Tag Archives: Mexico

New Details Alleged in Scheme to Make Millions Off First Border Wall in Texas

Screenshot: YouTube

The kickback scheme was allegedly hashed out over weeknight drinks at a steakhouse in a border county in south Texas. Amid surf and turf and expensive scotch, a Hidalgo County official said he would meet with contractors in the clubby confines of the restaurant in a strip mall in McAllen.

There, Godfrey Garza Jr., director of the county’s drainage district, cajoled company executives to hire a firm owned by his family in exchange for a cut of lucrative construction contracts, according to new documents filed in state district court in Hidalgo County. The target of the plan: a $232 million project funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the county to build a border fence and rehabilitate aging dirt levees along the Rio Grande. Continue reading

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The most important person in America is not Trump

Our most admired, most important Person of the Year for 2017 goes to…

Written by Carol Benedict

Screenshot: Euronews

2017 is a year no one will miss much. We struggled through the year with the “deer in the headlights” syndrome across our populace; so much so that “not normal” became expected, and the expected became obscure.

But what did we find when we looked at the year to decide who was the biggest influence on us, who did we turn to for hope and inspiration in our darkest moments? Our collective minds turn to the voice of the resistance – every person, team, organization, group and crowd that forged a line and said “ENOUGH!” in one great shout. Continue reading

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Ayotzinapa three years later: new light, few answers

A reconstruction of the events surrounding the disappearances of the 43 Mexican students has highlighted the mistakes authorities commit. Sadly, we may never get to the bottom of what really happened.

By Manuella Libardi. Published 9-26-2017 by openDemocracy

Credit: Forensic Architecture.

The third anniversary of the the disappearance of the 43 Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College students (known as normalistas) in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico has come and has brought new developments with it.

Forensic Architecture, a London-based agency that conducts research on behalf of international prosecutors, human rights organizations, and political and environmental justice groups, has reconstructed the events of Sept. 26 and 27, 2014, which is presented as a forensic tool for parents, investigators and the general public to further the investigation. The interactive platform depicts a vivid account showing federal and state police agents in the vicinity at the moment when 43 students disappeared from Iguala. Continue reading

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The Native American casualties of US immigration policy

The O’Odham nation lives on both sides of the US-Mexican border, and for that they are persecuted.

By Ophelia Rivas and Neil Howard. Published 8-28-2017 by openDemocracy

My name is Ophelia Rivas, but my family knows me as Ilya. You know, the place where I come from is beautiful land. We’ve lived there for centuries and we have a way of life that we’ve followed for all those years. We continue parts of it right now, but the political effects that are imposed on our people because of these borders are greatly impacting our people.

After 9/11 the world discovered that there was the O’Odham nation, which is the second largest reservation in the United States after the Navajo. These reservations are considered concentration camps of the indigenous people in the United States. Our traditional lands are divided into different political boundaries. Less than one-third of our lands are now cordoned off, like a concentration camp. Continue reading

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US Ditches Human Rights Hearing in ‘Unprecedented Show of Disrespect’

ACLU had planned to drill officials on immigration, DAPL, and Muslim ban, but representatives from various departments never showed

By Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-21-2017

The civil rights group had filed an emergency request for the meeting in January, after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that banned travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries. (Photo: Karla Cote/flickr/cc)

The U.S. failed to show up to a human rights hearing in an “unprecedented show of disrespect to the international community,” the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said Tuesday.

In a surprise move, the government ditched a hearing with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), an arm of the Organization of American States, where the ACLU had planned to drill officials on the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration; its ban on travelers from six Muslim-majority countries; and the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), among other issues. Continue reading

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Protests in Mexico Push Country to Brink of Revolution and Nobody’s Talking About It

By Nick Bernabe. Published 1-10-2017 by The Anti-Media

Photo: paola/Twitter

San Diego, CA — Long-simmering social tensions in Mexico are threatening to boil over as failing neoliberal reforms to the country’s formerly nationalized gas sector are compounded by open corruption, stagnant standards of living, and rampant inflation.

The U.S. media has remained mostly mute on the situation in Mexico, even as the unfolding civil unrest has closed the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego, California, several times in the past week. Ongoing “gasolinazo” protests in Mexico over a 20 percent rise in gas prices have led to over 400 arrests, 250 looted stores, and six deaths. Roads are being blockaded, borders closed, and government buildings are being sacked. Protests have remained relatively peaceful overall, except for several isolated violent acts, which activists have blamed on government infiltrators. Continue reading

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‘Missing-Persons Crisis’: US Border Patrol Reportedly Uses Desert as Killing Tool

New report finds agents chase border crossers into Southwest desert, where they often become lost, are left to die, or disappear altogether

By Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-7-2016

In 1994, Border Patrol adopted a strategy known as Prevention Through Deterrence, which sought to control the region by increasing the risk of coming into the country without documents. (Photo: Texas Military Department/flickr/cc)

In 1994, Border Patrol adopted a strategy known as Prevention Through Deterrence, which sought to control the region by increasing the risk of coming into the country without documents. (Photo: Texas Military Department/flickr/cc)

The U.S. Border Patrol has used the south-western desert to set up the death and disappearances of tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants, according to a new report by the Arizona-based advocacy groups No More Deaths/No Más Muertes and La Coalición de Derechos Humanos.

The report, entitled Disappeared: How U.S. Border-Enforcement Agencies are Fueling a Missing-Persons Crisis, finds that Border Patrol agents routinely chase border crossers into “remote terrain,” causing them to scatter, which often causes them to become lost, leading to death, injury, or disappearance. Continue reading

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This WTO Ruling Is Perfect Example of How Big Trade Deals Trump Democracy

NAFTA partners can sue the U.S. for a combined $1 billion annually in retaliatory tariffs over Country of Origin Labels for meat

Written by Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-7-2015.

Republican lawmakers and meat industry lobbyists, now bolstered by the WTO ruling, are working to overturn meat labeling provision that 92 percent of public supports. (Photo: Jason Tester Guerilla Futures/cc/flickr)

Republican lawmakers and meat industry lobbyists, now bolstered by the WTO ruling, are working to overturn meat labeling provision that 92 percent of public supports. (Photo: Jason Tester Guerilla Futures/cc/flickr)

In a move that watchdogs say presents a “glaring example of how trade agreements can undermine public interest policies,” the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled on Monday that the U.S. can be forced to pay $1 billion annually by NAFTA partners for its establishment of food safety laws.

In its decision, the WTO authorized $781 million from Canada and $227 million from Mexico in annual retaliation tariffs over the U.S. law requiring Country of Original Labels (COOL) for certain packaged meats, which food safety and consumer groups say is essential for consumer choice and animal welfare, as well as environmental and public health.

The United States’ North American trading partners argued that being forced to label where animals were born, raised, and slaughtered placed an undue burden on livestock producers and processors and, as AgriPulse reports, “ultimately persuaded the WTO that the law accorded unfavorable treatment to Canadian and Mexican livestock.”

Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, said on Monday that the ruling “makes clear that trade agreements can—and do—threaten even the most favored U.S. consumer protections.”

Citing a May 2015 speech during which U.S. President Barack Obama brushed aside warnings that agreements like NAFTA and the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could undermine important regulations, Wallach continued: “We hope that President Obama stands by his claim that ‘no trade agreement is going to force us to change our laws,’ but in fact rolling back U.S. consumer and environmental safeguards has been exactly what past presidents have done after previous retrograde trade pact rulings.”

The ruling comes just two weeks after the WTO also ruled that U.S. “dolphin-safe” tuna labeling poses a “technical barrier to trade” that must be eliminated or weakened.

Consumer advocates say that rulings provide a stark warning as Obama attempts to rally congressional support for the 12-nation TPP, which critics warn also compromises food safety by, among other things, limiting inspections on imported foods.

The Republican-led House of Representatives last spring already passed a measure repealing the meat label provision—despite the fact that 92 percent of Americans support the policy.

Now, with the WTO ruling bolstering their case, meat industry lobby groups, including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, are pushing the rest of Congress to follow suit.

According to AgriPulse, “Sources have indicated that a repeal provision may be attached to either the omnibus spending bill expected to be debated this week or a customs enforcement bill also expected to be considered before Congress is scheduled to adjourn for the year next week.”

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US Program To Save Child Refugees Has Welcomed This Many: Zero

More than 5,400 minors from Central America applied to get in to US as refugees. All of them are still waiting.

Written by Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-5-2015.

After an irregular entry into Mexico near Ciudad Hidalgo, to move north through the country, to the US border, many Central and South American migrants begin their journey in Arriaga, Chiapas, Mexico, the railhead of the freight train known as 'La Bestia' (The Beast), climbing atop of the rail cars, exposed to the elements and extortion by criminal gangs lying in wait along the route. Vendors sell food, water and cardboard pallets to lie on for the journey.

After an irregular entry into Mexico near Ciudad Hidalgo, to move north through the country, to the US border, many Central and South American migrants begin their journey in Arriaga, Chiapas, Mexico, the railhead of the freight train known as ‘La Bestia’ (The Beast), climbing atop of the rail cars, exposed to the elements and extortion by criminal gangs lying in wait along the route. Vendors sell food, water and cardboard pallets to lie on for the journey.

 

A year after President Barack Obama launched a program to grant asylum to Central American children fleeing violence or seeking to reunite with family members, the statistics are in: not one child has made it to the U.S. through that initiative.

New analysis by the New York Times published Thursday reveals that the Central American Minors Program, established last December, received asylum applications from more than 5,400 children in countries like El Salvador and Honduras, most of whom are seeking to escape street gangs or sexual assault—but none of them have been accepted.

In fact, only 90 children total were even interviewed by the Department of Homeland Security, and only 85 qualified for any sort of refugee status and even they remain languishing because their paperwork has not been filed.

“Really, it’s pathetic that no child has come through this program,” Lavinia Limón, the president and chief executive of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants nonprofit, told the Times. Referring to administrative officials, she added, “I wonder if it were their child living in the murder capital of the world, whether they would have more sense of urgency.”

The Times writes:

The Central American Minors program also allows the Department of Homeland Security to grant a two-year temporary entry into the United States for children who do not qualify as refugees. Those immigrants must apply to renew their entry status every two years and are not eligible to pursue American citizenship.

Obama announced his plan in response to the groundswell of young refugees making the dangerous and often-deadly trek across the U.S. border in massive numbers last year. But as immigration and human rights experts noted at the time, the program’s heartening promises of assisting vulnerable children did nothing to address sluggish bureaucratic roadblocks and ignored the U.S.’s own role in fueling the refugee crisis.

As Ivy Suriyopas, co-chair of the anti-trafficking group Freedom Network, explained in an op-ed last year:

[A]lthough the number of unaccompanied minors dropped in August, the 4,000 slots allocated for refugees from Latin America and the Caribbean for fiscal year 2015 is grossly insufficient.

In June alone, more than 10,000 unaccompanied minors crossed the U.S. border and in the ten months since October 2013, nearly 63,000 children have been identified at the border.

With so few spots and so many refugees, the Times wrote on Thursday, it’s little wonder the program has failed so completely.

“We need to fix the program so that it works and so that children have a real opportunity to get protection,” said Kevin Appleby, the director of migration policy at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “They have to make the program workable. Right now, it’s not workable.”

State Department officials defended the delays, saying it was important to move slowly to avoid making mistakes. And principal deputy assistant secretary of state Simon Henshaw said the department was preparing to interview more than 400 children next month.

But that means little to children who are stuck in a violent limbo while their applications wait for processing.

“They have set up an elaborate, bureaucratic, step-by-step system,” said Limón. “The children are in danger, and they can’t wait. It’s just sad, and, I think, indefensible.”

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Ayotzinapa: an unheard cry for justice

In the end, Ayotzinapa “was the State”, inasmuch as it was, and continues to be, the result of impunity and systematic abusive practices within the various levels of government in Mexico.

By Gema Santamaria. Published 9-25-2015 at openDemocracy.

"Ayotzinapa was the state". Flickr. Some rights reserved.

“Ayotzinapa was the state”. Flickr. Some rights reserved.

One year has passed since 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Normal School in the state of Guerrero were disappeared by perpetrators whose identity remains unknown and whose crimes remain unpunished. The brutality attributed to the disappearance and alleged killing of the students, as well the covert and overt involvement of public officials and security personnel, put an end to the silence and inertia that seemed to had taken hold of Mexico.

Despite the several episodes of brutality and impunity shaking the nation over the last decade, including the mass killing of 22 civilians in Tlatlaya in the State of Mexico only two months before Ayotzinapa, no event had produced such a national sense of indignation as the disappearance of the 43 students.  Ayotzinapa shattered at once the image of stability, cohesion, and economic modernization so carefully crafted by president Peña Nieto since the moment he took office in 2012. Ayotzinapa demonstrated that violence and insecurity were far from becoming an ancillary topic in the public agenda and that despite the government’s otherwise successful economic reforms, security and justice would continue to reflect the state’s incapacity to establish the rule of law. Continue reading

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