Thursday, February 21, 2019

Mother Seeks Funding to Restore Mural of Memory

Foto Omar Morales, Diario de Juárez
Verónica Domínguez, of Diario, posts this story this morning:  (click here)

 Jessica Ivonne Padilla Cuéllar left her home in Juárez on July 17, 2011, and never returned.  Three years ago eight people in the Gustavo Diaz Ordaz neighborhood (a poor neighborhood near on the West side of town near the mountains) painted a mural with her face and the faces of 14 other disappeared women, on the back wall of the San Vicente de Paul Church on Fco. Pimentel and Tlalpan.  Now Jessica's mother would like, beginning on March 8, International Women's Day, to repair the wall and repaint it.

Her mother said, "The mural makes visible their faces, and asks the authorities not to forget there are many women whose fate is unknown, and asks society to join in this cause."

Olga Lizeth Olivas, a photographer who has participated in the "Wings and Roots" (Alas y Raices) program for young people, has agreed to coordinate the project.

 Note:  I was unable to send an email to Veronica Dominguez, asking her for further information about who to contact for a contribution. The email address she placed in the article was rejected.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Mexico's National Federation of Municipalities Urges Caution With National Guard
The National Commission on Human Rights Opposes Creating a National Guard

From Sol de Mexico (click here):  The Mexican Federation of Municipalities (FENAMM) yesterday issued a 12-point warning in a congressional  hearing in Mexico City against relying too much on a centralized militarized security force that would do away with local police.

We oppose the proposed centralizing strategy that hands over all jurisdiction, all resources, and all tools for security to a militarized body that puts at risk citizen rights, that redirects the mission of the armed forces, and that permanently places the army in our streets.

The federation also objected to the reduction in funds provided in the past few years by the federal government for municipal security.

The Mexican National Commission on Human Rights issued a statement Monday that "from the perspective of human rights...the creation of a national guard is neither pertinent nor viable, given that is does not guarantee nor contribute to ending impunity, it weakens institutions, and ignores international recommendations on human rights."

President Lopez Obrador is seeking quick approval of the creation of the National Guard.  Political parties and governors appear to be lining up behind it.  The president quipped that opponents of the bill are trying to unleash violence and turn the country into a cemetery.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Juárez:  How Many Addicts Are there in Juárez?  Baltimore?
Baltimore and Juárez had Identical Homicide Rates in 2017

Alejandro Vargas, writing for Diario (click here) cites cites the Trust Fund for Citizen Security and Competitiveness (Ficosec) as estimating 60,000 addicts, for a city of about one and a half million.  In my entry for Jan. 18, 2019, I cite the Observatorio de Prevencion, Seguridad y Justicia de Juarez (click here), as estimating 45,000 drug addicts in Cd. Juárez today.  In that same note I comment that the estimate of drug addicts in Baltimore is about 60,000, for a population less than half the size of Juárez, so drug dependence appears to be worse in Baltimore than in Juárez regardless of which of the two estimates for Juárez is used.

Homicides:  Both Juarez and Baltimore had identical homicide rates (56) per 100,000 population in 2017.  Baltimore's homicide rate in 2017, according the the FBI, was the highest of any U.S. city with more than 500,000 people.  Wikipedia, a little vague about its sources (click here), ranks Juárez and Baltimore 20 and 21, respectively, in 2017, in a list of the 50 most homicidal cities in the world with populations over 300,000.  The 2018 figures for Juárez will show a significant increase over Baltimore, up to about 83 per 100,000, with Baltimore probably declining slightly from 56.  This will still place Juarez well below the murder rate in Tijuana or Caracas (about 111) in 2017, the most dangerous murder cities in the world that year.
Careful, NM Democrats, For Many New Mexicans Gun Control is Not Public Policy:
It Represents the Violation of a Moral Imperative
"I'll Give You My Gun When you Pry It From My Cold Dead Hands"

The creation of sanctuary cities, via city council resolution, to offer some protection for migrants in danger of deportation, is not so much a statement of public policy or politics--although it is certainly political--as it is a moral, primordial, pronouncement.  It represents the exercise of moral conviction in opposition to the state when fundamental conflict between the two exists.

The push in rural counties of New Mexico to pass Second Amendment Sanctuary County laws is identical, a moral imperative stemming from a deep, ultimately healthy, mistrust of government.  It runs a lot deeper than the deep and often sordid pockets of the NRA,  now being investigated for mischief during the 2016 elections.  It predates the NRA by thousands of years.

Here's how Liberals (or "Progressives") might understand this:

In a world in which a few months ago our President (elected under several circumstances that make you wonder about its essential fairness and legitimacy)  ordered the forcible, and, for many, permanent, separation of thousands of children from their families; and in a world in which presidents of both political parties--with the support of an increasingly partisan and compliant Supreme Court--daily help themselves to more and more arbitrary executive power, can you imagine, within plausible scenarios, being on the wrong end of the guys with stun guns, Kevlar, infrared scopes, tear gas, and lethal bullets pointed at you?  If a judge you knew nothing about in such a world, elected on a partisan ballot, signed an order allowing the state to deprive you of the right to have a gun because your mental stability has been questioned--would you willingly comply because the legal framework that permitted this to happen was well intentioned?

Many people in New Mexico, Conservatives, Liberals, Native Americans, Mugwumps, ranchers, Tijerina followers, Libertarians, and contrarians of all stripes, have already answered this question.  Although the issue has a partisan base, it is not partisan.  It is a deep-seated, existential, issue that is beyond the reach of the New Mexico legislature or, indeed, the law.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Breakdown of Law and Order in Mexico
As Troops Settle Into Juárez Again
The Mexican Government Debates
Changing the Constitution to Permit Creation of a National Guard
Two More Executions in Juarez Tonight
**A man was executed in his home tonight in Parajes del Sol, a conflictive neighborhood.
**Juan Francisco Galindo Medrano, 23, was killed tonight in Infonavit Tecnologico, in the Southern part of Juárez, near the airport.  His wife, 16, identified his body.  He was wearing a black jogging suit.  See Diario here and here.
Legislators and governors in Mexico are debating a proposal by President AMLO to amend the Constitution to permit the creation of a National Guard.  A full debate about the details of the proposed National Guard is to be expected, but the initial reaction appears to be positive.

Governors in Mexico are far more powerful than governors in the U.S., and their input into the proposals, as they shake out, will be important.  The Governor of Guerrero, Héctor Astudillo, has come out in favor of the idea, and in the state of Veracruz, where six cartels operate, Governor Cuitláhuac García has endorsed the concept.  Alejandro Murat, Governor of Oaxaca, has given his strong support.  In Durango and Sinaloa, two of the three key states that with Chihuahua comprise the so-called Golden Triangle of drug production, processing, and transportation, both governors have endorsed the proposal.  Governor Javier Corral Jurado, of Chihuahua, has not yet given his support.

Right now the Mexican Senate is debating the issue, but things seem to be moving fast.  Opponents of the project foresee further militarization of society in Mexico and greater assaults on human and civil rights.  Supporters believe it is time to try something different.

This is an important debate.  Stay tuned.
Sicario Saturday Leaves Six Dead

From various reports in Diario: (click here and here)

**A man was found dead with knife wounds in Chaveña, a downtown neighborhood that has seen several homicides in recent months
**A man was beaten, killed with a blow to the head in Col Roma in the Southern part of town
**Three men in a black SUV forced their way into a house in Paso del Norte, three blocks from the Rio Grande/Bravo, and shot a 21-year old man in the head while his family watched.  Diario lists him as the 51st homicide this year in Juárez.
**A man was found dead in an abandoned house, appearing to have been severely beaten and with a gunshot wound to the head in Col Heroes de la Revolucion, in the Southern part of the city.
**Praderas del Pacifico, in the Southern section of town (between Juan Gabriel and Oscar Flores), near the southern end of the airport runway, a man was wounded in an attempted homicide.
** A man was executed in Felipe Angeles, in the Northwest part of the city.
**Col del Real (off Av. Tecnologico by Manuel Clouthier).  César Eduardo Chávez Olivares, 20, was executed as he arrived at a house.  He was with a friend, who was wounded

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Sicarios Ignore Feds:  Three Fatal Shootings Last Night
How Effective were Previous Federal Law Enforcement Efforts in Juárez?

In spite of the presence in Juárez since Wednesday of 1000 newly arrived armed soldiers and police, part of a national program (Operativo de las 17 Regiones) to reduce crime in 17 high priority areas of Mexico, two men were executed last night at about 6:30 pm in Col Azteca, a high crime area.  Both had multiple arrest records for drug-related offenses.  A third was injured.  Then, early this morning two men were shot by gunmen, one fatally, in Col Del Real. (click here and here for Diario stories)

In today's Diario prize-winning Hérika Martinez Prado writes a brief history of previous federal efforts to prevent crime in Juárez.  (click here).  Her findings:

Programa Integral de Seguridad Para Cd. Juárez (PISCJ):  In 2003-2005, under the command of the Federal Preventive Police, and in the face of increasing pressure to stop a wave of feminicides in Juárez, President Vicente Fox sent 300 federal police agents to patrol 35 dangerous neighborhoods.  Two years later, on August 11 2005, the federal government admitted (hard to believe just 14 years ago some governments actually told the truth!) murders and violence against women had actually increased.

Operativo Conjunto Chihuahua (OCCH), (Joint Operation Chihuahua) 2008-2010, under the command of the Mexican Department of Defense/  After a spike in homicides in early March 2008, two thousand troops and 425 federal police were deployed to Chihuahua.  That year, 488 complaints against troops were filed, for illegal searches in homes, as well as cruel or degrading treatment.  In March 2009 another 5000 troops joined the fray.  While Joint Operation Chihuahua was in effect, the homicide rate in Juárez went up from 291 in 2007 (Monarrez data) to 1622 in 2008 to 2667 in 2009 to well over 3000 in 2010.  (Note:  there are conflicting data on the exact number of homicides each year but differences between sources are relatively minor)  Martinez does not note this in her piece today, but extortion rates and kidnappings skyrocketed during OCCH)

On January 16 2010 President Calderon ended OCCH.  placing public security under state control in an effort called Operacion Coordinada Chihuahua. Army troops left town, replaced by 5000 federal police.  Under a lot of political pressure, in October 2011 security for the city reverted back to the municipality of Juárez, and most federal security agents left the city.  Mayor Héctor Murguia named a Lt. Col, Julián Leyzaola, as his security chief.  Complaints against abuse of power rose dramatically under his command, especially in the downtown area, even though homicides continued to decline, from 1977 in 2011 to 803 in 2012 to 524 in 2013 to 450 in 2014 and  354 in 2015.  Since then homicides have gone up to 564 in 2016, 767 in 2017 and 1247 in 2018.

Bottom Line:  What Martinez shows in her piece this morning is that previous experience with federal intervention in Cd.Juárez suggests there is not much relationship between the presence of federal policing agents and the homicide rate.  But the stronger the federal presence, the greater the abuse of the public from the hands of troops or federal police.

Will Operativo de las 17 Regiones be different?

Friday, February 15, 2019

Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Narco-Corrido Singers
Alejandro Villa, La Sangre Nueva del Corrido, Shot Dead in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco

Chalino Sanchez was the first, a narco-corrido writer who couldn't carry a tune, but had the authentic grit and sound of a young man born on a rancho in Culiacán, working for the cartel.  Los Tigres del Norte would have had a very different career path had Chalino not showed them the possibilities of portraying ordinary men caught in the bitter-sweet life-style of drug trafficking in Mexico.  Popular mainly in Southern California, Chalino's fame and record sales skyrocketed after he was murdered in Culiacan, Sinaloa in 1992.

Alejandro Villa, 25, a narco-corrido singer known as the "new blood" of the corrido, born in Badiraguato, Sinaloa, birthplace of Chapo Guzman, was shot and killed Tuesday night in Tlaquepaque.  Unlike Chalino, he came from a world of singers, his grandfather Federico Villa having popularized one of the most famous ranchera songs in Mexico, Caminos de Michoacán.  There is a picture that circulated today, of his grandfather standing proudly with Caro Quintero, the drug capo who ordered DEA agent Kiki Camarena killed in Mexico, served 27 years in the pen and is now back in business, on the lam.  Alejandro captured what it might be like to be a young buck in the cartel business, and many of his promotion photos show him packing iron.  Two examples of his work:

From:  La Despedida de Manuel (Nuevos Corridos 2019):(click here to listen on YouTube) 
le soltaron un pedazo y empezo a vender
gramos de caspa del diablo rapido fue a aprender 
Allí cambiaron las cosas esta vida es curiosa
Siempre fiel a San Juditas
La Humildad siempre cerquita
y se hizo miembro del cartel 
En Tlaquepaque logro ese sueño

 (my translation):

They offered him a brick and he started to sell
grams of coke (the devil's dandruff) and he learned fast
Then, how things changed, how strange life is
Always faithful to St. Jude
Always humble he joined the cartel 
In Tlaquepaque his dream came true.

From Soy Nueva Generacion (2017) (click here for YouTube
Quiero que les quede claro
que el cartel jalisco, aquí sigue rifando
soy de acción, nueva generación
con astucia y con talento transitando
el territorio, en san juan patrullando

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Man Killed by Gunshot This Morning at 6 a.m. As He Leaves Home for Work
In Anapra, On Salmón Street, Which Intersects With the Border Just South of Sunland Park New Mexico

Foto:  Diario de Juàrez Staff

This is What They Look Like
Patrol Cars and 400 Troops Join 200 Federal Police, 100 State, and 300 Municipal Police
Foto:  Gabriel Cardona, Diario de Juárez

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Why Are Crystal Meth Pushers Being Killed?

According to the official story, one of the street gangs in Juárez is trying to wipe out retail sales personnel who traffic in crystal meth. (Which one?  Why?)  For example, out of the 8 persons executed on Monday of this week, at least three were found with messages suggesting the motive of assassination was that the victim was a seller of crystal meth.  Jorge Nava, the prosecutor of the North Zone of Chihuahua (that is, greater Juárez) indicated to Diario (click here) that this has been going on for several months between the two gangs, and that at least part of the uptick in homicides in recent months is due to the increased execution of retail crystal meth pushers.
Brace yourself, Juaritos, the New Plan Against Violence is Unveiled
The AMLO Plan Comes to Town

Here's what it looks like: 
Cells:  eight "cells" have been created to patrol the most dangerous areas of the city:  the Southern part of the city, the South Valley, and the downtown area.  There will also be "filters," (apparently the new word for "checkpoints") in other areas of the city, including inspection of cars.  In addition, an intelligence unit has been put together by the National Defense Department and the Federal Police, to "prioritize objectives."

Patrols:  200 federal police and 400 military troops will begin patrolling today, with the assistance of local and state police, according to a statement by Mayor Cabada.  These patrols have as their main objective to deter the commission of crimes.  We shall see.

Didn't We Go Through This Before?  The last time the military was sent in to solve the problem of violence in Juarez was ten years ago (covered in this blog, see Archives), in 2008-9, when7500 troops and 2500 federal police replaced local top municipal police commanders, presumably because they were likely to be either incompetent or corrupt. 

At first crime went down, but then several things happened:  first, the bad guys began to realize the military patrols were predictable, designed to reassure the public rather than to really deter crime. There was no intelligence analysis behind them.  Criminals simply timed their activities to take place in between patrol movements.  The result was an explosion of extortion and kidnapping as ordinary criminals began to realize law enforcement anarchy reigned in Juarez.  Even the taco stands on wheels were being hit up by extortioners demanding $100 per week for "protection," on the credible pain of death.  I remember one case of a man escaping his kidnappers by jumping out of a two-story building, injuring his leg.  His wife had received his severed thumb in an envelope, along with a price to be paid for his release.

Second, when the military began shooting teenagers for working in chop shops that put false containers in automobiles, the parents began to raise hell.  Third, when it turned out the feds could be corrupted, people concluded the intent of the exercise was not to stop drug trafficking, or even crime.  Fourth, rogue units of the armed forces began to extort civilians--just like the bad guys--human rights abuse from soldiers was widespread, including harassment of women,  and the calls for the feds to withdraw grew loud indeed.  In any event, the stats speak for themselves:  homicides in Juárez went up in Juarez from 320 in 2007 to 1623 in 2008, to 2657 in 2009 and 3115 in 2010.  So much for the efficacy of military patrols.

Where Are We?  From today on, AMLO owns the situation of law enforcement in Juárez.  A significant amount of his reputation as President will depend on how well he handles the current spike in the homicide and  crime rate in what was in 2009 and 2010 the most violent city in the world.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

In Case You Thought There Was Any Doubt:
Chapo Was Found Guilty today in a New York Court, of All Counts

To my knowledge not one in Mexico has yet called for Felipe Calderon and Enrique Peña Nieto to be tried for corruption for taking suitcases full of cash in bribes to protect Chapo's empire in the past 12 years--$100 million dollars in the case of Peña Nieto
La Polaka Praises Trump Speech (?!)

You live and learn:  I would have thought there would be no audience in Juárez for a blogger who thought Trump was great last night.  Yet here we are:  click here and you will see I speak not with forked (or should I say, Trump) tongue.  One quote (my translation from Spanish):

"In this, his most brilliant speech of the past two years, Trump captivated the drowsy El Paso electorate, ripped apart the extreme leftism of the Democratic Party that obstructs its government, and he began an irresistible march toward the White House."

For those who doubt my Spanish, here is the original language.

En este que ha sido su mas brillante discurso en dos años de gobierno, Trump cautivó al adormilado electorado paseño, despedazó el izquierdismo extremo del Partido Demócrata que obstruye su gobierno y comenzó un arrollador destino con rumbo a la Casa Blanca.

In the comment section one reader wrote:  "It looks like the person who wrote this is a journalist seeking refuge in El Paso, who has applied for political asylum and is hoping to get his paperwork approved."

Another commentator wrote:  "La Polaka is brown-nosing Trump...they idolize him like a kitten idolizes king lion..."

Juarez:  Seven Executions Last Night

As Trump's crowd across the river at the Coliseum was warming up in anticipation of his visit, sicarios in Juárez were just beginning a busy night, which ended with a seventh victim at 1:30 this morning.

From various reports of Diario:  (click here and here)

**A man was shot to death shortly after 5 pm in the afternoon in Col Independencia near the Eje Juan Gabriel and the Juárez Industrial Park.  Witnesses said he was an Uber driver.

**a man said to be an employee at a restaurant was killed by gunfire at 6:20 pm on Yepómera near Lucero in Col. de las Torres

**Before Trump ended his speech, about two miles directly South of the Coliseum where he spoke, two men were killed in the patio of a residence in Anáhuac, near the Chaveña municipal cemetery.

**A man was killed on the sidewalk in front of a residence in Col. Hidalgo, near the San Felipe de Jesus parish church just East of downtown.  Hidalgo is a neighborhood adjacent to the Chamizal, now a park, a 450 acre piece of territory President Lyndon Johnson returned to Mexico in 1964, in accordance with international law.  The Park is located about a half mile from where Trump was speaking.

**A man was shot to death around 9:00 pm as he was walking down a dirt street in Col. Tierra Nueva near a Super Servicentro.  His body was found lying face up 

**Shortly after midnight an encobijado was found at Km 33 of the Casas Grandes Highway.  A message written on carboard, suggesting the man was a drug pusher, was found at the scene.  He was wrapped in a black blanket tied with a black ribbon and a white rope.  He was wearing white tennis shoes and had a screwdriver in his pocket.

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Diario de Juárez Speaks On Trump, the Wall, and the Border
From Today's Diario:
While his followers cheer him on at the Coliseum, just a few kilometers away in Tornillo people will wait in vain, living proof of his injustice, along with hundreds of Central Americans in Mexico, for the doors to open at the gates of the increasingly distant American dream. (Diario editorial)
Many people in this city of strong winds and salsa picante resent the idea of having their neighborhoods become symbols of a border wall.  The city has had border barriers for decades, they say, but it is not safe because of these...El Paso, they say, far from proving the need for more barriers, proves that you can transcend the border and embody the spirit of what a border community should be.  DiarioEl Paso is More Than a Wall

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Juárez: Drug Gangs Expanding Business Model to Include Huachicoleo Markets

Capitalizing on strong competitive advantages, flourishing distribution systems throughout the city, and healthy cash flows, drug gangs in Cd. Juárez appear to be expanding into the lucrative huachicoleo (stolen gasoline) market.

State prosecutor César Augusto Peniche told Diario (click here), "(we) believe (drug-related) criminal organizations have extended their reach into this illegal practice (huachicoleo), and they are competing with each other for the distribution (of gasoline stolen from Pemex) through their networks in the city."

With an estimated 6000 picaderos (retail outlets for drugs) in the Greater Juárez area, split between several rival gangs, it would seem relatively inexpensive and easy for distributors to accommodate the sale of a couple of gallons of gasoline along with a dose or two of dope for the existing and rapidly expanding client base.

According to Peniche, thus far the perforations into existing gasoline pipelines is concentrated in the area between Km. 20 and the edge of the urban  beltway, especially in Col Granjas Polo Gamboa, South of the Airport on the El Porvenir highway, close to the Storage and Distribution facilities of Pemex.

In his remarks Peniche did not specify whether he believed the drug organizations would integrate the actual clandestine perforation of existing pipelines into a single integrated process from perforation and extraction of gasoline to distribution throughout the city using existing networks that are currently distributing heroin, crystal meth, cocaine, and other substances.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Sicario Saturday in Juárez:
Seven Down by Sunset; 28 and Counting for the Month
Encobijados Are the Rule this Saturday

From Diario de Juárez (click here and here and here)
**A man was beaten to death and then tossed down a ravine in an empty property near Lomas Del Valle, close to the Juárez-Porvenir highway.  He was discovered early in the morning by a passerby.

**Encobijado with Message:  A man was beaten to death, wrapped in a blue sheet, and dropped off under a bridge in Barrio Chaveña.  Several other bodies have been left at this same location in recent months.  One of the sheets covering the man said, "this is to all those que venden (who sell) esta chingadera."  Several doses of crystal meth were also found next to the body.

**Two more encobijados were found in an informal garbage dump between two properties, apparently beaten to death, encobijados, and covered by a black tarp, in Col. Carlos Castillo, in the Southern part of town.

**An encobijado was found in the cemetary of el Sauzal, a neighborhood in the Southern part of the city, between Socorro and San Elizario.

**A man was executed  in Urbi Villa del Cedro Etapa 2, this afternoon.  Another man was wounded by a gunshot to the mouth in Bellavista this afternoon.
Trump Circus Comes to El Paso
Scheduled to Speak at the El Paso County Coliseum Monday at 7 PM
Cruz and Gov. Greg Abbot Will Be There
Traffic and Common Sense Will be Disrupted 
The Trump Carnival Show will be available to curiosity seekers-of-the-strange-and-bizarrre, for free, starring Senator Ted Cruz and Governor Abbot and the Carnival Barker-in-Chief (plus I would guess a lot of local elected officials), at the el Paso County Coliseum at 7 PM on Monday.  El Paso seems giddy at the prospect of being able to inform the Waller-in-Chief in person that El Paso is NOT and has not been one of the most dangerous cities in the US., as reported in the State of the Onion Address the other day.  This is a campaign stop, not, I believe, an official visit, but is there any difference between the two any more?  Protestors will undoubtedly be on hand outside the Coliseum doing their thing.  Nothing new or serious is likely to come out of the visit, but fun will be had by all.

Breakdown of Law and Order in Mexico
The Huachicolero Toll Last Year
La Polaka Reports 6000 gallons of stolen gas found on buses used to transport workers to maquila plants
From Diario:  (click here for story)  
 The theft of gasoline by huachicoleros in the Juárez-Chihuahua and the Chihuahua-Gomez (Durango) pipelines last year amounted to about $20 million (US) dollars per month, according to a newly released inter-agency official report.  This amounts to about 140,000 barrels of oil per month or about 6 million gallons for the year.  Authorities were unable to calculate how much was stolen from the El Paso-Juarez pipeline, although they know there have been thefts in that pipeline. 
While the clandestine perforation of pipelines has been going on for at least six years, 2018 produced a dramatic increase, creating gasoline shortages at many gas stations in many areas of the country.   In 2013 41 illegal perforations were detected by Pemex in these pipelines.  In 2017 85 illegal perforations were detected, and in the first ten months of 2018 112 "tomas" were detected.

La Polaka (click here for story) reports authorities raided a lot used to park buses and other transportation vehicles used to carry maquila workers to and from work, finding 25,000 liters (about 6000 gallons) of stolen gas, enough to service nearly 100 vehicles.