A leading source for news and analysis about Mexico and the U.S.-Mexican border.
The Tijuana-Ensenada toll road along the Pacific coast collapsed at Kilometer 93 early Saturday, Mexican media reported. Because Saturday was Mexico's version of April Fool's Day (Day of the Holy Innocents), many at first thought the collapse was a joke.
Tijuana's Zeta newspaper named as its Persons of the Year two men and two groups fighting the increase in the value-added taxes along the border. The increase, from 11% to 16%, is to take place on Jan. 1, causing the tax to be uniform nationwide.
Strongly opposing the increase have been businessman Juan Manuel Hernández Niebla and tax lawyer Adolfo Solís Farías, who have been trying to get an injunction against the increase. Also winning the award were the groups Baja California Despierta and Mexicali de Pie, which has been gathering signatures opposing the increase.
November: Jorge Hank Rhon on the value-added tax increase.
Mexican drug trafficker Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán was reported to have possibly suffered a heart attack last month and to have possibly been treated, under a false identity, in Jalisco state. Federal authorities said the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration had provided a tip about the possible occurrence.
Philippine media also reported that Guzmán's Sinaloa Cartel contacts may now extend to the Philippines and methamphetamine makers there.
The archbishop of Morelia, Alberto Suárez Inda, said the Catholic church is not in favor of the self-defense groups that have formed in Michoacán and other states, but understands that the groups have been formed "as a last resort."
He said the government should first disarm the criminals menacing communities before moving to disband the self-defense groups.
Over the weekend, violence again seemed out of control in Apatzingán, Michoacán, with vehicles burned at various points in the city.
Story, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump.
Story on Apatzigan violence (PDF). Jump.
Agricultural workers who were going home to Sinaloa state for the holidays from their fields of labor in southern Ensenada were stranded in the mountainous area of La Rumorosa between Tecate and Mexicali after their bus broke down early Sunday. After waiting 12 hours for the driver and the person in charge to come back to repair the bus, the 38 adults and 10 minors — two of them newborns — were taken to a shelter in Mexicali, El Mexicano reported (PDF). Jump.
A migrant, whose documents indicated he was from El Salvador, apparently fell from a moving train in Mexicali and was killed Sunday, El Mexicano newspaper reported. The paper said it was thought the migrant had hitched a ride on the train, but fell asleep and then fell on the rails and was run over near the Ciudad Guadalupe Victoria community in the Mexicali Valley.
Train accidents involving migrants more often occur in "La Bestia" train that carries them up from the Guatemalan border.
The death was the latest in a series of stories involving migrants and deportees, including deportees being moved from a downtown Tijuana tent encampment to one next to the police academy in Tecate.
Story, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump.
Mexico's new energy reform has become law, and the Los Angeles Times on Sunday took a lot at why the Mexican left was powerless to stop it. It said that in part it might have had to do with the heart attack that populist leader and two-time presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador suffered this month and quotes Mexico City pollster Jorge Buendía as wondering how many Mexicans, given the corruption of the Pemex oil workers union, really cared about stopping the energy reform.
Story, Los Angeles Times: "Mexico's political left unable to derail Pemex legislation: A bill ending the monopolies of the state-owned electric and petroleum companies is just the latest setback for the increasingly divided leftist movement."
Baja California Gov. Francisco Vega says reform will mean electricity bills will drop — in five years. Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
About 500 families in the Villas del Prado section II neighborhood of Ensenada has been without water for a week after thieves stole electrical cable that provided power to water pumps, El Mexicano reported. It said residents without water went to the state water agency and were told the electric bill had not been paid by the developer Urbi; it said that when residents went to Urbi, they were told that the cable had been stolen, and that it was in the process of being replaced. Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
The main Televisa news program's Mangas del Chaleco humor segment, which on most Friday nights provides a humorous take at recent news events in Mexico, fell on its face last night in an attempt to provide a funny look at some of the year's top news.
An elongated segment of more than 12 minutes covered, among other things, the arrest and detention of teachers union leader Elba Esther Gordillo and former Tabasco Gov. Andrés Granier on corruption charges, the release of Frenchwoman Florence Cassez in a kidnapping case, the opening of a bank for mothers' milk in Mexico state (the busty humor for that one a real "bust"), the formation of the Morena political party by populist Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, and former President Vicente Fox saying he would grow marijuana if it were legalized. But funny, it wasn't.
Former Gen. Jesús Gutiérrez Rebollo, the former Mexico antinarcotics chief who had a dramatic downfall in 1997 when he was found to be in the pay of the Juárez Cartel, died in a military hospital Thursday at age 79 after brain surgery. He was serving a 40-year prison term, but had been in a military hospital since 2011 after being diagnosed with cancer,
diabetes and cardiopulmonary problems, Mexican media reported.
Story, Los Angeles Times. Story in Frontera (PDF).
Update, Dec. 22: Gutiérrez Rebollo buried in Jantetelco, Morelos, next to his father, former state legislator Jesús Gutiérrez Cardoso, whose name is written in gold in the state capital. Story on burial (PDF). Jump.
Walmart opened a store in Playas de Tijuana on Wednesday, Mexican media reported. It appears to be the ninth store in Baja California — five in Tijuana, two in Mexicali, and one each in Rosarito and Ensenada. The chain also has three stores in Baja California Sur. The construction of the Playas store was delayed at one point due to community concerns. Story, Frontera (PDF).
More federal agents will be coming to Tijuana to patrol, Mayor Jorge Astiazarán said Tuesday, a day after a member of his executive team was shot to death in his vehicle. Last week, a large team of federal agents arrived to patrol as part of Operation Safe Winter (PDF).
Wednesday's front-page story, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump.
President Enrique Peña Nieto began a state visit to Turkey on Monday. Mexico's Foreign Ministry said it was the first visit by a Mexican president to Turkey since diplomatic relations were established on July 12, 1928.
Peña Nieto originally was going to pay the visit in September while on his way to the G20 summit in St. Petersburg, but he canceled the Turkey stop after having to delay his state-of-the-union address due to teacher protests in Mexico City.
The Sol newspaper group reported that trade between the countries is just $785 million. In July 2012, Mexico imported eggs from Turkey to make up for eggs destroyed as a result of an avian flu epidemic. In August 2012, it was reported that Mexico and Turkey had the worst dropout rates in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.
An irrigation canal to replace the Canal Nuevo Delta damaged in the April 4, 2010, Mexicali Easter Sunday earthquake has been completed, a top official told El Mexicano newspaper. The new Canal 4 de Abril will be inaugurated in January, possibly with the presence of President Enrique Peña Nieto, said Eduardo Ledesma Romo, head of the federal Organismo de Cuenca Península de Baja California (OCPBC, or Baja California Peninsula Basin Organization). Damage to the Canal Nuevo Delta had major negative consequences for agriculture in the Mexicali Valley. Ledesma said work on secondary canals and other corollary work is in the finishing stages in the 1.25 billion peso ($97 million) project in Mexicali's Irrigation District 14.
A possible Peña Nieto visit could be complicated by the increase in the value-added tax for Baja California and other border areas from 11% to 16%, so that the tax will be the same nationwide. Baja Californians were opposed to the increase, which takes effect Jan. 1.
Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
2011 story on earthquake.
A businessman identified by La Crónica as Liuu Chang Fu and by El Mexicano as Lui Chang Yoo, who was kidnapped Monday in a parking lot of a shopping center containing a Chinese restaurant, was found disoriented on a Mexicali street after his release. A 25-year-old suspect in the kidnapping has been detained. El Mexicano said the freed man is of Chinese origin, lives in southern Ensenada and speaks little Spanish.
Story, La Crónica. Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
Update, Dec. 18: El Mexicano says kidnappers sought $400,000 for the freedom of Lui Chang Yu, as his named was spelled this time. The 25-year-old suspect was released. The paper said the kidnappers negotiated with Chang Yu's son Yi Chang Nian. When the father was put on the line, he told the son in his native language not to pay anything and to get the family out of the city, the paper said. The paper said it appeared that no money was paid. Story, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump.
Toyota executive Joe Da Rosa is leaving Baja California for San Antonio, Frontera reported Friday. Toyota recently celebrated 10 years in Tijuana. Da Rosa's new factory also will be making Tacoma trucks.
Da Rosa, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing de Baja California, has been a popular business executive involved in community affairs. Frontera reported that at the 10-year anniversary celebration, workers clapped and shouted when his name was mentioned. The company recently donated trucks to the Tijuana Red Cross, Tijuana firefighters, and the Tecate Comprehensive Family Development system (DIF).
Da Rosa, with Toyota since 1975, starts in San Antonio on Jan. 6.
San Antonio Business Journal story on Da Rosa going to San Antonio.
San Antonio Express-News story. Story, Frontera (PDF).
Update, Dec. 26: Frontera interview with Da Rosa (PDF).
Former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner was sentenced to three months' home confinement and three years' probation as a result of his pleading guilty to a felony charge of false imprisonment and two misdemeanor battery charges involving inappropriate sexual behavior.
Filner was a strong advocate of cross-border ties; border activist Enrique Morones, who defended Filner against sexual harassment charges to the end, had even called "Roberto Filner" San Diego's first Latino mayor in modern times. Now San Diego has the opportunity to elect a truly Latino mayor: U-T San Diego reported that a poll shows Democrat David Alvarez and Republican Kevin Faulconer are in a statistical dead heat in their runoff likely to take place in February. Alvarez recently attended the inauguration of Tijuana Mayor Jorge Astiazarán.
Story, El Mexicano (PDF). Story, U-T San Diego.
A plan by the Sonora state border city San Luis Río Colorado to expropriate thousands of abandoned houses and resell them to families seeking a home has collapsed due to legal requirements, Tijuana's El Mexicano newpaper reported Monday. The paper said there are an estimated four abandoned homes per block, and that many of them have been taken over by vagrants and drug dealers and that others and abandoned lots are used for dumping trash. Mayor Leonardo Guillén Medina had hoped to be able to assume control of abandoned homes, but found that to meet legal requirements, the homeowners must be present to sign transfer papers. Abandoned homes are a problem in many Mexican cities, including Tijuana, where owners unable to meet payments have moved elsewhere, many of them to the United States. Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
U-T San Diego watchdog reporter Chris Moran, in a story on the paper's SD In Depth section Sunday, reports on corruption cases involving US Customs and Border Patrol. Moran reported: "Because cellphones often were used to coordinate smuggling runs with criminals, customs officers now aren't allowed to use personal cellphones while on duty at the ports of entry." He also said new Border Patrol hires can't work within 100 miles of their hometowns because "75% of those arrested for currption were working close to home."
U-T San Diego: Crossing the Line: The decade-long increase in Customs and Border Protection staff has coincided with more frequent corruption cases involving federal agency's law enforcement personnel.
January 2013 The Monitor report saying that Border Patrol trainees cannot initially be assigned within 100 miles of home.
Mexico gets relatively easy group to play in at World Cup tourney, while U.S. is in tough "Group of Death"
New Tijuana Mayor's Jorge Astiazarán's police force is reassigning 120 police officers who were guarding politicians, public officials and business officials to now serve the general public, Tijuana media reported Thursday. The force also plans to use small drones as part of its policing activities, the media said. The drones apparently will not be able to stay up in the air very long.
Story on police being reassigned, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump.
Drone story, Frontera (PDF).
Update, Dec. 7: More comprehensive story on drones in U-T San Diego.
Former presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador suffered a heart attack Tuesday and had an angioplasty operation. He is expected to be hospitalized the next few days. Reuters reported that the peso rallied, possibly because the heart attack might prevent López Obrador from vigorously opposing President Enrique Peña Nieto's energy reform proposal. The former Mexico City mayor also has been organizing his new Morena political party, which could be a vehicle for a third presidential run for the left-of-center politician in 2018.
A recent report said Morena still needed 120,000 more people to sign up for it to become an officially recognized party. If and when it does that, it could be registering with the National Electoral Institute (INE); a proposed electoral reform would have the INE replace the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), allow the re-election of senators and federal deputies, and invalidate elections where spending limits are surpassed.
Heart-attack story, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump.
At right, an ad where López Obrador seeks people to sign up for Morena.
Update, Jan. 7, 2014: López Obrador reappears in public, says country needs a nonviolent revolution to return the nation's resources to the people. Story in Frontera (PDF).
Water was shut off for 82 neighborhoods in eastern Tijuana on Tuesday so that the Otay Aqueduct could be worked on.
Jorge Astiazarán of Tijuana and four other mayors took office in Baja California on Sunday; all are having to deal with major debt issues. U-T San Diego's Sandra Dibble takes a look at the mayors.
Update, Dec. 3: Dibble reports on Astiazarán's inaugural address; he says crime fight is crucial.