This week we explore the mysterious world of a Mañanera without AMLO, possible justice for two heinous crimes, and we (try to) find out if expats in Mexico can register to get a Covid-19 vaccine.
A Dozen Police Arrested for Massacre of Migrants
Some background: Last week we brought you the story of the 19 people that were massacred on a well known migrant and drug trade route in Camargo,Tamaulipas, about 40 miles south of the United States border. Guatemalan villagers from the San Marcos municipality received a phone call saying that a group from their region that was headed to the border had all been killed. So far, two of the badly burned bodies have been identified as Guatemalans from that group, along with two Mexicans with ties to migrant smuggling.
Police arrests are a big deal: Authorities became suspicious of police involvement when they barely found any spent casings, which means they were collected to not leave evidence behind. Also the police report did not line up with information obtained from suspects. This led to the arrest of 12 police officers in connection with the massacre.
“There has always been suspicion and statements from migrants of the abuses committed by some law enforcement officers, but never has the evidence been so strong,” said José Carmona Flores, a former government official and president of the National Council of Lawmaker and Migrant Leaders, a local advocacy group.
Government agents actually being arrested for a violent massacre is a big deal because of how often it is suspected, yet how infrequently they are brought to justice. Interior minister Olga Sánchez Cordero even said that, “this is part of a larger pattern of migrant abuse at the hands of government agents.”
An all too familiar story: The massacre has reignited the conversation about Central American migrants, the horrors they face on the road to the US, and the complicity of government agents. For Mexicans, police involvement brings up comparisons to the disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa in 2014, that is still officially unsolved, but they were most likely massacred by corrupt police and/or military working for the narcos.
This is also not the first time migrants have been massacred on their journey through Mexico. To name a couple recent massacres, in 2010, 72 bullet laden bodies of Central and South Americans were discovered in Tamaulipas. In 2011, a mass grave was uncovered in Matamoros, with about 200 bodies, right across the border from Brownsville, Texas.
Different criminal groups are known to control migrant areas along the border, they prey on migrants by either kidnapping them and turning them over to cartels for forced labor, or they charge them exorbitant fees to help them cross the border. Some police become corrupted to participate directly or to help cover up crimes. To add to an extremely toxic situation, criminal groups inevitably end up fighting each other over territory.
Looking forward: Now that Biden is in power, will he reverse the “remain in Mexico” policy that has thousands of migrants living on the border in poor conditions and exposed to gang violence?
Yesterday evening, former Puebla governor (2005-2011) Mario Marín was detained by the Attorney General’s office in Acapulco. He has an arrest warrant against him for his alleged involvement in the torture of journalist Lydia Cacho. Cacho had linked the former governor and other high profile figures to a pedophilia network in her book (a must read) Los demonios del Edén.
After her book was published in 2005, the journalist was unlawfully arrested in Cancún on slander charges, transported to Puebla and tortured. One year later, audio tapes were leaked incriminating the former governor and businessman Kamil Nacif. Last year, the AG revealed that Nacif was hiding in Lebanon, angering Cacho who feared he might escape again. As impressive as this detention is, these and other politicians, like former Senator Emilio Gamboa, have not been prosecuted on child prostitution. Sputnik News
Even Covid-19 can’t stop las mañaneras. Since AMLO tested positive for the virus, the daily press conferences have had a new host, Minister of the Interior, Olga Sánchez Cordero. Although it still hasn’t lived up to its name (mañanera is a Mexican lingo for “a morning sexual encounter”) the Minister has been a breath of fresh air. For starters, on average they haven’t lasted the usual two-three hours that AMLO usually takes. More substantially, Sánchez Cordero, a self defined feminist, has tackled issues the President barely touches. For instance, she has expressed her support to decriminalise abortion (up to 12 weeks), legalise cannabis consumption, and has talked about the eventual regulations of poppy production for use in opioids for medical purposes. Last Wednesday, she and five female officials took the stage to discuss gender violence in Mexico. Expected to return next week, President López Obrador might want to take some notes on how to communicate more clearly, briefly, and not to avoid tough questions from journalists. Slate / El País
Kind of. Last Tuesday, the government “launched” its platform so adults (60 years +) could register to receive the Covid-19 vaccine - almost immediately it crashed for hours. AMLO has continuously stated that all residents, despite their nationalities, are eligible. However, only those that have an official identity code (CURP) will be able to register. When asked about foreigners without a CURP, Deputy Health Minister López-Gatell said that the platform is actually a pre-registration form (even though the platform doesn’t state that) and that eventually all foreigners without a CURP will be included in the final registration (video). As for which vaccine people will receive, they won’t be able to decide. Mexico only currently has Pfizer’s vaccines and is working on getting the Sputnik V (no, it wasn’t a done deal after all). Associated Press
On the path towards a nationalistic energy scheme, AMLO has sent a fast-track bill to Congress which would change the order in which electricity is dispatched in the national grid, sending the state-run CFE to the front of the line and private renewable plants to the back - renewable energy is currently dispatched first because it is the cheapest. The bill is seen as a breach of AMLO’s promise to not reform the energy sector until after June midterm elections. Among the impacts of the bill, if passed, may be higher electricity prices and new tensions with the US, as it undermines USMCA obligations. Financial Times
Listen to this Podcast
The renowned The Daily podcast from the NYT dedicated a full episode to one of its articles -which we recommended to you in December - about the story of a mother's quest to bring a cartel to justice for the murder of her child in Tamaulipas.
What else we’ve been reading:
A $500K two-week private jet tour will take you on a lavish trip to Mexico… a $25K taco is included [Robb Report]
Woman charged in Capitol riot asks judge to let her take a vacation in Mexico [CNN]
Canadian Airlines and Aeromexico suspend flights to Mexico [The New York Times]
Mexican influencers are getting called out for promoting abuse. Has the country’s #MeToo movement finally turned a corner? [BuzzFeed News]
The government’s Covid-19 vaccine registration platform is down, but reminding all of us that, yes, this is bad, but the PRI still stole more.
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