Mexico Theater

Chiapas: more paramilitary violence

A new wave of paramilitary violence is reported from Mexico's conflicted southern state of Chiapas. Within the last eight weeks, more than 20 Chol Maya families have been displaced from the community of Andres Quintana Roo, in Sabanilla municipality, by threats and attacks from the notorious paramilitary group Paz y Justicia, according to the Chiapas-based Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba).

Press terrorized in Nuevo Laredo; fear grows in Texas

A Nuevo Laredo police officer was killed and the ex-officer she was driving with injured in an attack by unknown gunmen Aug. 10—just two days after the US consulate in Nuevo Laredo re-opened—having closed its doors for a week in protest of ongoing violence in the Mexican border town. Adriana de Leon was the 15th law-enforcement officer to be killed among 110 slayings in Nuevo Laredo so far this year. A city council member was also among the recent vicitims. The town remains occupied by 1,200 federal agents, and a midnight curfew is in effect. The new violence also comes as the city government is offering to bring in tourists from San Antonio for free to convince them the city is safe. (Houston Chronicle, Aug. 11)

New armed group attacks in southern Mexico

A previously unknown armed group, the Fatherland is First Popular Revolutionary Command (Comando Popular Revolucionario La Patria es Primero), has claimed responsibility for the July 6 assassination of former Guerrero state government secretary Ruben Robles Catalan, whose driver was also killed in the attack.

Mexico: government to free indigenous prisoners

In another sign that the administration of Mexican President Vicente Fox is seeking to capitalize on the Zapatista rebels' new political direction to finally resolve the ongoing Chiapas headache, his government announced yesterday that it will release some 800 indigenous prisoners, finding that they were either innocent or had been manipulated into committing a federal crime, the daily El Universal reports July 7.

Misery in Chiapas

The recent "red alert" and new political declaration by the rebel Zapatista army brought the impoverished and harshly divided southern Mexican state of Chiapas briefly into the news. Then, just as quickly, it disappeared. In the flurry of coverage, Chris Kraul of the LA Times July 2 gloated that many peasants are leaving the Zapatista zones, "to escape the rebels' puritanical ideology, communal land policy, militarism and prohibition of government services." He claimed peasants' children receive no education or healthcare in the rebel zones because of the bar on government aid, apparently ignorant of the fact that the Zapatistas run their own schools and clinics with aid from NGOs. Kraul quotes Pablo Romo of Chiapas' Fray Bartolome Center for Human Rights: "Since 2002 there has been a huge increase of people from Chiapas who have left for the United States. There is a tension created by unfulfilled promises." But Kraul nearly explicitly blames the rebels for these unfulfilled promises, rather than the government which has failed to follow through on its committment to peace accords—a perspective Romo would certainly disagree with.

Northern Mexico violence escalates

When Alejandro Dominguez was sworn in as police chief of violence-torn Nuevo Laredo June 8, reporters asked him if he was afraid of dying. "I believe the corrupt officials are the ones who are scared," replied Dominguez, 52, former head of Nuevo Laredo's Chamber of Commerce and a veteran of the federal Attorney General's office. "The only people I work for are the public." Six hours later, Dominguez lay dead, felled by a fusillade of bullets as he left his office in the center of town. He was the seventh--and most senior--police officer killed since January in this city of 500,000 people across the border from Laredo, TX.

Mexico: children of campesino ecologist murdered

A dozen men armed with assault rifles killed two children of a man who belongs to a peasant ecologist group in Mexico's Pacific coast state of Guerrero May 19, and soldiers arrested three members of the same group on weapons charges the following day. The shooting attack, which also wounded the boys' father, Alberto Peñaloza, and two older sons, occurred in the Sierra Petatlan, the scene of a decade-long struggle between loggers and campesinos. Peñaloza is a founder of the local Organization of Campesino Ecologists, which has blockaded logging trucks on the mountain roads.

NAFTA militarized

The Independent Task Force on the Future of North America, a New York-based body coordinated by the Council on Foreign Relations, has released a detailed set of proposals that build on the recommendations adopted by Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, Mexican President Vicente Fox, and U.S. President Bush at their March trilateral summit in Waco, TX. The recommendations concern how to pursue and strengthen the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP), which was adopted at that summit, to coordinate border security and anti-terrorist cooperation among the three NAFTA members.

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