An attack by armed men on local comuneros in the pueblo of San Mateo del Mar, in Mexico's southern Oaxaca state, left at least 15 dead June 22, with several more wounded or reported as "disappeared." The confrontation began when residents of the outlying community of Huazantlán del Río attempted to gather for a public meeting and were blocked by gunmen. Some of the slain were bludgeoned to death with stones and cement blocks, and several appear to have been burned, mutilated or tortured. Two women were among the dead. Huazantlán residents claim municipal police were backing up the gunmen in the attack, ostensibly because the gathering violated COVID-19 restrictions. Municipal authorities in turn accuse the Huazantlán residents of being involved in criminal gangs, and are calling on state authorities to investigate.
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets and clashed with riot police in Guadalajara June 4, one month after the killing of a construction worker at the hands of local law enforcement. The rally climaxed with the storming of the Jalisco state government palace, where protesters smashed down the front door and left graffiti on the exterior walls. Police cars were also set on fire. Bricklayer Giovanni López, 30, was brutally beaten by municipal police in the town of Ixtlahuacán de los Membrillos on May 4, after being stopped for failure to wear a face-mask, in violation of mandatory measures to contain COVID-19. He died in the hospital the following day, with the cause of death named as traumatic brain injury. Protesters hailed López as "the Mexican George Floyd." State authorities failed to act in the case for a month; it was only after the explosion of anger on the streets of Guadalajara that Jalisco Prosecutor General Gerardo Solis announced that authorities had arrested three police officers involved in the incident. It is unclear what charges they will face.
The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has condemned the assassination of Mexican environmental activist Adán Vez Lira, who was shot April 8 while riding his motorcycle in the municipality of Actopan, Veracruz. Vez Lira worked with the Veracruz Assembly for Environmental Defense Initiatives (LAVIDA) to oppose mining operations that threaten local water sources. Gold and silver exploitation by the Canadian-based Almaden Minerals and Candelaria Mining are encroaching on the borders of La Mancha Ecological Reserve and contaminating springs and wells in the villages of Actopan and Alto Lucero.
A Mexican judge on March 18 issued an arrest warrant for Tomas Zerón, the former head of criminal investigations for the Prosecutor General's Office, and five other former officials for alleged violations in the investigation of the case of 43 college students who disappeared in 2014. The students from the rural teacher's college at Ayotzinapa, Guerrero state, were determined to have been seized by police in September of that year. Although DNA testing only successfully identified one missing student from unearthed remains, officials presumed in 2015 that all 43 were dead. Many of the suspects arrested in the case were later released, and several claimed they had been tortured by police or the military. The investigation was widely criticized, and the current administration pledged to re-open the case.
Police in Kyrgyzstan detained dozens of women's rights activists on March 7—shortly after the International Women's Day march was attacked by masked men. The activists gathered in a central square of capital Bishkek for the march. But masked men, some wearing traditional Kyrgyz white felt hats, attacked the protesters, grabbing and tearing apart their banners. The attackers left as soon as police arrived on the scene and proceeded to detain about 50 activists, mostly women. (Reuters) That same day, the women's march in Mexico City's main square was set upon by anti-abortion protesters, overwhelmingly men, some of whom gave the Nazi salute. There were scuffles between the two groups, and at one point marchers hurled Molotov cocktails over police lines toward the presidential palace. (Reuters)
Mexican lawmakers are predicting legal cannabis by month's end, and portraying it as a key to de-escalating the endemic narco-violence. But national headlines are full of nightmarish cartel violence—making all too clear how big the challenge will be.
There were scenes of chaos in Mexico's northern border towns Feb. 29 in response to rulings in rapid succession by a US federal appeals court on the Trump administration's "Remain in Mexico" policy. First, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled against the administration's policy, (euphemistically dubbed the Migrant Protection Protocols) that forces migrants and refugees seeking asylum to wait in Mexico while their claims are reviewed, and severely limits the number of migrants eligible for asylum. Thousands of asylum-seekers who had been camped out for weeks in Matamoros, Ciudad Juárez, Nogales and Tijuana immediately amassed at the border crossings, hoping to gain entry to the US. But the crossings were closed, and hours later, the Ninth Circuit granted an emergency stay on the injunction, as requested by the administration, effectively reinstating the MPP while further arguments are heard. The gathered migrants were dispersed by Mexican security forces.
More than 3,000 farmers and residents of four rural municipalities in Mexico's northern state of Chihuahua clashed with Mexican National Guard troops on Feb. 4 in a protest over the federal government's plan to divert water from a dam into the Rio Grande for the use in the United States. Protesters from the municipalities of Camargo, La Cruz, Delicias and San Francisco de Conchos confronted troops guarding La Boquilla Dam on the Rio Conchos with the aim of occupying the facility and preventing the water diversion. The National Water Commission (Conagua) intends to open the sluices of the dam to divert hundreds of millions of cubic meters of water to the Rio Grande, in order to comply with a 1944 Water Treaty between Mexico and the US. Mexico has a 220-million-cubic-meter "water debt" to the US, but farmers say that the massive diversion will leave them with insufficient water.