In their book “Network of Death”, three German journalists revealed illegal arms supplies from Germany to Mexico. However, instead of being praised for their efforts, all three of them may face a court trial on alleged breach of the German Press Act and disclosure of secret information.
The book written by German journalists Daniel Harrich, Danuta Harrich-Sandberg und Jürgen Grässlin revealed illegal arms supplies by German company Heckler & Koch to Mexico. It turned out that the weapons — G36 assault rifles made by the firm — appeared in the Mexican states of Guerrero and Chihuahua, although the supplies to these states were prohibited by German authorities.
In 2005, the German regulatory agency allowed the delivery of 9,000 assault rifles to Mexico between 2006 and 2009 on the condition that they won’t be available in the Mexican states of Guerrero, Jalisco, Chiapas and Chihuahua.
However, it recently became known that the arms not only leaked to these territories, but were also allegedly used during the assault on Ayotzinapa students on September 26, where six people were killed, 25 injured and 43 disappeared.
In their book, journalists not only revealed the fact that the German company illegally delivered G36 assault rifles to Mexico, but also accused German authorities of negligence and complicity in the deal.
“In our latest book, […] we’ve published highly sensitive documents as proof for our assumptions that not only Heckler & Koch is responsible for this, but also the Federal Office on Export and the Federal Ministry of Economics,” Grässlin said in an interview with Sputnik.
According to the journalist, both authorities made the deliveries to Mexico possible, although the German Foreign Ministry had initially prohibited the supply of weapons to the country. In 2010, Grässlin filed an application with a request to start an investigation into the case, but as a result only employees of the company, and none of the authorities were prosecuted.
“The Stuttgart public prosecution office still refuses to prosecute those in the Federal Ministry of Economics and the Federal Export Office responsible and co-responsible for it, and this is a scandal,” Grässlin said.
Instead, surprisingly, the Munich public prosecution office is currently considering an option to prosecute journalists themselves.
Under paragraph 353d of the Criminal Code, the journalists might be charged with “violation of professional and special secrecy”. The law prohibits disclosing messages, documents or any other information from a criminal case. The violation is punishable with a fine or imprisonment of up to one year.
A panel of international experts probing the 2014 massacre of 43 Mexican students has accused the government of obstructing its inquiry into Mexico’s most notorious murder case in recent years.
Foreign experts from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued their final report Sunday, saying the government’s stonewalling stopped them from reaching the truth.
The five-member panel, who has been investigating the case for a year, said Mexican authorities showed “little interest” in moving forward with the probe.
The panel also accused the Mexican government of allowing a smear campaign against its investigation in an attempt to discredit the final report as it prepared to leave the country.
A group 43 students from Ayotzinapa Teacher Training College went missing on the night of September 26, 2014, after they participated in a protest in the south-western city of Iguala, in Guerrero state.
Mexican prosecutors say they were arrested by corrupt municipal policemen and handed over to the local criminal gang of Guerreros Unidos, which apparently massacred them and burned their bodies at a garage dump.
Relatives of the victims dismiss the government version of the incident, accusing authorities of trying to cover up the involvement of senior politicians and army officers in the killings.
The international report also dismissed the government’s narrative, saying there is no evidence that the 43 students were incinerated at the dump.
It said the claim that the students had been burned is scientifically impossible given the heat needed to reduce human remains to ash.
It said the remains of only one student were fully identified after they were found in a nearby river.
“More than a year and a half after the students’ disappearance, we are no closer to knowing what really happened that night but one thing’s for certain: the credibility of the Mexican government is more in doubt than ever,” the report noted.
The case sparked outrage across the country and has led to street protests against President Enrique Pena Nieto.
The report also accused the government of torturing some of the suspects detained in relation to the case.
It said medical report of the suspects shows “significant indications of mistreatment and torture” against 17 of the detainees. More than 100 suspects were detained in the case.
Hillary Clinton’s recent comments on the 43 students for La Opinión show the media’s failure to judge her pandering rhetoric against her actual, substantive actions. When she states she is indignant about the case, she erases her role in the violence engulfing Mexico. The corporate media allows this, because their pages never print about the US-role in Mexico’s War on Drugs.
Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013. During that time, State Department officials under her direction continued to vet and clear Mexican security forces to receive arms transfers. When she says rhetorically, “If there was something the US could do to help, I would be the first to offer it”, it is the theatre of faux-naivety. She knows quite well that the US could end support for policies militarizing Mexico. It’s just that she is not concerned with human rights if that means demilitarization.
It was under the Clinton State Department that the Merida Initiative continued passed its original 3-year time frame. The Merida Initiative enables the Mexican government to repress dissent, while at the same time increasing Mexican elite dependence on the infusion of US armaments. She has called for more of this Plan Colombia-style policy in the future, which means that under a Clinton presidency we can expect more violence throughout Central America.
So, when Clinton exclaims that she is indignant about the Mexican government’s role in covering up the Ayotzinapa case, it belies the fact that she would support (and possibly ramp up) policies that enable the Mexican government to do exactly what she says is a “violation of the law”. The evidence is quite clear on this point, and reported by countless others, like Dawn Paley, Greg Grandin, and Jesse Franzblau. The fact that the corporate media has ignored the record is typical. Clinton’s pandering hypocrisy, typical as well.
Sadly, Clinton is using the tragedy of the 43 to justify and continue policies that brought it about. That is why I am indignant. That is why we should all be indignant.
President Peña Nieto opened Tuesday´s session of the U.N. Drug Policy Summit by announcing a move towards legalizing marijuana.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto started off the special session of the U.N. Drug Policy Summit by announcing a stark policy change: the need to move towards legalizing marijuana for medical and scientific purposes. Even though he had previously been a vocal opponent of drug legalization, he now has moved toward legalization.
Stating that Mexico has paid a high price for its problems with drug trafficking, he recognized the limitations of the prohibitionist paradigm. Citing the suffering, loss of life and violence as a result of this phenomenon, he said that drug trafficking is still one of the most profitable activities of organized crime in Mexico.
He further stressed the need for greater collaboration between U.N. agencies in order to address all aspects of the global drug problem. Peña Nieto also addressed the need to look at social harms related to the illicit drug market and finding solutions through alternative education and other policies that could promote social cohesion.
The president said he plans to hold an event on Thursday in order to discuss this drug policy change.
Two Mexican federal police officers allegedly participated in the disappearance of 43 Ayotzinapa students, the National Human Rights Commission said Thursday, implicating national agents in the 2014 case for the first time, Agence France-Presse reports.
Jose Larrieta Carrasco, a commission official investigating the case, said the authorities should now look into a “new route in the disappearance” of the students.
Prosecutors have already charged municipal police officers in connection with the mass abduction in the southern city of Iguala on September 26-27, 2014.
But the governmental rights commission said it found an eyewitness who saw two federal agents near Iguala’s courthouse, where municipal officers had stopped a bus carrying 15 to 20 students.
The commission also said another local police department, from the town of Huitzuco, had a previously unknown role in the disappearance.
Many in Mexico, including the families of the disappeared, suspect that the police force was ordered to kill the student protesters by high level members of a local cartel.
See Part I
The defeat of the Kirchnerists in the recent presidential elections in Argentina was largely due to the publicity and propaganda advantages held by Mauricio Macri, the leader of the Republican Proposal party. Those advantages were provided by the Clarín media group that dominates public communications in Argentina. Macri was called the «US candidate», and this has proven true since he took office. Barack Obama came to Buenos Aires on an official visit and was full of optimism when he spoke of the upcoming golden era in the US-Argentine relations.
In order to earn this relationship, Macri took a confrontational tack toward Venezuela and what’s more, made it clear that he was carefully «studying the consequences» of the Kirchners’ 12-year rule. Now the accusations are growing louder against Cristina Fernández de Kirchner over her involvement in the murder of Special Prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who had been investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires. Nisman was planning to accuse Fernandez as well as Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman of conspiring to «safeguard the impunity» of the Iranians who were involved in the bombing, according to one version …
The tabloids have published the «revelations» of Miriam Quiroga, who was Néstor Kirchner’s secretary as well as his alleged mistress. Her disclosures have sparked rumors that now proliferate about corruption, money-laundering, and the involvement of Cristina Fernandez and her family. It is entirely possible that the NSA will manufacture yet more materials in order to prevent Christina from taking part in future presidential elections. It does not matter to the orchestrators of this dirty war that the materials obtained through «bugging» are always fragmentary, superficial, and must be extensively cross-checked. Provocateurs are focused solely on spreading scandalous accusations that can feed a media frenzy lasting for years.
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Bolivian President Evo Morales, with whom the US embassy in La Paz has a long history of grievances (if for no other reason than the 2008 expulsion of Ambassador Philip Goldberg), was not immune to the exposés that US intelligence agencies concoct in order to undermine the credibility of politicians. The Feb. 21 referendum on amendments to the Bolivian constitution allowing the president to run for a third consecutive term ended unfavorably for Morales. Voters were swayed by the story of the president’s former partner, Gabriela Zapata. The president had stated that they had had a son who died in infancy, but Zapata claimed otherwise – that the boy was supposedly alive and being cared for by her family. This electrifying news is now being thoroughly milked by the tabloids.
The media has also publicized information about the help provided by Morales in order to secure Zapata, who lacks a higher education, an executive position at the Chinese company CAMC. The multi-million-dollar contracts won by that company are attributed to Morales’ influence. The CIA’s hand is clearly visible in the scandal, because this news was publicized by the journalist Carlos Valverde Bravo, who has in the past headed the intelligence service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, while earning a living on the side by cooperating with the biggest drug cartel in Bolivia (in the 1990s). Some members of the cartel used authorization documents issued by Valverde when transporting cocaine abroad. After a lurid story about sending drugs to the US inside decorative figurines, he was arrested and sentenced to several years in prison. After his release, he began a career as a radio journalist and is now regularly invited to receptions at the US embassy, where he is provided with the subjects for his «targeted exposés».
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Among the Latin American politicians causing unease in Washington is Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a moderate nationalist and the most likely contender for victory in Mexico’s 2018 presidential elections. It is possible that he could be transformed into a «Mexican populist». Obrador has repeatedly jockeyed for that highest state office, but the backroom machinations and manipulation of the vote counting affected the final outcome. Particularly questionable was the defeat from the Institutional Revolutionary Party candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, in 2012. Obrador’s newest bid is predicted to be successful, and it will be difficult for his enemies to block it using their old tricks. Political associates and bloggers who are sympathetic to Obrador constantly warn him that his life is in danger – because that is how political rivals are traditionally disposed of in Mexico.
Obrador is often asked if he is afraid of being assassinated and why he does not request a more substantial security detail. Without downplaying the dangers, he answers imperturbably, «He who owes nothing, fears nothing. If criminals are intent on doing something, they will corrupt every institution of power in order to realize their objectives. Thus, the only way to prevail over violence is through peaceful social mobilization. And it’s best if that takes the form of voting, because that shows that citizens are sick of the corruption that plagues their country».
Is Obrador sufficiently aware of the threat US intelligence agencies might pose to him? No question. Evidently this is why he has always distanced himself from Hugo Chávez. When the Venezuelan leader died on March 5, 2013, Obrador tweeted, «I had no ties to Chávez. My enemies used his image to attack me». Will this help him to dispel Washington’s mistrust and once again vie for the presidency? That’s doubtful. The US intelligence community has plenty of ways to bulldoze Obrador’s political career …
Ahead of a February 12 visit by Pope Francis to Mexico, around 30 indigenous communities in Michoacan, Mexico, have released a statement demanding that he apologize for killings of some 24 million aboriginal inhabitants, committed with the complicity of the Catholic Church during the colonization of the Americas.
The Supreme Indigenous Council of Michoacan, Mexico, accused the Catholic Church of being involved in mass genocide, which started with the Spaniards’ arrival to the Central American region in the 16th century.
The statement noted that, by the beginning of the 17th century, there were less than 700,000 native inhabitants left alive, from an original population of about 25.2 million, which makes the Spanish intervention and invasion of the Americas one of the largest acts of genocide in history.
“For over 500 years, the original people of the Americas have been ransacked, robbed, murdered, exploited, discriminated and persecuted,” the statement reads. “Within this framework, the Catholic Church has historically been complicit and allies of those who invaded our land.”
The communities also emphasized that colonizers’ abuses included the forcing of European culture, language and Catholicism on the native peoples of Central America, and using the Bible as an “ideological weapon.”
“The arrival of the Europeans meant the interruption and destruction of various original civilizations, which had their unique ideas and concepts of the world, our own government, writings, languages, education, religion and philosophy,” they said.
Various Purepechas communities from Michoacan demanded that the Pope officially apologize for the church’s role in the genocide of some 95 percent of the indigenous population of Central America within about a century following the beginning of the “European invasion.”
During his visit to Mexico, Pope Francis will issue a decree authorizing the use of indigenous languages in mass celebrations. The controversial move is aimed at protecting the rights of native people in the country.
In 2015, the Pope apologized for “grave sins” committed against the native people of the Americas during an encounter in Bolivia with indigenous groups and in the presence of Bolivia’s first-ever indigenous president, Evo Morales.
Goldman Sachs is set to invest in Mexico’s newly opened energy sector, Reuters reported Tuesday.
The company’s private equity arm has teamed up with Ainda, a Mexican consulting firm, to invest in energy and infrastructure, signing a deal to “identify, pursue, evaluate and make investments jointly,” according to a filing seen by Reuters.
Ainda would invest up to US$1.15 billion in projects with Goldman’s Merchant Banking Division, with the latter putting up at least 50 percent of the total equity amount in joint projects, a source told Reuters.
The Mexican government approved a comprehensive, neoliberal reform of its energy policies in August, 2014.
The energy reform allows private companies to participate in the oil and gas industries for the first time since 1938, when President Alvaro Obregon nationalized the oil industry.
The decline in the price of oil has also negatively affected the income of the state-oil company, Pemex, reducing its capability of investing in production, leading government to pursue private investment even more vigorously.
As such, in September Mexico’s finance ministry unveiled a new vehicle in September similar to a real estate investment trust called a Fibra E.
Reuters reported in November that Ainda plans to raise US$1.15 billion through a public offering of certificates for an infrastructure energy investment vehicle, and that vehicle can subsequently be converted into a Fibra E.
The filing specifying the joint investment between Goldman and Ainda is expected to be submitted to the Mexican stock exchange shortly.
U.S. Alliance for Prosperity plan aims to stem Central American migration, but critics say the plan falls far short of addressing underlying causes
The United States’ plan to more than double its aid package to Central America in the name of increasing security and boosting development is likely to open up the region to U.S. corporate interests without tackling underlying problems of poverty and inequality, CISPES Executive Director Alexis Stoumbelis told teleSUR on Wednesday.
U.S. Congress approved over US$750 million at the end of December to roll out President Barack Obama’s strategy for Central America. The package supports the controversial Alliance for Prosperity, a plan touted as a strategy to stem the massive wave of undocumented migrants from the Northern Triangle of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, but slammed by critics for exacerbating key drivers of the crisis.
According to Stoumbelis, the new increased funding plan continues the same development model based on White House priorities of free trade and foreign direct investment that the U.S. has long promoted in the region.
“The U.S. has had an aggressive neoliberal agenda in Central America for the last 20 years, so this doesn’t really come as a surprise,” Stoumbelis told teleSUR by phone, citing the Central America Free Trade Agreement as an example of the U.S.-backed free trade model that has proven to worsen insecurity and inequality in Central American countries.
“The plan continues to push an agenda much more in line with neoliberal economics than programs proven to improve quality of life,” said Stoumbelis.
While the new aid package has been promoted as a bid to address longstanding issues of poverty, insecurity, and violence, the main pillars of the plan pave the way for increased foreign investment, natural resource extraction, privatization, and militarization while raising serious concerns about human rights and inequality, Stoumbelis added.
“The funding provides backing for governments that have proven time and time against putting human rights at the top of the agenda,” said Stoumbelis, adding that the plan ignores calls from many social movements and advocacy groups to cut security aid to the region instead of rewarding human rights-abusing administrations with more funding.
Although the U.S. funding for Central America includes conditions aimed at addressing human rights concerns raised by social movements and advocates, many remain skeptical that the measures will do enough to counteract dismal human rights records and rampant corruption, especially in Honduras and Guatemala.
“It was a victory to condition the aid … and to convince (U.S.) Congress that its support for human rights-abusing governments needs to be addressed,” said Stoumbelis. He went on to say that even if the aid is subject to human rights guarantees, it is ultimately up to the State Department to sign off on whether Central American countries fulfill the conditions.
Many expect that the new plan will uphold the State Department’s historically inadequate standard on human rights, which in the past has seen human rights approval issued despite evidence of systematic and chronic human rights abuses on the ground in Central America.
The US$750-million aid package will spike funding levels from US$120 million to US$300 million for development, from US$160 million to US$405 million for security, and from US$33 million to over US$66 million for the war on drugs. Funds will be administered by the State Department and by USAID, which have proven to support privatization and the interests of U.S. corporations in the region.
The security funding includes doubling the budget for the Central American Security Initiative, a regional plan that has dramatically increased militarization of security forces in the region and in turn raised concerns about increasing human rights abuses, impunity, and corruption without fulfilling its state’s objectives of tackling insecurity.
According to Stoumbelis, militarization in the name of the war on drugs has largely been a “war on the people,” as poor people are the most vulnerable in the face of insecurity and have largely been the victims of rising levels of violence under CARSI and the security initiative for Mexico, Plan Merida.
The plan is expected to pave the way for increased militarization in the name of “stabilization” and border security, which critics fear will result in increased human rights violations and exacerbate the problems underlying social and economic inequality.
Militarization also tends to result in criminalization of protest movements against neoliberal mega-projects that displace communities, rob indigenous peoples of land, destroy the environment, and undermine food security—a development strategy only set to ramp up under the new regional aid plan.
Despite the challenges, Stoumbelis predicts that such resistance movements will redouble their fight against the model the U.S. aid package proposes to push harder.
“There has been a tremendous challenge to the model,” said Stoumbelis, emphasizing the role of cross-border resistance in the region and the importance of international solidarity.
For Stoumbelis, in the face of increased U.S. aid, solidarity with Central American movements is now more than ever key to resisting the “U.S.-backed corporate onslaught in the region.”
At the UN General assembly last fall there was an essential vote on the future of mankind. Resolution number A/RES/70/33 calling for the international society to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations had been submitted by Austria, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, Ireland, Kenya, Lichtenstein, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela. For that, these countries deserve our deep respect and gratitude. The resolution reminds us that all the peoples of the world have a vital interest in the success of nuclear disarmament negotiations, that all states have the right to participate in disarmament negotiations, and, at the same time, declares support for the UN Secretary – General’s five-point proposal on nuclear disarmament.
The resolution reiterates the universal objective that remains the achievement and maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons, and emphasizes the importance of addressing issues related to nuclear weapons in a comprehensive, inclusive, interactive and constructive manner, for the advancement of multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations. The resolution calls on the UN to establish an Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) of willing and responsible states to bring the negotiations on nuclear disarmament forward in this spirit.
When voted upon at the UNGA a month ago, on December 7, 2015, there was a huge majority of states (75 %) that supported the resolution, namely 138 of the 184 member states that were present. Most of them are from the global south, with majorities in Latin-America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the Pacific. After having shown such courage and wisdom, they all deserve to be named among the states of hope, states that want to sustain mankind on earth.
Only 12 states voted against the resolution. Guess who they are: China, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Hungary, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, and the United States. What is wrong with them? Well, they are either nuclear-armed states or among the new NATO member states. They are the states of concern in today’s world. It is hypocritical that states that claim to be the protectors of freedom, democracy, and humanity constitute a small minority that refuse to enter into multilateral, inclusive, interactive and constructive negotiations to free the world from nuclear weapons. Among the three other nuclear-armed states, India and Pakistan had the civility to abstain, while the DPRK was the only one to vote “yes.”
Despite the reactionary, dangerous, and irresponsible position of the 12 states of concern and the tepid attitude of the abstainers, the OEWG was established by an overwhelming majority of the UNGA. The OEWG will convene in Geneva for 15 working days during the first half of 2016. The OEWG has no mandate to negotiate treaties to free the world of the inhuman nuclear weapons, but has clearly been asked to discuss and show how it can be achieved. Surely, the nations of hope that voted in favor of the OEWG will take part in the work. We can hope that at least some of the states of concern and some of the abstainers come to their senses and take part in this essential work for the future of mankind.
Participation in the OEWG is open for everyone and blockable by none. No matter what the states of concern do or don’t do, there is good reason to trust that the vast majority of nations of hope together with civil society from all over in the fall will present an outcome to the UNGA that will turn our common dream of a world free of nuclear weapons into a reality—perhaps sooner that we dare to believe.
Nearly 100 mayors and over 1,000 municipal officials in Mexico were targets of assassination attempts over the past decade, according to an association that represents local governments.
The group, the Association of Local Authorities of Mexico, demanded an end to the impunity of the criminal organizations which it said have not been held accountable for any of the assassination attempts.
The association reported its findings following the murder on Saturday of the mayor of Temixco, one of the most violent municipalities in Morelos, just south of Mexico City. Gisela Raquel Mota was in office for just one day before the shooting.
Police arrested three suspects—including a minor and a 32-year-old woman—and two others were killed in a shootout with law enforcement. The purported assassins were allegedly paid US$30,000 and were reported by El Universal to belong to the Los Rojos cartel.
Mota, 33, was part of the center-left Partido de la Revolucion Democratica (PRD) and had earlier announced she would ratify the Mando Unico, or single command, allowing state police into the municipality.
Half of the 33 municipalities in Morelos oppose the police command, fearing retribution like assassination of Mota, but the state governor Graco Ramirez said in a press conference on Sunday that all would be subject to the security protocol.
According to the local government association, mayors are by far the most targeted local officials: even if they choose to cooperate with a criminal gang, they invite revenge from a rival group. Even lower officials are affected, with AFP reporting that over 100,000 local council members killed since 2006 amid a militarized crackdown on narcotrafficking.
A drawing of Mayan journalist Pedro Canche Herrera, jailed in 2014 in the state of Quintana Roo for taking photos of a protest. | Photo: Twitter
The United Nations has urged Mexican officials in the south-eastern state of Quintana Roo to compensate a Mayan journalist who was jailed for more than nine months for taking photos of a protest, local media reported on Sunday.
Accused of the felony of sabotage against the government of Quintana Roo, Mayan journalist Pedro Canche Herrera was arrested on Aug. 30, 2014, and spent more than nine months in prison without bail or the right to request legal protections, the Mexican daily La Jornada reported.
Canche’s case will be submitted this week to Mexico’s Executive Commission for Victim’s Care under the Istanbul Protocol, the international U.N. guidelines regarding the documentation of torture, to rule on whether the journalist was subjected cruel and inhumane treatment.
The U.N. called on Quintana Roo Governor Roberto Borge Angulo to apologize to Canche and pay him reparations.
Canche was released from prison on May 30, 2015 after Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission and the U.N. working group on arbitrary detentions both urged Quintana Roo authorities to stop all harassment and threats aimed at the journalist and let him go free, according to El Universal.
Mexico has the highest murder rate of journalists and media workers in Latin America and the Caribbean region.
One in every three murders of media and communication workers in Latin America happens in Mexico, making the country one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
Canche has worked as an independent journalist for over two decades, focusing on communicating the demands on Mayan communities.
According to Mexico’s El Universal, Canche hopes his case can set a precedent so that other Mexican journalist and human rights defenders are not persecuted in the same way.