Tagged: Mexico

Feds want to send veterinarians into Mexico — where the State Department says tourists shouldn’t risk their lives

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering sending federal veterinarians in Texas across the border into Mexico to inspect cattle, a practice that ended years ago over safety fears.

Government workers have come out against the plan, confounded as to why they would be required to work in a Mexican state under a travel warning by the State Department because of carjackings and robberies…

According to its most recent travel warning, the State Department urges U.S. citizens to “defer non-essential travel” to the Nuevo Leon, except for the major hub of Monterrey, which itself carries other warnings.

The closest major city to the facility is Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, a place known for the drug cartel violence that has been recorded there.

A lawyer for the government veterinarians along the border said the federal workers are unwilling to work there because of fears of being kidnapped or killed.

“Nobody is holding a gun to their head … yet,” said Bill Hughes who represents the National Association of Federal Veterinarians, which opposes the plan. “But USDA officials have told them in no uncertain terms that when they’re assigned there they better go or there are going be serious consequences to their careers, such as losing their jobs…”

Until March 2010, cattle inspections were routinely done in Mexico, but due to the rise in drug cartel violence along the border, U.S. authorities transferred inspections to U.S.-based facilities. During inspections veterinarians are tasked with clearing the cattle for fever ticks, hoof and mouth disease and other illnesses.

The real question is, why would (the) USDA even be taking a chance? How much risk is acceptable to place its civilian employees into for even the slight convenience of having the animals inspected in Mexico?” Hughes said.

Idiots. Hughes says reassuring things about the bureaucrats considering this decision. All well and good. He represents veterinarians employed by the USDA. No need to jostle the flunkies who can threaten their jobs, their careers.

I doubt there is any portion of the US meatpacking industry that cares much about the safety of veterinary professionals compared to profits. They’ve already proven that by ridding their packing plants of American citizens and replacing them with undocumentados – cutting wages in half. Experience tells me that political pressure with an emphasis on pace and costs is motivating USDA bureaucrats to consider a procedural change this stupid.

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Mexico wins Gold in the Olympics football final


REUTERS/JORGE SILVA used by permission

Mexico’s Oribe Peralta scored twice in their victory over Brazil, today, for the Olympic gold medal in football. This was the celebration after his first goal – in the first 30 seconds of the match. Final score Mexico 2 – 1 Brazil.

Bravo, Mexico!

Reshoring — some manufacturing heads back to USA

Faced with rising costs, General Electric is moving production of its new energy-efficient water heater halfway around the world. The country it’s leaving? China. The one it’s bringing 400 jobs and a newly renovated factory? The United States.

A small but growing band of U.S. manufacturers — including giants such as General Electric, NCR and Caterpillar — are turning the seemingly inexorable offshoring movement on its head, bringing some production to the U.S. from far-flung locations such as China. Others that were buying components overseas are switching to U.S. suppliers.

Ford Motor said Wednesday that it’s bringing nearly 2,000 jobs to its U.S. plants by 2012 from suppliers, including those in Japan, Mexico and India.

Experts say the initiatives could moderate job losses that have dramatically shrunk the U.S. manufacturing industry. “I think we’re going to start to see a slowing of lost jobs, and we’ll see some jobs coming back,” says Simon Ellis, an analyst for IDC Manufacturing Insights. “At some point, it will balance out, and we’ll reach an equilibrium…”

“A lot of companies who have gone there to take advantage of cheap labor are starting to tell us that if you (calculate) total … cost and don’t just look at wages, it’s actually not worth it,” says Jeremy Leonard, consultant for Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI, an industry-funded research group…

Products that are labor-intensive and churned out in high volumes, such as apparel, textiles and TVs, will likely continue to be made overseas. So will those that are relatively inexpensive to ship but high-priced, such as laptops and cellphones, Ellis says. Goods are increasingly being made near customers, a trend that’s driving U.S. makers to build factories in fast-growing China.

Still, says Jim Campbell, CEO of GE’s appliance unit: “The biggest difference is the U.S. is in the game now.”

RTFA, Long and detailed – and I don’t agree with the priority of reasons assigned by the authors; but – so what? The facts remain the same. Many significant industrial firms are moving back to the United States from China, Mexico, Japan, India and elsewhere in developing nations.

Most often – IMHO – the cost of shipping finished goods back to the US is key. The arguments about wages pale when you compare American industry with nations like Germany and Japan which are important leaders in big ticket exports. Their industrial workers earn 25-50% more than American workers. You won’t find anyone in the Republican Party or the Chamber of Commerce who will admit that – but, it’s the fact.

Mexican government to probe Wal-Mart?


Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Mexico’s federal government should investigate allegations of a vast bribery campaign by top executives of Wal-Mart’s Mexican subsidiary to build stores across the country, the head of a watchdog group said Sunday.

Eduardo Bohorquez, director of Transparencia Mexicana, said international conventions obligate Mexico’s government to get involved even though only local officials have been linked to the scandal. “The laws in Mexico and the United States relating to bribery are in effect, so the practices (of legal business) should be the same in both countries,” he said.

Government officials declined on Sunday to comment on the allegations contained in a New York Times report that said Wal-Mart Stores failed to notify law enforcement after its own investigators found evidence that millions of dollars in bribes had been paid in Mexico to spur the company’s rapid expansion there…

A lawyer for Wal-Mart de Mexico, Juan Manuel Torres Landa, said the company had no comment on any of the allegations.

Jose Luis Manjarrez, spokesman for the federal Attorney General’s Office, said the agency had conducted no investigations on such matters and had no other comment.

One of every five Wal-Mart stores now is in Mexico and it is the country’s largest private employer, with 209,000 employees.

I’m not certain if there are any major corporations doing business in Mexico which aren’t involved in bribery. I’m not certain if there are any government officials in Mexico who aren’t involved in bribery. I’d certainly be surprised if there are any traffic cops in Mexico who don’t ask for bribes. :)

Saying all that – US law is reasonably strict about bribery even when it’s conventional protocol in some nation or other. Sounds to me like Wal-Mart is between the veritable rock and a virtual hard place.

Toy company busted for laundering drug cartel money

They were sellers of pastel-toned huggable plush toys with names like “Baby Frenz Forever” and “Jungle Pals.” At the same time, authorities say, they were receiving bricks of U.S. dollars wrapped in cellophane that were drug proceeds to be laundered into clean pesos for drug lords in Mexico and Colombia.

On Monday, authorities announced charges against the City of Industry-based Woody Toys and seven owners, employees and customers in what marks the second case in two years involving toy exporters allegedly acting as conduits for the drug trade.

Woody Toys was a key player in a sophisticated international financial scheme that converted more than $1 million into pesos each year, according to officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations…

In all, the company is accused of laundering about $6 million in suspected drug profits since 2005, according to the indictment…

According to investigators, the company received suspected drug proceeds either through in-person deliveries — a hand-off at a McDonald’s parking lot and drop-offs at warehouses — or through anonymous bank deposits. Employees “structured” deposits into the company’s bank accounts, keeping sums under $10,000 to avoid reporting requirements…

The sums were then credited to accounts of toy dealers in Mexico or Colombia, who in turn made payments through the black market peso exchange to drug trafficking groups. The foreign toy dealers got a discounted exchange rate, the company received a boost in its business and drug traffickers got laundered proceeds that appear to be generated from a legitimate trade…

The money laundering charge carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, according to ICE.

Such a kind, thoughtful business culture. Toys for the kiddies. Millions for the owners. Clean pesos for the drug cartel.

Cross-border commerce at its inventive best.

Arrests for Saint Death ritual human sacrifices in Mexico

Police in northern Mexico have arrested eight people for allegedly killing two 10-year-old boys and a 55-year-old woman in ritual sacrifices. Prosecutors in the state of Sonoru say the alleged suspects belong to the cult of La Santa Muerte, or Saint Death.

Jose Larrinaga, a spokesman for Sonora state prosecutors, said the victims’ blood was poured around an altar to the saint, which is depicted as a skeleton holding a scythe and clothed in flowing robes.

The cult, which reveres death, has been growing rapidly in Mexico among drug traffickers and criminals in recent years, but there have been no confirmed cases of human sacrifices in the country…

Authorities began investigations after 10-year-old Jesus Octavio Martinez Yanez was reported missing on March 6 by his stepfather. Investigations led authorities to an apparent altar site in the Sonora city of Nacozari, about 110km south of Douglas, Arizona.

Larrinaga said the arrests were made after tests by forensic experts on Thursday found blood traces spread over 30 square meters there…

Those arrested included Silvia Meraz and her son Ramon Palacios, who allegedly killed the victims.

Speaking to reporters, she said: “We all agreed to do it. Supposedly she [one of the victims] was a witch or something.” She did not respond to questions about the boys’ killings.

Often, reasonable educated people find the rituals and trappings of religion simply laughable. A sensible reaction to a serious look at what people truly believe will result from prayer, tithing, repeating gestures leftover from trying to scare away things that go boomp in the night while a frightened and ignorant clan huddles in their cave. But, no unusual stretch of the imagination is needed to extend belief in, say, transubstantiation — partaking in the body of Christ, cripes! — into an act of human sacrifice.

It happens all the time and usually results in an arrest of some singularly demented individual like Jeffry Dahmer. That something similar can move to become a public cult, growing along with parallel hero worship of the leaders of drug gangs speaks volumes about a massively ignorant population accustomed to being led at the local level by a broad hierarchy of superstition.

Don’t kid yourself that Americans are above this, that it can’t happen here.

All of Mexico’s highly-enriched uranium removed to United States

Rachel Maddow reports exclusively the breaking news that all of Mexico’s highly enriched uranium has been removed to the United States, and talks with Sarah Dickerson, National Nuclear Security Administration threat reduction director, and Anthony Wayne, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, about the distribution of nuclear material around the world by the U.S. and how the deal was made with Mexico to take their nuclear material off their hands.

That’s the intro to several videos released last night as a special on MSNBC. About a month ago Rachel Maddow traveled with NSA specialists supervising the removal of highly-enriched uranium from Mexico’s research reactors – to be brought back to the United States. The program was interesting in more than one way.

Regulars here know that one function of this, my personal blog, is to offer for reflection some of the few remaining bits and pieces of professional journalism I can find. It’s a diminishing skill for a number of reasons – the biggest being the transformation of “news” into “entertainment”.

Rachel Maddow is part of an even smaller percentage of journalists who carries job skills from print to video. As a news junkie I watch a lot more news than most. I watch news programs and explode often over incompetent journalists who haven’t yet learned to ask leading questions – instead of stupid questions.

For this reason, I suggest you watch the linked videos available at the MSNBC site, Rachel’s Maddow’s blog. She and they may someday release these to easier access on YouTube or somewhere. Not yet. So, I’m not going to jump through all the technical hoops needed today – to host this at this site. But, I highly recommend watching, learning, thinking about the questioning both casual and critical. We don’t get very much of this.

Click on the photo to go to the video site. After the bloody commercial and the intro segment, I’d suggest watching the videos in sequence. There’s a menu on the left side of the screen.

A kidnapping is ignored – as most crimes go unpunished in Mexico


Photographs of Zynthia Cazares’ brother, husband and father, all still missing

Matamoros, Mexico — They have spotted their stolen vehicles at stoplights, driven by the same gunmen who used them to take their entire family captive last July. They have reported the brazen abduction to every branch of Mexican law enforcement, only to be ignored, or directed someplace else.

For the women of the Cazares family who were kidnapped with their families for ransom — and who are still searching for five missing relatives — the official response to their horrific ordeal has been even more excruciating than the crime itself. Even now, they say, after months of trying to goad the Mexican authorities into action, they still see criminals they recognize living large here in this border city, as untouchable as kings.

“We’re completely impotent,” said Zynthia Cazares, 30, an American citizen who was among those abducted and whose husband, brother and father are still missing. “No one will help us.”

Six years into a mostly military assault on drug cartels, impunity across much of Mexico has worsened, and justice is harder to find. Criminals in Mexico are less likely to be punished now than even just a few years ago, say current and former government officials and experts who have studied Mexico’s ailing judiciary, because the authorities have been overwhelmed by increases in violent crime while corruption, fear and incompetence have continued to keep the justice system weak.

Many areas now veer toward lawlessness: in 14 of Mexico’s 31 states, the chance of a crime’s leading to trial and sentencing was less than 1 percent in 2010…and since then, experts say, attempts at reform have stalled as crime and impunity have become cozy partners.

“Crime goes up, diminishing the likelihood of punishment, which causes crime to rise again,” said Alejandro Hope, a former senior intelligence officer for Mexico. “And so we go.”

On our side of the border we get the same crap press releases the Mexican government hands out on their side. The War on Drugs is succeeding – especially with the help of politicians in Washington, DC. Hogwash!

Remedies for a criminal drug culture are simple and well established in countries where decisions are grounded in science and medicine — not religious morality and ten cent slogans.

Authorities on both sides of the border might consider getting down to business and clearing the criminals out of government, disarming the gangsters on the street. It starts by taking the profit out of prohibition. It didn’t work the last time we made a big deal of it. It still doesn’t work.

RTFA for the details, the story of this tormented family, the silence and stonewalling of a useless government.

A quiet weekend in Juarez, Mexico — only 1 decapitation!


This is not an assault – the police travel in convoys to protect each other

The severed head of a Texas man was found lying on a bus stop bench in Juarez, Mexico…The rest of the man’s body had been cut into pieces and placed inside two bags that were left in another location, the El Paso Times reported.

Clothing and a Texas identification card with the name Eder Vidana Solis were found with the body parts, investigators said.

The man was among at least six people, including two police officers, who were victims of renewed violence in Juarez Sunday and Monday. The two police officers were killed in a Sunday afternoon street shooting.

Four homicides were reported Monday…Three people were shot to death while the body of an unidentified woman was found in a vacant lot with a plastic bag over her head. Police said she had been stabbed several times.

Friends of mine who don’t live in the Southwest sometimes ask me if I ever spend time in Mexico?

The short answer? No.

Mass grave in Mexico down by Guatemala turns up 167 bodies — UPDATED/CORRECTED


StringerMexico Reuters/March 10, 2012

Authorities are investigating a mass grave in southern Mexico containing 167 bodies that may have been dumped there at least 50 years ago, a Mexican official said…The remains, found in a cave near the Guatemalan border, “disintegrated at the touch,” said the official at the Chiapas state prosecutor’s office.

Investigators are trying to determine the age and gender of the victims and the cause of death, the official said on condition of anonymity.

The advanced state of decomposition suggests they are at least 50 years old, he said, adding there were no obvious signs of violence.

Mexican authorities including the police, the prosecutor’s office, civil protection personnel and the military were working to exhume the bodies and transport them for analysis.

The grave is on a remote ranch near the town of Frontera Comalapa, about 11 miles from the Guatemalan border in an area where migrants from Central America often cross on their way to the United States.

A 36-year civil war in Guatemala, which began in 1960, claimed 250,000 lives and left 45,000 people missing. Activists suspect they were killed by soldiers and secretly buried.

In recent years, drug trafficking gangs have dumped the bodies of hundreds of victims, including scores of Central American migrants, into mass graves.

Take your choice? Drug gangs violence? Civil War? Fascist-minded government officials, parochial or national in character, eliminating dissent?

UPDATE/CORRECTION: Anthropologists and forensics experts finally arrived on the scene and – guess what? – local coppers’ interpretations of what was found turned out to be seriously wrong. Starting with the realization the bodies have been in the cave about 1300 years!