Mexico News and Analysis: December 13, 2009

Mexico Solidarity Network
News & Analysis
Week of Dec 13, 2009 - Dec 31,2009

1. SME SUFFERS DEFEAT IN COURT

2. IMMIGRATION SWEEPS IN CALIFORNIA

3. HUMAN RIGHTS


1. SME SUFFERS DEFEAT IN COURT
A novice federal judge, apparently unwilling to put the rest of her career at risk, issued a controversial and poorly reasoned judgment against the Electrical Workers Union (SME) on Friday.  Judge Guillermina Coutino Mara ruled that President Calderon’s decision to close Central Light and Power (LFC), costing over 44,000 union members their jobs, was constitutional.  The SME still has legal recourse during an appeal process, and the case will almost surely end up in the Supreme Court.  Coutino apparently buckled under pressure from the Calderon administration and issued a decision light on legal reasoning that placed decisions by the President above Congressional mandates, thereby violating the separation of powers enshrined in the Mexican Constitution.

Despite the judgment, the SME rank and file promised to continue their struggle against the midnight police action that closed the LFC in October.  Demonstrations and two hunger strikes will keep pressure on federal authorities while the SME plans for a nation-wide general strike in early 2010.




2. IMMIGRATION SWEEPS IN CALIFORNIA
Three days of immigration sweeps in California ended Thursday evening and resulted in the arrest of 286 undocumented migrants.  Police claim most of those arrested had criminal records and were under deportation orders or were deported and then re-entered the US illegally.  The so-called “fugitive operations,” which began in 2003, have rapidly expanded under the Obama administration.  Immigration agents often arrest people without criminal records in order to fill quotas set by federal authorities, though immigration officials claim the quota system was recently ended.  More than 100 teams nationwide conduct “fugitive operations,” and more than 35,000 people were arrested in fiscal year 2009, according to ICE.




3. HUMAN RIGHTS
Mexico came under withering attack this week for its human rights record.  On Tuesday, Amnesty International accused the federal government of being complicit in serious human rights abuses committed by the army, often under the guise of fighting drug trafficking.  AI accused the government of inadequate responses and ineffective investigations at all levels, leading to a general climate of impunity among security forces.  A recent AI study found that human rights abuses by the army tripled under the Calderon administration.  Despite similar accusations by the President of the National Action Party (PAN), Calderon rejected the criticisms, accusing AI of wanting to protect narcotics traffickers.

Then on Thursday, the Inter-American Human Rights Court accused Mexico of egregious human rights violations related to the femicides in Ciudad Juarez.  The court ruled on a case involving three young women whose bodies were found in 2001 in an abandoned cotton field across the street from the Ciudad Juarez Maquiladora Association.  The court found Mexico guilty of violating the most basic rights outlined in the Constitution, including the right to life, personal liberty, judicial protection and against discrimination.  The wide-ranging decision ordered Mexico to repair the damages, fully investigate and process the crimes, sanction those responsible, and publicly recognize the state’s international responsibility for its egregious failures.  Both local and federal police working femicide cases in Ciudad Juarez have been notorious for mishandling evidence, not following up on promising leads, and blaming victims because they wore revealing clothing or were out late at night.  Federal authorities said the decision was “under review.”