November 22, 2013 |
MEXICO CITY - No one ever said it was easy being a mayor in Mexico, where corruption is as common as cacti, politics is a Machiavellian game of three-dimensional chess and drug cartels are often more powerful than local governments. But in recent days, Mexicans have seen the depth of the challenge facing the men and women charged with running the 2,438 municipios , roughly the equivalent of U.S. counties, that are supposed to be a building block of governance here. The mayor of Santa Ana Maya, a rural municipality in Michoacan state, was killed this month after complaining that cartel members were regularly demanding a chunk of the federal money meant for public works projects in his area, a practice he said was widespread.
November 17, 2013 |
APATZINGAN, Mexico - In this city in western Mexico, sympathy runs strong for the Knights Templar, a cult-like drug cartel that has used extortion and intimidation to control much of the local economy and undermine government. A few miles up the road, however, amid the lime groves and avocado fields of Michoacan state, residents have taken up weapons to run the Knights Templar out of their towns. They call themselves "self-defense" squads, their territory "liberated. " For the moment, the two well-armed camps are being kept apart by a stepped-up but tenuous federal military deployment.
November 8, 2013 |
MEXICO CITY - Ygnacio Lopez Mendoza was one of the few mayors from Mexico's troubled state of Michoacan who openly sounded the alarm about the narco thugs whose extortion demands were targeting even small local governments like his. “The insecurity … is something that everybody in the world knows, but no one talks about,” Lopez, who represented the rural municipality of Santa Ana Maya, told reporters in February. “Why? Because we have to deal with organized crime, we have to pay them.” The Mexican government heard his complaints, promising to send more resources to the area after Lopez staged a hunger strike in Mexico City, the capital, last month.
November 7, 2013 |
MEXICO CITY - The city of Lazaro Cardenas is a scrappy Mexican success story. The once-obscure industrial port, between Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco, has grown significantly over the last decade, using cheap domestic dock labor and a direct railroad connection to Texas to attract international cargo ships that might have otherwise gone to the Port of Los Angeles. But it also has earned a darker reputation. Precursor chemicals for methamphetamine are widely known to be smuggled in to Lazaro Cardenas in multi-ton batches on ships arriving from Asia: One typical bust in December 2011 netted 1,600 barrels that had originated in Shanghai.
November 6, 2013 |
MEXICO CITY -- In a rare public airing, a senior Catholic prelate has denounced control of Mexico's Michoacan state by violent drug traffickers, challenging official government claims and igniting a fierce debate. Miguel Patiño, the bishop of Apatzingan, one of Michoacan's largest cities and a headquarters for the state's main criminal network, made his charges in an open letter and then in a series of interviews. He said Michoacan had essentially become a failed state because authorities are afraid of -- or in collusion with -- organized crime figures.
October 19, 2013 |
MEXICO CITY -- Gunmen dressed as clowns burst into a children's party and shot to death the eldest brother of one of Mexico's erstwhile largest and feared drug-trafficking families, Mexican officials and press said Saturday. Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix was killed in the Baja California city of Cabo San Lucas while attending the party at a local hotel on Friday, the reports said. Arellano Felix was the oldest of seven brothers who ran the Tijuana drug cartel that once dominated that border city.