In Episode 166 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses how a little-noted US-Mexico dispute on trade and agricultural policy has serious implications for the survival of the human race. Washington is preparing to file a complaint under terms of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement over Mexico’s decree banning imports of GMO corn, slated to take effect in January 2024. Concerns about the (unproven) health effects of consuming GMO foods miss the real critique—which is ecological, social and political. GMO seeds are explicitly designed as part of an “input package” intended to get farmers hooked on pesticides and petrochemical fertilizers, and protect the “intellectual property” of private corporations. Agribusiness, which can afford the “input package,” comes to dominate the market. Eased by so-called “free trade” policies, agbiz forces the peasantry off the market and ultimately off the land—a process well advanced in Mexico since NAFTA took effect in 1994, and which is related to the explosion of the narco economy and mass migration. The pending decree holds the promise of regenerating sustainable agriculture based on native seed stock. It is also a critical test case, as countries such as Kenya have recently repealed similar policies in light of the global food crisis. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: Sin Maíz No Hay País)
In Episode 162 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg reviews Bad Mexicans: Race, Empire, and Revolution in the Borderlands by Kelly Lytle Hernández. It is definitely a very hopeful sign that a briskly selling book from a mainstream publisher not only concerns anarchists, but actually treats them with seriousness and presents them as the good guys—even heroes. The eponymous “bad Mexicans” of the sarcastic title are the Magonistas—followers of the notorious Magón brothers, early progenitors of the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920, who first raised a cry for the overthrow of the decades-long, ultra-oppressive dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz. “Bad Mexicans” was the epithet used by both Mexican and US authorities for this network of subversives who organized on both sides of the border. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
Residents of Jesús María barrio in Culiacán, capital of Mexico’s Sinaloa state, marched on the governor’s palace demanding action on the whereabouts of 140 community members they say have been missing since violence engulfed the city after the arrest of a top cartel kingpin. The youngest of the missing residents is said to be 12 years old. Protesters also denounced abuses by the military troops that have been patrolling Culiacán since the outburst, including illegal detentions and home searches. The arrest of Ovidio Guzmán López—son of the infamous “El Chapo” Guzmán—set off days of street-fighting between cartel gunmen and the security forces. (Map: PCL)
Gunfire and explosions were reported from the Mexican border town of Nuevo Laredo following the arrest of a local gang leader by federal police and army troops. Juan Gerardo Treviño, AKA “El Huevo” (The Egg), is said be leader of the Tropas del Infierno (Troops of Hell), paramilitary arm of the Cartel del Noreste (Northeast Cartel), an offshoot of the notorious Zetas. Facing charges both sides of the border, he was nonetheless turned over to US authorities, apparently because he is a US citizen. He was handed over at a border bridge in Tijuana, far to the west of Nuevo Laredo, presumably to avoid attempts to free him. In the outburst of violence that greeted his arrest in Nuevo Laredo, the city’s US consulate was hit with gunfire. Gang members also closed off streets with burning vehicles, attacked army outposts, and lobbed grenades at buildings. (Photo: social media via Laredo Morning Times)
A record number of environmental defenders were murdered last year, according to a report by advocacy group Global Witness. The report, “Last Line of Defense,” counts 227 activists killed around the world in 2020—the highest number recorded for a second consecutive year. Many of the murders were linked to resource exploitation—logging, mining, agribusiness, and hydroelectric dams. Since the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, the organization found on average of four activists have been killed each week. (Photo via Groundwork)
Oscar Eyraud Adams, a community activist in the Mexican border town of Tecate, Baja California, was assassinated in an attack on his home by what local accounts described as an “armed commando.” The following day, his brother-in-law was gunned down in a convenience store along the Tecate-Ensenada highway. Adams had been a prominent advocate for the Kumiai (also rendered Kumeyaay) indigenous people in their struggle for irrigation concessions for their remote communities in outlying rural areas of Tecate and Ensenada municipalities, which have been denied by the National Water Commission (ConAgua). Friends and supporters of Adams are blaming the assassinations on the “narco-state” and demanding that authorities investigate them as political crimes. (Photo: @AguaParaTodxsMX)
Mexico’s President Lopez Obrador met with Trump at the White House to inaugurate the new trade treaty that replaces NAFTA. Embarrassingly, the meeting was punctuated by horrific new outbursts of narco-violence in Mexico. And the country’s promised cannabis legalization—mandated by the high court and looked to as a de-escalation of the dystopian drug war—is stalled by a paralyzed Congress. (Photo: Secretaría de Seguridad y Protección Ciudadana)
There were scenes of chaos in Mexico’s northern border towns in response to rulings in rapid succession by a US federal appeals court on the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which forces migrants and refugees seeking asylum to wait in Mexico while their claims are reviewed. Asylum-seekers who had been camped out for weeks in Matamoros, Ciudad Juárez, Nogales and Tijuana immediately amassed at the border crossings as the policy was struck down by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. But the crossings were closed, and hours later, the Ninth Circuit granted an emergency stay on the injunction, as requested by the administration. The gathered migrants were dispersed by Mexican security forces. Mexico has meanwhile deployed its new National Guard force to the southern border with Guatemala, to halt the flow of migrants though its territory, under pressure from the White House. (Photo: Mexico News Daily)
There is a discomforting sense that Mexico is perpetually on the eve of cannabis legalization, as the country’s Congress wins a six-month extension from the Supreme Court to pass a law freeing the herb. But foreign capital is already eyeing Mexico’s emergent legal cannabis sector—even amid a terrifying escalation in the bloody cartel wars. When authorities attempted to arrest the son of “Chapo” Guzmán in Culiacán, the troops were surrounded by Cartel gunmen riding in trucks mounted with big machine-guns, and even what appeared to be improvised armored vehicles. The younger Guzmán escaped, and the Sinaloa Cartel proved it has the firepower to effectively challenge the state—at least on its home turf. (Photo via The Drive)
The Emiliano Zapata Popular and Indigenous Council of Guerrero (CIPOG-EZ) is calling upon the United Nations to investigate following the assassination of two leaders of the organization. The bodies of José Lucio Bartolo Faustino and Modesto Verales Sebastián were found in the town of Chilapa de Alvarez, where they had days earlier been abducted on a road by unknown gunmen. Both were leaders of the Nahua indigenous community in Chilapa municipality, had served as representatives to the National Indigenous Congress (CNI), and had promoted the 2017 presidential candidacy of María de Jesús Patricio Martínez, known as “Marichuy,” a Nahua woman who won the support of both the CNI and Mexico’s Zapatista rebels. Both were abducted when they were returning to their communities in outlying villages of Chilapa municipality from a meeting of indigenous leaders in the Guerrero state capital, Chilpancingo. (Image: Somos el Medio)
Despite his boast to have “ended” the drug war and pledge to explore cannabis legalization, Mexico’s new populist president is seeking to create a special anti-drug “National Guard” drawing from the military and police forces. Use of the military in drug enforcement was already shot down by the Supreme Court, but President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is going around the judiciary by changing the constitution. This plan is moving rapidly ahead—and meanwhile the military is still being sent against campesino cannabis growers and small traffickers.
Already officially studying the possibility of cannabis legalization, Mexico's new populist President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has now announced a formal end to the "war on drugs" that has only seemed to fuel the narco-violence over the past 10 years. However, military troops are still being mobilized for narcotics enforcement from Chiapas to Chihuahua—including marijuana eradication. (Photo: Sexenio)