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Asunto:[MESHIKO] Mexico Week In Review
Fecha:Lunes, 26 de Noviembre, 2001  18:38:50 (-0700)
Autor:Ricardo Ocampo-Anahuak Networks <anahuak @.............mx>



----------
From: ncdm-english@...
Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2001 03:32:57 -0800
To: ncdm-english@...
Subject: Digest for ncdm-english@..., issue 47

-- Topica Digest --
 
 Mexico Week In Review: 11.19-11.25
 By cisdc@...

------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Sun, 25 Nov 2001 20:32:09 +0800
From: cisdc <cisdc@...>
Subject: Mexico Week In Review: 11.19-11.25


=================================================================
Published since 1994, 'Mexico Week In Review' is a service of the
Committee of Indigenous Solidarity (CIS).  CIS is a Washington, D.C.
based activist group committed to the ongoing struggles of Indigenous
peoples in the Americas.  CIS is actively supporting the struggles
of the Indigenous peoples of Mexico and combating related structures
of oppression within our own communities.

To request free searches of our news archive or to contact us
directly, write: cisdc@...

=================================================================
"Para Todos, Todo; Para Nosotros Nada"

DIGNA UPDATE: "INVESTIGATION" CONTINUES

The investigation of the assassination of human rights attorney Digna
Ochoa continued, albeit with more noise than light.  Bernardo Batiz,
Mexico City's Attorney General and the man in charge of investigating
the high profile case, concluded interviews with over 30 people, most
of them friends or associates of Ochoa.  It is widely believed that
the army or associates of the army are responsible for the murder,
yet Batiz mentioned Ochoa's boyfriend as among those who are possible
suspects. Rafael Macedo de la Concha, the current Federal Attorney
General and former army general, has come under increasing criticism
for his lack of diligence in investigating death threats against
Ochoa last year.  In his previous post as Attorney General for the
Army, Macedo oversaw some of the worst episodes of human rights
abuses by soldiers in the last decade.  Despite repeated calls to
discipline soldiers by the National Commission for Human Rights, a
government agency, Macedo regularly protected troops from prosecution
in civilian courts.  He currently has 12 former military officers in
high-level positions in the office of the Federal Attorney General.

Recognizing his delicate position, Macedo granted an unprecedented
interview to the New York Times, in which he portrayed himself the
victim of a "campaign of disinformation.  My rights are violated when
these things happen," he whined.  Macedo tried to distance himself
from recent problems. Referring to decisions to prosecute human
rights cases, Macedo pointed directly at President Fox.  "Those
decisions are not up to me.  It is not up to me to decide what
decisions to make on these matters.  It is up to the government of my
country, not the attorney general."  Nevertheless, as Attorney
General his opinion carries weight, and he has not been shy. Macedo
is publicly opposed to one of Fox's principal campaign promises, the
establishment of a truth commission to investigate previous
government abuses.  He views torture by law enforcement officials as
isolated incidents carried out by rogue agents.  And he continually
expresses confidence in Mexico's notoriously corrupt judiciary.
Macedo's days as Attorney General could be numbered if pressure
continues on the Fox administration or if, by some complete miracle,
Mexico City's Attorney General actually completes the investigation
and finds the army complicit.  It is hard to find anyone in Mexico
who believes this last outcome is possible.

Source: Mexico Solidarity Network Weekly News Summary: 11/12-18

CIUDAD JUAREZ: ANOTHER MURDER HORRIFIES RESIDENTS

Police in Ciudad Juarez said they had found the bruised - and
presumably sexually assaulted - body of yet another young woman,
bringing the number of women killed in the violent border city over
the last eight years to 260.  A police spokesmen said the victim was
between 17 and 20 years old, government news agency Notimex reported.
A local resident discovered the body on the side of a city road.  The
victim was found wearing only blue jeans and a bra, and had a
probable scull fracture, Notimex reported police as saying. The body
was the tenth to be found in November - the latest in a string of
murders going back to 1993, when corpses of young women began showing
up in and around the northern city of 1.3 million.  The 10 latest
victims were between the ages of 12 and 24.

According to women's' rights organizations, 84 corpses discovered in
the area since 1993 share similar characteristics. The victims tend
to be young poor factory workers whose naked or partially clad bodies
show evidence of rape and strangulation. Sixty-five of the women were
found dumped in the desert surrounding Ciudad Juarez, Mexico's murder
capital.  Last week, police arrested two bus drivers, Gustavo
Gonzales and Victor Garcia, after more eight bodies were found just
outside the city. While police say the two men confessed to the
crimes, Gonzales and Garcia maintain their innocence, claiming
authorities tortured them into confessing. Since then, two more
bodies have been found. A police spokesman said the woman had been
killed no more than 18 hours before her discovery, Notimex reported.
Authorities maintain several lines of investigation, which include
rapist gangs and organized crime. Women's rights organizations have
pointed to the possibility the murders were connected to clandestine
"snuff films," pornographic productions including actual rape and
murder.            

Source: The News-Mexico City: 11/21

CHIAPAS: ACTEAL KILLERS FREED

A judge in Chiapas released six paramilitary members convicted of
taking part in the 1997 massacre of 45 Zapatista sympathizers,
officials said. The prisoners were convicted of killing 45 Zapatista
sympathizers on Dec. 22 while the victims prayed at a chapel in
Acteal, a small village 460 miles southeast of Mexico City.  "We are
afraid because they are the ones that organized the massacre, and
they could regroup with other paramilitaries that have not been
arrested and take revenge," said Diego Perez, spokesman for the Las
Abejas group of refugees from the Los Chorros area, where Acteal is
located.  Many of the refugees fled their homes after the massacre,
but hundreds have begun to return in recent weeks, saying they hope
dialogue can resolve still-lingering conflicts in the region between
supporters and opponents of the Zapatistas.

Judge Felipe Consuelo freed six of the 34 people convicted of
participating in the massacre because he said witness testimony was
inconsistent. Las Abejas officials said the six arrived in the Los
Chorros area on Tuesday (11/20), igniting fears of new violence.
Chiapas Gov. Pablo Salazar condemned the judge's decision in a news
release, saying it "didn't satisfy the demands of justice brought
about after the tragic events in Acteal." He said government
prosecutors would appeal.

Source: Associated Press: 11/22

CHIAPAS: ZAPATISTA SUPPORTERS RETAKE ABANDONED ARMY POST

Supporters of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) and a
small group of anti-Zapatistas are
fighting over a former military post abandoned by the government in
January.  The disputed 15-hectare (37-acre) parcel is located 18
kilometers (10 miles) east of the jungle city of Ocosingo in the
highlands of Chiapas.  Last month, a small group who had defected
from the Zapatistas took over the land and occupied it until Sunday
(11/18), when 500 Zapatistas moved in and retook the land.  As the
Zapatistas began to build modest wooden huts on the property, state
and municipal police discreetly patrolled the area given fears that
the defectors would try to retake the site. The land was taken from
the Indigenous community and occupied by the Mexican army until
January, when President Vicente Fox ordered the military to shut down
a number of bases.  Sporadic outbreaks of violence have arisen since
between Zapatista supporters and armed civil groups backed by the
Mexican army.      

Source: Associated Press: 11/21

FOX SAYS GALLARDO HAS "RIGHT TO TRIAL IN CIVILIAN COURTS"

Activists have said they will go to an international tribunal to
press for the release of a military general who was jailed in 1993
after suggesting the army pay greater attention to human rights.
Saturday (11/17) marked the end of a deadline for the Mexican
government to meet or reject a recommendation by the Inter American
Human Rights Commission to free General Jose Francisco Gallardo.  But
the Mexican government thus far has declined to release Gallardo.
During an interview at his ranch in central Guanajuato state,
President Vicente Fox told reporters that it should be up to the
courts to resolve the case. "Like every other Mexican in this
country, he has a right to a trial in the civilian courts," Fox said.
"I think it is important that he go to these courts... and let the
Mexican justice system decide. This is a real option he has."

Gallardo was arrested after writing a 1993 article calling for a
human rights ombudsman in the military. He was convicted in military
courts of corruption, illegally amassing a fortune, and destroying
files, and sentenced to two 14-year-prison terms. Gallardo claims the
charges were brought against him to silence him.  Gallardo has not
taken his case to civilian courts, arguing that his first priority is
to remedy alleged injustices in the military law system. Military
courts-martial are used in the Mexican army to punish even minor
infractions.  Gallardo's supporters, led by his family, pledged to
take the case to the Inter American Human Rights Court, which, like
the Human Rights Commission, is a branch of the Organization of
American States. Both can issue nonbinding recommendations.  Gallardo
has been in prison for eight years, first in military jails and later
at a Mexico City 
penitentiary.      

Source: Associated Press: 11/19

GOVERNMENT PLANS ELECTRONIC DATABASE OF FOREIGN RESIDENTS

The government on said it was compiling an electronic database that
will contain information on every
foreigner in Mexico and track when and where they enter and leave the
country. National Immigration Institute (INM) chief Felipe de Jesus
Preciado called the new measure part of ongoing efforts to tighten
security along the border after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The
program would be the government's first attempt to efficiently keep
track of the estimated 900,000 foreigners living in Mexico, mostly
retired U.S. citizens. The government lacks reliable figures on how
many foreigners are living in Mexico illegally. "We are working to
create a database on every foreigner in Mexico," Preciado told a news
conference in Mexico City. Preciado said the database would serve as
the forerunner for a future national ID system for foreigners living
here full-time. Under the plan, immigration officials would assign
resident foreigners ID cards with an embedded chip containing that
person's name, sex, age, occupation and address. Foreigners would
then be required to show the ID upon entering or leaving the country.
Preciado said the cards would cost 50 pesos (US$5.1) each but the
bulk of the programs' expenses would come out his office's 2002
budget, estimated to reach a record high 1.4 billion pesos (US$150
million). Preciado said both the database and ID system could be
ready by March of next year and that the names and information
collected would be made available to U.S. intelligence officials.
Such information sharing has increased since the attacks after
several U.S. lawmakers expressed concern that terrorists could take
advantage of Mexico's lax immigration system to slip into the United
States. Preciado said officials from his department have been working
closely with U.S. officials to coordinate an immigration plan that
suits both nations' needs. He reiterated that U.S. authorities don't
believe terrorists have entered the United States from Mexico. "But
naturally we're worried because our immigration system is so
vulnerable," said Preciado, adding that over 170,000 foreigners
entered Mexico illegally last year alone.

Source: The News-Mexico City: 11/24

PRI HOLDS ANNUAL MEETING; CLAMS TO "HAVE LEARNT ITS LESSON"

Mexico's former ruling party, out of power for the first time in its
70-year history, closed its four-day national assembly on Tuesday,
promising 80 percent of party jobs would be reserved for women and
those under 30.  It was the 18th National Assembly of the
Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) which has been campaigning
for a comeback since losing the presidency last year for the first
time in its history. "We are here to tell the men and women of Mexico
that the PRI has learned its lesson," said party president Dulce
Maria Sauri. At the end of the gathering in this industrial city 35
miles west of Mexico City, the party reached out to women and the
young, promising them 50 percent and 30 percent of party positions
respectively.

During the assembly, party heavyweight Roberto Madrazo successfully
backed a moved to open elections for the top party post, a radical
departure for the PRI, which for 71 years appointed leaders
hand-picked by the Mexican president and a small group of party
delegates. The presidential loss in July 2000 to President Vicente
Fox of the National Action Party was an unprecedented event that
suddenly thrust the party's leader into a position of real power.
Waging a fierce battle for the position are Madrazo, a former
governor of Tabasco state, and Francisco Labastida. Labastida crushed
Madrazo in the party's first-ever primary in November 1999 but went
on to become the first PRI candidate in history to lose a
presidential contest.  It is widely expected that Madrazo will run
for president in the 2006 national elections. His critics distrust
his calls to make the PRI more democratic, accusing him of acting as
an old-fashioned party boss while governor of Tabasco state. Both
Madrazo and Labastida agreed to postpone electing a party president
until next year to avoid dissension during the national convention.

Source: Associated Press: 11/20

CHIAPAS: GROUP ENDEAVORS TO ELIMINATE BLINDNESS

A Nobel Prize winning international organization has launched an
intensive campaign to halt the rapid
progression of a disease that causes blindness in indigenous
communities in Chiapas. The Netherlands-based, non-governmental
organization Doctors Without Borders (DWB) began the crusade titled
"A reality we don't want to see" in an indigenous highland region
considered a high-risk area for the contagious eye disease Trachoma.
"Trachoma is a disease that shouldn't exist in modern Mexico," said
DWB's Belgian president Denis Heidbebroek. "We're calling on Mexican
health authorities to take the necessary steps to eliminate this
terrible disease." Trachoma is caused by bacteria that breed in
unsanitary conditions and untreated water supplies and is typically
found in extremely poor regions. The disease is spread from person to
person but is most commonly spread among adolescents and between
mothers and their young children. Three-fourths of people who suffer
from Trachoma are women.

When people contract Trachoma, often as children, they do not go
blind immediately. It progresses over the years as repeated
infections and causes painful irritation and scarring on the inside
of the eyelid. Eventually the eyelashes turn in, rubbing on the
cornea at the front of the eye. The scarring on the cornea leads to
severe vision loss and blindness. If the appropriate measures are not
taken soon, warned DWB coordinators, the circumstances for Chiapas'
indigenous people will remain unchanged and thousands more will go
blind in the coming decades. Once they've gone blind, many Trachoma
victims are abandoned by their families who are too poor to support
the extra burden. Sadly, the disease is very curable with simple
surgical procedures, which correct eyelid abnormalities, said
Heidbebroek, but even the 300-peso (US$33-dollar) antibiotic
treatment, which kills the bacteria, is too expensive for most
Indians, who often earn less than the cost of the medicine. But,
through its new campaign, the DWB hopes to change the lives of many
Trachoma sufferers in Chiapas by offering free antibiotics
treatments, tests, educational seminars, and surgeries, the
organization's president said. However, he added, after 30 years of
health initiatives from different non-governmental groups and 300
free operations conducted by the DWB, Trachoma continues to spread at
endemic proportions through rural indigenous areas of the state. He
even recalled the previous state governor's attempt to deny the
existence of the disease as a way to qualify for a certification from
the Pan-American Health Organization. Regardless, Heidbebroek said,
the DWB will continue offering free medical assistance to Trachoma
sufferers in Chiapas.  "Things will not get any better until the
national government recognizes the seriousness of Trachoma and
improves access to health services," he said. "Until that happens,
we'll continue here trying to increase the quality of people's lives."

Source: The News-Mexico City: 11/23

IBARRA AND MEXICO AWAIT REPORT ON THE "DISAPPEARED"

The gray-haired housewife has organized hundreds of protest marches,
gone from hunger strikes to a seat in congress and argued
face-to-face with presidents.  Just as she has been transformed by
the 26-year search for her son, Rosario Ibarra de Piedra has seen
Mexico change: Democracy has put a conservative opposition leader
into the presidency and leftist rebels have emerged from jungle
hide-outs and secret jails into the center of the media spotlight.
President Vicente Fox announced Nov. 10 that he would appoint a
special prosecutor to investigate the cases of 570 leftists who
disappeared during a government counterinsurgency campaign in the
1970s, among them Ibarra's son, Jesus. And in the next few days, the
government's human rights commission is expected to release a report
on the missing activists. Many people see that as a result of
Ibarra's persistence. Over three decades, she has helped win the
release of hundreds of political prisoners and contributed to
changing public attitudes that led to the downfall of Mexico's
once-imperious presidential system. She has twice won seats in
congress. Yet the tiny, tireless woman has never been able to find
out what happened to Jesus Piedra, a medical student believed to have
been kidnapped by police in the northern state of Nuevo Leon on April
18, 1975.

Mexican news media have reported on partial, leaked versions of the
human rights office report that suggest about half of the
"disappeared'' were murdered and secretly buried. Several years ago,
a retired military officer said that Jesus Piedra - thought to be a
member of the Maoist September 23 League - was picked up by police,
tortured, killed and disposed of in a lake. Ibarra said she believes
her son was imprisoned at a secret military jail. After that, she
doesn't know what happened. But she said she won't stop until those
responsible are punished. "We want the law to work,'' she says. It
hasn't so far. For decades, presidents refused to release information
on the missing, apparently to avoid embarrassing the army or
revealing abuses by secret police. When Fox became the first
opposition candidate to win Mexico's presidency, having publicly
embraced Ibarra's cause, he dismantled parts of the system that had
given his predecessors almost unlimited power. But Fox initially
balked at delving into old crimes, arguing Mexico "should look to the
future, not the past.'' Then, following the October murder of a
prominent human rights lawyer, Fox changed his mind. For Ibarra and
for dozens of other mothers in her Eureka! group, Jesus and the other
"disappeared'' remain alive. "Twenty years ago, I told a government
minister, 'If you give me my son, I'll go home and shut up,''' said
Ibarra. '''But if you don't, people will know who Jesus Piedra is 500
years after they've forgotten the name of the president of Mexico.'''
Today, Jesus' soft, open face - a 21-year-old frozen in time in a
black-and-white photo - is almost as widely recognized as that of
Luis Echeverria, the president in 1970-76 who now lives in
self-imposed obscurity.

Another image full of history hangs in her Mexico City apartment: a
poster showing Ibarra embracing Subcomandante Marcos of the Zapatista
National Liberation Army (EZLN) in Chiapas - and it is an example of
how Mexico's left has changed.  While Maoist rebels of the 1970s used
clandestine cells, kidnappings and bombs, the Zapatistas have gained
enormous prestige through non-violent politics after a brief armed
uprising in January, 1994. Ibarra calls the Zapatistas "a gleam of
hope,'' saying, "They are different from any other guerrilla movement
that came before, because they don't want to take power.'' Ibarra, -
who has three other children - seems younger, more full of energy
than her 73 years would suggest. What keeps her going through things
like a 26-day hunger strike? "A mixture of pain, and love. It's a
mother's love, and that never ends.'' She said the mothers in her
group are active, going dancing and even laughing, "even though you
wouldn't think so.'' They sometimes hold parties, each bringing a
recording of her missing child's favorite song. "We take care of
ourselves,'' she said, "because we don't want to die without finding
out what they did with our kids.''

Source: Associated Press: 11/23

FOX GETS A RAISE; ENVIRONMENT GETS SLASHED

While Labor Secretary Carlos Abascal announced salary increases of
4.5% for government workers next year - if the budget permits -
President Vicente Fox got a raise of 35% this year.  Fox now earns
US$25,000 per month for an annual salary of US$300,000.  Stung by
universal criticism for such a substantial raise in the midst of
government cutbacks, Fox explained to the nation that his salary was
really only US$17,000 per month because the rest went to taxes.  Fox
promised to freeze salaries for highly placed government officials in
2002, perhaps calculating that a 35% increase would meet his needs
for the foreseeable future.  In addition to his annual salary, Fox
saw fit early in his administration to purchase US$400 towels for the
presidential residence using taxpayer money.

In related news, among the government cutbacks for this year, the Fox
administration will reduce the budget of the Secretary of Environment
and Natural Resources by 9%.

Source: Mexico Solidarity Network Weekly News Summary: 11/12-18



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