Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Violence in Chihuahua:  Still a Bad Year
Twenty Eight Police Killed in 2018, Twelve So Far This year

Diario:  Last Sunday morning at 3 a.m. Leonel Escobar, 24, was killed by gunfire in Col. Insurgentes, Juárez, two hours after his shift as a special agent ended.  He was the twelfth police officer killed so far this year in the state of Chihuahua.

Readers will recall that the assassination on March 3 of the sub-director of the Juárez Police, Adrian Matsumoto while he was driving with members of his family in Casas Grandes.  Three police officers were killed in a single attack using military-grade weapons in Gomez Farias (Northwest of Chihuahua City), on March 8.  Seven other police officers were gunned down so far this year.

Foto:  Carlos Sanchez, Diario de Juárez

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Guest Column
Legislature Struggles to Clean Up Mental Health Mess

Richard McGee

Richard McGee is retired, and resides in Las Cruces.

In June 2013 the Martinez administration, asserting that an audit had revealed 15 nonprofit groups providing mental health treatment for the poor had over-billed Medicaid by as much as $36 million, cancelled contracts with these groups.  Several companies from Arizona came in to replace them.

But reporting from the Santa Fe New Mexican revealed that months before the audits were complete the Martinez administration was already paying at least one of the Arizona companies for salaries, travel, and legal fees.  One payment to Agave Health, Inc., an Arizona firm, was made before the audit had even begun.  The affected companies were not given a chance to reply before their contracts were withdrawn.  Since then four Arizona non-profits contracted to fill the positions of the New Mexico firms left the state, leaving many folks high and dry, without access to mental health care.  The state's providers were subsequently cleared of charges of wrongdoing, except for one extremely small case of an overpayment.

The movida by the Martinez administration was highly inappropriate, partly because it was so lacking in tranparency, partly because it was unfair for the accused organizations not to be able to respond to the accusations before losing their contracts; and partly because negotiations with the firms receiving new contracts were made prior to the accusations.

Several bills were introduced by Sen. Mary Kay Papen to try to restore some semblance of order to the mess left in the wake of this longstanding scandal.

One of them, endorsed by the New Mexico Finance Authority Oversight Committee, makes certain behavioral health care clinic eligible for capital funding

It provides for the “repair, renovation or construction of a behavioral health facility; purchase of land; or acquisition of capital equipment of a long-term nature; a nonprofit behavioral health facility that  is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation for federal income tax purposes and serves primarily sick and indigent patients; or (2) a behavioral health care clinic that operates in a rural or other health care underserved area of the state, that is owned by a county or municipality and that meets department requirements for eligibility.

The bill has passed the Senate and has received a "do pass" recommendations from two House committees, including the House Appropriations committee.  A lot more needs to be done to make mental health care work will in New Mexico.  This moves the ball forward.

Friday, March 8, 2019

The 2019  Legislative Session in New Mexico:  Three Comments

We will leave Chihuahua alone with its grief for a few days.  Our dynamic, potentially important partner to the South is still reeling from violence, hoping a National Guard might stem the tide, and praying the exploding drug addiction among young people can be reversed.  But before leaving, one thought:

Isn't it time state government began spending some energy devising a foreign policy toward Chihuahua?  That is to say, a coherent, public, border policy of mutual benefit to both sides that consists of more than Wall trash-talk?  Imagine Beto as Governor of Texas.  Whatever else you think of him, as governor he would change the national conversation from the border as evil to the border as opportunity.  Shouldn't New Mexico step into this imaginary space as well?  How about some new ideas for the border?  NAFTA was a long long time ago.  Is New Mexico capable of regional leadership?  I was hopeful with Big Bill, but, most will agree, he just made things worse on the border, among other reasons by sticking his nose in Chihuahua politics way back in 2003.  I was hoping to help Susana with border issues when I became a member of her cabinet, but I was frozen out from the very beginning and the border, for her, was simply a photo op.  Is it time, now, to give this another try?

Three Comments on the NM Legislature:

First the good news:  There is energy in the crop of newly-elected legislators.  After eight years of deliberate non-governance, followed by eight years of expensive smoke-and-mirroring from a president-wannabe, followed by eight years of sullen, petulant, ineptness, the state is languishing at the bottom of the barrel in just about everything citizens want from government.  The election of new faces--any faces--in New Mexico is an indicator of a public desperation not often captured by pollsters, whose major interests lie in handicapping the horse race, not in improving the downs experience for the average Joe. The earnestness and lack of cynicism, so far, from the new crop is good news.

The bad news is that earnestness is not enough, and the adults in the room, that is to say, the Senate, with members in both parties, needs to find a way in the waning days to encourage the enthusiasm--and the forces behind them--while firmly steering the ship away from the shoals when the children, mischievous or innocent, head that way.  This is not a new role for the Senate; indeed, it seems to function best in this parental posture.

Second:  major proposed legislation this year seems to offer symbolic gratification, feel-good stuff, not sound governance.  Adding $400 million (17%) to public education sounds like a serious investment for a state ranking 50.  But Richardson already threw money at schools 15 years ago and the achievement scores of students--the real problem of education in New Mexico--did not go up and the rankings went down from 47  to 48 or 49. Salaries were tied to improved credentials of teachers, but improved credentials did not improve student scores.  The new legislation. likewise, has nothing in it to suggest a serious accounting to the public for this huge expenditure.  Many states spending much less per pupil than we do rank much higher.  Arizona and Utah are good examples, right next door.

New cabinet agency for early childhood?  Sounds good, but administratively expensive, and likely to further fragment an already highly fragmented, dysfunctional, system. What kind of workforce will New Mexico need 20-40 years from now?  What are our educational institutions doing to get us there?  What goals for improving student achievement might we realistically be able to meet in the next ten years?  Cut the ethnic achievement gaps in half?  Catch up to the national average scores in math and reading?  Triple the number of college graduates in STEM degrees?  These questions, being asked in many states, aren't even on the table in New Mexico.  But until we wrestle with them we will lurch from fad to fad, with little to show for it.  This year it was early childhood.  Decades ago it was "bilingual" education. Twenty years ago it was charter schools.   There is no bilingual education in New Mexico today.  We don't even encourage bilingualism, in spite of a constitutional mandate to do so.  And after many years of experience, charter schools, as a whole, perform no better than public schools.  New Mexico has sunk to 50 out of 50 in education and we have no plan or timetable to get us back to 48, much less a mediocre 25. Current proposals amount to an expensive wish and a prayer, requiring no serious effort on anybody's part

Third, what appears to have captured the public imagination so far this year in politics is not the move to give teachers a raise, not the early childhood education commotion, not the fixing of the Susana-led wreckage of mental health delivery systems in New Mexico.  It is the proposal to make it harder for some people, presumably those with risky profiles, to buy a gun.  This is the issue that will be remembered.  Mora, the bluest of blue counties, is just the latest in a rash of counties drawing a line in the sand, and expect some of the leaders who jumped into the sanctuary issue to be running in primaries a year from right now.  Perhaps even more important, this drives a deep wedge between Hispanic citizens everywhere and the Democratic Party, just as the abortion issue alienated hundreds of thousands of Hispanics who resented the imposition of national Democratic themes into local New Mexico mores.  Bringing Washington issues to New Mexico seldom pays off.  Hispanics were open to Johnson in 1994; they were open to Susana in 2010.  What has the Democratic Party done for them lately?

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Death by Gunfire of Adrián Matsumoto
Commander of the Juárez Municipal Police Intelligence Group
He Will be Honored in Nuevo Casas Grandes in a Ceremony Today
One Man Shot Dead, Another Arrested, Suspected of Participating in the Ambush

From Reports in Diario de Juárez:

It was Sunday afternoon.  Commander Matsumoto, 42, had taken a day off from his job in Juárez and went home to be with his family in Nuevo Casas Grandes.  At about 4:30 p.m., he was driving a white Dodge Ram pickup with his family, apparently after a Sunday drive, when he noticed he was surrounded by vehicles.  He had been careless, even reckless, given who he was.  Now he was in an ambush.

To protect his family from harm's way he got out of the cab, walked forward, and stood in the middle of the street.  His body was riddled with at least 50 bullets while his family watched.

Matsumoto was trained in the U.S. for intelligence investigation, SWAT operations, and first aid, as well as in Mexico for police work.  He had a long career in Chihuahua, in various jobs including second in command at Cereso prison in Juárez, Director of Municipal Public Security in Nuevo Casas Grandes, state police investigator, and second in command of Municipal Police in Juárez.

Controversy had followed him everywhere (click here) .  He was threatened in publicly displayed narco-mantas for "working with groups that operate in the city.". He was accused of abuse of authority and making arbitrary arrests.  In an incident that took place last December he was accused of bursting into a household with other agents, shooting a man, and arresting five men, a woman, and two children.  After learning that the people arrested had been beaten, the judge released them.  They claimed items in the household had been stolen.  On January 29 he killed a man, presumably a burglar, who, finding himself surrounded by police pulled out a gun.

Nuevo Casas Grandes is not at this juncture a good place to be careless about security, especially if you have been a cop there.  The Juárez and Sinaloa cartels operate continually in much of the Western portion of Chihuahua, sometimes competing against each other, sometimes assaulting police.

I am not qualified to render a serious evaluation of Matsumoto's contributions to law enforcement in Juárez. I do know that he represented a different kind of police commander, one with far more professional training and commitment, than those of, say twenty years ago, one with a distinctive kind of style, verve, that many found appealing.  His aplomb, facing unexpected, immediate death, will be remembered.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Mexico National Guard Amendment Goes to State Legislatures

As predicted, the Mexican Chamber of Deputies on Thursday almost unanimously, approved the constitutional amendment to create a National Guard, composed of federal police and military personnel.  The measure now will be sent to the 31 state legislatures, where it seems likely to be passed by at least the 16 legislatures required to include it in the constitution.  Citizen groups in Chihuahua are exected to ask the president , in Chihuahua on Saturday, to send the National Guard to areas suffering violence, such as the community of Rubio, just North of Cuauhtemoc, the site of attacks on public figures from criminal organizationsIt is unclear at this point how long it might take the National Guard to be constituted as an operational unit, should it pass quickly through 16 state legislatures.

State of the State Address Today in Chihuahua, as AMLO visits Capital
Attacks on Police, Homicides, Continue Throughout Much of the State
Juárez February Closes With Three More Homicides

**PAN Governor Javier Corral will deliver his second state of the state address in Chihuahua today, as hundreds of families grieve for the victims of recent homicides in large portions of the state.
  • Much of the area around Copper Canyon is under control of organized crime, and large portions of the Western part of the state--the area from Cuauhtémoc (in the Menonite areas) to Ignacio Zaragoza, Madero, Temósachic, Gomez Farias, and up to Nueva Casas Grandes and  Casas Grandes--has been subject to a barrage of lethal attacks against constituted authority.  Juárez is undergoing a spike in homicides with levels not seen since 2011.  The fear level a few months ago among police officers was such that in the most affected areas many simply refused to go to work
  • In Ignacio Zaragoza a trustee of the municipality was kidnapped.  Last year the city treasurer was kidnapped.  The administrative officer for the Municipal police in Cuauhtémoc and his bodyguard were killed on Tuesday.
  • AMLO is scheduled to appear at 11 a.m. this morning in Chihuahua, at the Plaza del Angel, for a ceremonial event inaugurating a pension plan for disabled persons.
**An encobijado was found in Felipe Angeles, the neighborhood just across the river from UTEP, early this morning.  A man was shot to death at 4 p.m. yesteday afternoon at the same location in Quintas del Real where the night watchman for a gated residential area was killed. And a man was executed last night by gunfire two blocks from Oscar Flores, South of the Airport.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Strangled on Tuesday in Anáhuac (Juárez)
With Four Young Stangled Men
The Tragic End of Jaqueline Avalos, 21, Mother of Three

Jaqueline Avalos was addicted to crystal meth.  Family members yesterday told Diario (click here) they had sent her for treatment several times without success.  Apparently, she ended up selling drugs in her house and somehow ran afoul of someone, possibly a local dealer or street gang

Whatever the case, she left her three children with family members a few days ago, and asked her brother, aged 17,  to stay with her at her house.  Neighbors told  Diario the house was used frequently for "scandalous" parties.  This suggests her house had become a picadero, or safe house, where people could buy and consume drugs.  On Tuesday afternoon at 5 p.m.  Jaqueline was found dead in the house, strangled, along with her brother and three more young men, apparently in their early 20's.  According to Diario the bodies each had a wire wrapped around the neck, with multiple knife wounds to the neck.  Their hands and feet were bound with electrical cords.  Investigators found a 20-inch knife nearby.

Jorge Nava, state prosecutor for the Northern Zone (of Chihuahua) indicated statements from witnesses who knew the victims, suggest the motive of the homicide was related to the sale of drugs and Jaqueline was probably the principal target of the attack.  

This story has some of the elements of the massacre (scroll down from here to see my post on August 1, 2018) of eleven youths in Col Praderas de los Oasis, in Southern Juárez, last August.  Jaqueline lived just off Municipio Libre, a block from the Galeana park.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Breakdown of Law and Order in Chihuahua
One More Down on a February Wednesday in Juaritos
More Huachicoleo Leaks from Pemex Pipelines

**A woman was gunned down on the street in Felipe Ángeles, the neighborhood just across the river from UTEP. (El Mexicano Online, click here)

**State Prosecutor César Augusto Peniche Espejel told Diario (click here) Pemex losses nationwide to illegal perforation, and sale of, gasoline from national pipelines is costing Pemex $100 million (US) per month.  New illegal perforations are still being discovered in the Juárez region, for sales in the local market.  While Juárez does not account for the greatest losses in the country, it is the fastest growing region for Huachicoleo
Juárez February Toll 90 Homicides So Far and Still Counting
Diario Lists Eight Homicides Yesterday, Feb. 26, La Polaka Counts Nine
Five of the Victims Were Bound,  Found Murdered in a Residence 

**One was a man exercising yesterday morning in a gym (Diario, click here) when two sicarios burst in and shot him in the head in front of about ten fellow exercisers.  According to witnesses he had a brief communication with killers and did not try to defend himself.  His body slumped over a barbell with weights and there was a thin stream of blood.

**Another was an older night watchman in his post at the gate of a residential neighborhood in Quintas de Real, near the river on the East side of town.

**Another (click here) was wounded in a homicide attempt at 6 pm in La Libertad, on the West side of town.  At 7:30 p.m. a man was shot dead on the street in the same neighborhood.

**Five bodies, hands and feet tied, were found lifeless in a home in Anáhuac, just South of downtown. Cause of death not revealed yet, but witnesses say the victims were youths addicted to crystal meth. (click here).  There were conflicting reports as to whether the victims were strangled or bludgeoned to death.

**La Polaka reported the death of a man on Feldespar and Nacar, on the West side of town.  He was shot in the arm, chest, face, and head. (click here)

Monday, February 25, 2019

Morena Leader in Mexican Chamber of Deputies Predicts National Guard Approval This Week
Three More Homicides in Juárez on Sunday

Mario Delgado, Leader of the Morena Party (AMLO's party), the largest party represented in the Chamber of Deputies, predicts a vote this week will make no changes to the President's proposal to create a National Guard, and it will pass, sending the bill to the state legislatures for approval.  Since the proposal requires a constitutional change it must be passed by at least 16 states.

This feels a lot like the politics of security in the US after 911, when Congress gave President George W. Bush what amounted to a blank check to deal with the attack on the Twin Towers.  Nearly two decades later many in the US feel the actions taken were not well thought out and resulted in an unprecedented (and often abused) appropriation of executive power in national security affairs. 

Basically the same situation exists in Mexico today:  law and order has been breaking down in many states.  People are hungry for effective action after many failed attempts, and the largely compliant legislature is not in a mood to quibble about details.  Opposition leaders in the legislature, and governors, who might question some of the details are undoubtedly telling themselves that AMLO will own security in Mexico after this and if it doesn't work (and there are reasons to believe it will not) it will simply be easier six years from now to elect a President in one of the traditional political parties whose corruption and ineffectiveness contributed heavily to the election of a socialist as President.

Creating a National Guard is a major move, and probably deserves a lot more attention to detail than it will receive. 

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Juárez:  Sixty Five Homicides and Counting in February

**Two men riding bicycles on 16 de Septiembre yesterday afternoon were gunned down by men who got down from a car they were in and started shooting.  One was killed, the other wounded.  The attack took place in front of the Oxxo convenience store three blocks from the Shangrila and Los Arcos Restaurants. (Diario, click here for story)
Foto:  Diario Staff
**A man was killed late last night in a knife attack just outside Cerveceria 19, a beer joint on Teófilo Borunda and Paseo de la Victoria, across the street from the US Consular building in a tony area of town.  Apparently there was an argument within a group of several people drinking at the bar, which resulted in the attack.  Two men were arrested.  (click here for story in El Mexicano)

Foto Diario de Juarez

**Another man was killed by gunfire yesterday afternoon, inside a home in Col. Cuauhtémoc, downtown, near the Santa Fe bridge. (El Mexicano, click here for story)

**The body of a man was found Saturday morning in an empty lot in the far South area of Juárez in Col. Cerradas de San Pedro. (El Mexicano, click here for story)

**  A man was killed by gunfire at the intersection of Paseo de la Cúpula and Paseo de los Arcos in Villa Colonial, in South Juarez. (La Polaka, click here for story)
The Breakdown in Law and Order in Mexico
Mexico Senate Approves Proposed National Guard

The Mexican Senate has approved a constitutional amendment permitting the creation of a national guard to be composed of members of the armed forces and existing federal police.  The measure passed by a vote of 127-0.  It must still be approved by a majority of state legislatures.

The unanimous vote is less an endorsement for creating yet another police force than it is an indicator of the weakness of major political parties, the PRI, the PAN, and the PRD.  The PRI government which ended in late 2018 was mired by corruption, including that of the President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto/  Moreover, several PRI governors have been accused of corruption, including César Duarte, Governor of Chihuahua from 2010-2016, hiding in the US hoping to avoid prosecution. The PAN too has been known for widespread corruption both at the national and state levels.  In spite of lavish spending on security the PRI and PAN have failed to control growing violence and crime from organized gangs and cartels.  Aside from severe credibility problems the vote for the national guard is something like the votes to expand executive power after 911:  a vote against leaves a legislator vulnerable to criticism of obstructionism and indifference to the problem.

Mexicans have now given AMLOa great deal of elbow room to deal with escalating violence and crime.  But they will not forgive him if he fails to do something about it.  He owns the problem.

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