Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto might have made a more auspicious choice of words in proudly announcing the recapture of fugitive drug lord Joaquin Guzmán Loera AKA "El Chapo" on Jan. 8. "Mission accomplished: we have him," the prez declared in Spanish on his Twitter account. El Chapo's escape from Mexico's top-security prison in July was a bitter humiliation for Peña Nieto and his government. The elusive Chapo had spent a decade and change as the country's most-wanted fugitive after his last escape from a Mexican prison, in 2001. The first time around, he allegedly used bribes to slip out in a laundry cart; the second time he slipped out through an elaborate tunnel that had been built from his shower block at Altiplano Prison to a nearby apartment. The Sinaloa Cartel kingpin taunted the world on social media as the second manhunt was carried out. So we have to ask: Was a nervous Peña Nieto unconsciously echoing the famously premature boast of George W. Bush after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003?
The US Supreme Court on Nov. 30 denied (PDF) certiorari in an appeal by Mexican states attempting to sue BP over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The court let stand a lower court ruling in Veracruz, Mexico, et al. v. BP, P.L.C., et al, finding that the states of Veracruz, Tamaulipas and Quintana Roo cannot bring suit against BP because Mexico's federal government owns the affected property. The lawsuit sought damages for the cost of responding to the spill, contamination of the water and shoreline and lost tourism. The Mexican federal government filed a similar suit in 2013, which is currently being heard.
Indigenous Chol Maya villagers from Nueva Esperanza hamlet, Tila municipality, blocked a main road through the highlands of Mexico's Chiapas state Nov. 9 to demand justice four months after the murder and disappearance of a community leader. Followers of indigenous organization Laklumal Ixim-Norte Selva said Toni Reynaldo Gutiérrez López was detained by municipal police and paramilitary gunmen in late July—to be found days later dead and with signs of torture on a local ranch. There have been no arrests in the case. Laklumal Ixim in a statement named as responsible a local political boss, Limber Gregorio Gutiérrez Gómez, who they said is a leader of the right-wing paramilitary group Paz y Justicia.
A group called the "Pagan Sect of the Mountain" (Secta Pagana de la Montaña) claimed responsibility for Oct. 31 coordinated attacks with improvised explosives that damaged four buses of the MexiBús commuter line at a terminal in the Mexico City suburb of Ecatepec. There were no casualties. The communique, online at ContraInfo, was full of eco-anarchist rhetoric, pledging more bombings to resist the "frenetic advance of modern development... If civilization destroys nature, we will respond in the same form." It signed off: "Fire and explosives against civilization!" The Prosecutor General of the Republic has opened an investigation. (La Jornada, La Jornada, Nov. 2)
Being the governor of Mexico's Pacific coastal state of Colima seems to be high-risk proposition —even once you're out of office. Two gunmen shot Fernando Moreno Peña, Colima's governor from 1997 to 2003, as he ate breakfast in a restaurant in the state capital on Oct. 12. He was struck six times, although doctors say he will likely survive. In 2010 another Colima ex-governor, Silverio Cavazos, who held office from 2005-2009, was slain outside his home. Gustavo Vázquez Montes, Cavazos' predecessor, met his fate in a plane crash while returning from meetings in Mexico City in 2005. The cause of the crash was never determined, but mysterious plane crashes appear to be a favored way of getting rid of members of Mexico's political elite. All three men were members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)—Mexico's generations-ruling political machine, which once again holds the presidency after finally losing it for two terms starting in 2000.
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)
On Sept. 26—one year anniversary of the disappearance of 43 students in Mexico's southern state of Guerrero—thousands of protesters filled the streets of Mexico City. The march, led by parents of the missing students, made its way from Los Pinos, the presidential residence, to the Zócalo, the capital's massive central square. Protests were also held in Iguala, Guerrero, where the 43 students from a teachers' college in nearby Ayotzinapa were abducted one year ago. Many carried mass-produced placards that read "Ni un desaparecido más, Ni un muerto más—¡¡Fuera Peña Nieto!!"—"Not one more disappearance, not one more death—Out with Peña Nieto!!" The administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto is under growing pressure in the case. There have now been 110 arrests of members of the Guerreros Unidos narco-gang, named by the government as responsible in the mass abduction. But there have been no convictions. The government says the students were massacred by the drug gang, and claims two sets of remains have been identified. But survivors, activists and rights observers say the official story doesn't hold water.
Mexico's Prosecutor General Arely Gómez González announced Sept. 16 that forensic experts have identified the remains of a second victim in the case of the 43 missing students. Human remains found in plastic bags dredged from the Río San Juan in Guerrero state are said to be those of missing student Jhosivani Guerrero de la Cruz. The identification was made by Austrian forensic experts from Innsbruck Medical University, who had earlier identified one other student based on a bone fragment. But the announcement came amid new controversy, as an Argentine forensic team working on the case called the identification of the second set of remains "weak and not definitive." The Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF) made the announcement after meeting with the parents of Jhosivani Guerrero two days after the Prosecutor General's announcement.