U.S., Mexican deportations have fueled humanitarian crisis

 A father holds his sleeping son after they and other undocumented immigrants were detained by border patrol agents near Rio Grande City, Texas. (John Moore/Getty Images)
A father holds his sleeping son after they and other undocumented immigrants were detained by border patrol agents near Rio Grande City, Texas. (John Moore/Getty Images)

By Nina Lakhani / The Guardian

Mass deportations and inadequate asylum procedures in Mexico and the US have fueled a humanitarian crisis where desperate Central Americans seeking refuge from rampant violence are routinely preyed upon by criminal gangs and corrupt officials, according to a new report by the International Crisis Group (ICG).

The tide of people fleeing Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala – three of the five most dangerous countries in the world – continues apace despite beefed-up border control measures implemented after Barack Obama declared the 2014 surge in undocumented migrants a humanitarian crisis. Last year, Mexico deported 165,000 Central Americans, while the US expelled 75,000.

To avoid detection, vulnerable people – who include increasing numbers of women and unaccompanied children – are forced to pay higher fees to smugglers, crooked officials, and kidnappers, and use riskier, more isolated routes through Mexico, according to the report Easy Prey: Criminal Violence and Central American Migration. Once deported, many simply try again rather than face hunger and violence at home, creating a revolving door of vulnerable migrants and refugees.

The report comes after the US, for the first time, recognized that the surge in people currently fleeing Central America includes potential refugees, not just economic migrants. The Obama administration has announced a new scheme whereby Costa Rica will offer temporary protection to 200 eligible Central American refugees at a time before they are settled in the US or another country.


150,000 cars stolen last year in Mexico

InSight Crime – More than 150,000 cars were stolen in Mexico last year and over 78,000 have been stolen so far this year, according to Reporte Indigo. Stolen cars are often sent abroad to the United States or Central America, and that vehicles stolen in Mexico have been tracked down as far away as Europe, Asia and Africa. By some estimates, auto theft in Mexico is a multi-billion dollar industry.


Punta Mita experiencing rising tide of property purchases

NYT – In 2014, Cascade Investment, the private investment firm of Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, bought 48 acres of undeveloped beachfront land and the Four Seasons hotel site in Punta Mita, a gated residential resort on the Riviera Nayarit, 40 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta.

“Bill Gates buying land in the area has had a real impact,” said Aaron Fisher, the sales director at Punta Sayulita, another residential development on the Riviera Nayarit. “We needed high-end clients and now they’re coming.”


Teachers end blockade of freight rail lines

EFE – Members of the militant CNTE teachers’ union have ended their week-long blockade of the freight rail network in the western Mexican state of Michoacan The educators ended their shutdown of the rail network operated by Kansas City Southern de Mexico after resuming talks with the Government Secretariat.


Why teachers have been occupying one of Mexico’s most alluring public spaces

The Guelaguetza starts today and hotel bookings are down 50 percent or more.
The Guelaguetza starts today and hotel bookings are down 50 percent or more.

By Patrick J. McDonnell / LAT

With its towering cathedral, stately trees and many cafes, the central plaza of Oaxaca City usually exudes a sense of peace and elegance — a place to dine, reflect or listen to the marimba bands that perform on the ornate, wrought-iron bandstand.

But sit-ins, roadblocks and violence linked to Mexico’s roiling conflict between teachers and the federal government have cast a pall over Oaxaca City and the Guelaguetza, the signature annual celebration of the indigenous and mestizo heritage of this culturally rich state.

The plaza, or zocalo, has become a desolate eyesore, a tent city of sleeping bags and plastic mats topped with a jagged array of plastic tarps thrown up as protection against daily thunderstorms.

Teachers enraged at federal education reforms have occupied the plaza since May, stranding thousands of pupils and transforming one of Mexico’s most alluring public spaces into something resembling a ramshackle refugee camp.

The Guelaguetza starts Monday and hotel bookings are down 50 percent or more in the heavily tourism-reliant capital of the state also called Oaxaca. Key routes to town remain shut or subject to long delays after protesting teachers, many wearing masks, erected barricades of earth, tree trunks and assorted debris.

“We won’t leave until our demands are met,” vowed Nelly Ruth Vicente, one of a number of teachers posted at a blockade at the crossroads town of Asuncion Nochixtlan, on the main federal toll road linking Oaxaca City and Mexico City.


Preserving Pemex reforms in post-Pena Nieto era

Platts – Enrique Peña Nieto is scrambling to save the legacy of his much-lauded reform of Mexico’s oil industry as the doors of Mexico’s political cycle close on the president amid electoral defeats, political violence and a tough global environment for the oil industry. Meanwhile, Pemex chief Jose Antonio Gonzalez Anaya seeks to defend the formerly invulnerable castle of the state oil company from what some fear could be imminent collapse.


Mexico’s murder rate in first half of 2016 rises 15.4 percent

A family member grieves in front of a car in which two men lay dead on March 22, 2010 in Juarez, Mexico. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
A family member grieves in front of a car in which two men lay dead on March 22, 2010 in Juarez, Mexico. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Associated Press

Mexican government figures released Thursday say homicides rose 15.4 percent in the first half of 2016 from the same period of last year.

The 9,413 killings committed from January through June were also 6 percent higher than the number of homicides in the last six months of 2015.

While the figures remained below those for 2011, the peak year for violence during Mexico’s drug war, they marked a continuing rebound in killings. Almost all the progress that President Enrique Pena Nieto had boasted of in reducing Mexico’s violence has now been erased.

The current number of killings almost matches the first six months of Pena Nieto’s administration in 2013, when there were 9,502 homicides.

The drug-plagued state of Guerrero continued to lead Mexico in homicides, and big increases were seen in the state of Baja California, Michoacan and Veracruz.