Blockades of Pemex installations in Mexico's southeastern Tabasco state are hurting the country's oil and gas output, according to the CEO of the state-owned industry giant. Emilio Lozoya Austin told Notimex news agency that crude output has been reduced by 30,000 barrels/day as a result of the blockades, launched to protest environmental damage caused by an October explosion at the company's Terra 123 well in Nacajuca. Pemex is losing $3 million/day in revenues, he said. In addition to blocking access to hundreds of oil and gas wells in the rural municipalities of Cárdenas, Huimanguillo, Centla and Cunduacán, protesters have built barricades around the Pemex Pyramid, the company's futuristic local headquarters in Villahermosa. Pemex activities across oil-rich Tabasco have been paralyzed since July 8.
Mexico's El Universal reports June 18 that a protected witness testified to the Prosecutor General of the Republic (PGR) that members of the US Border Patrol collaborated with the Sinaloa Cartel in arms trafficking to the powerful criminal organization. The sworn testimony is being used as evidence in the case against the cartel's recently apprehended kingpin, Joaquin Guzmán Loera AKA "El Chapo"—who is accused, along with numerous other charges, of supervising the Gente Nueva gang, the cartel's armed wing.
Even as Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto continues to push for economic "reforms," government agencies report that the economy still has one of the worst records in the hemisphere. Gross domestic product (GDP) grew just 1.1% in 2013, the poorest result in four years, and the government has reduced its forecast for growth in 2014 to 2.7%. The Banco de México, the country's central bank, cut its key interest rate this June to stimulate economic activity, warning that the growth outlook was "weaker than expectations even a couple of weeks ago." Only one-half of the population works in the formal economy, and even these workers are probably earning less than their parents did. Mexico's legal minimum wage has fallen at least 66% in purchasing power over the last three decades, according to Alicia Bárcena, the executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC, CEPAL in Spanish).
A group of Mexican legislative deputies announced on June 2 that they would call on the federal Governance Secretariat to guarantee the security of family members of Nestora Salgado, an imprisoned community activist from the largely indigenous town of Olinalá in the southwestern state of Guerrero. The announcement came one day after an attack on a bus that Salgado's daughter Saira Salgado was riding from Olinalá to Mexico City for a scheduled meeting with legislators. Armed men stopped the bus shortly after it left Olinalá and without explanation executed a woman passenger. Saira Salgado said the victim was dressed the way she herself is usually dressed. After the murder, the men left without harming or robbing the other passengers. Deputy Roberto López, of the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), charged that the attack was not an isolated incident.
While historic leaders of the community protested nearby, an assembly in San Salvador Atenco, a town in México state northeast of Mexico City, voted on June 1 to allow the sale of almost 2,000 hectares of communal land to private parties. Members of the Front of the Peoples in Defense of the Land (FPDT) charged that they had been barred from the assembly, which they said was packed with people who were not participants in the ejido (communal farm) that legally controls the land. According to the FPDT, the June 1 vote was engineered by current ejido president Andrés Ruiz Méndez, a member of the governing centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), as part of the Ciudad Futura ("Future City") development plan for the region, which includes a new international airport for Mexico City and will disrupt the area's traditional farming practices.
Mexico's government has pledged to deploy more security forces to Tamaulipas—right on the Texas border, and one of the country's most violent states. Mexican Governance Minister Miguel Angel Osorio promised a "new phase" of action against the state's warring drug cartels. The move was prompted by the May 5 assassination of Salvador Haro Muñoz, the Tamaulipas state government intelligence chief, in an ambush on his car in the state capital, Ciudad Victoria. Ten officers from the Tamaulipas state police force have been arrested by federal authorities in connection with the hit, which was said to have been carried out by the Zetas narco-paramilitary network. Also detained was José Manuel López Guijón, security chief for Tamaulipas Gov. Egidio Torre Cantú.
A new communique from Subcommander Marcos of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) (online at Enlace Zapatista, and in translation at Roar Magazine) states that he is stepping down as the public voice of the indigenous Maya rebel army in Mexico's Chiapas state. It says he is to be replaced by a "Subcommander Galeano," named for the nom de guerre of José Luis Solís López, the Zapatista adherent killed on May 2 in a confrontation with a rival campesino group. "I declare that the one known as Insurgent Subcommander Marcos ceases to exist," the statement reads. "The Zapatista National Liberation Army will no longer speak through my voice." The text cites changes in the rebel movement since it announced its existence to the world in a brief armed uprising launched on New Years Day 1994, the exact moment that NAFTA took effect:
Mexico's government on May 10 started to swear in members of the "community police" vigilante network in Michoacán state for a new rural police force, which is supposed to bring the self-defense militias under state control. An initial 240 "community police" members gathered for the ceremony in the village of Tepacaltepec, a stronghold of the movement, where they received new blue uniforms and registered their rifles, or turned them in for state-issued AR-15s. The ceremony was overseen by the federal pointman for Michoacán, Alfredo Castillo, who waxed florid for the occassion: "Those who 15 months ago said 'Enough' and decided to confront those who did them harm—because of them today we have the State Rural Force that carries the same conviction of justice, of courage, valor, bravery needed to protect those, who we love the most, our families."