A new massacre is reported from Ciudad Juárez, again raising fears of a return to the wave of deadly gangland violence that convulsed the Mexican border city for much of the past decade. Eight members of a single family—including two four-year-old girls and a six-year-old boy—were killed in their home Nov. 17 in the colonia (neighborhood) of Morelos Zaragoza. The bodies of the children were found on their beds, with multiple stab wounds, as were those of two young women. The two men were on armchairs, handcuffed and gagged. A two-month-old baby, known to have lived in the house, was not found among the dead. The family had been planning an event for their Jehova's Witnesses congregation when the attack took place. (Pulso, IOL, Proceso, Nov. 17)
Some 40,000 teachers, union members and opposition activists took to Mexico City's streets Dec. 2 in a demonstration to mark the first anniversary of the inauguration of President Enrique Peña Nieto (PRI). The protesters joined a rally led by Peña Nieto's ex-challenger Andrés Manuel López Obrador, formerly of the left-opposition Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and now heading a National Regneration Movement (Morena) to oppose the administration's economic policies. The teachers' union CNTE and electrical workers' SME were heavily represented as López Obrador led the march from the iconic Angel of Independence statue to the Zócalo, Mexico City's central plaza. A key issue at the rally was Peña Nieto's planned reform of the state oil monopoly Pemex, which protesters assailed as a privatization of the company. "We are here to avoid a big robbery," López Obrador told the crowd below a massive banner declaring "NO to the sale of Pemex!" Another banner addrressed to Peña Nieto read: "Sell your body. It's yours. The oil is mine."
Three gun-battles in one day left at least 13 dead in the Mexican border city of Matamoros Nov. 2, Tamaulipas state authorities acknowledged. A statement from the Tamaulipas Coordination Group—the liaison office between state and federal forces—said two of the shoot-outs were between Mexican Marines and "armed civilians," the standard euphemism for cartel gunmen. One woman was among the 13 dead, who were also identified as "civilians"—leaving it unclear if they were combatants or by-standers. What press accounts called "narco-blockades" cut off traffic on the city's principal avenues. (Global Post, Crónica de Hoy, Nov. 4; Proceso, Nov. 3) Nov. 11 saw another outburst in the neighboring border city of Reynosa, with federal forces and presumed cartel gunmen having a high-speed shoot-out in a car chase through several neighborhoods. Allegedly, only one of the gunmen was killed, but video footage provided by the Facebook-coordinated network Valor por Tamaulipas showed a car overturned in road pile-up. (El Diario de Coahuila, Nov. 11)
Mexico is shocked by the murder of Mayor Ygnacio López Mendoza of Santa Ana Maya, Michoacán, who was found dead in his car in neighboring Guanajuato state Nov. 7. Just last month, he made national news when he held a public hunger strike outside the Senate building in Mexico City for 18 days—demanding more money for his town because of the 10% cut being extorted by the Knights Templar narco gang on all municipal spending. Authorities initially said the death was a traffic accident, but this claim evaporated when the autopsy report indicated "asphyxia secondary to neck trauma"—suggesting strangulation. Pressed for details by the Association of Local Authorities of Mexico (AALMAC), the Guanajuato Prosecutor General's Office, which had conducted the autopsy, admitted that López Mendoza had been tortured before being killed. During his hunger strike, López told Global Post that he knew he could be killed at any time. "We are on the knife's edge," he said. "I can be talking with you here today and in a few weeks you could be reading my death notice."
Nearly half a million were left without electricity for 15 hours after 18 substations were blown up Oct. 27 in a wave of coordinated attacks across Mexico's west-central state of Michoacán, the latest battleground in the country's relentless cartel wars. Six gasoline stations were also burned down near the state capital Morelia, in what authorities said was a terror campaign by the Knights Templar cartel. Gov. Fausto Vallejo Figueroa of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) said the violence was set off by the Jalisco Cartel, based in the neighboring state of that name, seeking to "seize territory" controlled by the Knights Templars in Michoacán, and warned of a "great massacre" (matazón).
A new riot between rival gangs in the dangerously overcrowded prison at Altamira, in the Mexican border state Tamaulipas, left seven inmates dead Oct. 26. State authorities said the prisoners were killed with makeshift knives in a fight in one cellblock at the facility, officially known as the Execution and Sanction Center (CEDES). Thirty-one inmates died in a riot in the same prison early last year, pointing to a crisis rooted in the confluence of teeming lock-ups and the bloody narco wars being waged in Tamaulipas both inside and outside the prisons. The state is currently Mexico's most violent. The CEDES was designed to hold 2,000 inmates, but now has a population of more than 3,000. (AP, Notimex, Oct. 26)
US officials were secretly critical of the militarized anti-narcotic policies of former Mexican president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa (2006-2012) at the same time that the US government was funding and publicly backing them, according to declassified documents that the Washington, DC-based research group National Security Archive posted on its website on Nov. 6. The documents are among 30 official reports and diplomatic cables, with dates from Aug. 25, 2007 to May 22, 2012, that the US government released as a result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from the National Security Archive and other organizations in Mexico and the US.
Alberto Patishtán Gómez, a schoolteacher from the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, was freed from imprisonment on Oct. 31 after receiving a pardon that day from President Enrique Peña Nieto. Patishtán had been serving a 60-year sentence since 2000 for his alleged involvement in the killing of seven police agents in Chiapas' El Bosque municipality in June of that year. He has consistently maintained his innocence. Human rights activists in Mexico and around the world demonstrated and petitioned for his release, charging that the teacher was being persecuted as an indigenous Tzotzil activist and a supporter of the leftist Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN).