Mexico Theater

Narco violence in Chiapas

Mexican authorities say they suspect drug traffickers are to blame in the killing of six people in three communities in the conflicted southern state of Chiapas. The first slayings occurred late Aug. 23 on a highway linking Tapachula with Tuxtla Chico on the Pacific coast. Gunmen in a car forced an SUV off the road and opened fire, killing Genaro Cruz, 47, and Julio Cesar Cruz, 21. There were no arrests.

Mexico: NAFTA, transgenic maize impacts assessed

Mexico's Social Development Secretary Josefina Vazquez Mota announced Aug. 19 that the country has lived through a "lost decade" and that poverty levels are slightly worse today than in 1994. In a speech at the National Congress to Combat Poverty 2006-2012, Vazquez Mota, an appointee of President Vicente Fox, talked at length on the depth of the nation's poverty. Many of her comments were contrary to the optimistic reports recently given by the presidential office.

Chiapas: Zapatistas host national meetings

As the paramilitaries in Mexico's southern state of Chiapas are re-asserting their reign of terror, their Zapatista enemies, in contrast, are disavowing a return to arms and trying to draw support for their national political mobilization, announced last month. At an Aug. 6 meeting with Mexican left organizations at the jungle settlement of San Rafael, Subcommander Marcos announced what he called the "Other Campaign," implying an end to armed struggle and a call for dialogue on a national program.

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.