Mexico

The US shares the blame for a massacre in Mexico

Jun 20, 2017

The "war on drugs" has been part of American policy for so long that it's sometimes difficult to remember that the DEA wages that war every day, on both sides of the border with Mexico.

But it's incredibly difficult to counter the power cartels can hold over the Mexican government, and when things wrong, there are deadly reprecussions. 

Mexico’s government appears to have been using advanced spyware created for criminal investigations to target some of the country’s most prominent journalists, lawyers and anti-corruption activists.

The software — called Pegasus — was reportedly created by Israeli cyberarms manufacturer NSO Group and sold to Mexican federal agencies under the condition that it be used to track terrorists and investigate criminals.

A former mayor in central Mexico channeled Frank Underwood to deliver a speech that echoed, nearly word for word, an ominous promotional video for Netflix's House of Cards.

"Imitation isn't always the best form of flattery," the official House of Cards Twitter account said in response.

Associated Press

COMMENTARY

Nine years ago a colleague and I had dinner in Culiacán, Mexico, with local journalist Javier Valdez. At the time, Mexico was locked in of some of the bloodiest narco-violence in its history. Culiacán – the capital of Sinaloa state, home to the powerful drug cartel once run by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán – was ground zero.

One of Mexico's most respected journalists has been shot to death in his home state of Sinaloa, in northwestern Mexico, and a large group of gunmen has attacked seven other journalists traveling in the southwest.

A wave of attacks, several of them fatal, targeted reporters in Mexico over the last few months, NPR's Carrie Kahn reports from Mexico.

Mexico's government is contesting a new international report that says the country had 23,000 homicides in 2016 — a level surpassed only by Syria. The International Institute for Strategic Studies says that intense violence fueled by Mexico's drug cartels has reached the level of an armed conflict.

"The annual survey's lead investigator says Mexico's second-place ranking was surprising, considering the deaths are nearly all attributable to small arms," NPR's Carrie Kahn reports, "and not tanks or aircraft fire as in the political wars of Syria or Iraq."

About 1 million Americans live in Mexico, and many of them do so illegally. But it’s much easier to navigate life in Mexico as an immigrant without proper documents than it is in the United States.

Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson explores this with two people who have firsthand experience with the differences.

Editor’s Note: Here & Now agreed not to use our guests’ last names for this conversation.

Interview Highlights

On Eddie’s immigration story and the limitations of his status

You wouldn't expect a 73-year-old to be on the crime beat, but Maximino Rodriguez Palacios couldn't help himself, says Cuauhtemoc Morgan, editor of the Baja California news blog Colectivo Pericu.

"It was totally by chance," he tells NPR. "In November 2014, Max called me about a shooting near his home in La Paz. And then he sent me a story and photos about what happened. From that moment, he was our crime reporter."

When Javier Duarte stepped down from office last October, the former governor of Mexico's Veracruz state vowed to fight the mounting corruption allegations that unraveled his tenure.

"The circumstances created by false accusations ... force me to dedicate myself full-time to clear my name and that of my family," Duarte said on Oct. 13, according to The Yucatan Times, just one day after he ended his term six weeks early.

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Trevor Ruszkowski-USA Today Sports via Reuters

US Soccer Federation chief Sunil Gulati, who announced the bid in New York with his Canadian and Mexican counterparts, insisted they had the full backing of President Donald Trump, despite the US leader's rocky relations with Mexico.

Gulati said 60 of the tournament's matches would be staged in the United States, with Canada and Mexico hosting 10 games each. The United States would host all knockout games from the quarterfinals onwards, he added.

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Mario Alberto Maciel Tinajero looks like a fairly healthy 68-year-old. He has a few extra pounds on his chest but he's relatively fit. Yet he's suffered for the last 20 years from what he calls a "terrible" condition: diabetes.

"I've never gotten used to this disease," he says. Maciel runs a stall in the Lagunilla market in downtown Mexico City. This market is famous for its custom-made quinceañera dresses and hand-tailored suits.

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Wikimedia

Oscar Cantu, director of the Ciudad Juárez-based newspaper Norte, wrote Sunday in an article titled "¡Adiós!" that Miroslava Breach's slaying last month led him to reflect on the dangers of practicing journalism in the region, where "high risk is the main ingredient."

Breach, 54, who wrote for the newspapers Norte and La Jornada, was found dead in her vehicle with multiple gunshot wounds to the head on March 23 in the city of Chihuahua, capital of the state of the same name.

Murder is on the rise in Mexico. Ten years after the government launched its war on drugs and sent the military to combat cartels, homicides are at levels not seen since the height of that offensive. The violence is widespread, but it remains most prevalent in a few hard-hit towns and cities.

Hugo del Angel says his city, Ecatepec, a sprawling, struggling suburb of nearly 2 million outside Mexico City, is definitely high on that list.

"It's probably one of the three most problematic in the whole country," he says.

Miroslava Breach was sitting in the car with one of her three children outside her home in Mexico when gunmen approached and shot her eight times. Her child was unharmed; the 54-year-old journalist was killed.

A note left beside her body explained the crime for which she'd been murdered: "For being a loud-mouth."

Breach died in the city of Chihuahua on March 23, the third journalist slain in Mexico last month alone. Her murder was also the last straw for the regional newspaper Norte, a publication covering the Mexican border city Juarez.

As President Trump moves to fulfill his campaign promise to deport millions of immigrants who are in the country illegally, they'll most likely include Mexicans whose children were born in the U.S.. Over half a million of these kids are already in Mexico.

Researchers call them "los invisibles", the invisible ones, because they often end up in an educational limbo of sorts. Most don't read or write in Spanish, so they're held back. Many get discouraged and stop going to school. In some cases schools even refuse to enroll them.

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