Monthly Archives: March 2009

Polls: Presidential approval sags

The same GEA-ISA national survey released last week that showed a tightening congressional race, also shows a 4 point decline in presidential approval since last November. The share of those who believe the government is meeting its economic and social commitments has fallen about 7 points since then, while the share saying the government is meeting its security commitments has risen.

Chihuahua security chief resigns after escape

The minister of public security in Chihuahua, Javier Torres Cardona, resigned after 15 gunmen freed convicted trafficker Crispin Borunda from a hospital where he was being treated. Borunda is on the DEA’s list for extradition to the U.S. The state prosecutor acknowledged that Borunda was staying in a minimum security part of the hospital, despite warnings of a rescue attempt. (Universal 3/28)

Clinton strikes co-responsibility theme; Pascual tipped as Ambassador

The two day visit of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saw both sides emphasize the theme of co-responsibility. Columnist Jaime Sánchez said, “Clinton surprised every camp … Nobody expected such a turn.” The press reported that the U.S. proposed Carlos Pascual to be Ambassador. Pascual, a Cuban-American, is the head of foreign policy at Brookings, and former Ambassador to Ukraine. The Templo Mayor column observed, “What also stands out in the CV of the next ambassador is that he has been dedicated to the study of ‘failed states’ among which, at least ‘til now, he has never included Mexico.” (Reforma 3/27-28, Universal 3/28)

Jorge Tello named new national security coordinator

President Calderón named Jorge Tello Peón as the executive director for the national security system, which coordinates security issues among federal and state authorities, and among the ministries. Tello joined the presidential staff in October; he has been the head of the Cisen intelligence agency and Undersecretary of Government. (Presidencia 3/25)

PRI nominates alleged narcos for office

The PRI in Chihuahua nominated Héctor Murguía to run for congress, despite long-standing allegations of corruption and links to trafficking. Murguía was mayor of Ciudad Juárez, and his former head of security is currently imprisoned in Texas on drug charges. In addition, the PRI in Colima nominated Mario Anguiano, the former mayor of the capital city of Colima, as their candidate for governor. His brother Humberto is serving a 10 year sentence for trafficking methamphetamines, and his cousin Rafael is in jail in Los Angeles. The PAN is circulating a crossword puzzle titled “13 characteristics of the PRI” that include the words corruption, crisis, complicity, and narco. (Universal 3/30, Excelsior 3/25)

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Army bulldozes ‘Holy Death’ chapels

The army used excavators to destroy 30 chapels dedicated to Santa Muerte, “Holy Death,” the patron saint of drug traffickers, on the highway between Nuevo Laredo and Monterrey. The chapels, including at least one with two stories, started proliferating in 2007. According to one official, “When you enter or leave Nuevo Laredo, you see these chapels, which are impressive—a spectacle—but the people were constantly complaining that they leave the impression that it was a place of criminals.” (Reforma 3/25)

Government provides rewards for most wanted

The Justice Ministry published a list of the most wanted drug lords, with rewards of up to Ps. 30 million for information leading to their capture. The list of 37 includes the leaders and top operators of the Gulf Cartel and their Los Zetas paramilitary wing, the Pacific Cartel, the Beltrán Leyva gang, the Carrillo Fuentes gang, La Familia, and the Arellano Félix cartel. The same day, the army captured one of the most wanted: Héctor Huerta Ríos, La Burra, described as the chief operator for the Beltrán Leyvas in Monterrey. (Reforma 3/23, Universal 3/25)

Poll: Congressional race tightens


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A new GEA-ISA national survey showed that voter preferences for the July congressional election have tightened. Excluding undecided voters (31% of the total), the PRI lead had fallen to 2 points from 8 points last November. The PAN and PRI are running neck and neck in terms of other indicators of voter preference. The PRD continues to lose ground.


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Top operator for Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas captured

The authorities captured Sigifredo Nájera, 24, known as “El Canicón,” who is said to be the top operator for the Gulf Cartel and their Los Zetas paramilitary wing in Nuevo Leon. Nájera is wanted for the killings of nine soldiers last November, as well as for the grenade attacks on the U.S. consulate and Televisa studios in Monterrey. The Templo Mayor column eulogized the government’s actions: “The capture of the leader of Los Zetas in Nuevo León … makes clear one more time that in the war against the narcos the Army today is very different from previous administrations. First is effectiveness. In just a few months, the troops have struck hard at organized crime with high level arrests such as ‘El Hummer’ and ‘El Vicentillo,’ during operations that reflect intelligence work and a new ability to carry out urban missions that, so far, have left civilians unharmed. The second is even handedness. The Army, as never before, has been hitting the two strongest criminal gangs equally, with the rhythm, ‘Gulf [cartel],’ ‘Sinaloa [cartel],’ ‘Gulf,’ ‘Sinaloa,’ in a way that almost seems planned.” (Reforma 3/20, 22)

Reach of the Cartels

The NY Times published a good interactive graphic showing the approximate areas of operation of the major cartels in Mexico, and the spread of their activities in the U.S.