Mexico: Military officials arrested for drugs trafficking links
Three generals and one colonel arrested for suspected links with drugs trafficking; students demand impartial media coverage; Carlos Fuentes dies.
Three generals and one colonel arrested for suspected links with drugs trafficking
Four high-ranking military figures have been arrested for alleged links with drugs trafficking in the last week.
The first three to be arrested were former sub-secretary of National Defence, Tomás Ángeles Dahuahare, General Roberto Dawe González and retired General Ricardo Escorcia Vargas. They were detained on suspicion of colluding with the Beltrán Leyva cartel.
According to BBC Mundo, Ricardo Escorcia Vargas served as military chief of a base in Cuernavaca, south of Mexico City, until 2010. It is an area believed to be dominated by members of the Beltrán Leyva drugs cartel.
The fourth, retired Lieutenant Colonel Silvio Isidro de Jesús Hernández Soto, was arrested on Friday by the Procuraduría General de Justicia Militar (Attorney General’s Office of Military Justice).
The Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional (National Defence Secretariat – SEDENA) stated that, after this final arrest, ‘the four wanted persons warrants issued by the Procuraduría General de la República (Attorney General’s Office – PGR) on 7 May 2012 had been fulfilled’.
On Thursday the PGR announced that the Primary Penal Federal Judge specialising in Search, Investigation and Communications Intervention had granted the prosecution 40 days to bring a case against the first two generals to have been arrested: Tomás Ángeles Dahuahare and Roberto Dawe González.
The following day Dawe González appealed for protection against the 40-day investigation period.
Ángeles Dahuahare’s lawyer, Alejandro Ortega Sánchez, has responded to the decision by saying that: ‘We are going from one illegality to another’. He claimed that he has not been able to speak to his client or to access his file, which is in breach of his human rights.
These arrests form part of a wave of 17, carried out by SEDENA, over the last five years. All 17 military personnel have been sentenced in army tribunals and councils of war by the commission for crimes against health.
The trials have taken place in six states: Tamaulipas, Coahuila, Chuihuahua, Sonora, Morelos and Mexico City. The first four, according to the Secretaría de Gobernación (Government Secretariat), are areas in which los Zetas cartel operates.
As well as the soldiers charged with crimes against health, SEDENA has sentenced six soldiers and commanders, from 2007 up to the present, for rape and sexual abuse.
Another 35 military personnel have been sentenced for abuse of power since 2007.
University students demand impartial media coverage
Students from several Mexican universities have demanded that the presidential candidates receive equal coverage in the media. Last Saturday, they marched to two installations owned by Mexican mass media company Televisa in Mexico City.
They were protesting against what they claim is ‘the information bias in the coverage of the presidential candidates’ activities and campaigns’.
The students, who attend universities including: Iberoamericana, Tecnológico de Monterrey, Anáhuac, Instituto Tecnológico Aútónomo de México (Autonomous Technology Instite of Mexico – ITAM) and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (National Autonomous University – UNAM), have declared that this is just the first step in a larger, national movement of young people across the country.
‘Media objectivity’ and ‘Democracy at the ballot boxes and in the media’ were some of the slogans that the students displayed on sheets and card.
Many of their signs read ‘#YoSoy132’, in reference to a movement which was sparked by a video that students at the Iberoamericana uploaded to the internet.
The students objected to the accusation that they are ‘accareados’; paid supporters of a particular candidate, simply for having criticized Enrique Peña Nieto, the presidential candidate for the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party – PRI) when he came to speak at the university just over a week ago, as reported in Pulsamerica.
It only took a few minutes for ‘La #MarchaYoSoy132’ to become one of the most commented topics online in Mexico.
One of the marches left from the Iberoamericana university in the direction of Televisa’s Santa Fe property. Participants distributed a leaflet in which they highlighted that they are educated individuals who have the right to express their discontent with Mexico’s political system.
The other protest, made up of over 300 students, left from the ITAM and finished at Televisa in San Ángel. There, a representative for the corporation offered to speak with four of the students, but they rejected the offer as they considered that their aim was to provoke a truly public dialogue.
The spokesperson of the San Ángel contingent, Antonio Attolini, a student of International Relations, said that: ‘We reunite today students from various universities with different visions but a common concern. What happened at the Ibero on 11 May (upon the visit of Enrique Peña Nieto) served as the spark for a movement that will reach an unprecedented depth. We are the change that Mexico needs.’
Another student added that they were breaking ‘a myth’: ‘yes, we are worried by and interested in what is happening to the country’. Both demonstrations took place peacefully.
Carlos Fuentes dies aged 83
Carlos Fuentes, one of the great voices of Spanish literature and a Mexican icon, died at the age of 83 in a hospital in Mexico City last Tuesday. His body was taken to the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Palace) in the capital on Wednesday where relatives, intellectuals and government members went to pay their last respects.
Among them was President Felipe Calderón, who described Fuentes as a ‘universal writer and Mexican’, adding that his death was deeply lamented.
Fuentes was born in Panamá, to Mexican parents on 11 November 1928. After residing in various cities in the Americas, owing to his father’s work as a diplomat, he arrived in Mexico aged 16.
Among Fuentes’ most famous works were ‘La Muerte de Artemio Cruz’ (‘The Death of Artemio Cruz’) and ‘Aura’, both published in 1962. These novels gained him international recognition and secured his place amongst the literary greats of Latin America, including Gabriel García Márquez and other members of the ‘Boom’ generation.
However, among English-language readers he is arguably best known for his novel ‘The Old Gringo‘, which was made into a film starring Gregory Peck in 1989. The novel was inspired by the real-life disappearance of American journalist Ambrose Bierce during the 1910-1920 Mexican Revolution.
Fuentes was an outspoken political critic and author who remained active until the very end of his life. He had recently voiced his concerns about the social and political situation in Mexico, particularly about the government’s war on organised crime. In his last interview with the BBC World Service he advocated the de-penalization and legalization of drugs.
He openly opposed the PRI and its presidential candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto. The presidential hopeful inadvertently made Fuentes a protagonist in the electoral campaign when he said that ‘La silla del águila’ (The Eagle’s Chair), one of Fuentes’ most lauded works, was highly derivative of the work of Mexican Enrique Krauze.
‘This man has the right not to read me’, Fuentes told BBC Mundo, but ‘what he does not have the right to be is the president of Mexico due to his ignorance, this is a serious problem’.
None of the other political parties received his backing. He did not consider any of the current presidential candidates equipped to deal with the challenges that Mexico is facing.
He was recently introduced by President Calderón as future Nobel Prize winner, an accolade for which he had been the eternal candidate but which he never received. Fuentes responded by pointing out that Kafka had never been awarded a Nobel so, ‘Why would I get one?’
However, he won a wealth of other awards including the Cervantes literature prize (1987), for Aura and his other works, and the Príncipe de Asturias literature prize. He also became an honorary member of the Academia Mexicana de la Lengua (Mexican Academy of Languages).
Mario Vargas Llosa, the Nobel Prize-winning Peruvian author, told Spanish daily newspaper ‘El Pais’ that ‘with him, we lose a writer whose work and whose presence left a deep imprint’.