Articles by: Kristin Bricker
On September 30, about 1,000 Ecuadoran national police officers staged a rebellion, accusing Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa of vetoing benefits enjoyed by the country's public servants. However, as well-coordinated protests spread over four of Ecuador's provinces, and with the police shooting to kill, the Correa administration accused the country's right-wing opposition of planning a coup. Labor and indigenous organizations in Ecuador, however, have taken a more nuanced line. The police rebellion occurred, they argue, because Ecuador’s right wing is taking advantage of weaknesses created by Correa’s alienating governing style.
On July 4, Oaxacans made history: After 80 years of one-party rule, an opposition gubernatorial candidate defeated the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) at the polls. However, Oaxaca's lame duck and divisive governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, will hand over a volatile political climate to the new administration. Oaxaca still lives in the wake of the 2006 social conflict that nearly drove Ruiz Ortiz from office. Now this tension is most prominently symbolized by a low-intensity war that continues in San Juan Copala where on April 27 gunmen ambushed an aid caravan to the town, killing two activists.
On April 27, gunmen killed two activists on their way to the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copala, Oaxaca, as a part of an international aid caravan. The caravan’s goal was to break a paramilitary siege that has left San Juan Copala, in the indigenous Triqui region of southern Mexico, cut off from the outside world since January, and to deliver food, clothing, and medicine. The attack, representative of Mexico's long history of paramilitarism, again exposes the country's political war against dissent, a reality too often hidden amidst Mexico's daily drug-related violence.
In March a high-octane U.S. delegation went to Mexico that included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and several military, security, and intelligence officials to negotiate phase two of the Merida Initative, a multi-billion dollar U.S. military and police aid package to Mexico. Officials claim that this new phase will be a reformed version of the original, focusing less on military support and more on curbing drug demand in the United States. However, beneath the rhetoric, the military strategy continues to be the number one priority, as Mexican soldiers learn from U.S. military personnel counter-insurgency tactics used in Iraq and Afghanistan, "where the enemy lives among civilians."
Mexico's Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of a legal reform that limits the amount of information the federal Attorney General's Office (PGR) must hand over to the government's National Human Rights Commission (CNDH). The CNDH argues that the new law impedes its access to evidence with investigations into PGR officials, especially from the Federal Ministerial Police, who have allegedly committed many human rights abuses in the war on drugs. Washington, however, has taken very little notice of this lack of "transparency and accountability," even though it is one of the human rights conditions included in the Merida Initiative.