Mexico News and Analysis: Dec 12-18, 2011

1 - POLICE KILL TWO STUDENTS IN GUERRERO
2 - RACIST ARIZONA SHERIFF UNDER INVESTIGATION
3 - FEDERAL AUTHORITIES ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR RAPE BY ARMY TROOPS
4 - US SUPREME COURT TO RULE ON STATE IMMIGRATION LAWS
5 - US SECURITY AGENCIES HIRE FORMER MEXICAN OFFICIALS
6 - MSN PROGRAMS: Contact msn [at] mexicosolidarity [dot] org or (773) 583 7728   

1 - POLICE KILL TWO STUDENTS IN GUERRERO

Police killed two students from a teacher's college in Guerrero on Monday, part of a group of 500 students protesting efforts by the federal government to close the normal school system.  Unarmed students blocked a major highway near Chilpancingo demanding a meeting with Governor Angel Aguirre and the re-opening of the Raul Isidro Burgo normal school in Ayotzinga, a town about 90 miles from Chilpancingo.  Protestors complained the governor had canceled four previously scheduled meetings.  Blocking highways is a common protest tactic in Mexico.  Federal, state and ministerial police working with army troops and armed paramilitaries used tear gas and live ammunition to clear the highway, killing Gabriel Echeverria and Jorge Herrera.  

Police fired live ammunition for at least 20 minutes, while students responded with stones and bottles.  Many students were reported disappeared and at least two were seriously injured.  The normal school system, a rapidly disappearing vestige of campesino empowerment, trains rural residents as public school teachers and is generally seen as a center of radical anti-systemic activity that defends the rights of campesinos.  Governor Angel Aguirre, who likely issued the orders to disperse the students, fired several top state security officials and asked the federal government to investigate the murders.  Students quickly dismissed the possibility of an impartial official investigation.  Federal police accused state police of opening fire on the students, while state police released video of federal officers beating some two dozen detained students.

 

2 - RACIST ARIZONA SHERIFF UNDER INVESTIGATION

The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division accused Arizona's Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio this week of sponsoring a "pattern of misconduct" resulting in arbitrary arrests and excessive force against Latinos, and failure to investigate sexual assaults and protect Latino residents.  Arpaio is infamous for racial profiling directed at Latinos, chaining prisoners during work brigades in harsh desert climates, and forcing arrestees to submit to indignities like wearing pink underwear.  The accusations are part of a formal finding by the Justice Department that requires changes in the way Arpaio runs the sheriff's office.  Arpaio is a strong supporter of Texas Governor Rick Perry and is rumored to have national political ambitions himself.

 

3 - FEDERAL AUTHORITIES ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR RAPE BY ARMY TROOPS

Federal authorities publicly accepted responsibility for the rape of an indigenous woman, Valentine Rosendo Cantu, by army troops nine years ago in the state of Guerrero.  However, the guilty parties remain free and a full investigation into the incident is still in its initial stages.  The Inter-American Human Rights Court ordered the public gesture.  The court also called for civilian control over the military, which is largely immune from prosecution in Mexico's civil courts.

 

4 - US SUPREME COURT TO RULE ON STATE IMMIGRATION LAWS

The US Supreme Court accepted a case on Monday dealing with an Arizona statute that allows police to stop anyone they suspect of being in the US without proper citizenship documentation.  Lower courts ruled the law unconstitutional on grounds that immigration law is a federal mandate and not liable to individual state initiatives.  The court is likely to hear the case in April and issue a decision in July, at the height of the presidential election.  Similar laws were passed recently in other states, most notably Alabama, where state officials were embarrassed after executives from German and Japanese carmakers that the state had lobbied to invest were arrested for failing to produce immigration papers.  After Arizona passed its anti-immigrant laws, a national boycott of the state's famous tourist industry resulted in serious economic losses and the successful recall of state Senator Russell Pearce, a Republican supporter of the legislation.  In May the Supreme Court upheld one of Sen. Pearce's legal initiatives that allows local governments to rescind business licenses when employers hire undocumented workers.

 

5 - US SECURITY AGENCIES HIRE FORMER MEXICAN OFFICIALS

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have hired at least 80 former high ranking Mexican government officials who worked for the federal Attorney General and in several cabinet offices, according to a recent report by the daily newspaper La Jornada.  The Mexican officials worked in sensitive high level positions including intelligence, criminal investigation and spying.  Many of the officials participated in negotiations between the US and Mexico on issues like the Merida Initiative and use of US agents in Mexican territory, giving new meaning to the "revolving door."  The US agencies have opened offices on the top five floors of Reforma 265 and an entire floor of a hotel located at the Angel de la Independencia.  While only about 200 US security officials are currently working in Mexico, the number of informants and subcontracted Mexican officials is likely much higher.

 

6 - MSN PROGRAMS: Contact us at msn [at] mexicosolidarity [dot] org or (773) 583 7728   

 

SPRING 2012 SPEAKING TOURS :

All year (OH, MN, IN, WI, IL, MI, MO): "Why We Leave: the structural causes of US migration" with active members of the Albany Park Autonomous Center. These tours are coordinated on an ad hoc basis depending on the university and other respective schedules. 

 

March 4 - 17 (OH, KY, TN, NC): "Sowing Struggle: Urban and rural social movements in Tlaxcala, Mexico" with Luz Rivera Marti­nez, lead organizer with Consejo Nacional Urbano Campesino (CNUC). Luz will speak about her 20 years of experience constructing autonomy, organizing outside the electoral system, and resisting free trade. As CNUC's lead organizer, Luz has worked tirelessly to demand government accountability, defend family farms, and build inspiring, community-based health, education, and infrastructure projects. Luz is an amazingly inspiring speaker with a wealth of experience and her talk will have important lessons for anyone interested in women's, peasant, and labor movements.

 

March 18 - 31 (MI, IL, WI, MN): "On the Edge of Reason-Border Dynamics and the Spread of Violence" with Macrina Cardenas de Alarcon, a community activist and educator from Tijuana. Macrina Cárdenas de Alarcón of Tijuana, Mexico, discusses the reasons behind increasing violence along the US-Mexico border, including international arms traffic, reliance on a maquiladora economy, and US military aid. Macrina is the former Legislative Coordinator for MSN in Washington, DC, and she will draw on her five years of experience working as a community activist and educator in Tijuana with the Casa del Migrante .

 

April 8 - 21 (NY & PA): "Justice Now! The struggle for human rights in the indigenous communities of Chiapas, Mexico" with the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center  (FrayBa). A FrayBa staffperson will speak on the human rights situation in the indigenous communities of Chiapas, Mexico and the organization's incredible work accompanying indigenous communities in their process of resisting displacement and responding to para/military harassment. FrayBa and its staff have received a number of threats as of late but refuse to stand down in their opposition to infrastructure megaprojects, greenwashed schemes for displacement, and in their pursuit of integral justice.

 

STUDY ABROAD PROGRAMS - Mexico Solidarity Network study abroad programs focus on contemporary Mexican social movements struggling for autonomy and dignity in Chiapas, Tlaxcala, and Mexico City.  Programs are accredited at the undergraduate and master's level by the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, one of Mexico's most prestigious public universities.  Hampshire College and SUNY-Albany are the US schools of record and provide official transcripts.

  • Fall and Spring programs: 13-week, 16-credit Spring and Fall semesters, and special Summer programs are available.
  • Summer programs: 4-week, five credit programs in Chiapas, and Mexico City and Tlaxcala.

RESEARCH PROGRAMS - Students work as volunteers with Mexico's most important and dynamic social movements as part of collaborative research projects.  Movements include indigenous movements in Chiapas, campesinos, former Braceros, and organized sex workers in Tlaxcala, urban housing movements in Mexico City and community based movements in Ciudad Juarez.

 

AUTONOMOUS UNIVERSITY OF SOCIAL MOVEMENTS (AUSM) - Masters Program:

In partnership with the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, AUSM offers a two-year Masters program in Community Organizing.  Most classes are in the Albany Park Autonomous Center.  Students learn the theory, context and practice of community organizing through a combination of formal classes and hands on experience.

 

ALTERNATIVE BREAKS - The Albany Park Autonomous Center hosts one, two or three week educational programs for university students.  These short term educational programs focus on immigration dynamics and the reality of immigrant families living in the US.  Students live with immigrant families and programs include visits to APAC and partner organizations, plus workshops on immigration and labor dynamics, and some of the best home cooked food you can imagine.

 

ALBANY PARK AUTONOMOUS CENTER - (3460 W. Lawrence Ave  Chicago, IL  60625)

ESL and Spanish Literacy classes: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings.  Classes utilize popular education strategies to increase conversational English capacity and basic reading and writing skills in Spanish.  Computer classes Thursday and Saturday.

  • The Cleaning Power Cooperative is organized by immigrant women working to secure stable and dignified employment.
  • Cultural events and political workshops include immigrant rights, dance, guitar, jewelry-making and more. 

ALTERNATIVE ECONOMY INTERNSHIPS - Develop distribution networks for artisanry produced by women's cooperatives in Chiapas and make public presentations on the struggle for justice and dignity in Zapatista communities.

 

For more information on community events, classes, and political workshops, contact the Mexico Solidarity Network at 773-583-7728 or msn [at] mexicosolidarity [dot] org