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Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Mexico’s hope: from Mazatlán to Las Vegas with Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez

It’s a go. Gilberto Ramirez, the undefeated 24-year-old boxer from Mazatlán, Mexico, is set to challenge Arthur Abraham at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on April 9 for the super middleweight title. It won’t be easy: Abraham, an Armenian-German, is a formidable opponent. Technically skilled, he is tough, with a strong punch.
Gilberto Ramirez training in Mazatlan (Photo: Matt Mawson)

“Abraham is a good champion, a great champion,” Ramirez’s manager, Jesus Zapari, a heavy-set man with short-cropped gray hair, told me at his gym in Mazatlán before the team relocated to Los Angeles. “But we are going to have a new champion after April 9.”

It is clear that the boys from Mexico are serious contenders. At the gym in Mazatlán I watched as Ramirez – called “Zurdo” or “Lefty” – was taken around the ring with weights on his ankles by Jose Luis Cruz, a former world-ranked middleweight. Cruz was a solid opponent, but this was boxing school, not proper sparring. For that, the team needed to be Stateside.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Canada’s Liberals continue the TPP charade

When President Obama delivered his State of the Union address, he was clear: He supported the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), and he wanted Congress to pass it.
Freeland and Trudeau: appearance is everything

Similarly, during last year’s federal election, Canada’s former Conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, was unstinting in his support for the TPP. And the New Democratic Party's Thomas Mulcair made it clear that, given what he knew of the deal, he was unlikely to support it.

However, the Liberal Party of Canada, under leader Justin Trudeau, made the false claim during last fall’s election campaign that it knew too little about the TPP to pass judgment. The party was pro trade, but would need to look at the details.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Moreira arrest: a long tradition of corrupt Mexican governors

When Humberto Moreira, former governor of the northern Mexican state of Coahuila, was arrested at Madrid’s Barajas Airport on January 15 for alleged financial crimes, it was big news.

(Update: Moreira was released by a Spanish judge  on January 22 for lack of evidence, though ordered to surrender his passport.)

In Mexico, there was much handwringing. Here was the former leader of Mexico's ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), a former close adviser of the current president, Enrique Peña Nieto, being detained in Spain on a request from the U.S. on suspicion of money laundering, embezzlement, bribery and criminal association.
Moreira: if Mexico won't, Spain and the US will

The anxiety, however, wasn’t that Moreira might be guilty of such crimes. It was that it was the Spanish in concert with the gringos who nailed the cabrón. In effect, these two external powers did what Mexico could not.

It was hardly news that Moreira’s behavior was suspect. After an investigation by two journalists, Moreira was accused in a U.S. court of money laundering and embezzlement. A state court in Texas heard how Moreira and other state officials took over $1.8 million from the Coahuila treasury and transferred them to a leader of the Los Zetas cartel to invest in radio stations.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

El Chapo Tried to Bribe Federales by Side of Highway

In the State of Sinaloa, Mexico, it is a tried and true tradition that when you are stopped by the side of the road, you can usually buy your way out of a jam. That corruption might have let El Chapo to get away yet again, but for the general chaos surrounding his capture.
Here we go again

After El Chapo escaped through a drain tunnel in the town of Los Mochis, he and his number one hitman, Orso Iván Gastélum, ‘El Cholo’, hijacked a vehicle. The alert was put out, and the vehicle was detained by federal police on a highway.

Here, things got dicey. Apparently, as soon as El Chapo was detained by the federal cops, the billionaire leader of the Sinaloa Cartel offered to take the officers to Juan José Ríos, Sinaloa. The roadside negotiations were intense. Guzmán started to offer some serious coin. From the side of the highway, he said he would set up the police officers with businesses and houses in Mexico and the United States, whereupon they could “forget about work for the rest of their lives.”

Mexico’s marijuana consultation, and Justin Trudeau’s harsh toke

Mexico’s Human Rights Undersecretary, Roberto Campa, has announced that his country will be embarking on a national debate on the legalization of marijuana. However, with Mexico matters are complicated somewhat by the fact that the country is a signatory to international treaties that make the road ahead uncertain. The same is true for Canada, which has stated intends to legalize marijuana.
Looked good then  (source: Toronto Sun)

The difference seems to be that Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto has been aware of his country’s treaty obligations; whereas Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, only now seems to be coming to this realization.

During the 2012 Mexican presidential campaign Peña Nieto did not campaign on legalization. Not so with Justin Trudeau, who was elected Prime Minister of Canada on October 19, 2015.

During the Canadian campaign, the three dominant Canadian political parties were clear in their positions. The New Democratic Party (NDP) under Thomas Mulcair campaigned on decriminalization and consultation towards legalization. The Conservatives, under then Prime Minister Stephen Harper, campaigned for the status-quo, and the Liberals under Trudeau campaigned for legalization.

Friday, 8 January 2016

“El Chapo” Guzmán Won’t Be Extradited Until At Least 2019

Now that Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán, the leader of Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa Cartel, has been recaptured in his home state of Sinaloa on the west coast of Mexico, the pressure is on to extradite him to the United States.
El Chapo in the love hotel - Three strikes?

The U.S. has an outstanding – and still valid – extradition request, but don’t expect it to happen any time soon.

The life-long criminal, who has now escaped from two separate maximum security prisons in Mexico, has become such an embarrassment to the Peña Nieto government that it simply cannot withstand the additional humiliation of handing him over to the gringos.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Canadian Bruce Vigfusson dies in custody in Mexico

Canadian Bruce Vigfusson, 45, who has been in jail in Mexico since September, 2012, died at 6 pm on Monday, December 21, at the General Hospital in the northern city of Hermosillo, Sonora. He had been admitted to the hospital in Hermosillo on Sunday, December 20, at 2 pm.
Bruce Vigfusson

Mr. Vigfusson was serving a four and half year sentence for assault. He had lost one appeal, and was waiting on another.

On approximately August 28, 2012, in Hermosillo, Mr. Vigfusson was the victim of a home invasion by five men. He claimed from the beginning that the assault, which resulted in one of the assailants allegedly sustaining serious head injuries, was a matter of self-defense.

Mr. Vigfusson passed a note to his Mexican wife, Celia Valenzuela Amado, on Thursday, December 17, in which he complained that he was “feeling very bad”, that he was “very sick, can’t breathe”, and that “I think they are killing me.”

In the letter Mr. Vigfusson wrote that officials had been giving him injections, but that he wasn’t getting better, he was getting worse. He added that “they are not poisoning me so that I die,” but that “they are doing it to make me weak so that I can’t fight back.”

Mr. Vigfusson also expressed concern that, should he win his appeal, Mexican authorities would then owe him back wages, which they did not want to pay.