Mexican forces seize control of entire Acapulco police department

Mexico's governance crisis continues: beyond the clandestine mass graves, the kidnapping of elected officials (and assassination of political candidates) and coordinated attacks on anti-corruption candidates, there's the well-known problem of corrupt police officers and whole departments, including, it seems, the Acapulco police department, who have been raided and disarmed by federal forces, with two officers charged with murder and the rest under investigation. (Image: Tomascastelazo, CC-BY-SA) Read the rest

Migrant parents are refusing to be reunited with their kids, citing safety concerns

According to the ACLU, the nightmare perpetuated against immigrants and refugees attempting to find safe harbor in the United States has taken a new, unexpected turn for the worse: the parents, separated from their children as part of the Trump administration's drive to make migration into the United States as miserable as possible, are refusing to be reunited with their children. The reason is absolutely heartbreaking:

From Reuters:

Immigrant parents separated from their children by the Trump administration and returned to their homes are refusing to be reunited with their children because their countries are so dangerous, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union told a court on Friday.

Gelernt said parents who refused to be reunited tended to have older children who could be recruited by violent gangs if they returned home. In addition, some children have relatives in the United States and are unlikely to end up in foster care.

The ACLU contacted parents in Central America of 162 children and said 109 refused reunification, according to a court filing.

According to Reuters, Gelernt recently spent time in Guatamala attempting to help parents separated from their kids by U.S. Immigration officials to reunite their families. Of the 300 parents that Gelernt spoke to, roughly two-thirds preferred to let their kids take their chances in the United States where they'd have a greater expectation of safety and prosperity.

I'm not a parent, so I can't even begin to imagine the sort of painful parental devotion it would take to leave a child behind, in the name of keeping them safe, in a country that despises me enough to have torn my family apart rather than providing them with refuge from harm. Read the rest

Let me tell you about living my life on the road

In passing, I've talked about the fact that my wife and I are full-time nomads. Lemme expand on that.

A few years back, we bought a 21-year-old RV with the intention of living in it while my wife completed her degree in Vancouver, Canada. Typically, winters in Vancouver are mild by comparison to the rest of the country. The climate is similar to what you see in Seattle. Not so while we were there. It dropped to below freezing for weeks at a time. Snow, a largely unknown commodity in British Columbia's lower mainland, hung around for months. We were cold. We blew through hundreds of dollars worth of propane trying to stay warm.

We were poor.

Shortly before we were to make the drive over the mountains, I was informed that, after five years of service to a site that I had built, my services were no longer needed. It shattered me emotionally and financially. I was sent scrambling to find enough work, piecemeal, to make end's meet. There was cash coming in barely enough to keep afloat. Staying in a campground in the lower mainland costs around $800 per month. We couldn't foot the bill. We made do. Weekly, we would sneak into a local university sports complex for a shower. On one occasion, we had to decide between buying food or propane for heat. We chose food. This ended up costing us $1200, money that could have kept us going for months, to replace our hot water tank as it iced up and cracked in the cold. Read the rest

Mexico: 166 human skulls found in Veracruz clandestine mass grave

[Warning: Post contains graphic images.] Mexican investigators said Thursday they have discovered 166 human skulls in a clandestine burial pit in a central area of the Gulf state of Veracruz. Read the rest

Médecins Sans Frontières is on the front lines of the Mexican drug war

The northwestern Mexican state of Guerrero’s ocean side vistas, Mayan and Zapotec heritage and mountainous terrain would make it a postcard-pretty place to be—if it weren’t for all the murder and financial destitution.

Because of the extreme poverty in the region, the state has one of the lowest life expectancy rates in the nation. According to the Guardian, close to 70% of the people who call Guerrero home, live in poverty. This misery experienced on a daily basis by those living in Guerrero is compounded by an ongoing turf war between cartels and the Mexican military resulting in one of the highest murder rates per capita, in the world. The violence is so extreme that most professionals who can afford to pick up and relocate, have done so. The loss of lawyers? Meh. However, having no Doctors or other medical staff to care for a population trapped in an already untenable situation is nightmare.

Thankfully, with little fanfare, Médecins Sans Frontières is on the scene, trying to make a difference.

From The Guardian:

Before patients are seen, the clinical team – three doctors, two psychologists and a nurse – explain that MSF is neutral, independent, free of charge and available to anyone as long as weapons are left outside.

This is the standard pep talk in the state of Guerrero, where MSF has taken over 11 primary health clinics that have closed or are limited by the security crisis in communities long neglected by the state.

In addition to regular clinics, MSF provides rapid response interventions in the aftermath of grave incidents like mass kidnappings, gun battles and massacres, which leave displaced or trapped communities in psychological turmoil.

Read the rest

Trump's government denying passports to some Americans born near U.S.-Mexico border: WaPo

They served in the Army, Border Patrol and as police. They have legitimate U.S. birth certificates. But Trump's government is denying their passport applications and telling them they aren't U.S. citizens. Read the rest

Newly elected Mexican congresswoman kidnapped at gunpoint

It's dangerous to be a candidate for office in Mexico. Forty-eight candidates were murdered and nearly 400 kidnapped during the most recent campaign. The latest victim is 32-year-old Norma Azucena Rodríguez, the former mayor of of Tihuatlán in Veracruz. She won a seat in Congress in the July 1 election, but was kidnapped, likely by a gang that opposed her policies, in a highway ambush in which shots were fired.

From The Independent:

She was said to be travelling down a highway when two men opened fire on her vehicle, injuring her driver and assistant and causing the car to flip over.

Ms Rodríguez was then seized by the gunmen, who pulled her out of the vehicle and fled after forcing her into their car. Her whereabouts, along with the motive of the assailants, remain unknown.

Read the rest

Help tell the stories of migrant families being detained at the border

The news cycle isn’t kind to stories that take a long time to be told. Sure, no one ever stops talking about Trump and his uncle Vlad, but despite it all being a part of one two-year long shit show, there’s always something new and horrific to draw the eye. Not so with stories like the ones that are still playing on on the United States’ southern border, daily. Families are still being kept apart, kids barely able to talk are being asked to defend themselves in court, and individuals seeking asylum from the dangers of their homes are being turned away by customs agents or railroaded into custody with less than legal practices.

While much of the media has turned its focus to alleged Russian spies sleeping their way into influential positions, The Texas Tribune just keeps on keeping on: their reportage on the tragedies being played out on the U.S./Mexican border is has been absolutely outstanding. But, they’re a non-profit. In order to continue to do the sort of quality journalism that they’ve been churning out of late, they could use a hand.

Right now, the Texas Tribune is raising funds to open a newsroom in the Rio Grande Valley: an area of the state that, as it’s name suggests, lays along the Mexican border by the Rio Grande River. It’s where you’ll find McAllen and Brownesville – two of the cities where DHS has been splitting up families and stashing kids away in privately operated prisons. It’s ground zero for the Trump administration’s bigoted bullshit. Read the rest

Authoritarians used to be scared of social media, now they rule it

A new report from the Institute For the Future on "state-sponsored trolling" documents the rise and rise of government-backed troll armies who terrorize journalists and opposition figures with seemingly endless waves of individuals who bombard their targets with vile vitriol, from racial slurs to rape threats. Read the rest

Underneath ancient Mexican temple, archeologists find an even older one

Last September, an 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Mexico did all kinds of crazy damage to buildings, infrastructure and ended far too many lives. It’s hard to find anything good in the midsts of a mess like that, but here we are: According to the BBC, a pyramid in Morelos (around 40 miles south of Mexico City,) was damaged by the quake. While assessing how much the quake had messed the ancient structure up, Archaeologists discovered that, underneath the pyramid, there was an even older temple that they hadn’t known was there.

From The BBC:

The temple is nestled inside the Teopanzolco pyramid in Morelos state, 70km (43 miles) south of Mexico City.

It is thought to date back to 1150 and to belong to the Tlahuica culture, one of the Aztec peoples living in central Mexico.

The structure is dedicated to Tláloc, the Aztec rain god.

Archaeologists say it would have measured 6m by 4m (20ft by 13ft). Among the temple's remains they also found an incense burner and ceramic shards.

According to people far smarter about old stuff than most of us are, the structures are the Teopanzolco site date back to the 13th century. The temple underneath of that 13th century pyramid? It’s older--but how much older remains to be seen.

At a press conference held by Mexico's Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH,) Isabel Campos Goenaga, the director of the INAH's Morelos Center and archeologist Georgia Bravo Lopez told journalists that the newly discovered temple was located about two meters below the floor of the pyramid. Read the rest

Mexican election: saturation robo-calls spreading disinformation about Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador the front-running candidate for president of Mexico on a largely progressive ticket (tuition breaks, increased aid to seniors, drug war amnesty, though it's a mixed bag, reflecting the weird coalition of left-wing and right-wing parties he's fronting); and he is the target of a bizarre, mass-scale disinformation campaign being carried out by blanket robo-calling. Read the rest

114 candidates in Mexico's upcoming elections have been murdered, so far

Alejandro Chavez Zavala was running for mayor of Tareta in the state of Michoacan when he was gunned down following a campaign event. Read the rest

Mindbendingly cool Mexican psychedelic music from 1981

I'm familiar with the psych music scene that emerged in the 1960s-1970s in some Latin American countries like Brazil, Chile, and Argentina, thanks to fantastic reissues of rare LPs on labels like Luaka Bop, Goma Gringa, Now Again, and Mr Bongo. Now, the esteemed diggers at Mr Bongo have brought us a stunningly spacey psych record from Mexico: Luis Pérez's "Ipan In Xiktli Metztli, México Mágico Cósmico, El Ombligo de la Luna."

In the 1970s, Pérez studied the pre-Columbian instruments and musical traditions across Mexico, from the Maya and Nahuatl to Raramuri and Wixarika. He then channeled those influences into his own gorgeous electronic and experimental psychedelic songs that make up this record first released in 1981. Listen below.

As Mr Bongo writes, Pérez "delves deep into the past but also exists entirely outside of time."

Far fucking out.

Read the rest

Native American Tribe to DHS: Keep your dumb border wall off our land

In 1853, the U.S. Government bought a 29,670 square mile chunk of dirt in a deal that, as history buffs will tell you, ended up being called the Gadsden Purchase. It was a dick move: purchasing the land meant bisecting the territory of the area's indigenous Tohono O’odham Nation. This left half of the Tohono O’odham in Mexico and the other half in the United States. Today, the Tohono O’odham are a federally recognized tribe, with somewhere around 34,000 members. This number includes around 2,000 Tohono O’odham who live in Mexico. It's not uncommon for the tribe to cooperate with Homeland Security where protecting the border is concerned. But guess what? A tribe that had their lands split up by the Federal government once isn't crazy about having it done again.

According to Splinter, the Tohono O’odham Nation controls the second largest land base in the United States. This includes a full 75 miles of the U.S./Mexico border. Given that members of their tribe live on both sides of the border, they're less than chuffed with the notion of allowing the National Guard onto their lands to surveil their territory or to allow a border wall to be built on their property. The reasons for their objections are sound: Having a wall thrown up in the middle of their land would keep members of their tribe from easily traveling to participate in culturally important events on their own frigging land.

From Splinter:

Tohono O’odham chairman Edward D.

Read the rest

Trump to deploy National Guard to southwest border with Mexico, 'to assist Border Patrol' in fighting immigration

U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to sign a proclamation today to authorize deployment of National Guard troops to the southwest border with Mexico. Read the rest

Even insured Americans flock to Mexico for low-cost, high-quality health-care

American health care is so screwed up, so horribly distorted by the insurance companies' abusive practices, that millions of Americans (even those with insurance) fly to Mexico every year to get state-of-the-art medical care -- and a resort vacation in the bargain -- rather than face the US system, and save money by doing so. Read the rest

Teachers on four continents stage mass strikes

In the USA, there are tens of thousands of teachers in open rebellion, in Oklahoma, West Virginia, Arizona, Kentucky, and things are heating up in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Iowa and Colorado. Read the rest

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