#AceDailyNews says that ‘New Self-Defense Militia’Appears in Chiapas, Mexico to Fight and just like the Zapatista rebels before them, the indigenous people of the state in southern Mexico they have taken up arms, though this time they said it was to beat back the organised crime gangs plaguing their communities.
Tearful Mexican cartel chief threatens government after mother’s detention
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – One of the most wanted Mexican cartel leaders threatened the government and his arch-foes in highly unusual video messages, including one where he can be seen fighting back tears after his mother was detained over the weekend.
Jose “El Marro” Yepez is the leader of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel, which has been a thorn in the side of President Andres Lopez Obrador’s government due to his gang’s industrial-scale siphoning of petroleum from state-run oil company Pemex.
In one of the videos widely shared on social media, Yepez can be seen lashing out against the government after his mother was allegedly arrested in a major security operation in the city of Celeya in Mexico’s bloodiest state, Guanajuato.
“I’m going to be a stone in your shoe. I’m going to blow up, you will see,” Yepez, wearing jeans with a rifle slung over his shoulder, said in the video. Reuters was not able to independently verify the videos.
Mexican security forces on Sunday said they arrested members of an organised crime group in a raid in Celeya, where they found about 1 kilogram of a substance resembling methamphetamine and 2 million pesos ($88,000).
“Among the detainees are Maria “N”, Juana “N” and Rosalba “N”, alleged financial operators of the criminal organization,” Mexico’s security agencies said in a joint statement, without naming the Santa Rosa cartel or its leader.
El Universal newspaper said Yepez’ mother, sister and girlfriend were all arrested.
Yepez said he feared the authorities would frame his mother as one of the leaders of the cartel. “In my mother’s and my people name…I don’t fear you,” he said.
Yepez also said he could form a coalition with the Sinaloa cartel or other crime groups in the north to fight Santa Rosa’s arch-foe Jalisco New Generation cartel, which has been on a bloody expansion drive to take over rivals’ territories across the country.
Reporting by Diego Ore; writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Lisa Shumaker
#AceHealthReport – July.21: A few months later the pandemic had engulfed Mexico and thousands of people were dying every week. But Coquilteel and many small, indigenous towns in the state of Chiapas were left relatively unscathed. This has been a blessing but it also presents a problem.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk says cases have risen with men, women and children in this #pandemic and now Mexican villages refusing to vaccinate citizens with almost 30% of Mexicans have received one vaccine against #COVID19 so far but in the state of Chiapas the take-up rate is less than half of that. In Coquilteel, and many remote villages in the state, it’s likely to be closer to 2%. Last week Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador remarked on the low vaccination rate in Chiapas and said the government needed to do more according to BBC Latin News
By Stephanie Hegarty Population correspondent
In November Pascuala Vázquez Aguilar had a strange dream about her village Coquilteel, nestled among the trees in the mountains of southern Mexico.
A plague had come to the village and everyone ran to the forest. They hid in a hut under a tall canopy of oak trees.
“The plague couldn’t reach us there,” Pascuala says. “That’s what I saw in my dream.”
Pascuala is a community health leader for 364 communities in the area and she has been vaccinated. She travels in and out of the village and worries about bringing Covid back to her family and friends who, like most of their neighbours are not vaccinated.
They’re influenced by lies and rumours swirling around on WhatsApp. Pascuala has seen messages saying the vaccine will kill people after two years, that it’s a government plot to reduce the population or that it’s a sign of the devil that curses anyone who receives it.
AFPVaccination uptake in Chiapas state has been relatively low compared to other areas
This kind of disinformation is everywhere but in villages like Coquilteel, it can be particularly potent. “People don’t trust the government. They don’t see the government doing anything good, they just see a lot of corruption,” Pascuala says.
The community in Chilón are predominantly indigenous descendants of the Mayan civilisation. In Chiapas there are over 12 official traditional languages spoken. The first language in Coquilteel is Tzeltal and few people speak much Spanish.
The indigenous community in this part of Mexico has a history of resistance to the central authorities, culminating in the Zapatista uprising in 1994. “The government doesn’t consult people on how they want to be helped or how to govern,” says Pascuala. “The majority don’t believe that Covid exists.”
This isn’t just a problem in Mexico or in Latin America, it’s happening all over the world. In northern Nigeria in the early 2000s and later in parts of Pakistan, distrust of the authorities led to boycotts of the polio vaccine. Some of these communities believed a lie that the vaccine was sent by the US as part of the “War on Terror”, to cause infertility and reduce their Muslim population.
“There is fertile ground for rumours and misinformation where there’s already a lack of trust in authorities and maybe even in science,” says Lisa Menning, a social scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO) who researches barriers to vaccine uptake. “There are information gaps and perhaps poorly designed communications campaigns that have targeted these communities historically.”
Gerardo GonzálezPascuala, a vaccinated health worker, worries her unvaccinated friends and family might catch Covid
Nicolasa Guzmán García spends much of her day in Coquilteel tending to her chickens and growing fresh vegetable for her family. She does believe Covid is real but doesn’t feel the need to be vaccinated. “I don’t leave my home very much. I don’t travel to the city, I’m focused on looking after my animals,” she says.
She also believes that their traditional lifestyle protects the community – they eat healthy, fresh food and get a lot of fresh air and exercise. And like a lot of indigenous communities across Latin America, the Tzeltal practise a mix of Catholicism and their ancient spiritual religion.
“I can’t say if this vaccine is bad or good because I don’t know how it was made, who made it and what’s in it,” says Nicolasa. “But I prepare my traditional medicine myself so I have more confidence in it.”
She uses a mixture of cured tobacco, home-made alcohol and garlic to help with breathing problems, and tinctures made from Mexican marigold flowers or water of the rue plant for fever.
Medical doctor Gerardo González Figueroa has been treating indigenous communities in Chiapas for 15 years and says trust in herbal medicine is not just out of tradition but necessity – because medical facilities are often far away.
He believes there are some protective benefits from traditional diet, lifestyle and healing practices but he is extremely worried about low vaccination rates.
“I don’t think the efforts of the Mexican government have been strong enough in getting all of society involved,” he says. “These institutions have been acting in a paternalistic manner. It’s ‘go and get your vaccines’.”
AFPThe indigenous community in this part of Mexico has a history of resistance to the government
The federal government has said its vaccination programme is a success, with mortality declining by 80% amidst the third wave of Covid sweeping across Mexico’s more densely populated urban areas.
Pascuala believes the authorities gave up too easily when they saw that people were rejecting getting vaccinated in the village.
“It’s a false binary to think of supply and demand as separate things,” says Lisa Menning of the WHO. She points to the US, where polling in March showed communities of colour had also been hesitant to get vaccinated until authorities put a major effort into making vaccination accessible. Vaccination rates in these communities are now much higher.
“Having easy, convenient and really affordable access to good services, where there’s a health worker who’s really well-trained and able to respond to any concerns and responds in a very caring and kind respectful way – that is what makes the difference.”
It can’t be a top-down approach, she says. “What works best is listening to communities, partnering with them, working with them.”
Coquilteel is one of millions of small, rural communities around the world where this is sorely lacking. For now, all Pascuala can do is keep trying to convince people to get vaccinated and she’s focusing her efforts on those who leave the village, like truck drivers. But until everyone is vaccinated, she can only put her trust in other powers.
“Thanks to God we live in a community where there are still trees, and where the air is still clean,” she says. “I think in some way, Mother Earth is protecting us.”
#AceNewsReport – June.23: While this city across the border from McAllen, Tx. Is used to cartel violence as a key trafficking point, the 14 victims in Saturday’s attacks appeared to be what Tamaulipas Gov. Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca called “innocent citizens” rather than members of one gang killed by a rival:
Local businessman Misael Chavarria Garza said many businesses closed early Saturday after the attacks and people were very scared as helicopters flew overhead: On Sunday, he said “the people were quiet as if nothing had happened, but with a feeling of anger because now crime has happened to innocent people.”
“It’s not fair,” said taxi driver Rene Guevara, adding that among the dead were two of his fellow taxi drivers whom he defended and said were not involved in crime.
The attacks took place in several neighborhoods in eastern Reynosa, according to the Tamaulipas state agency that coordinates security forces, and sparked a deployment of the military, National Guard and state police across the city. Images posted on social media showed bodies in the streets.
Authorities say they are investigating the attacks and haven’t provided a motive.
But the area’s criminal activity has long been dominated by the Gulf Cartel and there have been fractures within that group: Experts say there has been an internal struggle within the group since 2017 to control key territories for drug and human trafficking. Apparently, one cell from a nearby town may have entered Reynosa to carry out the attacks:
Olga Ruiz, whose 19-year-old brother Fernando Ruiz was killed by the gunmen, said her sibling was working as a plumber and bricklayer in a company owned by his stepfather to pay for his studies.
“They killed him in cold blood, he and two of his companions,” said Olga Ruiz, adding that the gunmen arrived where her brother was fixing a drain.
“They heard the gunshots from afar and my stepfather told him: ‘son, you have to take shelter.’ So he asked permission to enter a house but my brother and his companions were only about to enter when the vehicles arrived,” Ruiz said. “They stopped in front of them and started to shoot.”
On Saturday, authorities detained a person who was transporting two apparently kidnapped women in the trunk of a car.
Security is one of the great challenges facing the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador: He has assured Mexicans that he is fighting the root causes of the violence and since the beginning of his administration in December 2018, he has advocated “hugs, not bullets” in dealing with criminals. He also says he is fighting corruption to stop the infiltration of organized crime among authorities:
But the violence continues.
“Criminal organizations must receive a clear, explicit and forceful signal from the Federal Government that there will be no room for impunity, nor tolerance for their reprehensible criminal behavior,” said García Cabeza de Vaca of the rival National Action Party. “In my government there will be no truce for the violent.”
But García Cabeza de Vaca himself is being investigated by the federal prosecutor’s office for organized crime and money laundering – accusations he says are part of plan by López Obrador’s government to attack him for being an opponent.
Tamaulipas – the state where the Zetas cartel arose and where the Gulf Cartel continues to operate – has seen several of its past governors from the Institutional Revolutionary Party accused of corruption and links to organized crime. One former governor, Tomás Yarrington, was extradited to the United States from Italy in 2018 on drug trafficking charges.
#AceNewsReport – May.04: In addition to the deaths, at least 70 people were injured in the wreck on the metro’s Line 12, the mayor said.Media stand at a police barricade barring access to the scene of the train crash:
The train collapsed down toward the road, trapping at least one car under rubble, according to authorities and firefighters and rescue personnel work to recover victims from a subway car that fell after a section of Line 12 of the subway collapsed according to AP
The rally’s participants used a metal police barricade as a battering ram, trying to storm the National Palace in Mexico City, which is mostly used for ceremonies involving President Enrique Pena Nieto.
Having failed to break into the National Palace, protesters set its front doors on fire. They managed to damage the entrance to the building, but were unable to get inside and were eventually driven away by police.
The storming of the National Palace came as the climax of Saturday’s mass rally which was inspired by Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam’s revelation Friday that three Guerreros Unidos gang members in custody had confessed to killing the students and incinerating their bodies, and had claimed that the young men were handed over to them by the police.
“We are asking the same thing as usual. We want to see our comrades alive,” a masked student told AFP as others chanted, “They took them alive, we want them back alive.” The students went missing on September 26, when they clashed with police during a protest in the southwestern town of Iguala. After police detained them and took them away, the students were not seen again.
Protesters wearing masks outside the Guerrero state building in Chilpancingo tossed firebombs and torched around a dozen vehicles, including trucks and a federal police vehicle.
Besides the allegations that the students were led to their eventual deaths by law enforcement agents, Mexicans were furious with the Attorney General’s remarks during the press conference. After an hour of fielding questions, Jesus Murillo Karam abruptly signaled for an end to the press conference by turning away from reporters and saying, “Ya me canse” or “I’ve had enough.”
The phrase immediately exploded on social networks while protesters used the phrase to draw graffiti as a sign of dissent. “Enough, I’m tired of Murillo Karam,” says one. Another asks, “If you’re tired, why don’t you resign?”
In connection with the massacre, authorities said they have already arrested 74 people, including the ousted mayor, Jose Luis Abarca, his wife Maria de los Angeles Pineda, 36 police officers and several Guerreros Unidos gang members.
‘ Search for missing Mexico students finds more dead ‘
Authorities came upon the new location based on statements from four people arrested early Monday, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.
The new remains were found in Cocula, a town about 10 miles (17 kilometres) from where the students last were seen.
Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam confirmed the four arrests in a press conference but made no mention of more remains or mass graves.
#AceBreakingNews – MEXICO CITY – September 26 – An army officer and seven soldiers are being detained in connection with the killing of 22 people in rural southern Mexico, an encounter that the military initially reported as a shoot-out but that a witness later described as a massacre.
‘ Killing of 22 by Army of 8 in June ‘
The Mexican Defence Department said in a statement late Thursday that the eight were involved in the June 30 incident in San Pedro Limon, but did not specify how Associated press reported.
They were being held at a prison in Mexico City on charges of crimes against military discipline, disobedience and dereliction of duty.
The group home residents were kept in deplorable conditions, fed rotten food and made to sleep on the floor among rats, ticks and fleas and many of them were never allowed to leave the premises, Murillo Karam said at a news conference attended by top federal investigators and Michoacan Gov. Salvador Jara.
“I’m in utter dismay because we weren’t expecting the conditions we found at the group home,” Jara said.
#AceWorldNews – MEXICO CITY – May 10 – The Mexican government says vigilante groups in the western state of Michoacan will have until May 10 to register their guns and decide whether to join the army’s “rural defence corps.”
The government had made little headway in a plan announced in January to put the estimated 20,000-strong vigilante force in the western state of Michoacan under the control of the army.
But the government commission for Michoacan said late Monday it had agreed to extend the deadline for joining the rural defense corps, a little-used, century-old body that armed farm workers to fight bandits and uprisings in the countryside.
The heavily armed “self-defense” groups have posed a thorny problem for the government. While they have earned popularity by driving the vicious Knights Templardrug cartel out of many parts of Michoacan, some of the vigilantes themselves have been accused of looting and killing.
Dozens of others remain in jail on charges of carrying weapons such as assault rifles that are prohibited for civilian use.
#AceWorldNews – VERACRUZ, MEXICO – A passenger bus collided with a broken-down truck and burst into flames, killing at least 33 people Sunday in southern Mexico, the Veracruz state government reported.
The federal highway department said the bus was travelling from the Tabasco state capital of Veracruz to Mexico City when the crash occurred (AP)
The emergency director for Veracruz’s Civil Defence agency, Ricardo Maza Limon, said the victims apparently burned to death inside the bus.
He said at least four people are known to have survived and officials were working to determine the identities of those who died.
The bus was en route to Mexico City after leaving Villahermosa in the state of Tabasco when it slammed into a truck and caught fire. Four others were injured in the accident according to the Veracruz state government (Reuters)