A leading source for news and analysis about Mexico and the U.S.-Mexican border.
Institutional Revolutionary Party presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto will visit Tijuana on Sunday. Plans are for him to speak to women at El Foro in downtown Tijuana and hold a mass rally at the bullring in Playas de Tijuana. Story, Frontera (PDF).
Update, June 1: Peña Nieto's schedule has been moved up two hours, and his meeting with women is now planned for 9 a.m. and the rally at the bullring at 11:30 a.m. Story, Frontera (PDF).
Previously announced visits to Tijuana have been postponed, prompting visiting Democratic Revolution Party leader Dolores Padierna to comment Saturday that Peña Nieto was afraid to come to Tijuana. State PRI leader René Mendivil denied her allegation Sunday. Story, Frontera (PDF).
The Los Angeles Times' Tracy Wilkinson writes about the infiltration of the Zetas into Sinaloa state, the home of the Pacific/Sinaloa cartel headed by Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán. She writes that the Zetas, with no connections to the local population, are "free to act like crude hatchet men who ignore any rules," with decapitations and worse. Zeta cells are in Los Mochis, Mazatlan and Culiacan. The story notes that Guzmán's cartel also has moved into areas considered to be more Zetas territory, such as Veracruz. Story, Los Angeles Times.
Former Tamaulipas Gov. Tomás Yarrington, suspected of links with drug traffickers, has been suspended from the Institutional Revolutionary Party. Story in Frontera (PDF). The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday said Yarrington was the subject of an investigation looking into the laundering of Mexican drug cartel in Texas. Story, San Antonio Express-News.
On Wednesday, Enrique Peña Nieto, the front-runner for Mexico's July 1 presidential election, told journalists on "Televisa's "Tercer Grado" program that the PRI had begun process to suspend Yarrington if the accusations against him were proven true.
The San Diego Association of Governments on Friday reduced all tolls on the South Bay Expressway/State Route 125. Tolls will soon range between 50 cents and $2.75 for FasTrak users and $2 and $3.50 for others. Current tolls "range from 85 cents to $3.85 for FasTrak clients and from $2.50 to $4 for cash or credit card users," Sandag said in a statement. Sandag acquired the lease for the 10-mile toll road after the toll road operator filed for bankruptcy. The South Bay Expressway opened in 2007 and runs from near the Otay border crossing north to Route 54, and it is hoped that its greater use will reduce congestion on Route 805, among other things.
Former Baja California Sur Gov. Narciso Agúndez Montaño was detained in Monterrey on Thursday on suspicion of embezzlement, sources told Mexican media. State prosecutor Gamil Arreola said Agúndez may have skimmed off 52 million pesos ($3.7 million) in the purchase and sale of seven real estate properties. On Dec. 6, the state controller, after an investigation, banned Agúndez from holding office for six years and fined him 27.9
million pesos ($2 million). Story in Frontera (PDF).
Update, May 27: Agúndez enters prison in La Paz. Story in Frontera (PDF).
Manuel Espino, president of the National Action Party from 2005 to 2007, came out in support of Institutional Revolutionary Party candidate Enrique Peña Nieto on Tuesday. Espino said his support of Peña Nieto is based on the person, not his party; he did not encourage other votes for the PRI. Espino was expelled from the PAN in 2011, but says he expects to be reinstated and considers himself a PANista for life. Espino had questioned the PAN's coalition with the Democratic Revolution Party in state elections and made other critical comments about President Felipe Calderón and the party.
Espino was a major mover in the effort in 2006 to get PRIistas to vote for Calderón and prevent populist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador from being elected president after it became clear that the PRI's Roberto Madrazo was going to finish third. Many polls now have the PAN's Josefina Vázquez Mota in third or headed that direction, with López Obrador on an upswing.
Story, Frontera (PDF). Jorge Fernández Menéndez column (PDF).
Update, June 3: Espino detained at sobriety checkpoint in Mexico City.
Tijuana police chief Alberto Capella warned that traffickers are placing marijuana and crystal meth in or on vehicles of frequent border crossers, El Mexicano reported. He said no one has been caught, but urged vehicle owners to take precautions and to check their trunks and other parts of their vehicles before crossing the border. He said in one case, a spare tire underneath a vehicle was filled with drugs, but then fell because of the added weight. He said another drug package fell off a vehicle headed for the SENTRI trusted traveler crossing when the vehicle hit a speed bump. He said a backpack with drugs and a cheap GPS unit were found in the trunk of another vehicle. Capella said the methods are similar to those long used at the Ciudad Juárez-El Paso border, where traffickers often follow a vehicle with drugs planted on it to its destination. Story, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump.
Update, May 24: Frontera reports (PDF) that man discovers drugs planted on his pickup.
Update, June 5: El Mexicano reports (PDF) that man discovers drugs being planted on his pickup.
The state legislature voted 20-1 not to reappoint Heriberto
García García as the state's top human rights official. Only Green Party legislator Víctor Navarro voted for him; Marco Antonio Vizcarra of the Baja California State Party abstained. There are 14 candidates to replace him. Story in Frontera (PDF).
Update, May 24: García outlines his accomplishments (PDF).
Update, May 26: Arnulfo de León Lavenant elected to three-year term to human rights post with 19 votes. Story in Frontera (PDF).
Tijuana business people defended bullfighting at a conference Tuesday. There has been a move in Tijuana to ban children under 14 from going to bullfights. Story in Frontera (PDF).
National Action Party congressional candidate Alfa Peñaloza again did not show up for a debate against her rivals for the District 6 in Tijuana. The debate, held at Frontera newspaper, featured the Institutional Revolutionary Party's Chris López, leftist coalition candidate Silviano Isaías Rosas and New Alliance's Sonia Moreno Cabral. Peñaloza only became the PAN candidate so that the PAN could meet its gender quotas. López, who has made education his key issue, questioned Moreno's support of additional fees charged to students. She is a teacher, and her party was formed by the national teachers union. Moreno said the fees are necessary because the various levels of government do not provide schools with enough support. Private investment in Mexico's state-run oil sector was one issue addressed. Both López and Moreno supported private investment, while keeping Pemex state-run; Rosas, following the lead of Democratic Revolution Party presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, said he was for building more refineries and opposed to private investment. Story, Frontera (PDF). Story, Frontera (PDF). Political page, Frontera (PDF). Frontera's page on the candidates' appearance (PDF).
The Tijuana cathedral's multifaced clock, which often shows different times for each face, is being removed and sent to Puebla for repairs. The clock's bells also have not played the Guadalupan hymn for 15 years. A group called Cultura sin Fronteras is leading efforts to repair the clock; plans are for the clock to be back in operation in Tijuana by June 22 if repairs are not extraordinarily complicated. Frontera reported that the clock is of Dutch origin, made around 1920, and will have to have parts custom-made for its restoration. Story, Frontera (PDF). Photo, Frontera (PDF)
Photo shows one face of cathedral clock running fast last year.
Legion of Christ leader Alvaro Corcuera said he knew as early as 2005 that prominent Legion priest Thomas Williams had fathered a child in Italy and asked for forgiveness for not acting more strongly in the matter sooner. The Legion has come under tremendous criticism in recent years because its founder, Mexican Marcial Maciel, has been found to have abused priests and also fathered children. Story, Catholic News Agency. Story in Frontera (PDF).
Protests against the the presidential candidacy of the Institutional Revolutionary Party's Enrique Peña Nieto were held across Mexico on Saturday. Thousands, if not tens of thousands, marched in Mexico City.
Frontera reported that in Tijuana, the protest started at 1 p.m. at the scissors monument roundabout between the Tijuana Cultural Center and the Plaza Río Tijuana shopping center and grew to about 250 around 2 p.m. Organizers said eventually around 500 showed up, most of them young people.
The protests had their genesis in university students protesting against Peña Nieto at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City earlier this month.
Also yesterday, the PRI said cyber attacks caused it to take down its website Saturday.
Meanwhile, PRIistas who have been waving flags and handing out campaign materials at the nearby Cuauhtémoc traffic circle on weekends decided not to show up Saturday. National Action Party members took advantage of that by holding their own rally there for their candidate, Josefina Vázque Mota. Mota also supported the protest rallies against the PRI.
Earlier, PRI women held a walk against cancer on Avenida Revolución in Tijuana.
Nationwide protest story in Frontera (PDF). Tijuana story on protest, Frontera (PDF). Tijuana stories on PAN rally, PRI anti-cancer walk, Frontera (PDF).
Marco Antonio Ávila García, 39, a reporter who covered crime issues in Ciudad Obregón, was found dead Friday close to the coast near Guaymas, about 110 kilometers from where he was abducted while at a car wash by three men Thursday. His body had been tortured and placed in a black plastic bag and had a note attached, officials said. He wrote for the affiliated papers Diario Sonora de la Tarde and El Regional. Eduardo Flores, director of the papers, said Ávila García did not do any investigations on his own, but only wrote stories based on official information given to him by authorities and had never expressed any fears. Flores said Ávila García was married and had three small children. AP story in Frontera (PDF).
Telecommunications billionaire Carlos Slim said in Cancún on Thursday that Mexico has developed the foundation to become a major developed country in 10 or 15 years. He said the country's security problems will be overcome and expects the country to have a per capita income of $15,000 within those 10 to 15 years. Speaking at a World Travel and Tourism Forum, he disagreed that security issues will cause major long-term damage to Mexico's "brand," saying: "The brand will last 100,000 years. Mexico has a positive image in the world, in every sense, in its history, in its appearance, its culture," Slim said.
Slim, according to Forbes magazine, is the world's richest man.
Story in Frontera (PDF).
Protest planned against George Washington University's plans to give Slim an honorary degree Sunday.
Last year's story on former Finance Minister Pedro Aspe's claim that Mexico is on the cusp of a "demographic bonus" that will move the country dramatically forward.
Institutional Revolutionary Party presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto, who last year said he would seek to eliminate 100 at-large federal deputy posts, has called for the elimination of 32 at-large Senate seats as well. He said eliminating these posts would make it easier for a party to gain a legislative majority and pass the reforms the country needs to advance.
The country currently elects three senators per state every six years: two from the party whose ticket finishes first in voting in the individual states, and one from the party that finishes second. In Baja California, for example, the National Action Party finished first in Senate voting in 2006 and sent two senators, former Gov. Alejandro González Alcocer and Jaime Rafael Díaz Ochoa, to Mexico City. Fernando Castro Trenti and his PRI running mate finished second in the voting; Castro Trenti became Baja California's third senator.
The 32 at-large Senate posts are based on proportional representation, meaning that parties that wouldn't have a ghost of a chance of electing a senator in any state still wind up with representation in the Senate. This reduces the advantage parties gain through the direct election of their senators.
The PRI, because it has the best nationwide organization, stands to benefit most from Peña Nieto's proposal. PAN presidential candidate Josefina Vázquez Mota also has been proposing the reduction of at-large legislative seats.
Story in Frontera (PDF).
Peña Nieto's October proposal to reduce at-large Chamber of Deputy seats.
His October interview with Reforma about the issue. Proceso's article on Peña Nieto and Congress.
Excélsior columnist Leo Zuckermann writes that Democratic Revolution Party presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador is setting the stage for a protest of Institutional Revolutionary Party candidate Enrique Peña Nieto's likely July 1 victory. Zuckermann said it appears that López Obrador will claim, if Peña Nieto wins July 1, that Peña Nieto's victory is illegitimate because of the strong push he received from Televisa in the years leading up to the election. In the May 6 debate, López Obrador cited a huge advertising contract that the Mexico state government signed with Televisa when Peña Nieto was governor. Peña Nieto countered during the debate, however, by saying that López Obrador engaged in a huge public relations campaign when he was mayor of Mexico City beginning in 2000 and that if such campaigns were so key, López Obrador would have won the presidency in 2006. López Obrador narrowly lost that election, and then claimed Felipe Calderón's victory was illegitimate.
Zuckermann said he sees López Obrador's strategy as one of trying to bolster the left in the long term and also to pressure Peña Nieto to take action to counter Televisa's monopolistic practices. Zuckermann's column (PDF).
Ensenada on Tuesday celebrates its 130th anniversary.
In 1870, gold was found in Real del Castillo south of Ensenada, and the Baja California Norte territorial capital wound up there. But when the mines petered out, the capital was moved to Ensenada, which had better transportation connections, on May 15, 1882. In 1915, the capital was moved to Mexicali. Story, Frontera (PDF).
The group Red por los Derechos de la Infancia en México (Mexican Childhood Rights Network) says the number of violent deaths of minors rose from 174 in 2010 to 244 in 2011. It said that through March 27 of this year, the number was 50, putting the nation on a trajectory have more than 200 such deaths by the end of 2012. It said most of those who were killed were ages 15 to 17, at that 72% of deaths resulted from gunfire. The proportion of those killed who were girls fell from 27% 2010 to 23% in 2011. Chihuahua, Durango and Sinaloa states registered the highest violent death rate of minors, while Nayarit, Baja California, Guerrero and Morelos were in the second tier. Story in Frontera (PDF). The report (PDF).
Democratic Revolution Party presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador has passed National Action Party candidate Josefina Vázquez Mota for second place, an Universal poll conducted by Buendía & Laredo says. It has Institutional Revolutionary Party candidate Enrique Peña Nieto at 49.6%, López Obrador at 24.8% and Vázquez Mota at 23.1%. Story in Frontera (PDF). Jump.
If you ever wondered why MexicoPerspective cites Catón so often, the answer may have come Saturday, when Enrique Peña Nieto met with the Saltillo columnist at the Institutional Revolutionary Party candidate's request. <<<Read more>>>
The Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City is giving the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) a run for its money in terms of intolerance of people with different points of view following the booing of and verbal attacks on Institutional Revolutionary Party candidate Enrique Pena Nieto on Friday, columnist Sergio Sarmiento writes. "Peña Nieto remained calm and sought tolerance, but left at the end to shouts and boos," Sarmiento wrote. He said the catcalling reminded him of 1994, when National Action Party candidate Diego Fernández de Cevallos was booed and had eggs thrown at him at the UNAM.
Days before Peña Nieto's appearance, Democratic Revolution Party candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador had been well-received at the Jesuit university once attended by Vicente Fox, PAN president from 2000-2006.
Sarmiento said much of the noise Friday had to do with a 2006 protest in San Salvador Atenco in Mexico state where two people were killed and more than two dozen women sexually assaulted. Peña Nieto was governor at the time. The National Human Rights Commission blamed state and federal police; Sarmiento said that after the commission's report, some state police were convicted and are still serving sentences, but that the federal government did not send up any of the federal police in the case. Sarmiento's column (PDF). Story about Friday's event, in Frontera (PDF).
PRI at-large Senate candidate Emilio Gamboa, in a visit to Baja California, said he is ashamed of the Universidad Iberoamericana, which he attended. Gamboa said López Obrador now has moved into second place; on March 1, Gamboa had said he thought López Obrador would wind up being Peña Nieto's main rival in the July 1 election. Gamboa's visit to Tijuana, Frontera (PDF).
Peña Nieto will likely have to go through Gamboa to get legislation passed.
Update, May 17: Catón publishes missive (PDF) from Iberoamericana student defending how students reacted to Peña Nieto.
Alejandro Díaz-Bautista, an economist at the Colegio de la Frontera Norte, told Frontera that the country is breaking its budget with gasoline subsidies. On Saturday, the gasoline price rose to 10.18 pesos per liter, or $2.82 a gallon, from 10.09 pesos per liter. While it was the fifth gas hike in Mexico this year, the cost of gasoline across the border in San Diego is generally over $4 a gallon. The story said Mexico's gasoline subsidy cost around 55.4 billion pesos ($4 billion) during the first quarter of 2012; the subsidy was around $12 billion for all of 2011. Díaz-Bautista said the subsidy is greater than the amount that goes to the Popular Insurance program or the Oportunidades anti-poverty program and encourages the use of the air-polluting automobile, points made by New Alliance presidential candidate Gabriel Quadri during Sunday's debate. Story, Frontera (PDF).
President Felipe Calderón defended the gas-price increases, saying the subsidy needs to be eliminated; the question, he says, is how best to do it. Story in Frontera (PDF).
Officials in Guerrero state said that 41 schools damaged by the March 20 7.4-magnitude earthquake will be demolished. Rebuilding the schools will cost 23 million pesos, or $1.7 million. Story in Frontera (PDF).
The Vatican is investigating seven priests from the conservative Legionaries of Christ, whose Mexican founder, Marcial Maciel, was accused of abusing seminarians and also of having had children. He died in 1978. Story in Frontera (PDF). Story, GMA News.
The Mexican columnist Catón, also known as Armando Fuentes Aguirre, made an impassioned defense of same-sex rights on Friday. His column was inspired by President Barack Obama's endorsement this week of gay marriage. Catón's column (PDF).
A Con Estadística post-debate poll for Grupo Fórmula showed Institutional Revolutionary Party presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto with 49% to 26% for Joseﬁna Vázquez Mota of the National Action Party and 22% for Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the Democratic Revolution Party. Some pre-debate polls had López Obrador nearly catching up with or even passing Vázquez Mota. New Alliance Party candidate Gabriel Quadri, who turned in a strong performance in Sunday's debate, rose to 3% from 1%. Columnist Leo Zuckermann said the poll showed that Peña Nieto was the true debate winner, because he did not suffer a major drop in voter confidence for the July 1 election. Zuckermann's column, in Frontera (PDF).
A state environmental official, speaking in advance of International Migratory Bird Day, said Baja California has 458 bird species, including the endangered Yuma Clapper Rail (Palmoteador de Yuma) found in the Colorado River Delta. State wildlife coordinator José Luis García Chavira said there are three birds that are only found in the state, Frontera reported. García Chavira is the former director of Mexicali's largest park and zoo, Bosque y Zoológico de la Ciudad. Story, Frontera (PDF).
Photo of Palmoteador de Yuma. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service page on Yuma clapper rail (Nevada). USFWS page (Arizona).
Natalia Juárez, a Democratic Revolution Party candidate in Jalisco state for Congress, is appearing in a campaign billboard topless, along with six other women. The women use their arms for strategic coverage in the photo. Juárez, 34, teaches philosophy at the University of Guadalajara and is running against two well-known politicians, Jorge Salinas Osornio of the National Action Party and Leobardo Alcala Padilla of the Institutional Revolutionary Party. EFE story on foxnews.com. Story, diariolibre.com.
Tijuana is making efforts to enforce a law against sexually provocative billboards; would this billboard be banned in the border city?
An action-packed week in San Diego and Tijuana saw López Obrador visit, UCSD's "Mexico Moving Forward," Denise Dresser at USD, a border transportation forum and a Casa Familiar conference on air pollution at the border.
Three Veracruz photojournalists who covered crime and one of their girlfriends were killed and their bodies dumped in a canal. They were among a number of journalists who fled their homes last year after they had been threatened. The victims were identified as Gabriel Huge; his nephew, Guillermo Luna of the website www.veracruznews.com.mx; Luna's girlfriend, Irasema Becerra; and Esteban Rodriguez. Huge and Luna formerly worked for Notiver, and Rodríguez had worked for AZ. Two Notiver journalists were killed last year. 5 quit Notiver in July.
Last week, a journalist in the state capital, Xalapa, was killed.
Associated Press story. Story in Frontera (PDF). Story, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump.
Update, May 5: Javier Hernández Valencia, the United Nations' Human Rights office representative in Mexico, says freedom of the press does not exist in the country. Story in El Mexicano (PDF). Jump.
Update, Aug. 14: Suspected Jalisco Nueva Generación drug traffickers arrested in possession of Becerra ID.
Although Mexico's Federal Electoral Institute sought to have the Mexican soccer federation not schedule a quarterfinal playoff game during Sunday's presidential debate, the Tigres-Monarcas is scheduled to begin at the same time, 8 p.m. Mexico City time, or 6 p.m. Baja California time, Reforma reported. It said it appeared Mexican soccer had scored a goal against the IFE. The playoffs begin on Wednesday; Tijuana will host Monterrey at 8:30 p.m. that day (PDF) and then plays the Rayados in Monterrey again on Saturday. Story, Frontera (PDF).
Democratic Revolution Party candidate Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas said Monday that if elected president, he would name Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas head of the Pemex oil monopoly. Cárdenas's father nationalized foreign oil companies in 1938, creating Pemex. The other two main candidates, front runner Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party and Josefina Vázquez Mota of the National Action Party, both favor more foreign investment in Mexico's energy sector.
It is a grand move, and one that, had it been made six years ago, might have given López Obrador the push he needed to win the presidency. But he was on the outs with Cárdenas in 2006 and narrowly lost the PAN's Felipe Calderón. Cárdenas lost presidential elections in 1988, 1994 and 2000. Both he and López Obrador are former Mexico City mayors for the PRD. Story (PDF). López Obrador on Tuesday made a campaign appearance in Tijuana.
Previous story on López Obrador-Cárdenas rapprochement.
Juan María Huerta
Muro left Tijuana on Monday for his new post as bishop in Salto, Durango. He had been head of the Franciscan order for Baja California, Baja California Sur and Sonora states the past six years. He told Frontera he spent 23 years
in Tijuana, Mexicali, Ensenada and the San Quintín Valley. He said the Franciscans are dedicated to the poorest and said that perhaps is "why I was chosen, as a Franciscan, above all to serve communities so relegated and marginalized as those in the Sierra of Durango." He said his diocese will be serving 300,000 inhabitants distributed over 30,000 square kilometers with 28 priests, four of them under loan, and 20 sisters.
The area he will be serving is about three times the size of San Diego County.
He said he had been re-elected to head the Franciscans for three more years in northwestern Mexico before he was called to Durango. He said he had hoped to increase the number of Franciscans in the region during that time, but that that will now happen under someone else's watch. "I had 50 (Franciscans) six years ago and there are 50 now, but in the seminary there are 25 with temporal vows," he said. Story, Frontera (PDF).
Update, May 2: Ensenada Bishop Sigifredo Noriega Barceló says seminary has added eight students this year, giving it 24, many of them from Tijuana. Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
Update, May 15: Church officials say it may have been a sign from above that when Huerta Muro was ordained as a bishop, two planes crossed overhead and left a cross in the sky. Mention in Frontera (PDF).