narco wars

'Blood avocados' in the news amid Michoacán violence

The US Department of Agriculture on June 17 suspended inspections of avocados and mangoes in the Mexican state of Michoacán due to security concerns, halting the top source of US imports. The move was taken three days after two agents of the USDA's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) were accosted during a protest in the town of Paracho, beaten and briefly detained. Michoacán is Mexico's heartland of avocado production, but the trade has been notoriously co-opted by the local warring drug cartels to launder narco-profits, leading to charges of "blood avocados" in the violence-torn state.

Mexico: amnesty decree stirs human rights concerns

Mexico's government added an article to its Amnesty Law in a decree June 14, allowing the head of the Executive Branch to commute sentences and halt criminal proceedings in cases deemed "relevant to the Mexican State," regardless of the severity of the crime. The new Article 9 states the country's president has exclusive authority to grant amnesty directly, without following procedures establlished esewere in the law, in specific cases meeting two conditions. The first is that amnesty is granted to individuals providing verifiable information useful for uncovering the truth in cases relevant to the national nterest; the second is that criminal prosecution has already been initiated against the individual. Amnesties granted under this article extinguish any pending criminal charges.

Honduras implements 'Crime Solution Plan'

The National Defense & Security Council of Honduran President Xiomara Castro announced in a national broadcast June 14 a sweeping plan to crack down on crime and safeguard public security. The Crime Solution Plan calls on the Defense and Security secretaries, the Armed Forces, and the Military Police are to immediately plan and execute interventions in municipalities with the highest incidence of major gang-related crimes, such as assassination, drug trafficking, extortion, kidnapping, drug trafficking, arms trafficking, and money laundering.

Haiti gangs profit from mission delay

The continually delayed deployment of a Kenya-led Multinational Security Support (MSS) mission has raised concerns over how prepared the UN-approved and US-bankrolled force will be to face the security crisis in Haiti. An analysis from Insight Crime suggests the gangs have been using the extra time to "fortify what could be a fierce response." A first contingent of about 200 Kenyan police officers was expected to land in the capital, Port-au-Prince, in late May, but its arrival was postponed after an advance delegation from Kenya identified a shortage of equipment and infrastructure. In an interview with the BBC, Kenyan President William Ruto said the deployment of 2,500 troops, including 1,000 Kenyan police officers, will now start mid-June.

Mexico's new presidenta and the human rights crisis

Mexico has made history with the election of its first woman president, former Mexico City mayor and environmental scientist Claudia Sheinbaum. But the ongoing human rights crisis that will obviously pose a grave challenge for Sheinbaum was dramatically exemplified by the record number of political assassinations that marred the elections. And she inherits a pending constitutional reform from her perceived political mentor, the incumbent populist Andrés Manuel López Obrador, which would further unleash the military to engage in internal law enforcement. Bill Weinberg explores in Episode 230 of the CounterVortex podcast.

Mexican elections see record number of assassinations

The results are in from Mexico's June 2 presidential election and Claudia Sheinbaum of the ruling left-populist National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) has won by some 60%, handily defeating a rival backed by an alliance of the country's more traditional political parties. The former mayor of Mexico City as well as an environmental scientist with a PhD in energy engineering from UC Berkeley, Sheinbaum was a researcher with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) when it earned a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Despite this prestigious and somewhat technocratic background, her status as the chosen hier of incumbent populist Andrés Manuel López Obrador has caused her victory to be viewed with suspicion if not panic in elite quarters. Both the peso and Mexican stock exchange slided on the news.

Podcast: a cannabis coup in the Congo?

The attempted coup d'etat in the Democratic Republic of the Congo may or may not have been assisted by the CIA, but one of the Americans arrested in the affair is named as a "cannabis entrepreneur"—pointing to the possibility of legal cannabis playing the same destructive role in Central Africa that bananas have played in Central America. Yet while corporate power sees a lucrative new cash crop, lives (and especially Black lives) are still being ruined by cannabis prohibition in the United States. In Episode 228 of the CounterVortex podcastBill Weinberg argues that the old anarchist slogan "Neither your war nor your peace" can be updated as "Neither your prohibition nor your legalization!"

Kenya court approves suit opposing Haiti deployment

The Kenya High Court on May 17 ordered that a lawsuit seeking to prevent the deployment of police troops to Haiti be served on top government officials. Leaders of the civil organization Thirdway Alliance Kenya, Dr. Ekuru Aukot and Miruru Waweru, filed the complaint to block the deployment, which is part of a UN-backed mission to assist Haiti's battle against gang violence. The plaintiffs argued that the government's agreement with Haiti to deploy the troops is in contempt of a January court order that deemed the deployment unconstitutional. The plaintiffs emphasized the urgency of the matter, noting that the deployment is scheduled to begin this month.

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