Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Border catch-up

Of late I've neglected the action to our south, but things are still happening apace. Charles Bowden, a man with considerable insight into how things operate in Mexico, has written a jarring piece for Mother Jones about the experiences of a Mexican reporter who has applied for asylum in the U.S. after having given offense to the army in Mexico. He stands in mortal danger for having done so.
To gain political asylum, applicants must prove they have been persecuted or have a well-founded fear of persecution because of their political opinion or an "immutable characteristic" such as race, religion, or nationality. When it comes to people fleeing Mexico, the United States has quibbled with claims of immutability, telling Mexican cops running from the cartels that they should just stop being a cop, move to another part of Mexico, become a plumber. But (the reporter) can't hide from the Army. Those three stories he filed in 2005, the opinions therein, they created an immutable impression on the Army. After that he apologized. He ceased writing anything bad about the Army even when he witnessed them killing people in his town in February 2008. None of this helped. When the Army swept the area again a few months later, they came after him.
(The reporter's American lawyer) says, "The concept of revenge is part of the Mexican political system. Emilio has insulted the institution and it has an incredible memory. The only thing worse he could do, he has done also—to leave the country and denounce it from the US side of the border."

Read all the story here.
A couple years back, Newspaper Tree in El Paso wrote up a guy named Géminis Ochoa who was a leader of the street vendors scuffling in Ciudad Juarez:
When Géminis got to Juárez, he didn't have a cent to his name. He started selling newspapers on the street, specifically the afternoon paper “El Mexicano,” in order to eat. While doing this, he got to know many street vendors Downtown, and became fed up with seeing how the cops constantly abused them, confiscating their merchandise, extorting money from them, and even beating them from time to time.
Thinking that if they were organized they wouldn't be so abused, Géminis started recruiting some of the street vendors to create a union
The whole of that fascinating story here.
And, then, from the July 1 edition of the World's Worst Newspaper, passing mention of Ochoa's fate:
The killing continued Tuesday, including the fatal shooting of Geminis Ochoa, a leader of downtown street vendors during riots years ago, Juárez media reported.
They don't believe in letting guys like Ochoa gain too much traction in Mexico, as they can upset the proper order of things. Read all the EPTimes story here.
Things are hot outside of the big city of Wazoo. From the LATimes on killing out in the hinterlands of Chihuahua:
Anti-crime activists today decried the slaying of a protest leader in northern Mexico who went public after his brother was kidnapped in May.
Benjamin LeBaron, 32, and a brother-in-law were shot to death Tuesday after they were seized by gunmen in Galeana, a farming town in the border state of Chihuahua.

Read all of that one here.
i know some nice people who are ranchers down that direction. The big-time media would do well to pay more attention to things going on across the street while they're getting all exercised about the Uighurs in western China.

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