Striking teachers on May 28 took over the installations of three radio and TV stations in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, capital of Mexico's Chiapas state, in an ongoing campaign against President Enrique Peña Nieto's proposed education reform. Days earlier, state and federal police violently evicted a protest camp ste up by the teachers in Tuxtla's central plaza. The National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) is demanding that the national government cancel the new education reform. Campesinos from rural Chiapas villages have mobilized local marches in support of the teachers. The pending reform would impose strict teacher evalutions, but critics say it fails to address the critical problem of under-resourced schools in poor areas of the country. The pending reform was crafted with the participation of business-friendly groups such as Mexicanos Primero, led by figures including Televisa president Emilio Azcárraga. (Left Voice, May 29; Uno TV, May 28)
A panel of experts released on April 24 its second and last report (PDF) on its inquiry into the 43 undergraduate students from a teachers college in Ayotzinapa who went missing in Iguala, Guerrero, in 2014, stating that the Mexican government has hampered the investigation. Consisting of Latin American lawyers and human rights activists, the panel of experts appointed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights found the following: some of the suspects had been tortured by government security forces; the integrity of evidence had been compromised in the case; new evidence showed a greater role by federal security forces in the 2014 events; a lack of investigation into high-level officials; a lack of investigation into phone records from that night; and "sclerotic bureaucracy" throughout the justice system. The experts brought together the events leading up to the disappearances of the students through witness testimony and ballistic tests; they concluded that "the join action [of the attackers and officials] shows a coordinated modus operandi..."
Mexican immigration authorities are returning children that might qualify for formal protection from violence in Central America, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said April 1 in a report. The report states that by law "Mexico offers protection to refugees as well as to others who would face risks to their lives or safety if returned to their countries of origin," but that less than "1 percent of children who are apprehended by Mexican immigration authorities" are recognized as refugees or offered other formal protection. In addition, HRW found that children are not guaranteed legal or any other assistance and those who are face prolonged detention in either closed facilities or "prison-like" settings. HRW stated that part of the reason Mexican authorities are apprehending more migrant children today is that the US has provided increased financial support to Mexico for immigration enforcement since mid-2014.
Pressure is increasing on Mexico to free imprisoned community activist Nestora Salgado since the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued a ruling that her imprisonment is illegal. The International Human Rights Clinic at Seattle University Law School had been pursuing her case before the Geneva-based panel for about two years. In the decision—reached in December, but only released Feb. 2—the five-member panel called her arrest arbitrary, and called on Mexico to immediately free and compensate her for the violation of her human rights. The panel found that she was arrested for her leadership of a local "community police" group, which is protected under Mexican law. Additionally, the panel charges that she was denied contact with her lawyers and family for almost year, and has been denied adequate medical care and access to clean water in prison. Finally, the finding charged that she was improperly arrested by the military, and her US passport was ignored. "In the first place, there is no doubt that the arrest and detention without charges is illegal and thus arbitrary," reads the finding. "Furthermore, the military arresting civilians for presumed crimes when national security is not at risk is worrying."
The first district court of Chiapas in southern Mexico on Feb. 23 ruled that charges of "terrorism, rebellion and sedition" brought almost exactly 21 years ago against Subcommander Marcos and 12 other leaders of the Zapatista rebel movement have officially expired under the country's statute of limitations. Marcos would have faced 40 years in prison under the charges, which were brought February 1995 against Rafael Sebastian Guillen, a long-missing philosophy professor named by authorities as as subcommander's "real" identity. Marcos was last seen in public in May 2015, although he had earlier issued what he said would be his final communique, announcing that he was to be replaced by a "Subcommander Galeano." (AFP, TeleSur, Feb. 24; El Universal, Feb. 23)
The body of Anabel Flores Salazar, a reporter for El Sol de Orizaba who was abducted from her home near the city of Orizaba in Mexico's Veracruz state on Feb. 8, was found the following day in the neighboring state of Puebla, according to a Puebla state official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. The CPJ called on Mexican federal authorities to take over investigation and prosecution of the crime and to consider journalism as a motive.
The story of the capture of Chapo Guzmán—Mexico's top fugitive drug lord—took a turn for the surreal Jan. 9 with the relevation that Hollywood heavy Sean Penn had interviewed the kingpin when he was on the lam last year for Rolling Stone magazine. In the account, Penn describes the complicated process of estabishing contact, with encrypted communications and such, before being flown from an unnamed location in central Mexico to a "jungle clearing" for some face time. We have to be a tad skeptical here. Chapo was tracked down by Mexican federales to a luxury condo in a Sinaloa seaport—nowhere near any jungle. Even if the meeting was arranged at a remote location, it was still likely to be in Chapo's northern stronghold state of Sinaloa—and the only real jungle in Mexico is in southern Chiapas state, hundreds of miles away. Taking some liberties for dramatic effect perhaps, Sean?
The Zapatista rebels in Mexico's southern state of Chiapas marked the anniversary of their 1994 New Years Day uprising by hosting a national activist gathering in their territory. Guests of honor at the proceedings in the small pueblo of Oventic were a group of parents and other family members of the 43 students who disappeared in September 2014. The students, from Ayotzinapa in Guerrero state, are said to have been abducted by corrupt local police and turned over to a murderous narco-gang—but surviving kin and their supporters increasingly charge Mexico's government with a cover-up in the case. The Zapatistas' Subcommander Moises, joined by 43 masked rebels (one for each missing student), oversaw the ceremony and each embraced the family members. Moises expressed his own skepticism of the official investigation: "The Zapatistas believe that we cannot trust the bad governments anymore, they are the servants of capital, stewards of big capitalist business," he said. "The one calling the shots is global capitalism, that is why we cannot believe them." (TeleSur, Jan. 1)