Monthly Archives: March 2010

Poll: Increasing majority thinks narcos are winning drug war

A GCE/Milenio telephone survey on March 22 found that by a margin of 58%-21% respondents thought organized crime (rather than the government) was winning the drug war.  This is an increase in the margin of 14% points since last July.  The Army is the principal institution respondents have confidence in to keep them safe (35.8%), followed by the Federal Investigation Agency, or AFI (11%). The U.S. FBI and DEA score higher than the Justice Ministry or the Mexican police. (www.gabinetece.com.mx)

Congress recesses, leaving packed post-Easter agenda

Congress got an early start on the long Holy Week vacation, as the Senate failed to get a quorum for its last scheduled session. The Senate leadership, headed by PAN Senator Gustavo Madero, invoked ‘fast track’ rules to speed key legislation during the final month of the Congressional session, from April 6-30.  On the agenda are 68 pieces of legislation covering 13 reform initiatives. The legislation is in four broad areas: national security, political reform, public safety, and internal regulation of the Senate.  (Excelsior 3/29, Reforma 3/25, Universal 3/29)

Monterrey marches for peace

Some 10,000 residents of Monterrey marched for peace yesterday, dressed in white and releasing white balloons. Nuevo León governor Rodrigo Medina headed the march.  While the level of violence in the metropolitan region abated, there were two highly publicized incidents during the week.

Extra-legal actions create doubts

Naval Marines arrested Alberto Mendoza Contreras, aka El Chico Malo (“Bad Boy”), alleging that he controlled trafficking for the Beltrán Leyva cartel in the Monterrey suburb of San Pedro.  Controversial San Pedro mayor Mauricio Fernández Garza said that he paid El Chico Malo as an informant (and credited him for fingering 50 corrupt cops), but denied that he had any knowledge of his trafficking activities. He added that Government Secretary Fernando Gómez Mont approved these activities, setting off a firestorm. The Ministry of Government issued an immediate statement in response: “It is unacceptable, under any circumstances, to exchange intelligence information for tolerating impunity or protecting criminals.”

In a second incident, the body of a drug dealer was found handcuffed and with signs of torture the day after he was photographed being detained by police in the Monterrey suburb of Santa Catarina. He was one of two suspects wanted for trying to ambush the local police chief. The police transferred him to Naval marines for transport to a hospital for treatment of injuries, but both the police and the marines deny responsibility for the suspect’s killing. (Excelsior 3/26, Reforma 3/24, 3/27)

Calderón calls on U.S. to stop flow of weapons …

In an interview on CNN, President Calderón renewed his call on the U.S. to crack down on the illegal trafficking of arms to Mexico. He said it was not a question of new laws, but of enforcing existing U.S. law.  He said more than 80% of the drug cartels’ weapons came from the U.S., and that his government had seized 66,000 weapons, half of them assault rifles, in the last three years. He also urged re-enactment of the U.S. assault weapons ban, while acknowledging that this would be politically difficult. (Reforma 3/29)

… and on Mexicans to speak well of their own country

At a tourism summit at the official residence Los Pinos, Calderón called on Mexicans to be ambassadors for their country, and not to speak badly of Mexico when abroad. He said that the murder rate was only 11.5 per 100,000, significantly below the levels in Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, and other countries.  (Universal 3/26)

Governors back abolishing local police in favor of new state forces

The National Governors’ Conference (Conago) backed the Government’s proposal to establish one state-level police force for each state. Most municipal police would be transferred to new state-level forces, after undergoing background checks and additional training. Municipal governments would retain responsibility only for traffic enforcement.  Government Secretary Gómez Mont worked with the governors to reach the agreement, which was originally proposed by Public Security Secretary Genaro García Luna. Establishing the new state-level forces requires amendment of the federal Constitution. (Reforma 3/24)

Poll: Calderón disapproval rises; economy key

A GEA-ISA national survey found that, for the first time, President Calderón’s disapproval rating exceeded his approval rating: only 45% said they approved, and 53% said they disapproved his performance as president. As recently as August 2009, the President had a favorable margin of 54%-37%. Economic policy management was disapproved by a margin of 57%-34% (a negative swing of 13% since last August). In contrast, actions taken in the war against drug trafficking were approved 68%-29% (though there was a negative swing of 16% since last August). (www.isa.org.mx)

Bloody Nuevo León and Acapulco

The state of Nuevo León became the new epicenter of violence after gangsters blocked major highways in and near Monterrey using hijacked vehicles. According to state Security Secretary Luis Carlos Treviño Berchelmann, the blockades were an attempt to prevent federal troop movements. One confrontation between gangs and the army on the campus of Monterrey Tec, one of Mexico’s premier universities, resulted in the deaths of two students. Nuevo León governor Rodrigo Medina sacked 81 state police officers the day after the federal Government Ministry accused police of passing tips on military movements to the gangs. The previous weekend, Acapulco captured the headlines with 32 killings, including six policemen and four decapitated victims. According to Reforma’s tally, there were 251 gang-related killings last week and 2,188 deaths year to date, 55% higher than last year’s record pace. (Universal 3/16, 3/21, 3/21, Reforma 3/19, 3/21)

Labor Reform put forward

The PAN put forward a comprehensive reform of the Labor Law in Congress. The measures seek to increase flexibility in the labor market through secret ballots in union elections, greater union transparency, time limits on strikes, new rules on outsourcing, ability to contract workers by the hour, and greater protection for women workers, among others. Josefina Vázquez Mota, the PAN congressional leader, said the bill was a collaboration between the party and the Labor Ministry, headed by Javier Lozano.  President Calderón emphasized that the bill would not amend the many specific labor rights enshrined in Article 123 of the Constitution.  (Reforma 3/18, 3/19, 3/20)