BEATING OF IMMIGRANTS CREATES MEXICAN BACKLASH

Chafing under the televised beatings of their fellow citizens by the armed thugs of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, and (reasonably} believing that the Border Patrol did in fact provoke the crash that killed seven more, Mexican grassroots movements have begun to pressure the government to root out — and throw out — illegal U.S. immigrants to Mexico.

In Guanajuato on April 10, the anniversary of Emiliano Zapata’s assassination, marchers assembled in front of the U.S. Consulate to demand that “thousands” of unidentified yankees go home. This demand was repeated the next day in front of the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. Incidentally, photos reveal that the Embassy is hunkering down behind barbed wire, anti-vehicle barricades, and scores of Mexican consular police. This is a siege mentality that contradicts all the “buddy-buddy” bullshit that we are fed by our government.

In San Miguel Allende, a coalition of civic groups are pressing for a police sweep of the U.S. community. So far, the PGR (federal atty general) and the Migracion are resisting. The citizens are claiming that there are “hundreds” of gringos there illegally; that they work as waiters, chauffeurs, and gardeners without work permits; that they own, manage and profit from businesses; that they do not pay taxes; that they spend their spare time abusing drugs and dealing them to each other. So far, there has been no organized response from the U.S. community.

SnMiguel, like the area around Lake Chapala, is a favorite place for U.S. citizens to settle. People there must be very nervous about now. They may be reflecting on previous incidents where opportunist police have arrested foreigners, put them on a plane home, and confiscated their property: end of the line…

IS MEXICO TURNING THE CORNER ON HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES?

Developments in Guerrero, Morelos, Tabasco and Mexico City suggest that the federal government is beginning to understand the connection between corruption, lawlessness and human rights abuses. While it is still difficult to see any fundamental changes occurring, there are some interesting developments to contemplate.

“Impunidad” (impunity) has long been the word which the havenots use to describe the actions of the powerful. It has defined, and in most cases continues to define the realpolitik of the Mexican judicial system. It has recently become the focus of discussion wherever people meet to grapple with how to prevent the country from sliding into total anarchy.

Two barrios of the Federal District are now acknowledged to be completely in the hands of drug traffickers and extortionists. In these barrios, a few families control all the services and dictate the terms of existence. Everyone who lives there knows who they are, and no-one dares speak out publicly against them. The police, the fire fighters, the street lights: all are under their control.

In a third barrio, the citizens managed to elect a reform deputy to represent them, when the old deputy absconded with all the district funds. Most of the live sex shows that are offered in the capital are located here, and of course the crime that goes with them. The new deputy is trying to closing them down but the legal system is of little help so far.

Kidnappings, robberies, assaults, killings and extortion in MexCity have reached the point where many people now talk about the LAST time they were robbed, or how many times they have been robbed in how many years. Bus holdups, carjackings and truck hijackings have increased dramatically on the Mexican road. It is a nugget of folk wisdom that one never goes to the police for assistance: even if the cop you talk to isn’t profiting from what just happened to you, his cousin probably is.

In Guerrero, the new governor appears to be moving slowly toward reform. Hamstrung by the actions of his legislature, within which many loyal to ex-governor Figueroa still toil, he has been unable to do much so far. However, he did officially disband “los Tigres”, one of the worst of the terror squads and the unit believed to be responsible for most of the recent political killings in the mountains and Acapulco, and is rumored to be considering wider and deeper firings and suspensions in the state motorized police (the group that carried out the slaughter in Agua Azul). Human rights activists are pushing him to break with the shadowy General Chapporo, head of the secret war against the opposition in Guerrero, and an official in the state security apparatus, as an earnest of his enthusiasm for reform.

As well, they are waiting for the other shoe to drop after recent developments related to the March 1 rapes of passengers on a bus making its’ way around Acapulco. Last week two men accused of kidnapping a wealthy Acapulco businessman and then killing him after collecting the ransom, were arrested. The next day it was announced that they also were the rapists. You may recall that the victims (with one exception) failed to identify the men originally arrested, but they were bound over anyway. At that time, many said that the arrests were part of an effort to cover up the identities of the real rapists.

The man who identified the new pair turns out to be the same guy who identified the first two: a notorious “police informant” named Castro. The hitch is that like the first two, the latter two also do not match the descriptions of eyewitnesses in any detail, starting with their height, weight, and skin tone. There is a massive coverup of the real identities of the rapists (who were said to be in police-type clothing). The only question is how high the conspiracy goes. For many, whether governor Aguirre can deliver the real rapists has come to represent proof of his reform rhetoric.

In Tabasco, governor Roberto Madrazo is under unrelenting pressure from the feds to resign, following confirmed reports that he spent more than ten times the legal limit to ensure his election — and that only two or three times the limit can be accounted for in “above ground” expenditures. He is likely to appoint a crony when he leaves (a federal judge will probably rule soon that his defense and the cloud under which he dwells precludes being able to carry out the duties of governor). The opposition PRD are suing for the governorship, saying that they would have won if Madrazo hadn’t bought every vote in sight.

Governor Jorge Carrillo Olea of Morelos, though constrained by fraternal considerations such as plague his fellow PRI officials, reacted swiftly and massively to a recent police riot outside Cuernavaca on April 10. Marchers protesting the terraforming of Tepoztlan to make a golf course / conference center were brutally attacked, and one of their leaders — a founder of the PRD in Morelos state — was shot twice in the back of the head and dumped a few miles away.

Carrillo suspended and arrested sixty police, fired the chief (also arrested) and announced that police violence would not be tolerated in Morelos. Once again, an un-noticed video camera was the instrument of proof. However, at presstime, the chief and forty-eight patrolmen had been released on bail and only eleven patrolmen were left to answer to the more serious of the charges; and Carrillo was saying that there was no malice in the incident; that it was mostly a case of untrained recruits faced with a mob gone out of control. Video at ten..

With increasing frequency, the commentators of the Mexican press are espousing the idea that economic reform can not be achieved without social reform; that there is no way of enforcing an equitable system of distribution when the overseers are on the take; that there is no way to stop the chaotic increase in major crime when the police are the major criminals; that there can be no political reform without disbanding the paramilitary units designed to prevent change.

THE HUMOR CORNER:

Fisgon draws the Attorney General of Morelos, sitting at his desk and musing: “And we are studying the substitution of Sheriffs from California for Morelos police…”

In a two-panel by Helguera, entitled “the reverse of the card”: panel one shows Silvia Hernandez, Minister of Tourism, who just cut a deal with American Express to be one of their “card personalities” in exchange for an unspecified amount of free Mexico boosting in AMEX ads, holding her card proudly aloft and smiling. Panel two shows a scruffy, depressed and angry Mexican man in torn clothing holding the other side of the card. Juan Perez, Mexican Beggar’s card says Pobrematica (automatic poverty).

THANKS A LOT, GLOBAL WARMING!

Continuing to defy tradition, the sky in sunny Oaxaca opened up about a month early this afternoon, and an unseasonable gusher was added to the unseasonable cold of January and February. Anybody else remember when dry seasons were dry, and warm seasons warm?

STAN’S FEARLESS PREDICTIONS:

Undaunted by governmental toadie and head of the Mexican equivalent of the AFL/CIO, Fidel Velasco, who ordered all members to eschew marching on May 1, several unions representing teachers, electricians, truckers and others will stroll the boulevards of Mexico City to honor the Worker’s day; and Fidel will do little in retaliation. Fidel, alas, is getting mighty old, and his teeth are loose. Last year, he was able to keep the lid on, but this year he blew it.