Mexico News and Analysis: October 25 - 31, 2010

1 - FEDERAL POLICE SHOOT PROTESTOR IN CIUDAD JUAREZ
2 - FAMILY OF DIEGO “THE BOSS” USES POLITICAL CLOUT IN FAMILY DISPUTE
3 - PARAMILITARY LEADERS ASSASSINATED IN OAXACA
4 - TOURISM UP IN MEXICO

1 - FEDERAL POLICE SHOOT PROTESTOR IN CIUDAD JUAREZ
A federal police officer shot a student at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juarez on Friday during a protest against recent violence in the city.  Jose Alvarez was reported in stable condition after an officer opened fire on the Eleventh March Against Death.  At least two other federal officers pointed their weapons at marchers.  The march was the opening event in a weekend educational forum on violence that included presentations by two congressmen.

The shooting follows a Thursday morning incident in which cartel gunmen killed four employees of the Ottawa Leather Company as they were being transported home from their maquiladora jobs on a company bus.  Fifteen other workers were wounded during the assault. Apparently the owner of the bus refused to pay protection money to the cartel.  Federal police are in charge of President Calderon’s war on drugs and have virtually taken control of Ciudad Juarez along with thousands of army troops.  October was the bloodiest month in the history of the city with 352 people killed.


2 - FAMILY OF DIEGO "THE BOSS" USES POLITICAL CLOUT IN FAMILY DISPUTE
Diego "The Boss" Fernandez de Cevallos may still be kidnapped, but his family is using its political clout in dramatic ways to settle child custody issues.  On Thursday night, his eldest son, David Fernandez, showed up at his wife’s residence in Cozumel accompanied by masked officers from the Federal Agency for Investigation (AFI) and army troops.  After breaking doors and windows, then beating his wife Jimena Marin, the younger Fernandez took custody of his two sons, one and four years old, escaping in a convoy of vehicles guarded by AFI agents.  Marin accused her husband of armed assault, entering a house without a warrant, physical aggression and robbery.  She reportedly suffered serious personal injuries.  Apparently a judge from Queretaro, where the Fernandez family enjoys widespread political influence, issued an order awarding the children to their father, though the mother claims to have legal documents giving her custody. Typically, Mexican courts award child custody to the mother.  Last May after the kidnapping of Diego "The Boss", a leader in the National Action Party (PAN), the younger Fernandez held his wife and sons as virtual prisoners for four months before she was able to escape with her children to her family’s home in Cozumel.  Although last month the family claimed to have paid ransom, reportedly US$20 million, for the release of "The Boss", his whereabouts remain unknown.


3 - PARAMILITARY LEADERS ASSASSINATED IN OAXACA
Three paramilitary members identified by the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (APPO) as leaders of the “death caravans” in 2006 were assassinated Thursday afternoon in the entrance to a church only four blocks from the Oaxaca City center.  Ruben Maldonado, Jose Gonzalez and a third victim known as “Taliban” were members of paramilitary groups organized by PRI Governor Ulises Ruiz and responsible for at least two dozen murders in 2006.  The Zetas cartel took responsibility for the murders via an email.  Apparently Maldonado was aligned with a rival narcotics organization in Oaxaca. The attack follows the recent murders of Catarino Torres, leader of the Committee for Citizen Defense, and Heriberto Pazos of the Movement for Triqui Unification and Struggle (MULT).  Departing Governor Ruiz denied the murders might indicate increasing levels of social discontent or power struggles in Oaxaca.  Ruiz will be replaced by a PAN/PRD Governor in December.


4 - TOURISM UP IN MEXICO
Despite spectacular media reports of narco-violence along the US-Mexico border, tourism increased by 19% this year over last year in Mexico, and most came from the United States, according to the Mexico Tourism Board.  More than 4 million US tourists flew to Mexico during the first eight months of 2010, accounting for 61% of all foreign visitors.  Meanwhile, Continental, United and Delta announced new flights to Mexico, perhaps in search of customers from the failed Mexicana which is in bankruptcy proceedings.