LA RUANA, Mexico — The farm state of Michoacan is burning. A drug cartel that takes its name from an ancient monastic order has set fire to lumber yards, packing plants and passenger buses in a medieval-like reign of terror.
The Knights Templar cartel is extorting protection payments from cattlemen, lime growers and businesses such as butchers, prompting some communities to fight back, taking up arms in vigilante patrols.
Lime picker Alejandro Ayala chose to seek help from the law instead. After the cartel forced him out of work by shutting down fruit warehouses, he and several dozen co-workers, escorted by Federal Police, met on April 10 with then-state Interior Secretary Jesus Reyna, now the acting governor of the state in western Mexico.
The 41-year-old father of two only wanted to get back to work, said his wife, Martha Elena Murguia Morales.
But, as often, the cartel responded before the government did.
On the way back, his convoy was ambushed, twice. Ayala and nine others were killed.
“I called him after the first one, and he said, `They shot at us, but I’m OK,’” Murguia Morales said. “Then I called him again, and he didn’t answer.”
The heart of a conflict where a mafia openly rules and the government is largely absent is nowhere more evident than in the lime groves that cover the hot, hilly plains, miles and miles of trees with the fruit yellowing and falling into uncollected heaps on the ground.
John Rosenow is a fifth-generation dairy farmer, but times have changed since his Norwegian ancestors began farming in Cochrane, Wis. And Rosenow has changed with the times. Much of his workforce is now from Mexico, and Rosenow travels regularly to their village in southern Mexico to meet their families.
Rosenow’s business has grown. He and his workers now milk 550 cows, three times a day. Eight out of 20 hired laborers are from Mexico. Family and neighbors make up the rest.
“I’ve been called slave trader,” Rosenow said. “I’ve been called someone that runs an underground railroad and probably a whole lot of worse things behind my back. What I basically am is I’m a dairy farmer trying to make a living in a difficult industry.”
Since Rosenow has gone down, 150 other Wisconsin dairy farmers have followed.
“The employers realize that they owe these guys a lot more than just a paycheck,” Duvall said. “And so they become interested in their welfare and in their family’s welfare. And they are extremely marginalized in these communities. They’re some of the poorest places in all of Mexico.”
“It was quite a powerful experience to visit those people that are back there getting checks from their husband usually working up here,” Rosenow said.
Read the whole thing here: Dairy Farmers, Workers Help Each Other Survive There’s also an audio clip and more photos at the link.
Not many employers think they owe more than a paycheck to their employees. I agree with Erasmo; Rosenow es buena gente.
President Obama is sending secret, coded messages to Mexicans, letting citizens south of the border know that he agrees with their contention that much of the Southwestern U.S. rightfully belongs to Mexico, claims radio host Rush Limbaugh.
Last week, Obama addressed students at the Anthropology Museum in Mexico City, saying, “Our attitudes sometimes are trapped in old stereotypes. Some Americans only see the Mexico that is depicted in sensational headlines of violence and border crossings - and let’s admit it. Some Mexicans think that America disrespects Mexico, or thinks that America is trying to impose itself on Mexican sovereignty or just wants to wall ourselves off. And in both countries, such distortions create misunderstandings that make it harder for us to move forward together. So I’ve come to Mexico because I think it’s time for us to put the old mind-sets aside. It’s time to recognize new realities, including the impressive progress of today’s Mexico.”
Limbaugh says he was at first puzzled by Obama’s statement that America was imposing its sovereignty on Mexico, before it finally struck him.
“This sovereignty business, this is significant. This is not a throwaway. That’s a dog whistle,” he said.
“It’s a huge dog whistle to radicalized young Hispanic voters. What he did was send signals to that voting block beneath the radar, because most people not gonna understand what is sovereignty business. That block that’s underneath the radar - Telemundo, Univision - he’s telling them that he agrees with them that California should still be Mexico and that New Mexico should still be Mexico.”
Limbaugh indicated Obama counts on the mainstream of America not hearing or understanding what he’s saying in speeches meant for foreigners.
the U.S. government has spent $1.6 billion to help Mexico end a war between drug cartels that has killed 63,000 people south of our border in the past six years.
Yet many of our assumptions about this war are wrong.
As part of a study tracking the behavior of Mexico’s organized-crime groups, a colleague and I created an algorithm that uses Google to explore blogs, newspapers and news-related Web content and extract detailed data about how Mexican drug cartels operate. Our tool reads everything published and indexed as part of Google News and collects all the information the Web contains about the activities of the cartels, including their routes of expansion, since the 1990s. Our discoveries shocked us and surprised the U.S. officials who reviewed our findings.
The United States may be helping Mexico fight the wrong war because we do not know who the enemy is.
At the heart of the Mexican government’s strategy, which the United States has supported, is the belief that Mexico’s drug violence is the result of antagonistic trafficking organizations battling to monopolize a territory. Thus, the thinking goes, trafficking organizations must be eliminated. Yet it is not true that drug violence necessarily increases when more than one cartel operates in one area. In fact, in many areas, organized-crime groups share territory peacefully.
Our data show that multiple cartels operated simultaneously in at least 100 Mexican municipalities in 2010, yet those municipalities did not experience a single drug-related homicide. Of the 16,000 assassinations in Mexico’s drug war that year, 43 percent occurred in just eight cities. A single city, Juarez, accounted for 8 percent of the deaths.
What we learned is simple and powerful: Traffickers pick their wars.
Battling is a strategic choice for cartels — and they frequently choose peace.
The Zetas are not the only extremely violent, military-style criminal organization from Mexico. Yet, they are the only one that operates in 350 Mexican municipalities, as well as numerous others in Guatemala and Central America. Why have they been able to expand faster than their rivals?The Zetas have perfected the use of extreme violence
The Zetas’ expansion has been dizzying. A recent Harvard study** shows that since 1998, the Zetas have operated on average in 33 new municipalities every year. (See methodology for the study here in pdf.) The second most expansionist group, the Gulf Cartel, expanded by 19.7 new municipalities during the same time period. By 2010, the Zetas operated in 405 municipalities, 161 more than the Gulf Cartel, and was 2.3 times larger than the Sinaloa cartel. (See maps of the Zetas’ expansion from the study at the base of the article.)
Explaining how the Zetas were able to achieve this expansion is more difficult. Most analysts have focused on form. From the beginning, the Zetas seemed fearless and were distinctively cruel towards their enemies. They quickly became synonymous with torture and beheadings, mangled piles of bodies and horrifically bloody scenes in public spaces. They did not seek allies. They sought domination. They did not defeat their enemies. They destroyed them.
This showed in their decisions about where to expand. Unlike other cartels, the Zetas were among the first that openly challenged the traditional powers and attempt to wrest control of these rivals’ strongholds. There were, quite simply, no boundaries for this organization. Other groups have since followed suit helping create the current chaos in Mexico, but not to the extent of the Zetas.
When the shooting began, Daniel Cerda Salinas, an evangelical minister, took refuge in his neighbor’s home.
As the battle raged late into the night of March 10, Salinas began to question his faith in President Enrique Peña Nieto, the man he believed would free Reynosa from the paralyzing grip of Mexico’s drug cartels.
“It’s worse than before,” Salinas, 37, said of cartel fighting. “We don’t know when the shooting will begin, and we don’t know what to do, except trust in God.”
Over the next week, cartel gunmen clashed on at least four occasions in Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, blocking off sections of the city while residents waited in terror for the fighting to end. Official reports downplayed the carnage, but social media captured blood-stained streets and bullet-riddled, burned-out cars.
Since Peña Nieto took office Dec. 1, the drug war clashes that claimed tens of thousands of lives during the six-year administration of his predecessor have carried on at a dizzying pace, casting doubt on the president’s strategy to reduce violent crime.
Peña Nieto has pledged a less militaristic approach than the previous administration, touting social programs aimed at crime prevention, but the details are unclear.
The rocky object that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago may have been a comet, rather than an asteroid, scientists say.
The 112-mile (180 kilometers) Chicxulub crater in Mexico was made by the impact that caused the extinction of dinosaurs and about 70 percent of all species on Earth, many scientists believe. A new study suggests the crater was probably blasted out by a faster, smaller object than previously thought, according to research presented this week at the 44th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas.
Evidence of the space rock’s impact comes from a worldwide layer of sediments containing high levels of the element iridium, dubbed the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) boundary, which could not have occurred on Earth naturally.
The new research suggests the often-cited iridium values are incorrect, however. The scientists compared these values with levels of osmium, another element delivered by the impact.
Abstract—Little attention has been paid to non-state actors conducting cyberwars against each other and the disruptive effects these wars can have on nation-states. This article explores the online clash between the hacker group, Anonymous, and the Mexican drug cartel, Los Zetas. This type of cyberwar was unique: it was an incident where two clandestine non-state groups used the digital domain to attack each other and it was largely a private affair. Yet the incident had public consequences that left the Mexican government as a bystander. Such criminal activity beyond the reach of government intervention blurs the line between public safety and national security.
In the fall of 2011, two clandestine non-state groups—a hacktivist collective and a Mexican drug cartel—stared each other down in the digital domain, with potentially fatal real world consequences for both sides. Los Zetas, a Mexican drug trafficking organization composed of former members of Mexico’s Special Forces, kidnapped a member of Anonymous, the global hacking group, in Veracruz on October 6th. In retaliation, Anonymous threatened to publicize online the personal information of Los Zetas and their associates, from taxi drivers to high-ranking politicians, unless Los Zetas freed their abductee by November 5th. The release of this information on the Internet would have exposed members of Los Zetas to not only possible arrest by Mexican authorities, but also to assassination by rival cartels. Unconfirmed reports suggest that Los Zetas then attempted to “reverse hack” Anonymous to uncover some of its members and to threaten them with death. As a consequence, a few members of Anonymous sought to call off the operation and disavowed those members who wanted to go forward. With time running out and locked in a stalemate, Los Zetas released their kidnap victim on November 4th with an online warning that they would kill ten innocent people for each name that Anonymous might subsequently publicize. Anonymous called off its operation; each side appeared to step back from the brink.
This was a cyberwar of a different kind. Most of the theorizing about cyberwar has centered on cyber attacks that cripple the digital systems critical for military, political, social, and economic operations of nation-states or the use of cyberspace to attack the infrastructure of modern society like power grids, financial systems, and emergency services. However, according to James Bosworth, an expert on organized crime and cybercrime, neither Anonymous nor Los Zetas:
Gunmen shot dead an online journalist while he ate dinner at a taco stand in the border town of Ojinaga, across the border from Texas, authorities said Monday.
Assailants killed Jaime Gonzalez Dominguez Sunday afternoon in the town across the border from Presidio, Texas, said Chihuahua state prosecutors spokesman Carlos Gonzalez.
Gonzalez said authorities have yet to determine a motive in the killing and that prosecutors don’t know if Gonzalez Dominguez had received threats.
Gonzalez Dominguez published a news website called Ojinaga Noticias, which covered stories ranging from local sports to education.
The website didn’t carry any major reports about crime or drug trafficking on Monday, when the main story was about the killing of the 38-year-old journalist, who was shot at least 18 times with an assault rifle.
The gunmen stole Gonzalez Dominguez’s camera, the story reported. It added that a woman who was with him was not wounded.
IN November I quit my job as the editor of Wired to run 3D Robotics, the San Diego-based drone company I started with a partner as a side project three years ago. We make autopilot technology and small aircraft — both planes and multirotor copters — that can fly by themselves. The drones, which sell for a few hundred bucks, are for civilians: they don’t shoot anything but photographs and videos. And they’re incredibly fun to build (which we do with the ample help of robots). It wasn’t a hard decision to give up publishing for this.
But my company, like many manufacturers, is faced with a familiar challenge: its main competitors are Chinese companies that have the dual advantages of cheap labor and top-notch engineering. So, naturally, when we were raising a round of investment financing last year, venture capitalists demanded a plausible explanation for how our little start-up could beat its Chinese rivals. The answer was as much a surprise to the investors as it had been to me a few years earlier: Mexico. In particular, Tijuana.