A leading source for news and analysis about Mexico and the U.S.-Mexican border.
El Mexicano reported Thursday that an attempt to use the vehicle of an unwitting border crosser as a "blind mule" to transport drugs has been foiled. The paper said an attempt made to plant six bricks of marijuana in a spare tire in the Miramar neighborhood was foiled by a neighbor, and that police took possession of the drugs. Traffickers also have been using powerful magnets to attach bricks of marijuana to the bottoms of vehicles known to cross the border. This is the first reported "blind mule" case this year. Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
Mexican writer José Emilio Pacheco, a winner of the Cervantes Prize, died Sunday at age 74. Perhaps his most famous work was Batallas en el desierto (Battles in the Desert), about Mexico City's Colonia Roma in the 1940s around the time Israel gained its independence in 1948 at a time when the neighborhood was populated with Arabs and Jews. Its protagonist is an 8-year-old, Carlos, who falls in love with the mother of a friend; the friend's absent father was a U.S. journalist.
The book is available in PDF format, in Spanish, on the Internet, as well as in English translation.
Story, Guardian. Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
Photo by Angélica Martínez, Tec de Monterrey
Authorities seized 1,500 kilos (3,300 pounds) of sea cucumber at the Tijuana airport, El Mexicano reported on the front page of its Ensenada edition. Sea cucumber, which is a protected species, reportedly was being shipped to Shanghai.
The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting said last year that sea cucumber can sell for $90 a pound, causing divers to "either get special scientific collection permits or just catch them illegally."
Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
Ensenada Channel 23 celebrated its 50 anniversary; the Televisa station's first transmission was Dec. 23, 2013. Among those in attendance were Televisa news director Maricarmen Flores and Jorge Cornejo, a former newspaper reporter who now works in the state government's communications office. Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
President Enrique Peña Nieto and former presidents Ernesto Zedillo and Felipe Calderón were at the Davos World Economic Forum in Switzerland on Thursday. Earlier in the week, Foreign Minister José Antonio Meade was among a number of foreign ministers present at the Geneva II talks trying to find a solution to the war in Syria, before also attending the Davos forum.
Zedillo praised the recent reforms that have taken place in Mexico but told Televisa that Mexico really needed three things to move forward. He said they were "Rule of law, rule of law, and rule of law."
Calderón said it will be of utmost importance how the reforms are implemented.
Also at the forum were Finance Minister Luis Videgaray, Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo, and Pemex Director Emilio Lozoya and other top former Mexican officials.
Mexican photographer Narcisco Contreras, who shared in an Associated Press Pulitzer Prize last spring for "producing memorable images under extreme hazard" in Syria, no longer will be shooting for the news agency after he said he had altered a photograph he took in Syria last fall. Contreras removed a colleague's video camera from the lower left corner of a photo he took of a Syrian rebel fighter.
Associated Press story: "AP severs ties with photographer who altered work"
Mention of his winning the Pulitzer last year.
Two people were gunned down with assault weapons in the Chayo restaurant in Mexicali's Esperanza neighborhood on Monday; a third victim taken from the scene by gunmen also was killed, Mexican media reported.
Story, ExpresionesBC. Front-page stories, El Mexicano (PDF)
The Baja California media has been full of stories about worries about the flu season. In Ensenada, health official Dr. Heriberto Lugo Gamboa recommended that women working in bars in the city's "tolerance zone" (red-light district) get flu shots. Osvaldo Valdez Medina, a representative of the bar, cantina and dancing club association, said he thought this was a good idea, but added that he thought everyone who worked at the establishments should get the shots.
Dr. Ismael Ávila Íñiguez, Baja California's spokesman for flu issues, said Monday that seven people in the state have died from the flu and that 100,00 people are at risk because they have not been vaccinated. He said 50,000 vaccine doses are still available. Officials said there are 95 people in the state hospitalized with possible flu cases. Tijuana health official Héctor Zepeda Cisneros said 600 cases of Tamiflu to treat those infected have arrived in the city. It was unclear how many of the cases involved the H1N1 virus; the 2009-2010 H1N1 flu pandemic wreaked havoc on Mexico and the world.
Ensenada story, El Mexicano (PDF). Avila and Zepeda stories (front page), El Mexicano (PDF). Jump.
Improved lighting along Avenida Internacional that goes from downtown Tijuana along the border to Playas de Tijuana and the toll road should help tourists see better, Tijuana Tourism and Convention Bureau President Arturo Gutiérrez Sánchez said Thursday. He said tourists have complained of poor visibility along the road.
A monthslong construction project last year also made it so that the road is not so easily flooded, and divider bars (pictured) were installed to make it much more difficult for vagrants and others to cross the busy thoroughfare. Drivers could easily get quite frightened trying to dodge pedestrians who were hard to see, particularly if their vehicles were traveling at a relatively high speed. Esteban Yee said in November, when he was still Tijuana's urban development director, that while some skinny people can still get between the bars, people who usually try to go through them often are carrying bags of belongings with them — and that the bags often won't fit through the spaces, causing the pedestrians to find another way to get where they want. Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
Tijuana policeman Carlos Enrique Gavaraín Rebollar, suspended three months ago because of a rape allegation, was shot to death Monday in the Yamilé neighborhood, El Mexicano reported. The paper said he was driving a vehicle when he was hit by bullets from an AK-47. It said a student at the Technological Institute of Tijuana (ITT) had brought the rape charges.
A photo on the paper's front page showed a pickup that had been next to vehicle the slain man was in full of bullet holes.
Story, El Mexicano. Front-page PDF. Jump.
Michoacán Gov. Fausto Vallejo said Monday that he will set up his government in Apatzingán, a city where drug traffickers have held sway and where self-defense groups have been battling with organizing crime to take the city back. The federal government also said it would be taking over the security role in the state's Tierra Caliente area, where Apatzingán is located.
Apatzingán played a historic role in the 1810-1821 fight for Mexican independence; Vallejo's opponent in the gubernatorial race three years ago (who happened to be then-President Felipe Calderón's sister) opened her campaign in the capital, Morelia, and in Apatzingán, saying her government would wrest control of Apatzingán back from organized crime. Vallejo previously served as mayor of Morelia.
Stories, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump.
Update, Jan. 14: Two are reported dead in clashes between federal forces and self-defense groups in Michoacán. The number was initially reported as 12. Story, Los Angeles Times.
Baja California legislator Cuauhtémoc Cardona expressed hope on Wednesday that this could be the year that Ensenada resolves its border disputes, El Mexicano reported. Ensenada and Rosarito have long been in conflict, and the southern section of Ensenada wants to break away and form Baja California's sixth municipality, San Quintín. It also was noteworthy that new Ensenada Mayor Gilberto Hirata Chico and the new municipal council held one of its first meetings in San Quintín.
Cardona, of the National Action Party, was in Ensenada for a joint meeting of commissions dealing with the issues of livestock, port matters, fisheries, and tourism. Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
Stories on San Quintín's efforts to become a municipality.
Hirata Chico, Ensenada council convene in San Quintín.
In 2011, Tijuana and Tecate ended their border dispute.
Update, Jan. 16: Ensenada council meets in La Misión district, commissions study to examine infrastructure deficit in San Quintín and other areas. Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
Group defending Ensenada territory speaks to council. Story (PDF). Jump.
Update, Jan. 18: Ensenada creates border limits commission. Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday that he is drafting Republican standards for immigration reform, the Los Angeles Times reported. It said the House leadership believes that for Republicans to be more competitive nationwide, they must act on immigration reform and respond to a Senate bill passed last year. The Los Angeles Times said said no action is likely to take place until April, after most election filing deadlines have passed; many Tea Party and conservative Republicans who have been posing primary challenges to established House members oppose immigration reform. The paper also said Boehner last month hired Rebecca Tallent, the former immigration adviser to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
Los Angeles Times: "Boehner drafting GOP principles on immigration overhaul: House Speaker John Boehner says he will soon release a document of principles on immigration, which could push House Republicans to act on the issue."
November 2013: Boehner says no formal compromise on Senate-passed immigration reform bill in 2013.
Former Tijuana Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon says he is up to date on his tax payments, and that information published that he is behind on them is wrong. Federal tax authorities have been publishing the names of alleged tax delinquents in an attempt to embarrass them and get them to pay up. One of those listed, according to Tijuana media, is Elia Manjarrez, the wife of new Mayor Jorge Astiazarán. She said she was surprised to see her name on the list. She was scheduled to appear before the Grupo Político Tijuana on Saturday, but postponed her visit at the last minute; her replacement was prominent Institutional Revolutionary Party member Carlos Barboza.
State Health Minister Miguel Osuna Millán, brother of former Gov. José Guadalupe Osuna Millán, also denied that he was behind on his tax payments. Story, El Mexicano (PDF).
George Jacobs, the former valet to Frank Sinatra, died at 86 in Palm Springs, the Los Angeles Times reported. The paper wrote: "A prankster, Sinatra sent Jacobs to Tijuana to load up on cherry bombs that he'd explode in toilet bowls. 'The Hoboken Bomber strikes again!' Sinatra would cackle." Jacobs was Sinatra's valet from 1953 to 1968.
Fireworks are still available for purchase in Tijuana. The day after Christmas, Tijuana's Frontera newspaper reported that fireworks had caused two people to lose fingers in addition to burning down three homes. Story, Frontera (PDF). On New Year's Day, Channel 33 news and El Mexicano (PDF) reported that several more people had been injured by fireworks, including one person hospitalized with serious eye damage. The station said officials may propose restrictions on the sale of fireworks to prevent injuries, pollution and fires.