Mexico News and Analysis: January 16-29, 2012

1 - NEWS FROM THE OTHER CAMPAIGN - http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/
2 - PRI AND GORDILLO SPLIT
3 - BORDER PATROL INCREASING PENALTIES FOR UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANTS
4 - NAFTA TRIBUNAL TO HEAR SME CASE
5 - HACKERS SHUT DOWN GOVERNMENT WEB SITES
6 - NAZAR HARO DEAD

-The Union of Campesinos in Defense of the Land, Water and Ejido Coahuila denounce forced dislocations from their lands and waters.
-The Digna Ochoa Human Rights Center denounces government repression directed against the National Network against High Electricity Tariffs in Veracruz.
-The Fray Bartolome Human Rights Center denounces repression against Zapatista support bases by groups affiliated with the PRI in Tenejapa, Chiapas.

2 - PRI AND GORDILLO SPLIT
An electoral coalition between the PRI and the Nueva Alianza Party (Panal), formed last November 17, ruptured unexpectedly on January 20.  Panal is the invention of Elba Esther Gordillo, president-for-life of the powerful National Education Worker's Union (SNTE).  She managed the 2006 electoral fraud that brought President Felipe Calderon to power.  Gordillo's decision to break with the PRI was the result of failed negotiations over Senatorial posts in the upcoming national elections.  Half of Mexico's Senate is elected from plurinominal lists according to the percentage of votes received by each party.  In coalitions like that formed by the PRI, which includes the smaller Panal and Green Party, there is always fierce competition for high placements on the plurinominal lists.  Parties like Panal and the Greens, who are interested in power and high-paying government posts but with no ideological platform, are famous for selling their votes to the highest bidder among the three major parties, the PRI, PAN and PRD.  Disagreements arose among PRI leaders over the placement of Gordillo's daughter and son-in-law at the top of the lists in Chiapas and Sinaloa.  PRI presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto rushed to repair the damage that could threaten his candidacy, since without a coalition agreement Panal would presumably run its own presidential candidate, potentially siphoning millions of votes from the PRI.  Luis Videgaray, Peña Nieto's campaign coordinator, characterized relations with Gordillo as "splendid" and described the rupture as a cordial and mutual decision.  Look for Gordillo to market Panal votes to the PAN or PRD, and perhaps force the PRI back to the negotiating table.

3 - BORDER PATROL INCREASING PENALTIES FOR UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANTS
The US Border Patrol is gradually implementing a system in which undocumented migrants spend time in prison rather than simply being turned back at the border.  The so-called "Consequence Delivery System," to be formally announced within weeks, will punish undocumented immigrants with misdemeanor or felony prosecutions, or transport them to distant border cities or into the interior of Mexico.  Many first time offenders face six months in prison, and court cases are clogging an already-strained federal court system that is often unable, or unwilling, to prosecute white collar crime, public corruption or other serious threats.  Since many immigrants are young males with families to support in their home countries, the new strategies can leave the families without a source of income, and liable to human traffickers for up to $4,000 for transport from Mexico to the US.  The new strategies appear to be largely the result of more Border Patrol agents - 21,000 at last count - with increased access to resources who are often implementing costly alternatives like court trials, prison time, or one-way flights from the border to Mexico City.  Agents use color coded wallet-sized cards to decide among alternatives, depending on the characteristics of the person apprehended.  Only children are quickly returned to the other side of the border under the old "voluntary return" program.  California is unique among border states: "It has not been the practice to target and prosecute economic migrants who have no criminal histories, who are coming into the United States to work or to be with their families," said Laura Duffey, the US Attorney in San Diego.

4 - NAFTA TRIBUNAL TO HEAR SME CASE
A NAFTA tribunal will hear a complaint brought by the Mexican Union of Electrical Workers (SME) against Mexico's federal government for the closure of Central Light and Power (LyFC) and termination of the entire SME workforce.  The Calderon administration closed LyFC, using thousands of police officers and army troops, late on a Saturday night in October 2009.  More than 44,000 union workers lost their jobs and pensions.  The case will be argued under the so-called labor side agreements that form part of NAFTA.  The largely toothless side agreements were added at the last minute under the Clinton administration in an effort to pacify labor's opposition to the free trade agreement.  Probably the best SME can hope for is a stronger negotiating position as the union tries to win new employment for fired workers.

5 - HACKERS SHUT DOWN GOVERNMENT WEB SITES
The international hacker group Anonymous is on the offensive again, shutting down the web sites of Mexico's Interior Department and Senate to protest federal anti-piracy laws currently under consideration.  The National Action Party (PAN) is promoting a bill that would affect royalties on intellectual property.

6 - NAZAR HARO DEAD
Miguel Nazar Haro, head of the infamous Federal Security Directorate (DFS) during Mexico's dirty war from 1978 to 1982, died this week.  Nazar Haro was responsible for hundreds of cases of torture, beatings and assassinations in the 70s and 80s.  He was a 1965 graduate of the USAID-funded International Police Academy.  Senator Rosario Ibarra accused him of personally torturing and disappearing her son, Jesus Piedra Ibarra, along with hundreds of other students, workers, and guerillas.  He was arrested in 2004 and spent a month in jail, followed by two years under house arrest before a judge dismissed the charges in 2006.  He died without ever accounting for his crimes.

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