegaron 2,000 soldados y 400 (cuatro cientos) policías federales a Ciudad Juárez. Dentro de la primera semana del operativo, seis activistas—3 de ellos muy destacados—fueron arrestados por agentes federales. Se arrestó una bajo un orden de aprensión que llevaba tres años. Cinco de ellos eran del Agrodinamica Nacional, lideres de movimientos sociales por tarifas justas de electricidad y en contra del TLC con los EUA. La sexta era una activista que trabajaba contra los femicidios en Juárez. La arrestaron regresando de llevar una mama para identificar los restos de su hija.

Fondos para la ILEA

Plan México incluye fondos (pero no se sabe cuantos) para entrenar policías centroamericanos en la Academia Internacional Para la Aplicación de la Ley, en ingles conocida como the Internacional Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA). Tiene mala fama como “La escuela de las Américas para policías.”

Una persona que colaboró en la fundación de la Academia es el policia gringo John Timoney. Es muy muy conocido en los Estados Unidos por ser experto en reprimir protestas y activistas. En protestas donde el dirigió las fuerzas policíacas y la represión, nos golpearon en las calles y nos torturaron en las cárceles. Por ser experto en represión, lo mandaron a Irak para entrenar la policía de Bagdad. Ahora trabaja en una ONG derechista en el gabacho donde aconseja en la aplicación de la ley, y la propuesta de cómo seria la Academia para la Aplicación de la Ley salio de esa ONG.

Los presidentes de los EUA y El Salvador hicieron un acuerdo secreto para fundar la escuela y evitar broncas con los movimientos sociales, así que activistas de Costa Rica ya habían logrado echar la Academia de su país antes de la primera clase. Las Academia empezó a dar clases en El Salvador antes de que el presidente informara el Congreso gringo de sus planes, aunque la gran mayoría de los fondos y entrenadores de la Academia vienen del Congreso de los EUA.

Es imposible monitorear como la Academia afecta los derechos humanos. Su trabajo es mas secreto que lo de la Escuela de las Ameritas. Solo hay una organización de derechos humanos que tiene acceso al currículo de la Academia. Esa organización recibe fondos de la Academia para dar clases de derechos humanos a los estudiantes policías. Así que la ONG es empleada de la Academia, no esta compartiendo la información muy importante que tiene con las demás organizaciones de derechos humanos.

Pero organizaciones de derechos humanos señalan a la Policía Nacional Civil de El Salvador como ejemplo de los efectos del entrenamiento de la Academia. La PNC manda mas policías a la Academia que las demás fuerzas policíacas en América Latina. 40% de las quejas que recibe la comisión de derechos humanos en El Salvador se tratan de la PNC. Agentes de la PNC hacen asesinatos políticos, por ejemplo lo del líder de la FMLN, Francisco Velis. También forman escuadrones de muerte como la Sombra Negra, que tortura y asesina maras sospechados.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Forty Years After The Tlatelolco Massacre, The Mexican Army Attacks Civilians In The Indigenous Town of Xoxocotla

While I'm representing Narco News at the Social Forum of the Americas in Guatemala, here's an excerpt from an article from my pal and fellow Narco News correspondent Greg Berger about the escalating military-police repression of social movements that's been happening in Mexico as part of the US-funded war on drugs and organized crime. Read the whole article at narconews.com

On Wednesday, October 8th, Morelos Governor Marco Adame called out more than 1,500 police personnel from the State Police and from the Paramilitary Federal Police force to the indigenous town of Xoxocotla. Law enforcement agencies were instructed to dismantle a series of road blockades along the Alpuyeca-Jojutla highway. Residents of Xoxocotla, long known for their effective community organizing and for their willingness to show solidarity with other social movements, had set up the blockades to show solidarity with teachers who have been on strike in Morelos for nearly two months.

The teachers of Morelos and the townspeople of Xoxocotla are united in a common struggle to stop the rapid privatization of public resources. Teachers on strike in Morelos are trying to halt a new set of educational reforms they say would open the doors to the participation of private capital in the public education system. Xoxocotla, on the other hand, is desperately trying to save the aquifer which feeds its municipal water system from being sucked dry from private condominium developers who skirt local zoning laws.

As poorly organized police marched on Xoxocotla, they were quickly outwitted by the highly organized women and men of the town. When police advanced on the roadblocks, the townspeople removed one of the barricades, allowed a few of them to enter, and then established the withdrawn barricade once again. These hapless police officers were trapped within the confines of Xoxocotla's barricades. The officers were effectively penned in for several hours, during which they were unable to dismantle the roadblocks.

Later that night, between 500 and 1000 members of the Mexican Army from the 24th Military Zone barracks in Cuernavaca were given the order from the National Defense Secretary to assist police in their efforts to dislodge protesters in Xoxocotla. Accompanying these soldiers was a vast mobile arsenal, including humvees, tanks, and helicopters. It is important to note that such use of force can only take place under authorization from the executive branch of the Federal government.

Read the whole article at narconews.com
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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Chiapas Massacre Update

State police summarily executed three peasants in front of a child

The Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) issued a press release on denouncing the October 4 police operation in Chincultik that left six peasants dead, 17 wounded, and 36 detained. Of the wounded, ten were beaten and six were shot. Three men were gravely injured: one was transfered to a hospital in Mexico City, and the other to a hospital in the Chiapas capital of Tuxtla Gutierrez.

According to a communique from the state attorney general's office, about 40 police had entered the community to carry out subpoenas against 28 people whom it suspected were involved in the takeover of the Chincultik ruins and the booth at the entrance to the ruins where visitors are charged an entrance fee. The police entered on horseback, in vehicles, and on foot, shooting tear gas and kicking down doors in various houses.

The townspeople, who claim that the government does not properly maintain the ruins and that the tourism proceeds from the ruins should benefit the town, defended themselves from the attack. They surrounded the police and disarmed them, guarding the 77 police weapons in the town. The residents detained the police officers, holding them in the town office.

Hours later, 300 State Preventive Police officers entered the community, again shooting tear gas at the residents. The peasants responded with sticks and stones, at which point the police opened fire, injuring several residents.

Agustin Alfaro Alfaro, his wife Eloisa Margarita Espinoza Morales, and their young son arrived from a neighboring ranch to transport four of the injured men to the nearest hospital. However, before reaching the hospital the State Preventive Police intercepted their truck and opened fire. A bullet struck Alfaro in the leg. The police pulled him from the car and shot him in the chest. Then they summarily executed three of the injured men: Rigoberto López, Alfredo Hernández, and Miguel Antonio Martínez. Espinoza Morales and her son were uninjured.

During the operation, police also shot Ignacio Hernández López and Ricardo Ramírez Ramírez, who died on the way to the hospital.

The 36 peasants who were detained during the operation were released the following day in exchange for the weapons the peasants confiscated from the police they detained.

Frayba reports that state and federal authorities have decided to pay the dead peasants' families MX$35,000 (USD$2,851.31) in funeral costs and MX$75,000 (USD$6,109.95) in "economic support." They've also promised residents food rations, community development projects to build tourist hostels or restaurants. The residents are offended by the offer.

Meridiano90 released the following photo montage of the operation and its aftermath:

(Warning: includes graphic images of murdered peasants.)

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Six Deaths by Eviction in Chiapas Ejido

They were attacked by state and federal police, according to an ejido representative. Ten wounded and thirty detained reported.

by Elio Henriquez, correspondent for La Jornada
translation and update by Kristin Bricker

Miguel Hidalgo invasionMiguel Hidalgo Ejido, Chiapas. State and federal police shot and murdered six peasants from this ejido [communally owned land] in La Trinitaria county, which for almost a month has controlled the Chinkultic archaeological ruins, located three kilometers from the ejido.

Jose Velazquez, one of the ejido representatives, stated to the press that the incidents that occurred in the ejido late Friday night resulted in over ten wounded and more than thirty people detained who are recovering in a hospital in the city of Comitan.

Blood trails, scatted spent high-caliber casings, and bullet holes could be seen in the streets and in some houses.

"It seemed like the police were on drugs because they indiscriminately beat children, women, and elderly people, and that's not right," said Velazquez.

When the first four cadavers arrived Saturday morning, the families of the dead demanded justice "or we'll take it into our own hands."

The names of the dead peasants are reported to be Ricardo Ramírez Hernández, Ignacio Hernández López, Rigoberto López Vázquez, Alfredo Hernández Ramírez, Miguel Antonio Martínez, and Agustín Alfaro Calvo.

Velazquez said that when faced with the "aggression," the residents detained and disarmed 77 police who had entered the community presumably to detain the local authorities. Six thousand people live in the community.

The community still has the police weapons in its possession.

"They came to attack us without cause, because they were already in discussions to try to resolve the ruins problem" which are located nine kilometers from the Lakes of Montebello, he said.

He noted that the residents of Miguel Hidalgo took over the ruins because the government "has left them abandoned and because it's only right that the resources that come from the operation of the ruins stay with us."

On Saturday there were at least eight police vehicles which were damaged by the peasants who, enraged by the death of their compañeros, went after the agents who fired their weapons, and the agents were later rescued by other officers Friday night.

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Update: Notimex reports that the Chiapas Ministry of Justice has ordered about 200 police who participated in the Chinkultic operation to present themselves for toxicology and ballistics tests and tests on their clothing and hands to see if they've recently fired guns. They will also give depositions.

Notimex also reports that of the 22 wounded, 16 of them are police. It reports one disappearance but does not specify if the disappeared person is a police officer or a peasant.

The Ministry of Justice claims that when the townspeople disarmed the police, they then poured gasoline on the police and threatened to light them on fire. It also claims some of the peasants were drunk.

While the Emiliano Zapata Peasant Organzation (OCEZ) has a strong presence in the area, the peasants who took over the Chinkultic ruins and the ticket booth at the entrance to the ruins do not seem to belong to any of the numerous Chiapan indigenous peasant organizations.

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