On June 4 Mexican army soldiers freed 165 people, mostly Central Americans, who the authorities said had been held for as much as three weeks by an unidentified criminal organization at a safe house in Las Fuentes, Gustavo Díaz Ordaz municipality, a few miles from the US border in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas. One person, apparently a lookout for the kidnappers, was arrested. The captives were reportedly migrants planning to cross illegally into the US; the smugglers ("polleros") they had hired may have turned them over to a criminal group, possibly the Gulf drug cartel or the Los Zetas gang.
The bodies of three activists in the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) were found on June 3 beside a road in the southwestern state of Guerrero. One of the victims, Arturo Hernández Cardona, was the leader of the Popular Union (UP) in the city of Iguala; the other two, Félix Rafael Bandera Román and Ángel Román Ramírez, were members of the organization. The men were last seen on May 30 when they blocked a tollbooth on the Mexico City-Acapulco highway to demand that Iguala mayor José Luis Abarca Velázquez, also a PRD member, provide fertilizers for campesinos. Media reports suggest that the killings might have been a common crime, since drug gangs are active in Guerrero. But Sofía Lorena Mendoza Martínez, Hernández Cardona's widow, insisted the motivation was political. "[W]e are never going to accept that [the victims] could be linked to organized crime," said Mendoza Martínez, who is a local rural development official. Some 1,000 people attended the three activists' funeral on June 4. (BBC News, June 3, La Jornada, Mexico, June 5)
More than 160 civil society organizations—claiming representation of hundreds of thousands of citizens in Mexico, Central America and the United States—sent an open letter to the OAS General Assembly meeting in the Guatemalan city of Antigua this week, calling for alternatives to the so-called "war on drugs" that guarantee respect for human rights. "Our organizations have documented an alarming increase in violence and human rights violations," the letter states. "While we recognize that transnational crime and drug-trafficking play a role in this violence, we call on our governments to acknowledge that failed security policies that have militarized citizen security have only exacerbated the problem, and are directly contributing to increased human suffering in the region."
A series of events in the New York area from May 22 to 26 concluded a month-long tour of the US by a group of Mexican and Central American immigration activists seeking to broaden discussion of reforms the US Congress is considering for the country's immigration policy. The Opening Doors to Hope Caravan was led by Father Alejandro Solalinde Guerra, coordinator of the Brother and Sister Migrants on the Road shelter in Ciudad Ixtepec in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca; he has received death threats for his efforts to protect Central American immigrants from criminal gangs and corrupt officials during their transit through Mexico. The caravan was reminiscent of a Caravan for Peace led by Mexican poet and peace activist Javier Sicilia in the summer of 2012 but on a smaller scale.
Four activists from the Mexican branch of the international environmental organization Greenpeace climbed the Estela de Luz monument in downtown Mexico City on May 16 to protest efforts by multinational companies to increase the commercial use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the country's corn crops. The protesters unfurled a 70-meter banner reading "No GMO" and showing an ear of corn with a time bomb. Near the monument Greenpeace spokesperson Aleira Lara told reporters that transgenic corn is a time bomb for the Mexican countryside, since it endangers the 59 native strains of corn. The activists continued the protest for four hours and then left in a van; the Mexico City police made no effort to arrest them.
According to Mexican authorities, Malcolm Shabazz, the grandson of assassinated US rights activist Malcolm X and educator Betty Shabazz, was found badly beaten on a sidewalk in Mexico City the night of May 8. Federal District (DF, Mexico City) emergency services took him to a hospital, where he died early in the morning of May 9. A Mexican friend, Miguel Suárez, said he and Shabazz had been invited into The Palace, a bar in the Plaza Garibaldi neighborhood. Later they were presented with a $1,200 bill for music, alcohol and the company of the women they had been drinking with. When they refused to pay, Suárez was separated from Shabazz and eventually escaped; apparently Shabazz was beaten to death.
President Barack Obama said April 30 he will wait until he meets with his Mexican counterpart Enrique Peña Nieto this week to discuss Mexico's decision to curtail access of US security agencies. "I'm not going to yet judge how this will alter the relationship between the United States and Mexico until I've heard directly from them to see what exactly are they trying to accomplish," Obama said in Washington. Mexico confirmed days earlier that it has ended direct access by US law enforcement agents to their Mexican counterparts; now all communication is to be routed through the federal interior ministry, Gobernación.
Thousands of teachers marched in Chilpancingo, the capital of the southwestern Mexican state of Guerrero, on April 24 to protest the Guerrero legislature's vote the day before to ratify a national education "reform" plan proposed by Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto. The march—sponsored by the State Organizing Committee of Education Workers in Guerrero (CETEG), an organization of dissident local members of the National Education Workers Union (SNTE)—stopped at the headquarters of various political parties, where masked participants vandalized offices. The main damage was at the office of Peña Nieto's party, the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI); the attackers, armed with clubs, broke windows, threw furniture, papers and plants into the street, tore up a photograph of the president and started a fire in the office, which firefighters put out. There were also attacks on the offices of the center-right National Action Party (PAN), the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and social democratic Citizens' Movement (formerly Convergence for Democracy).