San Luis Potosí
In the long string of Mexican journalists assassinated for covering police abuse and narco-corruption, the latest case is particularly egregious. On Oct. 6, authorities in San Luis Potosí found the body of Edgar Daniel Esqueda Castro outside the city's airport, dead of three gunshot wounds. He had been abducted by armed men in police uniforms the previous night.
Several states across Mexico have been shaken by days of angry protests in response to a jump in the price of gasoline sparked by a new deregulation policy. Protests, road blockades and civil strikes are reported from 12 states since the new policy was instated Jan. 1. Looting was reported in Hidalgo, Veracruz and México states, with over 350 stores sacked. Several federal police agents were briefly taken hostage by protesters when they tried to break up a roadblock in Ixmiquilpan, Hidalgo. Two protesters were killed in the Ixmiquilpan clash, while one Federal District police officer is reported dead in rioting on the outskirts of Mexico City. Police also fired in the air to scatter protesters in Ecatepec, México. Nearly 900 have been detained nationwide. (Sol de Mexico, Jan. 6; Animal Politico, Jan. 5; Apro, Jan. 4)
Mexico on Sept. 30 extradited 13 people to the United States—including two accused drug lords and several suspects in two high-profile attacks on US citizens. One was the 2011 deadly ambush of US immigration agents in San Luis Potosí state; the other the previous year's killing of US consulate workers in Ciudad Juárez. The two accused kingpins were Edgar Valdez Villarreal AKA "La Barbie" of the Beltran- Leyva Organization and Jorge Costilla Sánchez AKA "El Coss" of Los Zetas. The US Justice Department hyped the extraditions as signaling a new binational coordination following a June meeting between US Attorney General Loretta Lynch and her Mexican counterpart, Arely Gómez. As AP noted, extraditions had fallen dramatically since 2012, the final year of President Felipe Calderón's term, when Mexico sent 115 people to face criminal charges in the US. Under President Enrique Peña Nieto, the number dropped to just 66 last year. (AP, Sept. 30)
The July 22 Global Day of Action Against Open-Pit Mining, most widely observed in the Andean nations, also saw coordinated actions in NAFTA partners Mexico and Canada. In the Oaxaca village of Santa María Zacatepec, a national gathering was held, bringing together some 100 indigenous and popular organizations, who pledged a campaign of protests against mining projects and "structural reforms" announced by the Enrique Peña Nieto government. The Declaration of Santa María Zacatepec said that "it is time to pass from resistance to the offensive," and for "respecting all forms of struggle." Participating organizations included the Mexican Alliance for the Self-Determination of the People (AMAP); the Indigenous Agrarian Zapatista Movement (MAIZ); the Peoples' Front in Defense of Land and Water of Puebla, Tlaxcala and Morelos; the National Civil Resistance Network; the Council of Ejidos and Communities Opposed to La Parota Dam; the Peoples' Land Defense Front of Atenco; and the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME).
Violence continues to escalate in Mexico's west-central state of Michoacán, with bus transportation suspended to the towns of Apatzingán, Buenavista, Tepalcatepec and Coalcomán following a series of clashes there April 28, leaving the area effectively cut off from the outside world. At least 10 were killed in the area, in the state's Tierra Caliente region, April 29. The municipal presidency building in Buenavista remains under occupation by the Community Police, a citizen's self-defense patrol, which has seized public buildings in the town, accusing the "official" authorities of being in league with narco gangs. Several families from Buenavista have been displaced by the fighting there, and have taken refuge in Apatzingán. (Reuters, April 29; Milenio, Radio Formula, April 28)
Mexican naval forces announced the arrest Sept. 27 of Iván Velázquez Caballero, AKA "El Taliban" or "Z-50"—said to be a top commander of Los Zetas who had recently defected to the rival Gulf Cartel. El Taliban was said to be in a struggle with his former boss, Zeta commander Miguel Treviño Morales AKA "Z-40" for control of the "plaza" (trafficking theater) in San Luis Potosí, where the arrest took place. From 2007 until his recent break with the Zetas, he had also controlled the plazas in Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Nuevo León and Coahuila. He had a reward of 30 million pesos ($2.3 million) on his head.