Something unprecedented has been happening in Mexico for the past eight weeks: thousands of students, workers and peasants are taking to the streets to protest the media legitimization of what is believed to be electoral fraud. Unlike traditional social protests directed either at politicians or the political system itself, these protests put the blame in a new active participant, Televisa, the media company that, according to protesters, supports the status quo while denying air time to the public discontent. These marches, borne out of the “Yo soy 132” movement seem to follow a similar organizing pattern to the Spanish indignants and the activism behind the Arab Spring.
Laura is a single journalist living and working in Mexican City for “Your Business” magazine. Correction, lives should really be replaced with exists. Her one bedroom apartment is her home, prison and universe combined. Butterflying those age-old metaphors for transformation, escape and beauty adorn the walls and mirrors, fakes poised to take off destined to go nowhere fast.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s military campaign against drug cartels has failed miserably. It’s no stretch to call it the single worst human-made disaster in Mexico since the Mexican Revolution of the 1910s. While Mexican police records are notoriously unreliable, well over 2500 people a year have been killed in drug-related murders since Calderon began his offensive in 2006. Ciudad Juarez has the highest murder rate of any city in the world.
Calderon, elected president of Mexico in 2006 from the center-right PAN party, made fighting the drug cartels central to his campaign. He claimed the drug cartels were taking over Mexican life and that fighting them is necessary for the survival of the nation.
Calderon is not entirely wrong. Drug cartels have grown significantly in the last two decades. They are a major issue Mexico must face. But launching an all-out war against the cartels without addressing the fundamental economic and social conditions that have allowed for their growth makes little sense and has cost tens of thousands of lives.
On repeated occasions in recent months, Felipe Calderón has urged Mexicans to avoid speaking ill of their country. The latest example came in a speech in late March, but perhaps the clearest iteration of the president’s frustration came in a January speech:
“Unfortunately, Mexicans frequently judge our country with as much severity as we can, much more severely even than on other issues,” Calderón said. Continue reading
The latest entry to the long list of internationally notorious manifestations of Mexico’s security problems was the massacre of more than a dozen partying teenagers in Ciudad Juárez in late January. This tragedy provoked a series of stories from publications like The LA Times, The New York Times, Time, and other media heavyweights whose names may or may not include the word “time.” Continue reading
When it was announced in 2007 by George W. Bush and Felipe Calderón, the Mérida Initiative was to change the way the US and Mexico approached the war on drugs. With the transfer of almost $1.5 billion in American aid to Mexico, the decades of distrust and working at cross-purposes were in the past; officials from both nations assured the public that the fight was to be a newly cooperative effort from here on.
According to a recent report from the Congressional Research Service, beyond the emphasis on cooperation, the package was originally conceived with four goals in mind: Continue reading
With the all the newspaper ink dedicated to a historic economic decline and record-breaking figures for drug murders, there’s not been a lot of leftover attention for polarizing social issues in Mexico. While US politicians and pundits were battling it out over Terri Schiavo and the War on Christmas, comparable issues provoked relatively little attention south of Texas.
To a certain degree, that has changed. They may have been long conspicuous for their absence, but the culture wars have arrived in Mexico. Continue reading
Transparency International’s annual ranking of corruption around the globe hit the news on November 17. It was not a happy occasion in Mexico. America’s southern neighbor landed at 89 out of a total 180 governments measured this year (17 spots lower than in 2008), tied with such nations as Malawi, Moldova, and Rwanda.
This places Mexico well below many of its peers; among Latin American nations, ten governments were ranked cleaner than Mexico’s (including Guatemala’s, where the president has been implicated in the murder of a political enemy and the United Nations recently warned of a possible state capture at the federal level by drug gangs). Among the BRIC nations, the group of emerging economic giants with whom Mexico perennially aspires to be included, only Russia wound up worse than 89th place. Continue reading
Thanks to a pair of horrific events in Juárez, Mexico’s addict population has drawn unusual international attention in recent weeks: 17 addicts were murdered on September 17 in a rehab center in the increasingly dystopian border city, and 10 more were killed days later in another facility across town.
The problems for Mexican addicts are not just limited to Juárez; drug users in many cities are increasingly vulnerable to violence fueled by the drug trade, which is more worrying when you consider the upward tendency of drug use in Mexico. Mexico has long been thought of as merely the narcotics pipeline feeding the US habit, but this description is decreasingly apt. According to the most recent National Survey on Addiction, the percentage of cocaine-using Mexicans doubled from 2002 to 2008, and the proportion of pot smokers also ticked up. The recent increases were fueled in large part by growth among drug-using youths (almost half in Mexico are between 12 and 25), which has policy-makers and experts worried that the recent gains are part of a long-term trend that will greatly deepen Mexico’s security challenges.