Monday, October 22, 2018

This Morning on KTAL LP:  Mayor Murillo, Mayor Nuñez, Councilwoman Renteria

101.5 FM this morning will feature the mayors of Anthony and Hatch, and Sunland Park Councilwomen Carolina Renteria, discussing various aspects of the current election scene in the outlying areas of Dona Ana County.  Yours truly will be hosting the radio version of La Politica New Mexico.
Three Men Killed, Two Women Wounded While Eating Tacos

From Diario:  At about 9:20 pm last night gunmen in a late-model Ford 150 paused at a taco stand in Riberas del Rio Bravo (East Side) and started shooting at a table with three men dining there.  The owner of the taco stand was wounded, as was another woman at the scene.

Foto La Polaka:  Tables at the Taco Stand after the Shooting

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Many Police Abandon Posts Throughout Chihuahua
Juárez:  Sixth Attack on Police in Four Days
Another Dead Body

Diario de Juarez (click here):  The sixth attack on police in four days took place Friday night when armed gunmen in a pickup fired at the headquarters of the State Commission on Security, wounding two men.  One man has been arrested.

La Polaka (click here) reports indicate that dozens of state security employees throughout the state have deserted their jobs in recent days, or called in sick, due to fear of being attacked.

Yesterday August Garcia Gonzalez, a state police agent, took his wife and children to the Cordoba bridge and asked for asylum, crossing into El Paso.  He said he had survived two recent attacks against his life, and spoke of chaos and corruption within the State Commission on Security.

The state prosecutor, Cesar Peniche, has speculated the attacks might be masterminded by Azteca gang leader Rene Gerardo Santana, alias "El 300," who was captured more than a year ago but released in December.  Others have speculated the attacks on police may be due to a bust made by police against traffickers of crystal meth.  This would not explain the desertion of dozens of security forces throughout the state.

The six attacks:  The first occurred on Tuesday afternoon when a driver tried to run over two municipal police officers.  This resulted in a chase and the capture of a suspect.  The second attack took place on Tuesday night when gunmen opened fire on a state police vehicle parked under the Sanders bridge.  The third attack was on Wednesday morning, on Ave. de las Torres, when gunmen opened fire on two state police officers wounding one.  The fourth was the killing of an intelligence officer for the municipal police, who was gunned down at his home shortly after midnight on Thursday morning.  The fifth was an attack on personnel in front of the State Commission on Security on Ave. de las Torres, near the scene of the third attack. No one was injured.  Bottom line:  Two dead officers, six wounded, and one officer fleeing to El Paso.

The body of a man through to have been tortured and strangled was found in an empty lot in Urbi Villa del Cedro
Another dead body:  Foto La Polaka

Friday, October 19, 2018

Details Emerge on Murder of Police Officer Who Taped Torture Session

 Diario reports (click here and here) this morning that Miguel Angel Salas Lopez, 34, the police officer who shot a widely viewed video tape of a torture session involving municipal police, had just entered his home in Col Vista de Ojitos, in the Southeast section of Juárez (near the river) when the alarm went off in his car, a white Hyundai parked outside.  This was shortly after midnight on Wednesday night.  From inside his home he tried several times to use his remote to turn off the alarm, which kept going off.  He emerged from his house wearing his bullet-proof vest and a 9 mm handgun. 

Four men were in hiding, waiting for him.  They shot at him with an AR-15 assault rifle and a handgun.  Salas was able to get eight shots off, wounding one of the assailants, before he was fatally shot.  The four men got into a pickup, which they abandoned about 20 blocks away.  The wounded man was dead and they left him in the pickup.  Nineteen spent cartridges from the AR-15 were recovered at the scene, and another 11 from the handgun.  Eight spent cartridges from Salas' gun were found at the scene.

State prosecutors, who investigate homicides, said they saw no connection between the murder of the officer and the release of the video he had shot of the torture session.  They emphasized that there was a decline in the number of homicides in Juárez between August and September of this year.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Juárez:  Municipal Police Officer Murdered in His Home
It Gets Complicated:  The Victim Video-Taped a Man Being Tortured by Police

From Diario this morning: A municipal police officer whose name has not been released was shot and killed by armed gunmen who stormed into his home in Los Ojitos last night shortly after midnight.  The officer was a member of an intelligence unit of the police, and apparently had taped a portion of a torture session against an alleged sicario of La Linea.  Readers who wish to see the recording can click here.  The video shows a man being held down by men in municipal police uniforms, with a plastic bag over his head.  At times he is deprived of the ability to breathe.  The video circulated widely in Juarez on social media yesterday.

Mayor Cabada took action yesterday morning to dismiss police officers involved in the torture.  He ordered an investigation and asserted that he did not know these types of practices were being undertaken by municipal police. 

Foto:  Diario de Juarez:  Part of Video Tape

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Juárez:  Gunfire Airmed at Police Three Times in Two Days

A message?  A ruse?  Rogue sicarios having fun?  Whatever the case,  Diario (click here) reports on three occasions in the past day gunmen have shot at police.  The first case took place yesterday afternoon at 4 pm when a driver tried to run over two municipal police officers.  A chase ensued and a man was arrested.

The second attack was against a state police car stopped under the Sanders Bridge.  Gunmen opened fire on the vehicle and fled.  No one was hurt, no one so far arrested.

The third attack took place this morning at 9:30 am when gunmen opened fire on two state police officers.  One officer was wounded.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Juárez Body Count Still Low;  Is the Truce Still 
On?  Only Two Bodies This Weekend

Since August body counts have been down in the Juárez drug-related homicide business.  This past weekend only two bodies were discovered.  At about 3 p.m. yesterday a man was shot to death in the Southeast section of town, Riberas del Rio, as he was driving a white sedan.  A vehicle intercepted his car and shot the man to death.  In another incident a man was found, hands and feet bound, lying dead at Km. 33 of the Casas Grandes highway, about five miles beyond the turnoff to Santa Teresa.

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Fundamental Problem of the Democratic Party:
From Party of the Working Class to Party of the Well Educated
Mainly Macro (click here) is a blog by a British economist, Simon Wren-Lewis, and often spot-on.  In today's blog he goes through the exercise of showing how in France, Britain, and the US, leftist parties have drifted toward electoral bases in the well-educated populations.  Much of his blog goes through this, and is worth reading.

As you can see from the graphs, the Blue USA line is the most pronounced trend in this direction among the three countries.  One out of four votes for "the left" comes from voters in the top 10% most-educated voters.

Compounding this trend are some of the optics:  Nancy Pelosi often appears to personify the highly-educated (not to say, know-it-all) voter, full of statistics and facts and talking points, but unable to communicate with a former labor union member who got fired in a "downsizing" and now has trouble finding a job that pays $15.00 per hours.  Bernie Sanders, although himself an "East Coast Liberal," and socialist, understood that the cultural appeals from the Right were more attractive to this hypothetical (but very real) voter than the appeals to "diversity," identity politics, and other non-bread-and-butter bones tossed at them by the Democratic Party.  Most important, cultural conservatism was threatening to replace the electoral base of the Democratic Party.  For making this clear, as he gained momentum over Hillary, of course, he was punished by some dirty play in the dark alleyways of the Democratic National Convention, and has been pretty much ignored since then.  No other prominent Democrat, certainly not in the Senate or House, has made many moves to occupy this space.  The vacuum has been filled largely on the Right, with everything from White Supremacists to Fundamentalist preachers, to the NRA.

Wren-Lewis Compilations

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Homicides in Juárez:  87 in September
Compared to August, which registered 182 homicides, Juárez was relatively tranquil, with only 87 homicides.  There appears to have been something of a truce between gangs involved in the local retail sales of illicit drugs, at least for the first two weeks of September, when homicides were reduced to about 25.  
President-elect Lopez Obrador (AMLO) is unlikely to reveal his overall strategy to deal with drug-related violence in Mexico, which has reached excruciating levels in many parts of the country.  He has suggested an open mind about legalizing marijuana, and has signaled he doesn't intend to continue the militarization of the previous two administrations, but so far he is understandably shy of details. 

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Fully 54% of Newly Registered NM Voters Are Neither Democrats Nor Republicans
What Does This Mean?

The Albuquerque Journal reports this morning that out of 43,434 voters who registered between March 31 2017 and August 31, 2018, 23,380 (53.8%) were neither Democrats nor Republicans.  Out of those who registered in the two traditional parties, Democrats nabbed 59% while Republicans got 41%.  What do we make of this?

At bottom, this speaks to the abject failure of the two political parties, either at the national or state level, to provide citizens what they want from government.  Democracy is failing, and people are beginning to rebel against a party system that contributes to its failure. Citizens want affordable health care, easy access to it, and controls over spiraling pharma costs.  They don't have it.  Americans want sensible gun control.  They don't have it.  Americans want better education.  Instead, the US keeps slipping down the international rankings on student performance and in New Mexico we slipped from 49th to 50th.  Americans want jobs with decent wages.  Instead, jobs with decent wages are disappearing.  These are non-partisan bread and butter issues, not frills, and the country can well afford them.

The primary system in place today is rigged because non-party members have no say in choosing the two candidates who are overwhelmingly likely to win the spot.  In effect, most newly registered New Mexicans are disenfranchised from having a say-so in this process.  There are many possible solutions:  allow any registered voter to vote in one primary election of their choosing.  This is what California did, with good results.  This would allow unaffiliated voters, say, to eliminate a pro-Trump Republican from winning a primary.  You could eliminate winner-take-all elections for Congress by allowing any political party winning, say, over 5% of the national vote to have seats in Congress proportional to its voting strength.  You could require a candidate to receive more than 50% of the vote in order to be elected through runoff elections or ranked voting systems.  Many other measures could reduce the likelihood that someone not wanted by the majority could get elected, something that routinely prevails today in violation of democratic fairness.

Many other ills plague American politics:  legalized bribery of public officials through campaign financing practices backed by activist Supreme Court judges, partisan polarization of Congress through the use of gerrymandering (a major contributor to the lack of civility in Congress), a monopolized news media subsidized almost exclusively by politically active, policy-driven mega-corporate interests, the bipartisan failure of government to enforce anti-monopoly laws, the bipartisan use of tax and other policies to redistribute income and wealth away from the middle class to the very wealthiest sectors of society.  Partisanship is only part of the problem

The result of all of this has been the rise of an aggressive crony-capitalist faction that, at the moment, appears bent on undermining the public respect for, and power of, key institutions like the FBI that legitimize democratic value of equal justice for all, and imposing an authoritarian, fear-driven political environment.  It will not be easy to undo these ills, which have been building steam for four decades.  But a major first step is to insist that we respect the right of voters to choose their preferred elected officials rather than to be forced into rigged political boxes that force growing numbers of people to choose between candidates they increasingly hesitate to be associated with.

New Mexico has not reached the pathetic levels of undemocratic governance we see in Washington, but it is getting there.  As I watched the debate between Michelle Lujan Grisham and Steve Pearce the other night I was struck by how much each candidate sounded like a well-rehearsed member of Congress, rattling off highly partisan talking points at a pace you couldn't keep up with.  Education?  Flip to talking points 3, 4, and 5, offer a statistic or two, vetted by national polls conducted by your political party.  The Republican answer was full of key words to appeal to conservatives (private education, charter schools), and the Democratic answer was permanent fund money for early childhood, something of a mantra among Democrats this year.  Nowhere in the debate or in the candidate web sites is there even remotely a goal such as catching up the the national student performance by, say 2035, or raising college readiness rates by 20 percent in ten years, etc.--the kinds of things educational experts believe are essential to any successful turnaround program

Most new voters in New Mexico show every evidence of being tired of the partisan games.  Leaders who hope to make a difference need to pay attention to what voters are saying with their feet about both parties.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Juarez:  Four Homicidal Attacks this Afternoon:  One Dead

Diario and La Polaka report four assassination attempts this afternoon, in three separate attacks.  Three persons were hospitalized, one was killed.
 Coming Up:  Todd Garrison Vs. Kim Stewart!
On KTAL LP's La Politica New Mexico (101.5 FM)
The Race for Doña Ana County Sheriff

Monday Morning, 8 AM Ciento Uno Punto Cinco

How Well Are We Being Governed?

Monday morning's Mesa Redonda on KTAL LP's  La Politica New Mexico will feature Victor Montoya, from Anthony NM, and Arturo Uribe, from Mesquite, interviewing the candidates and commending on the 2018 race for Sheriff of Doña Ana County.  Also present will be the candidates for Sheriff, Todd Garrison and Kim Stewart.  Hosts, as usual, will be E. Shirley Baca and Yours Truly, with the Buzzman Richard Kadzis.

Ciento Uno Punto Cinco en su dial:  Radio KTAL (LP), Radio Que Tal?
Beto Still Has a Chance to Win:  Fivethirtyeight

Perhaps the best election forecaster in the country, Nate Silver, wrote an interesting article that shows up this morning on his web site (click here).  Silver has adjusted his model to incorporate several subtle factors that show statistical significance, such as whether the challenger is leaving a relatively high elected position, or coming in out of nowhere.  Bottom line:  at the moment, based on all factors including polling, he believes Beto is behind by only a little more than 3 points, clearly within striking distance.  A major factor in his reasoning is that Beto has gotten more than twice the money than Cruz from individual donors (not PACS), a key indicator for Silver.

The polling data shown took place before the first debate between Cruz and Beto.  My own feeling, as I watched the debate, was that Beto was surprisingly weak.  Playing into Cruz's slick, faux-sincere, Baptist minister accent and cadence and one-size-fits-all- "conservative" language, Beto seemed helpless, responding with weak "liberal-sounding" platitudes that did not come off as heartfelt or convincing.  He should take a look at the Trump treatment of Cruz in debate, which reduced "lyin' Ted" to a whimpering, soggy piece of toast in about two minutes.  In a conservative state, you can be liberal or "progressive," but you need to use conservative language to get there.  Speaking slightly closer to home, I would offer exactly the same advice to Xochi.

One of the many things the DCCC does not understand, as they lord it over congressional candidates to do what they tell them to do in their campaigns, is the importance of language as a conveyor of "our" values.  This varies from state to state and region to region, but it isn't rocket science.  Everyone wants students in to improve their academic performance, now that we are 50th in the nation.  Most people, however, don't think we can get there the NEA way, which is simply to give more money to teachers.  Nor do all New Mexicans think taking money out of the permanent fund for early childhood will solve New Mexico's education problems.  Democrats could win on this issue if they stopped pandering to the special interests pushing these phony "solutions," and started being honest about the heavy commitment it will take, and talk about the kinds of things real school districts like Gadsden made to turn their system around.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

What Happened to the Sort-of Truce in Juárez?
Diario:  Body Count So Far in September is 65

A man was executed in Plutarco Calles, near downtown this afternoon around 3 p.m.  He was wearing jeans and a black polo shirt.  Another man was executed inside a home in Col. Azteca last night.  Witnesses heard gunfire and found the body inside the house.

It is difficult, from a distance, to know what is going on with the truce apparently called by street gangs who had ratcheted up the body count in the past few months.  Drug-related deaths in Juárez come from two sources:  those originating in disputes between the two major drug trafficking organizations dedicated to transshipment of stuff to the US, and those originating in turf battles for the local control of retail drug sales in Juárez.  In 2009 and 2010 most homicides in Juárez stemmed from competition between the Juárez cartel and the Sinaloa cartel, over the infrastructure needed for the transshipment of drugs into the US.  In the past year or so most deaths have been attributed to turf battles over the control of retail drug sales within Juárez.  Diario ran a story last week that reports from recently jailed gang members, local street gangs called for a truce a couple of weeks ago after a great deal of killing this summer.  The body count is about half of what it was in August. 

Friday, September 21, 2018

Candidates, Mayor, on KTAL LP La Politica New Mexico
Monday, Sept. 24, 8 AM

Micaela Cadena and Charles Wendler, candidates for NM House District 33, will be interviewed on La Politica New Mexico on Monday at 8 AM.  In addition, Karen Trujillo, candidate for County Commission, District 5, will be interviewed.

The Mesa Redonda will be composed of Louis Biad and Mayor Diana Murillo Trujillo, of Anthony, NM.  Hosts for La Politica are E. Shirley Baca and Jose Z. Garcia

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Latest NY Times Poll Has Xochi One Point Ahead

The NY Times today released a poll of 503 likely voters, showing Xochitl Torres Small ahead by one point, 46-45.  This is in contrast to the Albuquerque Journal Poll released on Sunday showing Yvette Harrell with a 7 point lead, 48-41.  This is likely to be an interesting race, and the NY Times poll should make it easier for Xochi to raise money and get a fair hearing throughout the district.  If the polls show a close race, the outcome could depend on turnout.

How motivated are Democrats to turn out, as opposed to Republicans?  Flipping the House is a very strong motivator and, perhaps, getting stronger every day.  How motivated are Republicans?  Herrell is a strong Trump supporter.  This could limit her appeal among moderate Democrats and Republicans, who still occupy most of the political space in this district.  A key component in turnout is the Hispanic vote, very strong in Dona Ana County, Grant County, along the Pecos River from Carlsbad to Roswell, and in the oil patch near Hobbs, which is booming once again. If Xochi is able to motivate these voters, and the name Torres will help, it could make a difference in Hispanic turnout rates.
Juárez:  The Truce is Gone:  Five Executions Yesterday

From Diario this morning:  Two men and a woman were executed on the wall of the electric transformer station on the Casas Grandes highway just outside of Juárez.  Their hands were tied behind their backs and one of the men had a light bulb in his mouth.  Several shell casings were found near the bodies.

A man was shot and killed at 2:40 pm yesterday as he left his home in Col. Villa Colonial, and an adolescent man in a vehicle with his father was grazed by a bullet in the same attack. Witnesses said two men in a grey Jeep Cherokee stopped as if to talk to the man and then shot him.  Police said he was the third victim in the last two days in that neighborhood.

A woman was shot and seriously wounded at a telephone booth outside a night club on Oscar Flores.  She was taken to a hospital

Three persons, including a woman, were arrested at 3 am this morning in possession of an encobijado.  Apparently they were trying to dump the body, wrapped in a brown blanket, when police got suspicious and chased the van on Ave. Tecnologico and finally arrested them.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Juárez:  Sicarioville is Back
Was There a Truce?  Has it Been Broken?

Diario Reports (click here):  Once again Parajes del Sur was the scene of a homicide last night.  Witnesses heard gunfire, alerted police, and a man was dead and another wounded in an attack by two persons dressed in black and driving a white Taurus.

The monthly homicide counts clearly indicate a drop in homicides in the first two weeks in September.  Here is the monthly breakdown this year:  January:  72; February:  44; March:  56:  April:  65;  May:  124; June:  177,  July:  177; August 182.  First two weeks in September, only one reported in the newspapers.

According the the Diario report this morning, recently captured gang members report there was a truce called at the end of August among gangs in Juarez, which accounts for the major slowdown in sicario activity.  The gangs had been worn down by feuding, which led to more police captures of arms and drugs and gang members.

According to the conventional wisdom within official law enforcement circles, the spike in homicides was due to the fallout of a split within the Azteca gang las year between members of the "vieja guardia," (old guard) and the "Empresa."  The old guard, according to this version, left its old bosses in the La Linea cartel to join in with the Sinaloa cartel; both have been competing against each other in the transhipment of drugs to the US.  The rivarly heated up in May of this year, accounting for the spike in homicides this summer.  Readers interested in this can go back to my blogs in early August (see, for example, my entry on August 4, covering the massacre of 13 persons in a picadero near the Juarez airport. 

Only time and the body count will tell us whether this truce, if it is indeed in effect, will last.  In the past two or three days, however, dead bodies have begun to reappear.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Another Execution This Morning in Juárez

From Diario (click here):  Reports of gunshots alerted police, who found a dead man behind a convenience store, with hands and feet tied, two gunshots to his head.  The body was discovered at approximately 7:30 this morning at Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Velentin Fuentes, next to a school.  Children were unable to gain access to the school because police closed off access to the street.
Executions Return to Juárez
Sicarios Get Back to Work Last Night:  Two Bodies
Suspected Sicaria Killed in Encounter With Police

After more than two weeks of inaction, Juárez sicarios got marching orders and went back to work.  Three men driving a compact white automobile last night fired ten rounds and left a man dead on the street in Col. Parajes del Sol.  Closer to downtown, a man dressed in jeans and running shoes was found dead in a garbage drum in Col. Partido Romero, on Panama street.

Equal Opportunity Employers?  Diario reports a woman was killed by municipal police shortly after she and an accomplice killed a man on Zaragoza Blvd and Santiago Troncoso.  According to official reports municipal police were near the scene of the killing when it occurred and initiated a search of the area.  A man wearing a tactical uniform, seeing a police car, ducked into a residence with a woman.  They began firing at police, who surrounded the building.  The suspect shouted out that he would surrender, and when police entered the building they found a woman, dead.  She is believed  to be implicated in the murder of seven persons.