Carlos Morales sits under a picture of Che Guevara in Santa Cruz, Alta Verapaz. Morales heads the Union of Peasant Organizations. He believes the state of siege is a pretext for suppressing agrarian reform in a region with a history of land disputes.
Mexican drug traffickers have worked their way south into Guatemala. The Guatemalan army has been trying to beat them back. But some Guatemalans are expressing loyalty to the drug cartels which have provided services – schools, roads, clinics, even security – that the Guatemalan government hasn’t delivered.
Mexico’s war against the drug cartels is spilling south into Guatemala. The cartels are threatening to take over parts of northern Guatemala near the Mexican border.
In response, the Guatemalan government has taken a page from its larger neighbor — and deployed the army to try and push the traffickers out. The government has declared a “state of siege” in one province, called Alta Verapaz, that it said has been overrun by one of Mexico’s most feared cartels.
“Amigos, guajiros y borrachos” (Friends, farmers & drunkards) 2010
Oil & acrylic on canvas, 47” x 39"
The Obama administration is easing restrictions on visas issued to Cuban artists who refuse to defect or renounce their loyalty to the Cuban Revolution. The World’s Lorne Matalon profiles two artists who’ve come to the US from Cuba because of this opening.
Under a longstanding treaty, the Colorado River irrigates 3 million acres of farmland and supplies water to 30 million people in the United States and Mexico. Between population growth and a decade long drought, the Colorado is under such stress that Western states – desperate to maintain water supplies – want to purify agricultural runoff currently diverted into Mexico. But as The World’s Lorne Matalon reports, Mexico covets that water, because it has given birth to a productive wetland.
Columns of moist air hover above still water in the Cienega de Santa Clara, mirroring the desert sky. The wetland is an oasis in dry northern Mexico, a haven for birds and fish, some endangered.
“The Cienega is the most important wetland in the Colorado River delta.”
Flying over the village of San Lazaro, Sonora, Mexico
Just south of the US border, the Santa Cruz River is a dust bowl, a scarred ditch tapped dry by the booming twin cities of Nogales, Mexico and Nogales, Arizona. Not long ago, people waded in and held baptisms in the river. Today it looks like fire has destroyed the riverbed and the trees beside it. But it’s a very different story a couple of hours farther into Mexico. Lorne Matalon has the story.
San Lazaro, Mexico – population 600 – it’s on the floor of a remote valley crisscrossed by warrens of paths carved into the boundless Sonoran desert. It’s where the Santa Cruz starts wending its way north toward the U-S. And it’s where 20-year-old Arturo Alvarez leads a group of young people working on a restoration team. ‘We’re watching bird migration patterns,’ Alvarez says. The group is known as Los Halcones– the Hawks-and it’s also monitoring the river’s temperature, and the health of the vegetation lining its banks.
Less than a decade ago, little took root here. The protective underbrush and cottonwood and mesquite saplings had been trampled by cattle and horses. But Los Halcones have fenced off two miles of the river and saplings are now abundant.
People get around by horse-drawn wagon at the Mennonite village of El Sabinal, Chihuahua, Mexico.
The northern Mexican state of Chihuahua is one of Mexico’s most violent. Rising drug-related crime has taken a heavy toll on the state – just south of the border from New Mexico and Texas. But amidst the violence, a pacifist community thrives. Mennonites have been living in Chihuahua for decades. They’re considered a part of the state’s tapestry now – famous around Mexico for their cheese and other farm products. The World’s Lorne Matalon traveled there to meet some of Chihuahua’s Mennonites.
Matalon: The village of El Sabinal in the remote Chihuahuan desert of northern Mexico looks like something out of another era. The houses are simple one-floor structures, vintage hand-made farm tools are still in use – and most people here get around in horse-drawn carriages.
Matalon: El Sabinal is an orthodox Mennonite community – meaning its 600 people generally avoid modern contraptions like cars, electricity, modern music, and telephones. They also speak a German dialect to communicate with each other. But when it comes to speaking with outsiders — Spanish is the language of choice.
Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon will be watching his country’s upcoming local elections very carefully. That’s because his conservative party is trying to win Congressional seats and Calderon wants to make sure he has enough support to fight the country’s rampant drug problem.
Mexico has deployed the Army to several cities along the US border where drug trafficking is a problem. One of those cities is Reynosa just south of McAllen, Texas. Both towns are growing thanks to free trade (NAFTA) and maquilladoras, the assembly-line factories in Mexico that manufacture goods for export. The World’s Lorne Matalon reports on Mexico’s drug war & its effect on the regional economy.
Mexico’s violent drug cartels didn’t simply pack up and go home when the H1N1flu arrived. In fact, they’re just as active as before. The World’s Lorne Matalon reports that the government has once again stepped up its attempts to beat back the cartels.
Lorne Matalon reports on some of the political fallout from the swine flu outbreak in Mexico. Some opposition politicians are criticizing the government for not reacting fast enough to the outbreak, or for overreacting. President Felipe Calderon has defended his government’s actions as swift and appropriate.
At least 16 people in Mexico have died from what officials there say is a strain of influenza that originally came from pigs. Meanwhile, swine flu is also being reported in the southern United States. Anchor Katy Clark speaks with The World’s Lorne Matalon in Mexico City.
Mexico is experiencing a horrifying wave of violence. So it’s not surprising that the religious cult, Santa Muerte – or the Saint of Death – has gained a following. Narration and all photos by Lorne Matalon.
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.