Mexico News-May 17
Posted by the Generals on May 23, 2011, 2:50 pm
Subject: Mexico News DAILY May 17, 2011 |
LatinNews Daily - 17 May 2011
Mexican violence knows no borders
Development: Yesterday (16 May) President Alvaro Colom declared a state of siege in the northern department of Petén, following a massacre there three days earlier, carried out by presumed members of the Mexican drug gang, Los Zetas, who killed 27 peasant workers, decapitating 25 of them.
Significance: Though Guatemala is one of the most violent countries in the region, the massacre is one of the most brutal since the end of the country's 30 year civil war (1960-96). It underlines the growing problem posed to the country by the presence of Mexican drug gangs, which have stepped up their actions in response to anti-gang measures implemented in their own home territory. Key points:
• The massacre took place at the 'Los Cocos' ranch in La Libertad, Petén, a jungle-covered and strategic drug-trafficking region bordering Mexico and Belize. According to witness accounts, a group of 30-50 armed men arrived at the ranch, demanding to see the owner, who was away. When the labourers were unable to help, the presumed gangsters bound their hands and started hacking at them with machetes. None of the victims, two of whom were women, appear to have had drug ties.
• The Colom government told the local press that those responsible were believed to be members of the Zetas ‘Z200’ cell. According to witness statements, the killers did not identify themselves, but did refer to the leader of the group as “Kaibil”, a reference to Guatemala’s notorious “Kaibiles” special forces (which have been linked to Los Zetas, themselves a former Mexican special-forces unit).
• The government is pursuing various lines of investigation. According to witnesses, a message written in the victims’ blood was daubed across a wall of the ranch house, threatening the owner, Otto Salguero, who has not yet been tracked down. The authorities are investigating whether he was involved in drug trafficking. The national police chief, Jaime Otzin, said investigators were also probing possible links to the murder, also on 14 May, of Haroldo Waldemar León Lara, a heavyweights from the local 'León' drug gang. The leader of the León gang, Juan José, was gunned down by the Zetas in 2008.
• A state of siege, second only in severity to a declaration of war, allows the army to detain suspects without warrant and bans gun possession, among other measures. As a means of reclaiming towns under the influence of Mexican drug-traffickers, the measure was first implemented in December 2010 for two months in the north-central department of Alta Verapaz. This department does not share a border with Mexico, but is a hub for overland traffic to Mexico and, along with Petén and Zacapa to the east, is one of three areas in which Los Zetas first established a presence. The measure, however, ultimately appeared to have limited success.
• It remains unclear how the government will finance the state of siege in Petén. When Colom first announced the measure in Alta Verapaz, he said that he had considered extending it to a further four other departments but was prevented from doing so by a lack of manpower. The government said that an additional 4,000 troops would be necessary to implement the measure. Currently Guatemala has 17,200 troops.
Pointer: Overall, Guatemala’s homicide rate actually fell last year, with 50 homicides per 100,000 registered in 2010, down from 53 per 100,000 the previous year. Neither Alta Verapaz nor Petén are among the most violent regions, registering 17.2 and 59.6 homicides per 100,000, the latter ranking seventh of the 22 departments in terms of homicide rates. While the total number of murders was down, authorities said that they were characterised by greater cruelty, such as be-headings and signs of torture, linked to inter-cartel wars.
LatinNews Daily - 17 May 2011
Torex restarts in Mexico
Development: On 16 May Torex Gold Resources, a Canadian gold mining company, announced that it was restarting its Mexican operations.
Significance: Torex closed down its operations in Morelos two months ago because of the violence in the state. What is odd about Torex decision to reopen is that national statistics show that gang-related killings have increased since Torex shut its operations. In the past three years, despite the surge in gold prices, Mexico has lost ground in the Fraser Institute’s ranking of jurisdictions attractive to mining companies. More tangibly, several gold mining companies operating in Mexico now fly out their gold, rather than risk shipping it out overland.
• According to the daily Reforma’s tally of deaths attributable to gang violence, the so-called Ejecutómetro, the weekly gang murder rate is running at 300 in May. In March, the weekly tally was between 180 and 200 deaths. In Morelos, however, the murder rate is falling: in calendar 2010, 251 people were killed by gangs in the state, up from 77 in 2009. In the first four and half months of 2011, 41 people have been murdered by gangs in the state.
• Torex is at an early exploration stage in its Mexican project and is prospecting three deposits spread over 29,000 hectares.
• This year Mexico ranks 35 out of 79 in the Fraser Institute’s annual survey of mining jurisdictions. The Fraser Institute is an independent research organisation. The growing violence in Mexico is the main reason for Fraser’s downgrade. In the Institute’s 2009/10 report, Mexico scored 58.1%; in the 2010/11 report it scored 54.7%.
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