NEWS AND ANALYSIS
 FEBRUARY 14-20, 2011


1 - MARCOS DISCUSSES CALDERON'S "WAR ON ORGANIZED CRIME"

2 - JOURNALIST ARISTEGUI REHIRED

3 - US TRAVEL WARNINGS INCLUDE MORE NORTHERN STATES

4 - TELEVISA AND TELMEX BATTLES HEAT UP

5 - MSN PROGRAMS: Contact us at msn [at] mexicosolidarity [dot] org or 773 583 7728 with questions.



1 - MARCOS DISCUSSES CALDERON'S "WAR ON ORGANIZED CRIME"

In a letter released by Enlace Zapatista on February 14, a date set aside by the Zapatista movement in memory of fallen comrades, Subcomandante Marcos discusses Calderon's "war on organized crime" in Mexico.  The letter is part II (and the first part issued publicly) of a four part exchange between Marcos and the well-known sociologist Luis Villoro addressing ethics and politics.  The complete text is available online (in Spanish or English), and the full set of letters will be published in next month's Revista Rebeldía.



Marcos writes extensively about the economic reasons behind Calderon's "war," which is strongly supported by international capital.  In 2009, the Armed Forces, the Secretary of Public Security and the Federal Attorney General spent more than 113 billion pesos (almost US$10 billion), yet all three sectors are short on weapons and materials, according to their own accounts.  US arms manufacturers are the major beneficiaries, both from sales to the Mexican government and to criminal elements.  Marcos characterizes the war, "which the government lost from the moment it was conceived..." as "destroying the last defense of a Nation: its social fabric." Marcos ends with a quote from Villoro's extensive work on collective identity: "identity is not simply an inherited legacy, rather, it is a constructed image that each group of people creates, and as such it is variable and changing, according to historic circumstances."



2 - JOURNALIST ARISTEGUI REHIRED
Radio journalist Carmen Aristegui, one of Mexico's most respected reporters, was rehired this week by MVS Radio.  Aristegui briefly lost her job last week after openly addressing one of the worst kept secrets in Mexico - President Felipe Calderon's affection for alcohol.  She will resume her popular morning drive-time show next week.  Aristegui claimed she was fired after Calderon's press office threatened her employer, whose radio station is currently awaiting government approval for its bandwidth.  The firing caused an uproar over freedom of the press, with many commentators wondering if Mexico was returning to PRI-era censorship.

3 - US TRAVEL WARNINGS INCLUDE MORE NORTHERN STATES

The US government barred its employees from traveling in the state of San Luis Potosi, and suggested US citizens avoid travel in four neighboring states, after two US federal agents were shot this week on a popular highway.  The unarmed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials were returning to Mexico City from Monterrey on Tuesday when they were forced off the road, most likely by gunmen associated with the Zetas, one of Mexico's most violent cartels.  They were carrying what news reports described as "technical equipment" and driving an armored SUV, the kind often coveted by cartel members.  Special Agent Jaime Zapata was killed and ICE Agent Victor Avila is recovering from gunshot wounds to the leg.  The agents identified themselves as US diplomats before being shot.  Investigators recovered at least 90 bullet casings at the scene.  Given the nature of the attack, it was not immediately clear why the gunmen allowed one agent to survive.  Police and ICE officials were guarding the road leading to Zapata's family home in Brownsville, Texas, on Thursday.  A Brownsville police spokesman said it was unusual to provide such protection, but said it was "for the privacy of the family."



In related news, President Calderon ordered four additional Army battalions to the northern borderlands to confront "criminality and their lack of scruples."  The troops will be sent to the states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon, though it was unclear how long they would stay.  A battalion can number up to 1,500 troops, though many battalions are smaller.  Calderon also announced salary and benefit increases for troops and payments of US$850 for the widows of soldiers who die in the drug war.



4 - TELEVISA AND TELMEX BATTLES HEAT UP

Carlos Slim, Mexico's wealthiest billionaire and owner of Grupo Carso,  ended all television advertising this week on rival Televisa, which will lead to a 4% decline in Televisa's anticipated 2011 revenues.  Slim owns Telmex and Telcel, providers of more than three-quarters of telephone service in Mexico.  Slim's companies want to enter the media market through "triple play," in which they would use existing bandwidth to offer television, phone and internet services.  Televisa, Mexico's most powerful media company and part of a duopoly that controls 80% of the television market, is opposing Slim's efforts.