Mexico News and Analysis: June 6-12

1 - NEWS FROM THE OTHER CAMPAIGN (http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/)
2 - U.S. ASSAULT RIFLES INCREASINGLY AVAILABLE IN MEXICO
3 - FORMER CHIAPAS GOVERNOR ARRESTED FOR MISUSE OF FUNDS
4 - PRISON HUNGER STRIKE IN CHIAPAS ENDS
5 - CARAVAN FOR PEACE ARRIVES IN CIUDAD JUAREZ
6 - ALABAMA INITIATES ANTI-IMMIGRANT LAW

1 - NEWS FROM THE OTHER CAMPAIGN (http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/)
-Ejido San Sebastian Bachajon, a member of the Other Campaign, denounces official incompetence and the unjustified arrest of community members.

-The National Indigenous Congress and the community of Santa Maria Ostula, Michoacan, denounce the death or disappearance of 16 community members over the past six months.

-The National Indigenous Congress denounces the state of siege in Tlanixco, State of Mexico, and the construction of a highway that is destroying farmland and forests.

2 - U.S. ASSAULT RIFLES INCREASINGLY AVAILABLE IN MEXICO
"Fast and Furious," an undercover operation mounted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) to knowingly allow 2,500 military style weapons to be illegally smuggled into Mexico, has gone badly awry. The ATF hoped to follow the weapons, collecting intelligence on cartels and gun traffickers, but the arms are increasingly showing up in unexpected places - and may be implicated in murders, including the December death of a Border Patrol agent in Arizona. In April, five assault rifles associated with Fast and Furious were confiscated in Ciudad Juarez, part of a massive haul of weapons mostly imported from the US. The Phoenix office of the ATF mounted the operation without informing their Mexican counterparts and without sufficient resources to track all the weapons. The operation is now the focus of a Congressional investigation. Attorney General Eric Holder and other high ranking Justice Department officials claim no previous knowledge of the operation, but investigators question how such an audacious program could be adopted without their approval.

3 - FORMER CHIAPAS GOVERNOR ARRESTED FOR MISUSE OF FUNDS
Former Chiapas Governor (2000-2006) Pablo Salazar Mendiguchia was arrested this week, charged with pocketing US$9 million in unjustified bonuses and misusing US$250 million from US$915 million in federal funds designated for Hurricane Stan relief in 2005. Salazar may also be held responsible for the unexplained deaths of 30 children in the Comitan Regional Hospital in December 2002 and January 2003. An additional 50 officials from his administration are under investigation, and two are already in jail. Salazar immediately declared a hunger strike, reminiscent of former President Carlos Salinas de Gotari's ill-fated hunger strike in 1995. Salinas de Gotari lasted until lunch, broke the hunger strike for a quick meal, then resumed in the afternoon, only to appear haggard and beleaguered the following morning at a press conference, after which he definitively ended his quixotic adventure. Perhaps Salazar is more serious, but Mexico's political class is not known for keeping its promises, especially when they involve personal sacrifice. The arrest may be political payback. Salazar jailed five PRI officials from the previous administration of Roberto Albores Guillen, though all are free today. Elected under a PAN-PRD alliance, Salazar filled his administration with former and current PRI members. He was infamous for his new take on low intensity warfare, utilizing the carrot more than the stick by offering handouts, land titles and government posts to Zapatista allies in an effort to weaken and divide indigenous resistance.

4 - PRISON HUNGER STRIKE IN CHIAPAS ENDS
More than 450 prisoners in Chiapas ended a week-long hunger strike after prison Director David Montero agreed to resign. Televisions and other personal effects confiscated last week were returned, normal conjugal visits will resume, and officials promised to improve the dismal prison food.

5 - CARAVAN FOR PEACE ARRIVES IN CIUDAD JUAREZ
The Caravan for Peace and Justice with Dignity, led by poet and journalist Javier Sicilia whose son died in March at the hands of organized crime, arrived in Ciudad Juarez on Friday. The Caravan began in the central Mexican state of Morelos and travelled 1800 miles before reaching Ciudad Juarez. Subcomandante Marcos sent a letter supporting the caravan on Tuesday. Also earlier in the week, police arrested at least 50 local youths associated with the caravan and trashed a human rights office, but thousands greeted the caravan in this besieged city in spite of the official repression. In an event in El Paso, Texas on Saturday Sicilia invited US organizations to join the protest, calling for preventing easy access to weapons and massive drug consumption north of the border, and stopping violence and political corruption in Mexico. Sicilia also called for an end to the Merida Initiative which channels US$1.4 billion to Mexican security forces. Nearly 500 people signed a pact calling on the Calderon administration to remove military forces from the "war on drugs" and focus law enforcement efforts on money laundering. The Mexico Solidarity Network joins the Caravan and calls for strict controls on international capital and higher corporate taxes for increased social services. Neither Mexico nor the US can continue to live in a capitalist society that places profits above people and creates the conditions for drug abuse and illegal cartel activities.

6 - ALABAMA INITIATES ANTI-IMMIGRANT LAW
Republican Governor Robert Bentley signed the most stringent anti-immigrant law in the country on Thursday, making Alabama the new poster child for immigrant abuse. Police must detain anyone suspected of being in the US illegally if they cannot produce "proper" identification papers when stopped for any reason. Transport of undocumented workers is a crime, businesses that hire undocumented workers risk losing their business license, and school officials must verify the residency status of students by checking birth certificates or using sworn affidavits. Courts have already blocked parts of a similar law passed in Arizona last year, preventing local police from checking immigration status. Opponents vowed to challenge the Alabama law in federal court. Local law enforcement may find enforcement costly and time-consuming, preventing police from dealing with real crimes in their communities.

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