Monday, February 12, 2018

Rep. Angélica Rubio (NM House District 35) speaks out on racist cartoon on KTAL 101.5 LP

This morning Rep Angélica Rubio phoned into KTAL's La Politica New Mexico program, arguing that the cartoon "normalizes" racist remarks made by President Trump about Mexican immigrants.  the cartoon depicts a White couple being assaulted by gun-toting thieves while the Husband says "honey, I believe they would prefer to be called Dreamers or Future Democrats."

The cartoon, by an out-of-state syndicated cartoonist, appeared in the ABQ Journal last week.  The Journal has subsequently apologized for running it.  Joe Monahan this morning (click here) wrote the Journal is increasingly out of touch with New Mexico.
Chihuahua Governor Criticizes Federal Police Presence in Chihuahua

President Enrique Peña Nieto (PRI) signed a bill in December 2017 enhancing the role of federal police forces in assisting state and local law enforcement in areas of heightened violence.  Federal Police began arriving in Juárez last month, and are expected to be deployed to Baja California Sur, Colima, and Cancun, as well as Juárez.

Chihuahua Governor Javier Corral (PAN) today challenged the constitutionality of the law, objecting especially to the requirement that state governments must pay for the troops that have been
sent.  In 2008 the federal government, in an agreement with state and local authorities, sent more than 10,000 army troops into Juarez to combat the huge spike in drug-related violence, which culminated when Juarez, in 2010, became the most violent city in the world.  The troops came with limited intelligence information or capabilities and their presence coincided with a gut-wrenching wave of non-drug-related criminal activity.  Many citizens believe the inability of federal troops to dampen the drug-related violence encouraged criminals to heighten their activities, leading to a wave of kidnappings and extortion.  In 2010 the troops withdrew, relinquishing their authority to the newly-created Federal Police agency.

Governor Corral argues that the newly created Internal Security Law violates the constitutional rights of states to control their internal security.
Jose Z. Garcia to Moderate Candidate Forum in Anthony, NM on February 22.

Elections will be held in Anthony NM for city council.  Dr. Jose Garcia will moderate this forum, featuring candidates for city council.  The event will be bilingual.  Sponsorship, dates, times, etc., will be forthcoming in this spot.  One issue likely to come up during the forum is the proposal by Mayor Diana Murillo-Trujillo to purchase the privately owned golf course in Anthony.  The mayor discussed this proposal on KTAL's La Politica New Mexico last month.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Monday Morning 8:00 AM on La Politica New Mexico KTAL LP, 101.5 FM

Hispanics in New Mexico in the Age of Trump:  Shirley Baca will call in from Santa Fe to comment on legislators' reactions to the racist cartoon appearing in the Albuquerque Journal.  The Journal has apologized for running the cartoon.  She has asked several House members to call in as well.
Firefight Last Night Between Police and Azteca Leader Leaves Three Dead and Juárez on Alert for More Trouble

La Polaka reports a suspected leader of the Juarez branch of the Azteca gang was killed last night during an exchange of gunfire between police and gang members.  It started when heavily armed men sprayed bullets at people inside a car wash in Col. La Cuesta.  As they fled the scene they ran into a municipal police unit which chased them for several blocks.  An exchange of gunfire ensued as the gang members were cornered, leaving three dead and several wounded.  One of the men killed in the exchange appears to be a high-ranking member of the Azteca gang, causing some concern there may be an effort by gang members to extract revenge.

The Azteca gang began in the El Paso jail system in 1986, and gradually spread, becoming an international organization.  The gang joined up with La Linea, the armed force of the Juárez cartel, about a decade ago, about the time the supremacy of the Juárez cartel was challenged by the Sinaloa Cartel for control of the Juárez plaza.  This rivalry led to the exceptional spike in violence in Juarez in 2008-2010.  The gang suffered serious reversals in 2014, when 55 Barrio Azteca gang members were indicted in El Paso and when Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, the Lord of the Juarez plaza, was captured, leaving the Sinaloa cartel in a much stronger position in Juárez. 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Where Violence is Bad in Mexico, on a Scale of One to Five:  Chihuahua says Thank God for Colima!  Yucatan says Come to Merida and Chichen Itza!  Quintana Roo Says Tulum and Playa del Carmen are Great in the Winter Time!

Suggested Links:

Each of these is well worth a read; all are brief.  Angus Deaton is a Nobel Prize winning economist who argues that the political power of corporations has rigged the system in favor of the top 1%.  Unlike Europe, there are no longer any countervailing powers, such a labor unions or political parties, that can restrain the rigging.  FiveThirtyEight explains from polling data why Democrats continue to push identity issues.  Sarah Cohodes believes the experimentation allowed in charter schools is teaching us how to close achievement gaps in minority populations, even though as a whole charter schools perform no better than public schools.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Four Men Killed in SW Juárez Yesterday Afternoon; woman shot in legs this morning

La Polaka reports:  Yesterday afternoon men, armed and dressed in tactical uniforms entered an auto repair shop at Senderos del Prado and Senderos de Pedraza in SW Juárez, an area known as San Isidro.  They sprayed bullets at four men who were inside, killing Francisco Javier Flores Montoya, 45, Tony, 40 years old, and an unknown man around 50 years old.  Dozens of empty cartridges were found on the floor, calibers 40 and 223.  In a separate incident a woman was shot several times in the legs this morning outside of her house, also in SW Juárez.  She was taken to the Social Security hospital.  Just a friendly warning?

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Doing Business With the "Juniors" on Gomez Marín in Juárez:
Children of the wealthy class in Juárez deal drugs at the best bars, restaurants, and nightclubs

Diario de Juárez reports that the Gomez Morin corridor--just East of Triunfo del la Republica--has become a tony place to purchase drugs from wealthy, well-dressed dealers, driving late-model expensive cars; these are, according to Diario, the sons and daughters of the "protected" rich.  They are known locally as the "Juniors."  The drug of choice seems to be methamphetamine, but other good stuff is available as well.  Young women who engage in retail drug trafficking, are known in Juarez as "Las Chulas," or "niñas bien" (best translation:  "the beautiful people.")

The Gomez Marin corridor is one of the most security-conscious areas of Juarez, full of elegant restaurants and bars, with loads of private security forces and ostentatious public security vehicles visibly displayed to deter drug-related trouble.

As competition for acquiring the capability to buy, warehouse, and transport drugs to Juarez for transit to El Paso has grown in recent years, creating a new rash of inter-drug-gang violence, more and more drug business partners have focused on expanding the local Juarez market.  Just a few years ago a restaurant patron or bar client would have to risk an awkward moment to ask the bartender or parking lot attendant if he or she perchance had some extra meth.  Sometimes disastrous things would happen to that bartender or parking lot attendant.  The rise of the "Juniors" has made these awkward moments  unnecessary:  Junior Chula will simply stop by your table, gossip a little bit about the Trump Wall or public corruption in Chihuahua, and then go on her merry way, leaving behind some pills.  Source:  Diario de Juarez.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

A Few Measures of Ethnic Inequality in New Mexico

 Note:  there is a lot of information here.  I am trying to convey relative differences between ethnic groups in New Mexico as well as between New Mexico and the rest of the country (US)

1.  Income:  Average Household Income (WhNH=White Non Hispanic)

 2.  Poverty:  Percent Below Poverty Line

 Notice the sharp difference in poverty among New Mexico Native Americans conpared with Native Americans in the rest of the country

 3.  Education:  8th Grade Reading Scores

4/  Education:  Fourth Grade Reading Scores Since 1992

 Notice there is a tendency for Hispanics at the national level to be catching up slightly to the national White population:  but not in New Mexico, where Hispanics twenty years ago were ahead of their national counterparts, but now lag behind.  Also note the growing gap between national White scores and NM White scores.  Is this a commentary on New Mexico education?

5.  Education:  8th Grade Math Scores

 The pattern is clear.  Hispanic and Native American income levels and educational achievement are significantly below the national averages for Hispanic and Native Americans, and well below that of White Non-Hispanics who, in New Mexico, lag behind their White counterparts in the rest of the country.  As the graph of reading scores since 1992 shows, the gaps are not closing despite affirmative action programs, NGOs dedicated to reduce the gaps, and, at times state government action.  Given that 60% of the population below 18 years of age in New Mexico today is either Hispanic or Native American, New Mexico cannot possibly get the workforce we will likely need for a thriving economy in twenty or thirty years unless we improve education for Hispanics and Natives and get Anglos up to national speed.  If we don't turn around now, we just may get where we're going, and it isn't where we want to go.

Friday, February 2, 2018

(Not) Talking About Things Taboo:  NAFTA, Corn Farmers, US Employers, and Drug Gangs in Mexico

The North American Free Trade Association, NAFTA, still viewed in some circles as a crowning achievement of the Clinton administration, did increase interaction between Mexico and the United States.  But not all of it was beneficial to the whole, and some was catastrophic for sectors of the population in both countries.  Since NAFTA was a bipartisan sacred cow for many years, rigorously enforced by our news media industry, public debate about these catastrophes never emerged, and when Trump blasted a hole in the NAFTA sacred cow, he limited his attack to blaming wage stagnation within his famous "base" to "bad deals" and the arrival of undocumented workers, part of his attack on immigration.  Below are two negative consequences of NAFTA, both of them pretty much taboo on national media.

Corn and Undocumented Migration:  Agricultural products were included in NAFTA, including corn.  US corn producers, subsidized by US taxpayer welfare checks to corn farmers to the tune of about $10 Billion per year (year after year, half the cost of what Trump wants for The Wall, in direct payments to corn farmers), flooded Central Mexico with corn at prices below the cost of production.  Three million corn producers in Central Mexico, most of them mini-farmers, were unable to compete (in an area that has grown corn for 10,000 year) and only one million have been able to survive.  What happened to two million corn farmers in Mexico?

Many of them took readily available jobs in the US.  Employers who needed cheap labor, like the hotel industry, air conditioning firms in Phoenix, meat packers, construction crews, etc., simply let it be known they were open for business to our neighbors to the South.  Transportation networks were set up to pick them up at the border and transport them to work.  It was, of course, illegal to knowingly hire undocumented workers.  So of course employers never knowingly hired them, and law enforcement simply looked the other way, lest they get nasty calls from congressional offices complaining about overly aggressive enforcement.  When someone without documents gets a job, at least two sides have broken the law.  Ignorance is no excuse applies only for the worker, not the one who hires.  And, as we all know, some of the children of these families are now facing deportation, held hostage by a dysfunctional Congress and unsympathetic President.

Corn and Drug Gangs:  Many other Mexicans who lost out to Iowa corn farmers got into another, growing enterprise:  the multi-billion dollar drug traffic.  This is a complex business, requiring connections with foreign countries, elaborate transportation systems, constant laundering of money, extensive warehousing of the product, political connection-building, marketing new products to the larger cities, intermediaries to cut deals with law enforcement agencies, the alteration of automobile and truck body parts, the creation of tough security units, including assassin squads, and, of course, persons willing to risk crossing the border.  On the US side, parallel organizations distribute the goods to market.  In the case of central Mexicans impoverished by cheap US corn, many of them filled these jobs.  During the past five to ten years, the know-how to run a successful drug gang has spread, and there has been a major proliferation of drug gangs throughout Mexico.  And a huge proliferation in extortion, gang-related violence, and murder, including a recent trend upwards in the use of beheading as a signature assassination.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Borderland Beat uploads graphic video

Borderland Beat uploaded a highly graphic video, available on Mexican web sites, that purportedly shows a man being beheaded and his son having his heart ripped out.  I have not watched it.  The man was presumably an informant for authorities.

The killers are said to be members of an alliance between several gangs, Sangre Nueva Guerrernse, from Zihuatanejo, Los Viagras, and R18MZ.  R18MZ is known as the armed force of Mayo Zambada, a drug lord who once worked for Chapo Guzman in Sinaloa and prior to that, the Carrillo Fuentes family that ran the Juarez cartel for several years. Zambada is believed to have taken over the Sinaloa cartel after the extradition of Chapo Guzman to the U.S.  Los Viagras is a gang operating in Western Michoacan state, headed by a man known as El Gordo.  It was once a paramilitary wing of the Knights Templar cartel in Michoacan, but flipped sides, leading to the arrest of Knights Templar leader La Tuta in February of 2015.  It now operates on the lam, pursued both by Mexican authorities and, sometimes, remnants of the Knights Templar organization, now known as Sangre Nueva Guerrerense.  Apparently there has been a least a tentative truce between SNG and Los Viagras, given that the video suggests a "union" between these groups.

Parts of Guerrero state are on the watch list for U.S. citizens, since several Americans have been killed, including the director of administrative services of Imperial Beach, CA, reported here on Dec. 31, 2017, who was killed in Ixtapa in Guerrero state near the resort town of Zihuatanejo.  Readers are advised to exercise caution if traveling anywhere in Guerrero state.

In 2014 and 2014 war broke out among various gangs in this region, causing a spike in homicides.  Among the gangs affected were:   Los Rojos, Guerreros Unidos, Los Ardillos, Los Tequileros, Gente Nueva, Los Beltrán Leyva, Los Caballeros Templarios, La Familia Michoacana, El Cártel del Sur, Cártel Independiente de Acapulco, Guardia Guerrerense, Sangre Nueva Guerrerense, Los Viagras and elements of the Sinaloa y Jalisco Nueva Generación cartels.

Violence in 2018 in Guerrero appears be tied to a new war between the Nueva Familia Michoacana and Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG).

Another Murder in Juarez

La Polaka reports one man was killed by gunfire and a man and woman were seriously wounded at 1:30 this morning in a popular bar called "San Martin," in the Las Torres section of town. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Government Shut-Down:  Democracy Has Been Betrayed

DACA is not a favor the nation generously bestows to 700,000 people out of kindness and compassion, even though it is often presented that way.  It is, instead, a kind of confession that our convoluted immigration laws, as interpreted and enforced by officials, have produced outrageous injustice for a massive group of innocent people.  If inflicted, this colossal injustice would generate universal repudiation at home and abroad.  Just here at home 87%--including most Trump supporters--of the voting public favors righting this wrong. Abroad, the Statue of Liberty, long a symbol of pride in our hugely fruitful, four-century-long embrace of the tired and poor, and hungry masses yearning to breathe free, would become an emblem of American shame, if it hasn't become so already.  What gives?

In a functioning democracy this issue never even would have surfaced. Committee staffers in Congress, working with mid-level White House staffers, seeing the poll numbers, would have resolved it in bipartisan fashion long ago.  That it has not been resolved is the strongest indicator I can think of that something is seriously wrong with American democracy.  What our two major institutions of government have given us in policy affecting 700,000 innocent people, on an issue as symbolically powerful as the Statue of Liberty, is exactly the opposite of what the public overwhelmingly wants done.  Something is wrong, and it goes far deeper than the character of the person currently occupying the White House.  Citizens need to figure out for themselves just what is wrong, and we can no longer rely on the major media outlets to help out:  they have become a major part of the problem.  As for me, I say, repeating myself, throw all of the bastards out, and put the next batch on a very short leash.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Don't Take it for Granted the House and Senate Will Flip

 The two presidents who had approval ratings below 50 percent halfway through their first year in office (Ford and Bill Clinton) each saw at least 9-point increases by the end of that year.  FiveThirtyEight

FiveThirtyEight, in an excellent review (click here and see charts below) of available polling data, reminds us this morning that next November is a long way off.  Here are two things to consider.  First, don't underestimate the ability of the leadership in the Democratic Party to squander a strong lead.  I've seen nothing from Democrats in Congress recently that comes even close to inspired leadership, Instead, Democrats appear to be hoping they can continue to ignore outrageous racism, disastrous policy steps, and highly authoritarian behavior in Congress and the White House, on the theory the public will vote them into power next Fall anyway.  The polling data in this piece should make us think twice about accepting this theory.  What Democrats have, right now, after the outrages of the past two years, is moral authority.  But instead of moral outrage, and moral courage, what I see are the usual steps made to cobble together a short term tactical advantage on specific bills.

Second, employment rates, the status of wages, and economic expectations for the future tend to be more important in predicting voting behavior at the national level than the approval ratings of a president or Congress.  And the massive tax cut to corporate America that just went into effect, was intended among other things to mobilize some of the trillions of dollars corporate America has been sitting on for a long time.  A well orchestrated effort to jawbone the billionaire class into shaking some of that money loose in the next few months for building infrastructure, for improving wages, and for creating better jobs, might just work, and a quick injection of, say, a trillion dollars into the economy might make Trump's economic policies appear to have been the work of a genius.

Right now Trump's numbers are going up, as is the generic Republican vote (see below).  I don't see Democrats in Congress, in the face of outrageous insults to democracy, the concept of equality under the law, and our reputation as a fair-minded, decent, country, giving me a reason to follow their lead.  If decent people don't hold their representatives' feet to the fire, who will?
Trump's Approval Ratings, FiveThirtyEight
Generic Congressional Ballot, FiveThirtyEight

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Feelings of Insecurity Rise in Juaritos

A recent national poll shows 62% of Juarenses have stopped walking near their own homes, and 38% have stopped visiting relatives or friends, due to the rising tide of violence in the city.  Since September of last year the percentage of residents in Juarez who feel "unsafe" at an ATM has risen from 70% to 80%.  Nearly half the population (46.3%) claim to have witnessed a robbery or assault.  The number of people asserting they frequently hear gunshots near their homes has doubled, from 18% to 37%.

While these numbers indicate a significant increase in the perceptions people in Juarez have of their safety, they should be placed in context, since insecurity has increased in recent years throughout Mexico.  Ten years ago, Juarez was one of a small handful of cities in Mexico suffering a major spike in crime, extortion, kidnappings, and drug-related violence.  Today Mexico as a whole has caught up to Juarez.  The poll, taken by the Mexican Census agency (INEGI), shows that while 80% of Juarenses report feeling "unsafe," fully 76% of Mexicans throughout the country feel unsafe.
Forty one percent of Juarenses believe public safety this year will be similar to or worse than it was last year.  Source:  Diario; click here for story.