Friday 28 September 2012

#YoSoy132 activist Aleph Jiménez found alive

Aleph Jiménez, the #YoSoy132 activist who went missing last week, has come out of hiding in the Mexican city of La Paz, near the bottom of the Baja peninsula on the Sea of Cortez.

He then went to the capital, Mexico City, to give a statement to the National Human Rights Commission.

Jiménez claimed he went into hiding out of concern for his safety. He asserted that two of his colleagues had been murdered, and alleged that he had being followed by an unidentified car, and had his phones tapped.

La Paz is over 1,000 kilometers south of Ensenada, Baja California, where Jiménez lived. He claims that he did not notify anyone of his whereabouts due to fear of being tracked. However, after realizing the extent of public attention that this case has caused, he decided to go public.

La Paz, capital city of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur

For now, Jiménez has said he will not return to his hometown.

Response on the net has been mixed. Many are relieved to hear of his safety, while others are suspicious, and accuse him of grandstanding to draw media attention to himself.

The fact that Jiménez hitch-hiked in his travels, for example, is seen by some as proof that his life could not really have been in danger: otherwise, why choose such and exposed and risky mode of travel?

Then again, if he was afraid of the State it might make sense to avoid any traceable means of transport. It also might be slightly unfair for those in more secure positions to judge the seemingly irrational behaviour of someone who was truly terrified.

Sunday 23 September 2012

#YoSoy132 activist goes missing in Ensenada, Baja California

The spokesperson for Mexico’s #YoSoy132 pro-democracy youth movement in the port of Ensenada, Baja California, has gone missing. (Update: Aleph Jiménez has since been found alive).

Aleph Jiménez was reported missing to the Attorney General for the state of Baja on Saturday, September 22.

Aleph Jiménez

Jiménez works as a science instructor in the department of physical oceanography at the Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education of Ensenada (Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada).

According to the state Attorney General’s office, Jiménez was last seen around 4:30 pm on Thursday, September 20 at the Santander bank in Ensenada. He was wearing beige trousers, a white shirt, a camouflaged backpack, and a black and white cap. He is of fair complexion, with green eyes, and may have a beard.

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Jalisco massacre and the politics of denial

As central Mexico takes stock of another mass body dump – this time it was 17 mutilated cadavers found at Tizapán El Alto, Jalisco – the Mexican citizenry, the expat community, and even the politicians take cold solace in the supposition that the dead are all criminals.

The governor of Jalisco, Emilio González Márquez, knew he was playing the right hand when he announced that six of the 17 had criminal records. Obviously, that's good news. Who cares about them?

González Márquez: Governor of the law abiding

González Márquez, in the spirit of national solidarity in the face of a terrifying and never-ending drug war, added that the victims had likely died in the nearby state of Michoacan, and were then "tossed" in Jalisco.

"It implies that there are criminals who are fighting,” said González Márquez. “There are criminals who killed other criminals. We are here to protect the general population."

Mr. González Márquez is, of course, unaware that his comments and attitude are part of the problem. He might as well be a Canadian snowbird in Puerto Vallarta, one of those people who think that crime can be out of control in Mexico and yet, magically, not affect them.

What Mr. González Márquez did not point out, but which was revealed later by Jalisco’s Attorney General, is that two of the victims, one of whom had a criminal record from the southern state of Chiapas, were army deserters.

Another of the dead had been imprisoned in the Social Rehabilitation Center in Pochutla, Oaxaca, a stone’s throw from the resort towns of Hautulco and Puerto Escondido, hundreds of miles from Jalisco.

The men had been chained together and shot. They were found bruised, bound at hands and feet. A source from the Medical Examiner (Semfo) told the Mexican press they had been dead from 24 hours to seven days. Presumably, this was a settling of accounts.

Judging by the tattoos of Santa Muerte and clothing, authorities are investigating the possibility that the some of the unidentified dead were Central American migrants trying to reach the United States. If true, it would add a sour note to the governor’s off-handed lack of concern.

This is the third massacre in Jalisco in under a year. On November 24 last year 26 bodies were left in three vehicles in the vicinity of Los Arcos del Milenio in Guadalajara. That incident was attributed to the Millennium Cartel and its alliance with Los Zetas, who were attempting to push out the Sinaloa Cartel and its local ally, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación).

Then, on May 9 of this year 18 bodies were found in Ixtlahuacán de los Membrillos, on the road between Chapala and Guadalajara. That massacre was thought to be retaliation for the death of 14 people in far-away Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas.

(TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel.)

Twitter: @TimothyEWilson
Email: lapoliticaeslapolitica [at] gmail [dot] com

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Saturday 15 September 2012

Has Peña Nieto’s dirty war begun with the “disappearance” of political dissenter Ruy Salgado?

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has expressed concern regarding the disappearance of the Mexican blogger Ruy Salgado of the “El 5antuario” (The Sanctuary) website. Salgado went missing exactly one week ago on Saturday, September 8.

Salgado’s last post was just after 11 pm. The blogger was expected to attend a rally the next day in Mexico City’s central square for Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the leftist candidate who lost Mexico’s contested presidential election on July 1st.

Salgado's trade: "uncomfortable information"

Salgado, who is sympathetic to Lopez Obrador and the Mexico’s #Yosoy132 youth movement, has not been heard from since, despite a concerted effort by friends and supporters to find him.

Representatives of Mexico’s Citizens Movement have been seeking clarification as to Salgado’s whereabouts. Salgado became well-known as a  ghost blogger who tracked electoral irregularities alleged by the Progressive Movement coalition.

Friday 14 September 2012

Dr. Rafik Benaissa launches nuisance suit against Canadian newspapers, sets sights on SNC-Lavalin

It is somewhat mystifying that Dr. Rafik Benaissa, brother of former SNC-Lavalin executive Riadh Ben Aissa, has launched law suits alleging that the Globe & Mail and La Presse published defamatory articles linking him to the SNC-Lavalin scandal.

Specifically, Dr. Benaissa – who compounds “Ben Aissa” when spelling his name – is arguing that by mentioning his company, Benaissa Oil, in an article referencing the scandal, the newspapers were inferring some kind of relationship where none existed.

The suits against the Globe & Mail and La Presse were filed in the District of Montreal-Quebec Superior court for $10 million and $5 million respectively. (Quebec Superior Court file number 500-17-073048-129 and 500-17-073214-127).

In announcing the suits Dr. Benaissa, a Canadian orthopedic surgeon who works for Trinity Health in Minot, a small town in Northwest North Dakota, said that "Such allegations are false and Riadh Ben Aissa is just a hard working employee, but especially a scapegoat of a political change where SNC-Lavalin intends to keep its multi-million dollars interests in Libya" (sic).

Dr. Rafik Benaissa

Benaissa takes issue with both newspapers mentioning his own company, Benaissa Oil, which is involved in oil exploration in the Middle East as well as the sale of defence equipment.  Benaissa Oil has had as its mailing address the same building in Tunis where SNC-Lavalin’s office was located.

Thursday 13 September 2012

Tweets lead to arrest of amorous cop in Mérida

Social media is putting Mexico`s police under new scrutiny. The local flat feet, long accustomed to casual days of hanging out and maybe picking up a few bribes, are now having their languorous ways posted for all the world to see.

Just yesterday (September 12, 2012) a cop in Mérida, the capital of Yucatán, was photographed outside the local bus station hugging and kissing a lady friend.

And parked on the yellow line, too!

The pictures were posted to Twitter, including a tag to the governor`s account, whereupon the officer not only lost his job, but was also arrested.

The tweet was sent by ``@toyito22``, who added a wry comment about how the officer with the State Police (Secretaría de Seguridad Pública Estatal) was safeguarding public order.

 An investigation in process

The officer, whose cruiser's ID number was clearly displayed in the photograph, had been assigned to patrol the south end of the city. In the picture he was also illegally parked, though that is hardly news unique to Mexico.

It was the speed and the harshness of the response that was notable. The Yucatán governor, Ivonne Ortega Pacheco, announced last night via her official Twitter account that the local lothario had not only been found – he had also been arrested.

Via Twitter...The governor is not amused

(TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel.)

Twitter: @TimothyEWilson
Email: lapoliticaeslapolitica [at] gmail [dot] com

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Tuesday 11 September 2012

Latin America’s beach-heads for Islamist terror

The recent decision by Canada to cut diplomatic ties with Iran, and the arrest of three alleged Hezbollah operatives in Mexico, are evidence that the Americas are very much in play when it comes to the threat of Islamist terror.

And though much ink has been spilled on the meaning of these events, and whether or not they reflect an increase in the overall terror threat, the background story is more rhetorical than material: when it comes to diplomacy, words matter. 

In the case of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the language he employs is disturbing in the extreme. It has become a kind of drone, ignored by the mainstream media. It is seen as ridiculous, even silly, or explained away as being misunderstood due to faulty translation.

The truth is that the language is not only disturbing, it has also been deemed acceptable by three Latin American states friendly to Iran: Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba. These nominally socialist states, purely as a result of historical hostility to the United States, have cozied up to a theocracy that deems it necessary to spew hatred toward a specific group - the Jews.

The three amigos: Ortega, Chavez, and Ahmadinejad

And, though it is not anti-Semitic to criticize Israel, Ahmadinejad takes great license when he calls Israel a "fake regime" that "must be wiped off the map"(or, as per more favourable translations, a “fabricated government” that “must vanish from the pages of time”).

Monday 10 September 2012

Alleged Hezbollah agents captured in Merida, Mexico

According to reports from Mexican media, an American citizen and two other presumed supporters of Hezbollah were captured on the evening of Saturday, September 8, in Mérida, the capital of Yucatán state in the south of Mexico.

Rafic Mohammad Labboun Allaboun, 44, was transferred on the morning of Sunday, September 9, to Houston, Texas, according to Mexican sources close to the operation, and has been remanded to El Paso, Texas, by the FBI for further investigation. He is suspected of being part of an Islamic terrorist cell that operates in Central America and the Yucatán.

 Labboun Allaboun's Mexican mug shot

Rafic Labboun is an imam from the Shiite Association Bay Area (SABA) Mosque in San Jose, California.

The arrests occurred as a part of a joint operation with local police and Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) in cooperation with the FBI and Homeland Security.