With an escalating war between Mexico’s drug cartels and the government, security is the number one issue as Mexico prepares for midterm elections next year. But adding to fears expressed by many Mexicans is a recent surge in kidnapping with victims from all social classes. Narration and all photos: Lorne Matalon.
Update: In December 2008 the Mexican authorities told the family featured in this slideshow that they’ve positively identified remains found recently in the Mexico City area as those of abducted Silvia Vargas Escaleras.
Last year the United States deported a record number of undocumented Mexicans, but authorities along the U.S. -Mexico border say Mexicans seeking jobs continue to cross into the United States every day. As well, people from other countries including Russia, Bangladesh and South Africa have also been caught trying to get into the U.S. From south Texas, The World’s Lorne Matalon reports.
Mexico is not the most dangerous country for journalists, other nations compete for that dubious distinction. But Mexican reporters do risk their lives when they cover the nation’s drug traffickers. And some of them face intimidation from government officials unhappy with their work. The World’s Lorne Matalon reports on one case in the latter category that could end up before the International Court of Justice at The Hague.
Matalon: Even in a country where constraints on press freedom are taken for granted, the case of journalist Lydia Cacho has jolted many Mexicans.
Matalon: Cacho lives in Cancún. Just before Christmas in 2005, she was forced into a car in broad daylight. Though she lives in Cancún, in the state of Quintana Roo, the men who took Cacho were police from the state of Puebla … with no jurisdiction in Quintana Roo.
20-year-old Nicaraguan Josue Holguin Artica inside a safe house called
“Casa de Migrantes.” He’s been hiding out here for a month with other migrants from Guatemala.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon is in the United States this week. His trip comes at a delicate moment. U.S. presidential contenders are calibrating their positions on illegal immigration. Calderon accuses the candidates of using Mexican migrants as “symbolic hostages.” He condemns the persecution of Mexicans here. But some accuse Calderon of being hypocritical. They say the way Mexico treats Central American immigrants is nothing to be proud of either.
It’s been 14 years since the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect. Farm trade between the United States and Mexico immediately soared. It’s now four times what it was the year before NAFTA was signed. Two weeks ago, the few remaining trade restrictions on farm goods were dropped. U.S. officials is calling the move a win for farmers in both countries. But the reaction south of the border is quite different. Mexican farmers are taking to the streets in protest. The World’s Lorne Matalon reports from Xochimilco, Mexico.
Matalon: Under a cobalt sky and blinding sun, Rafael Avila moves slowly along a dusty brown path between 10 ft stalks of corn. Tending his 6 acres, he grips a small silver machete as he harvests corn grown from seeds that trace their lineage to the Aztec and Maya cultures. In Mexico there’s a saying. “Sin maiz, no hay pais.” â€˜Without corn there’s no country.’ But Avila says small farmers now demanding that NAFTA be renegotiated are missing the point. Avila blames the Mexican government which he says has ignored small farmers since NAFTA was signed in 1994.
Avila: “If we don’t have the weapons to compete, Mexico is dead. We will not advance as a nation.”
A Johnston County judge has convicted three people of trespassing. But he dismissed charges against five others who were arrested after trying to serve citizens’ arrest warrants against pilots for a private air transport company based at the County Airport in Smithfield. Aero Contractors has been accused by the German government of flying terrorism suspects to countries where they face torture. Lorne Matalon reports the case raises questions about alleged acts that the US government doesn’t want to be formally responsible for.
You can travel by car from Alaska to South America, but you can’t drive the whole way. The road ends in southern Panama. You then have to take a ferry to Colombia. Colombia’s president would like to change that. He wants to build a 50-mile highway that would connect Colombia with its neighbor to the north. But the proposed road would cut through a jungle in Panama known as the Darien Gap, and many Panamanians worry what that road might bring. Lorne Matalon reports for The World from Panama.