Mexico’s drug violence is bad for business

The drug violence that continues to sweep across Mexico isn’t only damaging citizen confidence in the country’s government and public security. It also is taking a toll on Mexico’s economy, according to Treasury Secretary Agustin Carstens.

The Mexican government estimates that the violence has slowed economic growth by more than 1%.

Increased safety concerns have meant that companies and businesses spend 5% to 10% more on security services. This has hurt domestic competition and sales, according to Carstens, as well as having a negative affect on national development generally.

Last week was another bloody one for Mexico — on Thursday, 12 headless bodies turned up in the normally quiet southern state of the Yucatan.  Five bodies — four of them decapitated — were found earlier in the week in Tijuana. All the deaths are thought to have been drug-war related.

The ongoing drug wars and rising levels of crime and kidnappings in Mexico prompted thousands across the country to march over the weekend, expressing their anger and demanding action.

Carstens also announced that the security budget for 2009 will increase substantially, speaking to the newspaper Reforma.

Click here for more on the drug trade across Latin America.

For our special report on Mexico’s drug problems, go to our Mexico Under Siege page.

— Deborah Bonello in Mexico City

This blog post was written for La Plaza.

John McCain’s great timing

John McCain, the presumptive U.S Republican presidential candidate, couldn’t have timed his trip to Latin America better. Not only does he fly into Colombia a day before 6-year hostage of the FARC Ingrid Betancourt is liberated, he then rides into Mexico City this morning days after the Merida Initiative gets approved in El Norte.

Some of that great timing is pure coincidence – some not. Continue reading

Bribe culture in action

Corruption within Mexico’s law enforcement agencies is reputedly rife, and recent figures show that people here spent more on bribes last year than they did during 2005. But it’s always interesting to see hearsay happen, and yesterday I had the pleasure of witnessing the power of the bribe first hand.

Continue reading

Latin America promotes but doesn’t respect human rights

Latin American countries such as Brazil and Mexico have been strong on promoting human rights internationally and in supporting the UN human rights machinery during 2007.

But unless the gap between their policies internationally and their performance at home is closed their credibility as human rights champions will be challenged, according to this week’s report from Amnesty International on human rights around the world.

You can access the report here and click on the links at the top for specific country reports. 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

April update: Violence against journalists continues

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

Police linked to death threats of Veracruz newspaper

Diario El Mundo de Orizaba_1206053065236At around 10pm on Tuesday night of this week, Auricela Castro García, the publisher of El Mundo de Orizaba, a daily based in Orizaba in the southeastern state of Veracruz, received a phonecall.

Identifying himself as José Sánchez, the caller asked to speak to the publisher “for personal reasons.” The call was transferred to the editor, who said Castro was in a meeting and unavailable. The caller replied: “Tell her she has information, she knows what I am talking about, and if she publishes it, she will be killed.” Continue reading