A leading source for news and analysis about Mexico and the U.S.-Mexican border.
Columnist Sergio Sarmiento lamented Wednesday that Mexico has gone from being an authoritarian state to a weak state than cannot protect its citizens. It said that while those who perpetrated the arson massacre at Monterrey's Casino Royale are being rounded up, this is the exception to the rule. He said it was no surprise that the casino owners had fled the country, because they were being blamed for an attack they were victims of. He said that all too often, the search for scapegoats is all too frequent when a tragedy hits Mexico. His column.
Story on casino owner fleeing country. Jump page.
Meanwhile, the columnist Catón followed along some of the same theme, saying that following the creation of the Institutional Revolutionary Party's forerunner in 1929, Mexico has had 71 years of authoritarian rule and 11 years of inefficient rule. Still, Catón saw hope, saying the growth of civil society shows Mexico is awakening. Catón's column.
One example of this growth of civil society is Mexicanos Primero, dedicated to improving the quality of education in Mexico. Its director, David Calderón Martín del Campo, spoke out Monday about the large number of teachers who are not teaching but who are still being paid by the nation's educational systems. Story in Frontera.
It was Santiago Creel who approved a boatload of licenses for casinos in 2005, which at the time was interpreted as a nod to Televisa as the-then interior minister was beginning his failed campaign for the National Action Party nomination for president.
Could these approvals, although later ratified by the Supreme Court, come back to haunt him again?
As a result of the Monterrey arson attack that killed 52 people, President Felipe Calderón switched an event related to his fifth state-of-the-nation address from the National Auditorium to the Anthropology Museum. The president's office said major changes would be made in the speech in reaction to the tragedy. Story, Frontera. Calderón's state-of-the-nation report will be delivered to Congress by Interior Minister Francisco Blake Mora.
It will be Calderón's second speech in a museum in a little over a week; last week, he gave a 40-minute speech in the Cubo museum of the Tijuana Cultural Center. Story on that speech.
Frontera reported that 10,000 were expected at the National Auditorium. Presidents are routinely razzed and interrupted at their state-of-the-nation addresses, and the change of venue should change that dynamic.
Columnist Sergio Sarmiento says don't ban casinos, but make them meet building code and exit requirements.
Columnist Rafael Loret de Mola talks with casino owner Rafael Rocha Cantú, who tells him the fifth car seen in the video of vehicles involved in the casino arson was that of the owner's mother, who called Rocha to tell him of the fire.
El Universal reported that five people were being Monday in Thursday's arson attack on a Monterrey casino that killed 52 people. Columnist Leo Zuckermann on Monday outlined various theories for the attack, including that it involved a dispute over money laundering; that it was part of an extortion attempt; or that it was an act of terrorism, as President Felipe Calderón called it last week. Zuckermann concluded that it probably was an act of extortion that caused far more deaths than anyone intended.
El Universal story says video at gas station showed Mini Cooper buying gas in containers prior to attack; Mini Cooper is one of vehicles shown as part of attack in video.
Zuckermann cited a study that came out last week from the group "México Evalúa" that says extortion has been growing dramatically in Mexico since 1999, growing to 126 complaints about extortion attempts a month under President Ernesto Zedillo, 185 a month under President Vicente Fox (2000-2006) and 418 a month with Calderón. (See pages 7 and 8)
Frontera reported that rapes in Tijuana are up 26% to 39% this year, with most of the increase taking place in eastern Tijuana. There were 127 rapes in the first half of 2010 and 176 in the first half of this year, the paper said. The paper quoted state prosecutor Martha Imelda Almanza Topete as saying rapes of women were up 26% and as encouraging women to report rapes. Story, Frontera.
Proceso magazine decried the growth of casinos from 122 to 550 during a decade of the National Action Party holding the presidency. The magazine noted that in July, it had reported on conditions involving Monterrey casinos that it described as chaotic and involving activities linked to drug trafficking such as money laundering. It also said there are many illegal casinos that are not paying the appropriate taxes to the government.
Former Interior Minister and former Puebla Gov. Manuel Bartlett of the Institutional Revolutionary Party long opposed the move to allow more casinos in Mexico. Proceso quoted him as saying of the increase in casinos: "Everything that promotes risky activities puts (national) security in danger."
A 30 million peso ($2.4 million) reward has been offered in Thursday arson of a Monterrey casino that killed 52 people. Most of the victims identified so far have been older women. Story in Frontera.
The attack in Nuevo Leon state took place in just 2 1/2 minutes, authorities say.
Story in Frontera.
Former President Vicente Fox, during whose term drug trafficking grew to the point that Calderón apparently felt he must attack it frontally, proposes a truce and amnesty for drug traffickers, saying fighting drug-trafficking violence with state violence is not working.
By happenstance, the Tijuana weekly newspaper Zeta published a package of articles about casinos in Mexico, including how the large scale growth of casinos was approved during the Fox administration. The articles will likely not be online until next week.
The U.S. Consulate in Monterrey warned Americans to be on the alert where they go in the northern states of Nuevo Leon, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas, Durango, Tamaulipas and Coahuila. The warning noted Thursday's casino attack and also said: "On August 24, 2011, a grenade exploded outside a casino in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, causing property damage but no casualties. On August 24, 2011, a similar attack was also attempted on a casino in Nuevo Laredo. While no American citizens have been reported among the deceased, the U.S. Consulate General in Monterrey reminds American citizens that levels of violence in Monterrey's consular district have risen dramatically since February, 2010." The U.S. Consulate's warning.
The mayor of Monterrey had closed down the casino due to code violations, but the owners were able to get a court order to reopen it. The Zeta gang suspected of torching the casino apparently sought $10,000 a week in protection money from the casino owners, who refused to pay. Although those inside the casino were told to get out, many instead hid inside the casino, and were killed by smoke or fire. Story, Los Angeles Times.
Update, Aug. 28: Attorney for casino says it was operating legally. Story, El Universal.
Mexico's latest census pointed to a large number of abandoned homes in Tijuana, even as the city is building many new ones. The SIDUE (State Infrastructure and Urban Development Ministry, or Secretaría de Infraestructura y Desarrollo Urbano del Estado) is going to do a survey to determine how many there are; many of the homes have turned into flop houses. Story, Frontera.
The federal Fourth Circuit Tribunal in Tijuana ratified a June 14 ruling dismissing arms stockpiling charges against former Tijuana Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon. Judge Alejandro
Rodríguez Escobar affirmed Judge Blanca Evelia
Parra Meza's ruling that because a June 4 military raid on Hank's compound was undertaken without a search warrant and because the raid did not prevent a crime from being committed at the moment of the raid, none of the evidence seized at the scene can be used against Hank. Eight-eight arms were seized in the compound; many were for the exclusive use of the Mexican military under Mexican law.
The Tijuana newsweekly Zeta reported that the organized-crime unit of the federal Attorney General's Office would continue to investigated the case. Zeta's latest cover, showing Hank, is at above right.
President Felipe Calderón declared Friday three days of mourning for the 52 victims of a massacre at a Monterrey casino on Thursday. Story, El Universal.
Calderón called those perpetrating the deaths terrorists, a word he has been loath to use, and called for Congress to pass a proposed public security package that has been in the works for some time. Story, El Universal.
Story on massacre, Frontera.
Pedestrian wait times at the San Ysidro border crossing average 52 minutes, although some have waited as long as 3 1/2 hours, a survey of more than 5,800 border crossers from July 2010 to June 2011 says. It said some crossers were not aware that they could vastly reduce their wait time by entering the SENTRI frequent crosser program; others said they did not want to pay the $122 cost plus investigation fee to join SENTRI. The study was done by the South County Economic Development Council. A quarter of the respondents said they crossed daily; 15% said they crossed once a week. Nearly a third of respondents said they crossed the border to shop in the U.S.; 20% to visit family and friends and 10% for educational purposes. Story, Frontera. Story, San Diego Union-Tribune. The report.
Health Minister José Ángel Córdova Villalobos says he will resign in September to seek the National Action Party nomination for governor for the state of Guanajuato. Story, Impacto.mx
In a freak accident Thursday, a rock thrown up by a truck on Route 3 around Rancho Lamarquez near Guadalupe Victoria in the municipality of Mexicali went through a pickup's windshield and killed a young woman. Paola Gallegos Felipe, 19, died after being hit in the face by the rock. Story, Frontera.)
The parents of a baby boy who was abandoned in a travel bag in Tijuana's Alemán neighborhood this week were presented to the media on Thursday. The parents said they did not realize the mother was pregnant.
Bricklayer Felipe Reséndiz and Gabriela Ramírez, 27, have been together 12 years and have three other children. All the children are now in the custody of authorities. She said the baby was born at midday Monday at her home in the La Union neighborhood and that she cut the umbilical cord herself and then waited for her husband to come home. They said he was shocked to find out she had given birth. He then put the baby in a travel bag and left it in the Alemán neighborhood, where a businessman found the boy Tuesday morning. Story, Frontera.
Update, Aug. 26: Mother is freed. Story, Frontera.
Baja California Gov. José Guadalupe Osuna Millán and Tijuana Mayor Carlos Bustamante met with California Gov. Jerry Brown in Sacramento on Wednesday. Osuna reminded Brown of the next border governors' meeting to take place in Ensenada Sept. 28-29.
A shipment of 2,160 pills that could be used to make crystal meth were seized at the Tijuana airport on Wednesday. No arrests were made. Story, El Mexicano.
Mexico's Interior Ministry said it has fulfilled its obligations in its investigation into last year's massacre of 72 migrants in San Fernando in Tamaulipas state. It said the three men responsible for carrying out the massacre have been arrested, as well as eight others accused in the case. The Attorney General's Office said 83 members of the Zetas organized crime have been arrested and 26 bodies returned to their families.
Interior Ministry migration official Rene Zenteno also said the investigation into the discovery of about 200 bodies in San Fernando also is progressing. He said 81 people have been detained, placed under a restriction order or had detention orders issued for them in connection with the case.
Reforma story, Frontera.
Interior Ministry migration official Rene Zenteno said that for the first time since statistics started being kept, the number of Mexicans returning to Mexico from the U.S. is matching the number of Mexicans leaving Mexico for the U.S. He made the announcement at a press conference with U.S. immigration expert Douglas Massey. Reforma story, Frontera.
A newborn baby boy was found abandoned in a travel bag at 7:30 a.m. on Benito Juárez street in the Alemán neighborhood. The baby was later visited and held by Tijuana first lady Carolina Bustamante, Mayor Carlos Bustamante's daughter.
Story, picture, Frontera.
An Aeromexico pilot was detained at Madrid's Barajas airport with 42 kilos of cocaine in his suitcase, Reforma newspaper reported. The pilot was identified as Rubén García García. The flight originated in Mexico City. Reforma story, Frontera.
Tijuana mountain climber and lawyer Ignacio Anaya reached the summit of Mount Rainier on Saturday, Frontera reported. Story, Frontera.
Refugio "El Tío Cuco" Cota Avitia was arrested Sunday in Tijuana. Authorities told Frontera he formerly worked for Arturo "El Nalgón" Villarreal Heredia, also known as
"El 6-1", who was detained with Francisco
Javier "El Tigrillo" Arellano Félix by U.S. authorities off the coast of Baja California Sur in 2006. Cota Avitia, 39, was immediately flown to Mexico City.
A Mexican first-division soccer game between Morelia and Santos Laguna was suspended Saturday with the score tied 0-0 in the 40th minute because of gunfire outside the stadium in Torreón. The gunfire occurred when an armed group attacked a police patrol. One policeman was wounded. Story, Frontera.
Morelia was the first team the Tijuana Xolos played this season; the Xolos lost 2-1 at home. The Xolos beat Santos Laguna 3-1. The Xolos lost Saturday to Cruz Azul 2-1 in an away game.
Update, Aug. 22: Follow-up story, with picture showing TV Azteca window apparently broken by gunfire.
Mexican economic growth was 3.3% in the second quarter, the lowest growth in the last six quarters, the National Institute of Geography and Statistics (INEGI) said. This happened before Standard & Poor's downgrading of the U.S. credit rating caused analysts to lower their estimates of Mexican economic growth this year; before then, many had thought it would be around 5%. Reforma story, in Frontera.
Some double-stacked inspection booths have begun operation at the San Ysidro port of entry, Frontera newspaper reported. The plan is for lanes 2 to 11 to have double-stacked booths while other lanes are closed for the construction project taking place at the port.
Three robbers stole the payroll of José Vasconcelos high school in Tijuana, beating students who tried to stop them, El Mexicano reported. At least one of the robbers had a gun. Authorities later detained two people. One, Joel Adrián Salinas Ruíz, 46, had a handgun when arrested on Lázaro Cárdenas Boulevard, authorities said. A second man was detained in the nearby Arroyo Alamar. The school is at the intersection of Bernardo O'Higgins and Insurgentes. About 30,000 pesos ($2,400) in cash and checks was taken.
Twenty-three people living along the Tijuana River near the border were given tickets to return to their hometowns. Authorities have been trying to clean up El Bordo area, saying the homeless living there are discouraging tourism, among other things. Some say the move to clean up the area only is moving the homeless to other areas. El Mexicano said hundreds of homeless are living along the concrete riverbed, many of them deported from the U.S. and many of them committing crimes to feed drug habits.
Gov. José Guadalupe Osuna Millán opened two new halls at El Trompo children's science museum in Tijuana on Friday.
The federal Attorney General's Office asked a judge to overturn a Tijuana federal judge's June decision to release former Tijuana Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon from arms stockpiling charges, Frontera reported. Its story, compiled from wire services, said authorities had sought a ruling from the Fourth Tribunal of the 15th Circuit. Story, Frontera.
UPDATE, Aug. 20: The Baja California state prosecutor's office says it is continuing to gather evidence in the death of mother of Hank's grandchild. Story, Frontera.
Columnist Eduardo Ruiz-Healy, who had been defending the Coahuila state government from charges that it had irresponsibly increased the state debt, reversed track after the credit rating agency Fitch lowered the state's rating from A+ to B---. The state was governed in recent years by Humberto Moreira, who left office earlier this year to become the national president of the Institutional Revolutionary Party. On July 3, Moreira's brother Rubén was elected governor.
Ruiz-Healy had based his previous statements on the old Fitch rating. He concludes: "In Sum: Humberto Moreira acted irresponsibly, hid information and spent money by the handful to ensure that his brother Rubén was elected as his successor to the statehouse. Now Rubén, after Dec. 1, must correct or worsen the situation he inherits from his brother.
State debt has become a huge problem in Mexico (previous story in Mexicoperspective.com). The Banobras bank on Thursday offered a new package to states to refinance their debt. Story, Frontera. Francisco Calderón wrote a good analysis of state debt in the May edition of the magazine Bien Común.
Update, Aug. 22: Columnist Sergio Sarmiento weighs in on Coahuila's debt.
Update, August: Luis Carlos Ugalde writes about the states' debt problems in Este País.
Update, Aug. 26: Finance Minister Ernesto Cordero said a case has been filed to discover who is responsible for the irregular it es in Coahuila's finances. Story, Frontera.
The Institutional Revolutionary Party is offering people who join it a card good for discounts at businesses in Queretaro state. "It's not liking buying votes," said Gabriela Monjaraz, coordinator of the Family Savings program. Some may differ. At any rate, the PRI is famous for buying votes by giving citizens bicycles, chickens, tortillas and other items.
The electoral institute in Queretaro said that before it passes judgment on the program, it must receive a formal complaint.
Military authorities said that after receiving a tip, they raided a Tijuana home that had 313 kilos of marijuana inside and arrested two people. Authorities said they destroyed a clandestine airstrip in San Quintin and burned marijuana plants planted on 5,500 square meters south of San Felipe.
Gov. José Guadalupe Osuna Millán opened the new Cobach Florido in Tijuana on Wednesday. The school only accepted 700 first-year students; in 2012 it will add 700 more first year students and in 2013 700 more first-year students to reach its capacity of 2,100. The school is still under construction; the cafeteria and some classrooms, among other things, are yet to be built at the $34 million peso ($2.8 million) Colegio de Bachilleres El Florido.
Osuna Millán spoke about how the fees to attend high school in Baja California will drop to zero by 2014. This year, instead of paying 1,400 pesos ($113) the price has dropped to 1,050 pesos ($85); in 2012 it will be 700 pesos ($57) and in 2013 it may be as low as 200 pesos ($16).
Tijuana and Baja California still are not able to meet the demand for high school classroom space, and many students who wanted to attend high school found that they must pay to attend private high schools or try to join the job market. To help meet some of the demand, Cobach Florido will have split sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
There also are plans to build two new high schools in eastern Tijuana.
El Mexicano ran a story Wednesday entitled "U.S. spies operate in Tijuana," saying the U.S. is watching the movements of politicians, business owners, law-enforcement officials and criminals in various ways in Tijuana. While this is hardly news, the paper said a source told it that part of the U.S. strategy "is to obtain the necessary information for Mexican authorities to act, as the Mexican military, whom the U.S. trusts more, has acted."
The story cites the June 15 Senate testimony of U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy on preventing cross-border drug tunnels. (El Mexicano reported that the testimony took place on July 15). That testimony included her saying that Mexico is receiving tunnel equipment and a robot through the Mérida initiative. She said: "ICE Tijuana Special agents and the San Diego BEST Tunnel Task Force are developing a training program for Mexican military and SSP officers on the proper use of the equipment."
Mexico state Gov. Enrique Peña Nieto is opposed to consecutive re-election in Mexico, and if he becomes president next year, a law to allow it could be off the table until 2018. <<<rest of story>>>
Four state police in Mexicali linked to a man's disappearance last week have been released from duty and have not presented themselves to authorities, Frontera reported.
Update, Aug. 17: Body of missing man found. Story, Frontera. The paper reported that the police in question were making 17,274 pesos a month ($1,421).
Update, Aug. 18: One policeman in custody; 3 still being sought.
Update, Sept. 3: Second policeman now in custody in Guamuchil, Sinaloa. Story, Frontera.
Update, Sept. 5: Second policeman moved to Mexicali. Story, Frontera.
Four men alleged involved in the kidnapping of migrants were arrested after a kidnapped migrant's family paid a ransom of around $2,500 for his release, Frontera reported. The migrant had escaped or been freed and the money apparently spent by the time of the arrests, Frontera said. Three men were arrested in Tijuana and a fourth man at a Tecate ranch, where kidnapped migrants were allegedly held. The migrant was reported to be back in his hometown.
The number of people with Mexican antecedents has risen past 10%, a study shows. the 2000-1010 decade was the first in which the number of people with Mexican antecedents in the U.S. grew more through births in the U.S. than through migration, according to the study "Población
de Origen Mexicano en Estados Unidos a Nivel Estatal: 2000-2010" (Population of Mexican Origin in the United States at the State Level: 2000-2010).
Jesús Cervantes González, coordinator of remittance studies for the Centro de Estudios Monetarios Latinoamericanos (Cemla, or Center for Latin American Monetary Studies) said the 2010 Census shows 31.8 million people with Mexican antecedents in the U.S., 10.3% of the total population 308.7 million.
El Norte newspaper, using data from the Pew Hispanic Center, published a graphic saying that from 1980-1990, 2.7 million Mexican-Americans were born in the U.S. while 3.1 million Mexicans immigrated to the U.S. From 1990-2000, both figures were 4.7 million. From 2000-2010, 7.2 million Mexican-Americans were born while 4.2 million Mexicans immigrated to the U.S. That adds up to more than 14.5 Mexican-Americans born in the U.S. in the last three decades.
An Imerk poll published in Frontera said only 11.5% of Baja California residents surveyed could name the nation's interior minister, Francisco Blake Mora of Tijuana.
The survey said 56% of those polled said it had helped the state to have a Baja Californian in in the state security post, and 72% said they had a positive image of Blake Mora.
That may help Blake Mora, who is reported to be thinking about running for the National Action Party nomination for governor in 2013. He was the top aide to Gov. José Guadalupe Osuna Millán before taking the Interior Ministry (Gobernación) post last year.
UPDATE, Aug. 16: Blake backs the presence of U.S. agents in Mexico, and said the international cooperation with Mexico does not violate the Mexican constitution. Story, Frontera.
Three-time presidential candidate and former Mexico City Mayor Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas accused President Felipe Calderón on Sunday of having handed Mexico over to the U.S.
Cárdenas spoke following the revelation that DEA and CIA agents and Pentagon officials have taken up advisory roles at a northern Mexico military base, among other actions.
El Mexicano, in a front-page story, said Tijuana Mayor Carlos Bustamante's debt renegotiation has doubled the amount the city owes, to 6.167 billion pesos in principal and interest by 2031 instead of 3.91 billion by 2028. The story does not quote Bustamante or other city officials, however, and the figures it cites showed an increase of 57.7%, hardly a doubling, but still more than 1 1/2 times more.
(At the current exchange rate, 6.167 billion pesos=$504 million; 3.91 billion pesos=$319 million).
While El Mexicano's analysis appears to have its flaws and to be incomplete, it does appear to put some important information out in the public arena. <<<rest of story>>>
Howard Paster, the man who helped President Bill Clinton pass NAFTA by lobbying Congress, has died of encephalitis at age 66. The New York Times story says, in part: "Facing predictions of failure, Mr. Paster and his team of 20 aides won a come-from-behind victory, in part by promising deals for farmers and offering job-training programs to bolster American workers." NAFTA passed 234-200 on Nov. 17, 1993. The next month, Paster resigned to head the public relations firm Hill & Knowlton. Story, New York Times
Little-known fact: When passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement looked bleak in the fall of 1993, there was a show of hands of editors at the San Diego Union-Tribune's daily news meeting of who still thought NAFTA would pass. The only two at the meeting who thought Congress would approve it were Editor Jerry Warren, a former press secretary for President Richard Nixon who is now retired, and Foreign Editor David Gaddis Smith, now of MexicoPerspective.
The alleged leader of the remnants of the Arellano Félix cartel in Tecate was captured Friday by state police, authorities said. Juan Carlos "El Argentino" Flores Leguiszamón, 27, and four others were captured. He allegedly worked for Fernando "The Engineer" Sánchez Arellano, who reportedly has taken over the cartel. Story, Frontera.
Authorities tearing down former Arellano Félix home, which had become a flop house
Story, Frontera (Makes no mention of it being former Arellano Félix home)
Proceso says the new U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Early Anthony Wayne, has responded in writing to a written question he received from Sen. Richard Lugar on June 20 about looking into allegations that Mexican Public Safety Minister Genaro García Luna is favoring Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán's Sinaloa Cartel as the nation goes about its drug war. According to Proceso, Wayne said the U.S. would take seriously all allegations about links with organized crime and would take appropriate follow throughs. Wayne mentioned three Mexican government successes against Sinaloa Cartel leaders: the death of Ignacio Coronel
Villarreal in June 2010, and the arrests of Héctor Eduardo "El Güicho" Guajardo Hernández in Mexicali in May and
Martín Beltrán Coronel. However, El Güicho escaped from custody in a Mexico City hospital July 27; his escape was not reported, however, until July 30. It was unclear when Wayne submitted his written response.
Story on Wayne's June 20 confirmation hearing, featuring oral questions from Lugar.
The mayor of San Luis Río Colorado, Manuel Baldenebro, has come under attack for the killing of stray dogs when other alternatives are available. Protests against his actions have taken place in his municipality and also before Sonora state Gov. Guillermo Padrés in Hermosillo. Baldenebro says the dogs pose a threat to public health and is reducing people's tax bills 200 pesos ($16) for every stray dog brought in. Leading the protests has been the group Comunidad Animalera Trabajando (Coat), which indicated that some family's pets had been taken away.
Update: Baldenebro, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, ran for a federal deputy's post representing San Luis in July 2012, but lost to Enrique Reina, a former mayor for the National Action Party.
State police arrested a member of a Popular Revolutionary Army breakaway group, el Ejército
Revolucionario del Pueblo Insurgente (the Revolutionary Army of the Insurgent People) of Guerrero state, in Ensenada.
Antonio Díaz Bahena, 49, has been linked to the 1999 kidnapping and death of surgeon Rodrigo
Borja García and the 2002 kidnapping of former federal Deputy Héctor Pineda Velásquez, El Mexicano reported. Story, Frontera. The guerrilla groups are very small and have been relatively inactive.
Frontera reported that fatal shootings at up 40% this year, with 25 registered to date compared with 15 during the same period in 2010. Those totals are well below, however, the levels of violence registered in 2008 and 2009, said Bertila
Ontiveros of the Medicial Forensics Service in Rosarito. Story, Frontera.
Three of those shot to death this year were women (story below on more young women being involved in criminal activity)
The eighth price increase for gasoline this year in Tijuana has arrived, and regular is now selling for 9.4 pesos a liter, or about 35.6 pesos per gallon.
Because of the recent fall of the peso to the dollar, the new gas price is roughly $2.90 a gallon — a bargain compared with U.S. prices, despite the Tijuana media calling price increases "gasolinazos." The paper lamented that prices in San Diego have fallen recently, to around $3.71, while Tijuana's price rose, without doing the math to show readers what the price per gallon was in Tijuana, or the price per liter in San Diego ($3.71 a gallon would be about 98 cents a liter, or roughly 12 pesos per liter). Story, Frontera.
Update, Aug. 14: Frontera does a price comparison of San Diego and Tijuana gas prices.
Military authorities, acting on a tip, found a 298-meter-long tunnel Friday being dug from a house under construction between 14 and 16 Edda María street near the Tijuana airport. The military said it appeared that about 100 meters were on the U.S. side. The garage and most rooms in the home were filled with dirt, the military told the paper. Ten people were detained, including one woman. The diggers said they were paid 1,200 pesos (about $98) weekly. The military said it appeared that most of those detained were migrants who had been frustrated in their attempts to cross the border and needed work. While they hailed from Sonora, Michoacán and Chiapas, two were from Tijuana. Authorities said it appeared work had been going on for about a year, and that part of the tunnel went under the western side of the airport property. The tunnel had ventilation, lighting and PVC piping used to pump out water, officials said. An altar also had been set up in the home.
Story, pictures, Frontera. Jump page, Frontera.
The columnist and historian Catón paid homage to Cantinflas on the 100th anniversary of his birth on Friday. He said some have likened the Mexican comedian to Charlie Chaplin.
<<<rest of story>>>
More young women are becoming involved in crime in Mexico, Mexico state federal Deputy José Francisco Landero Gutiérrez told El Mexicano newspaper. Landero is president of the Youth and Sports Committee of the Chamber of Deputies. Story. Jump page.
He said the number of young women involved in kidnappings has risen 15%, while the number involved in small-scale retail drug sales has grown 18%.
He was in Baja California as part of the Third National Forum on Youth and Sport: Toward an accord with Young People. It is being held in Ensenada on Friday and Tijuana on Saturday.
Some analysts have said the reason more women and youths have been targeted by organized crime in recent years is because women and young women have become more involved in criminal gangs, thereby dissolving former psychological barriers that protected women and youths from the worst violence.
The federal Attorney General's Office presented the new chiefs of 29 state offices on Thursday. One of the 29 was Fermín Gómez, who will head the Baja California office. He previously worked for the state Attorney General's Office in Baja California. Story, Frontera. New PGR heads
Óscar Osvaldo "El Compayito" García Montoya, alleged leader of the Beltrán Leyva enforcement arm "The Hand with Eyes," was arrested in Mexico state. The Mexican navy deserter from Guasave was said to have confessed to killing 600 people.
The search for García apparently led to a mistaken raid on the home of poet Efraín Bartolomé Rodríguez.
A couple was arrested in Tijuana for having taken the grandsons of a Southern California congressman in a November 2007 parental kidnapping. Arrested in the La Mesa area of the city were Jennifer Lopez Dejongh and George Dejongh, Tijuana media reported. The three grandsons — Brian, 12, and twins Christian and Evan, 10 — were recovered. Jennifer Dejongh had been married to Brian Miller, the son of Rep. Gary Miller, a Republican who represents Brea. El Mexicano reported that the couple also had a baby with them.
A Los Angeles Times story by Richard Serrano on Thursday shows how the inspiration for the "Fast and Furious" gun-running sting program appeared to come from the Justice Department, which wanted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and to target the Mexican cartels. It said ATF Acting Deputy Director William Hoover wanted an exit strategy to shut down the program after problems developed, but that others at the same meeting, including a Justice official, wanted to keep it going until "they had something to show for their efforts." (That appears to be a classic case of throwing good money after bad.) It says the ATF did not have enough agents to track the weapons sold, and then found that "the buyers of the guns often turned out to be Mexicans living legally in the U.S. and not cartel honchos."
Story, Los Angeles Times.
Agustín Carstens, head of the Bank of Mexico, said GDP growth in Mexico this year will be 3.8% to 4.8%, not the 5% many had predicted. He previously had given a range of 4% to 5%. He forecast GDP growth of 3.5% to 4.5% in 2012. He said the uncertainties in world financial markets that occurred after last week's downgrading of the U.S. credit by Standard & Poor's could wind up curtailing foreign investment in Mexico.
Infosel had the peso closing at 12.54 to the dollar compared with 12.09 Tuesday.
Finance Minister Ernesto Cordero keeps his growth forecast at 4.3%
Update, Aug. 12: Dollar was at 12.29 at exchange houses in Tijuana on Thursday.
A million are now affiliated with Mexico's federal Popular Insurance health plan in Baja California. The millionth person registered was Arnulfo Bautista Castillo, 38, a cook recently deported from the United States who has decided to settle in Tijuana with his family. He is originally from Guerrero state.
Column, Frontera, from Mirna Rincón Vargas, director of Regimen de Protección Social en Salud. She said authorities are trying to ensure that there is universal health protection for all Baja California citizens. Story, Frontera (with photo of recipient).
Mexico's finance minister, Ernesto Cordero, said he is keeping to his earlier prediction of 4.3% growth for Mexico this year following the financial scare sweeping the world after Standard & Poor's downgraded the U.S. credit rating. Many had been predicting growth of 5% for Mexico.
Reforma story, Frontera. Previous story on Pedro Aspe and Francisco Gil on Mexico's economy.
Infosel said the peso value dropped more than 2% to 12.2730 to the dollar Monday from 12.0175 on Friday, its weakest close since Dec. 31. El Mexicano said the exchange rate in Tijuana went to 11.87 after months around 11.35.
The drop in world oil prices this week also may affect Mexico's economy and tax revenues, as Mexico has had a financial windfall in recent years from higher oil prices.
Meanwhile, Sergio Sarmiento in his column critiques those blaming Standard & Poor's for the market downturn, saying it is common to blame the messenger rather than solve the underlying problem.
The negative opinions of Obama in Mexico (18%) have almost caught up to those with positive opinions about Obama (19%), according to a Mitofsky poll. And this was in June, well before this month's financial crisis.
From the beginning of his presidency, Obama has had name recognition with eight of 10 Mexicans. When he began his term, 41% had a good opinion of Obama, and 1% bad.
In 2010, that dropped to 21% good and 9% bad.
In the United States, his approval rating fell from 63% in 2009 to 48% this year; his disapproval rating from 20% to 47%, Mitofsky said, citing Promedio Real Clear Politics.
The latest poll in Mexico was done in June. Men have a slightly better opinion of him than women, young people have a better opinion of him than older people and more educated Mexicans have a far better opinion of him than less-educated Mexicans. Mexicans living in the north have a far better opinion of Obama than those living in the south. Mitofksy's website.
What does this mean for Obama? Perhaps not much. He needs U.S. votes, not Mexican ones. Many Mexicans have settled to the hardly startling conclusion that Obama is acting in the U.S. interest. Obama does not appear to have paid that much attention to Mexico, and the ATF "Fast and Furious" weapons-sting operation that went awry certainly has not helped. The continuing drug war resulting in large part from U.S. demand hasn't helped, either. The poll numbers could be bad for Obama insofar as they might negatively affect the U.S. Latino vote, as it may be key for Obama's re-election in 2012. Obama has not come up with any comprehensive immigration reform, and deportations have risen during his term.
Sandra Avila Beltrán, the Reina del Pacifico, Queen of the Pacific coast, kept an injunction (amparo) against extradition to the United States as a result of a decision by three Mexico City judges. Her acquittal in a case involving 9.5 tons of cocaine found on a ship in Manzanillo en 2001 also was confirmed. Neither case can be appealed further, Reforma reported. Her former lover, alleged trafficker Juan Diego "El Tigre" Espinoza of Colombia also was acquitted in the smuggling case. The only obstacle standing between Ávila, imprisoned since 2007, and freedom is a money laundering charge both she Espinoza face, the paper said. Reforma story, Frontera.
A 13-year-old girl believed to be working for the Zetas as a lookout was reported to be earning 4,000 pesos ($323) every two weeks, El Universal newspaper reported.
The Mexican military said it found 2 tons of marijuana in a truck that was to cross the border from Tijuana to Mexico. The marijuana was encased in plastic beneath boxes of chiles and tomatillos in a truck registered to Greñas Trucking of San Diego. Story, Frontera. Story, San Diego Union-Tribune.
The Mexico City newspaper Reforma published an article about a New York Times story saying fewer than two dozen CIA, Drug Enforcement Administration and Pentagon civilian officials (retired U.S. military) are working at a military base in Northern Mexico. Reforma's story, in Frontera. The New York Times story indicated their presence had to do with Mexican officials' desire for "more access to sophisticated surveillance technology and expertise." It said the U.S. agents helped the Mexicans track down José Antonio "El Diego" Hernández Acosta late last month in Chihuahua city. "El Diego" is thought to be responsible for hundreds of slayings in Ciudad Juárez. The New York Times original story.
Meanwhile, El Economista said government officials would not comment on the accuracy of the New York Times story for reasons of national security.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner: "U.S. personnel associated with these efforts work in support of the Mexican government, who would have exclusive responsibility for executing law enforcement operations in their own country. So essentially, this is about intelligence sharing and information sharing.... My understanding is that this is an information and intelligence sharing operation. I don’t know whether – I don’t believe they would be armed."
Update, Aug. 11: Ready lines go into operation.
Ana Gabriel's concert in the Baja California wine country on Saturday was a hit, Frontera reported. Gabriel, originally from Guamúchil, Sinaloa, said Baja California was the state of her musical birth. "This is my land, where I was born as Ana Gabriel, as a (musical) artist ... and although I come from Sinaloa, I was born in Tijuana, I love Baja California," she said. Story, Frontera.
She was born Maria Guadalupe Araugo Yong to a Mexican father (Ramón Araugo) and Chinese-Mexican mother (Isabel Yong) on Dec. 10, 1955.* According to an Ana Gabriel fan club website and letras.com, she and her family moved to Tijuana when she was 15 and she began studying accounting. She also studied music, composed and sang. In 1979, she and her manager came up with her stage name, which she used to sing in Tijuana bars, letras.com says. She then made it big after doing well in some music contests.
Among those attending Saturday's concert was Ana Gabriela Guevara, a Nogales-born sprinter who won a silver medal in the 400 meters for Mexico in the 2004 Olympics.
* Some websites carry a different birth year.
A state official says property has been bought to provide land for 450 families that have been living along the Arroyo Alamar, which is being lined with concrete. An earlier plan to make the land along the tributary of the Tijuana River into a park has been abandoned, to the disappointment of environmentalists. Gustavo Ley Ruiz, the state government subsecretary, told El Mexicano that 20 hectares (49 acres) in Las Maravillas between
Santa Fe and Lomas de
San Antonio has been bought and will be subdivided and sold to the families and to others found living in high-risk areas such as the Leandro Valle neighborhood. The families will be moved to the new site after water and electricity service is made available, Ley Ruiz said.
Previous story about the dispute over the project.
Óscar Genel's July 13 column about Arroyo Alamar.
UPDATE, Aug. 8: Tijuana Council member Mariano San Román Flores of the Green Party said he is asking the state government and the National Water Commission (Comisión Nacional del Agua, or Conagua) for information about the project along the Arroyo Alamar, which he said could affect one of Tijuana's lungs. He said federal deputy David Ledesma Romo, also of the Green Party, is seeking more transparency about the actions involving the streambed; San Román Flores said the same would be done at Tijuana's city hall. San Román Flores heads the city's Environment and Sustainable Development committee and took over as president of the Green Party in Baja California from Ledesma a few months ago.
Baja California Sen. Alejandro González Alcocer said a proposed national security law, which has been passed in committee, will clearly establish the ways in which the military can fight organized crime. The constitution imposes strict limits on the military during times of peace, and many say the military's involvement in the fight against organized crime violates the constitution. González Alcocer is a former governor of Baja California.
A 19.7-million peso ($1.6 million) system is jamming cell-phone calls at La Mesa prison in Tijuana, Frontera reported. Officials said the system is helping stop illegal communications between inmates inside the prison, between inmates and criminals outside the prison and to stop extortion calls that have been found to be made from Mexican prisons. In the extortion calls, inmates with cell phones call people in various locations in Mexico and tell them their loved ones will be killed unless a payment is made. Many times, the payments are made even though the loved ones are not in any danger. The jamming system, of Israeli origin, involves the placement of 23 devices on the exterior walls of the prison. While inmates are not supposed to have cell phones, the devices often are smuggled in to Mexican prisons. Story, Frontera.
A Reforma poll, published in Frontera, shows teachers union leader Elba Esther Gordillo as the most divisive figure in Mexican politics, with 31% of respondents having an unfavorable opinion of her. A close second was former Mexico City Mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador at 28%. The populist politician is seeking the presidency again after narrowly losing to Felipe Calderón in 2006; the only question is whether there will be two candidates from the left, as current Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard (left) of the Democratic Revolution Party also wants to run. The odds-on favorite to win the presidency, outgoing Mexico state Gov. Enrique Peña Nieto (right), has a favorable rating of 49, while López Obrador has one of 31 and Ebrard one of 30. Peña Nieto's unfavorable rating is 10, while Ebrard's is 13.
The poll, Page 31.
The two candidates likely to battle it out for the PAN nomination, former Interior Minister Santiago Creel and the PAN's coordinator in the Chamber of Deputies, Josefina Vásquez Mota, both have favorable and unfavorable ratings in the teens. Reform puts Creel's support at 31%, Vázquez Mota's at 27% and remaining three PAN contenders in single digits. The poll, Page 30.
The military said that after receiving a tip, it found 2.3 tons of pot that had been stashed between sand dunes in the Altar desert section of the Sonoran desert about 60 miles south of San Luis Río Colorado near the coast road between Puerto Peñasco and the Golfo de Santa Clara. No one was arrested. Story, El Mexicano. Fifteen kilos of meth and 12 kilos of cocaine also were discovered in San Luis Río Colorado; no arrests were reported.
A family believed to have been traveling from Rosarito to Tijuana was shot at while driving along the Corredor 2000 next to the Rodríguez dam reservoir and the driver of the Ford Explorer lost control and crashed. Authorities said that a woman and a girl died in the crash and that a man and three other children were taken to the hospital. One of the children, Rafael Armenta Figueroa, 12, died at the hospital. Yamilé, 3, her mother Mónica Figueroa Salgado, 29, died in the crash. Authorities said they were not wearing seat belts. Hospitalized were Edgar, 8, Yarales, 10, and the father. Police said the father appeared to have been the target of the attack, which was believed to have involved local small-scale drug trafficking.
Story, Frontera. Story, El Mexicano.
Tijuana Cultural Center Director Virgilio Muñoz says the Christopher Columbus monument is too heavy for the cultural center esplanade and says it may be relocated to a median on Paseo de los Héroes. Previous story.
Nine pollsters reported missing in Apatzingán, Michoacán, a stronghold of the Knights Templar drug-trafficking organization have been freed. The Knights Templar's local leader was arrested this week. Six Consulta Mitofsky workers went missing over the weekend and three from Parametría were reported missing Monday. All have now been freed. Story, Frontera. Michoacán has gubernatorial, legislative and municipal elections in November.
A written statement from Vicente "El Vicentillo" Zambada presented to a federal court in Illinois said the Drug Enforcement Administration gave immunity to Sinaloa cartel members Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán and Zambada's father, Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, Reforma reported. Vicente Zambada is in custody in Chicago after being extradited from Mexico and has a court date Wednesday. He said the accord was made through Humberto Loya Castro, reported to be a cartel lawyer and U.S. informant. Vicente Zambada said men he believed to be DEA agents repeated the immunity deal to him in the Mexico City Sheraton hours before he was arrested on March 18, 2009 by Mexican authorities. Reforma story, in Frontera.
Meanwhile, a July 31 Narcosphere item quotes a former DEA agent as saying that Vicente Zambada has essentially outed himself as an informer, possibly subjecting him to a death sentence from other Mexican traffickers. It says U.S. prosecutors have been careful in their statements, asking the court to order Vicente Zambada to produce "evidence that a specific American official or officials with actual or apparent authority expressly authorized [him] to import multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine and heroin into the United States, as charged in the indictment, or expressly assured [him] that these acts were not criminal, and that [he] reasonably relied on these communications." The story and later comments also are full of a large number of conspiracy theories. Story, the Narcosphere.
Moisés Montero Álvarez, alias "El Koreano," believed to be the head of an independent cartel in Acapulco, was arrested. He is thought to be responsible for the deaths of 20 Michoacán tourists who were apparently mistaken for rival drug traffickers last year. Reforma story, Frontera.
Two smuggling tunnels were found in the Otay Mesa section of Tijuana, authorities said. One of them had been discovered previously and was sealed off with concrete at the border. Story, Frontera
Earl Anthony Wayne was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Tuesday to be ambassador to Mexico. He comes to Mexico from the deputy ambassador's post in Afghanistan; before that, he was ambassador to Argentina. He has a strong economics background, which should be helpful. Story, Frontera.
The heads of 21 state offices of the federal Attorney General's Office resigned Friday, it was announced Monday. Prosecutors resigned from their positions in Aguascalientes, Chiapas, Coahuila, Durango, Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Mexico City, Mexico state, Michoacán, Morelos, Oaxaca, Querétaro, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala, Veracruz and Zacatecas. Durango, Tamaulipas and Sinaloa have been particularly violent.
Attorney General Marisela Morales, who took office in April, had been undertaking a purge and reorganization of the Attorney General's Office, which has suffered a number of recent setbacks in its prosecutions.
There has been little analysis of what was behind the resignations. Part of Mexico's problem has been corruption in the ranks of security forces and the attorney general's office; another part has been that security forces and other government agencies investigating organized crime have been reorganized time and again, causing them to lose intellectual capital. It remains to be seen what this reorganization can accomplish now that Calderón only has 16 months left in office and that it appears that the Institutional Revolutionary Party will be returning to power.
Neri "El Yupo" Salgado Harrison, believed to head the Knights Templar drug trafficking organization in Apatzingán, Michoacán, has been captured, authorities said. The Knights Templar is a spinoff from La Familia Michoacana organization.
Apatzingán is the location where the Congress of Anáhuac passed a constitution on Oct. 22, 1814, during Mexico's fight for independence from Spain. President Felipe Calderón's sister, Luisa María Calderón, who won the National Action Party's nomination for the Michoacán governor's race Sunday, made a symbolic campaign appearance in violence-torn Apatzingán on June 11, the first day campaigning could begin. "We want to return it to ... our Michoacán ...; in
Apatzingán institutions were born," she said then.
Story on Luisa María Calderón winning the PAN nomination.
Baja California Gov. José Gualalupe Osuna Millán on Monday welcomed the production of the movie "Little Boy" to Baja Film Studios in the Popotla area of Rosarito. Metanoia Films producer Eduardo Verástegui, who also is a Mexican actor, said he is trying to reproduce a 1940s Norman-Rockwell-inpired town in the $23 million movie.
IMDb describes the plot thusly: "A young American boy struggles to achieve the impossible ... bring his father back from World War II."
"Little Boy" also is the name of the atomic bomb set off over Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945; a second bomb, "Fat Man," was set off Aug. 9 over Nagasaki. The movie will be set in a U.S. town, a prisoner-of-war-camp in the Philippines and Hiroshima.
The film will star British actors Emily Watson and Ben Chaplin. El Mexicano newspaper said Kevin James, who with his wife, Steffiana de la Cruz, just had a little boy in April, and Michael Rapaport are also in the movie. Matanoia Films is based in Los Angeles.
The movie will be filmed in various parts of the state. The Union-Tribune said the locations include the Guadalupe Valley, the Laguna Salada and the Casa de Cultura in Tijuana.
President Felipe Calderón's sister, Luisa María Guadalupe Calderón Hinojosa, won the National Action Party nomination for governor on Sunday. She won 15,268 votes, or 58%, of PANistas statewide, while Sen. Marko Cortés Mendoza won 10,489. He then was nominated to be the PAN candidate for mayor of Morelia. The PAN's voting took place under the watchful eye of national PAN President Gustavo Madero.
The Institutional Revolutionary Party and Democratic Revolution Party both hold events the same day for their candidates for governor. Fausto Vallejo Figueroa, who is on leave from the mayor's post, was cheered on by 7,000 in the Palacio del Arte in eastern Morelia, El Universal reported. In attendance was the national president of the PRI, Humberto Moreira. In the Plaza Melchor Ocampo next to Morelia's cathedral, before 3,000 people, the Convergencia party presented their joint candidate with the PRD, Silvano Aureoles. The PRD president, Jesús Zambrano, said the PRD would finish first and Calderón would finish third.
Roy Campos, director of the polling firm Consulta Mitofsky, told Qadratin that it could be a close, three-way race. The PRD has lost some of its luster, which included Gov. Leonel Godoy Rangel's half-brother Julio César Godoy Toscano being immersed in a scandal involving drug trafficking.
The PRD has held the governor's post in Michoacan since 2002. The election will be in November.
Story, El Universal
Prevous story on Luisa María Calderón.
Reforma story on Luisa María Calderón, in Frontera Aug. 2: Page 22. Page 23. The story is headlined "The Disobedient Daughter": her brother referred to himself as the disobedient son in his campaign for the presidency.
Part II of story appearing Aug. 3: Page 24. Page 25.
Miss Mexico, Cynthia Alejandra de la Vega Oates of Monterrey, has been stripped of her crown for not meeting pageant obligations and will not represent Mexico in the Miss World pageant. Lupita Jones, a Mexicali woman who won the Miss Universe crown in 1991, was not present at a Miss Mexico event over the weekend, prompting speculation that she was trying to avoid being asked about the matter. The Miss World contest will be held in London in November.
The Miss Mexico pageant to choose whom will represent Mexico in the 2012 Miss World pageant is being held in Puerto Vallarta this month, with the final night taking place Aug. 20.
UPDATE, Aug. 4: Lupita Jones says de la Vega's lack of discipline, which included her weight gain, caused the pageant sponsor's to strip her of her crown. Reforma story, in Frontera.
Copper production in Mexico rose
85% from May 2010 to May 2011, government figures show. Production of copper in Mexico rose to 33,283 tons in May 2011, the report shows. Much of the reopening had to do with the reopening of Grupo Mexico's Cananea copper mining operation, now called
Buenavista del Cobre, after a yearslong strike.
The Mexican Mining Chamber said Mexico is the world's 12-largest copper producer. The government also reported that from May 2010 to May 2011, silver production rose 22.8% and gold 14.5%.
Story, grapphic in Frontera.