Category Archives: Mexico/Central America

November 20, 2021

Cartel violence in Mexico forces people to flee their homes, leaving ghost towns behind

“Over the past two decades, the ways criminal groups exercise violence, and against whom, have changed profoundly in Mexico,” said Falko Ernst, a senior security analyst for the International Crisis Group responsible for conducting research on the country’s lethal conflict. “Criminal groups have moved toward deep territorial penetration. They’re seeking to control not only the land but also populations.”

Two years ago, more than 100 people lived in this small village in Mexico’s western state of Michoacán. 

Now, there are only eight.

A local feast celebrating Saint Michael the Archangel, patron saint of the town, used to run for two days, with heaps of food and celebratory banda, regional Mexican music. There is no feast this year — only three men dressing up a statue of the saint between cleaning a church. 

El Cajón is one of the hundreds of villages transformed into ghost towns by crime and violence that force people to flee, either to other parts of the country or to the United States. The village has around 60 abandoned houses riddled with bullet holes, surrounded by grass and forgotten belongings. People left everything behind after brutal attacks by Mexican drug cartels.

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October 12, 2021

Don’t call us traitors: descendants of Cortés’s allies defend role in toppling Aztec empire

On the 500th anniversary of the Spanish conquest, people from Mexico’s smallest state Tlaxcala say their ancestors were liberators

When people from the Mexican state of Tlaxcala travel to other parts of the country, they are sometimes insulted as traitors by their compatriots.

Tlaxcala is Mexico’s smallest state in size, but it played an outsized role in Mexico’s early history, not least when indigenous Tlaxcalans allied with Hernán Cortés’ tiny band of invaders to bring down the Aztec empire.

Now, as Mexico marks the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlán on Friday, the role of the Tlaxcalans in the conquest is being reconsidered.

Many historians argue that without the participation of the Tlaxcalans and other indigenous soldiers, Tenochtitlán might never have fallen to the Spanish.

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August 29, 2021

Mexican Border Violence, Drug Smuggling Surge; Federal Agents Come Under Gunfire

Days after revealing the agent shootings, CBP announced the arrest of more than a dozen fugitives and the seizure of over $2.5 million worth of narcotics in El Paso area ports of entry. In the span of just a few days, the feds seized 650 pounds of marijuana, more than 60 pounds of cocaine, 12 pounds of fentanyl, and seven pounds of methamphetamine. 

While President Biden’s Afghanistan debacle justifiably receives the world’s attention and vast media coverage, the Mexican border in the U.S.’s own backyard should not be ignored. Besides the unparalleled onslaught of illegal immigrants, the region is becoming increasingly violent with unprecedented criminal activity that includes a distressing escalation in drug smuggling and brazen attacks against American federal agents. Organized Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) are behind the movement, and they are a serious threat to national security and public safety, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the frontline Homeland Security agency charged with keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S. 

Examples provided by the agency in the last few days alone help illustrate the disturbing reality along the nation’s 2,000-mile border with Mexico. Federal agents are overwhelmed as criminal elements are fortified and boldly execute human and drug smuggling missions. Federal agents that might get in the way of their illicit operations have become targets of the TCOs, which “are heavily involved in smuggling people, including terrorists, criminals and trafficking victims, as well as weapons, cash, and drugs through sophisticated criminal networks,” CBP writes in a recent statement confirming that several Border Patrol agents have come under gunfire recently in Texas and California. The agency goes on to say that “TCOs conduct their operations without regard for human life—money and power are their only motivation.”

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August 22, 2021

Why Mexico City’s Geography SUCKS (Video)

RealLifeLore

August 2, 2021

Inside Mexico’s Most Powerful Drug Cartel | Foreign Correspondent (Video)

Tens of thousands are missing, many more murdered. So why are Mexico’s violent drug cartels operating with impunity? We go inside the most powerful cartel to meet the footsoldiers. Corruption, they say, goes right to the top. Produced in collaboration with Ben Zand and Vice TV.

July 4, 2021

Latin America’s Deadliest Place to Be a Woman (Video)

In Honduras, gang violence, poverty and corruption are waging a bloody war against women. In the past year alone, a woman has been murdered every 36 hours, making the country one of the deadliest in the world to be female.

April 30, 2021

‘AMLO’s attitude toward cartels is laissez-faire, sees them as a distraction’

Former US ambassador says president ignores them in favor of creating his ‘Great Society’

President López Obrador sees combating cartels as a distraction from his political agenda and has adopted a laissez-faire attitude toward them, according to former ambassador to Mexico Christopher Landau.

Speaking at a roundtable event organized by the Council of American Ambassadors, Landau said that cartels are a “big problem in Mexico,” adding that they have effective control over large parts of the country.

“The estimates go anywhere from 35–40% of the country,” said the former ambassador, who served in Mexico for about 1 1/2 years before leaving the position in January due to the change of government in the United States.

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March 20, 2021

‘Incentive Game’: Salvadoran President Says Migration Surge Bad For U.S., Worse for Latin American Nations (Video)

El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele declared Monday that soaring migration levels at the southern border are bad for the U.S. and even worse for Latin America because it extracts the people vital to building the solid financial conditions that would keep them in their home country.

In an interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson that aired Tuesday night, Bukele attributed the surge at the U.S.-Mexico border to three reasons: a lack of economic opportunities, the absence of security in Latin America, as well as incentives provided in the United States.

The Salvadoran president took responsibility for his country’s contribution to two of the main drivers of the emigration of his compatriots to the U.S. — a lack of economic opportunities and security.

President Bukele told Fox News:

If you don’t provide for your people — economic opportunities — if your economy is doing bad, if your security is doing bad, people are going leave, and you’re going to go and try to find a rich country, right? They’re not going to leave for Guatemala. They want to go to the United States. So, that makes this country dependent on immigration because you become a net exporter of people. You’re not exporting products or services; you’re exporting people.”

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March 11, 2021

Mexican Government Worries About Biden Policies While Cartels Rejoice

Apprehensions on the U.S.-Mexico border in February hit levels unseen since mid-2019, and were the highest for that month in 15 years, data reported by Reuters showed.

Joe Biden may be the very best friend Mexican drug cartels and other organized criminal gangs south of the border have, at the moment. The border surge has created land-office business for smugglers and human traffickers who are overwhelmed by people looking to make it over the U.S. border.

“They see him as the migrant president, and so many feel they’re going to reach the United States,” Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said of Biden the morning after a virtual meeting with his U.S. counterpart on March 1. “We need to work together to regulate the flow, because this business can’t be tackled from one day to the next.”

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December 18, 2020

‘The Winners Are the Cartels’: Mexico Slaps Cuffs on the DEA

“The DEA miscalculated just how militarized this country has become … maybe the CIA should have warned them.”

Mexico’s House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday aimed at reining in the powers of “foreign agents.” Critics say the move is intended to restrict the role of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) operations related to the country’s drug war.

The legislation is described as a series of “reforms” to the country’s National Security Law. As it was first proposed by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (often known by his initials as AMLO), and ratified last week by the Mexican Senate, it now becomes law.

AMLO has framed the bill as an attempt to defend national sovereignty and “provide order,” saying, “We need to have clear rules for cooperation” with “outsiders” present on Mexican soil.

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