How many non-immigrant visas did the United States grant in Mexico last year?

In the year ending September 2007, the U.S embassy in Mexico processed applications for 1,300,000 non-immigrant visas (visitor, student, temporary work, and other categories) according to this page on the site of the U.S Embassy in Mexico. This year the embassy is projecting more than 1,600,000 applications – and projections are generally overtaken by actual applications, as the graph at the bottom of this page shows.

I called the Embassy myself this week to find out how many of the 1,300,000 non-immigrant visas processed last year were actually granted, but was told that information is not available. Then I emailed a press and information officer at the Department of Home Security and was directed to this page.

According to THAT info, not including border passes, a total of 1,027,737 non-immigrant visas were issued from Mexico last year. That would suggest that only 272,263 non-immigrant visa applications DIDN’T get granted by the US Embassy in Mexico, if their figures are anything to go by. Can that be right? Was Juan just one of the unlucky few?

Or is my maths just wrong? Please click on the image below to see it in full – it won’t fit in this blogging template.
imm stats

Figures provided by the U.S Department of State

Holiday in the United States? Not this time

A good friend of mine, Juan, was denied a tourist visa to the United States this week. It’s technically known as a B-2 visa. Juan’s girlfriend is from the U.S, and he wanted to travel with her to her home state later this year to attend her sister’s wedding and to meet her parents for the first time.

A home-owner (he bought the house thanks to a finance scheme through the Government) and Mexico City Government employee for the last five years, he did things the way that the United States want Mexicans who want to come to the U.S to do things. Continue reading

Arrest warrants issued for Cacho case

Mexican journalist Lydia Cacho Ribeiro, herself a victim of human rights abuses, listens to the tale of the friend of a prison inmate.Warrants for the arrest of five public employees involved in the illegal detention of journalist Lydia Cacho (pictured) have been issued in Mexico after the nation’s Supreme Court decided at the end of last year not to pursue legal proceedings against those involved in the case.

The Attorney General’s office, which represents a special office set up to investigate crimes against journalists in Mexico (Fiscalía Especial para la Atención de Delitos Contra Periodistas, FEADP), issued the arrest warrants. The names of those who are under arrest warrant have not been published, and it is not known whether Mario Marin, the governor of Puebla who was implicated in the illegal arrest of Cacho, is amongst them. Continue reading

Mexicans spending more on bribes

The fact that there exist official statistics on the amount and size of bribes paid in Mexico is perhaps indicative of the level to which corruption and the ‘informal economy’ is ingrained in Mexican Society.

The latest figures from Transperencia Mexico show that Mexicans spent 42% more on bribes last year than in 2005, splashing out a massive $2.6 billion. That’s an average of more than $24 for each of Mexico’s 105 million people.

A brief survey of friends shows that some have paid up to 500 pesos to policemen to get out of parking/ speeding and drinking infractions. But the best bribe story has to be a friend who got stopped for having a dodgy back-light, and gave the policeman such a hard time he eventually got off with just giving him a piece of gum as his payoff. Nice work.

For my part, I recall watching the TV news one afternoon. The newsreader was talking about how there is a problem in Mexico City with people dumping their trash on the pavement / sidewalk rather than leaving it in their house and bringing it out when the garbage guys pass by. It’s an offence, but it doesn’t carry a fine. He went on to say, on network TV, that the police were going to be of no help enforcing the law because there was no money in it for them – people weren’t going to pay a bribe if they weren’t eventually going to have to pay a fine. Such overt acknowledgement of the city’s system made me laugh.

There’s more on the nature of the types of bribes paid through this link – but it’s important to remember that the poll included tipping garbage collectors and other little ‘mordidas’ which in my mind, is more of a tip than a bribe. You decide.

Threats continue through April for journos

The month of April started off badly, and it doesn’t look like letting up anytime soon. Two journalists received menacing phone calls this week as a result of reports they’ve written. Continue reading

Travel alert issued for Mexico

The U.S State Department issued a travel warning for Mexico yesterday, prompted by the increasing violence on the U.S – Mexico border.

‘Violent criminal activity fueled by a war between criminal organizations struggling for control of the lucrative narcotics trade continues along the U.S.-Mexico border. Attacks are aimed primarily at members of drug trafficking organizations, Mexican police forces, criminal justice officials, and journalists. However, foreign visitors and residents, including Americans, have been among the victims of homicides and kidnappings in the border region. In its effort to combat violence, the government of Mexico has deployed military troops in various parts of the country. U.S. citizens are urged to cooperate with official checkpoints when traveling on Mexican highways.’ You can read the full statement here. Continue reading

April update: Violence against journalists continues

April is shaping up to be a bad month for journalists in Mexico. Continue reading