Mexico Drug War News Week's Top Articles:
Jan. 20-26, 2012
The Americas Program seeks to expand understanding of the destructiveness of the U.S.-supported war on drugs in Mexico, and promote peaceful alternatives.
To keep current with what is happening in Mexico's drug war, including U.S. involvement, we offer this free weekly news digest, selected from the many daily posts published on our Americas MexicoBlog.
Drug War news was dominated this week by the issue of human rights and the rule of law. Human Rights Watch reported that, in fighting the drug war, security forces in Mexico have committed numerous human rights violations and that soldiers enjoy impunity in these cases.
The Mexican government initially issued a detailed critique of the report. But by the end of the week, it was making more conciliatory statements about its "openness" to the work of human rights organizations such as HRW.
Mexican human rights organizations welcomed the report for linking the government's strategy to worsening violence and reinforcing their demand for a change in security policy.
Meanwhile, news regarding the war itself brought a new year's assessment of shifts in drug cartel power. The Stratfor security group concluded that the Sinaloa and Zeta cartels have consolidated their control of the drug trade and territory, each dominating about half of Mexico's 31 states.
Possibly related to this, the Mexican army announced that it was adding five new bases in northern states ravaged by battles with and between cartels.
As for the effectiveness of Mexico's military strategy, data obtained by the Mexican Institute for Access to Information showed that less than 50% of those arrested on federal charges--including organized crime and drug trafficking--in the past five years were actually held for trial. (Murder is a state, not a federal, offense.)
Finally, we share a powerful and poignant story, as told by a local priest, of how the drug trade is devastating the indigenous youth in the Tarahumara Mountains of Chihuahua state.
Violence has increased horribly in Mexico, says Human Rights Watch
HRW report does not reflect real situation in Mexico: Interior Ministry
Milenio: "The federal government said that the report by Human Rights Watch (HRW)... contains categorical and generalized statements about the country that do not reflect the real situation in Mexico." read more
Mexico open to public scrutiny on human rights: Secretary of Interior Poiré
Milenio: "'Mexico is open to public scrutiny on the matter of human rights and will attend to the recommendations, criticisms and concerns of the various organizations on the basis of solid, consistent and verifiable information.'" read more
Mexican human rights groups demand change in anti-crime policy
La Jornada: "The report, (civic organization leaders) said, is important because 'it indicates that the strategy has exacerbated the violence in the country, and we insist that the liability is Calderón's, because his policies foster a climate of serious human rights violations.'" read more
Polarization and Sustained Violence in Mexico's Cartel War
Stratfor: "Over the past year it has ... become evident that a polarization is under way among (Mexican) cartels. Most smaller groups (or remnants of groups) have been subsumed by the Sinaloa Federation, which controls much of western Mexico, and Los Zetas, who control much of eastern Mexico. ... these two groups have solidified themselves as the country's predominant forces." read more
Mexico Plans 5 New Military Bases in Zeta Territory
InSight Crime: "Mexico's government upped its offensive against the Zetas with the announcement that five new military bases will be installed in the group's primary areas of operation. Four bases will be located in Tamaulipas and another one in Nuevo Leon, which are both among the northern border states most affected by drug violence." read more
Of 463,000 arrested in 5 years, only 215,000 were charged with crimes
La Jornada: "Since December 2006... 463,000 suspects were arrested on federal charges, of which 163,000 were considered members of organized crime, 17,000 were allegedly drug dealers and 6,500 were allegedly members of gangs of kidnappers. However, on average only four in 10, i.e., 215,000, were detained and the rest were released by the Federal Public Ministry." Spanish original
Drug trade, not a lack of food, the biggest problem in the mountains of Chihuahua
La Jornada: "Though it is very serious, the greatest crisis in this part of the Tarahumara Mountains in Chihuahua is not the food shortage, but the presence of narcotrafficking and its quota of violence: 'the Rarámuri communities are being crucified by organized crime.'” read more
Cross posted from the Americas MexicoBlog