This blog covers Mexican politics, U.S.-Mexico relations, and Mexico’s place in the (licit and illicit) global economy. On the one hand, the blog is drawn to stories about guns, money, and the Mexican state (or at least two of the three). On the other hand, it is drawn to stories of civic resistance, everyday survival, and the possibilities of political transformation. Its major concerns are with the ubiquity of violence, the complexity of survival, and the opacity of rule in this perplexed and suffering country.
November 01, 2011
On these first two days of November, known as All Saints Day and the Day of the Dead, many Mexicans bring offerings to their relatives, friends, and sympathetic public figures who have died within living memory. This year, groups around the country are using the occasion to remember the thousands who died violently over the past year at the hand of combatants in the country’s many-sided war on organized crime.
October 25, 2011
Just a few days after President Felipe Calderón excoriated the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party for wanting to dialogue with Mexico’s drug traffickers (a charge PRIistas vigorously deny), his position was undermined by a proposal of a prominent member of his own party and by comments made by U.S. officials.
October 18, 2011
Javier Sicilia, the poet, speaking to cabinet members of the Calderón government on behalf of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity: "Your decisions [to use the military to fight drug trafficking], in addition to generating more violence and terror, are provoking the rise of paramilitary groups who, in this rarified and atrocious atmosphere, feel authorized to practice, killing more Mexicans with impunity."
October 11, 2011
There is some disagreement in Mexico as to whether the state and civil society are engaged in a tough battle against organized crime, or whether organized crime has so permeated these institutions that it is no longer a separate entity. The emergence of a group called the Mata Zetas (Zeta Killers) that has sworn to rid Mexico of its most brutal criminal predators, the Zetas, but which has strong and acknowledged links to rival criminal groups, has brought this argument to a head.
October 04, 2011
Every year some 400,000 undocumented Central Americans cross Mexico trying to make their way to a better life in the United States. Most of them successfully make the trip, but many die, disappear, or are kidnapped en route. As they pass through Mexico they frequently encounter great brutality, but they also meet with great humanity.
September 27, 2011
Last Tuesday, in broad daylight, 35 bodies were dumped around the city of Veracruz. All the bodies had a Z painted on their torsos, presumably indicating membership in Mexico’s most brutal and vicious criminal gang, the Zetas. The Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel took responsibility for the killings, and is presenting itself as a paramilitary force, fighting alongside “the people.” What is happening is ominous, as the militarization of the drug war is spawns competing armies.
September 20, 2011
It is not likely that the small but persistent pacifist movement—the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity—will bring a genuine internal peace to Mexico any time soon, but its growing visibility and its persistence in the face of threats and smug dismissals from all sides is encouraging.
September 13, 2011
In Sunday's presidential election, Mexico’s southern neighbors gave some 60% of their votes to two candidates of the hard right who will now face each other in a November 6 runoff. It was disheartening to many Mexicans to see the "iron fist" emerge as a symbol of the Guatemala campaign’s leading candidates.
September 06, 2011
When the bodies of two female reporters were found dead in Mexico City last Thursday, public opinion questioned whether their murder should be investigated as a crime against free expression or a crime against women. Before any evidence was gathered, it was assumed that they were killed because they were reporters on the trail of information that somebody didn’t want uncovered. The second supposition was that they were killed simply because they were women.
August 30, 2011
Last Thursday, five or six armed men walked into the Casino Royale, a gambling house in Monterrey, Mexico, ordered patrons and employees to leave, and then quickly set fire to the place. At least 52 people died in the blaze. President Calderón called the attack an act of "terrorism," though the crime does not appear to have much to do with conventional terrorism, but rather with a fight for economic profits and market share.