Scott Marks 4:26 p.m., May 21
The Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego yesterday released its November report from the Justice in Mexico Project, detailing various happenings in the world of crime and enforcement for the nation immediately to San Diego’s south. Among the reported findings:
Drug cartel-related killings are down in states where the federal government has deployed the military to crack down on drug gangs. This, the group notes, is fairly typical as cartels pause their spree of “ejecuciones,” or drug-related killings to react to increased military presence. On average, 245 such murders have taken place weekly through 2011, and totals as of November 25 were at 11,503, just shy of the total 2010 total. Despite heavy media coverage of violence there, Baja California did not rank among the five states with the heaviest rate of killings.
Online “hacktivist” group Anonymous backed down in early November from carrying out its Operation Cartel, which threatened to expose members of the Zeta cartel through a massive public data dump. The Zetas had kidnapped and released an Anonymous member, threatening not only to harm him and his family if information were made public, but vowing to kill ten innocent people for each name Anonymous leaked. “The continuation of OpCartel would result in the death of dozens of innocent people. If that does not concern you, then you are the same as the Zetas,” Anonymous announced in calling off its action. Some skeptics have questioned whether the group actually had reliable information on the Zetas and whether the alleged kidnapping ever took place.
Francisco Blake Mora, Mexico’s Secretary of the Interior, was killed in a helicopter crash on November 11 along with the craft’s crew and key members of his staff. While ruled an accident, the crash came just a week after Mora attended a memorial service honoring Camilo Mourino, who served in the same post and died in another helicopter crash on November 4, 2008. Though at the time suspicions as to foul play were raised, that crash was also ruled an accident. Harvard graduate Alejandro Poire was tapped to replace Mourino.
The Mexican Chamber of Deputies’ Justice Commission voted unanimously last month to criminalize inciting crime through music and media. The law could be used against singers of “narcocorridos,” popular Mexican ballads glamorizing the drug trade and gangster lifestyle. Some experts expressed concern that attempts to curb the musical genre would only give it greater appeal among Mexican youth, who largely said in a 2009 survey that “its lyrics about driving around in luxury vehicles and attracting the attention of beautiful women made them feel ‘powerful’ and gave them an ‘ego boost’ while listening.”
Purges of police officers and law enforcement officials continue at both the federal and local level. Attorney General Marisela Morales announced the dismissal of 1,500 federal public security employees in mid-November. In Huejutla, Hidalgo, two-thirds of the city’s police officers were fired after demanding better wages and life insurance policies. Municipal officers currently receive 2,150 pesos (about $151) monthly. State police officers have been brought in to replace the dismissed municipal officers.
The head of Mexico’s government oversight body is boasting about a Transparencia Mexicana report that says only 10.3% of public servants in Mexico are corrupt. Unfortunately, this represents a 0.3% increase over 2007. While 16 of Mexico’s 32 states have reported a drop in corruption, the other half of the country has reported no change or a rise.
A group of 33 mothers from the Central American nations of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua traveled to Mexico City on a quest to find their children, poor immigrants who had traveled to Mexico to seek work as migrant laborers or to continue on toward the United States. The Mothers Caravan group has been active in Mexico since 2000, but their message has taken on urgency as drug violence has resulted in increased hostility against migrants.
Complete text of the report, including other stories, can be found here.
Pictured: Anonymous mask