A leading source for news and analysis about Mexico and the U.S.-Mexican border.
The U.S. exit for a cross-border "super tunnel" between Tijuana and San Diego was discovered Wednesday night at an office and warehouse complex near the Otay Mesa border crossing. The address was 9163 Siempre Viva Road, marked by A on the map. The beginning of the tunnel, reported to be about a third of mile long, appeared to be on Mar Bermejo street in Tijuana (at lower left corner of map). Ironically, one of the organizations located in the 9163 Siempre Viva Road complex is the Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce.
Three suspects were arrested, and more than 17,000 pounds of marijuana and about 327 pounds of cocaine were seized at various locations as a result of the tunnel discovery, U-T San Diego's Sandra Dibble and Kristina Davis reported. The drugs' street value was put at $12 million.
It was the fifth shutdown of a supertunnel in three years, U.S. District Attorney Laura Duffy said.
Mexico's Senate approved boosting the value-added tax along the border from 11% to 16% starting Jan. 1, UniradioInforma reported. Baja California's three senators voted against the measure, which makes the value-added tax the same across the country. The Chamber of Deputies earlier approved the measure. The National Action Party, which opposed the measure, said it would not return to the Senate floor because President Enrique Peña Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party and the Democratic Revolution Party had a stranglehood on the legislation. El Universal story on IVA boost.
Economic analyst Macario Schettino, who last month had told a COPARMEX Tijuana breakfast that the fiscal reform boosting the value-added tax along the border to 16% would pass and that those opposed should get over it, told the Eleva Mexicali conference on Friday that the added taxes would not cause a crisis for the region.
Politicians and others have been claiming to a certain extent that the sky would fall if the boost — which would make the value-added tax the same nationwide — passed.
Schettino also spoke of what he called a war taking place in many nations — one between the young and the old over resources. He said the young don't want to pay additional taxes to support senior citizens. Ronald Brownstein of the National Journal had a thoughtful article about the issue this week, noting that in the United States, Republicans who want to cut entitlements for seniors get the bulk of the senior vote and that Democrats who by and large want to keep those entitlements are getting the bulk of their support from younger people.
Schettino said the following about President Enrique Peña Nieto in response to a question: "Mr. Peña Nieto has a serious problem communicating with people, he cannot speak, he cannot read, and so in public it looks like he does not have many capabilities; nevertheless, the government has functioned well this year."
Story, Frontera (PDF).
The revelation that the United States spied on Mexico brought forth more rhetoric on Thursday. The Los Angeles Times, in a report titled "A new spat between frenemies" in its print edition, said that the newspaper Reformaaccidentally referred to U.S. Ambassador Earl Anthony Wayne as John Wayne. Wayne came under fire from Mexican officials. The Times quoted Mexico analyst George Grayson as saying that given the history of President Enrique Peña Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party, "For the PRI to condemn eavesdropping is like a brothel owner condemning prostitution."
Business leader Juan Manuel Hernández Niebla of Tijuana's Business Coordination Council said incoming Baja California Gov. Francisco Vega will need to focus on the state's debt, which has grown during the term of Gov. José Guadalupe Osuna Millán. In December, Moody's revised the outlook on state ratings involving debt and liquidity from stable to negative.
Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
Update, Oct. 28: El Mexicano, in front-page story (PDF), quotes Colegio de la Frontera Norte researcher Eliseo Díaz Gonzálezas saying state has a million poor, a debt of 12 billion pesos ($929 million), and high unemployment.
The Economist magazine wrote about crime in Mexico through the lens of Tijuana in article titled "Crime in Mexico: Out of sight, not out of mind: Having decided to play down the fight against drug kingpins, Enrique Peña Nieto has yet to come up with a serious alternative." An illustration accompanying the article showed a society beset by crime with "see no evil, hear no evil, spreak no evil" images of President Peña Nieto. The article said that while murders may be down nationwide, kidnappings are up, and that the president's idea of forming a new federal gendarmerie, "originally envisaged as turning 40,000 former soldiers into police to patrol troubled rural areas," now may only be a force of 5,000.
The article discussed the deportees living along the sides of the concrete channel of the Tijuana River. As if on cue, El Mexicano newspaper quoted the National Migration Institute on Tuesday as saying that of 40,000 Mexicans being deported into Tijuana this year, 10,000 are expected to be ex-convicts. Front-page story, El Mexicano (PDF).Jump.
President Enrique Peña Nieto ordered an investigation into U.S. spying on Mexico as a result of latest revelations from data provided by former federal contract employee Edward Snowden. The Interior Ministry is going to look into whether officials in the administration of President Felipe Calderón aided or abetted the spying. The media reported that the United States apparently hacked into Calderón's email and recorded tens of millions of phone calls in France.
Story, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump. Story, AFP.
Columnist Jorge Fernández Menéndez writes in column titled "Everyone Spies, Everyone Violates Privacy" that U.S. spying in Mexico historically reached "mythological levels" and that it comes as no surprise that the United States spied on Calderón and on Peña Nieto when he was a candidate. Column in El Mexicano (PDF). El Mexicano editorialand cartoon (PDF).
Baja California federal Deputy Chris López told El Mexicano that he voted against raising the value-added tax in border states from 11% to 16% but voted for the overall bill. López had come under withering criticism for his earlier apparent backing of the tax hike proposed by President Enrique Peña Nieto. The Chamber of Deputies approved the bill last week. Story, El Mexicano (PDF). The private sector blasted deputies who voted for the bill (PDF). The ad blasted and pictured those, including López, who voted for the bill (PDF), saying they had betrayed the state. One of those who voted for the bill was Adán David Ruiz Gutiérrez, the replacement for former Deputy Fernando Castro Trenti, who has been named ambassador to Argentina.
El Mexicano's political page recently said that some of the maneuvering that previously took place against López could be originating from former state PRI leader René Mendívil, now a state legislator.
Meanwhile, San Luis Río Colorado public officials, reportedly acting as private citizens, blocked the port of entry into Mexico in opposition to the increase to the value-added tax. Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
With the six-year term of Baja California Gov. José Guadalupe Osuna Millán ending next week, El Mexicano ran an editorial titled "Government of Vetoes." It noted how the National Action Party politician had vetoed 60 reforms (although it could hardly be said that all of the bills were "reforms"), one of which would have been to require all shopping centers to provide free parking. Osuna Millán also vetoed a bill that would have made San Quintín the state's sixth municipality.
The paper noted that the legislature of the last three years was dominated by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, but that it appears that the PAN will have more sway in the current one, which it said may be to the advantage of incoming Gov. Francisco Vega, also a member of Osuna Millán's party.
Editorial, El Mexicano (PDF).
Tijuana police rushing to the scene of a convenience store robbery crashed into a fruit cart and two parked cars on Bulevar Salinas on Sunday, badly damaging the Crown Victoria police car and the cart and sending the police to the hospital, Tijuana media reported. Fruit wound up all over the street and sidewalk, El Mexicano said. The fruit vendor told police that when he saw the police car go out of control, he moved out of the way, and was unhurt, the paper said. The accident scene was just a few blocks away from the Grand Hotel Tijuana.
Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
Two girls were born at the San Ysidro port of entry last week, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol reported. It said that on Oct. 15, "A woman in labor entered the San Ysidro port of entry in a vehicle. CBP officers trained as medical first responders responded and delivered a healthy baby girl." The next day, "a woman entered the port of entry on foot and while still in the pedestrian facility, went into labor. A CBP officer trained as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and officers trained as medical first responders assisted the woman. Medical personnel arrived and delivered a baby girl, while CBP officers assisted them." Story, CBP.gov.
Francisco Rafael Arellano Félix, 65, was killed Saturday in Los Cabos by a man in a clown costume at his birthday party at a rented beach house. U-T San Diego quoted former federal prosecutor John Kirby as saying the oldest Arellano Félix brother "was never really part of the leadership of the big organization, mostly because he was in jail (in Mexico)." Arellano Félix was imprisoned in Mexico from 1993 to 2006, and then was extradited to the United States. He was deported to Mexico in 2008. He would have been 64 on Oct. 24.
The U-T print edition ran a picture of Francisco Javier Arellano Félix (who is imprisoned in the United States) and mistakenly said he had been the one killed in Los Cabos.
Story, U-T San Diego. Story, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump. Photo on Wikipedia.
Thursday, Oct. 24, U-T San Diego: "Arellano killed during his own birthday party."
2008 Narcotic News story on Arellano's release from U.S. prison. (Booking photo from Wikipedia)
President Enrique Peña Nieto's fiscal reform package with a value-added tax boost from 11% to 16% for border states passed the Chamber of Deputies. Baja California Gov. José Guadalupe Osuna Millán called the action a historic mistake, and encouraged the Senate to amend the bill. Story, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump.
Sister Antonia Brenner, an American who became a nun and lived at and ministered to inmates in Tijuana's La Mesa prison, died in Tijuana at age 86. Also known as "The Prison Angel," she had been in declining health.
Sandra Dibble's story in U-T San Diego: "Nun who ministered at Mexico prison dies at 86: A one-time Beverly Hills resident spent more than three decades at Tijuana's notorious La Mesa Penitentiary."
March 2011: Brenner attends screening of film about her, "La Mama: An American Nun’s Life in a Mexican Prison."
Tijuana priest Juan Carlos Ackerman was freed by police Wednesday afternoon after he had been kidnapped in the morning, El Mexicano reported. Police detained six suspects, including two Americans, one a former member of the military, the paper said. It said when police converged on a house in the Cañón del Sáinz, gunshots were fired at them, and suspects were caught after a chase inovling two getaway vehicles, one of which was apparently carjacked.
The paper said Ackerman told authorities he had been kidnapped at his residence after opening the door for people asking about a mass.
Story, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump.
A woman who had been linked to a possibe lntervention in tbe 2005 Benzair Sara Chavolla Ruiz murder case that allowed a suspect who was her nephew to remain free for more than seven years has been named a Tijuana family court judge, El Mexicano reported. The vote had been suspended earlier this week. Ana Carolina Valencia Márquez won the judgeship 9-8 over Sergio Hiram Ibarra Macedo in a vote by the 17 judges of the state Supreme Court (Tribunal Superior de Justicia).
Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
Mention of the vote delay. Previous story.
Former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner's guilty plea on Tuesday to charges resulting from numerous sexual harassment allegations was reported on the front page of Tijuana's El Mexicano newspaper Wednesday.
Filner had resigned in August after more than a dozen women came forward with sexual harassment allegations against him. He pleaded guilty to a felony charge of false imprisonment and two misdemeanor battery charges on Tuesday.
Filner was a strong proponent of cross-border ties and had opened an office in Tijuana earlier this year. He is to be sentenced in December.
Story, El Mexicano. Jump.
Previous stories on how Tijuana media followed Filner case.
While King Midas wasn't able to save Mexico, Uncle Sam was. New coach Víctor Manuel Vucetich, known as King Midas for his ability to turn Mexican league programs into winners, was unable to get the golden goal he needed to give Mexico the tie or win at Costa Rica on Tuesday to put Mexico's national team into a playoff with New Zealand to determine which will make it to next year's World Cup in Brazil. Mexico lost to Costa Rica 2-1; however, the United States scored two extra-time goals to defeat Panama 3-2, knocking Panama out of World Cup contention, and sending Mexico to the playoff anyway.
Update: Vucetich was fired days later and replaced by Miguel Herrera, the coach of the reigning Liga MX champion América.
A decision on appointing three family court judges was postponed on Monday after one of the candidates was linked to the 2005 Benazir Sara Chavolla Ruiz killing in Tijuana. Fernando Emmanuel Valencia Pérez was recently detained in the case; his aunt, who was up for a judgeship, is alleged to have played some role in intervening in the case shortly after the killing occurred. Story, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump.
Update, Oct. 17: Ana Carolina Valencia Márquez becomes a family court judge on a 9-8 vote.
Raúl Jiménez's astounding bicycle kick in the 85th minute broke a 1-1 tie with Panama and put Mexico in the driver's seat for the right to play in a two-game playoff with New Zealand to get into next year's World Cup in Brazil.
Mexico still must either tie or beat Costa Rica in an away game Tuesday, or have Panama tie or lose its home game against the United States. If Mexico wins by two goals and Honduras loses to Jamaica, Mexico would qualify for the World Cup without having to go to the playoff. Story, U-T San Diego. World Cup scenario story, Los Angeles Times.
Jailed former teachers union leader Elba Esther Gordillo, who had gotten a judicial ruling that could have led to her release, now faces a new fraud charge that apparently will keep her behind bars. Story in El Mexicano (PDF). Jump.
Baja California Gov. José Guadalupe Osuna Millán on Tuesday inaugurated the remodeled pediatrics department at Tijuana General Hospital, which takes up the building's sixth floor. The remodeling and providing the department with advanced equipment cost 33 million pesos ($2.5 million), officials told El Mexicano newspaper. The department is expected to serve around 3,400 patients between the ages 2 and 17 annually. The pediatrics department upgrade is just one of many that have taken place at the hospital during Osuna Millán's six-year term, which ends this month. Story, El Mexicano (PDF). Story, El Sol de Tijuana.
Mexico Power executive John Prock said Monday that the company expects a $150 million wind farm in Tecate's La Rumorosa area to begin producing 72 megawatts of electricity in 2015, El Mexicano reported. The first phase would be on 750 hectares (1,850 acres) and would provide 200 direct jobs and 400 indirect ones. Prock said consumers would gain by having access to green power cheaper than that provided by the Federal Electricity Commission, the local economy would gain from the job creation and $1 million in land rents and the nation would gain environmentally. Power also is to be sold to Tecate and Rosarito to power streetlights.
In 2011, the company had said the wind farm might be operational in the fall of 2012.
Story, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump.
August: Ensenada may power streetlights with Mexico Power windmills.
A shooting attack in Tijuana's Rio Zone killed two men in a vehicle while leaving a child of around 3 in the vehicle unhurt around 2:45 p.m. Friday, authorities said. A stray bullet from the attack put a hole in a window of a Colegio de Arquitectos building on David Alfaro Siqueiros street.
The shooting began after the victims' Ford Explorer (with California plates) left a carwash at David Alfaro Siqueiros street and the westbound Vía Rápida. It was then cut off by two other vehicles, El Mexicano reported officials as saying. The dead men were identified as Pedro Francisco Avitia Beltrán, the father of the child, and Francisco de Jesús Cervantes, the owner of the vehicle.
While attacks like these happened with some regularity in Tijuana just a few years ago, they have become much fewer and farther between.
Front-page story and photos, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump.
Baja California Gov. José Guadalupe Osuna Millán, in his final state-of-the-state address, spoke before a backdrop that said, "Thanks for your confidence." He said the security situation had improved in general, and said the state had a world-class police academy, Frontera reported. He said the state's phasing-in of the new oral trial judicial system was moving along. He said many public works had been built during his administration, including many roads and highways and the new Tijuana-Rosarito-Tecate convention center in Rosarito.
The paper said the most applause came when Osuna Millán spoke of his opposition to increasing the federal value-added tax in border states from 11% to 16%, when award-winning state athletes were introduced, when he introduced Gov.-elect Francisco Vega, when he paid tribute to the late Francisco Blake Mora, who died in a 2011 plane crash (Blake Mora had been widely expected to win the National Action Party gubernatorial nomination over Vega). Frontera also said Mexicali Mayor Francisco Pérez Tejada of the Institutional Revolutionary Party did not attend, and that the name of President Enrique Peña Nieto, also of the PRI, was lightly booed.
Frontera reported that outside, rocks and water bottles were thrown at police by state workers seeking better pay.
Story, Frontera (PDF). Jump.