Saturday, October 24, 2009

Detained Chiapan Peasant Leader Treated Worse Than a Drug Kingpin

Government Transferred “Don Chema” to a Federal Maximum-Security Prison

reprinted from Narco News

The way the government is treating Jose Manuel Hernandez Martinez, also known as “Don Chema,” one would think he’s the head of a drug cartel.

According to witnesses, on September 30, at least eighteen police officers—many disguised as electrical workers—kidnapped Don Chema from his home in the 28 de Junio community in Chiapas. The operation included state and federal police officers working together in a “joint” or “mixed” operation—the sort of operation that characterizes the war on drugs.

Because the agents reportedly did not identify themselves as police during the arrest, fellow members of Don Chema’s organization, the Emiliano Zapata Peasant Organization (OCEZ), followed the police’s pick-up truck in an attempt to free Don Chema.

According to witness accounts, another vehicle intercepted the truck carrying the OCEZ members. Even though the civilians were unarmed, the vehicle reportedly opened fire on the OCEZ truck, causing it to crash and allowing Don Chema’s kidnappers to get away. One of the truck’s occupants, Jordán López Aguilar, died instantly in the crash. A second man, Bayardo Hernández de la Cruz, died from his injuries on October 17. Two other men remain hospitalized.

Don Chema appeared the following day in a government press release. As it does with nearly all members of organized crime, the government included Don Chema’s mug shot (complete with two police posing next to him) in the press release. The press published Don Chema’s mugshot, as it does when the government arrests organized crime’s “Most Wanted” members.

After spending sixteen days in Chiapas’ infamous El Amate prison, Federal Police suddenly transferred Don Chema to a federal maximum-security prison in the state of Nayarit. The government did not notify Don Chema’s family nor his lawyer before transferring him.

In Nayarit, Don Chema’s fellow prisoners include the likes of Loz Zetas members (former elite Mexican soldiers and currently the Gulf cartel’s private army), members of the Beltran Leyva brothers’ drug trafficking organization, members of the La Familia criminal organization, and the 51 prison guards and officials who helped 53 Zetas escape from a Zacatecas prison, amongst other heavy-hitters in the organized crime world.

All in all, it would seem as though Don Chema is receiving typical treatment for a high-ranking member of organized crime.

But Don Chema isn’t a drug kingpin; he’s a peasant leader. His organization, the OCEZ, occupies land in order to legalize it (that is, obtain land titles) and re-distribute it amongst Chiapan peasants. While most drug kingpins live in luxurious mansions in Mexico’s most expensive neighborhoods or in beautiful, isolated mountainside ranches, Don Chema lives in small two-bedroom wood-and-asbestos house (public housing, actually) off a dirt road in the small Chiapan peasant community of 28 de Junio.

Now that Don Chema is in federal maximum-security prison, he may wish he were a drug kingpin. According to the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba), “federal maximum-security prisons are notorious for their punishment methods.” Maximum-security prisoners are kept in a near-constant state of incommunication. New arrivals such as Don Chema are often held incommunicado for 15-40 days. Prisoners may only receive visitors every eight days, and 10-minute phone calls every ten days. Depriving prisoners of their rights to phone calls and visits is a commonly used punishment.

In Nayarit, Don Chema is a 26-hour, MX$1,400 (USD$111) bus trip away from his family and the OCEZ, which has mounted a political campaign to free him. And that time and money doesn’t include the return trip. The government has offered to pay the family’s plane tickets to visit Don Chema (then again, it offered to pay the injured men’s hospital bills and never did), but it hasn’t offered to pay his lawyer’s plane tickets.

The recently released Cerezo brothers spent time in nearly every Mexican federal maximum-security prison while they were political prisoners. Hector Cerezo reports that prison guards beat new arrivals in order to “show them who’s boss.”

Hector Cerezo also reports that federal maximum-security prisons have “no school, no work, no painting, no music, no theater. The only thing they let me have was a book chosen off of a list of prison-owned books.”

In contrast, Sinaloa drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman had a decidedly different experience during his stay in a federal maximum-security prison. Mexican journalist Ricardo Ravelo writes in his book “Los Capos” that El Chapo and his closest associates enjoyed many perks. He reports that prostitutes visited the men regularly; steaks and other favorite dishes were brought in from the outside; and prison guards allowed El Chapo to string a sheet across the bars of his prison cell to give him privacy. Ravelo reports rumors that El Chapo even left the prison from time to time in order to eat out. El Chapo enjoyed so many perks inside the prison that in early 2001 he escaped without a single bullet being fired.

The way the government is treating Don Chema, it’s easy to forget that he’s not a drug kingpin, or even a lieutenant, or even a lowly corner dealer for that matter. Don Chema isn’t even charged with federal crimes; his charges are all at the state level. So why is Don Chema in a federal maximum-security prison?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Privatization Behind Calderon's Attack on Electricians Union

A Spanish Company and National Action Party Members Hope to Exploit Luz y Fuerza's Fiber Optic Network

reposted from Narco News

Martin EsparzaMexican Electrical Workers Union (SME) Secretary General Martin Esparza claims that President Felipe Calderon busted his union in order to take control of a 1,100-kilometer fiber optic network. The fiber optic network in question was built with public money and was the property of Luz y Fuerza del Centro, the government-owned electricity company that the military and federal police shut down this past weekend. The union's opposition to Calderon's agenda of cronyism and privatization is at the heart of the dispute, according to Esparza.

In an interview with the Mexican weekly Proceso, Esparza explains how politicians from the president's National Action Party (PAN) facilitated a foreign company's exploitation of Luz y Fuerza's fiber optic cable, while simultaneously stifling Luz y Fuerza's bid for a permit to utilize its own infrastructure to provide television, internet, and telephone services.

Privatization Began Years Ago

The federal government's official explanation for why it sent the military and federal police to shut down all of Luz y Fuerza's buildings in the middle of the night on October 11 is that due to poor management, Luz y Fuerza was a money pit. The pro-government, anti-union media campaign justified the overnight firing of 44,000 electrical workers and 22,000 pensioners by blaming the SME, the union that represents the company's employees, for Luz y Fuerza's alleged financial precarity. A detail the anti-union propaganda machine conveniently omits is that government-appointed administrators--not the union--set company policy. Furthermore, Mexican presidents have been bleeding the country's government-owned electricity companies dry for years.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) architects had Mexico's energy industry in their sights when they negotiated the treaty. NAFTA's Chapter Six notes that "it is desirable to strengthen the important role that trade in energy and basic petrochemical goods plays in the free trade area and to enhance this role through sustained and gradual liberalization."

As such, in May 1993--just months before NAFTA went into effect--Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gotari modified the federal Electricity Law to allow the importation and exportation of Mexico's electricity, and to allow private and foreign companies to build and operate electrical plants in Mexico. Thanks to Salinas' NAFTA-inspired reform, today dozens of foreign companies operate in Mexico's energy sector. According to former SME Secretary General Manuel Fernandez Flores, private companies currently produce almost 40% of Mexico's electricity. These private companies include Enron (now Tractebel), Bechtel, Applied Energy Services, General Electric, Westinghouse, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Siemens, Iberdrola, and Union Fenosa.

SME: First Line of Defense Against Privatization

Every president that followed Salinas has attempted to further privatize Mexico's energy sector, but the SME has always halted their plans. According to David Bacon,

Ernesto Zedillo also proposed privatizing electricity in 1999. The union formed the National Front of Resistance to the Privatization of the Electrical Industry, collected 2.3 million signatures on petitions in three weeks, and brought a million angry capitalinos into the streets. Zedillo was defeated, the first time a privatization initiative in Mexico had not succeeded.

Zedillo's successor, Vicente Fox, proposed subsidizing the construction of privately owned electric plants with Mexicans' social security fund. He also proposed that users (that is, massive companies) be allowed to produce their own electricity or purchase their electricity through contracts with private plants. Under Fox's proposal, those who chose to "opt out" of paying for the government-owned electricity companies' services would still use the public transmission grid and distribution system, whose maintenance would be paid for by those users who didn't opt out of the public system. Again, the SME mobilized against Fox's proposal and successfully defeated it.

Calderon, having learned from his predecessors' mistakes, decided to take a different approach to privatization. First, his Secretary of Labor refused to recognize the SME's recently re-elected Secretary General, Martin Esparza . Then, with 6,000 federal troops and a middle-of-the-night executive order, Calderon made the SME legally disappear. In a country where the government controls most unions, Calderon busted one of Mexico's most democratic and militant labor organizations. In doing so, he dealt a severe blow to the Mexican energy industry's first line of defense against privatization: the SME.

The Fiber Optic Network

SME Secretary General Martin Esparza explained that Calderon busted his union because the SME was actively blocking a foreign company's attempt to take control of Luz y Fuerza's fiber optic network.

Fiber optic technology provides what is commonly known as the "triple play" package: television, telephone, and internet all on the same line. All that is required is the installation of fiber optic cable on any normal domestic or low-voltage electrical line--something any electric company has in spades.

Prior to its sudden shutdown, Luz y Fuerza served 6.2 million homes and businesses, or approximately 25 million people, in central Mexico. In other words, Luz y Fuerza served almost one-quarter of the entire Mexican population. Furthermore, the area that Luz y Fuerza served--central Mexico, which includes Mexico's financial and political base of operations, the Mexico City metropolitan area--produces approximately 35% of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This means that Luz y Fuerza's infrastructure, with some upgrading, has the potential to bring fiber optic services to almost a quarter of the country's population--a population that is key to Mexico's economy. Whoever holds the monopoly on Luz y Fuerza's infrastructure holds the key to a fortune.

Luz y Fuerza's electrical grid included 1,100 km of fiber optic cable that has already been installed, which represents coverage of approximately 1% of Mexico. The rest of the grid represents an enormous potential because fiber optic technology can be installed on it.

In 1999, at the end of President Zedillo's term, Mexico's Secretary of Communications and Transportation gave the Spanish company WL Comunicaciones a permit to install, operate, and commercialize Luz y Fuerza's network in order to provide fiber optic services. The nuts and bolts of the agreement were worked out during former president Vicente Fox's administration. Fox is a member of current president Felipe Calderon's National Action Party (PAN).

In an interview with Proceso, Esparza claims that neither the government, nor Luz y Fuerza executives, nor WL Comunicaciones brought the union to the table while the three parties hammered out the agreement to exploit Luz y Fuerza's fiber optic network.

In addition to the permit it received from the federal government, WL Comunicaciones signed multiple agreements with Luz y Fuerza executives during the Fox administration. Again, the SME leadership's signatures appear nowhere on the documents.

However, all of the agreements WL Comunicaciones signed with Luz y Fuerza are null and void. One such agreement set the rent WL Comunicaciones would have paid to Luz y Fuerza for the use of its electric poles at $170 pesos per pole per year. President Fox nulled this agreement when he passed a law mandating a $50 pesos per pole per year rent. Another agreement would have granted WL Comunicaciones the use of hundreds of kilometers of Luz y Fuerza's power lines. In exchange, WL Comunicaciones would have upgraded some of Luz y Fuerza's fiber optic network, but with the strict requirement that Luz y Fuerza only use the fiber optic network for internal use--not for providing services to customers. However, Luz y Fuerza says this agreement is also invalid because WL Comunicaciones did not hold up its end of the deal.

Considering that WL Comunicaciones and Luz y Fuerza did not have any valid agreement, this past June Esparza and Luz y Fuerza director Jorge Gutierrez Vera submitted an application on behalf of Luz y Fuerza and the SME for a permit to use Luz y Fuerza's existing 1,100 km fiber optic network to provide triple play service. With their application, they submitted a study that demonstrated that Luz y Fuerza had the capacity to operate the network.

The SME/Luz y Fuerza proposal did not propose locking out WL Comunicaciones from also providing triple play service through Luz y Fuerza's grid. The SME/Luz y Fuerza proposal only applies to the existing fiber optic network, which constitutes a fraction of Luz y Fuerza's infrastructure and fiber optic potential. The government could have approved the SME/Luz y Fuerza application and still allowed WL Comunicaciones to install and operate fiber optic cable in Luz y Fuerza's power lines that don't currently have it.

But there's a problem with the SME/Luz y Fuerza proposal: because Luz y Fuerza owns the infrastructure, and because the fiber optic cable is already installed and more or less ready to be used (some relatively minor upgrades are required), granting Luz y Fuerza the right to provide its customers with triple play service would have allowed Luz y Fuerza to provide television, internet, and telephone services to its customers for a very competitive price. This would have turned a government-owned electricity company into a serious competitor with telecommunications giants Telmex and Cablevision, both of whom came to dominate their respective markets due to years-long monopolies.

The Calderon administration did not want Luz y Fuerza to take even the tiniest bite out of WL Comunicaciones' control over Luz y Fuerza's fiber optic network. Luz y Fuerza's control over its own fiber optic network (even while opening up other parts of the grid to private sector development) would have set a dangerous precedent: Calderon announced this past May that he intends to open up 21,000 km of fiber optic cable owned by Mexico's other state electric company, the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), to private bidders. If Luz y Fuerza presented a viable business proposal for operating its own fiber optic network at a lower cost to consumers, why couldn't the CFE, whose network is much more extensive, do the same?

So Calderon's Secretary of Communications and Transportation ignored the SME/Luz y Fuerza permit request in order to give WL Comunicaciones free reign over Luz y Fuerza's fiber optic network. But the plan hit a snag. Esparza says, "I told [President Calderon]: 'Do you want this [WL Comunicaciones deal] to go forward? Then give us our permit. If you don't give it to us, we won't let them in." The Secretary of Communications and Transportation continued to ignore the SME/Luz y Fuerza application, and Esparza kept his word. He gave the order to his union members to not let WL Comunicaciones employees onto Luz y Fuerza property to install fiber optic cable and operate the network. WL Comunicaciones has been trying to access Luz y Fuerza's network since May 2008; SME workers haven't let them touch it.

Calderon's middle-of-the-night raid on Luz y Fuerza and the subsequent lockout of SME workers highlights a glaring contradiction: If the federal government shut down Luz y Fuerza because it was insolvent, why did the government ignore a viable business proposal that could have turned Luz y Fuerza into a telecommunications powerhouse? Why did it sic almost 6,000 soldiers and federal police on unionized government workers, just to open up public infrastructure to a private Spanish company? Perhaps Calderon has gone to such extremes to defend WL Comunicaciones because three very prominent members of his political party, the PAN, have major stakes in the company:

  • PAN member and former Secretary of Energy under the Fox administration, Fernando Canales Clariond, is a major shareholder;
  • PAN member and former Secretary of Energy under the Fox administration, Ernesto Martens, is also a major shareholder; and
  • Lawyer Diego Fernandez de Cevallos, currently one of the most influential and conservative politicians in the PAN (he's said to have hand-picked a significant number of Calderon's cabinet members), is WL Comunicaciones' legal representation in its fight with the SME over the fiber optic network.

Photo: SME Secretary General Martin Esparza addresses students and faculty at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) on October 15. The SME supported UNAM students during their 1999-2000 strike, so Esparza asked students to support the SME now. Photo by Santiago Navarro Francisco.

Military and Federal Police "Kidnap" Electricians to Put them to Work

Federal Agents Take Them By Force to Power Stations with Problems

by Patricia Muñoz and Fabiola Martinez, La Jornada
reposted from Narco News

Workers "are being kidnapped" by federal forces in order to force them to "cooperate" with the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) in power stations that have problems providing electricity to customers, denounced the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME).

"The federal government's disgrace and desperation has become intolerable, and our patience is wearing thin" because the Federal Police (PF) and the Military go to workers' homes to "detain them and force them to work in order to confront the widespread power outages that the CFE engineers have been completely incapable of resolving," said SME spokesman Fernando Amezcua.

In its third day of struggle against the shutdown of Luz y Fuerza del Centro (LFC), the union warned that the federal government is also trying to accuse the union of acts of "sabotage" in order to take legal action against movement leaders.

In this series of actions that they describe as intimidation, they also warned that the Ministry of Energy is sending "invitations" to workers' homes to pressure them to accept a severance package. These documents point out that there will only be an additional bonus for those "who accept severance before November 14."

The leaders said that, faced with this threat, they are prepared to file over 66,000 individual injunctions on behalf of active and retired workers against the presidential decree that left them unemployed.

Even when the SME's protest in front of Congress was cancelled because the Secretary of Labor, Javier Lozano, did not go to San Lazaro [where Congress meets], rank-and-file workers protested on their own accord, and yesterday they carried out a full day of actions in the country's central zone.

Around the union headquarters, workers held informational rallies all day in order to communicate to all workers that they should not accept the envelopes with their severance packages that the CFE is sending to their homes; they organized by local in order to spread information and flier; they intermittently blocked Insurgentes Ave.; and they set up registration tables for the injunctions.

Inside the headquarters, the work of lobbying and coordinating solidarity became tense when news arrived of "persecution, harassment, and attempted kidnappings" of union workers in order to force them to work on the automated network that supplies [Mexico City's] Historical Center, on electric poles, and also in substations.

That is why, at about 5pm, some of the union leaders moved to housing located in Cuautitlan in the State of Mexico. Juan Antonio Gomez was one of the workers that federal police tried to take by force. For that reason his compañeros had to hide him, says Amezcua. He says that such harassment has occurred in neighborhoods where many electricians live, such as La Aurora, Las Garzas, La Piedad, and San Juan de Aragon.

He pointed out that these actions mean that the CFE directors' and [President] Felipe Calderon's claim that electrical service is working as normal is a lie.

Moreover, workers from the Cables-Bolivar area denounced that engineers are being offered 25 thousand pesos to go to stations that have problems, such as Coapa and Taxqueña. "But there's no scabs here." They mentioned engineer Carlos Guerra as one of those who received the financial offer.

In yesterday's protest, a "guide to personal resistance strategies" was distributed because the struggle will be long and difficult. They call upon the electrical workers to not succumb to the "carrot of rehire."

The guide points out that even with empty pockets, workers have their dignity and will not accept "stale crusts in the form of bonuses." It proposes that the union workers reduce their family expenses and try to find interim work. It also suggests that, for the moment, they sell some of their assets, such as their cars, in order to pay debts or credits and that they hold garage sales.

They announced that a collection site has already been opened to receive the solidarity and help that organizations wish to send. The collection site is located in the SME's Technical School in Lisboa 46, colonia Juarez. Help began to arrive yesterday.

In the morning assembly some electricians' wives organized themselves to look for Felipe Calderon's wife, Margarita Zavala, to request that she intervene in their problem. Thursday's march is also being organized; the union has requested that protesters not bring their children because it cannot rule out the presence of infiltrators nor repression.

This morning a rumor circulated that the union had issued a communique where it allegedly claimed that 21 workers sent by the CFE to operate LFC power stations had died. However, the SME denied that it had sent out that information.

Translated for Narco News by Kristin Bricker

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Military, Federal Police Bust Mexican Electrical Workers Union

Calderon Uses 6,000 Federal Agents to Fire Over 44,000 Luz y Fuerza Workers
source: Narco News

SME workers protest
Mexican Electrical Workers Union members protest the summary firing of 44,000 members. Photo: La Jornada

In the middle of the night last Saturday, President Felipe Calderon sent six thousand soldiers and militarized Federal Police to take over state power company Luz y Fuerza installations in Mexico City and the states of Mexico, Puebla, Morelos, and Hidalgo. Immediately following the takeover, Calderon issued an executive order closing Luz y Fuerza. Because no law or decree can go into effect until it is published in the federal government's Official Diary of the Federation, the government published the executive order in a special edition of the Official Diary of the Federation to coincide with the military and police raids that closed Luz y Fuerza.

Mexican legal experts have criticized Calderon's action as illegal, unconstitutional, and "an excessive and abusive use of power" because he by-passed Congress when he decided to close Luz y Fuerza and deploy the military and police against workers.

The government's official justification for closing Luz y Fuerza is that the company's operating expenses exceed those of other state-owned companies. It claims its use of the military and militarized federal police was a pre-emptive strike: it wanted to prevent workers from striking, taking control of the facilities, and cutting off power in protest of the closing of Luz y Fuerza. However, a week prior to the police and military takeover, the union specifically stated in a press release that it had no intentions of striking nor cutting off power to electricity customers.

However, Mexican Labor News & Analysis' Dan La Botz has a different perspective on the government's intentions:

This current threat is the latest in a series of attacks on the union by the government of Felipe Calderón.The Felipe Calderón administration, having spent three years trying to destroy the Mexican Miners and Metal Workers Union (SNTMMRM), has now opened a new front in its war on the working class. In September the government launched a multifaceted attack intended to destroy the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME) which has been at the center of resistance to its neoliberal programs.

The government's attack has several elements. First, the government is supporting a small dissident faction within the union, using that as an opportunity to meddle in the union's internal life with the goal of breaking its militant leadership. Second, the government, which is also the employer, has reduced the budget for the state-owned Central Light and Power Company (LFC). Third, the government is also calling for a change in company management and for the complete restructuring of the company.

La Botz also notes that the Mexican government officially refused to recognize the union's president, Martin Esparza Flores, following his recent re-election. According to La Botz,

In practice, these administrative procedures (which are nowhere found in Mexican labor law) are used against independent or democratic unions or against unions opposing government policies, and almost never against government backed, employer controlled or gangster-run unions. Without government approved and recognized officers, the union officials cannot engage in collective bargaining or other union activities, leaving the union officially leaderless.

With Luz y Fuerza officially non-existant, the governmental Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) has announced that it is sending thousands of its employees to run Luz y Fuerza until CFE can absorb Luz y Fuerza's operations entirely. Prior to the takeover, Luz y Fuerza ran electricity operations in central Mexico: in Mexico City and the states of Mexico, Puebla, Morelos, and Hidalgo. The CFE provided electricity to the rest of the country.

La Botz argues that the CFE takeover means that the independent and democratic 44,000-worker SME will be replaced by the government-controlled Sole Union of Mexican Electrical Workers (SUTERM), which represents CFE workers. In Mexico, government-controlled unions are the norm, and independent democratic unions are a rarity.

In an article written just before the military and police takeover of Luz y Fuerza, La Botz wrote:

Calderón's administration has two motives in its attack on the SME. First, it wants to break the SME because it has been the center of so many movements resisting the Calderón government, its neoliberal policies, and particularly its plans to privatize the petroleum and electric power industries. Second, Calderón wants specifically to privatize the electrical industry, including the Central Light and Power Company, and to do so it must break the power of the SME.


While government officials have promised that they won't take advantage of the Luz y Fuerza takeover to privatize the electricity sector, the Calderon administration's political trajectory states otherwise.

The Calderon administration participated whole-heartedly in the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), a private sector strategy to expand and "arm" the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) without having to obtain domestic legislatures' approval. As of this past summer, the SPP is no longer an active initiative; however, several of the SPP's working groups, comprised of private sector industry leaders, will continue to meet. The North American Energy Working Group (NAEWG), for example, pre-dated the SPP by four years. It met within the SPP framework to develop and advance SPP energy policy and procedures. The NAEWG is likely to continue to operate in some form despite the SPP's official and indefinite "inactivity."

Indeed, despite the tabling of the SPP initiative, North American energy interests met over the summer to develop regional energy corridors that would increase the flow of energy from neighboring countries into the United States.

The SPP's view of energy management is clear. According to the SPP's "Prosperity Agenda," in order to "facilitate business," Canada, Mexico, and the United States must "strengthen North America's energy markets by working together, according to our respective legal frameworks, to increase reliable energy supplies for the region's needs and development." Energy, according to the SPP, rather can being used for human development (providing every citizen with electricity in their homes, for example), must increase the business sector's prosperity. Energy is a market, not a national resource.

The North American Competitiveness Council (NACC), which coordinated the SPP's working groups, stated one of its principle energy concerns in its initial recommendations. The NACC, which was comprised of equal numbers of private sector representatives from Mexico, Canada, and the US, wrote, "The prosperity of the United States relies heavily on a secure supply of imported energy."

What does the North American energy agenda mean for Mexico? In Mexico, a significant sector of the population does not have electricity and other basic utilities in their homes. Entire communities lack electric service. Some of Mexico's poorest indigenous communities pay some of the highest electricity rates on the North American continent.

Even though Mexico's electricity sector has not reached a basic level of functionality at the domestic level (electricity for every citizen), Mexican leaders have decided to enter into regional agreements such as Plan Puebla Panama (now the Mesoamerican Project) and the SPP, which aim to increase energy flows into the United States, not vice-versa.

Mexico's energy sector, as it is currently structured, runs entirely counter to the SPP's Prosperity Agenda. Mexico's energy companies are state-owned. Some energy sector unions, such as the Pemex oil workers union and the SME, have actively opposed the further privatization of the nation's energy resources, which is commonly considered to be an SPP goal in Mexico. La Botz notes that the SME formed the National Front Against Privatization. Pemex, on the other hand, recently (more or less) survived a Calderon initiative to privatize the Mexican oil sector.

Militarizing Mexican Life

Calderon's Saturday night invasion of Luz y Fuerza's facilities in the capital and four states is reminiscent of other recent joint police-military operations against drug cartels. Since Calderon deployed 40,000 soldiers and thousands of militarized Federal Police, one of the campaign's hallmark operations has been the sudden takeover of police stations in towns and cities where drug trafficking organizations are believed to have corrupted entire police forces. In these operations, soldiers and federal police surround a police station, relieve the local police officers of their duties, and occupy the building. When 6,000 soldiers and federal police suddenly invaded Luz y Fuerza's buildings and then occupied them to prevent the workers from retaking the facilities, one would have thought that Luz y Fuerza was a drug cartel's base of operations. But it wasn't.

Mexico is becoming increasingly militarized under the pretext provided by the war on drugs. Mexican citizens are becoming correspondingly desensitized to such blatant displays of state military power in the civilian realm. Mexico's Constitution expressly prohibits the military's use in times of peace; however, this was not Mexicans' principle criticism of the operation against Luz y Fuerza. Mexicans consulted by this reporter complained that the operation was a blow to the country's democratic unions, as well as a step towards privatization of the energy sector. When this reporter commented on the barbarity of deploying the military and riot police against a civilian union--one that wasn't even on strike, as if that were to justify such represion--the response was, "Tienes razon. You're right. I hadn't even considered that."

The use of the military and the Federal Police--who receive military training--against unions is fairly common in Mexico. The military and the Federal Police (formerly known as the Federal Preventive Police or PFP) have been deployed against striking miners and teachers. Likewise, in 2006 federal police violently put down social conflicts in Oaxaca and Atenco, both of which had their roots in labor disputes.

Both the Mexican Military and the Federal Police receive training, equipment, and armament from the United States government under the Merida Initative. The Merida Initiative is designed in part to carry out the Security and Prosperity Partnership's "Security Agenda."

Federal Police occupy a Luz y Fuerza building. Photo: La Jornada

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mexico "Anarcho-Bombings" Spark Student Witch Hunt

Government Uses the Explosions Against Leftist Strongholds on University Campuses

source: Narco News

Throughout the month of September, over ten bombs were placed in banks, a car dealership, a luxury clothing store, a small police station, and an animal testing laboratory in Mexico City and the states of Guanajuato, Nayarit, and Jalisco. Most exploded; no injuries were reported.

Self-proclaimed anarchists and animal liberationists claimed responsibility for the bombings via postings on the Internet. The organizations that supposedly carried out the bombings were unknown prior to the bombings, with one exception: the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). The ALF is comprised of individuals or cells who do not know each other, but who use the same name and share the same goal: animal liberation through direct action. Due to its lack of a formal structure, any person (or government agent) can commit property destruction in the name of the ALF.

The timing of the bombings is significant for several reasons. First, Mexico celebrated 199 years of independence from Spain on September 15. On that same date, they also commemorated the one-year anniversary of the Independence Day grenade attacks in Morelia that killed eight people and left over 100 injured.

The bombings also occurred on the eve of two important dates: October 2 and the year 2010. Every October 2, students and young people march in cities all over the country to commemorate the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre in which the Mexican military shot and bayonetted hundreds or thousands of student protesters to death in Mexico City.

2010, on the other hand, is widely predicted to be a volatile year in Mexico. It will mark 200 years since Mexican independence and 100 years since the Mexican revolution. Assuming that since thus far monumental uprisings have occurred every 100 years since the founding of the country, Mexico's activists sport t-shirts and paint graffiti that says, "See you in 2010." Predictably, 2010’s potential volatility has the government on high alert. Due to the timing of the "anarcho-bombings" and these dates' importance to both Mexicans and the government, the bombings have only served to further increase tension in the lead-up to 2010.

If these bombings were indeed carried out by anti-capitalist activists as the Internet communiqués claim, they have failed to achieve their stated goal of inflicting monetary damage against capitalism. The targets were almost certainly insured, nullifying the tens of thousands of pesos in monetary damage the communiqués claim was inflicted against "capital."

The negative consequences of the bombings, however, are becoming painfully apparent. The federal government has seized upon the opportunity to further infringe on the sacred autonomy of Mexico's universities.

Autonomous Universities

Since the founding of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City in 1910, students and the government have engaged in an ongoing battle for students' and university workers' right to run their university as they see fit--without government imposition, infringement, and most importantly, repression. Autonomous universities have the right to manage their own budgets and appoint their own rectors and regents. It is also expressly prohibited that police or the military enter university campuses for any reason without the rector's permission. Likewise, the police and intelligence agencies do not have access to students' academic records or biographical information.

University autonomy has afforded students and the university community a greater degree of freedom to form political organizations on campus than they would normally have off-campus. For example, pirate radio stations operate on autonomous university campuses across the country. From these campus stations, students and non-students alike broadcast music, political opinion, and other free speech without fear that federal agents will raid their booth and seize their equipment. Likewise, students hold on-campus fundraisers for political organizations that they couldn't as easily hold off-campus.

Expanded political freedoms on autonomous campuses has allowed the university community to organize at a level that is more difficult elsewhere. For this reason, students often play important roles social struggles, even armed ones. Many members of the National Liberation Forces (FLN), which later merged with southern indigenous organizations to become the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), were students in autonomous universities. The man the Mexican government accuses of being the Zapatistas' Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, Rafael Sebastián Guillén Vicente, was a UNAM student and university professor at the Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM).

Even today, students at autonomous universities continue to provide support to insurgent organizations. Many of the collectives that worked together to organize the Zapatistas' latest gathering, the Festival of Dignified Rage, are based on autonomous campuses. When Subcomandante Marcos traveled the country in 2006 to meet with Mexican social organizations, many meetings occurred in autonomous universities, both because of the support the Zapatistas enjoy there, and also because the universities' autonomy provided the insurgent leader with a relative degree of protection. The UNAM is also home to several organizations that organize events in support of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

None of this information about students' involvement in social struggles is secret. The government is aware of students' central role in Mexico's rich social movements, and has been trying to counter students' power and organization for decades. However, one of the principal barriers between student organizers and the government has been the protection provided by their universities' autonomy.

Students: Public Enemy #1

Even before the government had identified suspects in the anarcho-bombings, it knew that it wanted students to take the blame. On September 10--after only two of ten bombings had occurred--Mexico City's Attorney General told La Jornada, "The information we have is that these groups--be they real groups or just people trying to intimidate--are comprised of very young people." The Attorney General's lack of concrete information about the groups that planted the bombs and his simultaneous assertion that whoever they are, they must be young, is suspicious. He also told La Jornada that police were "very much on alert for another possible event." Seven other bomb-related "events" occurred after his statement.

On September 30, the police arrested a young man it claims perpetrated six of the bombings that occurred in Mexico City. Federal agents snatched Ramses Villareal Gomez, a 27-year-old Mexico City university student, and put a bag over his head before they took him to the Federal Attorney General's Office. Police searched his mother's house, reportedly stealing cash and two computers. Villareal Gomez reports that during the interrogation following his arrest, police demanded that he tell them who threw the bombs or they would rape his wife when they searched her home.

Police immediately attempted to paint Villareal as a student-terrorist. They claimed that when they searched his home following his arrest, they found a 22 caliber rifle, a pistol, explosives, and documentation linking him to a "subversive" movement.

The government propaganda machine sprung into action, linking Villareal Gomez's alleged "terrorist activities" with his active role in student organizations. Following Villareal Gomez's arrest for the bombings, the press screamed that Villareal Gomez had a "record": federal police arrested him and 250 other striking students in 2000 when they attempted to take over a high school as part of the historic UNAM strike. Villareal Gomez participated in the 1999-2000 student strike as part of the UNAM's General Strike Council, which coordinated strike activities. At that time, UNAM and high school students around the country struck against the International Monetary Fund's imposition of tuition in the UNAM as part of Mexico's structural adjustment. The strike successfully blocked the tuition increase, and today tuition at the UNAM costs 25 centavos (about 2 US cents) per semester and is voluntary.

The UNAM expelled Gomez Villareal in 2004 for "breaking university rules" when he participated in the takeover of a public high school with dozens of other students.

The government has also publicly accused Villareal of supporting the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). It claims he was the link between pro-FARC organizations in his former alma mater, the UNAM, and his current alma mater, the Autonomous Metropolitan University, also located in Mexico City. Villareal Gomez's lawyer does not deny that Villareal Gomez particpated in FARC solidarity as a student. "It's not a crime," the lawyer says.

On October 2, a judge ordered that the government release Vilareal Gomez. The judge ruled that the arrest of Villareal Gomez was illegal due to lack of sufficient evidence against him. Following his release, the Federal Police had to admit that they were "mistaken" in claiming that they had found weapons, explosives, and incriminating documents in Villareal Gomez's house. Villareal Gomez's lawyer is now preparing to file charges against the interrogators for psychological torture.

Despite the fact that Villareal Gomez's legal problems are temporarily behind him, the government has used his short detention to begin a witch-hunt against students and the organizations they support.

If the government had been able to convict Villareal Gomez for the bombings, it would have been a devastating blow to student organizations, because a conviction would have facilitated further legal harassment of student organizers and the non-student organizations they support.

Nonetheless, the investigation into the bombing remains open, and the government has made it clear that it plans to take advantage of the bombing investigation in order to spy on and hunt down student and social organizations. The government's false claims that Villareal Gomez was in possession of firearms and explosives, combined with his real and alleged links to student organizations, have justified legal harassment of and spying on student organizations and social movements. After all, the government argues, they are allegedly linked to terrorists.

The government may have never wanted a conviction in the Villareal Gomez case. It had very little evidence against him, and the evidence it did have against him--firearms and explosives in his home--was invented by the Federal Police in order to justify his detention for 3 days. But the government wanted to use Villareal Gomez to attack the student organizations he participated in, so it arrested him. Assistant Attorney General for International Affairs, Juan Miguel Alcantara Soria, told La Cronica de Hoy, "We've been investigating this young man for a long time. We have information about his links to certain groups."

The Colombia Connection

There is speculation that police arrested Villareal Gomez in order to incriminate a more important target: Lucia Morett, the young UNAM student who survived Colombia's bombing of FARC targets in Ecuador. Four other Mexican students lost their lives in the bombing, along with 25 other people, including important FARC targets. Due to the bombing, Morett is now the center of an international controversy that has turned into a witch-hunt against leftist academics.

Following the Ecuador bombing, Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe stepped up bilateral cooperation on combating drug trafficking and terrorism. They reinvigorated the High-Level Group for Security and Justice Mexico-Colombia, created under the Fox administration, and added terrorism to its agenda. The High-Level Group for Security and Justice Mexico-Colombia facilitates bilateral cooperation on terrorism and drug trafficking, including intelligence-sharing. Following the latest High-Level Group meeting, Uribe told press, "Both countries are developing an intense cooperation in security matter, which includes exchanging information and police training."

This bilateral cooperation is already bearing fruit for the two governments. Colombia has further extended the reach in its campaign against the FARC to the organization's alleged supporters in Mexico. Mexico, on the other hand, has used the pretext of "combating terrorism" to increase spying and legal harassment in its autonomous universities.

This past May the Mexican government sent a chilling message to leftist academics in autonomous universities when it summarily deported Colombian professor Miguel Angel Beltran Villegas. At the time of his deportation, Beltran was carrying out post-doctoral research in the UNAM. Uribe requested that Mexico extradite Beltran to Colombia, accusing him of being a FARC leader. Mexican immigration official, without carrying out the necessary deportation procedures required by Mexican law, detained Beltran without warning, refused to allow his lawyer access to him prior to being deported, covered his head with his own shirt, and put him on a plane to Colombia. Beltran is currently being held in a Colombian prison. The Mexican academic community decried Beltran’s expulsion from the country without the necessary legal procedures.

In requesting Beltran's extradition, the Colombian government claimed that, in addition to being a FARC leader, Beltran taught Morett in the UNAM.

The anarcho-bombings dossier claims that Ramses Villareal Gomez was also in contact with Morett, which his lawyer denies. Nonetheless, Morett's inclusion in the case dossier increases international pressure for her extradition. In September (while the anarcho-bombings were being carried out), Interpol published that Morett is "Wanted" for the crimes of organized crime, transnational crime, and terrorism in Colombia. On October 9, in an interview with the Mexican newspaper Milenio, Ecuador's Attorney General renewed his demand that Mexico extradite Morett. Morett remains in hiding in Mexico.

Investigation Targets: APPO and Atenco

According to the case dossier, the Mexican government has identified fifteen other suspects in the so-called anarcho-bombings. La Jornada reports that all fifteen suspects are student leaders in public universities and high schools such as the UNAM, the UAM, and the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN). In a confidential report prepared for the bombing investigation, Mexico's domestic intelligence agency, the National Security Investigations Center (Cisen) has included information about the suspects that dates back at least four years. None of the suspects are over 26 years old.

Villeareal Gomez says that the police showed him pictures of several of the suspects. According to Villareal Gomez, police offered him "protected witness" status--which would have kept him out of jail--if he testified against the young people in the pictures. If he didn't cooperate, he would face 40 years in jail and they would rape his wife, the police reportedly told him.

La Cronica de Hoy reports that the case dossier links the young suspects with organizations such the People's Front in Defense of the Land (FPDT) in Atenco (referred to in La Cronica as the "machete-wielders from Atenco"), the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO), the UNAM General Strike Council, and "national and international insurgent organizations." According to La Cronica, the suspects tend to participate in "confrontations with police, school building occupations, protests, and highway blockades." They also tend to wave Colombian flags with FARC logos, organize discussions about Marxism, and defend Mexico's national energy industry and free education. The suspects are known for shouting phrases such as "Against Yankee Imperialism," and they tend to like Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, according to the dossier.

None of the newspapers that have obtained copies of the case dossier have reported what concrete evidence (aside from being leftists) the government has against the suspects. La Jornada notes that the police claim an anonymous tip led them to Ramses: they say someone put newspaper clippings about the bombing with the name “Ramses” written on one of them in an anonymous tip deposit box. According to La Jornada, “From that name that was provided anonymously, the investigators in charge of the case used the Internet to search for and find photographs of Villareal Gomez protesting against bullfighting, as well as information about the student’s detention during the last UNAM strike, as well as information about his activism in the General Strike Council and his expulsion from Mexico’s flagship public university.”

A few days later, La Jornada published the revelation that the young man in the bullfighting protest photo was not Villareal Gomez, but rather a different student activist. Villareal Gomez says that during his interrogation, police told him that they knew all along that it was not him in the photo. The police reportedly told him, “We already know that this isn’t you, and that your name isn’t among the list of protesters who were detained in the Plaza de los Toros. The boy in the photo is Victor Cilia. Say that he placed the bombs and nothing will happen to you; you’ll be a protected witness.”

Villareal Gomez may be out of jail, but the case remains open. The dossier is proof that the government plans to use the investigation to go after some of Mexico’s most important social organizations through the student leaders that support them.

Fernando Leon provided additional research for this article.

Six Ideas for Re-thinking the War in Mexico

The Security Situation has Worsened, and Mexicans are Desperate for Policy Change... Any Policy Change

by Sabina Berman, Proceso
source: Narco News

All debate ends when the first gunshots are fired. When the boots of the first battalion hit a city's streets, a forced silence falls over the civilians. A fearful silence that entails two hopes:

First: God willing, the best will win the war and it will be quick. Second: Whoever wins, let it be quick.

This is a universal effect of war that expectedly occurred in Mexico three years ago, when the current administration sent the Mexican Military to the cities, defying the very definition of war.

War is a rapid and intense movement of soldiers and tools of destruction in order to achieve a rapid objective.

But in light of the results (the escalation--rather than reduction--of robbery, extortion, and kidnapping of the civilian population), another normal effect of war is occurring:

Being that war's goal is a rapid result, if war is prolonged for more than three years it devolves into something else.

Typically, war devolves into a daily and confusing slaughter. It installs itself as a barbaric form of life where civilization has lost. Therefore, inevitably, another rule that every war entails:

The longer a war goes on, the more unpopular it becomes.

Ask the people of Juarez, who received the Mexican Military with jubilation, if they still want soldiers on their streets. Ask the people of Monterrey. Ask the people of Morelia.

Now they yearn for the old status quo, which was bad, because this is worse. The opinion is widespread: As bad as cartels fighting amongst themselves might be, it is now coupled with two other bad things. The cartels have been "dehumanized;" that is, their violence has become blind. And the Military, supposed agent of civilized life, is violating both civilians' and criminals' human rights.

In other words, for millions of Mexicans the so-called war has turned into a way of life amidst extreme violence.

A State that places all of its power in the Military ought to know that if it doesn't win the war, it will be declared impotent.

That's what's happening in the militarized cities: the Military's persistence in the streets while daily life is getting worse seems to demonstrate the State's incompetence, and the people become demoralized and drown in desperation. Now there's no one to turn to, say the people of Juarez. If the Military failed, nothing can fix this.

Well, that's not true. The Mexican Military has not failed because it lacks the capacity to fight wars. It has failed because it lacks a strategy to use its military superiority.

The Mexican Military has been sent to cities without broad and clear objectives. It has literally been sent to "occupy territory" and almost nothing else. In fact, it has been prohibited to use its maximum ability to fight wars.

With its tanks parked and its bazookas confined to barracks, the military is used as a kind of extraordinary police for concrete missions, where it tends to have rapid success. But later the soldiers are returned to "not doing anything" in the streets. Yes: to simply occupy them.

In Juarez they are seen futilely strolling down the sunny streets. They are seen pulling over drivers because they aren't wearing their seatbelts. They have been seen making a U-turn over a traffic island in order to avoid confrontation with a convoy of narco vehicles.

One night in Juarez, I saw how the soldiers took shelter in a hotel, with explicit orders to do so, while narcos were shooting at each other in the street.

For how much longer will the generals tolerate being used as emergency police by politicians who know nothing about war? For how much longer will they tolerate the strain on their prestige and trust? For how much longer will this war without strategy continue?

Which brings us to a fact of war that has been proven a thousand times:

It is not the most numerous and best-armed group that necessarily wins a war; rather, it is the group that is best articulated and most sure of its objective.

Even after three years of war, nobody knows what the State's objective is--not even the Military or the government knows.

Eliminate robbery, kidnapping, and extortion of the civilian population? That's an objective that all civilians appear to agree with.

Completely eradicate drug trafficking? Get rid of every single criminal? Those are two objectives that appear to be impossible given the drug trafficking industry's monetary value: $40 billion dollars annually according to a statistic recently published in the United States. Moreover, there is an enormous reserve of people who appear to be willing to take the place of the dead in the narcos' ranks. These are two objectives that even the US government rules out in practice in its own confrontation with drug trafficking, where instead it attacks drug dealers and crimes against civilians.

Or to find a new equilibrium between crime and the State, in favor of the State, and drawing the line on crimes (no more kidnappings and extortion of civilians)?

That's an objective that even organized crime seems to be willing to accept, according to what can be deduced from what Servando "La Tuta" Gomez, head of the La Familia cartel, said when he called for peace dialogues on television in Morelia this past August 15.

With great manliness, the Secretary of the Interior replied that same day: "The government does not make pacts with narcos." One would have hoped that, out of respect for what is viable and out of respect for other people's lives, he would have first consulted with residents of Mexico's militarized cities.

Translated by Kristin Bricker

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

OCEZ Leader Disappeared in Chiapas

Neighbors Suspect Police Kidnapped "El Chema" and Will Kill Him
source: Narco News

September 30 -- Early this morning, people dressed as members of the Mexican Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) kidnapped Jose Manuel Hernandez Martinez, aka "El Chema." El Chema is one of the leaders of the Emiliano Zapata Peasant Organization (OCEZ). His whereabouts remain unknown, and fellow OCEZ members fear that he will be killed. Members of the organization believe that police kidnapped El Chema, although the kidnappers never identified themselves other than as CFE employees.

According to information that OCEZ member Jose Manuel de la Torre provided to Narco News, the OCEZ believes that El Chema's kidnapping is in retaliation for a successful land occupation and hunger strike that 13 OCEZ members held this past July. As a result of the hunger strike, the Chiapan government agreed to legalize 215 hectares of the occupied lands. The government handed the legalized lands over to OCEZ members two weeks ago.

Details of the Kidnapping

According to de la Torre, men dressed in CFE uniforms arrived in the 28 de Julio community, where El Chema lives, to ask residents if they had any problems with their electricity, or if the CFE could help them in any way.

Today at midnight, ten men in CFE uniforms arrived in 28 de Julio in a CFE pickup truck. Community residents recognized some of the men as the same ones who had arrived 15 days ago. The men in CFE uniforms asked for El Chema, saying that they wanted to know if there was any problem with the community's electricity.

When the men dressed in CFE uniforms located El Chema, he was with ejido leader Maximino Perez Rodriguez. The men in CFE uniforms kidnapped both El Chema and Perez Rodriguez. The kidnappers drove the CFE truck to the Laguna Verde ranch, located about five minutes from 28 de Julio. In Laguna Verde they transferred El Chema to a gray pickup truck that was waiting in that community. The gray pickup truck was filled with eight men dressed completely in black who had covered their faces with balaclavas. Before driving off, the kidnappers dumped Perez Rodriguez by the side of the road, only taking El Chema with them.

Laguna Verde residents, aware of the kidnapping in progress, jumped into a pickup truck and attempted to stop the kidnappers. The residents' truck reportedly crashed under unknown circumstances, killing one resident and injuring several others. The kidnappers managed to escape with El Chema.

El Chema's whereabouts are currently unknown, meaning that he has been "disappeared." OCEZ members suspect that the kidnappers are police because they had access to a federal government truck and uniforms. They fear that the kidnappers will kill El Chema.

Government Persecution of El Chema

El Chema's effectiveness as a community organizer in the Venustiano Carranza region of Chiapas has made him the frequent target of government repression.

The government falsely accused El Chema of murder and detained him in 1984. Amnesty International adopted him as a "prisoner of conscience," and he was freed in 1985.

The government has also informally accused El Chema of being the Popular Revolutionary Army's (EPR's) contact in Chiapas. In February 2008, federal agents detained and tortured Chiapan math teacher Felipe Hernández Yuena and his 5-year-old son. During the interrogation, the torturers asked him, "Do you belong to the EPR? Do you know EPR leaders? Do you know José Manuel Hernández Martínez, aka El Chema?"

The government has never presented any formal accusations, nor any proof, that El Chema belongs to the EPR. As Narco News has documented, the government has been known to accuse effective community organizers of belonging to the EPR, which is a clandestine insurgent organization. By accusing community organizers or community leaders of belonging to the EPR, the government justifies repression, kidnapping, torture, and judicial railroading of these important community figures.

El Chema insists that he does not belong to the EPR. However, there's plenty of proof that he is a dangerous man to the government, even though he hasn't taken up arms. His organization has defended single mothers who wish to sell vegetables in roadside stands, and it has successfully pressured the government to legalize lands for peasant communities that had never before legally owned the land they worked. The OCEZ's primary tactic for land recuperation is to occupy lands and then pressure the government to legalize them (that is, give titles to the peasants occupying the lands). Since the Zapatista uprising in 1994, Chiapas has been the site of constant low-intensity warfare, and control of land and territory is at the center of the battle. Even though El Chema and the OCEZ have never used firearms to occupy land, the mere fact that they are successfully taking control of territory in Chiapas and putting it in the hands of peasants places them squarely in the middle of a war.

As a result of its work, OCEZ has suffered detentions, disappearances, and government aggression. In 2008, when the military and police entered Zapatista territory under the cover of anti-drug operations, it also entered OCEZ territory. In a July interview, El Chema reported that his organization has suffered 37 assassinations since its founding and currently has over a dozen outstanding arrest warrants, all poltically motivated.

4:30 pm Update: OCEZ is requesting that supporters contact the following authorities to demand that Jose Manuel Hernandez Martinez, aka "El Chema," be presented and released.

  • Mexican Mission to the United Nations in Geneva
    16, Avenue du Budé.
    1202, Ginebra, Case postale 433.
    FAX: + 41 22 748 07 08

  • Señor Presidente Felipe de Jesús Calderón Hinojosa
    Residencia Oficial de los Pinos
    Casa Miguel Alemán
    Col. San Miguel Chapultepec
    C.P. 11850, México DF.
    FAX: + 52 5552772376
    Tel.: + 52 5527891100 / + 52 5527891113

  • Licenciado Fernando Francisco Gómez-Mont Urueta, Secretario de Gobernación
    Bucareli 99, 1er. piso
    Col. Juárez, Delegación Cuauhtémoc
    México D.F., C.P. 06600
    Fax: +52 55 5093 3414

  • Procuraduría General de la República
    Paseo de la Reforma nº 211-213, Piso 16
    Col. Cuauhtémoc
    México D.F., C.P. 06500
    Fax: +52 55 53 46 09 08 (if someone answers the phone, say: "tono de fax, por favor")

  • Licenciado Mauricio E. Montes de Oca Durán
    Unidad para la promoción y defensa de los derechos humanos SEGOB
    Av. Paseo de la Reforma 99, Piso 19
    Tabacalera, Cuauhtémoc
    Distrito Federal, 06030
    Tel: +52 55 51 28 00 Ext: 11863

  • Dr. José Luis Soberanes Fernández
    Presidente de la Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos

  • Lic. Juan José Sabines Guerrero Gobernador Constitucional del Estado de Chiapas
    Palacio de Gobierno del Estado de Chiapas
    Av. Central y Primera Oriente, Colonia Centro, C. P. 29009
    Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, México
    Fax: +52 961 61 88088 / + 52 961 6188056

  • Licenciado Juan Gabriel Coutiño Gómez,
    Magistrado Presidente del Tribunal Superior de Justicia, Palacio de Justicia
    Libramiento Norte Oriente No.2100
    Fraccionamiento El Bosque,
    C.P. 20047 Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas
    Tel-Fax: + 52 (961) 617 87 00; + 52 (961) 616 53 50

  • Licenciado Raciel López Salazar
    Procurador General de Justicia de Chiapas
    Libramiento Norte Y Rosa Del Oriente, No. 2010
    Col. El Bosque,
    C.P. 29049
    Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas.
    Teléfono: + 52 (961) 616 53 74 ; + 52 (961) 616 53 76 ; + 52 (961) 616 57 24, + 52 (961) 616 34 50

4:45 pm Update: According to information from a Tuxtla, Chiapas, lawyer that is handling El Chema's case, the PGR has now confirmed that it has Jose Manuel Hernandez Martinez, aka "El Chema," in its custody. The PGR is reportedly holding him under the charge of "possession of a weapon that is exclusively for military use." This is a charge that falls under Mexico's "organized crime" track in the judicial system. This means that El Chema will have significantly fewer rights than someone charged with a "regular" crime. This also means that the government will be "legally" allowed to hold him without charge for three months. The government routinely announces that it is charging a detainee with organized crime in order to strip them of basic due process rights.

8:30 pm Update: The PGR is now reportedly denying that it has El Chema. This means that El Chema is still disappeared, and that calls to the government are still needed so that it feels pressure to present him alive and free him.

It is a common occurance that in the case of a disappearance carried out by government agents, government officials will originally confirm (unofficially, such as saying to a family member or, in this case, a lawyer) that they have the detained person in their custody. This is perhaps because some desk officer saw the detainee enter the facility and didn't know that he wasn't supposed to be there because he wasn't being legally held. Later, once all the police are on the same page and have the official story straight, they will officially deny that they have the disappeared person. This is not necessarily what happened in El Chema's case--no one will know where he is until he is presented.

Given the misinformation surrounding El Chema's disappearance, Narco News will only publish further updates about his legal status and whereabouts once the government officially presents him or in some other way officially acknowledges that it is holding him prisoner.

Presentacion is a standard Mexican policy that came out of dirty war disappearances. The government agency that is holding a prisoner or detainee must physically present that person and annouce the accusations against them. This allows lawyers, family members, and supporters to see that their loved one is in fact the detainee in question, and it allows them to see if that person shows physical signs of torture.

October 1 Update: The PGR (federal Attorney General's Office) has released a communique officially acknowleging that it has arrested El Chema and that he is in the infamous El Amate prison in Chiapas. According to its communique, he is being held for criminal association, aggrivated eviction [presumably for land occupations], aggrivated robbery, and other crimes. The PGR was apparently acting on six arrest warrants that date from 1999. However, the PGR's communique also claims that El Chema has a "record" for homicide. As stated above, he was considered a political prisoner (the federal government even admitted that after releasing him) and he was released without being convicted.