Posts by: Fred Rosen

May 1, 2012
Fred Rosen

In Mexico, it is not only Mexican institutions that play the impunity game. While it has become commonplace to argue that the most important U.S. export is “the rule of law,” U.S. institutions have played an important role in reinforcing a transnational culture of impunity. And Mexicans have been paying attention.

Apr 24, 2012
Fred Rosen

Just a year ago the indigenous Purépecha community of Cherán established a self-imposed “state of siege” to protect itself from the illegal logging that was decimating the community’s forests. This past Wednesday, April 18, the communal council of Cherán reported that a group of 20 comuneros engaged in a project of reforestation were ambushed by an armed group, leaving two dead and two others seriously wounded.

Feb 13, 2012
Fred Rosen

"In Mexico we have the case of Monterrey, a wealthy, dynamic northern city that is supposed to be an example for the rest of the country to follow..... But when we arrived in Monterrey we found a destroyed city. We found a city with no social fabric; a city built on an economic paradigm of competition, on the legal form of criminality, because competition is another form of violence."

Jan 3, 2012
Fred Rosen

There is a broad movement for an end to the violence that has been gripping many parts of Mexico. But there is a major disconnect between, on the one hand, the movements that have arisen from (and remain in) civil society and, on the other hand, movements that seek state power through the organization of political parties.

Dec 20, 2011
Fred Rosen

Criminality and corrupt authoritarian politics have a tendency to blend, especially when large sums of money are available to grant impunity to certain citizens. Over the past three weeks, for example, Mexicans have witnessed a number of deliberate attacks—whose obvious foretelling was conspicuously ignored by state authorities—on political activists.

Dec 13, 2011
Fred Rosen

This past December 2 and 3, in Caracas, the heads of 33 Latin American and Caribbean states signed on to a project that has long been dear to Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez's heart. Conservative Mexican president Felipe Calderón opened the founding “presidential summit” of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) with phrases Chávez has long championed.

Nov 28, 2011
Fred Rosen

The Mexican president in the Dock? Well, not yet, but charges of “crimes against humanity” were filed last Friday in the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands against President Felipe Calderón, the Secretaries of Mexico’s Army, Navy and Public Safety, and notorious drug trafficker Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.

Nov 22, 2011
Fred Rosen

With the virtual nomination of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) as presidential candidate of Mexico’s multiple lefts last week, the 2012 Mexican campaign began to define itself. Two independent polling agencies confirmed what followers of Mexican politics already knew: López Obrador, the left’s 2006 presidential nominee, is one of the most popular and charismatic figures on the left and also one of the most polarizing.

Nov 14, 2011
Fred Rosen

As this is written, Mexico’s electoral lefts are anxiously awaiting the results of two public opinion polls that will determine the identity of their presidential candidate in next summer’s national election. The polls are meant to measure the relative strengths of the left’s two declared presidential candidates: 2006 presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Mexico City’s current mayor, Marcelo Ebrard.

Nov 7, 2011
Fred Rosen

A year and a half ago, the Mexican magazine Proceso reported on the presence of a U.S. Office of Bi-National Intelligence (OBI), occupying several suites of offices in a tall building on Mexico City’s upscale Paseo de la Reforma, just a few blocks from the U.S. Embassy. The OBI continues to house an alphabet soup of U.S. intelligence agencies, the DEA, DIA, CIA, FBI, ATF, and others.

Nov 1, 2011
Fred Rosen

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.

Oct 25, 2011
Fred Rosen

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.

Oct 18, 2011
Fred Rosen

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."

Oct 11, 2011
Fred Rosen

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.

Oct 4, 2011
Fred Rosen

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.

Sep 27, 2011
Fred Rosen

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.

Sep 20, 2011
Fred Rosen

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.

Sep 13, 2011
Fred Rosen

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.

Sep 6, 2011
Fred Rosen

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.

Aug 30, 2011
Fred Rosen

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.

Aug 23, 2011
Fred Rosen

As Mexico gears up for next summer’s presidential election, the country’s electoral “lefts” are deeply divided. The mere fact that Mexico’s “lefts” are almost always referred to here in the plural, even when the discussion is limited to the electoral arena, highlights this division.

Aug 16, 2011
Fred Rosen

I blogged last week about the Obama administration’s attempt to control drug-war damage by regulating the flow of arms southward across the U.S.-Mexican border. This week we will look at a contradiction: The President’s people seek to control the damage, but at the same time they want to up the ante. You can’t go both ways at the same time.

Aug 9, 2011
Fred Rosen

This coming Sunday—or so the U.S. Justice Department has ordered—gun dealers in the four U.S. states that border on Mexico will be required to report sales of two or more high-powered rifles to the same person within any five-day period. The idea is to stem the flow of military-style weapons from the United States to Mexico, where such weapons have been implicated in some of the most atrocious excesses of the crime wars, and cannot be legally sold to private individuals. The National Rifle Association (NRA), of course, is suing to block the order.

Aug 2, 2011
Fred Rosen

A week and a half ago, a group of activists and immigrants began a trek from various locations in Guatemala and Mexico’s southern border to Mexico City. Among them were anguished mothers and fathers carrying portraits of their missing sons and daughters. The mothers, in particular, looked, talked, and mourned like any other “mothers of the disappeared”—decades ago in Argentina and Chile; more recently in Guatemala and El Salvador—only this time their sons and daughters were not disappeared for being radical activists, but for being undocumented migrants trying to make their way northward.

Jul 26, 2011
Fred Rosen

One step forward: Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled on July 12 that members of the military could not be covered by military immunity (fuero) in cases involving the violation of civilian rights. The court ruled unanimously that military personnel accused of crimes against civilians must be tried by civilians, not by their fellow soldiers. The military, ruled the Court, must be held accountable to civilian authority.

Jul 19, 2011
Fred Rosen

Mexico’s Secretary of the Treasury, Ernesto Cordero, recently provoked some outrage when he announced that Mexico “was no longer a poor country.” Mexico, he tweeted to the press, echoing the line of the ruling National Action Party (PAN), “is now a middle income country.”

Jul 12, 2011
Fred Rosen

“For some,” writes Javier Sicilia, responding to critics within his own fledgling movement, “to dialogue is to capitulate.” If you haven’t humiliated your adversary, you have failed. But to change the dynamic of the violence that has beset the country over, especially, the past five years, he argues, it is necessary to change the discourse of violence. “Since March 28,” he writes, “when the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity began its work, there began a change in the language of war and pain.”

Jul 5, 2011
Fred Rosen

To no one’s great surprise, Mexico’s once-and-future ruling party (or so it seems), the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), scored major victories in four state elections this Sunday. Mexico State has been governed by the PRI (or its direct ancestors) for over 80 years and that was not expected to change after Sunday’s election. The magnitude of the party’s victory, however, was surprising, impressive and a worrisome sign of its return to hegemony.

Jun 28, 2011
Fred Rosen

Last Thursday, President Felipe Calderón held a highly publicized encounter with several victims of the extreme violence that has accompanied his ongoing war against drug trafficking and organized crime. The victims didn’t succeed in getting Calderón to apologize for the inordinate number of deaths and disappearances that have occurred on his drug-war watch, but they did get the president to listen to tales of immense suffering.  

Jun 21, 2011
Fred Rosen

Central American migrants are the most vulnerable of the vulnerable. Their resources are few and once they leave home they have no legal rights. Crossing Mexico, they are routinely held captive and extorted, not only by criminal gangs, but by unscrupulous public officials, private guards, transporters and even their own guides as they make their way northward. Sometimes, they simply disappear—not infrequently into enforced prostitution or perhaps into common graves.

Jun 14, 2011
Fred Rosen

Last weekend, while in California, Mexico’s free-trading, conservative president, Felipe Calderón identified some of his principal political enemies: U.S. Arms Dealers, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and Mexican pacifists. He named no names, but the identities were clear.
He was invited to Palo Alto to deliver Sunday’s commencement address at Stanford University. A portion of his speech included a sharp, campaign-style attack on Mexico’s once, but no longer dominant PRI.

Jun 7, 2011
Fred Rosen

 
There are times in which the enforcement of the law may represent a step backward for the rule of law. Jorge Hank Rhon, a powerful figure in Mexico’s once-dominant Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), was arrested before dawn last Saturday for the possession of a sizable illegal arsenal in his home. He may not be one of the world's good guys, but the circumstances and timing of his arrest are suspicious.

May 30, 2011
Fred Rosen

For many Mexicans, holding a decent, steady job has become either a distant memory or a fading hope. An increasing number are opting to simply call out their trades on the street, offer their services or sell what they can on the street and other public spaces. Or leave the country. Or accept an offer—plomo o plata (a bullet or a nice sum of money)—they can’t refuse.

May 24, 2011
Fred Rosen

Last week, President Felipe Calderón spent two days in Ciudad Juárez, ostensibly to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the signing of Treaty of Ciudad Juárez, the pact that transferred power from the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz to the provisional Revolutionary government of Francisco Madero. Harking back to the city’s glory days, Calderón called Juárez a “heroic city,” and presided over a parade of 700 soldiers and a huge amount of sophisticated military equipment (and a contingent of university students dressed as Pancho Villa’s cavalry).

May 17, 2011
Fred Rosen

Last week’s massive National March for Peace with Justice and Security called for, among other things, the naming of the killers and the dead: the active investigation of all murders, disappearances, kidnappings, clandestine graves and person trafficking, along with the publication of the names of the victims and the “material and intellectual authors” of these crimes.