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.
The State Human Rights Commission (CEDH) in Mexico's west-central state of Michoacán is exhorting authorities to intensify their search for a campesino ecologist and advocate for protection of the world-famous monarch butterfly habitat, who has "disappeared." Homero Gómez González went missing Jan. 13, one day after he posted a video of himself on Twitter standing amid a swarm of butterflies at their wintering grounds in the Michoacán highlands, hailing it as a "patrimony of humanity." He has long served as administrator of Ejido El Rosario, an agrarian community of the Mazahua indigenous people in Ocampo municipality, which overlaps with El Campanario Sanctuary, part of the UNESCO-recognized Mariposa Monarca Biosphere Reserve. The Michoacán prosecutor's office, the Fiscalía General, announced Jan. 20 that 53 police officers from the municipalities of Ocampo and Angangueo have been detained in relation to the disappearance. Family members say Gómez González told authorities that he had received threats from local organized crime networks.
Mexican authorities announced Jan. 6 that an estimated 61,637 people have disappeared amid the country's drug war. A previous analysis in April 2018 put the figure at just 40,000. The new figure was calculated based on analysis of data from state prosecutors. While the cases analyzed date back as early as the 1960s, more than 97% of the cases have occurred since 2006, when then-president Felipe Calderón began a military crackdown on drug traffickers. More than 5,000 people disappeared last year, according to Karla Quintana, head of Mexico's National Search Commission (Comisión Nacional de Búsqueda de Personas).
There is a discomforting sense that Mexico is perpetually on the eve of cannabis legalization, as the country's Congress wins a six-month extension from the Supreme Court to pass a law freeing the herb. But foreign capital is already eyeing Mexico's emergent legal cannabis sector—even amid a terrifying escalation in the bloody cartel wars.