NYT: How the drug war impacts civilians

The drug war in Mexico has become pretty much a daily assignment here in the country – news of headless bodies turning up in the Yucatan and mass shootings in Chuihuaha tend to dominate the headlines. Combined with the huge crime wave and rising kidnappings, the country probably has one of the worst reputations abroad.

The New York Times has a great piece online today about how just regular citizens are reacting to the drug war.

“We all live in fear now,” he said. “Any of us could be taken or killed. I try to wear nothing and do nothing that attracts attention. I wear T-shirts and a hat. I have no jewelry. I don’t want to stand out.”

In modern Mexico, a new way of cautious thinking is setting in. A Hummer pulls beside one’s vehicle at an intersection? Better keep looking straight ahead. Or better yet, many recommend, do not stop at red lights at all.

Click here to read the full piece.

For nearly daily coverage of the drug violence in Mexico, stay tuned to the Los Angeles Times Mexico Under Siege page and the NYT’s Drug trafficking in Mexico topics page.

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Photos: Peace march in Mexico

A girl wielded a photo of Monica Alejandrina, who was kidnapped in 2004, during this Saturday’s march for peace across Mexico.

Thousands of protesters of all social classes hit the streets of cities across the country, expressing their anger and indignation at rising levels of kidnappings and crime across Mexico.

Click here for the video dispatch from the march.

Video: Mexicans march for peace

Tens of thousands of people of all social classes and ages marched across Mexico Saturday (August 30th 2008) in protest against high crime levels and rising kidnappings.

Anger has boiled over in the weeks since the death of Fernando Marti, the 14-year-old son of a wealthy businessman, whose body was found after his family reportedly paid millions of dollars to kidnappers.

At least two Mexico City police officers were suspected of involvement, provoking more fury among residents weary of endemic corruption and apparent impunity.

The Calderon government has struggled to show results from its 21-month-old offensive against organized crime.

More than 2,600 people have died this year in drug-related violence, according to unofficial counts by Mexican news outlets. [Los Angeles Times]

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Immigration explored as a concept in Mexico City exhibition

The video and photography exhibition Laberinto de Miradas – Labyrinth of Glances – that opened in Mexico City last month in the Cultural Center of Spain – features the kind of images that we are used to seeing in relation to immigration.

But the show also looks at migration and immigration as a concept, broadening out the typical notion we might have of the phenomenon of human migration and immigration.

Migration is “a middle-class Argentine woman, driven into exile by her country’s 2001 peso collapse. A Cuban man who bears the scars of jail time served for trying to flee to Miami. Hundreds of Brazilians of mixed ethnicities, body types and attitudes, mostly economic refugees from other parts of the country, all crammed into a ramshackle São Paulo apartment building, striving to co-exist (see photo, by Cia de Foto), writes Reed Johnson in this Los Angeles Times dispatch.

Watch the narrated slideshow below, made for the Los Angeles Times,  for some pictures from the show.

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Waiting for a man to die

Outside the American Embassy last night, August 5th 2008

Photo: An empty bench outside the American Embassy on Tuesday. There was no candlelit vigil for Medellin in a city still on shock from other violent crime. Deborah Bonello / MexicoReporter.com

On Tuesday, I waited for a man to die. Even though several people die every minute of every day, I’ve never known the name of the person that I knew was going to die; neither have I ever known so closely when they were going to die and how. But yesterday I knew.

The man’s name was Jose Ernesto Medellin, and now he is dead. On Tuesday, he was due to die at 6pm at the hands of the Texan government for the brutal rape and murder of two teenage girls in 1993.

Jose Ernesto Medellin from Mexico Mexican, and the United States Embassy had predicted protests in a case that had attracted international attention and condemnation. The Mexican Government, the International Criminal Court at the Hague as well as other major players such as Ban Ki-Moon of the United Nations had all tried to step in to stop the execution, claiming the United States had violated the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by failing to inform the arrested Mexican nationals of their right to seek help from the Mexican Consulate. Their pleas didn’t work.

So I left the confines of the office to head down to the embassy try to catch some of the expected protests on film around the hour of Medellin’s execution. Continue reading

Video: Raising of the flag

Following last week’s filming session in the Zócalo, where I was denied the chance to film closeup to the military whilst they were raising the ntaional flag, I managed to edit the move into a decent summary of the ritual.

This film was made for La Plaza, and you can see it here on this post.

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Filming the raising of the flag in Mexico City

Every morning in Mexico City’s Zocalo, the country’s military raise the national flag in a ceremony enjoyed by tourists and Mexicans alike. Many of the Mexican bystanders on their way to work stop and salute as the flag goes up.  Sometimes it goes up at 6, sometimes at eight, and it usually comes down around 6 at night – timing tends to depend on the season and the weather. Continue reading