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Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013

Education reform, release of drug trafficker Caro Quintero, mass slaying of Kombo Kolombia band among top Internet searches in Mexico this year

Mexicali among top cities searched for; SDSU planning two student trips to city in 2014

       Among the top Internet news searches in Mexico this year on Google is education, specifically the jailing of teachers union leader Elba Esther Gordillo and the education reform passed by the Mexican Congress, according to Google Trends. Table showing top searches below.

       The release from prison of two people convicted in Mexico also rounded out the top 10 searches. They were Florence Cassez, a Frenchwoman convicted of being part of a kidnapping ring who was ordered released by the Mexican Supreme Court in January because of irregularities in her case, and the release of drug-trafficking figure Rafael Caro Quintero. Caro Quintero had been convicted in the 1985 killing of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique Camarena, but was released in August because he had been tried in federal, and not state, court. There is now a federal warrant for his rearrest.

     No. 8 on the news list was Laura Bozzo, a Televisa media personality who came under fire in September for her use of a Mexico state helicopter during hurricane relief efforts in Guerrero state.

     The other five searches on the news list were related to world events: the Feb. 15 meteor explosion over Russia, the deaths of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and former South African President Nelson Mandela, North Korea, and the new pope, Francis.

     Violence played a role in one of the top 10 Internet music searches in Mexico. No. 4 on the music list was Kombo Kolombia, a band that had 17 of its members and support staff killed in January in Nuevo León state. Proceso and InsightCrime.org reported that authorities think the killings had to do with the Zetas, and the band having played in locations once controlled by the Zetas but that had fallen under the sway of the Gulf Cartel.

     Most of the top cities searched were vacation spots — Cancún, Mérida, Acapulco, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Los Cabos, and San Miguel de Allende. But also on the list was the Baja California state capital, Mexicali. It was unclear why Mexicali was on the list. Baja California did have a gubernatorial election this year, and the state electoral commission based in Mexicali was engaged in some shenanigans. Also, in March, the California State University system voted to allow students to resume study programs in Mexico. Two study trips to Mexicali are planned by San Diego State University in 2014. Mexicali has been trying to revitalize its downtown. Hidalgo was listed as the No. 10 searched city, but the thumbnail Google Trends used was of the state of Hidalgo, where new Mexican Interior Minister Miguel Osorio Chong is from. Hidalgo is also the name of the town of 20,000 where the Kombo Kolombia band members mplayed the night they were kidnapped and killed.

       Cancún also has been in the news lately because of the massive debt it has occurred, some or much of it allegedly due to the corruption of previous Democratic Revolution Party administrations. The city is now run by President Enrique Peña Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party. Jorge Fernández Menéndez column (PDF).  

  Top news searches in Mexico on Google Top city searches in Mexico on Google Top music searches in Mexico on Google
1 Russian meteor explosion Cancún Vive Latino 2013 festival
2 North Korea Mérida Gangnam Style
3 Elba Esther Gordillo Acapulco Peter La Anguila (Gangnam parody)
4 Education reform Playa del Carmen Kombo Kolombia
5 Hugo Chávez Tulum Festival Corona Capital 2013
6 Nelson Mandela Los Cabos Remmy Valenzuela (Los Mochis singer)
7 New pope Mexicali "Mi Bello Ángel" (song)
8 Laura Bozzo San Miguel de Allende MC Davo (Mexican rapper)
9 Florence Cassez Los Mochis (Sinaloa) Tomorrowland 2013 (festival in Belgium)
10 Rafael Caro Quintero Hidalgo Austin Mahone (performed in Mexico City)
Source: Google Trends

Update: Columnist Leo Zuckermann looks at the stories of the year, including the arrest of Gordillo, the release of Cassez, and how violence, kidnappings, and extortion, while downplayed by the Peña Nieto administration, remains alarmingly high.